Monday, February 28, 2011

Oscars 2011 Report by Diane Clehane

A Review of the 83rd Annual Academy Awards

Will wonders ever cease? After years of a less than stellar red carpet, last night’s Academy Awards finally managed to deliver A-list fashion worthy of the endless coverage it receives. As has been the case for the past several years, there was no clear cut fashion winner but for those who got it right their style savvy choices will undoubtedly deliver the desired PR boost for both the wearer and the designer. It couldn’t come at a better time.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Better Bets by Rhonda Erb

On & Off the Runway

Zang Toi Gets Real

It is no secret that Zang Toi is a close personal friend of The Real Housewives of New York City star, Jill Zarin. He has even made an appearance with her on the Bravo TV reality show. Zarin returned the favor, during New York’s Mercedes Benz Fashion Week, by walking the runway in one of Toi’s strapless ballgowns at the finale of his fall 2011 fashion show. Housewives star, Ramona Singer, was also on hand to view the designer’s elegant collection entitled “Timeless Beauties”. (Photo: Isabelle Erb)

At the Station
Sunday evening commuters passing through New York City’s Grand Central Station on February 13th witnessed a surprising spectacle. Moncler Grenoble staged its Fall 2011 Show by recreating the “ flash mob” phenomenon with a 7-minute dance performance on the terminal floor, showcasing their fall 2011 looks. The 160 dancers were selected from an open casting call and “ were a mix of dancers, models and real people” dancing to a medley of songs by artists as diverse as Prince and Barbara Streisand. All of the rehearsals for the show took place in Brooklyn and the dancers were only able to perform their routine in Grand Central during the actual event. (Photo credit: Isabelle Erb)

See the show:

High School Cool
New York City’s Fiorello H. La Guardia High School (also known as the “Fame” school) was the setting for designer, Rachel Antonoff’s full scale production of a high school dance to present her Autumn / Winter 2011 collection. Using the movie The Virgin Suicides for her inspiration, Antonoff filled the school’s third floor gym with crepe paper streamers, balloons and even tables set with Hostess Cupcakes and Twinkies. Each of the models portrayed a stereotypical high school role (wall flowers, mean girls, etc.) and each was clad in one of the designer’s schoolgirl outfits, complete with shoes from the Bass Loves Rachel Antonoff line. Live music was provided by the all girl, LA band, The Like, who were also wearing Rachel Antonoff designs. (Photo credit: Isabelle Erb)

See the show:

The Two faces of Betsey
Designer Betsey Johnson’s Fall 2011 “He Loves Me/ He Loves Me Not” Valentine’s Day fashion show was in two acts. The first set of models wore eye-catching prints, bright colors, corsets and petticoats, in other words, signature Betsey styles. The second act introduced Betsey’s more affordable “Pink Patch” collection, priced under $100.00. Just to show how truly “accessible” this new line really is, the designer used some of her own staffers, both male and female, all wearing blond “Betsey” wigs, to model the clothes. Of course, for the finale, Betsey performed her classic routine, executing a perfect cartwheel down the runway. (Photo credit:

See the show:

Go to past Better Bets:

Friday, February 18, 2011

Vittadini Uses Famous Past Models

Nostalgia Is As Nostalgia Does

From left to right: Pat Cleveland, Niki Taylor, Irinia, Frederique, Carmen, Roshumba & Carol Alt

The powers behind the Adrienne Vittadini label must have had in their minds that old adage, "the original is always the best", when they put their collective, pre-Fashion Week heads together, to conjure up a novel and unique way in which to present the new Fall-Winter 2011 collection to editors and invited guests at Lincoln Center. The collection, shown in two intimate runway presentations at The Box, featured among some very good looks, well styled by Lucy Sykes, a chic cadre of models who were instantly recognizeable to many of the more seasoned editors, such as this writer; i.e., "blasts from the past", such as Carol Alt, Niki Taylor, Pat Cleveland (who danced and pranced and blew kisses to one an all, around the runway, just as she had always done when she was a very well known Halstonette), Irinia, Roshumba, Frederique, and the silver-haired, Carmen, who still has what it takes to show the clothes, albeit, in an older way than in her heyday as a favorite of many an American and European designer.

Pat Cleveland

 As for the clothes, which are geared to another type of older, 40+ woman, the story here is all about "Modern Muses", as described in the show program. "Each of these women (the models on the runway and the shoppers in the store, no doubt) expresses her spirit through fashion, exudes ageless style and radiates confidence". Right on.


Although not every look on this runway was a winner, there were several ensembles that did hit the right mark. The tannin knit hourglass dress with ribbed sleeve, that fit Alt like a second skin,was sexy and cool. The granite tweed deep v-neck knit dress and charcoal batwing fine guage knit oponcho over tulip skirt, modeled by Cleveland, were super cool and totally wearable. An excellent pairing of a black, butter-soft leather, asymmetrical zip-jacket over sleeveless lace blouse with wisp crepe de chine long skirt, shown by Taylor, seems to be more than covetable, to say the very least.

Niki Taylor

Trending on this runway are moderne, spirited, wearable, clothing, generally geared for real women, who are not necessarily the rail thin, pouty, 18-year-old little girls, that more than just a handful of designers seem to adore. And this is quite an interesting point to ponder, when taking this viewpoint.


Kudos to the designers behind the Vittadini label; all of whom seem to totally make their creative statement and their marketing intentions clear. Judging from what they sent down the runway this season, and the types of models that were chosen to show the line, this team knows their market and understands just who their customer really is. And, that is a refreshing change to see at Fashion Week, to be sure.

-- Adrienne Weinfeld-Berg 

The Daily Bet by Rhonda Erb

Moet & Chandon invites you to throw an Oscar Party

Moet & Chandon, the exclusive champagne of the Academy Awards, and entertaining expert, Katie Lee, have teamed up to make sure that your Oscar Party is a winner. Go to where you will find easy to prepare recipes for hors d’oeuvres and champagne cocktails, including the Silver Screen Punch that will be served at the Governor’s Ball.

Moet & Chandon Limited Edition Gold Award Season Bottle, $39.00, available wherever fine wines are sold.

The Silver Screen Punch

1 (6 ounce) can pink lemonade concentrate, partially thawed
8 ounces pineapple juice
1 cup frozen strawberries
1/2 teaspoon grated ginger
1 cup Belvedere vodka
1 bottle Moet & Chandon
1 pineapple, cut into rings and frozen

In a blender, combine pink lemonade concentrate, pineapple juice, strawberries, and ginger. Blend until smooth. Pour into a punch bowl. Add vodka and stir to combine. Just before serving, pour in Moet & Chandon. Add frozen pineapple rings.

New York Fashion Week Notes: Day 8

Ralph Lauren ‘Black’ Label

Ralph Lauren Fall 2011 Collection
(All Photos:

And I mean ‘black’ literally since out of the 53 looks that came down the runway yesterday at Skylight Studio, where Ralph Lauren showed his fall collection at two back-to-back shows, almost each and every one was either all black, mainly black, or black enlivened with hits of white (as in white shirts), lacquer red, which often came by way of the high heeled red satin open toe pumps, or mixed with multi colored prints or patterns with a hard to miss Oriental flavor (one standout was the red silk shantung embroidered smoking jacket worn over a crisp white shirt and black pinstripe trousers, and shown beneath a black cashmere cocoon coat trimmed with long hair shearling). If it wasn’t black, it was trimmed with black, such as the good looking chestnut tweed double breasted coat and hacking jacket, both of which had black curly shearling collars.

One always expects Ralph to switch gears from one season to the next (but he does it in his own way, within his own ‘oeuvre’), and since last spring was a study in prairie chic, I guess it was safe to say he would completely go in another direction for fall. And so he did. This was a sophisticated, completely urban vision, one that was quite slick actually, and it didn’t hurt that many of the fabrics used, (black silk, silk/wool, leather) thanks to technology, were given a shiny, glossy, polished finish, which heightened the effect.

It was pure Ralph through and though, with its emphasis on strictly tailored, shaped and molded jackets, perfect trousers (pleated and narrow), tuxedos, skinny sweater dresses that fit like a second skin, velvet shawl collared smoking jackets, and fabulous coats (it’s hard to forget that amazing, long, black glossy leather trench coat with shearling trim collar, which was shown with a black polished leather pencil skirt, black turtleneck sweater, and accessorized with a black satin pleated peep toe with red lacquer heel).

A subtle art deco vibe was apparent in the 8 black floor length gowns that formed the finale. Bugle beaded, embroidered, or done in silk panne velvet, they were simple yet dramatic, and a few had alluringly cut out backs. Not so subtle were the two, especially the finale, which featured a fabulous bugle beaded collar and matching ‘hood’. When RR took his bow to a standing ovation, he was wearing a black turtleneck and black distressed jeans (he is always wears a version of the look he is proposing on the runway). It was pure class all the way.

Francisco Costa Wipes the ‘Slate’ Clean

Calvin Klein Fall 2011 Collection
(All Photos:

If someone wanted to know my definition of what ‘modern’ is, vis a vis clothing for our times, or my definition of a collection that is at once youthful yet sophisticated, appropriate for a range of ages, and easy yet still quite structured and sculptural, formal yet informal, sporty yet couture, I would tell them to look at Francisco Costa’s fall winter show which was presented at two back to back presentations yesterday afternoon. The 35 piece collection was whittled down to shades of gray (slate, mercury, smoke), desert, wheat, stone, black and white and played out in luxurious and innovative fabrics such as bonded alpaca and cashmere, alpaca jacquards, needle punched shearling (coats); technical silk twill (pants); silk ribbon jacquard, technical jersey, and technical silk boucle (sheaths); mercury/cotton (shirts).

The silhouette he seems to be most taken with - it was the first outfit out and one that repeated itself but in slightly different variations, was the use of a lean cigarette pant cropped to the ankle  and not a skintight jean or legging, nor a wide trouser pant but something chic, elegant, and in between, worn with a coat that hit just above the knee, in a slightly rounded shape, worn with a white cotton long sleeved shirt. When it wasn’t a coat, it was a cropped jacket with a ‘baseball collar’, a collarless or zip front jacket in leather, or an easy yet beautifully shaped ‘sweatshirt’ with abbreviated sleeves (of course, his sweatshirts are made of alpaca jacquard).

And when it wasn’t a white long sleeved shirt, it was a white, wheat, or black sleeveless shirt. Sometimes, it was an above the knee length skirt, which formed the bottom half of an outfit, and those were needless to say, perfectly cut to be easy, not tight or constricting, yet done with a controlled volume. Dresses (sheaths, shifts and shirtdresses) also fell slightly above the knee (there was not one long dress or gown to be found in the entire collection), and they were also, cut to perfection and innovative. One new dress shape that repeated was the ‘two piece sheath’ that, thanks to tromp l’oeil seaming, appeared to be a two piece dress in the front. Some of the dresses made effective use of fabric mixes. The most ‘evening’ the collection got, was the group of metallic jacquard shifts (in slate and wheat), with fold detail, scoop back, or scoop arm.

There was absolutely no jewelry, not a handbag, and the only accessory were the shoes: a rounded toe, ankle strap sandal or pump on a slight platform, boasting a chunky, low heel (some were white, which gave a clean modern somewhat mod look to the darker clothes, and others matched the outfits) made from wheat hair, truffle hair, and brushed calf. It was hard not to notice that thanks to the comfy, grounded footwear, the models (with their hair pulled back into youthful straight ponytails), were not only ABLE to walk down the runway (wow- what a novel idea!!!), but seemed to literally jaunt down the runway.

This brings up another point. I may be missing something, but I TRULY do not understand the fascination many women, as well as some designers, still seem to have with ugly ugly ugly orthopedic (if not worse) looking, heavy, platform high high heeled footwear that renders them almost cripple. I’ve seen countless of them during fashion week, and mostly, they have been hunched over and almost unable to navigate the sidewalks without leaning on something - or someone. Is that what they perceive as attractive…or modern????? I don’t think so. Especially in the city, when one should be able to move at breakneck speed. Certainly, being able to walk briskly, gracefully, or just walk at all, seems to be what ‘modern’ is all.

To ‘Dye’ For...

Isaac Mizrahi Fall 2011 Collection
(All Photos:

Isaac Mizrahi’s noon time show, held at Exit Art yesterday, was in one word a HOOT! (okay, two words). It was quirky, imaginative, and insanely off the wall, and like no one else’s. According to the run of show, the collection was dubbed, ‘Cake’ but a look inside the program revealed nothing of a descriptive nature, other than the names of the 26 models. The first model came down the runway, a vision in lavender (a below the knee length coat and dress), with a puzzling poodle like oversized black ‘fixture’ sitting on the top of her head, followed by a model wearing a pale green dress with a large bow; at which point a ‘waiter’ walked down the runway holding a mint green cake with the same large bow in front, the audience got a hint of the madness to come.

Some of the colors (mint green, marigold yellow, hot pink, purple, gray, black) as well as the prints and fabrics (confetti crystals, oversized florals) which were used for the collection of coats, dresses (some long, some abbreviated), elongated skirts, cropped pants, floor length ball skirts, evening gowns, were literally mimicked by the dyed to match layer cakes, (brought out by serious looking ‘waiters’ taking their turn down the runway), AND by the dyed to match poodles that came out with the models.  I thought I’d lose it when one model, wearing a hot pink strapless gown, came out holding a hot pink dyed poodle; and when after a model wearing a short blue and purple floral coat, accompanied by a dyed blue poodle, was followed by a waiter carrying a layer cake covered in the same blue and floral fabric.

(FYI, I don’t even want to guess what sort of dye was used but I would hope it’s not permanent).

 In addition to fashion and the theatre, Isaac has a fixation on layer cakes and poodles? In addition to the models resembling poodles, there were poodle pins affixed to some of the outfits, replicas of miniature poodles topping layer cakes, and there were dyed to match bags in ‘poodle’ cloth. (Thankfully, Isaac stopped just short of showing poodle skirts). When Isaac walked down the runway, he was wearing a poodle pin affixed to his jacket, and holding the leash of what I assume, is his poodle. (Coincidentally, this past week was the Westminster Dog Show in New York, so the timing was not lost on me). Needless to say, the audience was in stitches and we all needed this after 8 days of covering shows. What a perfect way to (almost) end fashion week. Bill Cunningham, taking it all and capturing it on his camera was similarly amused, exclaiming in glee, “Not a moment too soon”, and then he literally dashed down the runway to get a better shot of the last model, wearing a black gown, accompanied by a black poodle.

In the meanwhile, luckily for me, there was an appealing new bakery a few steps away from Exit Art, because after looking at all those ‘cakes’ during the course of Isaac’s show, I developed quite a sweet tooth.

FYI, as I strolled down west 39th Street, on my way to Calvin Klein, I saw a man handing out blue buttons saying “We all get dressed for Bill” (a quote made by Anna Wintour many years ago), along with postcards advertising the long awaited public release of the “Bill Cunningham New York” documentary. It will have a two week run, beginning March 16, at the Film Forum on Houston Street (you can buy tickets online, and can watch the trailer at Coincidentally, I literally bumped into Bill, coming out of the first Calvin Klein show, and showed him the button and the postcard and in true BC form, he sort of embarrassedly shrugged it off and quickly changed the subject to fashion shows. You gotta love him!

-Marilyn Kirschner

Thursday, February 17, 2011

New York Fashion Week Notes - Day 7

You Don’t Look a Year Over 29!

Michael Kors Fall 2011 Collection
(All Photos:

I almost cannot remember back 30 years, when, as young fashion editor at Harper’s Bazaar, I first walked into Michael Kors’s garment center showroom. And while I certainly do recall that ill fated event years later, when, during the course of a formal runway show in a raw loft space, part of a ceiling fell on Suzy Menkes’ head, serving as a catalyst for what how has become a far more organized, centralized, and safe New York Fashion Week . Although, quite frankly, that one is hard to forget and I’m still convinced years later, that Ms. Menkes was spared serious injury thanks to her signature pompadour, acting as a buffer.

What I can recall, is how I felt when I first laid eyes on Michael Kors’s fabulously chic American sportswear classics; the way each piece was such a perfection of what it was meant to be, and how it symbolized the best in American sportswear. And now, 30 years later, that has not changed. Michael is arguably one of the most consistent designers in the world and that was the clear message on the runway at Lincoln Center yesterday, where the milestone celebration/fashion show, ‘30 years of American Luxury’, was staged before a huge and appreciate crowd. Unsurprisigingly, it was pure Michael throughout the 64 pieces shown for men and women and played out in a signature, beloved color palette -- crisp black and white; crimson, platinum, smoke, and a range of make up in perfect flesh tones: blush, nude, and suntan (I was looking over at Aerin Lauder thinking she must be glad to see them as they would be perfect for her Estee Lauder ads).

The way in which day and evening were completely mixed together was very effective, with everything coming out at breakneck speed: cashgora bathrobe coats, felted flannel great coats, stretch cashmere jumpsuits, cashmere sweater dresses, sparkling crystal jersey dresses and jumpsuits, felted flannel reefers, felted flannel blazers, white silk charmeuse bodyshirts, knitted fox capes and coats, fox chubbies, double face tunics over trousers, jersey blouson dresses and halters, melton capes, etc. The strong message that resonated is that it all works, there’s a time and place for everything, and what looks good, always looks good. Yes, sharp tailoring is back, but so is languid jersey (did they ever go away?); the haberdashery menswear inspired great coat worn with a trouser pant has never looked better, nor has the crisp white shirt, or the dramatic cape and toga. Camel never loses its appeal nor does classic luxury (if you wanted to trade in your well worn camel hair coat for something a bit more luxe this season, how about that suntan colored belted alligator jacket?)

The accessories were minimal, in keeping with the pared down aesthetic of the clothes. While I’m a gold girl myself, I have to admit that silver does look clean and ultra modern and Michael was wise to go that route. It was very effective the way Michael used wide silver chokers and ultra wide silver cuffs, with the most menswear inspired outfits, quickly imparting a glamorous, ultra feminine feeling. Even the soles and chunky high heels on his sandals shoes and boots benefited from the use of gleaming silver. When Michael came out on the runway, Odyssey’s iconic anthem, “I’m a native New Yorker” played in the background. It was then that I understood why Anna Della Russo, seated in the front row, was wearing a gilt headpiece with what looked like two enormous apples (Get it? The Big Apple and New York?) I thought it was her way to celebrating being here. But when I saw her later, I realized it was two enormous cherries. Go figure.

By the way, in addition to the run of show, every seat had a handsome black leather case holding a pair of Michael Kors’s signature aviator sunglasses. How perfect since it was a sunny bright winter day.

Oscar’s Ottoman Empire

Oscar de la Renta Fall 2011 Collection
(All Photos:

I don’t think there could be anything less minimal, than the collection shown by Oscar de la Renta yesterday afternoon at 583 Park Avenue. Ornate, colorful, exotic, and luxurious, with mind boggling fabric techniques, textures, and combinations, it was hard to tell which part was daytime because it was all so over the top. Prints and patterns were often mixed together; there was an abundance of furs and the use of exotic pelts, often mixed together, fur trimmed hoods, and lavish fur trims, There was ivory chenille and gold metallic threadwork, crewel threadwork, silver metallic leather and silver metallic foil, metallic Ottoman jacquards, beaded tassels, bugle beads, and it appeared that everything in the 60 piece collection, was embroidered. There was Moroccan Beni embroidery, patchwork embroidery, gold bouillon Bukhara embroidery, floral paillette embroidery, multi color and grid sequin embroidery, and embroidered multi color abstract paisley print velvets. Often times, all the above were used in one outfit (I’m just kidding of course, but I’m not too far off the truth).

Instead of Cristobal Balenciaga and his beloved Spain, it seems as though Oscar had more exotic locales in mind when he conceived the collection, (hardly new territory for the designer who is known for his love of exotica), and it showed up from beginning to end. For example, a black and white patterned jacket with tweed trim, was made of sequin embroidered silk organza, and shown with a dress the top of which was crystal embroidered wool crepe with a feather and Mongolian lamb skirt; another heavily embroidered jacket was worn with an abbreviated red fox skirt; an ivory and black sequined grid embroidered charcoal mélange jersey jacket with tweed trim, was paired with an ivory gazar dress with ivory and black sequin grid embroidered charcoal mélange jersey skirt. A chic, rather simplified yet graphic sleeveless shift was hand painted and sequin grid embroidered. And speaking of simple yet not, in a sea of colorful long gowns, there were two that really stood out: a multi colored madras print silk chiffon gown, and a very narrow strapless gown comprised of multi color sequin embroidered patchwork and paisley print.

But hands down, the real standouts, were the eye-catching coats, which appeared throughout in dizzying combinations, many of which were patterned, fur trimmed, and embroidered, and accessorized with ottoman jacquard fox brimmed Louz hats, massive coin or crystal necklaces, and black leather boots with metal heels. In one case, a frothy silver lame mousseline and pearl embroidered silk chiffon gown with tulle skirt, was shown beneath a black crewel threadwork Moroccan Beni embroidered ivory shearling coat.

Forget about the grunge look, or the looking ‘poor’ on purpose look. This collection was all about being rich and looking rich. Oscar doesn’t show on Park Avenue for nothing.

A Match Made in Heaven

On Wednesday morning, I attended an informal showing of design collaboration between Derek Lam + Ebay held at Alice Tully Hall. Whoever thought of it had a brilliant idea. Out of the 16 dresses which were shown on live models (iconic dress styles ranging from a black cotton shift dress to an elongated crisp white cotton poplin shirtdress) 5 of them (voted on by whomever wants to do so: ) will be available to purchase on Ebay on March 1, when the choices will be made public. The popular price points, $125 - $295, a fraction of the cost of anything on Derek Lam’s collection, should be a big selling point. By the way, I had a chance to chat with the designer and I asked if he had a favorite but he did not say. I then asked if he could vote and he said, “Yes.” When I told him I “live” on EBay, he said, “So do I”. Hmmmm, I started wondering what fabulous finds have served as inspiration for his most recent collection.

- Marilyn Kirschner

The Daily Bet by Rhonda Erb

Gianni Rich Boots

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Wednesday, February 16, 2011

New York Fashion Week Notes - Day 6

Youth is Wasted on the Young

Ralph Rucci Fall 2011 Collection

I always look forward to seeing Ralph Rucci, but I have to admit that my interest and curiosity was peaked even more so this time after I read WWD’s weekend column asking designers “What were they thinking?” as far as their upcoming collections. Ralph Rucci’s answer was pared down to one word: “Youth”. Many words have been used to describe Chado Ralph Rucci (the designer and the label), but the word ‘youth’ has never exactly been one of them. And how ironic. Marc Jacobs went in a decidedly older, more grownup, and sophisticated direction this season, and RR is thinking ‘young’.

But in all fairness, it wasn’t that young. Nor should it be. Ralph’s customer is not teenage and that is not who he is going after. And anyway, ‘youth’ has more to do with a state of mind and spirit than chronological age. One look at the almost 90 year old iconic fashion star Iris Apfel, seated in the front row and looking ‘mahvelous’, confirms that truism. Having said that, as it turns out, the items that really stood out for me this time, just so happened to have a decidedly more youthful spirit as they were perhaps not as overworked as others.

The 61 piece Chado Ralph Rucci collection shown on the eve of Valentine’s Day, appropriately opened with head to toe red (and the shade also formed the finale). The eye-catching and crowd pleasing opening group consisted of a short red Mongolian lamb coat accessorized with a red scarf wrapped around the head, and ‘fierce’, tall red suede high heeled boots; a knee length red vinyl belted raincoat; a red wool jersey short dress with an open work trellis design; a red chinchilla tunic; and a red sable ski parka.

Standouts that followed (which could be considered ‘young’ in mood and spirit) include a tan ‘puffer’ coat with a Chinchilla vest, worn with tan trousers; a mod-ish white vinyl short coat with massive black fox cuffs; a white ultra suede tunic and floor length black velvet skirt; a white wool floor length coat and matching gown, both of which had sheer feathered hemlines; a short sleeved black wool challis dress that could be considered as a perfect LBD and a black wool and broadtail dress featuring a nude illusion halter neck top; a short black lace dress which was shown with a fitted black openwork spider web cardigan; a positively divine freshwater pearl twinset which was paired with a short, full satin skirt in ivory which was banded with a wide tomato red hem; and a short red embroidered chiffon and feathered dress, shown with sheer red long gloves.

A Chip off the old (color) block

Narciso Rodriquez Fall 2011 Collection
(All Photos:

Last night, American sportswear was alive and well and inhabiting Narciso Rodriguez’s runway at Lincoln Center! He managed to meld the world of art and fashion, bringing a new level to the idea of utilitarian fashion, and did it brilliantly and succinctly. It was strong and masterful in every way, including its conception and realization. I have always loved graphic art inspired patterns, and the strict, chic, timeless, seasonless, fail proof combination of black and white (which is a perfect foil for the use of other shades). And this was really the best of both worlds. Rendered in black and white, ivory, shades of gray, blues, red, pale lavender, the show reminded me of what, up until last night, had been my all-time favorite Narciso collection, shown several years back in February.

 Well edited, fast paced, and to the point, it spoke volumes about a strictly pared down vision predicated on menswear inspired coats in eased up proportions; they hit just above the knee to midcalf, elongated jackets both of which were collarless and stripped down of all superfluous decoration. Satin tops (many were color blocked giving them the look of a chic Jockey shirt), and elongated sleeveless or tank dresses some of which were graphically color blocked, covered with an abstract print by artist Iris Schomaker, and a few beauties had strips of sheer chiffon or chiffon overlays. The focus was on innovative fabrication (strips of cashmere or wool to create a contrast patterns, bias cut flannel, leatherized wool, laminated chiffon anybody?), expert tailoring, the play of masculine and feminine, soft and hard, and especially, the effective use of graphic color blocking was achieved in a number of ways using different color combinations.

For example, a collarless black wool coat with an ivory panel down the front, had black satin sleeves spliced with red, and was shown over black pants with ivory stripes down the side; an elongated black jacket banded in white was shown with white pants with black stripes down the side; a black coat with contrasting white panels was shown over white pants and a color blocked top in black, lavender, and navy; a black 7/8 coat which revealed red panels on the inside, was shown over a black satin top and a narrow lavender skirt (it was beautiful the way the coat was made so that it opens to reveal that flash of color); a jacket that was half red and half ivory, was paired with black pants. The models’ hair was slicked back into buns and the only accessory used was a pointy toed, pancake flat boot that hit mid knee.

The World ‘Accordion’ to Vera

Vera Wang Fall 2011 Collection

Vera Wang is one of the most consistent designers today, and she is also one of the few female designers who completely looks like their clothes; and visa versa. For her, it’s (very) personal. (I won’t name names but many if not most women designers would not be caught dead in a good deal of the ideas they send down the runway, and you know who they are). Not so with Vera, whose tightly honed personal aesthetic has also become the jumping off point for her collections.

One has come to expect the ‘mousey’ color palette with an emphasis on shades of gray, black, and brown; the mix of street wise and couture; the second skin leggings or skinny jeans; the grounded black leather platform ankle booties; the offhanded mixing of masculine and feminine, of day and night; the body conscious layering predicated on a perfect balance of urban grunge, athletic basics, and elements of utilitarian, played off touches of below the radar, subtle luxury. (No in your face, matronly bling, over the top excess, or fashion victim-y status symbols for this cool cat who, at 60 +, has an enviably athletic and lithe body thanks to years of ice skating).

A few days before her show, Vera jokingly told “I think I now own a pleating company”. Duh! One need not be a rocket scientist to figure out that Vera is obsessed with pleats these days and they would show up throughout her upcoming runway show. And they did; no fewer than 5 different types in fact, including French Accordion, box pleats, and knife pleats.

Her fall collection, held yesterday at Lincoln Center, was not just tightly edited and whittled down to 36 pieces; it was also whittled down to basically one idea (pleats!) with variations on that theme playing out from start to finish. Thus, there were variations based on the cool and hip layering of a pleated skirt in wool or chiffon, over a skinny pant (in stretch wool flannel), shown beneath some sort of gusty, sporty, utilitarian, fur trimmed or (detachable) fur lined outer layer with an oversized collar (be it a cropped vest, a sleeveless jacket, a ‘boyfriend’ inspired blazer, or a ‘scuba coat’ in leather, mélange wool twill, or quilted satin).

When the pleats were not the foundation for layering, they were on their own, in the form of a one piece, multi pleated, chiffon dress. Standouts include an ivory cupro shift tank dress with French accordion pleats and stitching detail; a mustard chiffon sheer long sleeved pleated dress with a high gathered neck, a pebble chiffon multi pleated high neck long sleeved dress, a cardamom chiffon multi pleated racer back gown with a high low hem and pleated strap detail, and several versions in a flesh tones dusty pink.

-Marilyn Kirschner

The Daily Bet by Rhonda Erb

Nokia N8

Heads are sure to turn your way when you are using the new Nokia N8. You have never seen a camera like this in a smartphone. It has a twelve megapixel sensor, Carl Zeiss optics, Xenon flash, and HDMI connection. Plus it has all the social networking features you want, a fingertip friendly touch screen, amazing battery life, and the sleek aluminum body is surprisingly lightweight and durable.

Available at:, $449.00

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

New York Fashion Week Notes - Day 5

(Ralph Rucci review later today)

The Man of the Hour (glass)

Marc Jacobs Fall 2011 Collection
(All Photos:

It was a no brainer that Marc would change directions and go in a completely different direction for fall, and that the runway would not resemble spring in any way, shape, or form. But who could have guessed that the collection he showed last night (right on time once again) would be literally ‘all about’ shape and form and that the object of his affection would shift from YSL to Azzedine Alaia? (Well, for this season anyway. Marc will always keep his love affair with the great Yves alive but when it comes to his fashion fixation, I guess you could say he’s a fickle guy).

The overall mood and feeling was one of structure and rigid shape, with the supremely feminine emphasis on the waist. A taut, curvy, hourglass silhouette pervaded and peplums abounded. Skirts were primarily pencil thin and hit just below the knee, and jackets were molded to the body. While waists were whittled down, sleeves were often rounded and blown up, (this had the effect of making the waists seem even smaller). Shoulders were often dropped and armholes, roomy. Primarily, it was all about a cropped jacket, or one that emphasized the waist, and interestingly, in a season that has been all about coats thus far, there was really only one coat shown (and waist defining, elongated version in dusty blue, and shown over gray flannel pants).

When pants appeared, they were low waisted, and cropped. The footwear consisted of a high heeled bootie, usually in black, and made of a shiny vinyl like material (I’m sure it wasn’t), which hit at the ankle or a little higher, and legs were encased in sheer black patterned hose (dots, lace, point d’esprit). I think the hosiery industry should be happy this season. Speaking of dots and lace, Marc used both lavishly and he actually went a bit ‘dotty’ this season, using large dots quite liberally, including the accessories. As for lace, when it showed up (and show up it did, as tops, dresses, skirts, pants), it was of the thick, weighty, re-embroidered variety, resembling armor.

These are sophisticated, grown up, and quite dressed up clothes with a couture like feeling, and not for shrinking violets, played out in a palette of black, white, gray, indigo, with hits of red, green, brown. Even the sportswear separates had a dressed up and quite sophisticated look, with structured tops and skirts covered with large paillette like discs resembling fish scales, (these were applied to thick wool or tweed surfaces). It would be impossible to say exactly what the fabrics were, but it’s a safe bet they were customized. Interestingly, in a season of furs, Marc kind of played them down, opting instead for a thick mouton-like fabric, which showed up as cropped jackets, or in some cases, was used only on the voluminous sleeves, adding to their hefty proportions. The models’ hair was slicked back away from their faces and almost each one had a hat (a small structured hat which almost resembled a tiny helmet, which was fastened onto a band to keep it in place, and worn to one side).

Love it or hate it, the wonderful thing about Marc, is that you always leave his shows wanting to re-evaluate your wardrobe.

- Marilyn Kirschner

Carolina Throws in the ‘Gauntlet’

Carolina Herrera Fall 2011 Collection
(All Photos:

Carolina Herrera’s 41 piece fall collection shown yesterday morning, mixed elements of day with elements of evening; was highly textural and ornamental, and an exercise in shades of gray with gray degrade, pyrite, gunmetal and metal sequin embroidery playing off the more rustic and humble fabrics such as dark gray wool flannel and felt. It was also quite organic in both color palette (rust, greige, jasper red, amethyst, turquoise, bone), and the use of an abstract ‘feather’ and ‘waterfall’ print. Sculptural shapes defined face framing necklines, knee length pencil dresses, dress coats, and ‘wing’ skirts, and the use of sculptural gloves on almost every outfit (with their exaggerated gauntlets) added drama.

The gloves, whose proportions gave them the look of elegant oven mitts, were designed by Shaneen Husham, and they were statement makers, all but replacing jewelry (one suede pair in particular, was covered with gunmetal and primrose embroidery). Narrow belts by Bennett Liberty, Wolford stockings, and elegant high heeled pumps (Manolo Blahnik for Carolina Herrera) were the only other accessories used.

Speaking of accessories, I have to say something about all those teeny tiny little clutch bags which are constantly shown on many a runway, including most recently, that of Jason Wu and Alexander Wang. Chic they are, and how I wish I was the kind of gal who could actually get by with something so small (most of the ones I’ve seen wouldn’t even fit my cell phone). But how impractical for real life, unless you have a limo waiting at your disposal, or an assistant following behind you and carrying all your things for you. I love all those celebrity editors who completely eschew handbags and are never seen with one (Anna Wintour has admitted she doesn’t use one because they break up the line of her clothing; and the same can be said of the new editor-in-chief of French Vogue, Emanuel Alt. I spotted her at the shows this past week, clad in black but carrying a thin red book (thinner than she is if that’s possible) - not a bag. As I said, how nice to have a limo.

- Marilyn Kirschner

The Daily Bet by Rhonda Erb

Moroccanoil Luminous Hairspray

Use this lightweight spray to keep your hair in place without making it feel sticky or stiff. It is infused with argan oil and leaves your hair with a luminous, healthy looking shine.

Available  and exclusively in fine salons, MSRP $21.00

Unlimited by Marc Ecko

Marc Ecko’s second fragrance for men is a mix of aromatic notes that is sensual and stimulating. It was inspired by the culture of the streets and is packaged in a canister that looks similar to a can of spray paint.

Available at:, 3.4 oz. Eau de Toilette Spray, $55.00

Win a 3.4 oz. bottle of Unlimited by Marc Ecko Eau de Toilette Spray (Click to enter your e-mail address, remember to put “Unlimited” in the subject line). Register your e-mail before 11:59 PM EST February 18, 2011. Three lucky winners will be chosen at random and notified by e-mail.