Friday, September 24, 2010

Museum at F.I.T. Opening of New Exhibition


Japan Fashion Now
Special Exhibitions Gallery
September 17, 2010 through January 8, 2010


How ‘Comme’?

I attended last evening’s cocktail party to fete the opening of The Museum at FIT’s new exhibit, Japan Fashion Now, curated by museum director Dr. Valerie Steele. It has the distinction of being the “first exhibition to explore contemporary Japanese fashion in all its radical creativity, from designer fashion to street style, including menswear.” As Dr. Steele so aptly put it, “Japan continues to be on the cutting edge - maybe the bleeding edge - of fashion”. Indeed.

When you think of the names of the famed designers, true creators all, who are responsible for starting the Japanese “fashion revolution” of the 1980’s, that list has to include Rei Kawakubo of Comme des Garcons, Yohji Yamamoto, Issey Miyake, Matsuda, Kenzo, Kansai Yamamoto, and Hanae Mori. And so, it was rather fitting that a room filled with iconic examples of their work played out almost entirely in a signature and somber palette of black, navy, and gray, served as the introductory gallery for the exhibition. By contrast, the much larger main gallery, filled with about 90 pieces, set in a mise en scene made to evoke 21st century Tokyo (the exhibition was designed brilliantly by Charles B. Froom who was the subject of a past 'Masters of Fashion' interview), touched on many more themes and it was at times more exuberant, playful, and (dare I say), colorful. There was even a sighting of patterns such as tartan plaids.


h.NAOTO. Gothic Lolita dress ensemble, autumn/winter 2008-09, Japan, museum purchase.

Effectively divided into 4 platforms, it began with the brilliant designs of Yohji Yamamoto, Rei Kwakubo for Comme des Garcon, Junya Watanbe, and Jun Takahasi of Undercover (as for the latter, I loved several highly textural coats on display). Among my personal favorites were CDG’s chic trench made entirely of white handkerchief fabric and a fabulously shaped army green military jacket shown over khaki cargo pants- how timely is that? - which was on loan from Veronica Webb). In addition, there was menswear, (an ever growing part and parcel of Japanese fashion), which included the work of up and coming menswear designers; street and sub cultural styles (Kamikaze suits, the Forest Girl look, Gothic-Punk- Lolita fashions); “Utility products” (denim, vintage style military wear, etc.); and “Costume Play” (Cosplay) which is more performance art than fashion.


Number (N)ine. Man’s ensemble, autumn/winter 2009, Japan, museum purchase

By the way, the clothes on exhibit are not the only things that merit looking at during the course of one of the Museum of FIT’s cocktail soirees: its fun to see how the invited guests come to pay homage. (Bill Cunningham was kept very busy shooting all the outfits). Michelle Harper (not exactly a shrinking violet), showed up in a black wire cage top worn over nothing but a black bodysuit, there were several in fancy headpieces, and of course, quite a few devotees showed up in their Issey Mikayes, Comme des Garcons, and Yohji’s (I pulled out my beloved tan cotton jacket from Yohji’s “Dior New Look” collection, the back of which is entirely shaped with wire). Dr. Valerie Steele looked chic in a knee length black dress by h. Naoto, (made from some sort of techno fabric), her blonde hair swept back in an aerodynamic style that was in perfect keeping with Japanese avante garde. When I asked who her personal favorites were (in the exhibition), she told me “I love Chitose Abe of sacai and Big O of Phenomenon!! (the latter does menswear). And of course, Comme des Garcons, especially, Junya." As for surprises she found in the course of mounting the exhibit? "Hmm…. It was a rollercoaster getting the photos done for the walls. And all the techno additions – like the computer graphics."

Japan Fashion Now was sponsored by the global marketing and merchandising company specializing in fashion, Yagi Tsusho Limited, whose brands include Moncler (Mr. Tsusho was there of course, and made a little speech prior to the beginning of the evening), with additional support by Sokenbicha. Upon leaving, each guest was handed a shopping bag; while alas, it did not contain a Moncler coat, it did have a white printed t-shirt and 5 bottles of Sokenbicha’s authentically brewed zero calorie unsweetened teas blended with natural botanicals.

-Marilyn Kirschner

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Fashion Week’s Perfect Punctuation Mark!
FashionGPS sponsored report


Chado Ralph Rucci ivory printed gazar "antler chair" strapless gown

Hands down the most special and rewarding fashion experience of the week, occurred the day after the final show on Thursday, and it was not at Lincoln Center, but in Soho, at 536 Broadway to be exact. Far from the maddening crowd. As we all know, Ralph Rucci was to present his spring collection at his Soho atelier this past Monday evening, but canceled right before Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week was to begin. Instead, he opted for individual appointments. My first reaction, as soon as I heard the news, was that I was pleased to know that I would be up close and personal with museum quality clothes, and talk with the extremely cultured, articulate designer, who is known for his excruciating, painstaking attention to detail. (How many times have we all sat at his shows and wished we could actually touch the garment or find out exactly how it was constructed?)

I arrived a few minutes before Ralph and had a chance to quickly thumb through the approximately 80 looks. It was a real treat to feel the fabrics - matte jersey, mohair, silk faille, printed gazar, cotton poplin and cotton canvas, organza, tulle, wool crepe, and get a good look at the construction, the details, the front, the back, the sides, and insides of the pieces. When Ralph arrived, we had a chance to talk about a range of fashion related topics.


Black wool jacket with circular horeshair insets

As for this collection, a study in black, taupe, ivory, and touches of coral, chrome yellow, cinnamon, and celadon, he explained that it is an homage to sculptor Arnaldo Pomodoro, (who worked in flat planes). It features signature Ralph themes such as Charles James inspired elliptical cut sleeves, and the abundant use of horsehair. What I learned, (and it truly boggles the mind), is that in Ralph’s wondrous backrooms (where about 70 talented craftsmen make it all happen), they actually steam the horsehair (bend and shape it), so that it becomes pliable. One fabulous black suit with circular, (upward, downward) horsehair insets, was “4 years in the making - I’m so gratified that we can do this!”; a ‘simple’ (Ralph’s words, not mine) black t shirt, was given interest through insets of molded horsehair in a circular pattern; one black lightweight double faced wool and silk 7/8 coat had sheer insets that formed the pattern of a Louise Nevelson collage.


Black satin raincoat

Other mind blowing creations (and this only scratches the surface): an updated black mohair ‘le smoking’ (the midriff and sleeves on the jacket had horsehair insets embroidered in a sound wave design); a fantastically shaped black satin coat with beige outside darts (treated to be water repellent), which was shown with black mohair ‘jeans’ (Ralph’s ‘jeans’, ‘t shirts’, and ‘raincoats’ are not quite garden variety basics); a matte jersey pale beige knee length dress and long black gown given surface interest through cartridge pleating; several pieces in black or white wool crepe (jackets, coats, an evening gown), actually done in the “Pomodoro” technique; a beautiful and graceful strapless ivory gazar gown screen printed with a Han Dynasty chair whose legs were made from antlers.


Ivory pleated dress

When a model came out wearing a dramatic black bugle bead jacket over a black bugle beaded top and long organza skirt, the designer was quick to point out that he is now using bugle beads in lieu of regular beads because he’s tired of glitter (“no more glitter” he decreed). As for the supremely elegant and feminine see through Manolo Blahnik shoes on a new fabulous heel, Ralph noted, “I love an invisible shoe” and then talked about his absolute distaste for those heavy, clunky, almost orthopedic shoes that have been the footwear of choice for quite awhile now (I could not agree more!). He also said, “If I put my mind to evening clothes, it has to be stimulating intellectually and sexually”.


Black mohair 'le smoking' tuxedo suit

Speaking of being stimulated, Ralph is always thinking and moving forward. It’s obvious that he is confident and comfortable in his own skin. At this stage in his career, as he put it, “I know my limitations as a designer”. What’s up next? A line of furniture and textiles (he would not divulge the details yet but did say, “I’m in the company of geniuses” (no offense meant, but let’s just say he’s most likely not collaborating with Pottery Barn or Bed, Bath, and Beyond (details to follow soon). In addition, a website, www.chadoralphrucci.com (“a history of 28 years” he proclaimed), should be up and running by mid October. And while the customer may not be able to place an order for an evening confection that costs well into the 5 figures; she will be able to purchase more accessible things.

As for moving forward - that is literally the case; the company plans to move their headquarters from their current Soho location, to the west 20’s (Chelsea), home to many of the city’s famed galleries, and will hopefully be ensconced in their new space by April. Considering Ralph is a consummate artist, that’s a perfect fit

Looking ahead to the fall show, which will be held in February, I think we can safely assume it will be a formal show held in his Soho atelier. Although Ralph admitted that though the consensus of opinion among those who came downtown, was that they personally loved having an intimate view and one on one with the designer, he himself missed the “movement and dynamics” of a formal runway show. He also promised a “big surprise”. He wouldn’t say what it was, but with a twinkle in his eye, he told me that he had a brilliant idea for the collection and began working on it about 3 weeks ago.

A ‘Beauty’!


All photos: Marcio Madeira/ firstVIEW

Francisco Costa’s spring collection for Calvin Klein, shown on Thursday afternoon, was a study in simplicity (could anything be more opposite Marc Jacobs or Ralph Lauren for that matter?) But for someone with an educated eye, you could appreciate the complexity that went into it and understand that there was really nothing ‘simple’ about it at all. Short, quick, and to the point, the 34 well edited pieces spoke volumes about paring down, and doing it with great attention to cut and proportion. There was nothing to detract from the clean look of the clothes- no jewelry, no handbags, and only minimal makeup. No big hair here- the models wore their hair pulled back in easy ponytails. The only accessory used was one shoe: a high heeled anklet sandal (in black, white, or coral depending on which outfits they were paired with).



Here, like many other runways prior, something in white (an ankle length chalk washed silk halter dress), began the show, and like several others, the emphasis was on neutral shades: chalk, pearl, ivory, straw, natural, black (balsam) and charcoal. When a welcome lone coral washed silk shift (hitting above the knee), made its appearance, followed by several in shades of blue, they were the lone bright lights. Layering, a recurring theme, was highly effective and chic in this monotone collection, and there was a real sense of ease owing to the use of controlled volume. Coats, which hit above the knee, had dropped shoulders, deep armholes, and wide sleeves (as did several tops), and were paired with cropped easy pants. Shifts, falling a few inches above the knee, were similarly eased up and fell away from the body.



The use of panels, pleats, and prominent pockets, added dimension and in the case of the latter, it could also be a wonderfully functional detail. How chic is the elongated v neck pearl double faced silk crepe evening dress with prominent side pockets, which would basically obliterate the need to carry a bag? Speaking of bags, on each seat was a small white shopping bag containing a bottle of the new Calvin Klein fragrance, ‘Beauty’. And it was.

- Marilyn Kirschner

Friday, September 17, 2010

In a League of His Own
FashionGPS sponsored report


Photo: Firstview.com
(Editor's note: Calvin Klein and Ralph Rucci reviews online this weekend)

I loved Ralph Lauren’s collection, held at the Skylight studios on Hudson Street Thursday morning. While this may be an out of the way location for some, taking the fashion troops far from Lincoln Center, his showing at this space symbolically separates him from the pack (geographically and every other way). Plus, with a bus taking us from downtown up to Lincoln Center, we all got to Isaac in time anyway.

The collection played to all Ralph’s strengths and made the most of his wonderful way with mixing: soft with hard, rugged with delicate, ethnic with classic, day with evening, boy meets girl, etc. Every length and proportion was covered and it was not about that, it was about great pieces and putting it together with unabashed American joy.


Photo: Firstview.com

It was pure, quintessential Ralph (down to the neutral color palette - no brights and no black or navy), and it didn’t look like anybody else this season. You can always tell what the overall look will be by checking out what wife Ricky seated in the front row and schmoozing with the attendees is wearing. This morning, she had on a pale camel suede jacket with long fringe trim, accessorized with a massive Southwest Indian Native Indian belt. And sure enough, that was almost the exact outfit worn by the first model out (though she had on shorts with crochet inserts and a tulle embroidered blouse).


Photo: Firstview.com

There were cream deerskin beaded vests and jackets, serape striped linen jackets, palomino deerskin jackets and pants and one terrific fringed coat. Saddle suede tailored jackets were paired with off white cotton hand crocheted floor length skirts, and ivory hand crochet was a theme throughout (there was a wonderful below the knee length dress and knee length cardigan coat). An was an all white group in cotton pique and linen followed which consisted of terrific leg-o-mutton sleeved fitted jackets and frock coats worn with linen pants and cuffed shorts. A loose sand washed linen jacket was paired offhandedly with a natural distressed canvas jean that was heavily embroidered, and shown with an antique brown handmade braided fringe sandal.

In one instance, a serape striped linen jacket was juxtaposed over a beautiful cream tulle crinkle chiffon embroidered long dress with a train. A fitted lame jacket was paired with a beaded embroidered fringed pant, a saddle distressed leather jacket was thrown over a platinum lamé beaded slip dress, and a platinum tulle beaded long dress was pulled together with an amazing, wide vintage looking brown belt with fabulous buckle. Get the picture? Needless to say, there was a lot going on but thanks to brilliant fabrication, cut, execution, and styling, it worked!

September Showers Bring May flowers


Photo: Firstview.com

The heavens literally opened up right after Oscar de la Renta’s 5 pm 62 piece collection, held at 583 Park Avenue, got under way. And how fortuitous since in addition to natural silk linens, pretty silk crepe de chine blouses worn with wide legged pants, highly textural degrade tulle tweed pleated silk organza skirt suits featuring a cardigan jacket (like the one worn by Sarah Jessica Parker, who was seated next to Anna Wintour in the front row), mixes of graphic black and ivory in coats and jackets, sweet ivory cotton voile and black guipure lace embroidered dresses; and a finale of prom worthy pastel confections that came out with the 50’s jukebox favorite, “Yes I’m a Great Pretender” playing in the back, it was really all about flowers.


Photo: Fashionologie.com

The show, which had an unapologetically Spanish feel (Cristobal Balenciaga is a well known inspiration to the designer), opened with a natural silk linen coat whose hem was decorated with yellow silk organza flowers, and the model carried a beautiful bouquet in her yellow ostrich tote; multi color garden florals and posy prints abounded, and there was even a full skirted white silk gazar ballgown entirely decorated with red carnations, further accessorized with white gloves and high heeled satin sandals, which were also decorated with the carnations.

He’s So ‘Transparent’


Photos: Fashionologie.com

If there’s anyone more madcap, entertaining, exuberant, expressive, or outgoing than Isaac Mizrahi (or anyone who is better at ‘schmoozing’ for that matter), I’d like to know who it is. And if there’s another designer, who should be showing at The Theatre at Lincoln Center, I cannot think of one.

While his best designs are actually more classical than theatrical per se. The fiber of his being, his entire ‘shtick’ is entertaining and theatrical to the core. The multi-talented fashion designer starred in his own satiric cabaret show, Les MIZrahi, is a bona fide TV personality in his own right, has directed and designed costumes for the ballet, modern dance productions, and theatre (some of which were staged at Lincoln Center).


Photos: Fashionologie.com

Which is why it was interesting (or should I say, curious) that his noon time show on Friday, at The Theatre at Lincoln Center (which was called IM Xerox), was one of the least entertaining, theatrical, or madcap in a long time. I can recall several shows in the past few years, (one at New York Public Library and several at the Bryant Park Tents) that had a lot more pizzazz, and involved more staging, and actually rivaled a Broadway production. That said, the pieces that stood out among the 38 (it was really all about cocktail and evening wear, with the exception of a black pantsuit, and ivory belted ivory jacket worn with a skirt, and several pale shift dresses), involved the use of volume in the back, and the play of sheer over opaque: the use of see thru illusion and transparency (a big trend this past week). For example, a narrow black strapless short dress was covered with a longer black tulle overlay; a black and white abstract patterned dress with a cape back, had a black sheer top; an ivory sequined dress had a nude sheer top and enamel or plastic collar; a thigh length black strapless dress boasted a knee length glittery black sheer point d’esprit cage over it.

In addition to the aforementioned white plastic (?) collars, Isaac used white plastic cuffs that resembled shirt cuffs, which if you think about it, are quite inspired since it ensures they will stay forever clean! The shoes were all feminine pointy toed mules which were either flat, Sabrina heeled, or high heeled.

- Marilyn Kirschner



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- Rhonda Erb

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Fashion Notes: The Straw That Broke the ‘Camel’s’ Back
FashionGPS sponsored report

Photo: Coutorture.com

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, or have no interest in, or association with fashion (in which case I suppose you wouldn’t be reading this), you already know that camel is the new black. It’s been decreed the color of the fall season and the ‘it’ item for fall is the camel coat. Michael Kors, a designer who has perfected the art of reinterpreting classic wardrobe staples each season, has always had a fondness for the color, using it frequently as his base. Even his run of show is traditionally encased in a camel colored paper folder (and it was this time as well).


Photo: Coutorture.com

Various incarnations of camel have been seen on show goers all through the week (there have been camel colored sweaters, jackets, raincoats, trench coats, leathers, pants, shoes, bags, and furs), and they were there in force at Michael’s wonderfully upbeat, 10 am spring show yesterday morning held at The Theatre at Lincoln Center. (His run of show cited his inspiration as the Sunshine State of Mind, and “Here Comes the Sun” was playing in the background; it was an homage to iconic pieces perfect for both the beach life and the city). Quite frankly, the venue was swarming with camel clad show attendees, and it’s a safe bet that a good many of them were wearing Michael’s camel pieces. The woman sitting next to me, a heavily tanned blonde, was wearing a popular number: a very simple and elegant camel suede fitted knee length shift dress, and the woman opposite me had on a dark camel sleeveless dress, a camel toned fox shrug, and was carrying a camel colored leather satchel, all of which I assume came from one or more of Michael’s collections.


Photo: Coutorture.com

MK did not forego camel for spring; renaming it ‘peanut’ (it showed up in the form of a slouchy leather trench coat, a double face plonge trench jacket and skirt, and shirtdress). However, the show began (like many others) with great pieces in optic white (white is the new black for spring); and Michael went a step further and even slip covered the chairs in white fabric. In addition to white and peanut, there was a lot of natural hemp, pebble, sky blue, cloud, and midnight (with touches of daffodil, iris, grass green and zinnia - the least successful of the brights). Michael was another designer to endorse LONG (skirts, coats, dresses, pants), and while there were some fitted sweaters and jackets, he seems to love an eased up, slouchy, proportion. I kept thinking of Lauren Hutton, as I watched the models who looked naturally beautiful, healthy, happy, and comfortable thanks to comfy flat or low wedge sandals, many wearing jaunty bucket/crusher hats. It was truly all about great American sportswear (daywear really), and though the daffodil jersey toga dress looked appealing, the evening portion almost seemed to be forced, an afterthought

Tory Tory Tory


Photo: Coutorture.com

Speaking of camel, Tory Burch showed many great camel pieces for fall, and for her spring 2011 installation held right before Michael’s show, there were still some remnants (a camel cotton trench was shown over navy and white seersucker pants and a striped top and an orange silk peasant top was paired with a below the knee length a line camel leather skirt). Like elsewhere, she was in a much ‘longer’ mood than in the past, with skirt lengths falling from below the knee to the floor; but there were also shorts and pants. None exaggeratedly wide, as in the crisp white gold buttoned blazer paired with matching classic trousers and a black and white awning stripe gold buttoned blazer and matching pant). There was lots of statement making bold gold jewelry including bib necklaces and large gold hoops. The handbags were terrific (like the canvas and leather and all leather satchels); and the footwear of choice was a gold leather sandal on a very high wood heel.

Charlotte’s Nest


Photo: Firstview.com

Phillip Lim used a quote from Charlotte Gainsbourg on the front page of run of show: ‘She walks crooked and paints her eyelids blue…dandie-lion, I wanna go there too’ which was held at the cavernous Park Avenue Armory. His camel coats were some of the best of last season and he was still feeling for the hue. Instead of heavy coats, he substituted knitwear: there was a blush pencil stripe halter layered over a camel back drape sweater and worn over an apron paneled skirt, and a camel knitted trench cardigan layered over a sable silk bustier blouse. He also used related shades like sable, nude, taupe, and tan. Here, the skirt lengths were just above the knee and there were shorts as well as trousers (shown as part of a chic suit), and narrow pants. Some of the best looks were late day and evening, and utilized lace or overlays, among them a knee length piped trench, and several nude and black patterned lace panel dresses. Texture, surface interest, and embellishments were part of the scenario, as exemplified by the dove and black tri paneled gown with lambskin paillettes and rhinestone encrusted panels worn with a blush lambskin neck scarf and the dove tri panel gown.

A Blass from the Past


Photo: Coutorture.com

The late and great Bill Blass was a known classicist and camel (the color and the fabric) always figured prominently in his collections (especially for fall). This morning, there was an informal installation of Bill Blass spring 2011, now designed by Jeffrey Monteiro. While there was no camel among the 27 pieces on view, there were some noteworthy pieces that interpreted trends seen elsewhere (especially where lace, sheer, and see thru were concerned). Among then: a navy double cotton suiting jacket paired with a grey striped top and off white pants; a sleeveless ivory fringed textured beaded top shown with a red/orange double cotton suiting pant; an ivory jacket piped in black lace shown over a sheer black blouse and gray knee length skirt; a white point d’esprit blouse layered over a black point d’esprit bandeau worn with white trousers; a black lace over nude side draped cocktail dress; a narrow red point d’esprit gown that capitalized on the peek a boo trend that is showing up all over.

They ‘nailed’ it

Essie, the popular and ubiquitous nail polish brand we all know and love, partnered with Mercedes Benz Fashion Week this season. Last Friday and yesterday, they set up a mini nail salon and took appointments for free manicures throughout the day. There were two manicurists on duty and one could choose from 4 colors- a dark tan shade, an almost black color, a very very dark, almost black red, and a bright red, called Fishnet Stockings. As it turns out, my manicure from last week was already ‘gone’ and I needed a manicure, so I availed myself of this convenient service, choosing the Fishnet Stockings. It took less than 15 minutes for a filing, manicure change, oil treatment on my cuticles, and then a quick stop at a drying station right behind it. Now, that’s what I call a wise idea!

-Marilyn Kirschner


Beautiful Hair




The Original Moroccanoil Oil Treatment is a favorite with hairstylists from New York to LA. It is instantly absorbed into hair and strengthens and conditions without leaving any oily residue. It also reduces drying time. Last night, guests at the Zang Toi Fashion Show received a bottle of Moroccanoil in their goody bags to take home.

The Original Moroccanoil Treatment
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-Rhonda Erb
It’s a ‘long’ story
FashionGPS sponsored report

Photo: Style.com

I’m happy to see a return to longer lengths on the runways this season. I love the change of proportion and skirts had gotten so short, they can’t go any shorter. It also signals a new sophistication and graceful elegance. Almost nowhere was this more apparent than on the runway of Narciso Rodriguez, shown last evening at The Theatre at Lincoln Center. The designer, working in a signature color palette of ash, blush, nude, black, white, platinum, (with touches of coral, pale green and pale pink), not only endorsed longer lengths (indeed, many of his skirts and dresses hit just a little above the ankle), but it was done within in a relatively ‘short’ show (30 well edited pieces).


The collection also made a case for dresses. The first look out was an ash bias linen canvas and blush silk dress with a beautiful back and many that followed were bias cut and made from divine fabrics like silk crepe and washed silk, washed silk cloque and chiffon jacquard, bias silk and linen canvas, etc.. In one instance, Narcisco showed a fluid dress in washed kimono silk and chiffon cloque beneath a black compact wool coat that was several inches shorter, allowing a peek of the hemline to show. The contrast of ‘hard’ vs. ‘soft’, structured vs. fluid, or masculine vs. feminine, was highly effective and was a recurring theme. A coal waxed linen jacket was shown over a pale green silk corset top and a black washed kimono silk skirt, a black bias chiffon cloque/rose gold embroidered tank was paired with black compact wool pants, and one dress, which looked like two pieces, mixed platinum bias cut silk and black linen canvas all in one.


Then there was that perfect white waxed linen pantsuit, which featured wide legged trousers and an elongated strong shouldered jacket, which was unabashedly ‘borrowed from the boys’. But there was nothing at all boyish or masculine about the group of languid lingerie inspired bias cut slip dresses that followed; especially the one in black bias silk fil coupe with lace insets. Everything was shown with a very feminine and elegant pale high heel, which in fact, was the only accessory on the runway (though I think you can say a perfect body, like those of the models, would be the ultimate accessory for these clothes). Simplicity can speak volumes.

To Die For (?)


Vera Wang collection - Photos Coutorture.com

Vera Wang’s program notes revealed that her source of inspiration for spring 2011 was Quentin Tarantino’s iconic movie, “Kill Bill” -- more specifically, the idea of East meets West infused with a mixture of “boyish urban sophistication and romantic other wordly sensuality.” Which pretty much sums up the designer herself, who has a very specific and individual signature style that she really stays true to and does not veer from.

Vera is also a designer whose collections truly reflect her own aesthetic, so much so that one can generally picture her wearing most if not all the pieces on each collection (which you can’t say about many other women designers).



Ultra wide legged trouser pants are everywhere these days, and they have been interpreted on many runways, but I can’t really see Vera wearing them herself. They are not ‘edgy’ or uptown/downtown enough and besides, she favors legging like pants or opaque tights worn with skirts and dresses. So it was hardly surprising that there were none of the aforementioned full legged trousers on her line, though she did have a pair of black wool pinstriped wrapped ‘peasant’ trousers, several narrow legged jumpsuits, narrow boy shorts and draped shorts (the last two did not always work). While it was not necessarily one of Vera’s best collections to date, there were some beautiful dresses, jackets, coats, blouses, and high wasted skirts, all bearing the designer’s creative, artistic cuts.



Standouts include the grey cupro jersey dress with twisting pleats and sheer organza back drape; a poppy one shouldered knee length narrow dress thrown over an ivory organdy kimono blouse (giving it the informal look of a jumper); several dresses (one piece and two piece) in a Japanese floral print silk; a dazzling black and silver degrade sequin ‘blizzard’ top and black knit swirl skirt with horsehair inlay; and a recurring group of knee length silk tulle one shoulder hand rushed draped gowns with train, over stretch bustier underpinning, which were shown in a variety of colors throughout the 44 piece collection (one in pale blush ended the show).

“Cats”

An ‘Off Broadway’ production of Cats, (‘produced’ by PETA), was staged right across Lincoln Center two hours before furrier Dennis Basso’s spring 2011 collection was to be held. 5 women, each wearing next to nothing (only face make up and a body stocking painted to resemble the pelt of a leopard, a zebra, a tiger, etc.), held up placards with slogans such as “Your Fur had a Face” and “Animal Prints Not Animal Skins”, while a few police and several guys from Ty Yorio’s Citadel Security stood close by to made sure there were no incidences. There were none and it was very quiet. That said, it was fun watching the men walk by only to notice the women’s barely there ‘costumes’; at which point they would stop, stare, get closer for a better look, and in several cases, take out their cell phones to take photos.

Meanwhile, PETA would have had a ‘field day’ had they gotten into the show venue. Even though this was a spring show, that doesn’t mean there were no furs. Au contraire! There were even sightings of abbreviated fur shrugs and other little fur pieces on some of the guests who attended. Out of the 38 ensembles (short dresses, short skirts, and floor length gowns), quite a few if not most, had a touch, a trim, or an accessory made of fur or a skin of some kind (there was Russian sable, vanilla chinchilla, mink, snakeskin, python, and alligator). The problem was it looked forced and contrived and was too busy, and a bit too much, which looked out of place considering the mood elsewhere. Well dressed social figures like Cece Cord, Jamee Gregory, Somers Farkas, and Amy Fine Collins were all in the front row but it’s hard to imagine which pieces they themselves would wear, if any.

The short skirts and dresses were too short, there were too many cascading ruffles, and there was just too much going on all at the same time for my tastes (sheer inserts, fur trim, paillettes, and metallics, sometimes in one outfit). The best pieces were the relatively simple and graceful empire waist silk gazar hand printed gown, a short ruffled dress in the same print, and a strapless metallic hand embroidered net gown.

- Marilyn Kirschner

Betsey Johnson Takes Us For A Ride/Spring 2011


Photos: Isabelle Erb

It may have been raining on Monday night outside the Theater at Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week, but inside the sun was shining brightly on Betsey Johnson’s world. Celebrity guests Carmen Electra, Kelly Osbourne, Ciara, Denise Richards and Kristin Cavallari watched from the front row as Betsey shared her life long love affair with the two-wheeler by way of a film that was shown on the runway backdrop throughout her Spring 2011 show. The flick was one part home movie and one part madcap tour of New York, from a cyclist’s point of view.



Who knew that as a child Betsey Johnson aspired to be a female version of Lance Armstrong? Le Tour de Betsey took us to some of New York’s most popular locations, while models sashayed down the runway in the designer’s version of biker chic. In Brooklyn, brightly colored bodysuits and biker jackets ruled. Uptown Betsey’s girls were clad in some of her more subdued signature frou frou frocks, both long and short. Downtown at the Seaport, nautical bloomers and military jackets mixed with dresses and bustiers in red, white and blue. At the finish line in Times Square models were appropriately attired to look like prom queen tarts.

Betsey accessorized her looks with “Ride Me” chokers, petticoats, sailor hats, biker caps, studded belts, sunglasses and platform heels. Most, if not all accessories were no doubt courtesy of Betsey Johnson’s many licensees.



It wouldn’t be a Betsey Johnson show without the requisite amount of runway theatrics. At one point a model attempted to ride a skateboard in her open toed platform heels and striped thigh highs, only to find herself falling to the ground. Within seconds she was up on her feet and back in character. Betsey fared much better when she made her signature appearance for the show’s finale. She rode onto the runway on a bike, then hopped off to embrace her loved ones in the front row. Finally, Betsey executed her classic cartwheel while the delighted audience responded with cheers and applause.

- Rhonda Erb

I Want Candy: Douglas Hannant Spring/Summer 2011



It was all sweetness and light at the showing of Douglas Hannant’s Spring/Summer 2011 collection on Wednesday afternoon. Members of the press assembled with Hannant’s loyal followers in the Edwardian Room of New York’s Plaza Hotel. Clear plastic bags filled with candy sat perched on each and every chair and the musical soundtrack included classic songs with references to sugary treats.

Hannant’s show had a carefree theme (”Que Sera Sera”) but the designs in his new collection were still utterly sophisticated, using combinations of elegant fabrics in unexpected ways. A waffle weave multicolored microsequin shirtdress was trimmed with a dainty organza collar and cap sleeves. A lavender and gold dusted coat and dress ensemble featured a chiffon blouse. Almost all of the cocktail length looks were in confectionary pastel colors, like the rose print silk gauze strapless dress, but there was the occasional piece in basic black. For this reason, a black tweed jacket paired with a Chantilly lace skirt and a black lace cocktail dress were particularly eye catching. Equally notable was the rare pair of cigarette pants and a single pair of shorts, which stood out in this collection that was otherwise dominated by dresses and skirts.

As always, Hannant saved his best for last with a collection of evening wear that varied from a black gown with a fitted bodice and a full, diaphanous, tulle skirt to a mint silk cotton strapless with a frothy trumpet hem. At the finale, Hannant strolled the runway to the tune of “The Candy Man”. Considering his colorful creations for spring and summer, who could disagree?

- Rhonda Erb




Tik Tok

Photo: Isabelle Erb

Casio America, Inc. announced last month that RCA Records/Kemosabe Entertainment recording artist Ke$ha will be the new Brand Ambassador for the company’s enduringly popular Baby-G line of women’s watches. In addition to representing the brand, Ke$ha will personally design two unique watch styles for Baby-G. Look for the first of these watches to be in stores in Summer 2011.

www.babyg.com

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Quite a Fashionable Fairy Tale
FashionGPS sponsored report


Stacy Lomman Spring 2011 Collection
Photo: Randy Brooke

Once upon a time in New York City, Stacy Lomman, a talented, albeit not very wealthy designer, needed to find a way to finance her first New York Fashion Week runway show. So, with no Fashion Fairy Godmother in sight, this young createur conjured up a way to make her dreams come true. As reported on our DFR on August 13, Lomman, who was a former head designer at Joan Vass, turned to Social Media, in order to find not just one, but several Fairy Godmothers (and a few Godfathers, tossed in for good measure) to act as sponsors. With an eye on debuting her premiere, signature collection for Spring 2011 – “Precious Metal” - on September 13th, Lomman eventually raised approximately $12,000 from supporters on Facebook, as well as readers of her blog, taffetadarlings.blogspot.com.


Photo: Randy Brooke

For those interested to know more about all of this, the website, kickstarter.com, touted Lomman’s story, under the apt title of “Launch a Label at NY Fashion Week! Hot new designer collection!”, giving viewers the chance to pledge money at different levels, starting at a mere $5, all the way up to backing the designer and her show, with an “adopt a dress in the collection” pledge of $650 (or more). At this level, a sponsor got the interesting chance to own one of Lomman’s made-to-order dresses, each valued at $1,500+, plus a signed, color copy of the original sketch of the applicable garment, in addition to a one-of-a-kind Collection Book, including collection photos, copies of the sketches, designer bio, and creative inspiration. Also included in this package: show invite (travel expenses not included), the designer’s signature T-shirt, a signed postcard and a sponsor mention in the show program.


Photo: Isabelle Erb

In the end, Lomman’s plan worked like a magic charm, and the show, complete with goody bags, went on. Held at the fashionable midtown NYC restaurant Bricco, a good number of sponsors, along with press and assorted glitterati came to see what all the buzz was about. The designer, sporting a fabulous ensemble, featuring a gold mesh halter, with chain-link ties at the back, leather mini and sky-high, gold stilettos, greeted the crowd. One backer, Barbara Brandes, a Monroe college career counselor, connected with Lomman, through her (Brandes) daughter, jewelry designer and Lomman’s friend Wendy Brandes. Wendy Brandes is another of Lomman’s sponsors. “I have been a career coach to Stacy and I donated money to her line because I believe that if I can help someone to find the right career, that makes me happy”.


Photo: Randy Brooke

Yet another sponsor, Christine MacDonald, a glam, plus size, redhead from Huntington, NY, who hooked up with Lomman through the website, and then met her personally over lunch, “adopted” Lomman’s “Gwendolyn P” , sparkling, metallic coated silk dress with chain and bead trim, as an homage to her (MacDonald’s) grandmother, aptly named, “Gwendolyn”. James D’Adamo, Group Advertising Director, Hearst Magazines, and Fashion Group Board of Directors member, met Lomman at a fashion event and “opened myself up to her right away. We went back and forth on Facebook, and I encouraged my friends to know about Stacy; who she is and what she was doing. I became a sponsor, in what I viewed as a crowd sourcing investment. I gave a little money to make a big thing happen; sort of like raising an Amish barn, I wrote her a check”.


Left: Designer Stacy Lomman with model after the show
Photo: Wendy Brandes

While all of this was wonderful in itself, the interesting part of the story was allowing a designer without deep pockets to produce a fashion show during one of the most visible times of the season in New York City. The star of this show, afterall was the collection of evening and cocktail dresses. The majority of the strong, feminine looks, which focused on influences of l960’s Paco Rabanne, mixed with the glamour of the late 1940’s were credible and lovely. There were several standouts that commanded attention. In particular, this editor notes the gutsy and strong cotton and lurex with chain skirt that closed the show. This piece, much like Lomman, serves up more than just a bit of bravura, power, and the desire to step out of the traditional fashion box. Lomman deserves to be recognized for doing things in a different way; by not being afraid to go out on her own, and doing what needs to be done. And in the end, giving a new twist on what a “Fashionable Fairy Tale” is and can be.

– Adrienne Weinfeld-Berg
That’s 70’s Show
FashionGPS sponsored report


Marc Jacobs collection - all photos Firstview.com

Word is that Marc Jacobs’ show, which was called for 8 pm at The N.Y. State Armory on 25th street and Lexington Avenue , was really supposed to start at 7:45 but alas, it began precisely at 8 pm and it was over at 8:10! (Funny, since the heavens literally opened up a few hours prior and I assumed that would make for a late show start!) In fact, when the announcement came over a loud speaker that the show would begin in “one minute”, it did, and the models began walking out, with Vivaldi’s The Four Seasons playing in the background, even as members of the audience were still getting into their seats (all but colliding into few of them). Gone are the days of the two hour late shows and gone are the 9 rows of bleachers (where basically nobody after about row 4 could possible see anything below the knee). There were only 4 rows, which allowed everyone a good view, and the models walked out of a set (in groups of 6) that was situated in the center of the stage, so I suppose you could call it, Theatre in the Round.



It was telling that the show began with evening (long chiffon evening dresses in shades of pink to be exact, followed by evening jumpsuits and peasant blouses), because it was all about eve, or should I say, ‘Yves’. Indeed it was a very dressed up, grown up, sophisticated collection where evening wear completely outnumbered daywear, (the latter came by way of beautifully cut heavy cotton belted 4 pocketed jackets, short coats paired with full pants, cropped or long, several dresses, and knitwear); there was no 'casual' sportswear. And yes, full cut trousers have seen all over the runways, and Marc's 'endorsement' has solidified them as a major trend this season.



The models’ hair was long and frizzed and many had large flowers and feathers in their hair, or around their necks. The eyes were smoky and their lips were red. It was impossible not to immediately notice the overtly YSL, 70’s references: the clashing colors (lots of pink, red, purple); the one shouldered tops and peasant blouses; the jumpsuits; the use of chiffon, satin, gold, transparency; the wide legged trousers and pantsuits; voluminous shapes; the shoes (high heeled metallic sandals or espadrille - like shoes on a low bejeweled platform which are sure to be the ‘it’ shoe this season. But I also saw touches of Missoni and even Sonia Rykiel (in the striped and patterned sweaters and knitwear ensembles). Apparently, this is not coincidental since Marc admitted the collection was all about those things that made him “fall in love with fashion” in the first place.



Unfortunately, it was impossible to take any kind of intelligible notes or even get a good look at the clothes because the models came out at breakneck speed and there was no run of show offering descriptions or fabrication of the clothes. However, at every seat, there was a white shopping bag which contained a bottle of Marc’s new fragrance for men, ‘Bang’, and a plastic pouch with the word, BANG in large letters, which contained a gray cotton t-shirt with a picture of Marc naked, holding a bottle of his fragrance between his legs, and seemingly in a state of (well, I won’t say what).

Carolina’s ‘gift’ of the Mikado


Carolina Herrera collection - photos Firstview.com

It should have been a quick giveaway upon opening the Carolina Herrera program prior to her 10 AM show at Lincoln Center this morning (printed with an assortment of colorful flowers) that the runway would be replete with floral patterns and prints. Indeed, that was the case, but hers took an Oriental slant since she stated that in addition to the colors, prints, and floral appliqués taken from botanical plates collected in the 18th century, her other point of reference was the “traditional clothes from Korea”. That would explain the wide brimmed tall lacquered straw hats normally worn by men in that culture, which were perched on the heads of many of her models (Carolina’s hats are once again by Albertus Swanepoel). It would also explain all the Oriental embroidery, lotus blossom and white blossom prints, Korean boleros, Korean cocoon shaped shifts, Korean top stitching, and a good deal of Oriental blue, hibiscus and lacquer red throughout.



The collection might have come off looking overly costumey, but it was nicely done and often quite beautiful. There were of course, the requisite fitted cocktail dresses and very grand ballgowns one comes to expect from Ms. Herrera, but the pieces that stood out for me were actually the white shirts which were shown in a variety of incarnations and fabrications and paired with knee length pencil skirts or full legged trousers (hers were so wide they almost resembled a ball skirt). Actually, this should not be surprising since Carolina’s ‘uniform’ has always consisted of a beautiful white blouse or crisp white shirt (which she routinely pairs with everything from slim pencil skirts and well cut trousers, to floor length ball skirts and when she took her bow after the show, she was wearing a white shirt with gray trousers. Several that stood out where the Jasmine white cotton pico edged sleeve shirt worn with a black daisy faille knee length skirt with foldover waist; the Jasmine white cotton Korean bow blouse paired with black wool twill single fold pants, and the Jasmine white double fold cotton blouse paired with the ultra wide black sesame wool twill aikido pants.

Yeohlee's 'Comfort' Zone


Photos: Dan Lecca

For spring, Yeohlee cited inspired by 'energy' and 'sound' (which as Yeohlee's program notes mentioned, are also invisible), as well as Cutter ants (and the spaces they occupy in a world "envisioned by Lebbeus Woods"). The 20 piece collection (shown in a fabulous terraced penthouse apartment on Central Park South, with magnificent views facing north over Central Park and the entire city, it seemed), was also a study in wearable clothes and comfort as much as it was about great ideas and well thought out and highly conceived design, which is always a Yeohlee signature. The use of sporty Bensimon shoes (a very chic sneaker), with every outfit, summed it up as the models jaunted out looking smart, chic, and above all, comfortable.



And yes, there was more than a touch of athleticism in much of what was presented. It was all short (meaning, above the knee), and shorts were used as part of a suit (they were shown under jackets and coats in fact). Several of my favorite looks were the coffee UT cotton Y dart jacket and crescent shorts, and the red and ivory tiny pincheck cotton coat with matching walking shorts. And in a season of crochet and open work, Yeohlee's ivory hand crochet silk top with seersucker semi circle skirt/short, and her black knit cotton/hemp/metal lace tank worn with a black and white rick rack cotton knit cylinder skirt, definitely stood out.

-Marilyn Kirschner


SHOP!


The Natori company’s fun, contemporary brand, Josie by Natori, now has its own dedicated website. It will become your favorite destination to find fresh new styles of bras, panties, and sleepwear. You can also shop the Natori collection simultaneously and check out of both sites at the same time. Receive a $10.00 iTunes gift card with your first purchase during the month of September.

josiebyNatori.com


-Rhonda Erb