Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Better Bets: "Holiday Ready" Shopping Column

90th Anniversary of Echo Design

New York City’s own Echo Design Group is 90 years young.  The venerable accessories company has always been “ a family affair”, according to chairman Dorothy Hyman Roberts.  Her parents, Theresa and Edgar Hyman, founded the company, then known as Echo Scarves, on their wedding day in 1923. The name “Echo” is an acronym for Edgar C. Hyman & Co.

To commemorate this important milestone for Echo Design, Lord & Taylor recently hosted an event in their Fifth Avenue store, featuring In Style Magazine’s editor-at-large, Hal Rubenstein.  Customers were able to view some of Echo’s iconic scarf designs, which were on display, while shopping for some of their latest styles, with the assistance of Rubenstein and members of the Roberts family.  The Painted Stripes Silk Wrap (pictured) comes in three color combinations and is 100% silk on one side and 100% rayon on the other.

Available at: http://www.echodesign.com  $128.00

Share the Warmth with Echo Design this holiday season.  Every time a pair of gloves, a hat or a muffler is purchased from Nov. 11th to Dec.1st, the company will donate 2 comparable items to those in need through Fashion Delivers.

More "Holiday Ready" selections from Better Best:  http://lookonline.com/betterbets-2014holiday.html

This Space (Occasionally) for Vent

As a new contributor to the DFR I will be posting a blog from time to time regarding some aspect of the fashion business that either rankles, delights, horrifies or astounds me.  My purpose is to entertain both myself and you the reader so let me know how I'm doing. - Laurel Marcus

"Face" It:  High End Handbag Designers are Winking At Us

The "face" is particularly apparent on the Celine two-tone version of the luggage tote

I can't be the only one who thinks Phoebe Philo and other exclusive designers are laughing at us, can I?  Unfortunately, every time I spy one of those uber-pricey Celine Phantom or Luggage Totes all I can see is a face with a tongue sticking out.  Is it too much to ask for a handbag retailing in the $3K and up range to present a slightly more dignified expression than Miley Cyrus?  The Celine "Tie-Totes" remind me of a little square teapot with shrugged  shoulders  about to give a hug.  I am transported back to a time when my kids were little and I'd ask "How big is baby?"  "So big" would be the answer with arms outstretched like the side flaps of this handbag.

Faces are also featured in Fendi's Fall/Winter 2013 line and its proven to be a monster.  These bags, shoes, wallets and coin purses  take the concept of a visage even more literally with their "fur monsters" collection. 

The Fendi Peekaboo with bag bugs

Originally introduced for Fall/Winter 2013 in styles such as the Monsters eyes Peekaboo bag ($5,700) or the Fur Monster Baguette bag ($7,200) the prices may be the most frightening thing about them.  Also featured are the "bag bugs" if you just want a touch of monster. The Fendi website offers a "Bug Selector,"  machine to help you choose one of these little $700 "buggers" in fox or mink which attach via key chain to your classic Fendi for just a touch of whimsy.  By the way, the machine paired me with "Lucifur."  I'm thinking  Pokemon and the pocket monsters from the '90s and yes, the Fendi bags were first debuted (and probably test marketed) in Japan.

Alexander Wang for Balenciaga copies the Dunkin Donuts Munchkin box

If a face seems like a far-fetched inspiration for a luxury handbag then how about a stomach? It is possible that Alexander Wang could have been having a fast food craving when he designed some of the new handbags for Balenciaga.  Several bloggers besides myself have remarked that the method of closure featured on the boxy purses bears a strong likeness to a Dunkin Donuts or McDonald's Happy Meal container the way the handles fold across each other at the top.  I also don't think I'd want to put my hand in there as it looks about as manicure friendly as a steel trap!

Lanvin "trash bag"

Another designer who has put a "twist"(tie) on his carryall creations is Alber Elbaz for Lanvin.  The house of Lanvin may have consumed some of those aforementioned donuts or happy meals and were tossing out the garbage when the "aha" moment hit.   Hence the handbag shown on the runway for Spring/Summer 2014 resembled nothing so much as a Hefty trash bag albeit it a luxe one (retailing for $1,500) in basic black as well as metallics.  Talk about throw-away chic...Emma Roberts wore a Lanvin trash bag dress to the American Music Awards on Sunday evening.

Chanel Spring/Summer 2014 ombre clutch resembles a luxury soap dish

Finally, Chanel's Spring/Summer 2014 Bright Bags should  "clean up."  Their colorful hard cased bags resemble a luxury soap container that you would find in a five-star hotel in Europe.  That way if the "faces" get dirty or the "monsters" say anything inappropriate, the soap is there to wash all the nastiness away.

- Laurel Marcus

Friday, November 22, 2013

FGI: “Pamela Fiori in Conversation with Dennis Basso”

"Taster’s" Choice

Dennis Basso & Pamela Fiori at Le Cirque
All photos courtesy of FGI
(Click on images for larger views)

The thing about having been a fashion editor for so many years is that chances are, if you mention the name of any designer, I will most likely have an interesting or amusing personal anecdote or recollection about them, and such is the case with regards to furrier extraordinaire, Dennis Basso, who I happened to see yesterday.  In continuation of Fashion Group International’s (www.fgi.org) ongoing The Tastemakers series, the most recent installation, “Pamela Fiori in Conversation with Dennis Basso”, took place yesterday, and the venue for cocktails, a delicious luncheon, and lively conversation, was appropriately one of the tastiest, toniest, and most storied restaurants around: Le Cirque, located at One Beacon Court Condominium, 151 East 58th Street.

Not only do I remember Dennis’s early shows, especially the see and be seen extravaganzas at the Pierre Hotel, which always ended with a major diva, taking a walk down the runway (this list includes the likes of Liza Minnelli, Diana Ross, Patti LaBelle, and Joan Collins). I also remember my two favorite collections, both held at the New York Public Library’s Astor Hall. One, in May, 2005, was quite hip and bohemian, and a departure for the designer, featuring a cross cultural collection of furs and ready-to-wear that was unabashedly colorful, embroidered, mirrored, studded, beaded, bejeweled, and embellished, and shown entirely with pointy toed Moroccan style flats. The other, in May 2006, was an homage to Paris glamour and its focus, in black and white, was on broadtail.

Dennis Basso & Pamela Fiori

But perhaps what stands out most in my mind was back in time, when I was a senior fashion editor at Harper’s Bazaar. I had to pull clothes for Barbara Walters. She was to be photographed by Francesco Scavullo for the Over 40 and Fabulous September Issue, 1982. (Other luminaries included in the portfolio were Princess Grace of Monaco, Julie Andrews, Dina Merrill). There were racks of clothes, but the only thing she agreed to wear, or that fit her, or looked good on her, (in her opinion), was a flame red full mink coat I brought in from Dennis Basso. It saved the day and turned out to be a double page spread.

Dennis Basso & Margaret Hayes

Prior to the lunch, FGI President Margaret Hayes hailed Pamela as a “multi-talented editor-in-chief, author, and connoisseur” and referred to both she and Dennis as “two of the most iconic personalities in New York”. Coincidentally, Pamela has just penned a book,  “A Table at Le Cirque: Stories and Recipes from New York's Most Legendary Restaurant” by Sirio Maccioni and Pamela Fiori . Published by Rizzoli International Publications, and at 256 pages, it’s the first cookbook from the famed restaurant which has served as a “social club for celebrities and power brokers for more than 35 years.” Copies were ready to be signed at the end of the event. See: More info and/or puchase the book from Amazon.com

Pamela observed that when Dennis enters a room, the party begins. “Nobody is as much fun as Dennis. He loves to have a good time and lives a good life, but he also gives back”. She also said the two longtime friends share two things: both have a proud Italian heritage and both are from New Jersey. Dennis has always reminded her: “We Jersey girls have to stick together” she recounted. She was also there when he wed his partner of twenty years, Michael Cominotto, in the Pierre Hotel’s first same sex marriage in its 81 years.

Needless to say, Dennis was in rare form, and with his signature baritone voice, regaled the crowd with stories of his happy and early childhood, how he got his start in the business, his best pals (the Trumps and the Sedakas), his zest for life, and love affair with designing and QVC (which he initially thought was “trailer park”), his new and exciting three story freestanding boutique located in a townhouse ( 825 Madison Avenue at 69th Street), and the case of mistaken identity (with a past president) that resulted in his almost being shot.

On his early childhood: “I never experienced the word, ‘no’. No was ‘yes’. I was not your average boy and I knew early on I was different. My kindergarten teacher said that I was the most unique child she ever had. I wasn’t very sporty. I used to say, ‘Can I dust?’ (This brought laughs from the audience).

“I always loved show business and fashion and I only wanted to make hats out of collages, and at 7 years old I created dresses from tablecloths” (he told of one 94 year old customer who had actually posted pictures of them on Facebook).

While he had a happy childhood living in a beautiful house on a lake, he knew there was something “missing” and he wanted to find it. “Where are all those glamorous people in tuxedos and gowns?” (FYI, you almost never see a picture of Dennis without a tuxedo these days, even though he jokingly admitted that often times, he thinks he can’t put another one on).

“Some people aren’t allowed to do their thing but thankfully, I was, because of my unbelievably loving and supportive parents”. “They wanted me to be a litigation attorney and I did attend college, but eventually enrolled in fashion school.”

Pamela: “You love Divas and you deal with divas!”

Dennis: “Yes. Liza Minnelli, Patti La Belle, Natalie Cole, and the biggest diva of all, Diana Ross, are some who have walked the runway. What was so great, is that I could use this career to create my incredible lifestyle.”

Pamela: “What about Le Cirque makes it so special?”

Dennis: “I’ve been there about 9 thousand zillion times. It’s one of the greatest restaurants in the world. I’m so sick of hearing the word, "young". I like going somewhere that I can wear a tie. I still remember the first time I went there.”

Pamela: “Let’s talk about fur. How did you get your start?”

Dennis: “I was about 27 years old and I couldn’t find a job as a designer so I answered an ad in WWD (for a very mediocre furrier) Hy Fishman Furs. He is still around today. He wanted a designer, a pattern maker, a shipper, and a clerical. He wanted a person to do everything for $450 a month. Because I’m many things: a designer, an actor, and a salesman, I started selling furs like crazy. I bought flowers and painted the showroom because I didn’t like the color. But I got my big start when we started doing trade shows. We had a huge Japanese customer base. I would take 2 Hermes scarves and line the mandarin collared mink coats with them, and superimpose the Hermes label. I must have bought 5,000 Hermes scarves in my lifetime. Eventually, Hermes sent a letter to “cease and desist”.

He went on to talk about how in about 1982, 1983, he started selling wholesale, buying and selling coats with a partner. They made an “amazing amount of money” and he took over the showroom and made himself an office. He was then fired by Hy Fishman and started a new company, Pellice Bascardi (Pellice is the word fur in Italian, and Bascardi is the combination of the partner’s two last names). Their role models were designers Carolina Herrera, Bill Blass, and Oscar de la Renta, and their customers were the ones they were after. He was given prime windows in Martha on Park Avenue and staged his first show at the Regency Hotel. It was then that he was introduced to Donald and Ivana Trump (she immediately bought 7 coats), and Leba and Neil Sedaka (the 4 are his great friends to this day) and was given ½ page in The New York Times (“which I haven’t had since” he joked). “I became a furrier by accident. I wanted to be a clothing designer. Nowadays, designers are all doing fur, so I’m doing the reverse. I’m a furrier making ready-to-wear. Everything is made in New York City which is very unique”.

“I’m now 59 and I never thought I’d be winding down. Joan Rivers, there’s nobody like her, once said, “In the entertainment business and in the fashion business, if someone says they’re retired, it simply means they can’t get a job.”

“About 22 years ago, someone suggested I partner with QVC” (he just marked his 20 year anniversary with them). “I thought it was simply Trailer Park. But I have obviously changed my mind. I love fashion and I love TV, and so I went ahead with it. I started on September 3, 1993 at 10 a.m. and I immediately sold 11 out of 12 pieces. It was the highest grossing fashion show in the history of QVC”.

As of today, he was told by the company that 6 million units have been sold at retail, with half a billion dollars net. (“When do I pick up that check?” Dennis joked). “You can check me out at 9:30 every Saturday morning”.

Pamela asked him to talk about ‘the incident’ at the White House. Suffice it to say that it’s a long story, but to sum it up, he and his partner were invited to take a tour of the White House and afterwards, have lunch with Hilary Clinton (he counts Mrs. Clinton as a close friend). Dennis was mistaken for President Clinton, and was shot at by a man identified as Francisco Martin Duran who was holding a sawed off M14 under his raincoat (“just Google, Dennis Basso assassination attempt” Dennis told the crowd). As he explained it, they did look alike, both with the same thick white head of hair, and the same large frame (though with all due respect, Bill Clinton has since lost his weight). Dennis went on to talk about attending the trial with the two blown up life like images of both the President and himself, as evidence.

At the end of the discussion, Margaret Hayes asked guests if they had any questions. Someone asked Dennis if there is something he would still like to do that he hasn’t already. He quickly replied: “I’d like my own talk show.”

-Marilyn Kirschner

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Hunter & Gatti's "The Series" Pop-Up Exhibition

Click on images for larger views
(Photo:  Laurel Marcus)

Last evening brought me to SoHo for the launch of creative duo Hunter & Gatti's "The Series" at OPENHOUSE Gallery, 201 Mulberry Street presented by Julia Restoin Roitfeld.  The exhibit is open to the public Wednesday and Thursday, November 20-21 from 9 a.m to 9 p.m.  Hunter & Gatti have a background in advertising photography with campaigns and lookbooks for Massimo Dutti, Hugo Boss, Carolina Herrera and Marciano/Guess to name a few.  Their artwork is a fusion of  photographs they have taken for editorial  or advertising purposes and then painted over with many layers of a wash of multi-hued acrylic giving the work a truly an arresting look blending perfectly with that old idea of art and commerce colliding.

Julia Restoin Roitfeld & Hunter & Gatti

When I spoke to the art duo (who incidentally are good looking enough to be models in their own right) I asked them what their inspiration was and they said that the work seemed unfinished to them so they came up with this technique.  In a back room they were also premiering what I call their "Lady Gaga" moment known as "CARNE" (meat in Italian).  In all fairness to Gaga, they weren't wearing the meat but it was all over the walls. The room featured two moving meat walls on film meaning that onto the walls a projector was showing a floor to ceiling display of writhing raw meat is the best way I know how to describe it.   In addition there were works of art showing models with their skin was stripped away which were eerie yet somehow compelling at the same time.  There was another wall of celebrity portraits featuring Bruno Mars, Poppy Delevingne and the Flaunt cover of Douglas Booth.

Guests mingling at exhibition

I arrived fashionably late and the party was in full tilt with all the young, hip and impossibly attractive downtown denizens in their natural habitat.  It was Andy Warhol redux where everyone could have their 15 minutes ; flashbulbs going off every few seconds making you feel like you were running the paparazzi gamut.  In case you don't know, Julia Restoin Roitfeld is a celebrity artiste, mommy blogger, model, and celebrity offspring of Carine Roitfeld  the former French Vogue editor, which pretty much makes her your basic modern day renaissance woman.  Many of her friends who are also in the fashion, art and music world came to lend their support hence the plethora of beautiful and interestingly dressed people.  Those slated to attend included Stacey Bendet of Alice & Olivia, Dannijo jewelry designers Danielle & Jodie Snyder, Leigh Lezark who was DJ'ing and Timo Weiland.  The Misshapes were scheduled to perform including Leigh Lezard, Geordon Nicol and Greg Krelenstein and I believe they were DJ'ing when I was there so I must have missed their performance.

- Laurel Marcus

Bergdorf Goodman's Holiday Windows

Bergdorf's 'Ice' Capades

One of the holiday windows
(Click on images for larger vews)
Photos Courtesy of Bergdorf Goodman

Nothing reins in the holiday season quite like the unveiling of Bergdorf Goodman’s storied Holiday Windows. And because it happened last night, in high (and highly unusual style I might add), I guess we can say the holiday season is now officially under way. The invitation for the event (which was open to the public), noted the windows would be revealed between 6 and 7 (“6:30 sharp”), and the crowds began forming early on (in front of the store and across the street, where the BG men’s store is).Hot chocolate was kindly provided to help ward off the chill; and it WAS seasonably cold and windy, which was perfect for the evening, the time of the year, and particularly, the windows’ theme, which this years is Holidays on Ice (the focus is on holidays like July 4th, April Fool’s Day, Arbor Day, Valentines’ Day, Groundhog Day, etc., visually re imagined in the snow).

But as my fingers began to freeze (and of those around me), waiting outside, I started thinking a more apt name would be, ‘Bystanders on Ice’. Regardless, it was obvious we were in for some sort of unusual treat this year, as ropes were suspended from the iconic store’s 5th Avenue façade, and several guys, clad in red work uniforms, tended to the ropes on the ground. Who was coming down? Did Bergdorf’s actually procure the real Saint Nick for the festivities? (Maybe they offered him a hefty gift certificate at the men’s store?) Would it be Linda Fargo dressed to the nines? (Nothing she does could surprise me, and I mean that in the best way possible). Someone next to me joked that it might be Miley Cyrus twerking all the way down in her 5th Avenue best (or would it be her birthday suit?)

At around 6:30, Linda Fargo, clad in a holiday perfect gold coat, made her appearance. With loudspeaker in hand, she welcomed everyone and noted that Bergdorf Goodman has become known for many things in its storied  history; among them, fabulous fashion (“check!”), and their unrivaled windows (“check!”), and she welcomed everyone to what she referred to as Bergdorf’s “first time ever window unveiling event”. She gave special thanks to the brilliant David Hoey, BG’s famed Senior Director of Visual Presentation, who was naturally, on hand. She then introduced Bravo’s Andy Cohen who spoke about his love for New York, especially during the holidays, specifically, the city’s magical holiday windows, the most incredible of which are Bergdorf Goodman’s. He promised that our wait would be well worth it and said that what we were about to see would be mind blowing.

Soon thereafter, with headlights illuminating the store and pointing to the sky, we could see the first of 5 acrobats emerging from the windows high up. Suspended from thick ropes and dressed in red second skin ensembles that festively glowed in the dark, they were all members of the gravity defying Brooklyn based troupe, Streb,  led by award-winning choreographer Elizabeth Streb. Known for their extreme action, their routines always combine a mixture of slam dancing, human flight and wild action sport, and have been aptly described as  “part circus, part sporting event, part theatre, part student recital, and part scrupulous time motion energy investigation.” They slowly descended while performing a choreographed mind blowing routine to the beat of an energetic sound track and once on the ground, the curtains to the windows were finally revealed. It was pretty spectacular (what will they do next?)

 No matter how much of a risky high ‘wire’ act retail is, nothing could top Steb’s hijinks. Speaking of which, it IS all about retail and shopping, after all. And this year, in addition to the window revealing ceremony, Bergdorf Goodman and New Yorkers for Children (NYFC), hosted a ‘spirited’ (champagne was flowing) and jam packed charity shopping event from 7 – 11, with 10 percent of the proceeds going to the non-profit organization that aides the child welfare community and children in foster care. Among the designers who were on hand: George Malkemus of Manolo Blahnik, Carly Cushnie & Michelle Ochs of Cushnie & Ochs, Eddie Borgo, Wes Gordon, Jana Matheson of Judith Leiber, Michelle Smith of Milly.

-Marilyn Kirschner

Fashion Law Institute Panel on Child Performer Law

James Scully, Ali Grace Marquart, Husseina Sulaimanee, Sara Ziff, Doreen Small,
Pico Ben-Amotz, Richard Runes, Ava Smith, Roman Young
(All photos Laurel Marcus)

A new law has just been passed in New York State which could spell major changes for the modeling industry.  As of today, November 20, 2013, fashion models under the age of 18 will be protected by the child performer law which previously applied only to child actors in film, television or live theater.  These laws govern a child's working hours, schooling requirements and trust account payments as well as the need for their employer to provide a responsible person as guardian of the child if there is no parental figure available.  There is a tremendous amount of paperwork involved and most designers can't be bothered.  Fines will be imposed and the offending designer's runway show may even be shut down if the ruling is overlooked in accordance with spot checks from the Department of Labor.  Fashion week will be a true test of the law and the panel agreed that many modeling agencies will no longer be bringing underage models into the country. Clients will most likely want to find someone who is at least 18.

Cocktails before the panel discussion

I attended an event, appropriately enough at The Players Club, last night presented by The Fashion Law Institute. Professor Susan Scafidi, founder & Academic Director of the Institute introduced the evening's program. A panel of speakers well versed on the subject discussed the new law before a crowd of primarily Fordham Law students which is where the Fashion Law Institute resides.  The moderators were Ali Grace Marquart, formerly of in-house counsel to Wilhelmina Models and Doreen Small, formerly of in-house counsel to Ford Models who have joined forces in their own firm Marquart & Small as well as both being professors of Fashion Modeling Law at the university.  On the panel were Sara Ziff, founder and director of the Model Alliance (a model herself), Richard Runes, government affairs attorney, Huseina Sulaimanee, counsel for SAG-AFTRA, James Scully, casting agent, Pico Ben-Amotz, general counsel, New York State Department of Labor, Ava Smith, a Wilhelmina model and Roman Young, director of Woman/Image division at Wilhelmina.  Each of the speakers had something different to add due to their unique perspectives but all of them were feeling celebratory that the law was finally being mandated.

A lively discussion

"I'm not gonna tell you exactly how the sausage gets made" said Runes referring to how Senators Jeff Kline and Diane Savino introduced the bill to the senate and the assembly and it was passed three days later by the senate.  He also mentioned that there were adversaries to this legislation and therefore it was done with no publicity.  Change had been in the works since 2003 most likely brought on by the need to do something about modeling agencies hiring  girls of 14 or 15. Casting Agent Scully cited the influx of child models from Eastern Europe and Brazil.  Before that he said the norm was Cindy Crawford, in her 20's, and a buxom size 8.  As the pendulum swung and modeling agencies sought thinner bodies, the average age of a model went toward the pre-pubescent.  Models under 18 will still get work in Milan, Paris and Asia but not in New York which is where they really need to be to be successful.  Even California has strict laws governing underage models.

Roman Young, the Wilhemina Model scout summed it up when he said "I do not want to fly around the world and talk to teenagers all day."  Scully added that he had once tried to book 3 models for a shoot in Paris and was told they couldn't be reached as they were visiting Disneyland with their parents.  He pointed out the incongruity of them being at Disneyland today and in Chanel tomorrow.  He added that perhaps the modeling agencies will only bring over 1 or 2 special girls that they will fill out the necessary paperwork for, rather than 20." "There were (unchaperoned) children running all over Manhattan) he remarked. Lastly the panel agreed that there may still be a need to make some "tweaks" or impose a variance once Fashion Week rolls around again in February. 

We welcome our newest contributor Laurel Marcus: My formal education is in Journalism (B.S. from Boston University) and my past employment has included stints as a copywriter/feature writer for a public relations firm, an interior design director for the hospitality industry as well as a part-time stylist/personal shopper for anyone who has asked me nicely or seemed desperate enough.  I have appeared in Bill Cunningham's NYTimes column "On the Street" (I told everyone I was a "streetwalker") and my personal style is "in-your-face."

Monday, November 18, 2013

In the Market Report: A "Golden" Opportunity

Isaac Mizrahi’s gold metallic hooded anorak is made of cotton, polyester, and nylon, $169.50,

Metallics (gold, silver, pewter, bronze), like leopard prints, tweeds, plaids, etc., are perennial favorites, beloved by designers and customers alike. And with good reason. They are timeless, season less, and versatile, and can be considered as a neutral. And just a touch goes a long way in spicing up a look and adding interest. Of course, the use of metallics is hardly new and quite frankly, it seems regardless of the season (be it fall/ winter or spring/ summer), they always manage to show up in one form or another.  It was hard not to notice their appearance for spring 2014, whether used sparingly as an accent (as at Dries Van Noten), or in almost head to toe incarnations (at Lanvin and Rochas).

Dries Van Noten gold metallic vest spring summer 2014

While I love silver, I consider myself to be more of a gold person (could it be that once one begins to notice those silver hairs, the idea of gold is more appealing? LOL). In addition to sculptural, bold gold jewelry, I am always on the lookout for a great gold jacket or coat, which I consider to be an investment. They look great in the spring or summer paired with white, tan, or khaki; in the winter, they rev up black like nothing else. And regardless of the vagaries of the ins and outs of fashion, there’s nothing like a flash of gold in the form of a great piece of outerwear; particularly if it’s sleek and simple, or sporty and utilitarian, so that it can be worn day and evening. What is more festive and special? The look is particularly timely since we are in the holiday season. And really, on a dark, dreary winter day when everyone else is in black, what could be better than stepping out in a gold parka? "Oh! what fun”!

Of course, I always love vintage, which is one of a kind, and among the pieces currently available, are an Yves Saint Laurent Rive Gauche gilded gold calfskin coat, $1550, http://www.1stdibs.com/fashion/clothing/jackets, and a 1960’s old stock gold leather double breasted belted trench, http://www.rubylane.com/, $195.

As for pieces that are readily available at retail or online:

Kate Spade’s sleek Tayla coat is made of gold cotton, viscose, and faux leather, and features 4 patch pockets, $748, www.katespade.com.

DKNY’s sporty gold metallic leather zip front bomber jacket has black rib knit trim, $895, www.dkny.com.

Joe Fresh’s down filled gold nylon puffer jacket has a detachable hood, $149, www.joefresh.com.

-Marilyn Kirschner

Friday, November 15, 2013

The Metropolitan Museum's Apollo Circle Tenth Anniversary Gala

Temple of Dendur
(All photos Lieba Nesis)
-click images for larger views-

The Metropolitan Museum of Art's Apollo Circle for young patrons held its tenth anniversary gala benefit from nine to twelve in the Temple of Dendur wing at the Museum.  The theme this year was "Between the Seams" and is inspired by the exhibition "Interwoven Globe: The Worldwide Textile Trade 1500-1800 " on view at the Met through January 5, 2014.  The Apollo Circle, founded in 1997, is a membership group created for young donors to the Museum and this is the biggest and most visible event of the year. 

Princess Khaliya Aga Khan & Indira Cesarine

The evening was sponsored by Maiyet, the luxury fashion brand which seeks to promote prosperity and artisanal skills in areas that need it most.  Maiyet, a luxury label founded in 2011, makes ready-to-wear clothing, jewelry, handbags and shoes with an emphasis on masterful workmanship in their products.  The event which featured cocktails and DJ Brendan Fallis contained a crowd of over one thousand people ranging in ages from nineteen to fifty and including a number of princesses some Rockefellers and Hearsts, and more than a couple of debutantes, models and socialites.  Amanda Hearst, Ingrid Rockefeller, Zosia Mamet, and Princess Khaliya Aga Khan were just a small segment of the luminaries at this happening: this was the "it" crowd of New York, Greenwich and Europe dressed in their best attire and ready to party.  The level of fashion was astounding with many of the guests wearing couture from top designers such as Zac Posen, Wes Gordon, Naeem Khan and Maiyet.

Wes Gordon in Tom Ford tuxedo

This event is a must on most of the influential twenty somethings social calendar including Wes Gordon, the famed 27 year old designer, who showed up in a Tom Ford tuxedo. He said this was an event he loves because of the "fun group of people, the fun crowd and all of the beauty."  He was also pleased that there were at least two women in the crowd who were wearing his designs.  He has dressed Gwyneth Paltrow and Kerry Washington and would like to dress Cate Blanchett because of her grace and talent.

Abigail Lorick & Bethanne Caples in Maiyet

Bethanne Caples, wearing Maiyet, and one of the head designers at the company said, "we are a brand started on textiles so we are huge supporters of sustaining craftsmanship around the world, and that is why this event was a perfect marriage for us to support this incredibly important exhibition." 

Caroline Calloway & Princess Maria Antonia of Sicily

She said alot of dresses, bags, shoes and jewelry were on loan to girls attending the event and that Maiyet was worn all over the world with their two biggest accounts in the United States being Barney's and Net-a-Porter.  Georgia Newman, assistant designer at Rag and Bone, commented on the fashion of the night as mostly being "very interesting but some of it too classic prom and too mechanical by taking a fancy dress and putting ruching on or silver and gold instead of making an exquisite classic dress with beautiful fabric and adding a thrill to it.  While our customer is older Rag and Bone remains a versatile and edgy brand of exquisite quality." Rag and Bone's upcoming collection is going to have a very nineties feel with dresses which are plain in the front with fullness in the back in varied colors such as burgundy and other unusual palettes.

Samantha Moray in Delpozo Catherine Smith in Zac Posen
& Rachel Seville in vintage

As the evening came to a close the guards had to usher the crowd out amidst all the dancing and revelry.  There was so much visual stimulation in the room ranging from the beautifully dressed guests to the majestic Temple of Dendur edifices it was hard to believe some tickets could be purchased for a mere three hundred dollars.  This evening is all about young up-and-comers gathering in a cultural landmark to celebrate life in New York City.  As I gathered my camera and headed out the door Princess Maria Antonia of Sicily was posing in her red dress with a group of red garlands around her head; a fitting end to a visually and culturally important event in a Museum whose walls are adorned by royalty.

- Lieba Nesis

Friday, November 08, 2013

Calvin Klein Spring 2014 Presentation

Out of the Blue

Calvin Klein White Label
Spring 2014 Presentation
(All Photos Marilyn Kirschner)
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Calvin Klein’s White Label held their Spring 2014 presentation yesterday morning. The setting, once again, was the sprawling loft like main floor at 205 West 39th Street. As is always the case, the clothes were shown installation style on models (men and women) with waiters offering refreshments and beverages.  It was quick, to the point, efficient, and highly civilized (I wish more designers would stage shows like this quite frankly).

Black viscose stretch drop needle stitched dress

In addition to the models wearing selected pieces, the entire collection and accessories (handbags, footwear, sunglasses, etc.) were displayed on racks and tables set up along one entire side of the wall so that editors could get up close and personal -- actually touch and feel the fabrics and materials. Among the highlights were the mid-heeled single sole suede or metallic bandage sandals for the gals and a mid grey leather summer dress shoe for the guys; handsome saffiano leather bags in a variety of shapes and sizes; silver and black spiral rings and bangles; transparent plastic sunglasses for him and her.

 Laser cut perforated pieces in black & off white

Because the overall theme for the season is athletic, graphic, modern, sexy, and ‘raw’, the use of metal fences as backdrops, and as a way to separate the fashion into a series of themes or stories, was especially effective. It also worked well with the urban and signature color palette (black, off white & gray) this time enlivened with touches of shades of blues, from pale to vivid. In addition to the surprise of high octane color (especially when used for the guys, as in the stretch cotton sky blue suit worn with layered t shirts), the news this season is the embrace of an all knit way of dressing -- exemplified by the engineered pleated knit skirt worn with a mesh link sweater in white, with black underpinnings, and the black viscose stretch mesh drop needle stitched dress which fits like a second skin.


I know you don’t think performance wear, perforations, track suits, tanks, and sweatshirts belong only in the locker room (sporty and athletic are the height of fashion these days). But, if you do, you might change your mind when you see the fresh, chic, and wearable interpretations here (laser perforated t shirts, dresses, and skirts in black and off white were standouts), as was the perfectly streamlined swimwear.

Matte white Lycra one shoulder swimsuit

You can’t improve upon the simplicity of the matte white lycra one shoulder suit. And of course, what would a Calvin Klein presentation be without a great looking group of All American jeans and denim jackets in a variety of washes and silhouettes, or underwear, for that matter? They were all on display as well.

- Marilyn Kirschner

Wednesday, November 06, 2013

Couture Council Cocktail Party

Jean & Martin Shafiroff
(All photos Lieba Nesis)
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The question often arises as to what is the true nature of glamour in our society which often emphasizes boho chic or the grunge movement. Jean Shafiroff held an event at her Park Avenue apartment Tuesday night for a book which attempts to tackle this difficult question. The evening was put together at the last moment by the couture council but about seventy people attended the cocktail party which lasted from six to nine.

Rod Keenan, Victor de Souza & Virginia Postrel

The crowd included Ike Ude, the famed Nigerian artist, Maggie Norris, the couture designer, Rod Keenan, Victor de Souza, and Liz Peek the chairman of the couture council board. The book, The Power of Glamour, written by Virginia Postrel explains the phenomenon of glamour as, "reflecting our inner lives and shaping our decisions both large and small. Glamour is a feeling of "if only" extending into our current lives in areas of technology, aviation, building and even military recruitment - glamour is a promise of escape and transformation. Audrey Hepburn, Angelina Jolie and Kerry Washington are paradigms of glamour and society looks to them for self realization."

Maggie Norris

While the exact definition of glamour might be elusive there were definitely some bedecked women at this cocktail party. Jean Shafiroff, the hostess, in a Carolina Herrera dress with a Gucci fur and Van Cleef jewels rightfully noted that, "glamour is intangible and enigmatic, you either have it or you don't." Ike Ude, a sartorial expert whose current art show was lauded by The New York Times stated, "the etymology of glamour even before Edwardian England was witchcraft, where one was burned at the stake for being glamorous. The world evolved and redeemed glamour to assume a positive role of seduction, mystery, opaqueness and revelation, where you reveal as much as you conceal." 

Play the video with Virginia Postrel discussing her book below:

Tom Gates, the travel editor and writer for Palm Beach Society Magazine, lamented the dearth of glamour in the Hollywood of today, while longing for the old days where true glamour icons existed such as Ava Gardner and Lana Turner. Rod Keenan, a men's milliner, said, "glamour is a woman in a sleek black sheath or a coiffed Daphne Guinness. As for glamorous men Tom Ford is the one - but maybe that is just because of all the eyeliner he wears."

Lucia Hwong Gordon in Zang Toi

At the conclusion of the evening the guests were reluctant to leave the elaborate setting. Maggie Norris, the designer, stated it "is all about style, timelessness, beauty and pleasing the eye. One must look at the great masters of every century to admire them and create our own glamour with an eclectic view of the world." Assessing the nature and mystery of glamour is not a pursuit that either Albert Einstein or Steve Jobs might have engaged in, and yet it is an important endeavor as it dominates much of our culture. The advent of the social technology revolution allows millions to decipher every sartorial move of the famous in our society; however, this extensive coverage has also removed the most important element of glamour-the curiosity as to where it emanated from.

- Lieba Nesis

More about the Couture Council:

Couture Council annual membership is $1,000 per individual or couple, or $350 for Young Associates (under the age of 35). Membership is tax deductible to the extent provided by law. Please make checks payable to the FIT Foundation. Mail checks to The Museum at FIT, attention: Couture Council, 227 West 27th Street, Director's Office, Room E304, New York, NY 10001-5992.

Members of the Couture Council receive invitations to at least five special events a year, including behind-the-scenes tours of the museum’s collection and exhibitions, opening receptions, and visits to the ateliers of fashion designers in New York. Couture Council members are also the first to receive notice of the annual Couture Council Artistry of Fashion Award luncheon.

Catherine Petree-Biron
Director of Sponsorship 
Jonathan Marder + Company 
D: 212.907.6484
M: 917.306.0865