Friday, February 26, 2010

“American Woman: Fashioning a National Identity”


Martin Munkacsi (Hungarian, 1896-1963) Lucile Brokaw on the Long Island Beach, 1933 Courtesy of Howard Greenberg Gallery, New York

Metropolitan Museum to Open May 5, 2010; First Costume Institute Exhibition Based on Renowned Brooklyn Museum Costume Collection Gala Benefit May 3, 2010, with Co-Chairs Oprah Winfrey, Patrick Robinson, and Anna Wintour
The exhibition is made possible by Gap.
Additional support is provided by Condé Nast.
Exhibition dates: May 5–August 15, 2010
Press preview: Monday, May 3, 10 a.m.–1 p.m.

The spring 2010 exhibition organized by The Costume Institute of The Metropolitan Museum of Art will be American Woman: Fashioning a National Identity, the first drawn from the newly established Brooklyn Museum Costume Collection at the Met. The exhibition, on view from May 5 through August 15,2010 (preceded on May 3 by The Costume Institute Gala Benefit), examines how perceptions of American women have changed via their wardrobes from 1890 (corsets) to 1940 (sexy bia-cut gowns) through various feminine archetypes. The Heiress, Gibson Girl, Bohemian, Suffragist, Flapper, and Screen Siren helped initiate style revolutions to liberate women physically, intellectually, politically and sexually in the U.S. and around the world.


Anna May Wong in Limehouse Blues (directed by Alexander Hall), 1934 Costume by Travis Banton (American, 1894–1958) Courtesy of John Kobal Foundation / Getty Images

Ensembles by European and American designers will be showcased in panoramic galleries designed to immerse visitors in each period. A final gallery with projected and holographic images of American women from 1890 to today will distill these archetypes into the characteristics that define modern American style.


John Singer Sargent (American, 1856–1925) Portrait of Nancy Astor, 1908–1909
Courtesy of National Trust / Art Resource, NY

The exhibition will feature approximately 80 examples of haute couture and high fashion primarily from the Brooklyn Museum Costume Collection at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, which was transferred to the Met from the Brooklyn Museum in January 2009. Many of the pieces have not been seen by the public in more than 30 years.


Attributed to Jessie Franklin Turner (American, 1881–1956)
Evening Dress, ca. 1933 Gold lamé

Designers in the exhibition will include Travis Banton, Gabrielle Chanel, Callot Soeurs, Madame Eta, Elizabeth Hawes, Madame Grès, Charles James, Jeanne Lanvin, Liberty & Company, Edward Molyneux, Paul Poiret, Elsa Schiaparelli, Jessie Franklin Turner, Valentina, Madeleine Vionnet, Weeks, Charles Frederick Worth, and Jean-Philippe Worth, among others.

The Metropolitan Museum exhibition is organized by Andrew Bolton, Curator, with the support of Harold Koda, Curator in Charge, both of the Met’s Costume Institute. Nathan Crowley, a production designer of films including The Prestige,The Dark Knight, and Public Enemies will serve as the exhibition’s creative consultant, as he did for the 2008 exhibition Superheroes: Fashion and Fantasy. The design for the 2010Costume Institute Gala Benefit will be created by Nathan Crowley with Raul Avila.

For more information:

Nancy Chilton
The Costume Institute
212.650.2123
nancy.chilton@metmuseum.org

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Jean Paul Gaultier Designs for Target



Target is partnering with French designer Jean Paul Gaultier as the third designer in a series of "Designer Collaborations", a program that features well-established designers who draw inspiration from a collaborative partner, muse or creative element. The Jean Paul Gaultier for Target collection pays tribute to the American woman - celebrating the forces of style both past and present in American pop culture. The affordable collection will launch on Target.com and select Target stores nationwide on March 7, 2010 and remain available through April 11, 2010.


Jean Paul Gaultier

"My collection with Target pays homage to the wide range of personalities that make up the diverse styles of American women" said Jean Paul Gaultier. "From ingénue to rock 'n' roll, this collection celebrates women of all ages and a host of distinctive, iconic American styles."


This collection of sportswear staples will feature Gaultier's French touch of wit and charm. Laser-cut embroidery, poplin and mesh are woven throughout the collection, providing rich texture on flirty silhouettes, while classic shapes get intricate details and pops of bold colors for modern flair. Ranging in price from $17.99 - $199.99, the line will include must-haves such as high-waisted pants and shorts, mini skirts, strong-shoulder jackets, cropped tanks and swimwear.

For more information contact:
Lauren Kanter/Mackenzie Dougherty
LaForce + Stevens
212-242-9353

Friday, February 19, 2010

Mr. ‘Bond’


(Photo: Firstview.com)

I suppose you can refer to Francisco Costa as Mr. Clean but Calvin Klein himself, already has that title. So I'll call Francisco Mr. Bond because of his frequent use of bonded fabrics (more on that later). Talk about minimal and architecturally pure. Francisco Costa’s collection for Calvin Klein, a rigorous exercise in self control and attention to meticulous detail, all but stood by itself this season. There was nary a fur, nary a muffled neck scarf, nary a hat, nary a bag, nary a print, and (almost) nary an embellishment in sight. What there was, was pure, unadulterated beautifully structured, expertly cut, shapes: amazing outerwear, shifts, jackets, separates, and column gowns, and details such as rounded shoulders, engineered darts or drapes, raglan sleeves, embossed pockets, draped backs. The feeling of menswear was exemplified by the relatively simple yet highly effective midnight silk folded raglan shirt and midnight wool/silk tab front embossed pocket trouser worn by Sigrid. It was such simplistic perfection, the members of the audience almost gasped when she walked out.


(Photo: Firstview.com)

The clothes followed the lines of the body without being constricting, and while there was experimentation with volume, nothing was ever exaggeratedly full, unflattering or voluminous. In a season where so many have almost blinded with superfluous ornamental decoration, Francisco added texture and surface interest to coats and dresses through glazed and embossed double faced cashmeres, hammered, or polished cashmeres When he used sequins or silver lurex (as he did in the elongated columns at the end of the show), it was done in the most subtle way. It’s obvious that each season, Mr. Costa strives to perfect his craft and he been delivering with clothes that are feats of perfection in terms of cut, construction, and fabrication. And this season was no exception. The color palette was pared down to the almost expected black, midnight, off white, ivory, gray, with just a touch of color in the form of a royal blue he called ‘aurora’ (my best guess is that black will outdo this hue).


(Photo: Firstview.com)

There was the continued experimentation with fabric techniques to get just the right results. For fall, it was to be found in the ‘bonding’ technique (bonded viscose, bonded silk pointelle, bonded boiled wool). In a season of truly stellar coats, Francisco’s really stood out, such as a black bonded silk pointelle embossed pocket coat, a midnight bonded stretch technical wool storm flap trench, a midnight bonded boiled wool/cashmere/leather storm flap pea coat shown over a midnight sheer silk mock t and an engineered dark skirt; the ivory shearling storm flap trench, and a black double faced hammered cashmere cape with its curved hem. There were also the brilliant fabric combinations, where leather was effectively employed (an ivory silk crepe leather sleeve blouse with shown with an ivory silk crepe tab front trouser, and midnight leather was used with bonded boiled wool and cashmere in one very chic pea coat).


(Photo: Firstview.com)

The footwear consisted of a tumbled calf metal heel bootie and a ‘stingray’ ankle strap skinny heel sandal, both on relatively high platforms. These, in addition to the elongated and narrow shape of many of the pieces, which were flatteringly form fitting, lean, and attenuating, made the already statuesque and amazingly proportioned models (including runway ‘stars’ like Kristy Hume, Stella Tennant, and Karmen), looked even more like (beautiful) tall drinks of water.


Boss ‘Tweed’


(Photo: Firstview.com)

Almost nobody does tweeds like Ralph Lauren (somehow, after I leave any one of his shows, I basically want to ‘live’ in my chic tweed hacking jackets, jodhpurs, and riding boots), and he was definitely in a tweed mood for fall. The collection, which was presented at two back to back runway shows at Skylight Studios in Tribeca, was played out in the designer’s much beloved muted neutrals, and Ralph was making a case for the interesting contrasts that lie within the ongoing yin and yang of masculine and feminine, day and evening, soft and hard (this is what helps keep fashion looking modern and believable). But of course, none of this is anything new for RL because interesting pairings have always been one of his strong messages throughout the years.


(Photo: Firstview.com)

But getting back to THE message for fall: it was all about the mix of hefty menswear inspired tweeds (mainly brown and moss wool tweeds), charcoal wool/cashmere herringbones, and donegals with softer more feminine elements: namely, jewel toned silk velvet separates (blouses, skirts, and jodhpurs) or wispy floral silk georgettes: flutter sleeves blouses, midcalf skirts, and floor length gowns (he’s another designer this season, who’s made a case for longer lengths and with few exceptions, most of his skirts went from below the knee to the floor). A moss washed wool Shetland tweed frock coat which was shown over a charcoal wool and cashmere herringbone vest and Rivington floral silk georgette skirt epitomized the concept. As did the olive mélange chesterfield coat thrown over the Ludlow floral silk georgette gown.

The strongest group from my point of view was not the opening (I’m not a wispy floral kind of gal), but the group that followed which consisted of rich mixes of black mélange wool tweeds, suedes, cashmeres, Shetlands, and donegals, and vintage like dark brown shearling pieces (bags, vests, leg warmers).


(Photo: Firstview.com)

Standouts: The black mélange wool tweed cutaway jacket, shown with a black cashmere turtleneck, brown wool tweed cropped ‘boy pants’, and accessorized with a dark brown hand burnished calf leather Ricky bag; the narrow black tweed/wool coat shown over black leggings and a black cashmere sweater, and accessorized with a chocolate alligator shoulder saddle bag; the moss cashmere and wool Donegal tweed jacket, chocolate cashmere turtleneck, Donegal wool tweed skirt, and brown shearing hobo bag; the knee length caramel brown shearing vest (really, a sleeveless coat), which was shown with an espresso cashmere turtleneck, brown wool covert spat, chocolate crocodile clutch.


(Photo: Firstview.com)

A group done all in all black and black morning stripes (not the most interesting), was followed by another grouping in black which was somewhat ethnic (this was exemplified by the black ottoman passimentary embroidered coat). The evening finale was comprised of silk georgette florals, with names like Saint Germain, Bloomsbury, Chelsea, and Le Marais, fashioned into floor length gowns which were bare on top and fitted through the torso, featuring skirts that were flounced and tiered. The last dress out was interesting in that it was juxtaposed against a moss felted cashmere cropped shawl collar jacket.

Just a note, Ralph has more often than not, been known to devote an entire collection to an all out Americana theme, though that was not the case this season. I found it curious or interesting at the least, that he would chose to emphasize a print (specifically, florals with decidedly European heritages and names) for a collection shown in such close proximity to the opening of the Costume Institute’s ‘American Woman, Fashioning a National Identity’ in May. Well, I guess we are all so very international and global these days, n’est pas? In the meanwhile, his show last season was all about variations on that all American fabric and wardrobe staple: denim, and I guess Cathy Horyn was trying to pay homage to that aesthetic when she showed up in her well worn jeans (flat boots and non descript black jacket) for this show and the rest of Friday’s schedule. Well, it sort of didn’t work - there’s real life chic, relaxed glamour, and there’s just plain poor.


Isaac’s Tall Tale


(Photo: Coutorture.com)

I often wonder what the madcap and always entertaining Isaac Mizrahi is ‘smoking’ (and I mean that affectionately because I adore him). Especially, when I read the fantastical and imaginative 'essays' describing the inspiration behind one of his shows. (If nothing else, he must have some amazing dreams)


(Photo: Coutorture.com)

This season, the theme was Central Park Story Book and he spun quite the tale, a fable consisting of “girls trying on glass slippers, flaps coats, and ending with evening clothes that might be confused with camping gear" (I kid you not). He spoke of ‘glorifying’ the bag lady, observing that “every upper east sider has at least once admired a bag lady” (yikes, I admit, I have!) He even used phrases like ‘Geoffrey L.L. Bean or ‘Buffalo Bill Blass’ to conjure up the proper irreverent mood, and went on to describe the show as a kind of “upper east side camping trip where the rocks have new uses”. He’s nuts, what can I say? But we all love him because he’s so unique and so, well Isaac.


(Photo: Coutorture.com)

The collection was presented at the Tent at Bryant Park, and the stage was decorated with bare trees made to resemble Central Park during the winter with the Manhattan skyline in the background. The 45 pieces were broken up into 5 groups: Parka Avenue, Society Samurai, Vagrant Fairies, Fish & Wildlife, and Seven Winter Fairies. Dresses and outfits were given names like Luncheon armor, Cocktail warrior, City sweats, Diamond crocodile, Toggle town, Manhattan cable, Furry, Wooly, etc. It was all very Isaac: the glamorous evening takes on survival wear (quilted coats, glittery quilted fur trimmed vests with quilted and fur trimmed hoods; dressed up survival parkas; lame utility pants; crystal toggle buttons), the shaggy orange knee length coat; the group of abbreviated shifts that were so overly embellished with crystals, they glowed in the dark; and the finale, a group of strapless evening dresses and gowns in muted, pale shades with poufy organza skirts. When the Seven Winter Fairies made their appearance on stage at the end, a snow machine made fake snow (just we needed, more snow). We all know that Isaac is neurotic about his love for Manhattan (in a Woody Allen kinda way), because he has admitted that he cannot bear to leave the city and hates to travel. So I guess you can call the show, an homage to Manhattan.

-Marilyn Kirschner

The Daily Bet



Becca Sheer Tint Lip Colours

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Becca Sheer Tint Lip Colour, $24
http://www.beccacosmetics.com/

-Rhonda Erb

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Michael gets ‘Slashed’


(Photo: Firstview.com)

Nobody does sporty chic, quite like Michael Kors and the collection he showed yesterday, filled with luxurious takes on “quintessentially American wardrobe staples” was “all about ease” (as described it in his run of show). The 64 pieces (both women’s wear and menswear and there were plenty of things for the guys that I wouldn’t mind having), played out in a chic neutral color palette consisting of camel (camel and more camel), smoke, anthracite, gunmetal, and of course, black and white. It was choc a block with great pieces and desirous wardrobe staples (great cashmere sweaters, sumptuous cross fox furs and fur accessories (flings, anorak coats, even a skirt), sporty anoraks, balmacaans, military coats, chesterfields, reefers, pea jackets, metallic tweeds, perfect trouser suits, silver cire storm coats, draped jersey and paillette jersey dresses). Every length and every proportion was shown and Michael seemed intent on infusing his signature, iconic pieces with an updated sexier edge.


(Photo: Firstview.com)

To that end, ruggedly sexy boots or brown leather sandals (both on platforms) were used, and the body was visible even beneath the most oversized furs or classic of menswear inspired coats, thanks to the use of deep v neck cashmere sweaters or almost see thru mohair voile pullovers. Notable examples are the white Melton chesterfield shown over a white cashmere v neck pullover and a floor length white cashmere skirt, and the camel crushed cashmere pea coat worn with a smoke mohair voile pullover and smoke stretch flannel trouser. (Both of which, in addition to many other items in the collection, I could easily envision on Melania Trump- who was seated next to The Donald in the front row) Michael experimented with fabrics and surface textures by crushing and crinkling cashmere (giving his stellar outwear a somewhat lived in, wrinkly look), he also used distressed leather, and slashed (or slit) the elbows of some of his chesterfields, making them look as though they were ripped or torn but in fact, he was allowing for the narrowest of sleeves.

Coincidentally, when I left Michael’s show, I noticed that my vintage mink bolero had rips and tears on two sides. Instead of panicking or looking for a safety pin to temporarily patch it up, I thought of Michael and simply decided to go with the flow and let it ‘rip’.

Tory! Tory! Tory!


(Photo: Firstview.com)

The many reasons for Tory Burch's amazing success were very much apparent at her morning fall 2010 installation held at the Bryant Park tents. Even though it was very early, the venue was jam packed, filled with energy, not to mention the signature clothing, handbags, boots, accessories that now bear the name of Tory Burch. It looked fresh, modern, youthful, and appealing and was all about great, accessible, well priced wardrobe must haves. There were great coats, jackets, tweeds (many of them shot with lurex). Abstract painterly prints broke up the solid colors, and there was very little black but when it was used, it was highly effective. (such as the black t shirt with long sleeves shot with lurex, shown with pants tucked sportily into boots and accessorized with a black hood and leather envelope clutch adorned with gold nail heads (it shouldn’t be surprising to hear that Tory's bags, which have been successful hits since the get go, were all standouts at yesterday’s lineup yesterday).


(Photo: Firstview.com)

There was also a cropped black Mongolian lamb jacket paired with camel pants. The grouping in camel was especially strong, including a chic knee length coat thrown over a silvery tweed dress or the camel hand knit sleeveless sweater and matching knitted cap, paired with orange pants and accessorized with the crepe soled luggage suede high heeled lace up booties that were used throughout (and are destined to become best sellers next fall). I’ve always thought nothing looks as good with camel as orange by the way, and since orange is known to be Tory’s favorite color (and her signature), it’s not surprising that she has perfected a particular orangey/red shade which showed up in several other places. There was even an orange sweater and skirt ensemble (further accessorized with orange tights), that might have looked perfectly elsewhere but at TB, it looked chic as hell. Other notable outfits: the blue tie dyed mohair coat showed with cobalt leggings and the army green utility anorak thrown over a dress and tights in a matching abstract Jackson Pollack- worthy print.

FYI, I have known Tory since my Harper's Bazaar days (I was the senior market editor way back when she was an assistant). I’ll be the first to admit that when I first heard years ago, that she was starting her own line, I, like many others, was skeptical and thought that this was just another attractive, chic, well connected socialite with extra time on her hands, putting her name on a clothing line. And I had my doubts that this would really take off the ground in any big way. Boy, us doubters were we all proved wrong. It became very apparent very fast, that she had a major success on her hands and all I can say is it is well deserved...she is not only talented, with a fabulously chic taste level, and highly focused, but she is sweet and nice, doesn’t take her success for granted, and does she let it go to her head (What an unusual combination!) Congratulations Tory!

Out on a ‘Lim’


(Photo: Firstview.com)

I’m a fan of the young and talented Phillip Lim and have come to appreciate his inventive way with classic wardrobe staples, his melding of seemingly disparate influences, wonderful offbeat mixes and contrasts, and his ability to infuse many different elements into a collection. Phillip Lim described his inspiration for fall as a woman “boiling with youthful revolt but distinguished by unexpectedly classic style” who has said “goodbye to too much glitter and too much skin and is looking for something more polished and streamlined”. Working in a neutral color palette (the color palette of the season): camel, ecru, grey, charcoal, hunter green, amber, buff, and black, there were suspender skirts, airy mohair pullovers, silk crepe tuxedo blouses and one great gold tweed tuxedo pantsuit, and a group of electric purple paves sequined dresses with asymmetrical hems.


(Photo: Firstview.com)

But as usual, the emphasis was on Phillip’s stellar outerwear, especially outerwear with more volume than we’ve seen in awhile, from pieced lambskin and shearling coat, grey merino wool oversized ponchos with side lacing, and camel double face coats to voluminous cape coats in outsized checks, some of which were binded in leather, a la Bonnie Cashin. Is it my imagination, or was the late Bonnie Cashin, who I’m also a huge fan of, having collected some of her great coats through the years, somewhat of an inspiration?

-Marilyn Kirschner


“A Rising Star”



This year’s winner of the Fashion Group International’s coveted Rising Star Award for womenswear, Peter Hidalgo, showed his Fall 2010 collection at FGI’s venue yesterday. The presentation was a chic and concise display of body conscious silhouettes and clever draping that portrayed a distinct point of view. Hidalgo’s dimensional creations are intricate, but not overdesigned. The Dominican born designer apprenticed under the famous fashion illustrator, Antonio Lopez. “I was more of an illustrator before, but now I drape everything. I need to see how the fabric is going to fall, how it reacts,” Hidalgo said. When I asked him about the technique behind his black strapless “heart” dress Hidalgo explained, “I started with a v-neck and the pieces just fell down that way and created the shape.” The heart concept was manipulated in different ways throughout the collection showing up in neckline shape, draped folds and as a beaded appliqué. The underappreciated designer has endured for nearly two decades in this difficult industry -- perhaps the heart shape was a symbol of the dedicated Hildalgo’s passion for design.

-Stacy Lomman

Anna Sui’s Arts and Crafts Fare


(Photo: Firstview.com)

The wonderful thing about Anna Sui is that her collections always focus on a theme. This season her Fall/Winter 2010 runway show, held in the Tent at Mercedes Benz Fashion Week, paid homage to the arts and crafts movement with a decidedly retro rock and roll edge. Appropriately, Peaches Geldoff, daughter of rock star Bob Geldoff, was seated front and center to observe the proceedings.

Sui mixed textures and patterns in layer upon layer to create looks that were homespun yet fresh and contemporary. There were jacquard knits, shearlings, silks and sequins in earthy tones like mushroom, rust, wine, cornflower and olive. Accessories included Adrienne Landau furs, James Coviello knit hats, and textured tights from the new Anna Sui Legwear Collection.

There are always ultra feminine looks in an Anna Sui collection and this one was no exception. The dusty blue/navy silk jacquard dress was particularly flattering as was the plum metallic velvet burnout dress. Other noteworthy looks included the short cocoa cardigan trimmed in velvet and paired with a metallic chiffon dress and a navy knit jumper over a print dress made of bamboo twill.


(Photo: Firstview.com)

Sui saved her best for last, closing the show with vintage inspired dresses crafted of antique ivory lace and velvet that were exceptionally beautiful.

-Rhonda Erb

And Now For Something Completely Different: Douglas Hannant Rocks the Kaye Playhouse


(Photo: Firstview.com)

Last season Douglas Hannant debuted his Spring 2010 collection at New York’s Plaza Hotel to coincide with the opening of his flagship store in the city’s venerable landmark. The location was just a stone’s throw away from the homes of his loyal Upper East Side followers. This season the designer took his show right into their backyards. His Fall 2010 showing was held on Wednesday afternoon in the Kaye Playhouse, located right off Park Avenue.


(Photo: Firstview.com)

The audience included the usual attendees like Cece Cord and Kimberly Guilfoyle, but everything else about the theatrical showing was decidedly unexpected. Using the artist Jean-Michel Basquit as his inspiration, Hannant decorated the stage with graffiti covered panels and the models walked to a hard driving 80’s rock soundtrack courtesy of DJ Russian Bear. Surely this was not the Douglas Hannant we have come to know.

Leave it to Hannant to mix conventional elements like houndstooth checks and tweeds with graffiti inspired prints. A body hugging chocolate brown tweed banded dress was shown with a teal fox fur jacket and a leopard beret complemented a velvet and tweed jacket and skirt ensemble. Hand painted prints decorated stove pipe jeans and a short skirt. The color palette included metallics in silver, gold, blue and green as well as bright red and violet.

Douglas Hannant may have strayed from his roots with his fall collection but he has not forgotten who his customer is. His tailoring always complements the body and his 80’s inspired looks were all completely wearable. As always, Hannant closed his show with his signature formal gowns. He managed to infuse elegance into his graffiti stylings with a full-skirted taffeta gown and an exquisite sequin column dress that would be a stand out in any collection.

- Rhonda Erb

The Daily Bet


The Powermat Wireless Charging System

You can’t live without your cell phone or your iPod, but you could live without the hassle of keeping up with the chargers that it takes to power them and all of your other handheld electronics. The Powermat Wireless Charging Station charges up to three electronic devices simultaneously, using either a powercube that comes with the mat or individual receivers that are sold separately. There is also a foldable mat that can be used for travel.

Powermat Home and Office Mat and Powermat Portable Mat, $99.99 each
http://www.thesharperimage.com/

- Rhonda Erb

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Starry Starry Night


(Photo: Firstview.com)

Just like the recent weather, what has been shown on the runways during New York Fashion Week for fall 2010 thus far, could best be described as a ‘wintry mix’ (you can take that any way you want to but what I mean is there’s been a little of this, a little of that, and everything in between) -- and that continued on Tuesday.

When the lights were dimmed at Badgley Mischka, (the first show in the morning), it was impossible to see the show program and everything else for that matter. The first outfit out, a rather subtle black matte jersey jumpsuit, followed a parade of 15 evening dresses and gowns, most of which glittered and shone in the dark, and given names normally associated with the sky and outer space. (a ‘cerulean’ matte jersey gown, a claret/cassis/Bordeaux galaxy gown, a gold tulle constellation gown, and a nude chiffon nebula dress). Apparently, Mark & James have been star gazing and are taken with the beauty in the galaxy; there in lies the inspiration for their line.


(Photo: Firstview.com)

When the lights came on, I thought that was the end of the show, but I was wrong. Numbers 16 through 44 represented items from their new collection, Mark & James, and though I thought that’s where the daytime pieces would be, I was wrong again. Other than a few unembellished, fairly simplified pieces at the beginning (such as a black wool tunic sweater, a black suede dress and tissue jersey top, and several wool sweaters), almost everything else was geared towards evening.


(Photo: Firstview.com)

Or perhaps a better way to put it, was that the line seemed perfectly geared for that young woman who is going straight from work to the clubs (or not going to work at all), because there was a distinctive club vibe, not only in the color palette (almost all black except for some gray and cream), but in the abbreviated lengths, the shiny second skin leggings (pewter glazed lace or lace jacquard), and the liberal use of tulle fringe, sequins, chain, mesh, glazed lace, faux leather and leather, and faux fur. It was also hard to ignore the thumping club music which served as the soundtrack for the show.

The Bride Wore Black


(Photo: Firstview.com)

Vera Wang came back home for the last time, to the Bryant Park Tents, after showing in her Soho shop for a few seasons. But instead of using the large Tent venue (where she had traditionally shoed), she opted for the smaller Promenade. There were still plenty of empty seats. The run of show revealed that the title of the collection was 'The Bride Wore Black' (boy, it’s hard to remember that Ms. Wang began eons ago as a bridal wear designer), and Ms. Wang said that she used the Film Noir as a contemporary metaphor for youth, romance and sophistication tinged ever so slightly with a sense of mystery.


(Photo: Firstview.com)

Let’s face it, black and (and gray) are known to be Vera's favorite colors (I don't think I've seen her wear anything else) so it's not surprising that an entire collection would be similarly hued. The first look out, a sharply tailored black dry wool twill jacket with prominent organza 'corsage' at the shoulder, shown over a black dry wool paperbag pant and jersey tank, set the mood and was a harbinger of other changes to come (we don’t normally associate strict menswear tailoring with Vera). When one sees a Vera Wang Show, there are always the signature staples (Vera is very consistent and has a ‘look’), and there were plenty of those signature touches: the twisted jersey dresses, asymmetrically draped tops, faille boleros with organza rosette appliqués, tulle appliqués, illusion dresses with iridescent sequined panels, structured yet loose coats with short sleeves, asymmetry, the use of long leather gloves, and other such Vera-isms.


(Photo: Firstview.com)

The pieces that surprised and stood out, included the coated black fringed coat (leather?), several heavy wool twill coats with Mongolian lamb trim (on the hem of one, on the short sleeves of another); the Charcoal Mongolian lamb fur pocket scarf; an architecturally draped white linen voile top that reminded me of something Gianfranco Ferre might have done decades ago; and those strictly tailored jackets and coats with roots in menswear.

Examples: the black felt Nehru cutaway jacket shown over a jersey harness dress; the black heather felt and heavy wool twill cutaway jacket with grey faille and sequined corsage at the shoulder; and my favorite: the charcoal felt boyfriend’s blazer with cutaway back shown over charcoal wool knit zip front jumpsuit with tuxedo stripes. Oh, I forgot to mention that Vera used not one chain anywhere on the line. Instead, she used massive ropes of teeny tiny seed pearls (not only around the neck, filling in bare necklines, but on both wrists, making it appear as an oversized pearl cuff from the distance.

Venus


(Photo: Firstview.com)

Remember what I said about Carolina Herrera being PETA’s number one enemy this season? Scratch that. My vote goes to Dennis Basso, who freely combined the most luxurious of furs, leather, alligator, and fabric, and pulled no stops in his decidedly dressed to the nines fall 2010 fur collection which he says was inspired by the ‘great sculpture of Venus de Milo” and “represents the strong, statuesque, elegant woman”. Certainly, it would take one of those to pull off much of the Russian broadtail, natural Russian Barguzine sable, Arctic Finnish raccoon, natural cross fox, hand painted velvet chinchilla, etc. coats, jackets, vests, which were shown in oft times voluminous proportions with large face framing collars, and were paired with everything from charmeuse and liquid wool dresses, and wool knit skirts hitting just below the knee, to floor length embroidered lace gowns.


(Photo: Firstview.com)

One interesting touch considering the popularity of anything military inspired, (not to mention the popularity of army green), was the grouping dyed in evergreen and paired with tonal ready to wear pieces. Examples: an evergreen chinchilla and fox coat shown with a khaki wool skirt and top; an evergreen chinchilla fox and leather jacket shown with a matching colored wool knit skirt and top; an evergreen ermine and sable elongated vest with outsized pockets, shown with an evergreen wool knit draped gown; a fitted evergreen alligator coat with massive fox cuffs, shown over an evergreen wool knit skirt and top. Once again, platform shoes accessorized and on this runway, some of those by Ruthie Davis (complete with diamante ‘spikes’) looked as though they could pass for a dangerous weapon.

Variations on a Theme


(Photo: Firstview.com)

To say that the Max Azria show had one specific point of view (that played out over and over again), is an understatement. In fact, the entire collection was understated (and lean). The program notes said the show was a “minimalistic journey of clean lines and artful tailoring” And that aesthetic (an artistic personal approach to pared down minimalism), for a lack of a better description, could not have been more opposite from say, the over the top, in your face luxury quotient on view at Carolina Herrera on Monday. So, if your idea of fashion heaven and your definition of ‘modern’ is clean lines, organic elements, weightless volume, and individualistic style, Max Azria would be your label of choice for the next season.


(Photo: Firstview.com)

There was not one print, one bright color (the dusty mineral toned palette was limited to black, nude, taupe, beige, various shades of gray, dark moss), and unlike other runways, surface ornamentation was kept to a bare minimum (and I mean that literally -- subtle black beaded details appeared at the end on a group of black crepe dresses). Fabrics were mixed for day (leather, crepe, knit, wool felt, wool boucle, mesh), and evening (almost all black) was primarily done in silk georgette, ribbed knit, and crepe. Like elsewhere, a platform boot, was the footwear of choice.

- Marilyn Kirschner

The Daily Bet



The Nokia Twist

Here’s a unique cell phone that is sure to get you noticed. The Nokia 7705 Twist has a compact square shape that swivels open to reveal an easy to use Qwerty keyboard. The Contact Light Ring can be customized to identify the callers of your choice and the Twist phone has great features like a 3 mega pixel camera, HTML web browsing, e-mail, V cast music and video, and a built in mirror. It comes in black with Xpress-on Covers in black and purple and is exclusive to Verizon.

Nokia 7705 Twist, $99.99 after $50.00 rebate, with a new two-year customer agreement
www.verizonwireless.com/twist
Verizon Wireless Communication Stores



Casio Eco-Baby-G Watch

There is a new eco-friendly addition to Casio’s ever-popular Baby-G line of watches. The Eco-Baby-G has Casio’s Tough Solar Technology, which generates electrical power from sunlight, thereby increasing battery life. Since the watch is rechargeable, you won’t be adding to the more than three billion watch batteries thrown away in America each year. The Eco-Baby-G comes in an eye catching bright green color and is packaged in a recyclable box. It will be available in March, just in time for Spring.

Casio Eco-Baby-G, Model BGR300GR-3, $110.00
http://www.baby-g.com/
Select Macy’s stores

-Rhonda Erb

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Carolina On My Mind


(Photo: Firstview.com)

Carolina Herrera’s show notes spoke of "an alluring confidence in the women who inspired fall”. “A sophisticated feminine attitude and striking details, reveal an integrity to luxury”. And that was luxury with a capital L. In fact, there was so much luxury on display, one could almost call it an embarrassment of riches. But I wouldn’t call it wasn’t an embarrassment; it was actually quite well done. Ms Herrera bid adieu to the artsy side she seemed to favor in recent seasons, and returned to her luxe sportif roots.


(Photo: Firstview.com)

Certainly, there were enough understated cocktail dresses and gowns, as well as dramatic red carpet worth entrance makers, with sculpted pleats, fluid ruffles, embroidery, etc., to keep her social swans and celebrity customers (including her number one fan Renee Zellwegger) happy for another season. And in the case of the latter, there were enough sleeveless, one shouldered, or strapless creations to show off her well toned form.


(Photo: Firstview.com)

But for me, it was the strong daywear that stood out, (in a color palette of camel, Prussian blue, deep red, and an okra floral print), the stellar coats (many of them in camel), and the creative use of embroidery and fur, mainly sable. And oh boy, the fur was flying yesterday morning; so much so that Carolina might become PETA’s number one enemy. I also loved the crisp white cotton shirts (Ms. Herrera’s signature item) used beneath some of the coats and jackets, and classic slouchy menswear trousers, sometimes in banker’s pinstripes (skinny jeans and leggings have their place but after awhile, one longs for another proportion and these looked right). Standouts: the chocolate sable and faille brush stroke print jacket with grey wool wide leg pinstripe pant; the camel crocodile and wool jacket shown with stone mélange wool wide legged pants; the double face wool cashmere cape with a an embroidered mohair scarf with fox trim, paired with a windowpane wool wide legged pant; and the sable trimmed camel double face belted knee length that looked as though there was a sable bolero over it until you saw the entire back was covered in sable. Accessories were Manolo Blahnik’s high heeled shoes (not one boot in sight), the jaunty brimmed hats by Albertus Swanepoel, and belts by Bennett Liberty (all done especially for Carolina). By the way, I liked the way she used a thin red belt to define the waist, for both day and evening. What looks better with camel than red?

The straw that broke the ‘camel's’ back


(Photo: Firstview.com)

Speaking of camel, the camel (or camel hair) coat, an iconic menswear item, is a timeless and classic wardrobe staple for women as well, and the camel coat was THE coat for fall 2009. From the look of things, it’s continued into this season (and for good reason). It’s flattering, chic, always in style, a perfect neutral which literally goes with everything, and like the tan trench or khaki army jacket, it keeps on being re interpreted. And no matter how you do so, it still looks great.


(Photo: Firstview.com)

IT was hardly surprising when I looked at the run of show, (before the 19 piece Yeohlee show began), to find that camel coats would be a major focus of the collection. In fact, the first three items out were different variations on the theme: a camel single cylinder cocoon coat, a knee length camel funnel neck coat, and a camel ‘cadet’ coat, shown with either narrow cuffed pants in grey fleece or kazimir, or over a watercolor plaid silk shirtwaist dress. They were all shown with the chicest, most simplified and hard to find perfect pumps: simple, low heeled, feminine yet sturdy at the same time (sometimes with bare legs, sometimes with ankle socks). And were also accessorized with cozy, knitted hoods or large neck scarves (in black white mélange, oat two-ply melange, grey or black wool). The program notes also revealed that Yeohlee was inspired by artist Kazimir Malevich’s Black Circle springing out into a cylinder. (Thus, the double face camel wrap coat, a dress in pewter laminated jersey, or a jacket in lime grey brushed angora plaid)

Yeohlee is one of the most consistent and talented designers today, and almost nobody makes a coat quite like Yeohlee. I can attest to that fact because I am a coat collector and have several of her pieces and they not only stand the test of time, they are insanely fabulous, foldable, packable, seasonless, weightless, timeless, and magically versatile and practical (did I leave anything out?). I always think of her Urban Nomad Collection and her concept that clothing becomes one’s environment outside. So true. And I kept thinking, I’d love to add any one of those shown yesterday, to my collection. In addition to coats, standout pieces were the grouping in black/white mélange hand knit, a Spacebond (sort of a pale greige color) 3 cylinder jacket, aviator cape, and cadet dress with an interesting shoulder detail; two pewter cylinder dresses, and two perfect little black dresses.

Reese's 'Pieces'


(Photo: Firstview.com)

Tracy Reese is in an upbeat, girlie, and downright sexy mood this fall based on the 40 pieces she showed yesterday afternoon. The emphasis was on the body (abbreviated skirts and narrow pants namely jodhpurs). Short dresses (frocks and shifts) appeared throughout in myriad of fabrics (everything from lace spliced jersey and shaded square jersey, to an expressionist grid). In many cases, they were paired with a thick loopy 'fringed' neck scarf. This Mongolian lamb like fringed fabric, (a replacement for real fur?) also appeared as a coat and several cropped jackets. While there were other faux and distressed faux furs, as well as distressed faux leathers (as in one gray faux leather coat), apparently Tracy is not making a politically correct statement about being anti fur because the real thing was used as trim on the short sleeves of several cardigans. Speaking of which, cardigans were also a recurring theme and there were several good looking coats, the best of which was a graphic alpaca plaid. The color palette was predominantly black, grey, ecru, camel, and brown and blush with touches of a smoky blue, and several abstract patterns. Glittery jewelry (mainly necklaces) by Gerard Yosca added shine.

Monique’s Crimson Tide


(Photo: Isabelle Erb)

It may have been too late for Valentine’s Day, but Monique Lhuillier, who always shows a crowd pleasing collection which is a variation on her signature themes (if something is not broke, why fix it?) cited soldier like inspiration from “Chinese warrior and military suits” and promised strong silhouettes, strong shoulders, lots of leg, lots of ‘edge’ and a tough chic vibe. Hence, her love affair with crimson red, either alone or used in combination with black. Best pieces: the dragon lacquered mattelasse mini dress with gold encrusted cuffs that opened the show; the crimson jacquard coat with red piping and oxidized metal epaulets; the crimson halter dress with gold leather chain embroidery; the black and white tweed jacket and skirt with grayed tulle trim; the noir crocodile embossed velvet coat with oxidized crystal epaulets; the dragon lacquered mattelesse trench; the black and nude pleated tulle gown with nude floral embroidery, and the jaw droppingly beautiful Shanghai red duchesse draped gown with floral skirt.

-Marilyn Kirschner

The Daily Bet



DOTS Gloves

If you have ever stood on the street on a cold day with your hands freezing while you try to operate your iPhone or iPod Touch, these are the gloves for you. DOTS Gloves have three dots embroidered on the thumb and two fingertips that allow you to use the touch screen of your iPhone or iPod Touch without risking frostbite. They come in three styles, so stop suffering to stay in touch.

DOTS Gloves, $15-$25
www.dotsgloves.com

- Rhonda Erb