Thursday, February 28, 2013

NY Botanical Garden Orchid Dinner

Olivier Giugni next to his floral arrangement
(All photos: Lieba Nesis)

The New York Botanical Garden's annual Orchid Dinner was held at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel. The Garden in collaboration with Veranda, a leading design magazine, collaborated with over twenty five of New York's leading floral designers in the world of architecture, horticulture and literature to create and donate a dramatic orchid centerpiece and table setting for the event. This year's theme was "Exotic Inspirations" and the room and the floral design certainly lived up to the crowd of floral enthusiasts expectations.

Swan like Flower arrangement at dinner table

Upon entering the main dining area, overlooking all of Central Park and Columbus Circle, the atmospheric winter wonderland effect was overwhelming; each table had a different floral design so unique I literally gasped with surprise. I was quickly transported into the stratosphere of numerous countries such as China and India with nothing but a quick elevator ride. The accompanying tablecloths, place settings, and chair designs, were so magnificent I wished I had known these designers, actually artists, before I got married. The event was underwritten by BNY Mellon, Tiffany and Co., Hearst Corporation and Veranda which explained the opulence and elegance of this happening. This is one of the most anticipated society events of the winter social schedule and I quickly understood why.

Dan Dahl coordinator of the show

The evening, which began at seven, started with a cocktail hour filled with hors d'oeuvres and an open bar in a room replete with orchids. This was the time for the leading orchid specialists to assist the guests in choosing orchids from the dizzying display. The guests were so well mannered and gentrified, my camera was the noisiest object in the room. I immediately recognized a lot of the faces from the opera and the ballet and knew this was a crowd that appreciated aesthetic beauty. Dan Dahl, who coordinated the design of the flowers for this event, and has been doing so for the past ten years, stated,"It takes me a month to process the designers' requests. I know the ins and outs of orchids and am therefore equipped to handle this monumental task." He then told me how ninety-five percent of the orchids were imported from Thailand and he had worked hard with the designers to transport the guests to a different world.

Jean Shafiroff wearing Oscar de la Renta

Olivier Giugni, owner of the floral company L' Olivier, who has been designing floral arrangements for this dinner for the past fifteen years, said, "I love this crowd because its full of floral and travel connoisseurs. It took me two full days to put together just the floral arrangements and then I have to collaborate with the designers." Sigourney Weaver, statuesque in an elegant red dress stated, "I love orchids. This is the most beautiful night of the year. I look forward to it all year it is just so elegant. I have so many orchids at home I just work at keeping them alive. I love how this event anticipates the coming of spring and I make sure not to miss it." Jean Shafiroff, a cochair of more than six charity boards, reiterated, "it is so important for New Yorkers to have a place to see beautiful flowers and to have an organization that researches the best way to preserve a species. Moreover, it's a great learning space for kids who can lose themselves for a while. I attend all of the galas held by the botanical garden. It's one of my favorite charities."

As the cocktail hour ended, and the crowd headed toward the dining room, I found myself longing to purchase one of the delicate orchids and to participate in the festivities of the night. However, reality set in and I became aware it was time for me and my camera to say goodbye to this captivating venue. But before I left, I had to take one last look at the resplendent dining room - an oasis of beauty smack in the middle of New York.

-Lieba Nesis

Monday, February 25, 2013

OSCARS 2013: The Last Word

A Review of the 85th Annual Academy Awards - By Diane Clehane

With “Family Guy” creator Seth McFarland as host, the producers did everything they could to try to shave off a few years from this year’s Oscars even dropping the official name of the broadcast – ‘The Academy Awards’ was never mentioned. It’s the Oscars now! It was, on paper at least, supposed to be a younger, hipper Oscar (even if the old boy is 85!) courtesy of McFarland, a face largely unknown to many faithful Oscar viewers.

Click below for the complete report:

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Oscar Nominees' Gift Bag

Oscar Swag for the Lucky Losers

Oscars Nominee Gift Bag
(click on image for larger view)

Not everyone can take home one of the highly coveted, gold statuettes at the 85th Annual Academy Awards on Sunday night. So what will the “glamorous losers” have to console themselves come Monday morning? The Everyone Wins at the Oscars Nominee Gift Bag will be delivered to the doorsteps of those eluded by Oscar in the categories of Best Actor/ Actress, Best Supporting Actor/Actress and Director. The bags are assembled by Distinctive Assets, the LA marketing firm founded by Lash Fairy. “We always look forward to introducing celebrities to an array of companies with fabulous gifts to share…but it’s particularly fun to be able to do so when you know that it will brighten someone’s day,” he remarked, reflecting on the response from past recipients, Hugh Jackman, Meryl Streep, and Ron Howard, to name a few.

This year’s nominee gift bag is valued at more than $45,000.00. The Hollywood A Listers who receive these gifts will truly feel like it is an honor just to be nominated:

Lizard Island and El Questo Homestead. A choice of two destinations Down Under: Lizard Island, atop The Great Barrier Reef (pictured) or El Questro Homestead, located in the outback. Valued at $12,000.00

Koloa Landing Resort. Five nights in a two-bedroom luxury villa on the South Shore of the Hawaiian island of Kauai. Valued at $2,000.00

 St Regis Punta Mita. Three nights in a deluxe ocean view suite at the AAA-Five-Diamond resort, located on the Pacific Coast of Mexico. Valued at $3,000.00

Macaron Magnifique. Gluten-free macarons made in the USA by the Parisian Macaron Company, created by celebrity stylist, Lauren Rae Levy, and her father, Marvin. Value: $60.

The list also includes:

Chocolatines by Sweet Endeavours’ Yellow Gold Diamond Collection, $95.00

D’Milikah Swimwear, $250.00

SEDU hair tools, $530.00

LIERAC PARIS cosmeceutical skin care, $98.00

PHYTO botanical hair care, $113.00

Dukan Diet, $411.96

Bine & Bas men’s furnishings, $185.00

Rouge Maple gourmet edibles, $120.00

Devicewear cases, $137.80

Hickies elastic lacing system, $19.99

Live In Fitness Enterprise (LIFE) all-inclusive luxury fitness retreat, $4,100.00

Jan Lewis Designs bangle bracelets, $100.00

Huntley Drive Fitness personal training package, Imanta Resorts, $3,300.00

Slimware portion-control dinnerware, $59.00

Seyie Designs interior design services, $7,400.00

Le PeTiT CiRqUe only all-kid Cirque troupe, $400.00

NJOY King premium electronic cigarettes, $40.00

EZdetailer Premium Detailing Kit, $30.00

M3K Beauty products for exceptionally vibrant skin,$100.00

RENOUVE Anti-Aging Every Day Defense, $406.00

Born Free USA t-shirts, $20.00

Krystal Klear Water under sink water filtration system, $795.00

JNL Clothing + JNL Fusion Fitness DVDs and apparel, $150.00

Jays of Sweden highly musical headsets, $70.00

Artist Dan Duff limited edition “Abraham” fine art print, $152.75

Cha-Cha ChiC Latin-inspired apparel, $125.00

DUETTE bracelets/hair ties, $80.00

The Green Garmento 4-in-1 reusable dry cleaning bag, $9.99

Naked–the finest condoms in the world, $20.00/ Six Pack Box Heather Lounsbury celebrity acupuncturist/nutritionist, $600.00

Gleener The Ultimate Fuzz Remover,$19.99

Touchfire iPad Keyboard, $49.95

Take 2: Your Guide to Happy Endings and New Beginnings by Leeza Gibbons, $24.00

Cheetz by Margi Kent body slimmers, $69.95

The Vampire Facelift, $5,000.00

Southern Baked Candle custom candles/wax sculptures, $204.00

youthH20 Age Defying System, $420.00

private training sessions with celebrity trainer Lalo Fitness, $620.00

Windex Touch-Up Cleaner,$399.99

The Getty’s This Is the Day: The March on Washington photo essay, $29.95

Hydroxycut Gummies and Sprinkles, $50.00 Locally Grown. Globally Known (LGGK) premium street apparel, $300.00

Diet Pepsi, $250.00

Bonita Platinum Tequila, $99.00

SWYT Culture embellished ballet flats, $48.00

Carlitos Brand hand-illustrated tennis shoes, $850.00

Distinctive Assets is a pioneer in the world of celebrity swag. They have been producing gift bags and gift lounges for events for over 14 years. In addition to the Oscars, the company works with the Grammys, the Tony Awards, The People’s Choice Awards, The MTV Movie Awards, Latin Grammys, American Music Awards and Kid’s Choice Awards.

- Rhonda Erb

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Metropolitan Museum's New Exhibition

Fashion Makes An 'Impression'

 Madame Louis Joachim Gaudibert, 1868, Monet

I attended countless shows during the course of Mercedes Benz Fashion Week which ended last Thursday, and am keeping my eye on the unfolding fall winter 2013 collections in London, Milan, and Paris. So I suppose it's as good a time as any, to contemplate the connection between fashion and art. But while there may be many differing opinions as to whether or not fashion IS art, what cannot be denied is that there is an ongoing connection between the two, that has existed through the ages. There's probably no better setting in which to continue the dialog and debate, than the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and coincidentally, their new exhibition, 'Impressionism, Fashion, and Modernity',  (February 26 - May 27), deals with this subject, and effectively puts any questions as to the connection, to rest.

In the Greenhouse, Albert Bartholome

Yesterday morning, I attended a press preview during which time the Met's director, Thomas P. Campbell, and the exhibits' curator, Susan Stein, made their remarks. Mr. Campbell eloquent as always, observed, that "in the mid 1860's to the 1880's, the pivotal years when Paris was emerging as the fashion style capital of the world, members of the French avant garde were not only captivated by the novelty and allure of contemporary fashion, they also sought to give it expression in their depictions of modern life. This exhibition draws on a number of important sources, to illustrate the extent to which artists of the impressionist era, turned a fresh eye to the fashion's of their day. They observed the stylish men and women around them as the key to capturing on canvas the pulse and flow of contemporary life, with all its nuances and richness. Susan Stein our curator of 19th century European paintings, conceived the Met's beautiful presentation. The realization of the exhibition in it's present form acknowledges the exceptional generosity of 40 international lenders and the cooperation of holdings of 7 curatorial departments at the Met.

Portrait of Mademoiselle, Young Lady in a Red Jacket, James Tissot, 1864

On view are a large number of the most beloved and renowned impressionist era paintings, many of which are traveling to the United States for the first time. It's a testament to the richness of the Met's vast collection, that so so many period costumes and accessories, fashion plates, photographs and other documentary material could be integrated so effectively into the exhibition by Susan and her fellow Met curators". He also noted that when the exhibit debuted in Paris last fall, it not only "broke attendance records at the Musee d'Orsay with nearly half a million visitors, but people were actually weeping when it closed" (the show will travel to Chicago after it closes in New York and as far as I'm concerned, it's a must see).

Madame Georges Charpentier and Her Children, Auguste Renoir, 1875

Ms. Stein said the exhibit, (which "explores the defining role of fashion in the works of impressionist era painters of modern life, and reflects institutional collaboration at its best"), was "4 years in the making, 80 paintings strong, and 8 galleries full". "Re fashioned for New York, it represents a selection of paintings newly accessorized with a full compliment of period costumes and a wealth of documentary material". "It is organized chronologically and thematically, and the installation was conceived with an eye to illustrating the rich and multi faceted dialog between art and fashion as it unfolded from the mid 1860's, when admiring critics dubbed Monet's portrait of his future wife 'The Green Dress', and the mid 1880's, when Degas capped off his famous series of milliners, and Seurat pinpointed The Vogue for the emphatic bustle." 

Luncheon on the Grass, Claude Monet 1865-1868

Because I studied art history in college, and Impressionism was my favorite period, I really enjoyed this and agree that the selections are exemplary (I also loved the in depth descriptions alongside the iconic works of art). Among my favorite paintings: Claude Monet's 'Camillle', 1866, featuring an "extremely fashionable fur trimmed paletot and satin striped dress"; Monet's 'Madame Louis Joachim Gaudibert', 1868, in which the "expensive silk dress and imported shawl upstage her face"; Monet's 'Luncheon in the Grass',1865-66: an "enormous scene of picnicking in the forest of Fontainbleau"; Monet's 'Women in the Garden'1866, in which his future wife Camille, modeled for at least "three of the well dressed women's striking (successive) fashion place poses"; August Renoir's 'Madame Georges Charpentier and the Children' 1878, in which Renoir "gave expression to the poetry of an elegant home and the beautiful dresses of our time"; Edouard Manet's 'Lady with Fans, Portrait of Nina Callias' who was decked out in "fetching costume befitting her arts and hedonistic lifestyle", 1878; Albert Bartholome's 'In the Greenhouse', 1881, featuring his wife Perie, a "chic Parisienne" and "well known hostess in artistic and literary circles", wearing a "striking purple and white dress"; Gustave Caillebotte's 'Paris Street, Rainy Day', 1877, depicting a street scene in Paris in the "prosperous 8th arrondissement", in which "umbrellas create a sense of decorative unity"; James Tissot's 'The Circle of the Rue Royal', 1868, which "represents eminent members of an exclusive mens' club", and depicts the arrogantly relaxed gentry, recalling both 17th century prototypes and the conventions of contemporary fashion illustrations in its rich characterization of a full range of men's attire" (one full gallery was devoted to men).

Paris Street, Rainy Day, Gustave Caillebotte

What was also highly effective, was the way in which certain quotes were blown up and featured prominently on the walls, juxtaposed next to the famed works of art. Opening the exhibit, this said it all: "The latest fashion... is absolutely necessary for a painting. It's what matters most", by Edouard Manet, 1881. And a room filled with nothing but paintings featuring pure white dresses, was accompanied by Emile Zola's observation, 1883: "There was nothing but white, yet it was never the same white but all the different tones of white competing together, contrasting with, and complimenting each other, achieving the brilliance of light itself". Indeed, as anyone who has ever gone shopping for white paint knows, especially white paint by Ralph Lauren, there ARE countless shades of white.

 -Marilyn Kirschner

Friday, February 15, 2013

New York Fashion Week Notes

50 Shades of Green
Fall/winter 2013 Calvin Klein
Forest plaid vinyl bonded wool twill belted overcoat
(All photos:
To say this has been a coat season of major proportions (featuring coats WITH major proportions), is an understatement. It's also been a season marked by military overtones; structured military shapes, camouflage prints, and the employment of different shades of army green. While anything as obvious as camo prints did not appear on Francisco Costa's runway, his 33 piece collection for Calvin Klein, presented yesterday at two back to back showings on West 39th Street, the collection was unapologetic ally military inspired.
Calvin Klein forest compact wool felt+hinge pocket jacket
and wool felt flove plongee side pleat skirt

 Working with a color palette of snow, forest green, anthracite, black, midnight, and navy, outerwear was the main event. Coats were hefty and exaggeratedly structured and almost armor like (if not combat ready and bullet proof), thanks to innovative fabrics (open weave alpaca, forest plaid vinyl and bonded wool twill), and out sized proportions that added poundage to the models, without any of them having to actually eat to gain weight (I found myself wondering how these will look on average women). By the way, when you think of Calvin Klein, and Francisco Costa, the words that most likely do not come to mind are vinyl or plaid, but both these elements surprisingly figured into his fall collection, even though in the case of the latter, it was rather subtle.

Shoulders were strong, defined, and dropped in many instances; pockets were out sized and utilitarian; and military roller belts (with pronounced gold buckles) accented the waists. Even the footwear was geared towards the strong, functional, utilitarian, grounded, and battle ready (whether you're really going into battle, trying to get through the paces of urban life, or just surviving another fashion week). One of the most welcome sightings for me, because I love a shoe or boot that not only looks good but one that I can actually walk in (gee, what a novel idea), were the fabulous black stretch vinyl over sized welt boot on a very low platform and mid heel, which will be on my 'to buy' list next season. In addition to a black hair calf/gold plaque over sized welt pump (that reminded me of a classic Roger Vivier pump on steroids), they were Francisco's footwear of choice for the collection.

In addition to the great coats, there were very strong jackets (examples are the black grain de poudre hinge pocket belted blazer shown with a black banded cupro satin pleated pant, and the snow alpaca double faced glen plaid wool hinge pocket jacket shown with a snow stretch nappa pleated panel skirt). Pleats (once again, hefty and structured), figured prominently in the collection, adding movement to skirts, and were done in cashmere and open weave wool felt, glove plongee, and stretch nappa leather. Though definitely not for everyone (and definitely not for the faint of heart), this was a well edited collection with a strong point of view from beginning to end, down to the (almost non existent) evening portion (with dresses made of black wool mesh/chain embroidery and black wool mesh/engineered lace). If you're looking for something soft, sheer, dreamy, or wispy, look somewhere else. FYI, Jessica Chastain was seated in the front row, perhaps looking for something to wear to the Oscars next Sunday. I guess she was disappointed that there were hardly any major "red carpet" dresses).

Fall/winter 2013 Ralph Lauren
Black wool jacket black sable pant
Ralph Lauren changed venues this season, opting for the St. John Center Studios on Washington Street, just blocks away from the Skylight Studios on Hudson Street which had become his signature space as of late. The entry hall into the actual room where the show was to be held, had the most enormous and gorgeous Versailles- worthy floral arrangement, prompting a fellow show goer to observe, "those flowers cost more than most of us make in a year". Yup. The man is doing something right and he sticks to his guns and keeps to his finely honed aesthetic. Looking over the run of show, I could see that the first 20 out of 58 pieces in the collection, were either all black, or in some combination of black, white, and ivory (with touches of gold). What could be chicer, more fall like, and quite frankly, more Ralph Lauren for that matter? It's a no brainer, a customer favorite, and he wisely revisits it quite frequently, as he did for fall 2013. The only other colors used were what could be described as traditional, rich fall hues: brown, charcoal, burgundy, loden, moss green, forest green, steel blue, and midnight.

Ralph Lauren cream wool jacket white cotton shirting collar
black double faced wool crepe pant
The highlights of this gutsy collection that had not a trace of Spain or South America by the way (and in which day wear ruled), were undeniably the jackets (does anyone tailor a better blazer?) and especially, the coats, which came in a variety of shapes, lengths, and silhouettes. In a truly stellar coat season, RL's are always cove table. In addition to the wonderful group of coats in textured black wool, standouts include the cream curly shearling jacket, the cream wool flyaway jacket with toggle closures, the black bonded leather coat with shearling collar, the almond shearling and bonded wool reversible coat, and what has to be THE ultimate down coat around: lined with black Mongolian shearling it featured an enormous black Mongolian collar.

Ralph Lauren patchwork carpet large tote

Layering is always a Ralph Lauren trademark, and beneath many of the pieces, were ivory silk crepe blouses, some with white cotton detachable formal bibs, which imparted a feeling of well, formality. Vests were employed as well, many of which were embroidered (embroidery was a theme throughout) and capable of standing on their own. Pants figured prominently into the line up and there were uber flattering and leg lengthening double faced wool crepe stovepipe pants, wool crepe trousers, black leggings with stirrups, brown herringbone knickers, and something called a sable pant (it was pleated and full through the hips, tapering to the ankle). Black calf and suede shoe booties, in addition to knee high and over the knee boots. kept the proportions grounded. Bags have become big business and Ralph showed myriad incarnations. There were sling duffel bags, alligator mini cross body bags, polished calf saddle bags, calf and moire lamb small wide frame bags, as well as statement making large totes and carpet bags in patchwork with shearling trim.

Ralph Lauren champagne shearling capelet
champagne tulle beaded evening dress
As for evening, it was all about long dresses (not one short dress was shown). A sleeveless black pleated leather and silk georgette evening dress was wonderfully sleek,simple, and stunning (and illustrated an inventive use of leather), and many of the dresses that comprised the finale (made of silk, beaded tulle, Chantilly lace, silk taffeta), were shown with abbreviated capelets (shearling, or shearling and feathers). By the way, that it was Valentine's Day, was not lost on Ralph. On each seat, there was a sweet note and a package containing 18 pieces of chocolate, from Dylan's Candy Bar of course (Dylan is Ralph's daughter).

Fall/Winter 2013 Marc Jacobs

And finally, just as many of the designers who showed this past week, have endorsed looks that are predicated on covering up from head to toe (in yards of stiff fabric no less), leave it to Marc Jacobs to show a lot of leg, put his gals in pajama tops, and stripped them down to their skivvies (in all fairness, that was hardly all he showed in a collection that had a lot of Kate Moss written all over it, but still, it was a statement).

When he took his bow onstage, he was dressed in what looked like pajamas as well. Is he telling us that he is bored, tired, and that it's past his bedtime? In any event, I thought there was something quite fitting and apropos about the fact that due to the blizzard, Marc (one of the most influential designers in the world), had to change the date of his fall runway show from Monday, to last evening at 8PM, in effect, formally giving him the "Last Word".

-Marilyn Kirschner

BETTER BETS - by Rhonda Erb

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Thursday, February 14, 2013

New York Fashion Week Notes

Trick or Treat

Fall/winter 2013 Michael Kors neon orange double face cashgora placket coat
(All photos:

For fall 2013, Michael's overall theme treaded on familiar territory: 'Urban Sportif'....bright lights, fast city....urban athleticism meets uptown polish', according to his printed run of show (which had been inexplicably downsized from its traditionally larger format). And perhaps, that was not such a great omen. Don't get me wrong...sure there were the stable of MK signatures one comes to expect from this American designer who is known for his clean lines, and his ability to impart effortless, natural cool to his collections from one season to the next: the handsome trenches and balmacans, the perfectly cut chesterfields, the timeless pea jackets, the collectible shaker popovers, and cashmere pullovers, the perfectly cut blazers, smart trousers and pencil skirts, rendered in charcoal flannel, melton, and cashmere. But unfortunately, these were lost in the shuffle on the runway.

Michael Kors black crystal peplum gown

There certainly was a lot going on (maybe too much), within the 63 pieces for men and women that were presented yesterday morning at The Theatre at Lincoln Center. So much so that it was often distracting, and you didn't really know where to look first, as the models sauntered quickly down the runway to the fast paced and high energy soundtrack. And it was more than a bit schizophrenic, as though Michael couldn't decided which route he wanted to go, so he mixed it all up. There were high octane electric colors: taxi cab yellow, royal blue, and neon orange. Needless to say, a little of this goes a long way, and the combination of black with orange is always tricky, since it has Halloween written all over it (I'd love to know what man will buy the neon orange leather trench). There were peplums from start to finish: peplums on sweaters, peplums on sheath dresses, peplums on bustiers, and peplums on gowns (this surprised me since peplums are so 'last year -ha!) There were graphic, tough chic accents and pronounced zippers decorated moto style jackets and coats. An abundance of shine came by way of gleaming metallic accents and high gloss black patent leather.

Michael Kors charcoal flannel blazer, pullover, and cashmere skirt

The footwear of choice was a high heeled pointy toed pump, preferably one that was two toned, with a strap and buckle (there were a few flats shown as well: some with a pointy toe, and some that resembled a mannish loafer). Chunky silver chain necklaces encircled come necks, fur trapper hats covered a few heads, and there were bags, bags, and more bags. And then there were the prints (a "luxe take on camo and graphic dogs tooth checks"). The camo print was a bit busy, especially when it showed up in the form of an olive and white techno gabardine zip jacket and matching trouser, but if you' ve been in the market for a camouflage printed mink stole or coat, you're in luck because Michael showed them (the best of the group was the olive and black camo mink clutch coat).

Fall/winter 2013 Proenza Schouler

But while all the above might personify Michael's idea of urban survival gear, mine could easily be summed up by Proenza Schouler's terrific collection, which was shown last evening. Just about my favorite of the season thus far (and the season is almost over), it was rigorously edited with a strong point of view and featured some of the best coats, leathers, and tweeds shown of the season. It had a couture like sensibility (with an unmistakable nod to Balenciaga via the sculptural outerwear), yet it looked thoroughly modern and ageless. It was perfectly accessorized (great bags and wonderful shoes), and it was rendered almost entirely in black & white (my idea of fashion heaven).

Trick or treat? I guess that's for you to decide!

-Marilyn Kirschner

The Daily Bet - by Rhonda Erb

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Wednesday, February 13, 2013

New York Fashion Week Notes

Days of Wine And Roses

Fall/winter 2013 Oscar de la Renta
navy and rose floral russian Ikat jackquard cocoon jacket
(All photos:

It's hard not to notice that flowers, and especially, overblown, statement making rose prints, have found their way into the Mercedes Benz fall 2013 collections. They were one of the major statements at Thom Browne's eccentric runway show held on Monday evening (I couldn't help but speculate, knowing Thom, that maybe one of the more exaggerated of the group is what he really wanted Michelle Obama to wear for the Inauguration, rather than the subtle and very establishment pinstripe ensemble she selected- LOL). (By the way, as I'm writing this, the First Lady is appearing with the President, in conjunction with his State of the Union address, and she's wearing a wine and black dress, and I'm sipping a glass of wine).

Fall/Winter 2013 Vera Wang
 Stone rose jacquard one shoulder dress with butterfly peplum and tangerine rose jacquard skirt

In any event, yesterday morning, roses were also a major part of Vera Wang's collection (where they looked especially beautiful when the colors (ivory, tangerine, fuchsia) were mixed collage style, within one dress. Though Raf Simons didn't invent roses, I guess you can say he re invented them and made them look modern and youthful, using them as he did for his highly acclaimed freshmen outing for the house of Dior, for spring 2013. Overblown roses were one of his signature statements on the runway, and they were an editorial favorite, picked up across the board. Anna Wintour even wore one of the most photographed versions (a mid calf ball skirt paired with a fitted black long sleeved top), when she attended Bergdorf Goodman's 75th anniversary party at the Plaza last November. As we all know, everything that comes around, goes around, and fashion is like one big dysfunctional family ( I've been involved in fashion long enough to qualify as an expert in these things). It's hard not to go through a new fashion cycle, or any fashion week for that matter, without thinking about how everything and everyone is somewhat related (fashion's answer to 'Six Degrees of Separation').

And so, because Dior was on my mind, I also had John Galliano on my mind. A bonafide creative genius with a few too many demons, as we all know, he was unceremoniously fired from his creative role at the house of Dior in 2011, after making rabid anti Semitic remarks (he testified in a Paris courtroom that an addiction to pills and alcohol kept him from recalling any alleged use of anti-Semitic and racist slurs on two separate occasions at a Paris bar).

Fall/Winter 2013 Oscar de la Renta gray double faced cashgora hooded cape and black stretch leather pant

Enter longtime friend and supporter, Anna Wintour (the powerful editrix recently 'arranged' for him to get back to design, via Oscar de la Renta and she was sitting in the front row, wearing head to toe burgundy). I don't think it's an understatement to say that the Oscar de la Renta fall show, held at two back to back presentations at his 42nd street showroom last night, had to be one of the most highly anticipated of the season, and had the fashion world buzzing. There were and still are, many unanswered questions and much speculation, regarding John's exact role, but let me just say that I personally see the 'fit', and think the two designers share a somewhat similar aesthetic (ultra couture like, ultra feminine).

Oscar de la Renta black grain de poudre sleeveless Ginza jacket and skirt

 And unsurprisingly, the collection was a little of both: there were plenty of Oscar's signatures ( the toile de jouey prints, the gold bouillon scroll and bead embroideries; the strong colors). But there were also obvious touches of John: the muted somber shades (wine, aubergine, black, anthracite), the draped coats and coat dresses; the hooded capes; the Ginza jackets; the English eccentricity and edginess; the exaggeratedly attenuated, ultra skinny silhouettes; the exaggerated tall cloche hats (Patricia Underwood).

But when the show was over, only Oscar came out on the stage. I actually did not see John at all last evening, although apparently, he attended the show, dressed like a "Hasid" complete with long jacket, hat, and curly "peyos", according to today's The New York Post (it was their cover story, 'Shmuck! Jew-bash designer's costume mocks faithful'). I was in a crowded elevator going down, and I overheard a show attendee remark to her companion, "That was one of the most schizophrenic shows I've ever seen. Was it Oscar's dress, or John's suit?" I think that pretty much summed it up.

-Marilyn Kirschner 

Socialites Rejoice: Excess Is Back

Fall/Winter 2013 Dennis Basso French grey mink with tweed and tulle hand embroidered dress

Hey isn't Dennis Basso that guy who makes sable furs? Upon viewing this collection it is apparent this is only one, albeit major, element of a breathtaking collection. Dennis Basso, 57, started his business in 1983 after selling a line of pelts out of the trunk of a rented town car. He now caters his collection including couture furs to the social set and movie stars- he is sort of a modern day Bob Mackie. This collection was lush, magnificent, and astoundingly beautiful. The only bad part of the show was its' conclusion - all that beauty gone behind the stage and the harsh mundaneness of life creeping back in. However, to be transported to this luxurious world even for just ten minutes was intoxicating.

Ombre platinum to chartreuse hand embroidered gown with fox wrap

The show was held at the stage in Lincoln Center befitting the stagelike elegance of the collection. Basso is celebrating his thirtieth anniversary in the business and he said this "collection is a tribute to the great American fashion icons. Women such as Babe Paley, Gloria Guinness and Millicent Rogers who embody the glamour, strength and elegance that has inspired me throughout my career." Very few designers could get Joan Rivers, Joan Collins, Martha Stewart, Star Jones, Kelly Bensimon and Carol Alt to sit front row with excited anticipation. I asked Star Jones what makes Basso so special and she stated, "almost every fur coat I have is designed by Basso. He is my go to person for fur and gowns. When I attended the Obama inaugural ball the first time I wore one of his gowns." Hal Rubenstein, fashion director at InStyle magazine said, "Dennis designs clothing for women who are ready for joy and sunshine. He gives you clothing to enjoy a happy, luxurious life."

 Midnight hand layered organza and velvet gown covered with a slate blue alligator vest.

 The collection opened with a french grey mink and sable coat with a tulle hand embroidered dress (see lead photo). The delicacy of the dress against the lushness of the coat was a beautiful contrast. Throughout the collection fur and alligator were transposed over intricately embroidered dresses elongating the dresses and highlighting the coats. Alligator appeared in shades of gray, blue, and evergreen perfectly fitted to the models torso and oftentimes on top of the gown giving the illusion that it was the bodice of the gown. While fur might be the specialty of Dennis Basso his dresses were some of the most beautiful I have viewed. Many of the dresses were plaid and taffeta however, they were so soft and ladylike they removed any notions of dullness normally associated with plaid. The dresses made of tweed were so intricately woven they did not in any way resemble the tweed my grandfather wore. My favorite gown was the midnight hand layered organza and velvet gown covered with a slate blue alligator vest. The model sashaying down the runway looked like one of the characters in the Great Gatsby. The flow of the dress was heavenly, accompanied by long leather gloves and a fur collar - it doesn't get better than this.

Parka with taffeta plaid pant

However, I would be remiss not to mention the furs which came in multiple colors and were of the chinchilla, sable and lynx variety. The richness of the colored furs were outrageous; the lynx belly parka over a taffeta plaid pant evoked images of an eskimo with too much money to spend, yet its' efffect was startling. It was soft and smooth and looked comfortable, decadent and divine - I still have its' image imprinted in my head.

Dennis Basso has a justifiably devoted following among the society doyennes of New York. He has many acolytes who buy his coats year after year and attend his shows with cultlike enthusiasm. However, at the conclusion of this showstopping collection the plaudits were few - this confounded me was I missing something? Then it occurred to me that this audience is surrounded by beauty with such regularity they were anesthetized to the magnificence of this collection.

- Lieba Nesis

THE DAILY BET - by Rhonda Erb
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Tuesday, February 12, 2013

New York Fashion Week Notes #2

Yeohlee-Hee Ho A Fashion House Goes Country

Fall/Winter 2013 Yeohlee Teng
Blood orange wool coat vest with white silk crepe shirt
(All photos: Lieba Nesis)

Yeohlee's Fall 2013 show was held at 28 West 38th Street at a former ribbon store.  The mood was extremely intimate with models making changes at Manny's Milinery Supply Center next door.  The show's motto was freedom of expression and freedom of spirit with an emphasis on environmental responsibility and zero waste.  Award winning designer Yeohlee Teng was born in Malaysia and has worked primarily in New York where her design house was established in 1981.  Yeohlee believes that clothing should serve a function and gives careful thought to the use of each fabric and how to shape, cut, color and finish a garment.

Linden wool mohair piston jumper with iris collared blouse

She was a winner of the National Design Award in 2004 and she has been featured in solo shows at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London and the Museum at the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York.  The insiders of the fashion world revere Yeohlee for her meticulous attention to design and shape and her work is part of the permanent collection at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.  However, her commitment to supporting the garment industry and towards using local suppliers makes her an extremely unique figure in the fashion world in that she sacrifices bottom line profits in order to further her ideals.  Her free spirited socially conscious attitude was reflected in the simplicity of her show's presentation and in the design of the actual garments.

Green jacket with purple pants
Yeohlee's use of color, especially blood orange was exquisite.  The show opened with a brick red Kimono coat against a black denim jumper to riveting effect.  Yeohlee reintroduced the Jerkin, a closely fitted man's jacket without sleeves, in hard brick red and then in a navy and grey double faced mohair.  There was a profusion of color throughout the show highlighting deep greens, purples and blood orange against a simple design and cut allowing the audience to observe the texture and composition of the garment without dizzying the observer with excessive effects.  There was a peplum jacket executed in ash and, my favorite, a green linden wool mohair piston jumper with peplum like bulges on the bottom of the garment exuding comfort and high fashion simultaneously, a difficult feat to achieve. There was no jewelry, flashy shoes, crazy hairstyles or prominent makeup (aside from red lipstick); the show was a paradigm of simplicity.  Nonetheless, the movement and flow of the garments, and the comfort the models exuded wearing them, gave the clothing an understated sexiness born partially of utility.  Yeohlee's use of high end techy twentieth century fabrics in wool, cotton and nylon actually enhanced the overall vintage effect of the collection.  The show's dominant theme of country comfortable living was further accentuated by the accompanying three piece, square dance, music band.

 Ash peplum jacket with crescent pant
  After centuries of discomfort endured by women in the name of beauty, with contraptions such as corsets and too tight skinny jeans, Yeohlee's pared down designs were a relief from the excesses of modern day fashion.  The shoes were black, the models were unadorned and the room was sparse the antithesis of every other show occurring during fashion week where splashy effects are thrown your way at every confusing turn. Yeohlee's models, casually and humbly, walked down the runway often with their hands in their pockets without strutting or pouting angrily at the audience. When I asked Yeohlee what the theme of her show was she said, "freedom of movement, clothes should be comfortable and easy and within that framework conservation and reuse.  I try to make the smallest carbon footprint I can."  This type of ecoconscious design sensitive to the comfort of a woman is laudatory, unique and frankly-revolutionary. 

- Lieba Nesis


Runway Ready

Photo: Rhonda Erb

When Project Runway taped the finale of its 11th season in the Theatre at Lincoln Center on Friday, judges Heidi Klum, Nina Garcia, Zac Posen, and guest judge Michael Kors, strolled the runway to open the show.  Shortly thereafter, Klum revealed that for the first time she is rooting for one particular designer to win the competition.  This time around, more than the usual handful of collections were shown on the runway.  Since the series is only a few episodes into its “Teams Edition” season on the Lifetime Network, the collections were shown anonymously so as not to reveal too much to the viewers. This meant that none of the actual finalists could deliver their personal message when their collection was shown. At the end of the show, all 16 contestants came out to take a bow and pose at the end of the runway for a group photo.

Media Center

Photo:  Getty

 The Samsung Galaxy Press Lounge, in the Event Lobby at Lincoln Center has become the hub for editors, bloggers, and photographers alike.  It offers spacious workstations, Wi-Fi, charging stations, and a place to relax in comfort between shows.  You can even try out some of the latest Samsung devices, like the Galaxy Note II, while sipping a drink at the bar upstairs.

Maritime Style

Photo: Great Press

To celebrate 30 years of creating fashions in the nautical tradition, Nautica introduced its Men’s Fall 2013 Black Sail Collection with a runway show at the Lincoln Center tents on Friday.  The pieces consisted of outerwear and separates, inspired by the expeditions of the Antarctic explorer, Sir Ernest Shackleton.  Celebrity guests, the Winklevoss Twins and actor Peter Facinelli, did some social networking from their seats in the front row. 

Creative Greetings

Photo: Rhonda Erb

 All week long, visitors to the Fashion Week tents can select a card from Papyrus and have it posted, free of charge.  On Saturday and Sunday, Papyrus artist, Bella Pilar, made a personal appearance at the Papyrus display to sign the custom design card that she created especially for Mercedes Benz Fashion Week.  Pilar is no stranger to the fashion world.  She attended LaGuardia High School and FIT and, before pursuing her artistic passion, she worked as a makeup artist.  It appears that she has come full circle, since in her past life she occasionally did makeup for the designers at Fashion Week.

Into the Forest

Photo: Rhonda Erb

 To introduce its Autumn Winter 2013/14 collection, Moncler Grenoble created a living forest in the dome of the Gotham Hall building.  On Saturday night, 370 male and female models lined the circular walls, standing on five rows of steps, rising 10 metres high.  All of the garments worn by the models were in varying shades of green, to evoke the image of trees on an Alpine peak.  Guests entered the room through a long black hallway, to find themselves in the center of the human forest.  The loud music and ever-changing lighting made for a unique visual and auditory experience. 

The Right Amount of Beauty and Beast

Custo Barcelona designer, Custo Dalmau, has never been one to design subdued attire.  He is known for his eclectic mixtures of fabrics, textures, and prints.  With his Autumn/Winter 2013 collection that pairs a feminine, ethnic, ornamental “Beauty” with a harsh, Nordic, wintry “Beast”, Dalmau seems to have found a sweet spot for his designs.  His runway looks ranged from short, sexy dresses to heavy, woolen coats and wraps.  The styles seemed to blend seamlessly in a room filled with snow weary spectators clad in everything from spiked heels to moon boots.

Wild About Rebecca

Photo: Reuters

Nashville band, Wild Cub, provided the live music for designer Rebecca Minkoff’s Fall 2013 runway show. Their up tempo songs were well suited to Minkoff’s thoroughly modern presentation (tweets filled the backdrop before the start of the show).  She was inspired by a futuristic vision, incorporating tech fabrics and sexy, menswear inspired looks to create a collection that was at once edgy and utterly feminine.

Let It Snow

Photo: Rhonda Erb

The Blizzard Nemo dropped a foot of snow on New York City last weekend.  Fashionistas made the best of it by building fashionable snowmen outside the tents at Lincoln Center.

- Rhonda Erb