Friday, November 30, 2012

Calvin Klein Spring 2013 Presentation

Cagey Calvin

Calvin Klein Spring 2013 Presentation
 Graphic stripes and black &white

Yesterday morning, I attended the Calvin Klein Spring 2013 presentation, held on the ground floor of 205 West 39th Street. Tall glasses of orange juice were served by waiters (I don't know if they were spiked with vodka or not), along with delicate, elegant looking nibbles. It was shown installation style on live models, and divided into different montages according to classification and color story. Cage like wide black bars formed the basis of seating (models relaxed, and reclined on them, making for a perfect photo op), and actually divided the sprawling space into different 'rooms'. There were also racks of clothes with coordinating shoes and bags, which enabled editors to get a better look (and feel), of the pieces.

Shirt and skinny pants in an art inspired abstract paint splattered print

The overall heading for the season is "The Modernist", which is hardly surprising, or a stretch, since the label (in all of its classifications) has long been the very essence of modern. And modern it was, owing to minimal, cool proportions, a youthful athleticism, linear silhouette, and an overall feeling of simplicity and ease. The appealing color palette was primarily based on black & white (whether in solid or done in graphic color blocks, stripes, and geometric, abstract prints and patterns), and it was often revved up with hits of strong pops of color (cobalt blue, viridan green, citron, spearmint). An art inspired, painterly print, which was used for a button down shirt and skinny pant, was a standout. Represented throughout, was a varied assortment of Calvin Klein men's and women's sportswear, tailored clothing, dresses, outerwear, footwear, handbags (hand held mini clutches, satchels, over-sized carry alls), eye-wear, and swimwear (the news is the racer back one-piece for women, and new short cut trunks for men).

Calvin Klein underwear
And what, may I ask, would a Calvin Klein presentation be without underwear and jeans, two of the label's most iconic divisions? The news (as for the former), is the launch of Calvin Klein Concept, introducing seamless technology construction for ultimate comfort, freedom, and fit. For men, it's all about masculine briefs, trunks, and boxer briefs in breathable microfiber and cotton stretch. 

Calvin Klein jeans

In terms of denim, the timeless, all American classic has been rendered more weightless than ever, with washes ranging from the palest to the darkest. While pale blue washed indigo denims form the basis of the collection, there is also black and white (skinny jeans, for both men and women, are treated with white washes: the height of pared down chic).

FYI, on our way out, editors were offered two gifts: your choice of one of three Calvin Klein Jeans sunglasses, and an abbreviated denim jacket in your choice of wash.

-Marilyn Kirschner

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

The Monique Lhuillier Store Opening

A Store Opening Yet So Much More

Monique Lhuillier

The Monique Lhuillier store opening was held at 19 East 71st on the first two floors of a beautiful townhouse. Diane Monique Lhuillier, 41, is a high end New York fashion designer most well known for her bridal wear. She launched her first bridal collection in 1996 to great acclaim and has since then expanded her collections to include ready-to-wear, evening gowns, bridal lines, tableware, fine paper and home fragrances. In 2003 Monique Lhuillier was invited to be a member of the Council of Fashion Designers of America and in 2006 she received the Medal of Honor from the Philippine president. I have attended many of her fashion shows held at the tents for fashion week and was excitedly anticipating this store opening. However, what I didn't anticipate was the pride I would feel in being a woman at the conclusion of this festive night.

Dressing room

The store was magnificent. The gray carpeting, the winding stairs, the square blocked mirrors and festooned chandeliers were breathtaking. The dressing rooms were so lavish I almost mistook them for an entertainment space (the flat screen television did not help). Monique, a dimunitive yet beautiful woman, shone in her elegant Lhuillier gold dress. The crowd was a mixture of socialites, upper east siders, models and fashionistas. There were wedding cupcakes, savory drinks and a fantastic dj throughout the evening. The clothing was exquisite. The bottom floor had couture and ready-to-wear dresses and the second floor was dedicated solely to wedding gowns. Every detail in the store was perfection.

Publicist Peggy Siegal

However, it was the guest list that made this event uniquely satisfying to the most important shopping customer, the women of the world. Jean Shafiroff, a socialite and philanthropist, who co-chairs more than twelve charity boards was in love with the clothing which she called, "fresh and fantastic." She was also pleased that this event was in support of the botanical gardens charity. Peggy Siegal, a publicist in Hollywood for the past four decades, was on a "reconaissance mission" to find clothing for her next red carpet event. Peggy Siegal, referencing her recent Bazaar magazine article, said she agreed to be interviewed in order to "combat the rampant age and sex discrimination in our society and the media. I want woman to feel empowered, to show them that if you take care of yourself age is irrelevant."

Kimberly Guilfoyle of Fox News

At Siegal's 60th birthday party she gave out a list of the thirty doctors who help her maintain her ageless appearance. Siegal then told me of how important it was to be well groomed in any industry stating, "it is imperative for a woman to be well groomed in the workforce. My mother taught me that first impressions count. My mother and grandmother would go to the airport in a Chanel suit. If you look like the help you get treated like the help." Siegal, who herself started off as a fashion and accessories designer, said that Lhuilliers's clothing were "show stoppers. They are made with gorgeous fabrics in the categories of works of art like Vera Wang and Marchesa. They are great fashion statements however, you need a lot of confidence to wear them." Her message of empowerment to women was echoed throughout the evening. Kimberly Guilfoyle, co-host of a Fox News program, said that Lhuillier's designs were her "go to" dresses for black tie affairs. I feel amazing in her designs and as a woman in the news industry that feeling is immeasurable. Even her cocktail dresses are splendid."

As the evening came to a close and the guests slowly exited Monique summed up the entire evening and the thought behind her designs succinctly and meaningfully. She stated, "I am so excited to have my first store in New York that houses my entire collection under one roof. My motto is women designing for women. My clothing is all about making a woman look and feel like a million bucks. I try to highlight a woman in the most flattering light possible and hide her imperfections with a flattering cut. Once again I am all about women and enhancing them."

The message of the evening for me was that yes Lhuillier's pieces are beautiful, truly the store is magnificent and certainly there are many beautiful women in Manhattan. However, the most important thing about this store is that it is paradigmatic of the new woman in the 21st century- women in positions of power who are utilizing their power to embolden other women to succeed in the workforce through the medium of fashion. The power of fashion is that it enables women to spread their talents and abilities throughout society by equipping them with sartorial tools reflective of their confidence and ability. Clothing and fashion, while sometimes appearing trivial, is actually, as echoed by Siegal and Lhuillier, a potent and powerful way for women to influence their environment thereby laying the groundwork for them to change and beautify society.

- Lieba Nesis

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Vogue: Through Their Eyes...

The Eyes Have 'IT'

8 former and current Vogue sittings editors (left to right: Jade Hobson, Babs Simpson, Phyllis Posnick, Carlyne Cerf De Dudzeele, Polly Mellen, Grace Coddington, Camilla Nickerson, Tonne Goodman.), sat for a group portrait shot by the legendary Annie Leibovitz. It appears in the December 2012 issue of Vogue and in the corresponding Letter from the Editor, "Through their Eyes", Anna Wintour credits them for "conceptualizing the story, choosing the clothes, model and location, and conjuring the images that simultaneously belonged in and expanded the Vogue universe" and setting Vogue apart from "everyone else". Coincidentally, (or not), this coincides with the publication of Vogue: "The Editor's Eye", published by Abrams, edited by Eve MacSweeney, with a foreword by Anna Wintour, and introduction by Hamish Bowles. The lavishly illustrated book celebrates the "pivotal role the pivotal role the fashion editor has played in shaping America’s sense of style since the magazine’s launch 120 years ago".

Vogue Fashion Director Tonne Goodman the epitome of cool understatement
(Photo by Bryan Adams)

While these iconic visionaries routinely spin fantastical visions in their heads and on their pages, capturing the zeitgeist within the ever changing fashion universe, their own sartorial choices tell another story, and while varied, can best be described as uniform like, down to earth, and minimal, if not severe. This was perfectly illustrated in the group shot: there was nary a print or pattern in sight, each one wore pants, and it was a veritable black out (though Ms. Simpson offset her black turtleneck with pink trousers, Tonne Goodman opted for her signature crisp white jeans and the addition of a chic polka dot scarf, and Carlyne piled on the gold jewelry).

These seasoned fashion pros have worked with clothing for decades and have developed well trained, discerning eyes. They are, and should be, above the trends and have developed an ability to cut through the murk and rigorously edit down to the key pieces that matter. There's a lesson to be learned from this, and women, in their eternal, if not futile attempt to be truly chic and stylish, would be wise to pay heed. In the August 2008 issue of Vogue, Anna Wintour created a portfolio which dealt precisely with this subject ("Vogue editors spend their lives thinking about clothes -  what do they choose to wear" is how it began), and she allowed the select group to style models in their own image. Hands down, THE standout shots were the ones featuring Karen Elson portraying Grace Coddington, photographed by Steven Meisel.

Karen Elson portraying Grace Coddington
(Photo: Steven Meisel)

 Ms. Coddington, a former model and Vogue's Creative Director, has such an identifiable look, (her brilliant red hair, flats, trusty notebook, and her beloved cats, are her accessories of choice for an almost all black, understated wardrobe). She became somewhat of a reluctant star after the release of "The September Issue" and has penned an autobiography, "Grace: A Memoir" (it's on my Kindle, and I highly recommend it). She was also profiled in the Style & Fashion section of this past weekend's The Wall Street Journal, "State of Grace". She tells it like it is and among her wise, style related observations:

"I loathe the word "fashionista". It's like nails on a chalkboard. It's a word about all those people who are just there to be noticed, and that's the side of fashion that I hate."

"The most important part of a fashion photograph is the hair. Hair and shoes. You can get away with a very ordinary dress if you have interesting shoes."

"I hate make up. I like to see the person."

"I hate to see older women dressed in a very young way. You have to keep it very simple and classic and sort of beyond fashion, so that inevitably becomes something of a uniform. I'm 71 so I'm not going to wear anything very fashionable. I'd look silly."

"I wear flats all the time because I've got a bad left foot. I haven't worn heels for 6 years or so."

"The only celebrities I'm excited about right now are the English ones. I like Carey Mulligan. She doesn't wear clothes in an ostentatious way and she doesn't wear slashes down to her navel on the red carpet."

"I rarely see anything coming down the runway I want for myself. I see coats because I can see myself in coats."

On the other side of the fashion spectrum is Carlyne Cerf De Dudzeele, whose mantra is "More is More". Known for her offhanded mix of high and low (long before anyone else did it by the way), her pile on of accessories, her lavish use of gold, her unorthodox way with color, and the major attitude (with a capital A) that she always brings to her pages, she has an identifiable personal style that has not only remained the same through the years, but has been able to successfully translate it within her work, and onto her pages.

Vogue cover 1988 Lacroix top & jeans styled by Carlyne Cerf De Dudzeele

As fashion editor, director, and editor at large at American Vogue from 1985-1995, she was responsible for countless memorable sittings. But perhaps the most iconic one, which also defines her style and fashion philosophy, is the November 1988 cover (which was Anna Wintour's first cover as editor-in-chief). Shot by Peter Lindbergh, it featured Michaela Bercu in an haute couture Christian Lacroix black sweater decorated with a heavily jewel encrusted cross; it was her last minute decision to pair it with a pair of Guess blue jeans. It was rule breaking then, and looks as relevant and modern today. The idea came easily to her and was a natural, because that is exactly how she dressed in real life. I remember her uniform very well: she would pair one of her countless Chanel jackets with well worn jeans, and accessorize with an endless variety of chain strapped Chanel bags which she apparently owned in every color, size, and shape imaginable.

She is also the subject of an interview on, "Cerf's Up" written by Dirk Standen. I thoroughly enjoyed reading it and agreed with everything she says (and she says everything in her exuberant way, and with her very thick French accent, which makes it even more appealing)

Among the key points she makes:

"Everything is about attitude".

"Me, I love real. You know what I mean? I love real. I do always my salade. I mix things with real. I love the street. I am always thinking about the woman in the street. I love to do pictures crazy, too, but I always think about the woman I want to be."
When questioned about today's fashion, her response was:

"I think it's a lot of good stuff, and you know, I hate to tell I love this one, I hate this one. No, I always find clothes everywhere. Always. I don't work with trends. I never, never follow trends, so I do my own thing in my head that comes suddenly, and I find the clothes with my idea of what is appropriate for the story. But I never follow. For example, everybody is going to do color, you know, red and pink, black & white, ruffles…you know, trends. They are all going to do this. Me, I hate to do this, I hate trends. I always, you know, I do ma salade.

"I think a lot of people don't know how to judge anymore. You see awful bags in collections and the houses send it to the actresses, you know, ten actresses, so they wear it and people want to follow and have the same bag, even if the bag is the most awful thing in the world. I don't think people judge anymore. They judge by the name and who is wearing it. You know all those handful of actresses. I mean it's just monstrueux. C'est monstrueux. It's terrible. When I see these pauvre Birkin bags worn by all of these people now, c'est terrible. Because they don't know how to wear it. Suddenly it's becoming vulgaire, you know? And I love vulgarity. Sometimes I prefer vulgarity to bon chic bon genre. But it's a certain vulgarity. I always say I prefer Saint-Tropez to Île de Ré. Île de Ré is caviar, French, you know, very striped T-shirt, bicycle, the market, we talk, da, da, da. I prefer Saint-Tropez. I prefer the rich bitch. I love the rich bitch. I always try to make my girl look like a rich bitch".

“Chic is not about designer clothes; chic is not about money. Chic is about personal style, how to mix your things together”.
So, in summation:

1- Trends: Forget about them!

2- Pile it on: Don't be afraid to pile on the jewelry (all the better if it's gold: 'think' Rich Bitch).

3- Keep it real: add elements of the street and mix high and low, and go easy on the make up.

4- Crazy mixed up salad: Equating fashion with a mixed up salad, is not a bad thing: lettuce may be healthy but it's dull by itself and needs to be spiced up with various ingredients to make it tasty, appealing, personal, and interesting.

5- Vulgar is as vulgar does: Don't forget that pinch of vulgarity now and again.

6- Uniformly Speaking: Affect a no fail uniform that works.

7- Forever Young: Keep a youthful attitude but don't dress in a way that is too young for your age (it's not about looking young but looking great).

8- Top Coat: Invest in coats (they are KEY).

9- Fall Flat: Flats and especially, low heels, are so much chicer than high high heels, day or night, and luckily, spring 2013 is a season filled with highly covet able, distinctive versions.

9- Add plenty of ATTITUDE (I've always been a firm believer that you can get away with anything, as long as you have lots of attitude, and act as though you 'own' it).

- Marilyn Kirschner

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

"Blackout" is the New Black

My Statue of Liberty and direct Hudson River views never get old and they are enviable. But my location also qualified me for Zone A status last year, prior to Hurricane Irene (which proved to be a non happening for us), and most recently, for Hurricane Sandy. As a result, we were among those Manhattanites directly affected by the latter, and it was only this past weekend, with complete power and heat restored to our building, that I finally felt as though I had just gotten my life back (talk about a true "Thanksgiving").

While fashion has long been a source of inspiration to me, it's rather hard to think about fashion (or write about it) when you are in limbo, living without basic human comforts like electricity and heat, and having to rely on a transistor radio or cell phone for all of your news. All of a sudden, often used phrases in fashion jargon ("must haves" and "gotta have it") took on a whole new meaning. It was impossible, if not unfathomable, to even entertain the thought of attending an evening gala or high profile event during this time (fortunately, many of those were immediately cancelled or postponed). But that doesn't mean that I didn't think about fashion, or that it did not help me, or come into play in the last few weeks.

Jil Sander for Uniqlo puffer jacket fall/winter 2011

Thankfully, I have a well balanced closet and as such, was able to tap into the part of my urban wardrobe which is quite functional, utilitarian, and of course, stylish to boot. I had to be creative in order to get through dark cold days without hot showers, eventually packing for a change of location(s) for an unknown period of time. I relied on essential, basic, lightweight yet warm layers, all in black. (You don't tire of them, they don't show wear and tear, or dirt - LOL). I was thankful for the multi pocketed zip up Jil Sander for Uniqlo nylon hoodies and featherweight down jackets purchased last year, assorted leggings, skinny jeans, and flat boots which proved perfect for walking 20 blocks to recharge my phone or climbing 16 flights of stairs. (Just a note, at the beginning, I reminded myself what great exercise it was, and how beneficial it was for my legs, but like everything else, it got old fast and I longed for a working elevator).

Armand Diradourian woven fringe shawl at Barneys

Of course, black is not only the absolute height of fashion regardless of when, where, or circumstances (does it ever lose its cache?), but is the perfect foil for accessories. My chrome yellow Armand Diradourian cashmere fringed shawl added comfort, warmth and a much needed pop of color, and my beloved stache of necklaces (both vintage and newly acquired), added texture and interest. They staved off boredom for me, and entertained those around me.

Vintage KJL key pendant

Several neon, glow in the dark necklaces purchased at H&M (cheap to boot) lit up the dark nights and allowed me to literally glow in the dark hallways and stairwells (those and my trusty LED spotlights and flashlights of course). And my piled on gold and silver metal chains, paired with a few vintage key pendants (including a massive silver toned vintage KJL necklace purchased from Madge Novel, In-Style Vintage), were the perfect reminders as to what is truly KEY in life.

Yoko Ono key pendants with Swarovski crystals

Speaking of keys, I have always been drawn to them because of their classic shape and their symbolism. And I'm hardly alone. This fall, Yoko Ono collaborated with Swarovski Elements for a limited editiion contemporary Key-cut crystal collection. The heavily crystal-studded keys (which fall under the headings: "A Key to Open the Forest" and "A Key to Open the Universe"), are designed around the theme of "Unlocking the Door to a Better Life".

- Marilyn Kirschner

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Lord & Taylor 2012 Holiday Windows

Oh What Fun…

Lord & Taylor Holiday Window Scene
Photo: Getty Images
(Click on images for larger views)

It is a sure sign that Christmastime has arrived in Manhattan when the department stores begin to unveil their holiday windows. On Tuesday, a gloomy, rainy afternoon gave way to partly cloudy skies just in time for Lord & Taylor to reveal their annual “gift to New York City” marking the 75th year that the store has delighted pedestrians with this whimsical tradition.

In 1938, Lord & Taylor became the first retailer to present animated holiday windows. Each year the store’s DVP of Visual Merchandising, Roe Palerno, works with a team of over 50 people for six to eight months to create the window sets. They are built in a workshop beneath the sidewalk on Fifth Avenue and are the only department store windows on hydraulics. More than 250,000 people will pass by the visual spectacle daily during the 2012 holiday season.

Megan Hilty and The Young People's Chorus
(Photo: Rhonda Erb)

As night fell on Tuesday, members of the press, along with passersby, were treated to a performance of holiday music, featuring Megan Hilty, star of NBC’s Smash and The Young People’s Chorus of New York City. To warm up the crowd, men clad in snowflake patterned sweaters, served hot cocoa and gingerbread cookies. Following a countdown by Liz Rodbell, EVP Chief Merchant of Hudson’s Bay Company, the windows were unveiled for all to enjoy.

Megan Hilty and Liz Rodbell
(Photo: Getty Images)

This year’s windows feature scenes of Santa’s global expedition, beginning with him planning his trip in his workshop. On his illustrated travels, Santa visits an alpine marketplace, a snow-covered Central Park, a European family celebration, and a traditional Asian setting complete with colorful red lanterns.

On Tuesday and Wednesday this week (November 13th and 14th), Lord & Taylor’s Fifth Avenue flagship store will host a “Charity Day” to benefit the Young People’s Chorus of New York City. In exchange for a $5.00 donation, customers will receive a $15.00 reward card, as well as a 20% savings pass to use all day and 15% off cosmetics and fragrances.

Oh what fun…

Rhonda Erb