Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Mais Oui Joaillerie de France

“Crazy Frog” ring, rendered in high gold, diamonds and emeralds, from the Haute Joaillerie grouping.

Leave it up to the French to do things in the most precise, the most beautiful, and of course, in always the most utterly creative ways. Case In Point: The recent Jewels of France Exhibition and Trunk Show - in partnership with UBIFrance and The French Trade Commission - held for the second year in New York City, at the toney Fifth Avenue Gallery of Aaron Faber - featuring au courant collections from thirteen of France's most acclaimed jewelry houses and their designers. The week long consumer event, which debuted with a lavish press breakfast and evening reception, including lots of fashion and social types, served up an abundant mix of jewelry and watches by many of the Creative Directors and designers beyond the labels.

So, why was this particular Gallery specifically chosen two years in a row for the event, you ask? The answer, according to Camille Wiart, Director of Business Development, Fashion and Jewelry, The French Trade Commission, "we are happy to be working again with the Aaron Faber Gallery, whose reputation and commitment to showcasing the best in contemporary studio jewelry, class and vintage jewelry, made it the obvious venue."

Thinking about French haute couture fashion, especially jewelry and accessories, might bring to mind the big gun brands, the ilk of an LVMH, but in the case of Jewels of France, the focus is on the smaller, less recognized and maybe not so well-oiled or hugely hyped, French jewelry houses, whose quality and craftsmanship is guaranteed by the French Union BJOP, as being designed, manufactured, mounted, set and polished in France, following strict, ethical, legal and environmental standards.

While nearly all of the collections on show at the event were absolutely fabulous, there were several groupings that really stood on their own, in order to make themselves memorable in the eyes and minds of more than just a few viewers.

For starters, Bijoux Commelin ... In the 19th Century, under Emperor Napoleon 3rd, Theodore Commelin set up a workshop in the heart of Paris. Today, Phillippe Commelin's grand-niece, Isabelle Latour, has sustained the legacy of her grand uncle, employing in the workshop, the last few master enamel craftsmen to produce the miniature jewels for which Commelin has since become well-known. In 2006, Commelin became one of the first French companies to be awarded the "Entreprise du Patrimoine Vivant" award. In 2008, Commelin received the French jewelry label, Joaillerie de France.

La Parisienne Charms/Monuments of Paris Collection. Charms in 18 carat yellow gold, featuring Tour Eiffel, stained glass window Eiffel Tower and Morris column in translucent enamel, and basset hound.

Garnazelle (meaning “little frog” - See photo at top of article) was founded in 2001 by Celine Rivet as an alternative to the more classic and traditional jewelry houses of Place Vendome. Overall, this eclectic, off-the-beat collection of sensual rings, bracelets and earrings, can easily be translated as wild and spicy, with a touch of mystique and spookiness. Belonging to the world of fairies, the “little frog” becomes the symbol for the creative repertoire and the brand logo, where an extravagant and romantic world mixes animal life and plants, all strangely connected with human life. Nearly every piece across this line portrays a decidedly fetish quality, rendered as talismans of many colors, shaped to convey opulence, attraction, lavishness, and rapture.

Exclusive pieces from the whimsical “Jardin D’Ete” collection, showcasing multi-colored sapphires, tsavorites, fire opals, et al.

La Maison Marchak makes use of a diverse range of artisan techniques, such as pate de verre or gold plating, which uses tiny, articulated chains to give jewelry a feather-soft look and feel, to create signature prêt-a-porter and numbered, haute couture pieces. Founded in 1878 by the “Cartier of Kiev”, Joseph Marchak became one of the Russian Empire’s most recognized jewelers, supplier to the Tsar, and the undisputed rival fo Peter Fabergé. Now in its 131st year, Joseph Marchak’s grandson, Daniel Marchak, working alongside the company’s longtime, senior designer, Bertrand Degommier, continues the revival and growth of the French luxe jewelry house.

Pieces from the Fleur, Taj Mahal and Agra collections, featuring varied hues of French New-Bakelite, 18K gold, sterling silver and gold link chains, multi-sized carats and cuts of blue topaz, cabochon opals, pink and green tourmalines, brilliant-cut rubies, et al.

Sophie Reyre has been a journalist, a novelist, and most recently, a fine jeweler. Her long time fascination with the richness, allure and history of India, and her passion for the work of 20th Century innovators, the ilk of Rene Boivin, Count Fulco de Verdura and Seaman Schepps, coupled with her studies of Chinese Calligraphy and the two years which she spent at the Institut de Gemmologie in Paris, have all contributed to Reyre’s special approach to jewelry design and manufacture. Since launching her business and label in 2007, her collections continue to mix tradition and modernity, translating artifacts from India’s 17th Century Mughal rulers, into modern, precious jewels, embracing jade, turquoise, coral, onyx and other fine stones, accentuated with high gold motifs.

Composition of single, double and triple-linked rings and pendant, in combinations of white, yellow or pink 18K gold, white and black diamonds and pink sapphires

Veronique Bailly lives in Hossegor, France, a small, out of the way village, located near the sea. Bailly, who loves nature and sports (she plays golf, surfs, snowboards, and practicates Pilates), previously worked for big sports brands, such as Billabong, Rusty, Rip Curl and Nike. Inspired to take her love of and background in sports, and mix all of that into a different kind of jewelry line, she recently did just that, and began her own company. Bringing the playful spirit of the line into play for this young designer, means creating unisex jewelry with a young, hip, rock-and-roll attitude. which is meant not only to be played with, but can be easily transformed, for example, from a luxurious stack of rings into a swingy, sexy pendant.

-Adrienne Weinfeld-Berg

Art of the Collection: The Design Spirit of American Fashion Artist Audrey Schilt

On View at The Fashion Institute of Technology
Through Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Copyright © Audrey Schilt

Opening Reception Thursday, December 10, 6-8pm

(Press Release) The illustrations of Audrey Schilt, a Fashion Institute of Technology alumna who worked closely with Ralph Lauren for 22 years, are on display at FIT in an exhibition titled Art of the Collection: The Design Spirit of American Fashion Artist Audrey Schilt through January 27, 2010. Included are sketches of the pink silk Ralph Lauren gown worn by Gwyneth Paltrow at the 1998 Academy Awards, on which Schilt collaborated, as well as sketches of the white silk and organza Lauren gown worn by Emmy Rossum to the 2005 Golden Globes, which Schilt designed. These are among the approximately 125 works created by Schilt between 1986 and 2007 on view, including original concept drawings, advertising images, design silhouettes, and works in watercolor and chalk on paper.

After graduating from FIT with a degree in Illustration, Audrey Schilt started her career as a sketch artist for Halston, where she drew several of the hats for which Jacqueline Kennedy became known, including the pillbox, and Halston’s first women’s collection. From there, Schilt moved to freelance work, creating fashion ads for such clients as Bergdorf Goodman and Vanity Fair, many of which appeared in The New York Times. Schilt also returned to school to learn patternmaking and draping. She then worked as a designer for Jacque Bellini for five years, as well as on a children’s line of clothing. Hired as a concept artist at Ralph Lauren in 1986, Schilt rose during her 22-year tenure to vice president and creative director of collection for the company. Now retired from her position at Ralph Lauren, Schilt has turned her attention to other artistic endeavors and continues to work as a conceptual design consultant.

Free and open to the public, Art of the Collection: The Design Spirit of American Fashion Artist Audrey Schilt is on view through January 27, 2010 in FIT’s Fred P. Pomerantz Art and Design Center (D Building), 27th Street at Seventh Avenue.

This exhibition is co-sponsored by the college’s School of Art and Design, the Gladys Marcus Library at FIT, and the library’s Print/FX Graphics Lab. For press information, contact Cheri Fein, 212.217.4700 or

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

‘Crimson’ Tide

Narciso Rodriquez Pre-fall 2010 Collection (All photos: WWD via

No sooner do the spring collections, unveiled back in September, begin to fade from our collective memories, the fashion flock is gearing up for upcoming big fall season. In fact, I just received an email from on behalf of Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week in New York, reminding me that the shows take place February 11th–18th in Bryant Park, and inviting me to register early online at

But before fall, there is pre-fall, (I guess you can call it the ‘fall’ before THE FALL). The pre-seasons of course, have been getting more and more play each year and designers have been putting more emphasis on their lines, a few even staging runway shows. And from the look of things, while eternally chic and urbane black still ‘rules’, there have also been welcome smatterings of vibrant color, whether used as an accent or in a more ‘out there’ manner.

Calvin Klein Pre-fall 2010 Collection

Black (with a touch of white and camel) was the undisputed message at Calvin Klein, where Francisco Costa’s brilliant sculptural cuts defined the deceivingly simple; so too at Zero + Maria Cornejo, and at Alexander Wang, both of whom have always embraced noir. But touches of yellow and red enlivened Karl Lagerfeld’s Chinoise accented pre-fall Collection, shown fittingly in Shanghai; Narciso Rodriguez punched up black, camel and gray with crimson in the form of chic pared down haberdashery inspired pieces; crimson and hot pink, in addition to neutral camel, played off black at Michael Kors, and punches of color (red of course) in addition to both whimsical and classic patterns, were the story at Zac Posen, who described his collection as “Lewis Carroll meets Paloma Picasso”).

Zac Posen Pre-fall 2010 Collection

And while there were some chic black silk faille and black lace embroidered dresses and gowns, plus a few black cashmere knits, scattered among the 49 pieces shown at Oscar de la Renta’s pre-fall show, (presented yesterday afternoon at his favorite venue, the très elegant 583 Park Avenue), that was hardly the only story. Au contraire, Mr. de la Renta admitted that he was concentrating on ‘special’ pieces, and thus, happy flashes of ruby, vermillion, rose, emerald green, and marigold made their appearance. In addition, there were tweed skirt suits, colorful Suzani embroidery, Ikat prints, rich mixes of texture and pattern, statement making embroidered coats, seemingly weightless cashmere silk embroidered cardigans, abbreviated bolero jackets, color block silk taffeta blouses, multi-colored embroidered patchwork sweaters, coats, pants, skirts, dresses, and accessories.

It was all ‘signature’ Oscar in its overridingly feminine, folkloric, colorful Parisian ‘jeune fille’ aesthetic, from the high heeled booties to the blown dry sleek, long straight hair, (worn half up, half down and styled by Andre Rodman for Frederick Fekkai). And it couldn’t have looked more welcome (especially considering we are in the throes of the holiday season), and a little fantasy goes a long way. The economy may still be in dour straits, but that doesn’t mean we all have to look that way.

Standouts include the textural emerald merino wool knit dress worn with a pearl grey heather cashgora embroidered coat; the canary tweed skirt and canary cloque jacket; the vermillion tweed dress with ivory wool boucle trim; the white silk chiffon embroidered gown with white cashmere silk embroidered cardigan trimmed with bleached mink; the multi-color sequin embroidered skirt suit. And then there were the embroidered patchwork pieces: the turquoise multi-color embroidered patchwork dress and vermillion cashmere embroidered cardigan; the multi color block printed silk taffeta patchwork jacket, paired with a canary silk taffeta blouse, and black denim skinny jean; and a patchwork multi color silk taffeta embroidered coat.

-Marilyn Kirschner

Friday, December 04, 2009

‘Closet’ Cases

Although there are always loads of photographers milling around and recording the fashion scene during fashion week, it was hard not to notice the great looking and interestingly dressed woman with camera in tow (Elisa Goodkind). She approached me as I made my way into the Bryant Park Tents during New York Fashion Week back in September, and asked if she could take my picture. Though I must say, she looked familiar, I could not immediately place her…but she apparently knew who I was and introduced herself, handing me her card.

After a quick intro, she proceeded to tell me about her relatively new ‘baby’, the website,, of which she is very proud and rightly so, and I’m not just saying that because she asked me to be a part of it. Quite frankly, I think it has such an inspired premise, I’m bummed out I didn’t think of it first.

This online magazine that launched in March 2009, is the brainchild of a creative mother-daughter team (Elisa Goodkind is a professional stylist and New York fashion editor for more than 20 years, and her equally creative daughter Lily Mandelbaum, is a film student). Their ambitious mission is to offer “A deeper look into the thoughts and closets of people with inspiring personal style”, the ones who use their style as an “art form”. They will proudly tell you that the collection of individuals whom they have found, “are some of the most influential, inspiring, artistic, and talented people” they have ever met. (By the way, this duo is pretty ‘inspiring’ as well).

Needless to say, I was flattered when Elisa asked if I would be interested in being a part of the ‘club’ (one of the ‘chosen’ few). And besides, how could I refuse someone so obviously passionate about what she does, so full of life, so energetic, and so curious about the world around her? Someone truly loves fashion, and ‘gets’ the notion of individual, personal style.

The concept was especially intriguing to me since I guess you could call me a ‘closet case’ and somewhat of a ‘voyeur’. (Well…a ‘closet’ voyeur anyway, in that I love to peek into other creative peoples’ closets). The site is already quite a ‘destination’ for those in the know, and they already receive over 45,000 hits monthly. This is not surprising; I can attest to the fact that it’s definitely ‘addictive’ and its one of the sites I regularly check out first thing in the morning, to see which new subject I will be ‘surprised’ and delighted by.

Speaking of ‘surprises’, there is nothing run of the mill or predictable about and it’s not just another homage to the rich and famous (with big budgets for clothes and personal stylists), nor do they include typical and predictable profiles of those with impeccable social pedigrees (“yawn, yawn” - though what’s so great about it, is that those elements would not exclude someone with the ‘it’ factor). The people selected by Elisa and Lily, who ‘scout’ out subjects here and literally around the world (and then ask those who have been selected, to make suggestions and be on the lookout as well) are a true cross section of New York, and beyond. It’s a global and divergent group representing a completely democratic mix of ethnicities, cultures, backgrounds, occupations, socio economic stations, and includes all ages. Thus far, the youngest is a precocious 5 year old girl (Athena Stuebe’s profile will be up in early December), and the oldest is a woman in her mid 80’s: the ageless and fabulous Barbara Louis.

Elisa explained that she would need about 2 hours of my time, would come to my apartment, interview me with a video and still camera, ask questions about why I dress the way I do, where I get my inspiration from, what some of my favorite pieces are, and photograph me in about 6 of my favorite outfits (My initial reaction was: just 6? how can I pin it down to just 6? But it was actually easier than I had thought). She is quick, organized, is very flexible and easy going, and it could not have been more fun (we laughed a lot), as you can see for yourself. She even got me to ‘confess’ that I have the same exact pair of Marc by Marc Jacobs Cuban heeled rain boots in 4 colors (yikes!).

-Marilyn Kirschner
The Godfather of Fashion Websites Celebrates 15 Years Online

Cover of the original invitation to the launch of Lookonline is the longest running on-line fashion publication in the world. Before there was,,,,,,, and even, there was us. We have not always garnered the attention, funding or notoriety of some other of these fashion sites, but those in our industry, who have followed Lookonline's development over the years, know we helped pioneer the use of the Internet in providing real-time coverage of fashion events, regularly scheduled video reports, fashion blogs (DFR: Daily Fashion Report has been in blog format for almost 7 years and is recognized as the first fashion blog), market reports, editorial cartoons and original runway and event photography long before there were sites like or Fashionweekdaily.

Since our official launch was on December 1, 1994 as a BBS dial-up service (does anyone even remember what a BBS service is or was?), the Lookonline has been on-line "officially" for 15 years. However, we were already a BBS service by subscription in early 1993 (our first subscriber was Harper's Bazaar), and it was not until December of 1994 did we began a website (hosted under another domain name) in addition to our BBS site. Later in 1995, we discontinued our BBS service and concentrated on developing our website using our own domain name ''.

For the record, our official launch was as a party/benefit called "CyberTaste" for the "Charge Against Hunger" program from American Express and Share Our Strength on December 1, 1994 (see above copy of invitation) The event was held at Sony Plaza at 550 Madison Avenue in New York. Over 850 members of the public and a small group of press (WWD did not show up) attended the opening that featured 13 chefs from top New York restaurants serving their signature dishes; a designer auction, wine tasting, desserts, and a live 20 man jazz orchestra. According to officials at Sony, it was one of the largest, if not the largest event ever held to this day at the Sony Plaza's Atrium. (Rhonda Erb put the whole event together for us). Major sponsors for the event included American Express, Food & Wine Magazine, Tourneau, Romana Sambuca, Coca Cola Bottling Company of NY, Georgette Klinger, Colorite, and Sony Plaza.

Does anyone besides our company remember the event? Fifteen years on-line is like a century in the development of the Internet. It was a struggle during the early years to gain recognition, much less respect for our site. I can still remember the days when fashion designers and publicists would look at me in disbelief, if they looked at me at all, when I talked about the importance of fashion websites. I was like the invisible man. I would be running around among them, but no one really knew or cared about fashion websites or, for that matter, even the Internet . Well, as the song says: "the times they are a changing", the Internet is now a force to be reckoned with, and fashion sites and blogs number in the many hundreds.

I want to personally thank our many contributors who, over the past 15 years, have helped our site continue to grow. First and foremost my editor-in-chief, Marilyn Kirschner, whose fashion expertise and determination has set the tone for our editorial coverage; and senior editor Bernadine Morris, who lent her name, expertise and a guiding hand. Also special mention goes to Randy Brooke, an exceptional photographer who was always there when we needed him; and Diane Clehane for providing us with first class coverage of major fashion and entertainment events. Also special thanks goes to Susan Sommers for her timely suggestions, Adrienne Weinfield-Berg and Rhonda Erb, both good friends of lookonline, whose special assignment reporting gave our editorial greater depth; Stacy Lomman, Isabelle Erb and Muriel Geny-Triffaut for their contributions, and Grace Mirabella for hosting our first three 'Master of Fashion Video Interviews'.

And finally, I want to thank my wife Deborah Brumfield for putting up with me all these years. Without her help and support the lookonline would not exist today.

-Ernest Schmatolla

Thursday, December 03, 2009

American Classics Reinvented For The Masses & More ...

Canvas Collection (Photos: Lands' End)

For Spring, Summer 2010, Lands’ End gives a whimsical, cool, new take on its usually traditional and quiet brand of clothing and accessories for women, men, kids and home. Going under the headline of “A Beacon for What’s Real: American Classics, New Horizons”, the company, which began in 1963, and has since positioned itself as “cultivated and refined through the years”, has now shifted gears across all of its groupings. The reasoning behind the strategy, so it seems, is for the company to try to re-brand and re-market itself in today’s hyper-competitive retail marketplace, as well as make itself and its wares that much more appealing and covetable to modern shoppers with an eye on affordable, great-looking fashion and home décor.

Thinking about key selling points such as quality, value, style and service, the company recently told its story in New York City, at a fun, casual and quite witty, press presentation, set in an open, airy West Side loft.

A particularly interesting part of the company’s new direction is its really-feel-good, Canvas collection (Clothing and Swim) for women and men. According to the look book given out at the presentation, this part of the line is described as “Welcome to a new chapter in a storied brand … clothing that’s real and relevant for how we live today”. Apparently, all of this simply translates into for women, what looks like an attitude of vintage meets current trend; what is old is new again. Ditto for the menswear part of this grouping, which concentrates on rugged pieces, rendered as a relaxed, easy style in the language of iconic, American sportswear. The generally good-looking Swimwear part of the Canvas line, co-habits well with the clothing. Components in this grouping are “Swim Essentials” (basics in rich, dark hues and some pop prints); “Surf Shack” (easy, athletic-style pieces for performance or play); and “Heritage” (a new take on the company’s nautical roots; navy, yellow, green; polka-dots, striped prints).

Across other collections, shown separately from the Canvas line, warm-weather dressing for women focuses on a broad array of mix-and-match sportswear pieces that have their place across many different types of shoppers’ closets. An additional plus to the design repertoire this season is that there are more dresses in more size ranges (are all of you size 2’s to size 18’s out there listening?) currently available in the company’s catalog, on its website and at its signature shops at Sears. Obviously Lands ’End has done its homework, in terms of the kinds of trending and forecasting it has done when it comes to giving women more dressing options for spring and summer.

When swim comes into play, which of course, the category does during this time of the season, there are all kinds of shapes and silhouettes for women. Many of the swimsuits have Tummy or All-Over Control, as well as Shape Wear; which are important for larger size figures. Adornments of super stylized touches of silver hardware, vibrant color palettes, retro-glamour, prints, patterns, and the like are everywhere across this grouping. Going along with the new story in Swim, the company serves up several abundantly-shaped and fabulous beach bags, which seem just right for going to the beach and beyond.

Moving on to Men, there are lots of good-looking clothing and swimwear items, offered in a range of colors, eclectic patterns, and easy silhouettes, again, all at affordable prices. Some of the best pieces in this section are the white denim tops and bottoms; madras and camp shirts, boat shoes, driving mocs, classic volley shorts and swim trunks

Now, when it comes to the growing market share of younger girls and boys, who just have to be the most fashiony and cool in their crowd, there is something for just about everybody. For the girls, there are pretty, little sleeveless jersey dresses and skorts in sizes from 2T to 16; regular, slim and plus. Swimwear is chic, but yet still young, with embellishments of seahorse icons, oversized paisley patterns and sewn-on, big, nylon flowers, seen across tankinis, bikinis and maillots. \

For the boys, there are neat mixes of jean and cargo jackets, which totally look great with all kinds of shirts, polo’s, jeans and khaki’s, in sizes from 2T to 20, in regular, slim and husky. For beachwear, there are plenty of vintage-inspired prints and patterns in surf-like nautical color-blocks and classic, floral, cargo board shorts.

Gracious homes are not left out of the mix, especially important when it comes to the new line of sumptuous, organic pieces, in everything from bedding to towels. The company apparently understands that shoppers want and need the chance to quickly and cost-efficiently add new color into a room via home accent pieces. Voila, the best of the bunch here come across as plush, decorative pillow covers, all done up in bold patterns and prepster, bright shades.

Domestics aside, there is a truly wonderful and extremely well-priced for what it is, Adirondack Living Collection. Looking like each piece came straight out of a glossy, deluxe, consumer magazine, devoted to only the best kinds of gracious living, the comfy and cozy loveseat, coffee table, side table and club chair, look to be easily mixed and matched, and equally at home in any city, country or beach-house backyard.

The fun and casual presentation served yet another purpose to invited guests, other than touting the new collections, providing more than just a few cocktails and nibbles, and gifting everyone on the way out with a specially chosen, warm and cozy “hand-knitted” muffler. At the back of the look-book, viewers learned that Lands’ End proves its corporate values of “Real People. Real Value. Real Difference” in quite a heartfelt way, by supporting local and national charities such as The Big Boston Warm-up, Big Warm-up, and The Feel Good Campaign, which encourage employees and shoppers to donate coats for the homeless, as well as donating 5,000 pounds of its signature, “FeelGood” yarn (enough to make 25,000 hats) to One Heart Foundation’s Warming Families, a nationwide knitting charity. Quite a nice touch, indeed.

-Adrienne Weinfeld-Berg

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

'Night & Day' Exhibition at The Museum of FIT
December 3, 2009 – May 11, 2010

Left Christian Dior NY afternoon dress circa 1952 Right: Christian Dior evening dress spring/summer 1956 (Photography: MFIT)

The Museum at FIT presents Night & Day, a new exhibition examining how the rules that dictate appropriate dress for women have changed over the past 250 years. Featured will be more than 100 day and evening garments, textiles, and accessories that illustrate the conventions during various eras for proper attire for a particular time of day, activity, or occasion. Night & Day will reveal the evolution of the rules that govern fashion, including periods when strictly observed etiquette was the norm and other times when more flexible guidelines prevailed.

Left: Elizabeth Arden trouser ensemble circa 1946 Right: Charles James dinner suit circa 1947

Night & Day, presented in the Fashion and Textile History Gallery, is organized by Molly Sorkin, along with Colleen Hill, Harumi Hotta, Lynn Weidner, and Tiffany Webber. The exhibition will be on view from December 3, 2009, through May 11, 2010.

The Fashion and Textile History Gallery presents biannual exhibitions examining aspects of the past 250 years of fashion. Exhibitions are curated exclusively from The Museum at FIT’s extensive collection. Support for this exhibition has been provided by the Couture Council.

For more information:

Cheri Fein
Executive Director of Public and Media Relations
(212) 217.4700;