Friday, January 25, 2013

Sweet Sixteen

Fashion Group International's Rising Star Awards

Women's RTW Winners Norman Ambrose &
Tia Ciban

Fashion Group International's 16th Annual Rising Star Awards were held Thursday afternoon and, as usual, this sold out event (reception, luncheon and awards ceremony) was held at Cipriani 42nd Street, where the famed Bellinis (and good food) certainly helped take a chill off the frigid temperatures outside. FGI President Margaret Hayes made her welcoming remarks before a room that included some of the brightest and newest stars in the worlds of fashion, beauty, fragrance, accessories, home/interior design, jewelry, retailing, and the media. She congratulated the group of talented nominees, who were whittled down from approximately 125 at the outset.

(FYI, I must admit that when I saw that Lisa Hoffman was one of the nominees, I was wondering whether her hubby, actor Dustin Hoffman, would be in attendance, as I have long been a huge fan. Unfortunately, he was not. And, unfortunately for Lisa, she did not win a Rising Star Award in her category, although she does get to go home to a true STAR!)

The award on display

Ms. Hayes described the Awards, generously provided by Movado, as a "microcosm of the consuming public" and "an excellent barometer of future success" (past recipients include such as Tory Burch, Joseph Altuzarra, Phillip Lim, and Thom Browne). She admitted that this year was especially competitive and said, "each of you has a gift and the will to win". She then advised the assembled guests to "eat quickly" (the event was called from 11:15 am- 2 pm) so that the awards could be given out in a timely manner (fyi, they ended at precisely 2pm).

Ralph Rucci

FGI's Marylou Luther introduced Ralph Rucci, the Keynote Speaker, hailing him as "the one, the only, the TRULY original Ralph Rucci". Among the advise and sage words of wisdom he imparted:

"Know in your heart that if you are sitting here, it's an award already."
"In your chosen quest to bring beautification to this planet (in whatever field you specialize in), know that it's a rigor that's non stop and it can be obsessive. You have to learn to walk on a razon's edge of flexibility."
"When problems occur, you must think of them as a challenge to find the solution."
"You have to find your particular individual vision of your own style. Remain passionate. You can't look left or right. You must look forward. You always have to seek and to find."
"This is my 31st year of making collections. I use each collection as a way to find out something new about myself."
"Kindness is the most important thing to show each other."

Rising Star Award Presenters: Michael Boodro, Marion Fasel, Derek Lam, Chris Mitchell, Terron Schaefer, Laura Slatkin, Linda Wells, and Mickey Boardman. As the latter (better known as Mr. Mickey) is known for his over-the-top fashion persona, and especially his love of accessories, it seemed especially fitting that he give out the award in the accessories category. True to form, when he came onstage, he was lit up like a Christmas Tree in his multi colored sequined shirt. He proceded to say that he was thinking about taking his Stella McCartney bag onstage with him but decided not to. He also asked the guests to hold their applause until after all the nominees were named ("unless you're applauding for me" he joked).

In addition, this year marked the launch of the Karen Harvey Business Innovator Award. When Miss Harvey took the stage, she said, "we are in an era of robust innovation" and "sometimes, something completely blows our minds." "Execution is what makes true innovation great and helps us rethink things. That is why we selected The Runthrough (, an online hub which brings "luxury, emerging designers, and the media together in a unique way."

-Marilyn Kirschner

Group shot of all the winners
(click on image for larger view)

2013 Rising Star Awards Finalists and Winners:

Adriana Castro- Adriana Castro
Anndra Neen- Phoebe & Annette Stephens
Cornelia Guest- Cornelia Guest
Dixie Dunbar Studio- Soteria Kontis
Freda Salvador- Megan Papay & Cristina Palomo-Nelson
Manu- Emanuela Frattini Magnusson
Max Kibardin- Max Kibardin
Swims- Johan Kingdal
Winner: Cornelia Guest

Beauty/Fragrance Corporate
Estee Lauder Companies- Alana Hawawini
International Flavors & Fragrances- Ruhi Patil
Mane USA- Yadira Perez
Nars Cosmetics- Samantha Giordano
Winner: Alana Hawawini

Home/Interior Design
Lindsey Adelman Studio- Lindsey Adelman
Materia Arquitectonica- Gustavo Carmona Munoz
Rachel Laxer Interiors- Rachel Laxer
Winner: Gustavo Carmona Munoz

Beauty/Fragrance Entrepreneur
Arquiest Parfumeur- Carlos Huber
Belle Fleur New York- Tony Perez & Meredith Waga
Kahina Giving Beauty- Katharine L'Heureux
Lisa Hoffman Beauty- Lisa Hoffman
Six Scents Parfums- Joseph Quartana
Vbeaute- Julie Macklowe
Winner: Carlos Huber

Fine Jewelry
Alexandra Mor New York- Alexandra Mor
Jemma Wynne- Jenny Klatt & Stephanie Wynne Lalin
Torrubia & Torrubia- Yolanda & Amaia Torrubia
Winner- Alexandra Mor

Birchbox- Hayley Barna & Katia Beauchamp
Fivestory- Claire Distenfeld
Moda Operandi- Aslaug Magnusdottir & Lauren Santo Domingo
Shen Beauty- Jessica Richards & Julia Stringer
Winner- Hayley Barna & Katia Beauchamp

Andrew Charles- Andy Hilfiger
Ovadia & Sons- Ariel & Shimon Ovadia
Tim Coppens- Tim Coppens
Todd Snyder- Todd Snyder
Winner: Tim Coppens

Women's Ready-to-Wear
Brandon Sun- Brandon Sun
Gavaskar- Vengsarkar Budhu
Honor- Giovanna Randall
Loris Diran- Loris Diran
Nellie Partow- Nellie Partow
Norisol Ferrari- Norisol Ferrari
Norman Ambrose- Norman Ambrose
Rolando Santana- Rolando Santana
Tia Cibani- Tia Cibani
Winners: (It was a tie)
Norman Ambrose
Tia Cibani

For more information about the event:

Diane Clehane
MOBILE: 845.430.3572
NEW OFFICE: 203.681.2118

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

The First Lady Nailed It

Once again, her fashion choices during the course of Inauguration Weekend, were perfection and beyond reproach, and furthered her status as a style icon. Each outfit was completely different, appropriate to each event, flattered her, played to her strengths, (of which there are many), and perfectly captured the essence of the designer whose creation it was. Through the variety, she always looks like 'her', and adds her own touch, which further individualizes and personalizes it.

At the Kids Inaugural Concert on Saturday night, she relied on everyone's favorite 'uniform', a crisp white shirt and black pants, making it look especially festive and special by choosing an Alexander McQueen Victorian Bustle Cotton Piquet Shirt from resort 2011 ($990), and accessorizing with a $48 crystalized citrine belt from Anthropoligie (in case you haven't noticed, belts, especially statement making belts, have become somewhat of a Michelle Obama signature). At the Inaugural Reception on Sunday, she dipped into her closet, and opted for a black sequined Michael Kors sleeveless shift dress (that she has worn before, back in 2009), accessorized only with the perfect black suede pumps.

Known for championing lesser known American designers, (we're always kept guessing as to who she will endorse), she selected a custom made Thom Browne coat and dress for Monday's daytime festivities. It was a brilliant choice and while it was somewhat subtle, in terms of color (navy and gray), the shape and cut was extraordinary. The necktie inspired ensemble, was a nod to menswear (yet achingly feminine thanks to the perfect shape). It also mixed two graphic patterns, (the coat was in a geometric foulard print and the dress was done in narrow horizontal stripes).

While I did not really love the addition of the royal blue cardigan (she wore it beneath the coat and it was evident during the course of the luncheon), as I don't really think she needed it, and it added nothing to the overall look, the statement making belt (J.Crew), once again, added the perfect dramatic touch to the ensemble. As did the 'fierce' high heeled customized Reed Krakoff over the knee boots that she changed into after lunch, and were on view when she and the President took their walk down Pennsylvania Avenue.

As for "The Gown",I had a premonition that she would wear shoulder bearing red on Monday Night. She stayed away from color during the course of the weekend, and what could be more flattering, celebratory, and all American, than red? Plus, it looks great against all those American Flags in the background. And I was actually not that surprised that she opted for Jason Wu. It's the ultimate form of flattery and endorsement, and while I loved the color but thought the style could have been a little more flattering, it's obviously the dress she felt the best and most comfortable in. Four years later, it's as though she (and he), had come full circle.

- Marilyn Kirschner

Thursday, January 17, 2013

"In the Market" - by Marilyn Kirschner

When Your Own Initials Are Enough

 Michael Kors Fulton Quilted Ballerina shoe

I recently reported on several items I purchased, among them, a chain trim cardigan jacket by Michael Kors which I guess you can say had my name on it (or my initials anyway, since both of us share MK). I have to chuckle whenever I see someone wearing or carrying something by Michael Kors, emblazoned with the ubiquitous MK, because it seems as though they are advertising MY initials, and it reminds me that whatever I buy from the line needs no further personalization on my end. It always makes me think of Bottega Veneta's famous Seventies slogan, "When Your Own Initials Are Enough", which immediately summed up the small leather goods brand's logo-less principle of "Quiet Luxury".

Simon Doonan and his personalized Goyard bags

While it had disappeared in the late nineties, it resurfaced once again under Tomas Maier's supervision. They took it a step further last April, with the launch of the INITIALS Project, (which was first introduced in a special pop up shop at their Milan headquarters during the course of the city's design week and has subsequently made it to the company's e-commerce stores in the U.K., the U.S., and Japan). There is an understandably universal appeal inherent in personalization, and because it instantly imparts a luxurious personal touch, it seems to naturally lend itself to the luxury market (though admittedly, in some instances, it can be a case of overkill). To wit, the LV monogram appears on most of Louis Vuitton's products and the Louis Vuitton Mon Monogram service enables customers to customize their Speedy, Keepall, or Pegase 55 wheeled cabin case, choosing from 200 million possible combinations. Similarly, Goyard's signature geometric pattern covers all their products, but owing to the addition of colorful, bold stripes and ones initials, legions of fans (among them, fashion insiders like Simon Doonan and Lynn Yaeger) can be easily spotted proudly toting around their beloved Goyard pieces.

Bottega Veneta Initial Project

Of course, personalization is not just for the elite. It is quite democratic and readily available at all price points. There are countless companies, stores, and boutiques, that specialize in gift-ready (whether it's a gift for yourself or someone special) personalization, offering monogramming options on a wide variety of products, and assuredly, some stand out more than others. On a recent trip to the San Francisco Bay Area, I was poking around the Town & Country Shopping Center in Palo Alto, when I found myself drawn to Bespoke Home (, a modern and luxurious monogram shop which offers a stylish selection of high quality, gorgeous home and gift items. The windows revealed a small, uncluttered store that was hardly run of the mill mall fare. It immediately appealed to my fashion sense with its chic, well edited selection that was classic, simple, yet elegant, and obviously, the painstaking bi product of someones' well trained, discerning eye. Once inside, I learned that it opened in 2011, and the owners, Abby Durban and Molly Gibbons, are longtime friends who both lived in London and New York and share a similar aesthetic, as well as the belief that the Bay Area sorely needed a place that offered customized products.

Bespoke Home Bar Harbour Bag

Unsurprisingly, since I consider myself to be the original Bag Lady, (and I never met a chic, oversized tote in any combination of black and white, that I didn't like) it was the selection of classic yet distinctive bags that drew me in; especially the very large (25X19X9) Bar Harbour Tote in heavy black cotton canvas piped in ivory, $120, (monogram: $35). Other standouts are the Canvas Field Utility Tote in natural cotton canvas trimmed with leather, $270, and the Classic Canvas Tote Bag, $180. The latter is made in Maine, using natural canvas trimmed with a choice of red, navy, chocolate brown, and orange, and is a more tailored, luxurious take on the classic L.L. Bean Boat and Tote Bag ( Quite frankly, it more closely resembles the Hermes version (but at a fraction of the cost). For more information, call 650 473 9177; or email:

Monday, January 07, 2013

In the Market Report: "Cheap Thrills"

Deal or no Deal? At the eleventh hour, Congress and President Obama reached a deal to address the fiscal cliff. Indeed, it's been impossible to escape hearing the word 'deal' these last few months, and it continues as we head into the New Year, as we are barraged by advertisements for deals and steals galore. Whether or not you're feeling especially drained financially after the holidays, let's face it, we all love a good deal, and there are many where fashion is concerned. I thought I'd share 10 of my favorites, ranging from $6.99 - $198 (and yes, you might say more than few found their way into my closets).

1- a.n.a Peplum Puffer Coat: What could be better than a warm, feather down hooded parka (with removable faux fur trim on the hood) that not only has a flattering peplum shape, but is rendered in chic and graphic black and white color blocks? I forgot to mention, it was $40 now reduced to $30,


2- INC International Concepts puffer jacket: Along those same lines, what could be better than a warm quilted jacket with an unmistakable resemblance to Coco Chanel's iconic cardigan (it's collarless, fitted, rendered in black with white trim, and even has 4 pockets, currently reduced from $99.50 to $44.99),,

3- Michael Michael Kors chain trim jacket: Speaking of Coco, Michael's heavy black stretccotton hip length jacket has the ease and informality of ones favorite jean jacket, but the addition of frayed edges and double gold chain trim makes it so much better. Plus, it's just been reduced from $220 - $154,

 4- J.Crew lace-printed sweatshirt: Lace is a perennial favorite, and always covet-able, and this piece is inspired, combining a lace motif with a favorite sweatshirt to create something totally fresh (and completely cove table). Grace, their in-house graphic guru, hand drew the lace design, then printed it by hand on a feminine elbow-sleeve sweatshirt. The artful process means no two are alike. Originally $75, it has been reduced (but good luck if you can still find it),


5- Zara's gold studded ballerina: Unless you're living under a rock, you know it's all about low heels and flats going forward this spring (all the better if they're decorated and embellished). Zara's gold studded ankle strap flats remind me of Valentino's gold embellished low heeled shoes from last season, but the price can't be beat (they were reduced from $89.90 to $59.90,

6- Forever 21's Metallic T-Strap Flats: Flats, especially those with t straps, have never looked better, and the combination of black or nude suede with gold metallic leather can't be beat (or the price: $19.80),

7- H&M silver toned modernist cuffs: It's all about 'cuff love', and these sleek modernist cuffs are a statement making 5 inches. At $6.95 each, you can easily buy two and wear them on each hand for real impact,

8- H&M jewel encrusted bronze cuffs: These bronze toned metal cuffs are 3 inches wide, and embellished with graphic square cut stones in a variety of sizes and colors. Once again, at that price ($17.95), you can easily buy two,

9- J.Crew's neon narrow patent leather belts: A hit of color is always welcome and don't forget: color is what makes black and white, black and white. These were reduced from $45.00 to $6.99,

10: Banana Republic Monogram black&white striped trench: This has everything going for it: it's a trench, it's black and white, and it's striped. So, it's not Marc Jacobs...but neither is the price ($198),

- Marilyn Kirschner

Wednesday, January 02, 2013

In the Market with Marilyn Kirschner

"The No Hassle Tassel"

Vintage YSL Opium Perfume Tassel Necklace
(click on images for larger view)

From time to time, I become fixated on certain things. I am again obsessed. My latest obsession? Tassels! A form of passementerie (the antique art of making elaborate trimming for accessories, clothing, and home furnishings) which have been used throughout history and in most cultures. It's almost impossible for me to hear the word "passementerie", or tassel for that matter, without thinking of the great late Yves Saint Laurent, who was a master at mixing the classic and ultra tailored with elements of exotica.

Yves Saint Laurent Opium Necklace in the original box

Even his signature fragrance, Opium, was ensconced in a cinnabar colored bottle which was decorated with a long black silk cord tassel; there were also necklaces which mimicked the bottle, long black tassel and all. Periodically, you can find them for sale on-line, (this uber cool vintage Yves Saint Laurent Opium Necklace, which is also a perfume and in it's original box, is currently available on , $230).

Loulou de-la Falaise Yves Saint Laurent bohemian luxe

Tassels have shown up in dizzying variety through the centuries; and not just tassels themselves, but prints of tassels (Hermes has traditionally featured them in their covetable scarves). They never lose their appeal, are completely timeless, and they embody the notion of luxurious boho chic, something that not only defined much of Yves Saint Laurent's work, but was a hallmark of his muse, Loulou de la Falaise (the trend setter is said to have inspired Saint Laurent's "Le Smoking" jacket). A fashion icon in her own right, she was a model and jewelery designer for the house of YSL until Saint Laurent’s retirement in 2002, after which she began her own business and opened a boutique in Paris. In many definitive photographs of her through the years, regardless of what she is wearing (she favored rather classic pieces: tailored pants, simple sweaters, crisp white shirts, etc.), she accessorized with her signature colorful, eclectic accessories, and more often than not, her piled on layered necklaces included something that was tasseled.

Kate Moss in ripped jeans, Fendi Fur and Saint Laurent Tassel necklaces

Fast forward to October 2012. When Hedi Slimane debuted his spring 2013 collection as head of design for Saint Laurent, tassels showed up prominently. They added swagger to wide corset like leather belts; they were affixed to the ends of ties which were used to close flowing capes; and they were used as long pendants, oft times effectively paired with modern pieces in metal. Kate Moss, who has that whole luxe bohemian 'thing' down pat, sat in the front row, and exclaimed that the collection was very 'her' (and it was). She has subsequently been photographed out and about, wearing several of the Saint Laurent long cord tassel necklaces and has single-handedly made them ultra cool once again (who else could 'rock' a baby blue Fendi fur coat, destroyed jeans, and a green and blue tasseled rope necklace with such finesse?)

Ondejry's black Tassle necklace

I've begun to hunt them down with a vengeance, and the good news, is that I've found them to be readily available, rather inexpensive (and in many cases, VERY inexpensive), and in materials ranging from gold and silver metal, to leather, suede, and cord (silk and polyester). The best vintage sources (which I gravitate to because they are the most authentic and unique), are naturally ,, and in the case of the latter, there are some standouts that are hand made and customized. Some of my favorites are MetamorphDK's black multi tasseled necklace (which can be worn as a belt), $92; OndeJlry's black tassel necklace accented with bold gold; the 34 inch long Asian inspired rayon tassel necklace with antiqued finish ceramic and Buddha bead with genuine gold leaf, from 2littlegypsies, $36; the red faux suede tassel necklace from cestjolijewelry, $90; and BluKatDesign's fun vintage multi-strand, multi chain bolo style necklace made from an assortment of vintage silver chain and tassels, $27.

There are even websites and blogs (  , , ) which give easy to follow instructions for DIY (do it yourself) tassel necklaces, enabling one to easily transform a traditional tie back curtain tassel, or make a new piece using scrap suede, leather, or yarn. And since this is THE season of major sales, I have to mention Marni's statement making white bead and tassel necklace with black ribbon tie (the tassel itself is a hefty 7 inches), which was recently reduced from $575 to $230, .

Tassels used imaginatively

The thing that is so great about tassels is that they are completely across the board, multi purpose, and can be used in a variety of ways, if you let your mind wander. Just think...when you get tired of wearing them around your neck, you can affix them to your bag, transform into a key-chain, or use imaginatively, to decorate your abode.

- Marilyn Kirschner