Thursday, January 27, 2011

Fashion Group International's 'Rising Star Awards'

This afternoon, I attended Fashion Group International’s 14th annual 'Rising Stars Awards' luncheon held at Cipriani 42nd Street. Thanks to all the snow from yet another major snowfall to hit the East Coast, it was in fact a perfect day to enjoy a Bellini or a glass of wine, a warm and satisfying lunch (the food at all the Cipriani establishments is consistently great), and more importantly, was a perfect opportunity to toast fashion’s ‘Generation Next’.

During the course of FGI President Margaret Hayes’s welcoming address, she listed the 8 categories which are represented, emphasized the importance of programs which support emerging talent, and touched upon the selection process (there are over 100 nominees, approximately 1200 eligible voters - out of which 150 actually voted), and the significance of the final vote (it is a “reflection of the consuming public”). She then congratulated the finalists on their collective “talent, skill, commitment, and fortitude.”

Next up to the podium was the Host of the festivities, Jamie Pallot, Editorial Director of Conde Nast Digital, who wasted no time in his pronouncements: “Snow is the ‘new’ black”; “Fashion is the ‘new’ showbiz”; “The 'Rising Star Awards' are the ‘new’ Golden Globes”; and no, “I’m NOT the ‘new’ Ricky Gervais”, which got a laugh from the crowd.

He spoke about Fashion Group’s history (the organization was founded in 1930, and its founding members were Elizabeth Arden, Edith Head, and Eleanor Roosevelt), and made mention of the increasing high profile and importance of the Annual 'Night of Stars', listing some of fashion’s biggest names on the planet, who have been honored in the past. But as he observed, “The main reason we are here today, is to support emerging talent”, and he noted that the ‘Rising Stars’ could be considered as the “kid sister” of the 'Night of Stars'. He continued, “While the finalists being honored today may not have reached the top of the pinnacle just yet, they are valiantly scaling the foothills of this business.”

At this point, a 4 course lunch was served, and then Norma Kamali, the Keynote Speaker, came up, delivering a speech that was short, sweet, to the point, and obviously came straight from the heart. She proceeded to weave in the word ‘star’ throughout her address, all the while humbly dismissing it vis a vis herself, saying, “I’m not a star and have never felt like a star”. (Sorry Norma, I think many would disagree; YOU ARE A STAR!)

She offered her own words of wisdom for the youthful finalists, some of whom may well be on the verge of ‘stardom’: “A Rising Star Award is a good thing and a bad thing. Being on the rise is a scary, awesome experience. I’m not a star. I’m just in my own little constellation in the sky and I love it. I do what pleases me. Becoming a star has its highs and lows and it could be a curse. You have to decide WHAT you want and WHO you are. Longevity is more important than stardom.”

Norma continued: “I’m grateful for all the times I’ve fallen because it’s forced me to get up and pick myself up and reinvent myself.” “I welcome you into my constellation. It’s a wonderful place to be.”

Then came the presentation of the awards. FYI, leave it to Linda Fargo to make the best comments. When she came up to announce the winner in the Retail division, she thanked all those who are forging ahead in the retail arena, doing their best to ensure that retail stays alive, considering that it might become an endangered species thanks to our current ‘virtual reality’.

These are the categories, the Award Presenters, and the winners:

Jury Artola & Olga Grib - J.Artola
Adriana Castro - Adriana Castro
Satu and Celeste Greenburg - Tuleste Market
Marc Marmel - Marc Marmel
Towana Phillip - To'sha
Nicole Romano - Nicole Romano
Winner: Marc Marmel - Marc Marmel

Beauty/Fragrance Corporate
Margot Humbert - MAC Cosmetics
Jill Nisson - Avon Products Inc.
Caroline Pieper-Vogt - Fusion Brands, Inc.
Siddharth Shah - Givaudan Fragrances Corp.
Winner: Siddharth Shah

Beauty/Fragrance Entrepreneur
Christopher Chong - Amouage
Francis Kurkdjian - Maison Francis Kurkdjian
Ellen Sirot - Hand Perfection
Harold Zimmerman - Votre Vu
Winner: Harold Zimmerman - Votre Vu

Home/Interior Design
Koray Duman & Laith Sayigh - Sayigh + Duman
Alissia Melka-Teichroew - by AMT Inc.
Karl Zahn - Karl Zahn
Winner: Koray Duman & Laith Sayigh - Sayigh + Duman

Fine Jewelry
Nina Basharova -  Nina Basharova
Wendy Brandes - Wendy Brandes
Visnja Brdar - Visnja Jewels
Moritz Glik - Moritz Glik Studio
Betty Lou Moscot - Blu Betty Lou Moscot
Winner: Betty Lou Moscot - Blu Betty Lou Moscot

Men's Apparel 
Antonio Azzuolo - Antonio Azzuolo
Peder Borresen, Stefan Dahlkvist, & Simen Staalnacke - Moods of Norway
Loris Diran - Loris Diran
Jeff Halmos & Sam Shipley - Shipley & Halmos
Winner: Loris Diran

Alissa Emerson & Valerie Feigen - Edit
Jennifer Fleiss & Jennifer Hyman - Rent the Runway
Robert James – By Robert James
Lisa Weiss – Début New York
Winner: Jennifer Fleiss & Jennifer Hyman - Rent the Runway

Women's RTW
Fabiola Arias - Fabiola Arias
Sachin and Babi Ahluwalia – Sachin + Babi for Ankasa
Elene Cassis – Elene Cassis
Joel Diaz & Christina LaPens – Jolibe
Jedda-Kahn Blue-EL - Jedda-Kahn
Danny Liu & Brian Wood - Silvio Liu
Bradley Scott - Bradley Scott
Tom Scott - Tom Scott
Jonathan Simkhai - Jonathan Simkhai
Benjamin Channing Clyburn & Sonia Yoon - Bensoni
Winner: It was a tie:
Fabiola Arias - Fabiola Arias
Bradley Scott - Bradley Scott 

- Marilyn Kirschner

Monday, January 24, 2011

1973 Ground Breaking, Historic Fashion Event

"Oh Yes, I Remember It Well" (Well, Sort Of)

Stephen Burrows with the girls of Versailles: Amina Warsuma, Norma Jean Darden, Pat Cleveland, Charlene Dash, Alva Chin, China Machado, Billie Blair & Bethann Hardison

On Monday, January. 24, the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute paid homage to the African American models who made their world ‘debut’ strutting their fabulous stuff on the runway during the course of a 1973 ground breaking, historic fashion event: Le Grand Divertissement a Versailles. Conceived as a way to raise money for restoration of the grand palace and grounds of Versailles, this major fashion moment not only elevated the status of American designers, bringing them global attention and giving them 'credibility' by virtue of their taking the world stage, but it was also a way of ‘introducing’ their fabulous ‘women of color’ muses and models (of the approximately 30 models imported for the occasion, about half were African American and as Oscar de la Renta pointed out, prior to this, “In Paris , nobody had ever seen a black model”. Someone else observed that at the time, ethnic diversity meant ‘southern Europe ’. I guess you could call it the ultimate fashion coming out party).

This veritable ‘fashion face off’ involved 5 legendary French designers, Givenchy, Yves Saint Laurent, Christian Dior, Givenchy, Emanuel Ungaro, and Pierre Cardin, and their American counterparts, Halston, Anne Klein, Bill Blass, Stephen Burrows, and Oscar de la Renta, who wowed the crowd with their simple, elegant, and modern designs.

Yesterday’s well attended lunch, which was fittingly held in the spectacular Temple of Dendur, was hosted by Oscar de la Renta and Stephen Burrows, the only two living designers in this illustrious group (other designers in attendance were Donna Karan, who was Anne Klein’s assistant at that time, Anna Sui, Francisco Costa, Isabel and Ruben Toledo, and B. Michael). Among the other high profile guests were Iman, Kate Betts, Robin Givhan, Teri Agins, Constance White, Hamish Bowles, Micky Boardman, Lynn Yaeger, Kim Hastreiter, Cindi Leive, Amy Fine Collins, Paul Wilmot, Desiree Rogers, Lizzie Tisch, Eliza Reed Bolin, Annette de la Renta, Linda Johnson Rice, and Patsy Tarr.

Before lunch (at which time guests mingled and took in the fashion installation showing 15 designs by the 5 American designers included in Versailles) there were opening comments from the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Donna Williams, Chief Audience Development Officer, remarks from Director Thomas P. Campbell, who hailed Versailles as an “historic moment in time”, a “tale of victory for American fashion”, and more remarks by Harold Koda, Curator in Charge, The Costume Institute, who introduced a video (which included footage of the event and comments by Cathy Horyn).

After lunch was served, Oscar de la Renta and Stephen Burrows, the two Keynote Speakers, took to the podium, at which point Donna Karan, seated next to ODLR, literally jumped up to join in. She could not contain her enthusiasm as she discussed Versailles: “It was the most important education as a designer and the highlight of my life. It put the American standard on the map. It was the girls who made the clothes come alive”.

And then she continued: “Oscar was the master, he will always be the master, and always is the master. It’s an honor for me to be standing next to him (and Stephen). Fashion will never be the same.” Oscar de la Renta recalled: “There was no cohesiveness in the French presentation, but for the Americans, for a moment in time, we were all one! The models made the magic!”

 Stephen Burrows stated, “The greatest moment in my life was Versailles and we won!” (This met with thunderous applause from the guests). At this point, Emily K. Rafferty read a statement from Mayor Bloomberg who alas, was unable to attend (I guess he was escaping the cold in Bermuda, or better yet, was busy getting ready for the snow which will arrive later this week), and she then made the Presentation of Proclamations to each of the 10 model honorees in attendance: Billie Blair, Alva Chinn, Pat Cleveland, Norma Jean Darden, Charlene Dash, Bethann Hardison, Barbara Jackson, China Machado, Ramona Saunders, Amina Warsuma, and this was yet another photo op, met with rousing applause. It may have been positively frigid outside, but you could literally feel the warmth inside the Temple of Dendur.
By the way, the significance of the timing of this luncheon wasn’t lost on me, in that it was one week following Martin Luther King Day, (which is all about equal rights and equality for all), weeks before New York Fashion Week (where runways here and abroad are now a true testament to ethnic diversity), AND the 70's couldn't be 'hotter' from a fashion point of view.

The reunion lunch was certainly meaningful to me (and no silly, not just because it’s the one time in recent memory I would find myself in a roomful of models who were about the same age as I). I basically came of age (fashion age anyway) in the 70’s, starting my fashion magazine career first at Seventeen and then moving on to Harper’s Bazaar, where China Machado (one of the models being honored yesterday) was Fashion Director. In the capacity of senior market editor, I was given certain ‘houses’ to cover, and coincidentally, I was the editor for all 5 of the designers represented at the Versailles show. (The only one I never got to meet was Anne Klein who died of breast cancer in 1974 at the age of 50. By the time I was responsible for covering the line, Donna Karan and Louis Dell’ Olio were firmly ensconced).

I have fond memories of private appointments at 550 7th Avenue with both Oscar de la Renta and Bill Blass (both, who were always elegant and gracious, treating me like a true pro even though I was so young and wet behind the years at the beginning); going to Halston’s very sparse and dramatic showroom at the top of the Olympic Tower with its million dollar views, to meet with him prior to collections (the sunglasses never came off), and then going back to view his shows which were quite the scene (Liza with a 'Z', et. al.); and seeing Stephen Burrow’s joyful, colorful, and unique designs unfold at formal runway shows held in his exclusive boutique at Henri Bendel, aptly called Stephen Burrow's World (its legendary president, Geraldine Stutz discovered him in 1970).

I'm sure I don't have to remind you that in the 70’s, Henri Bendel, located off 5th avenue at 57th street, was THE coolest, hippest, store on the planet. In fact, it was so 'happening' and such the scene, Bill Cunningham could be found religiously standing near the entrance of the store, snapping the stylish who would come and go. (Bergdorf, Who?) Come to think of it, the very first time this legendary lensman took my picture, was in the early 70's and it appeared in WWD, where he had a regular column reporting on what else? Street Style. I was walking into Bendel wearing a magnificent Anne Klein heavy wool floral tapestry maxi coat, which I still have and still fit into, thank you very much and, it's one of my all time favorites. Some things, like great fashion, seem to improve with age.

Speaking of age, is it possible that like Nora Ephron ("I Can't Remember Anything"), I'm having a 'senior moment'? I’m not sure what I find more ‘troubling’: knowing that I've been around so long and I’m so ‘old’ that I could have actually covered the Versailles fashion show in Paris in 1973, or being so ‘old’ I can’t remember any of it, (or even say for certain if I was there or not). In actuality, while I would attend many Paris fashion weeks in the future, as a young editor, I did not get to cover this groundbreaking event. But I certainly do remember all the hoopla and excitement surrounding it, and I certainly understand its significance.

-Marilyn Kirschner

Countdown to the Royal Wedding

Photo by Mario Testino

Our entertainment editor, Diane Clehane, has begun her "Countdown to the Royal Wedding" with weekly blog posts about the impending nuputials of Kate Middleton and Prince William. She'll be covering everything about the wedding from the dress to all the behind palace walls dish. Check out her first installment here.

Kate Middleton: A Post Modern Fairy Tale Princess?

The royal wedding is less than one hundred days away and I'm not ashamed to say, I'm getting a little excited. As someone who remembers getting up before dawn to watch the wedding of Prince Charles to Lady Diana Spencer, I'll admit my view of 'Happily Ever After' has been altered somewhat by time. Maybe it's this interminable winter we're all suffering through and my recent move to the country that's got me more than a little stir crazy, but even though I obviously should know better, I'm more than happy to embrace the modern fairy-tale that the marriage of Kate (excuse me, Catherine) Middleton and Prince William seems to embody.
Of course, so much has changed since the wedding of Diana and Charles. I wrote my first book, Diana The Secrets of Her Style, as a tribute to the late princess because I was so taken with her transformation from Shy Di to A Woman in Full. At the time I wrote, "Her journey from a rather ordinary looking kindergarten teacher to Her Royal Highness to a stunning, independent single woman was rife with images we could relate to. To women of all ages who grew up believing in fair-tale endings, Diana in her unabashedly romantic wedding dress was the embodiment of a modern day Cinderella."

When I look at Mario Testino's stunning engagement portrait of Kate and William, I am struck by how Kate looks both fresh and unaffected and coolly sophisticated as well. Take a closer look and you'll see that she looks much more at ease in this photograph than William does. And, of course, she looks radiantly happy.

In next month's Vogue, Mario Testino talks about the sitting for the portrait describing the couple as sharing the same 'energy' and, he writes, "the clear sense you get with them that they are going to work as a team." His description of Kate is reminiscent of the other famous princess Testino so brilliantly photographed. " Of Kate, he write, "She brings life, a delightful sense of humor, and a joy into the room when she walks in."

Sound familiar? Go to the rest of the article at

Nominees for the 13th Annual Costume Designers Awards

The 13th Annual Costume Designers Guild Awards are being held February 22 at the Beverly Hilton Hotel. The awards promises to be a star studded event in celebration of excellence in film, television and commercial costume design and will be hosted by film and television actress Kristin Davis. Attendees include Demi Moore, Robert Duvall, Ashton Kutcher, Joel Schumacher and more.

Costume Designers Guild was founded in 1953 by a group of 30 motion picture costume designers and was created in response to the changing needs of the movie industry. The Costume Designers Guild promotes the artistry, technical expertise and creative vision of their union members in the field of film and television Costume Design. Today, its membership consists of over 750 members and includes motion picture, television, and commercial costume designers, assistant costume designers and illustrators throughout the world.

The Nominees are:
"Black Swan" - Amy Westcott
"Burlesque" - Michael Kaplan
"Inception" - Jeffrey Kurland
"The Social Network" - Jacqueline West
"Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps" - Ellen Mirojnick

"The Fighter" - Mark Bridges
"The King's Speech" - Jenny Beavan
"True Grit" - Mary Zophres

"Alice in Wonderland" - Colleen Atwood
"The Tempest" - Sandy Powell
"TRON: Legacy" - Michael Wilkinson & Christine Bieselin Clark

"Big Love" - Chrisi Karvonides-Dushenko
"Dancing with the Stars" - Randall Christensen, Daniella Gschwendtner & Steven Norman Lee
"Glee" - Lou Eyrich
"Modern Family" - Alix Friedberg
"Treme" - Alonzo Wilson

"Boardwalk Empire" - John A. Dunn
"Mad Men" - Janie Bryant
"The Tudors" - Joan Bergin

"The Pacific" - Penny Rose & Joe Hobbs
"Temple Grandin" - Cindy Evans
"You Don't Know Jack" - Rita Ryack

Chanel - Bleu de Chanel" - Aude Bronson-Howard
Dior - Charlize Theron - J'Adore - Lisa Michelle Boyd
Dos Equis - The Most Interesting Man in the World - Julie Vogel
Netflix - Western - Lydia Paddon
Target - Preparing for Race/Black Friday - Costume Designer TBA

To request media credentials to cover this event, please contact Alexandra Lippin or Deme Stavrakas of The Lippin Group at 323-965-1990 or To purchase tickets, please contact Blue Room Events, at 310-491-1401.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Designer Focus: Irina Shabayeva

J'adore Irina:

Irina Shabayeva

In the topsy-turvy, super competitive world of fashion, it is always refreshing and new when a young, undiscovered talent gets the chance to establish a name, and in some instances, become a well-known and viable brand. One type of this kind of "proof is in the pudding" thinking is the Russian born, Brooklyn, NY-raised-designer and Parsons New School design graduate Irina Shabayeva, who first came to light as the powerhouse winner of Project Runway's Sixth Season. An instant "star" to many in the fashion business, Shabayeva, went on to produce a spectacular, Fashion Week runway extravaganza, during the final season at Bryant Park.

The show, which was interestingly sponsored by Tupperware - every seated guest received a huge, black patent leather gift bag, emblazoned on the front with the designer's signature white bird motif and her scripted name; filled with Tupperware products - was held in a huge, West Side loft space; filled to over-flowing capacity with editors, fashion glitterati and more than just a few retailers, all eager to see what Shabayeva was going to do next. A myriad of fantastical models, paraded down the catwalk, each looking like a dizzying array of big birds of paradise, in a mix of outrageous, body-hugging clothing and footwear, all featuring multi-colored feathers, glitz, glamour, et al.

Then, when the hoopla of the show ended, and after all of the press and all of the big buzz surrounding her name and her collection were over, it seemed that Shabayeva, who had showed such promise, and appeared to be poised to become one of the next fashion superstars of the season, simply vanished from the face of the earth. Fast forward to 2011, when the designer popped up out of the toaster, by way of an exclusive retail, partnership with Macy's, I-N-C International Concepts, set to debut on February 19th, in 50 Macy's stores, including Herald Square (NYC); Union Square (San Francisco); Aventura and Miami International (Miami); State Street (Chicago), and on

A very smart partnership this seems to be, notably because this is a win-win situation for Macy's and Shabayeva. The retailer shows its customers something new, fresh, affordable, and hopefully, desirable for Spring, Summer 2011, especially at a time when these attributes are most important and most needed, considering how and where retail is right now. And, Shabayeva shows everybody that she and her designs still have good legs, albeit with a more toned down, more wearable and definitely, much more affordable version of the clothing and accessories collections which she had formerly done for Project Runway, along with her follow-up runway showing.

Case In Point: The current Spring, Summer 2011 capsule collection (13 full looks) of clothing and footwear - priced to sell at price-points from $49-$169 - definitely have the designer's aura, as was apparent during the launch cocktail party, held in mid-January, at Trump Soho Hotel,. The fashion press and assorted glitterati got the chance to view the collection, shown on stylized models, posing on a raised stage. The most interesting models in this bunch seemed to be purposefully styled to look and act just like Chanel Iman, Twiggy, Paris Hilton, Nicky Hilton, Lydia Hearst, et al, which further served to punch up and add more fun and pizaaz to the clothing and footwear that they were wearing. OK, well, you get the idea here.

Star looks include a terrific, stylish, and very comfy jacket; a very sexy and curvy little black dress, embellished all over with with sparkly studs and jewels (worn at the event by both a model and the designer); "Rubik's Cube" dress, done in strong strokes of bubble-gum brights against a black ground; grooviest, little "Mod" dress, all done up in sunny yellow chiffon with encrusted yoke detail. The best accouterment to go with these kinds of clothing are Shabayeva's sky-high, laced and ribboned "Mallorca" and "Mallory" platform shoes, rendered in shades of black, ecru, pink and gold.

What worked nearly across the board were Shabayeva's multi-colorful, individualistic sportswear items, all centered around the idea of fit, proportion, movement, and the body beautiful. And, what came across and seemed important, especailly in a retail envionrment such as Macy's, was the idea that this particular designer understands not only her own creative repertoire, but also the M.O. of the store and the customer for which she is designing. So, while it is clear that the collection takes its cue from the notion of movement and dance, and that many of the pieces here might be more well suited for women with those kinds of nubile figures, there are still enough choices that could work for the more traditional, and maybe not so well-toned, Macy's customer, and all with price points that would not break anybody's bank account. And, with retail being what it is these days, isn't that really the point of the exercise?

-- Adrienne Weinfeld-Berg

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Mother of Deceased Anorexic Model Commits Suicide

Photo: Andreas Solaro: AFP/Getty Images

 Dana Kennedy of reported today the mother of 28-year-old Isabelle Caro was so devastated by the death of the anorexic French model that she killed herself on January 7. Her husband said "She was too sad to go on," and "She was devastated." His wife became especially upset and depressed after reading something photographer Olivier Toscani had written in late December about the young model.

Isabelle posed nude for a Italian ad campaign shot by Olivier Toscani for the Nolita clothing line in 2007. She became an overnight sensation. The image of Caro's skeletal frame and gaunt expression was as shocking as it was unforgettable. The photographs were advertised in newspapers and billboards all over Europe and in some parts of the U.S. and were titled "No Anorexia."

Isabelle Caro died Nov. 17 after returning to Paris from a business trip to Tokyo, but her death was not made public until the last week of December. Her father had wanted to keep it quiet. Caro told AOL News that he has charged the doctors at Bichat Hospital where his daughter died with criminal negligence in her death. 

The New York fashion industry made a big deal last year about the problem of anorexic models and their influence on young women's self esteem. Anna Wintour and Diane von Furstenberg were outspoken in their support for healthy looking models as inspirations for young women.

Sadly, one year later fashion has moved on.  Last year's cause seems to be just that. Anna is now busy selling her advertisers to the Chinese, while Princess Diane is promoting on Social Media what she does best - the Diane von Furstenberg brand in all of its many splendid forms - currently her Housewares Collection on

Link to the complete AOL article here

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Better Bets Column: This Coat Could Be Yours

Sine New York "I'm On a Boat" Coat, $259

The “I’m On a Boat” Coat is a favorite with celebrities. It's from the Sine New York Resort collection and you can win one of your very on in their giveaway. Click on the link below and tell them which of their new resort styles is your favorite and what your plans are for a spring getaway. The contest ends Friday, January 21, 2011. Click here to enter.

Our latest Better Bets column "Snow Daze" is at

Monday, January 17, 2011

The Golden Globes Awards: Two Views


Best dressed: Eva Longoria in Zac Posen

Ask anyone in Hollywood and they will tell you that The Golden Globes is usually one of the most enjoyable nights of the year. It’s always a great party with lots of loose, unscripted moments and plenty of laughs. Not anymore. A shockingly mean-spirited Ricky Gervais and too many rambling presenters (Christian Bale, we mean you) managed to suck all the air out of the room and turn the evening into a big downer within the show’s first ten minutes. It only went down hill from there.

With the exception of Natalie Portman’s sweet homage to her family (Go Grandma Bernice!) and Colin Firth’s self-deprecating and utterly charming riff on middle age, the night’s winners were kind of, well, boring. I appreciate what Glee has done for high school kids who feel like misfits (and Chris Colfer’s remarks were inspiring), but I’m tired of seeing the show’s entire squadron of performers take over the red carpet and the stage. Jane Lynch, who by now has won everything she can for her role, just gives the same speech every time. At one point last night, I thought, who here isn’t on that show?

But the real downer of the night came courtesy of Ricky Gervais. After his take-no-prisoners opening monologue, the stars he introduced came out looking a bit shell-shocked or ticked off effectively killing the usually light hearted mood that has always made this show so much fun. By the second half of the night, his presence was limited but by then, the buzz kill had taken full effect.

When it comes to fashion, last night’s Golden Globes reminded me of ‘Opposite Day’ at my daughter’s preschool where the kids were allowed to wear mismatched clothes or something from their mother’s closet. (Well, it seemed Leighton Meester raided her grandmother’s trunk for her matronly dress). While no one showed up with their dress inside out, Helena Bonham Carter’s mismatched shoes were strangely reminiscent of a toddler’s attempt at dress-up.

The other ‘Opposite Effect’ that took hold was that the usual red carpet stunners were among the night’s worst offenders and women we barely noticed before dazzled. Halle Berry, Julianne Moore and Catherine Zeta Jones all disappointed. Women like Piper Perabo and Emma Stone (who?) looked gorgeous.

Upon first impression, it looked as if the red carpet was awash in pretty dresses but soon enough it was swamped in a sea of ruffles and a ridiculous number of bottle green dresses. The color of money? We get it.

There were no less than five green dresses on the red carpet. None really wowed. Angelina Jolie in a sparkling Versace wore it best. Let’s face it though, it could have just have easily been worn by Tina Fey (whose L’Wren Scott velvet number must have been pretty uncomfortable in the eighty degree heat). I usually love Catherine Zeta Jones but she looked like she had just stepped off the stage of Radio City’s Christmas Show. All she needed was ornaments as earrings. Sorry, but it’s true.

I found it alarming that Nicole Kidman had one of the most womanly bodies on the red carpet. It was a case of the incredibly shrinking actress. With the exception of Sofia Vergara, practically every woman there looked positively skeletal. Apparently, size 4 is a plus size in lala land.

Best dressed of the night was Eva Longoria who looked simply stunning in Zac Posen. How does someone so petite get her va va voom on so well? Anne Hathaway shimmered in Armani looking every inch the movie star she has become. Piper Perabo was amazingly chic in her black Oscar de la Renta, red lipstick and high ponytail. Who knew? In a sea of over the top ruffled confections, I loved the chic minimalism of Emma Stone’s pretty peach Calvin Klein.

And now the Worst dressed. Where to start? The usual fashion stalwarts fizzled or just plain disappointed. Halle Berry forgot her dress and came in her underwear. Julianne Moore fashioned a pair of curtains from the set of A Single Man and made it into a costume better suited to the heroine of a Judith Krantz mini-series. Red menace Christina Hendricks is obviously starved for attention. And it is so sad that a beauty like her Mad Men costar January Jones never, ever gets it right. Finally, a word about tattoos to all those misguided young actresses who have them: just because Angelina gets away with it doesn’t mean you can. We don’t like hers either, but we’re too afraid of her to tell her.

Not the best night for fashion and not the worst. The show grade: D. The fashion grade: B-.

Here’s how the whole shebang unfolded:

5:02PM Ricky Gervais launches into his squirm-inducing opening monologue. In the space of four minutes he manages to insult Johnny Depp (really?), Angelina Jolie, Charlie Sheen and the cast of Sex & The City. His truly tasteless jokes about Hugh Hefner’s fiancée were disgusting. You could hear a pin drop when he went for his Tom Cruise/John Travolta gay joke.

5:06PM Scarlett Johansson presents the first award of the night looking completely miserable. She must be psychic and has seen the future of the next three hours.

5:09PM Best Supporting Actor in a Drama (Film) Christian Bale has to be played off the stage and winds up being bleeped for his parting remark where he called Robert DeNiro ‘The sh—.’ Its going to be a looong night. Thanks to his ramblings the show is already running late. Producers try to play catch up by basically playing off every television winner for the rest of the night.

5:10PM In an upset, Katey Sagal wins Best Actress in a Drama (television) beating favorites Elizabeth Moss and Juliana Marguiles. Her big moment is cut off when she gets shooed off the stage by that annoying music.

5:16PM In effort to scale back on designer clothes, the usually stunning Julianne Moore is wearing something created from the drapes in her aunt’s house. Somewhere, Tom Ford is weeping.

5:20PM A whole series of people no one cares about go on and on when they take the stage. Backstage, producers are in search of a giant hook.

5:21PM Ricky Gervais is back. He introduces Bruce Willis as Ashton Kutcher’s dad. I was hoping Bruce would go all Die Hard on Ricky but instead he just looks more than a little miffed.

5:24PM Chris Colfer wins Best Supporting Actor Comedy for Glee and gives bullied kids everywhere hope with is heartfelt and mercifully brief speech. (“Screw that, kids!”) Nicely done.

5:30PM Michelle Pfeiffer presents. I bet she has a painting in her attic that is aging rapidly.

5:31PM Divorce becomes her. Eva Longoria is my pick for Best Dressed of the night.

5:34PM Fingers crossed we get to see Jon Hamm on stage for Best Actor.

5:35PM Nope, I have to shield my eyes when it’s Steve Buscemi instead. He also gets cut short by “sad music.”

5:44PM Some idiot actor from The Social Network can’t read the teleprompter and has to start over multiple times. Good going, sport.

5:55PM True Grit’s Hailee Steinfeld and Justin Bieber walk on to present an award. Just asking but why are the young male tween heart throbs today such girly men? Justin Bieber looks like my niece in drag.

6:00PM After being cruelly introduced by Ricky Gervais with tired references to his stints at “Betty Ford and ‘The LA County Jail,’ Robert Downey calls Gervais out for his “mean spirited” shtick.

6:03PM Ricky Gervais isn’t getting into any after parties.

6:04PM Annette Bening takes the stage with scary hair. She and the writer of the film she starred in, The Kids Are All Right, are dressed eerily alike down to their unfortunate eyeglasses.

6:09PM Sylvester Stallone introduces “The Boxer.” I love “Rocky” in all its iterations but he looks like he had a full body transplant. You can’t make this stuff up.

6:11PM Geoffrey Rush takes the stage. Great actor. Terrible dresser.

6:12PM Al Pacino wins Best Actor in a mini-series. I fear another rambling speech is about to be thrust upon us. Yup.

6:17PM Claire Danes, who apparently hasn’t eaten anything for about a month, wins for Best Support Actress in a mini series.

6:23PM Nice to see some child stars do grow up. Zac Efron looks like Harrison Ford compared to the rest of his peer group.

6:24PM Ricky Gervais makes his only borderline funny remark of the night when he calls out Steve Carrell for being ungrateful for bailing on The Office and “killing the cash cow.”

6:25PM Shot of Michelle Williams in an unfortunate, frumpy dress that looks like it’s from Talbot’s Mommy & Me collection.

6:29PM Apparently two guys we never heard of are going to star in films this summer as Captain America and Thor.

6:30PM Jane Lynch wins Best Supporting Actress in a Comedy for Glee. Ed O’Neill readies his remark for the press as to why Sofia Vergara should have won.

6:46PM OMG Jane Fonda! I don’t care if you’ve had your entire body lifted, you still look amazing. Love, love, love the dress.

7:05PM Angelina Jolie is not amused. Neither are we.

7:06PM Robert DeNiro, in accepting his Cecil B. DeMille Awards, attempts to audition for Gervais’ hosting gig for next year’s show. His performance is not unlike your Uncle Morty’s ill-fated attempt at stand-up at your cousin’s wedding last year. Yeesh.

7:15PM David Fincher wins Best Director for The Social Network. In accepting his award makes some joke involving Jon Benet. Huh?

7:17PM Versace pitchwoman January Jones comes out in a hideous red bondage dress. Betty Draper would not approve.

7:18PM Glee wins Best Comedy. Half the room takes to the stage.

7:25PM Halle Berry must have been in a hurry to get here tonight because she’s in her underwear. I don’t care if it’s Armani. We know you’re a gorgeous woman but you’re an Oscar winner for goodness sakes. You don’t have to dress like that anymore!

7:34PM Sure thing Natalie Portman wins Best Actress in a Drama. Too bad she is wearing that silly Viktor & Rolf dress. Dior must be disappointed and if I were Kate and Laura Mulleavy of Rodarte I’d be more than a little ticked off. She does get points for the night’s sweetest speech with her shout out to Grandma Bernice and her loving remarks about her parents who are beaming with pride in the audience. Loved the kudos for Mila ‘Sweet Lips’ Kunis. I’d get going on my Oscar speech if I were you.

7:38PM Presenter Tom Hanks recalls a time when Ricky Gervais was a “chubby and kind comedian.” You’re in trouble when the Mayor of Hollywood calls you out …

7:39PM Another shot of an unsmiling Angelina Jolie. We feel your pain.

7:40PM The Kids Are All Right wins Best Picture Comedy. The best of a weak bunch.

7:46PM Uh-oh. Ricky is introducing Sandra Bullock.

7:47PM She manages to escape his wrath only to land on everyone’s worst dressed list. What a difference a year makes. Last year she was flawless in Alexander McQueen. This year she appears to be channeling Ally Sheedy’s character from The Breakfast Club.

7:48PM Finally, a moment of civility. Colin Firth wins Best Actor in a Drama for his performance in The King’s Speech. In his acceptance speech he says, “Getting to the mid-point of your life with your dignity intact is precarious …” He is funny, gracious and charming. Refreshing.

7:57PM Michael Douglas, who was robbed of the chance to bring everyone to tears earlier in the night when he lost to Christian Bale, gets a standing ovation before introducing the Best Picture Drama. We tear up when he quips, “There’s a gotta be an easier way.” The Social Network is the winner. Facebook has officially taken over the world.

7:59PM Ricky Gervais thanks the crowd for “being good sports” and stupidly thanks God “for making me an atheist.” Buh-bye.

8:02PM Show producers put in a call to Ellen DeGeneres asking her to host next year.

(Photo credit:

The Golden Globe Awards: Two Views

Marilyn Kirschner: Monday Morning Quarterback
What is the world coming to? What can we count on when even one's astrological sign (the one you’ve become associated with for decades), has literally changed overnight? Well, thankfully, there are some things that will never change: our ongoing fascination with the Red Carpet and that age old question: “Who will wear what”? It’s almost as though “Who will win what?” is secondary.

 But let’s face it, the phrase, Red Carpet Fashion is an oxymoron and I have come to expect nothing more than a parade of highly predicable, formulaic, ‘paint by numbers’ choices, (some which oft times seem to be completely disconnected from the wearer), thanks to the stylists, since let’s face it, in rare cases only, is it the star herself who has conceived of, picked out, or paid for her outfit from head-to-toe.

Olivia Wilde
 And considering that these highly paid celebs have the wherewithal, the access, and of course, the means, to insure they have the best of the best, it makes the end result of so much time and effort seem to be even more of a letdown. It also boggles the mind how so few stars truly get it right (Cate Blanchett and Natalie Portman quickly come to mind). Or wrong (which would at least be refreshing and interesting). But isn’t it all so subjective anyway?

Tilda Swinton
While I do think Julia Roberts looked gorgeous years ago, when she picked up her Oscar for Best Actress wearing that chic vintage black and white Valentino gown, I actually think she outdid herself at last year's Golden Globes, clad in a long sleeved v neck short black chemise dress, simple high heeled pumps, accessorized by an eye-catching vintage long chunky gold pendant necklace (the dress and necklace were purchased at a vintage store in Manhattan and if I remember correctly, I believe the dress was YSL and she paid about $1000 for it. But that is completely beside the point because there is always too much emphasis placed on wearing well known labels instead of concentrating on just plain fabulous frocks). It completely suited her style, it exuded an unfussy, modern glamour, it played to her strengths (showing off her gorgeous gams), and she picked it out and paid for it herself. Interestingly, several self appointed 'experts' criticized her for looking “underdressed”, more suited to going out to dinner than to an awards ceremony. Ah, what do they know? In any case, everyone is entitled to their opinion. It’s not brain surgery, if you know what I mean.
Anne Hathaway
Still, isn’t it fun to be a Monday morning quarterback, second guess, and sit in judgment? By the way, you can say that was literally the case last evening, since the New York Jets were playing against the New England Patriots just as the Red Carpet arrivals were getting underway, and I, for one, kept turning the station back and forth as I’m certain was the case in many other households.

Natalie Portman
 So, who got it right? While I'll admit I've preferred Natalie Portman's past Red Carpet choices, she nonetheless glowed and looked beautiful in her pale and strapless flower appliquéd Viktor & Rolf, and it 'worked' considering her pregnancy; the red one shouldered Lanvin chosen by Julianne Moore may not have been the most flattering dress of all time, but it was certainly a bold fashion choice in terms of color and silhouette and was hardly a safe choice; Claire Danes’ salmon colored Calvin Klein Collection halter dress suited her perfectly and looked modern and chic; Catherine Zeta-Jones and Angelina Jolie looked every inch the movie stars they are in their green gowns (by Monique Lhuillier and Versace Atelier respectively) as did Anne Hathaway in Armani Prive (fyi: I especially liked the long sleeves and covered up elegance of both the Lhuillier and Armani); 14 year old Hailee Steinfeld looked drop dead gorgeous and very grown up (but thankfully, not too much so) in an ivory Prabal Gurung; Olivia Wilde’s strapless and glittery Marchesa gown was quite an entrance maker, capitalizing on the 'of the moment' ballet theme going on these days, with a tulle skirt so full it almost took up the entire stage; and you can always count on Tilda Swinton to take risks and go her own way an- instead of chosing a typical boring gown, she opted for the chicest thing in the world - a perfectly crisp white cotton shirt and long vanilla skirt, courtesy Jil Sander. By the way, Fashion 'It Girl' Alexa Chung, who was actually at work last evening, interviewing stars on the red carpet for NBC, looked glamorous and youthful, in her covered up, long sleeved red chiffon gown (designer unknown).

Helena Bonham Carter
 Disappointments (there were too many prom dresses, out of control cascading ruffles, etc. to mention) include Heidi Klum in a droopy printed Marc Jacobs from spring 2011 (proving that runway does not always translate onto the red carpet), Sandra Bullock in a rather unflattering and frumpy Jenny Packham, Nicole Kidman in pale long Prada (sorry- she could have done so much better!!!), J.Lo in a white Zuhair Murad which looked a tad too much like a wedding dress (actually, it was more like 'Mother of the Bride’ for my taste), Halle Berry in black Nina Ricci (she is so gorgeous it ‘hurts’ and doesn’t need to wear something that so closely resembles underwear), Christina Aguilera in Zuhair Murad mermaid black lace, and Tina Fey who almost never gets it right and didn't this time in her ill chosen L'Wren Scott. And truly a class by herself is Helena Bonham Carter, wearing a Vivienne Westwood dress accessorized with purposely mismatched pumps and her signature birds nest, piled up hair. Yikes. Well, you have to hand it to her: at least she didn’t look like anyone else!

- Marilyn Kirschner
(Photo Credits: Courtesy Golden Globes except for Tilda Swinton:

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Fashion Designer Bill Dugan Dies

Left: Bill Dugan Right: Ralph Rucci (photo: Patrick McMullan)

 I just heard some sad news. Bill Dugan the talented fashion designer who worked as Halston's design assistant for 12 years has passed away. I have known Bill professionally for years and he was such an elegant and wonderful guy. He always reminded me of William Powell in The Thin Man movie series.

According to Ralph Rucci's sister Rosina: “He died when he was home, upstate, over the Christmas holiday. He was sick but went home and very rapidly took a dramatic turn for the worst while there. Luckily the snow came and he had to stay. God really does know what He’s doing – Bill went to sleep with all of his most treasured people around him. Peacefully and beautifully.”

 Ralph Rucci and Nancy North will be hosting a gathering to remember Bill on Monday January 24th from 6PM-8PM. Please note the gathering is by invitation only. However requests to attend will be given consideration on the basis of space availability. Please direct your requests to Rosina Rucci at

Friday, January 07, 2011

IMG Sells "Daily" to Brandusa Niro

IMG has sold the Daily to its editor/publisher Brandusa Niro. Who says schlock does not sell?  While the publication is popular and an entertaining read during NY Fashion Week, the tacky style of its reporting, coupled with poorly written editorial - much of it culled from press releases - and the lack of consistent advertising support might have convinced IMG it was a property they could do without.

Brandusa was the original editor of who in 2002, along with her husband, was forced out as CEO and replaced with Lynn Krominga, a former exec at FWD parent Revlon.  Brandusa was then hired as editor of the Daily by IMG in late 2002. 

 Her past attempts at selling the Daily on newsstands and as a paid subscription via regular mail have all failed. The site lacked the cache to attract upscale advertisers. However, a new insert called 'The Daily Front Row" will appear in the give-away newspaper AM New York.  In addition, The Daily will begin publishing an Italian edition at Milan's Fashion Week this September. 
Interesting fact: Anyone who has worked for cannot work for Brandusa Niro. She dislikes us (me) that much! All I can say is best of luck to her.

-Ernest Schmatolla

Tuesday, January 04, 2011

Tom Ford: He Looks Younger As His Collection Look Older


Tom Ford has finally released the video of his Spring 2011 womenswear collection that was shown last September. Set to the music of model/singer Karen Elson's song "Pretty Babies" the video combines backstage shots and runway clips of the dozen celebrities and models who vamped around in the clothes while other cameras recorded the adoring reactions from the editors in the audience.

The clothing seemed to heavily reference the 1970's -- but more on that later. The show, which was attended by about 100 A-list editors reminded me of the small "exclusive" salon shows that were very popular back in 1980's. Watching the video was like going back in a time machine.  And speaking of old time editors, all the "usual suspects" were there with Anna Wintour front and center. I saw the faces of quite a number of editors in the video who were covering the shows since the 1980's. I would say the audience's average age was close to 50 years old.

 Most curious, there was just one photographer at the show. Uber lensman Terry Richardson gave new meaning to "runway photographer" by standing right on the runway shooting the models as they walked toward him (The mirror in back of the runway can play havoc with Terry's pictures if he was shooting flash on camera). Not sure I get the point, I mean they could have hired Dan Lecca to shoot the show and given Terry a seat?

While Mr. Ford continues to look younger and younger with every new nip-and-tuck done by his masterful plastic surgeon, his collection looked older and older. It was Gucci all over again with a little YSL thrown in - nothing more and nothing less. The models were showing a lot of skin --some with their boobs ready to fall out - I suppose he had to make the clothing look even more sexy?

It was not just Ford's collection that seemed out-of-sync with the time. He stated in Vogue his anti-celebrity and anti-Internet views: “I do not understand everyone’s need to see everything online the day after a show,” he says. “I don’t think it ultimately serves the customer, which is the whole point of my business — not to serve journalists or the fashion system. To put something out that’s going to be in a store in six months, and to see it on a starlet, ranked in US magazine next week? My customer doesn’t want to wear the same thing she saw on a starlet!"

 Tom Ford does not play up to fashion journalists? Are we talking about the same fellow? He played "hard to get" with the fashion media and just look at the coverage he got for this collection! But frankly, in the age of the Internet, he is something of a dinosaur. Of course there will be customers with money to burn who will stand in line to buy his collections. He will always be a safe bet for those who live and die buying labels. But these customers are an aging group. Does Mr. Ford really have  anything new to offer the younger and hipper customers who don't remember him as well? Does he know how to communicate with them in this age of Social Media? Or, is he part of the gilded age of fashion that is more memory now than anything else?

  What is old, is not always new again, no matter how much of a facelift you give it.

-Ernest Schmatolla

Sunday, January 02, 2011

Editorial: The Key Fashion Event of 2010

 In August, Stacy Lomman, a former head designer at Joan Vass, turned to Social Media with an eye on debuting her signature collection for Spring 2011 – “Precious Metal” during New York Fashion Week. (read our article)  Lomman raised approximately $12,000 using the site to garner funds from her friends and supporters on Facebook, as well as readers of her blog,  Then, on September 13th, she had a show featuring 12 evening gowns that were each individually sponsored and paid for by her supporters. Stacy was mentioned and a sketch featured in a WWD article on September 15 about the consumer wielding greater control over fashion. One of her pieces was selected by as one of their “Sexy Runway Moments for Spring 2011” and she was video interviewed by the Huffington Post about her collection and fund raising efforts.

 A designer without deep pockets, Stacy (photo at left) was able to produce a formal fashion show during one of the most visible times of the season in New York City using the Internet as her main source of funding. True, it was not the first time money was raised for a fashion show on the Internet, but it was the first time the entire production was fully funded using Social Media. For our money, this was far more significant than the fashion shows moving to Lincoln Center, a 13 year old blogger sitting on the front row at the Armani show, the passing of Alexander McQueen, and for sure the runway return of Tom Ford.

Her show was revolutionary in many ways. Stacy was able to side step the entire process of how shows are traditionally produced. But more importantly, her show proved the Internet is completely changing the nature of how fashion is being produced, branded, editorialized and marketed to a worldwide audience.

The day may be fast approaching, when the big fashion shows being produced under the auspices of organizations like IMG Fashion Week will not be the first choice to launch or promote a collection. The Internet and the clever use of Social Media and YouTube can allow a designer like Stacy Lomman a far more cost effective way to showcase her designs to a world wide audience  and compete successfully with well established brands for consumer attention.

-Ernest Schmatolla