Saturday, December 28, 2013

Fashion Cartoons: Pretty Funny Stuff!

"LOL" Laughing Out Loud

A parody on the Gehry designed Conde Nast Cafeteria right after it opened
Jim Hunt & cartoon circa 2000
(Click on mages for larger views)

What better way to end the year, and usher in the new one, than with levity, a wink, and a smile? Fashion may be serious big business, and it’s not always a laughing matter, but its innate artificiality; outrageous, almost indecent superficiality; AND the naturally exaggerated, oft times cartoonish qualities that have become signature trademarks of many of its biggest players (who have become caricatures of themselves), make it inherently funny, perfect fodder for parody, and the ultimate subject matter for cartoons.

Tina Brown telling her staff about launching Talk Magazine. 
Jim Hunt & circa 2000

The has been featuring cartoons since its inception, lampooning a number of well-known fashion industry leaders, celebrities, organizations and feature editors. (The cartoons were penned by Jim Hunt or Peter Paul Porges and inspired by Ernest Schmatolla, publisher of Some of our past subjects included Tina Brown, Anna Wintour, Fern Mallis, Cathy Horyn, Cher, and Donald Trump.

Mercedes Benz taking over as sponsor of 7th on Sixth shows
Jim Hunt & Lookonline circa 2002

Here are some other links to some of our favorite cartoons:   "Cathy Horyn Accepting Award",  2002 ; "The Blonde Stops Here", 1999; "How She Stopped Worrying and Loved the Bomb"; "Cher Accepting her CFDA Award", 1999; and "Loose Talk Sinks Ships". FYI, the most widely read cartoon, “Startups Are Not For Kids”, was the take on Tina Brown’s much talked about 1999 Talk Magazine launch. In fact, Tina liked it so much, her office called Ernest Schmatolla, asking him if she could buy the cartoon. He told them, “Tina can’t buy everything!”.LOL

Marisa Acocella’s "Fendi Bag Lady"

Of course, almost nobody captures the absurd frivolity of it all, quite like The New Yorker, whose clever cartoons are in my opinion, one of the best reasons to pick it up each month. Among Marisa Acocella’s fashion themed cartoons that have tickled my funny bone, and never fail to make me smile: her take on Occupy Wall Street, (the caption reads, “I’m starting my own movement: Occupy 57th Street” and there’s a sketch of two well dressed women traversing the famed luxury shopping mecca); “Who Isn’t Broke?” asks one dressed-to-the- nines woman to another, both of whom are toting ‘ginormous’ bulging shopping bags from Celine, Gucci, Bergdorf Goodman, Prada, etc.; and the hysterically outrageous “Fendi Bag Lady” depicting a chic shoeless Fendi fur and bag clad woman, standing in beggar’s pose, on what looks like a cut opened Fendi shopping bag. She is holding up a sign that reads, “Need matching shoes. Please help.”

I also love Mick Stevens’ “We’re From Manhattan” featuring two black clad angels first entering heaven, explaining their unusual choice of color to heaven’s gatekeeper. Another that always makes me smile, just because…(source and creator unknown), shows one female alligator talking to another, (‘she’ is carrying an alligator purse), and the caption reads, “Nice Bag!” “Thanks, it’s my ex-husband.”

The Fashion Cartoons Blog

Then there’s The Fashion Cartoons Blog ‘When They Were Kids….’, which reimagines what the big names in fashion (designers, editors, photographers, etc.) would have been like as little kids. Its creator only goes by the name Fashion Cartoonist and prefers to remain anonymous “because it’s more fun that way” he/she told Derek Blasberg, a Vogue and V Magazine contributor who did a little profile on his blog this past June ( I contacted the mystery illustrator, and he/she agreed to answer some questions, but alas, he/she has been traveling and not readily accessible, and was unable to get back to me in time.

The Fashion Cartoons Blog

What I do know that that he/she “purposely distorts and exaggerates” the imagined behaviors, (“but in some cases I have a feeling I may not be too far from the truth”); has a “day job” in the fashion industry (hence the constant inspiration); always carries around a sketching pad to quickly jot down ideas; and is obviously plugged in, knowledgeable, and has a fashion insider’s perspective. And while it started out as a hobby, it’s been garnering much attention, “who knows where it will lead?” is what he/she has said. A possible book? (He/she observed that a book signing might be the perfect reason to finally come out of ‘hiding’). Among his/her subjects: Anna (who is always depicted wearing her sunglasses), Andre, Miuccia, Hamish, Kate, Nicolas, Marc, Ralph, Jil, Linda, Giorgio, John, Roberto, Tavi (the very young blogger is not far from the cradle herself LOL), all of whom are identified by their first names (you know you’ve made it in fashion, when you are instantly recognizable by your first name, and a quick sketch).

The Fashion Cartoons Blog

The blog is constantly updated to make it current and in December, he/she added a cartoon showing little Bruce Weber sitting on Santa’s lap (both are wearing identical printed cotton bandanas on their heads). A recent cartoon shows tiny Rei Kawakubo, with a reference to her new Dover Street Market. But perhaps the most outrageously loony one as of late, depicts a polka dot clad little George Clooney with polka dot obsessed Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama (it’s an hysterical riff on the sublimely ridiculous December cover of W). And because the circus that is fashion week (or month) is soon upon us, the cartoon of street photographers Tommy (Ton), Garance (Dore), and Scott (Schuman) with Suzy Menkes (she is telling them: “I don’t wanna play with peacocks”), struck me as especially funny and timely.


- Marilyn Kirschner

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Film Review: "American Hustle" - A Fashion Perspective

Jennifer Lawrence, Amy Adams & Bradley Cooper

That dubious decade of dynamite design known as the 1970's, rears its distinctive head in David O. Russells new film "American Hustle."  Whether you love it or hate it, it can be fun to revisit the era when polyester ruled, hair loomed large and taste was reserved only for the mouth.  Movies such as "Goodfellas", "Casino" and "Blow"  largely feature the same time period and demonstrate a similar  over-the-top aesthetic.  The movie's plot based loosely on Abscam is almost a "Mc-Guffin" (see Alfred Hitchcock's "North by Northwest") meaning it is just a ploy to tell a story about the characters and their interactions.  The takeaway of the movie, at least for me,  was basically a tale of re-invention:  who is real and who can you trust?  I am focusing only on the fashion storyline for the purposes of this review.

Amy Adams as Sydney Prosser aka Lady Edith Greensley  never met a plunging neckline she didn't like.  These are not just any garden variety deep v-necks but rather call to mind J-Lo's iconic, oft ridiculed and satired green Versace Grammy's dress when she was an item with P. Diddy.  Adams's character wears these for everyday apparel and Adams herself has denied that double-stick tape was employed,  instead attributing the lack of a nip-slip to "good posture."  Ummm, okayyy...even if she was maneuvering as if she had a book on her head during the duration of the movie I don't think "the girls" would have gotten the memo. Her best look (aside from the macrame bikini at the beginning), is the fur coat she gets from "the vault" (things people brought in and never picked up) of Irving's dry cleaning shop and a floppy hat. Her shimmery wrap "disco dress" custom made of sparkly fabric, while eye-catching, was unbelievably scratchy, she revealed in an interview. I noticed that her character never wore a pair of pants even though bell-bottoms were a '70s era mainstay.  She is all about legs and boobs as her  Lady Edith is the quintessential con woman who dresses to distract and confuse her victims and gains power from doing so.

Amy Adams & Christian Bale

Conversely, Jennifer Lawrence (as Rosalyn Rosenfeld, Irving's wife) wears the pants, if not in her relationship with her husband, then at least to dinner in the form of a leopard chiffon jumpsuit.  Her clothing is either loose and tent-like at home or at least one-size too small in the form of a too tight white Qiana-like gown (I can't believe I'm typing the word Qiana on a fashion website)!  Michael Wilkinson, costume designer for the film, has said that he wanted something to be "slightly off" with Jennifer's dress and have that quality where you can't look away because you expect her to spill out of it at any moment.  Actually, as I recall, the '70s polyester staple was advertised like mad in all the women's magazines at the time as a "wonder fabric."Christian Bale, con-artist Irving Rosenfeld, who lost 60 lbs for another David O. Russell film "The Fighter" and then went back to his normal weight, gained 40 lbs for this role.  He accessorizes his paunch with three-piece velvet suits, spread collar shirts and ascots and mixes polka dots, stripes and paisleys with aplomb.  He owns dry cleaning stores in Manhattan and the Bronx and there are two scenes where he stands amidst the rotating clothing racks just taking in the headiness of the spinning scenery, once alone and once with Sydney making it a near sexual experience.

Jennifer Lawrence & Amy Adams

Bradley Cooper, the FBI man, starts out in uninspired polyester suits and later buys a leather jacket.  In the scene where he and Sydney go dancing at Studio 54, he is decked out in full disco regalia complete with gold chains and white scarf. Jeremy Renner, the politico, wears bright blue and other flashy colored suits almost like a comic book character and outrageously flamboyant (read tacky) ties.  "It's his own aspirational  dressing--with less resources," is how costume designer Wilkinson explains it.If it's true that the fifth character in "Sex and the City" is Manhattan then I'd have to say the sixth character in "American Hustle" is the hair.  Forget Tony Manero's (John Travolta) in "Saturday Night Fever" hair scene, this puts that one to shame for sheer intricacy.   You remember it, as he's preparing to go out dancing but must get through dinner with the family first, there's a sequence where he's blow drying, brushing and styling each strand into perfection only to have his mother strike him near the follicular area.  He screams in pain but it's not the pain of a head injury...more like the pain of having spent an hour coiffing himself only to have his crowning glory mussed up.  There is actually a parallel scene with Christian Bale's character Irving Rosenfeld and his elaborately ridiculous combover which consequently is dismantled by a blow.  Bradley Cooper's character FBI agent Richie DeMasso sports a curly perm which he does himself as we witness him in curlers. 

We also get to see Amy Adams in curlers but surprisingly the only one who retains her bulletproof 'do is Jennifer Lawrence's Rosalyn Rosenfeld, especially since she's the Long Island housewife lounging around in muu-muus and setting fire to the kitchen.  Jeremy Renner's character NJ mayor Carmine Polito sports a sky-high pompadour not to be outdone by the others.While I was slightly let-down (my hopes were as high as the hair) by this movie  and feel that the trailer promised more fun than the movie delivered, if you enjoy the extremes of the decade of questionable couture otherwise known as the 1970's, you may enjoy this movie for the fashion quotient alone.

  - Laurel Marcus

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Dover Street Market Opening

Hoo-Rei! Kawakubo

The third floor
All Photos Marilyn Kirschner
(Click on images for larger views)

An early New Year’s gift to New York, came on Saturday with the long awaited opening of her third Dover Street Market (“CDG’S ultimate in cool multi brand store”), at 160 Lexington Avenue, And fittingly, (since everything about the revered designing icon, is nontraditional, surprising, and not by the books), the weather was downright balmy and spring like, if not record breaking for this time of year; all the more so when you consider it was the official first day of winter. By the way, the merchandise (ready-to-wear, active wear, accessories, candles, fragrance, notebooks, gift items, etc.) that fills the 7 floors (there are over 200 labels for him and her including Comme des Garcons, Prada, Junya Watanabe, Alexander Wang, Nina Ricci, Thom Browne, Rick Owens, Sacai, Saint Laurent, Sibling, Azzedine Alaia, Giambattista Valli, Christopher Kane, Jonathan Saunders, Jil Sander, APC, Moscot, Michael Costiff’s World Archive, Ann Demeulemeester, Jacquemus, Repossi, etc.) is culled from spring 2014 collections, so it could not have been more apropos that spring fever was in the air.

Glass elevator

The highly anticipated store’s opening has been talked and written about for months, and was front page in yesterday’s WWD; I especially liked their catchy cover lines, “Oh, Comme, All Ye Faithful”. Indeed, I was one of the many fashion faithful (others I spotted were publicist Nadine Johnson, dandy Patrick McDonald, and John Demsey, Estee Lauder’s Group President) who are apparently ready to have his/her socks knocked off vis-à-vis the retail landscape (or were at the very least, just curious). I noticed a line around the block prior to the 11 AM official opening, and I thought maybe I didn’t get the memo about the first 100 people getting a free Prada ensemble. But as it turns out,  it was only those with ‘vouchers’ for Nike and Supreme who had to actually wait in line to enter.

Once inside, the sales staff could not be more friendly and helpful (duh!), and if I have one criticism, it is that on some floors, where spaces where more divided, it was a bit like fashion gridlock, and felt a bit claustrophobic. There is an elevator that runs right through the entire building (it is see thru, all glass, and punctuated with black polka dots, a Kawakubo signature, and it harmoniously blends in with the space). But alas, it was inconveniently out of order on opening day (they were working to fix it). Not a big deal, I walked up the navigable stairs (some staircases are accessorized with works of art) and got off on each floor to take it all in. Among the things that stood out: Alaia’s black and ivory dresses and knitwear pieces; Moscot’s striking sunglasses; the amazing one of a kind ethnic jewelry, accessories, and robes from Michael Costiff’s World Archive (they range from about $290 - $5200 and represent pieces he’s collected from his 30 year world travels).

Simone Rocha's red dresses

There was Sibling’s handmade petal chiffon black coat and yellow dress; Simone Jacquemus’ minimal, architectural dresses and separates (priced from approximately $135 - $700) in white, pink, blue, made from stiff high tech cotton (the fabric is meant to be used for upholstery rather than clothing); Simone Rocha’s fabulous pink and red dresses (the red group is an exclusive, and one dress, $1200, is exquisite). And because I personally cannot get enough bags (especially if they are interestingly shaped, large, fold able, packable, lightweight). I walked away with two. One is elongated nylon top handle bag covered in black white polka dots ($165), and other is cotton canvas (also $165) covered in a chic vintage scarf (the adorable sales person pronounced it “very Versace on a boat”).

Simone Jacquemus collection

The 20,000 square foot former women’s school, which has been completely transformed according to Rei’s own vision, does not resemble any other retail outpost in Manhattan, (down to the energetic, eclectic presentation; the painstakingly curated selection; the almost primitive and childlike, naive colorful graphics, graffiti, and playful artwork); AND its unorthodox location, Murray Hill, which has been criticized as “sleepy” and “unglamorous”. It has even been labeled “Manhattan’s least fashionable neighborhood”, (“home to curry restaurants, cheap nail salons, and recent college graduates of the mainstream variety”). I can certainly think of many other neighborhoods that in my opinion, have that dubious distinction, and my gosh, you’d think this was a decrepit, dangerous, completely out of the way area where you are risking life and limb. I prefer to call it an interesting, nontraditional spot for such a temple of high fashion, and it makes the whole serendipitous factor even more so. And quite frankly, as I have said, I would rather ‘suffer’ the faint smell of curry in the air, than be bombarded with tourists and helmet haired Kelly bag carrying Upper East Side matrons, all of whom inhabit many of this town’s “obvious” high end retail streets and avenues (DSM is happily “far from the maddening crowd”).

Nobody seems to want to point out that it’s also just a few blocks away from the New York Design Center, 200 Lexington Avenue, AND the 69th street Regiment, (68 Lexington Avenue at 26th street), the sprawling space where Marc Jacobs shows his main collection, as well as Marc by Marc Jacobs. So now, if you find you have some time to kill before or after one of his shows, you have the perfect spot to shop, browse, or grab a bite to eat.

I took a quick look around the immediate neighborhood (30th and Lexington), and did find many nail salons; an acupuncturist (hey, you never know when the stress of fashion, or shopping, will put you in need of one); small hotels and motels; and a large selection of comfortable, attractive, mid-range cafes and restaurants with varied menus (not just Indian). Try finding that on 5th or Madison Avenues, where the selections seem to be lowly delis or serious 4 star restaurants and very little in between. Directly across the street, at 150 Lexington Avenue, there is the very interesting The Old Print Shop, established 1898, which specializes in fine prints, antique maps, and art books. And right next door, on the corner, is the historic First Moravian Episcopal Church (the Romanesque Revival building was built in 1845); which might come in handy, if, regardless of how much of a ‘religious experience’ your visit to DSM proves to be, you are still yearning for more.

- Marilyn Kirschner

Friday, December 20, 2013

Editorial: Should Pretty Take A Fashion Risk?

Cher at the 1988 Oscars

Looking pretty vs. taking a fashion risk...are these two objectives always at odds?  You see a lot of this "fashion schizophrenia", if you will, on the red carpet when a celebrity, or often their stylist, has to decide one way or the other how it should go.  Back in the day, it seemed often enough that shock value alone would determine direction.  These are often the memorable moments at awards shows (Celine in the backwards tuxedo, Cher twice appeared barely clothed in totally sheer fabric (1988) or headressed and entire mid-section on display (1986), Lara Flynn Boyle in a pink tutu, Bjork in that swan dress and of course, more recently Lady Gaga in just about everything, ahem, the meat dress) that are talked about not only days but years after.  These outfits mostly verge on the costume-y rather than the "avant-garde but still wearable" particularly those constructed of inedible matter (sorry Gaga) this is not a Project Runway unconventional materials challenge.

(BTW, great idea for a spin-off: Project Runway Extreme where the designers have to work under terrible conditions such as in a meat locker.  It would be absolutely priceless to see Tim Gunn in a parka over his suit judging meat apparel saying "Mmmm-ake it w-wwwork!" as his teeth are chattering.  And you just know that at least one of the designers is going to be a vegan!  They could go to the Gansevoort meat market instead of mood to select their "hides."  This show could give new meaning to the words: spoiler alert).

Dresses by David Koma

I recently found an article from the LA Times that was written nearly two years ago by Booth Moore, the LA Times Fashion Critic addressing exactly some of the questions that I had been pondering.  In her article "Red Carpet Fashion Statements"   she makes some interesting points and a few comments that are very funny in retrospect.  I initially stumbled upon this article while researching two recent fashion house helming changes:  Nicola Formichetti's move to Diesel from Thierry Mugler and David Koma's move to replace him in the vacant house of Mugler.  I've always been in awe of Formichetti ever since he linked up as Gaga's stylist (the video for "Telephone" starring Lady Gaga and Beyonce still ranks as one of the all-time greatest fashion music videos, at least in my mind).  David Koma was also on my radar with some spectacular creations worn by Jennifer Lawrence and the model Karolina Kurkova among others.

Miley Cyrus 2013 Jingle Ball in Washington Concert
In the article, Moore mentions the fashion evolution of Miley Cyrus (remember this was two years ago!) in a risk-taking but "sleek and chic futuristic white dress" by the new designer David Koma, that she wore to the People's Choice Awards on January 11, 2012.  "The dress Cyrus chose for the People's Choice Awards speaks volumes about where she would like her career to go.  For the first time, she came across less as a hard-partying, trash-talking, peace-sign flashing teen and more as a sophisticated, well-dressed, refined young woman."  And she's correct, we did see a bit of couture friendly Miley for a while, perhaps up until her engagement to Liam Hemsworth ended.  It reminds me of the scene in "Miss Congeniality" when Sandra Bullock gives the perfect answer to her pageant question and just as Michael Caine, her pageant coach, is gloating ("My God, I did it") she follows it up with a rant about how she will hunt down anyone who is trying to hurt her new pageant friends/contestants, and kill them.  Caine as Victor Melling visibly crumbles and says "A brief shining moment, and then that mouth."  The mouth part could apply to Cyrus for obvious reasons, as well. LOL

Bjork in that swan dress

The article states "When it comes to the red carpet, it's easy to think that a beautiful dress is just that: a beautiful dress.  But the right dress can be a game changer when it comes to how a celebrity is perceived and the career opportunities that follow.  And the wrong dress can mean this year's fresh young thing is forgotten by the time the Oscars red carpet is rolled up."  Moore points to Rooney Mara appearing in the tough-and-sexy dresses of Nina Ricci and Roksanda Ilincic that reference her character Lisbeth Salander in "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" while Berenice Bejo of "The Artist" did not stand out in her shades of blue Gucci and Elie Saab gowns.  Likewise, that year Marion Cotillard stole the fashion spotlight wearing "one distinctive dress after another" so that even if you hadn't seen "La Vie en Rose" people were asking who is this woman?  Fashion Director of In Style and author of "100 Unforgettable Dresses" Hal Rubenstein concurs that there is often a missed opportunity and that some actresses never take that chance to make an impact.  "They are just looking for the pretty dress, not the right dress," he added. 

Rooney Mara In Lanvin

According to the article "the perfect match of celebrity personality and dress is the exception, not the norm" which lends itself to the sea of amalgamation and sameness.  Part of this has to do with the sheer number of gowns needed for so many red carpet events all basically coming from the same designers.  The best results are often from a dress that is custom designed for the celebrity with her personality, likes and dislikes in mind.  Barbara Tfank, a Los Angeles designer who has dressed Adele as well as Michelle Obama, cites her background as a costume designer as being important.  In referring to the Oscar dress that she designed with Prada for Uma Thurman when she was nominated for supporting actress in "Pulp Fiction" she asked the actress who she wanted to be that day and picked the icons of Glinda the Good Witch from "Wizard of Oz' meets Grace Kelly.  "She felt at the moment those were the right icons for her."  Moore adds that this approach was reminiscent of celebrity dressing in the Golden Age of Hollywood when costume designers such as Edith Head and Helen Rose sought to attire the actresses more or less in character to create consistency and to fit a slot or a type.

Perhaps it is easier to take a fashion risk when the stakes are not so high as in an everyday outfit rather than a red carpet moment.  Knowing that these images are out there in media land forever may be intimidating for someone who has any insecurities regarding style or doesn't want to look back and second guess "what was I thinking?" at a particular juncture in time.  Still, it should be theoretically possible to embrace the trends while being sexy, stylish and true to your own aesthetic all without resorting to the donning of food or fowl.
- Laurel Marcus

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

In the Market Report: "Horsing Around"

Jackie Kennedy in Seville 1966
(Click on images for larger views)

While I wouldn’t quite label myself an equestrienne (okay, okay…actually, I think the last time I was on a real horse, was when I was a little girl on a pony), I have nonetheless always been drawn to the formal correctness and innate elegance of classic riding clothes; the timeless appeal of which cannot be denied. Regardless of the vagaries that define ‘in’ and ‘out’, ready to wear and accessories based on the age old sport (perfectly tailored hacking jackets, crisp white shirts with stock ties, jodhpurs, handbags decorated with sturdy horse bit hardware, and tall riding boots) are always “comme il faut” and always look just right.

Just think of the enduring images of past thoroughbred fashion icons Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis and C.Z. Guest, on their beloved horses, clad in superbly cut tweeds and wearing various elements of a riding habit.  It’s a look that never gets old and is as perfect today as it was years back. And then there’s the ‘new guard’, perfectly exemplified by the beautiful 27 year old Monegasque noble, Princess Charlotte Casiraghi of Monaco. In 2012, the successful equestrian show jumper, was signed as the face of Forever Now, a campaign series that celebrates four of Gucci’s most iconic designs: the first three campaigns were in honor of the red and green stripe, the horse bit and the Flora print, and this latest one is a celebration of the Bamboo bag. (She is currently on maternity leave).

Vintage Marcus Brothers rattan wicker bag

Speaking of horses, most recently, I found myself inexplicably obsessed with a certain vintage 1960’s Marcus Brothers rattan wicker horse head purse after seeing images of it on www.pinterest. With mini bridle, brass nail heads, and lifelike green marble eyes, it proved rare and elusive but, yup! I eventually found one. (Actually, I should say “giddy yup” I found one!) And when I realized that coincidentally, 2014 is the Year of the Horse in the Chinese calendar, I surmised that I was prematurely on to something.

The Year of the Horse starts from Jan. 31, 2014 (the Lunar New Year / Spring Festival of China) and lasts to Feb. 18, 2015. The spirit of the horse (which is perceived as energetic, bright, warm hearted, intelligent, and able) is “recognized to be the Chinese people's ethos – making unremitting efforts to improve themselves”. By the way, is it me, or does there seem to be an uncanny correlation between the Chinese New Year and fashion? It’s not lost on me that 2013 was the Year of the Snake on the Chinese calendar, and weren’t snake and python patterns literally all over the fashion runways this past year? And 2015 will be the Year of the Sheep (many devoted followers of fashion can certainly be likened to sheep, no?)

Vintage Hermes silk scarf blouse with horses on Ebay

In any event, if you too, want to celebrate, and pay tribute to the noble creature, there’s no better, more authentic place to look than Hermes. Say the word horse, and the word Hermes immediately pops into my mind, (though I suppose you could say the same thing about Chanel, after Karl Lagerfeld’s recent Texas hoedown- LOL). There’s no luxury goods company whose storied history is as inextricably linked to all things equestrian; or who has so perfectly captured the regal spirit of the horse, than Hermes. Their website,, has an entire “equestrian” category (items for him, her, and horse), and of course, many of their immediately identifiable signature heavy silk twill scarves, and scarf printed blouses and jackets, feature the horse and horse carriages. They are readily available in stores (Hermes boutiques worldwide, and in department stores like Bergdorf Goodman), as well as online.

Hermes horse printed scarf A Cheval Sur Mon Carre on Ebay

A quick search on www.etsy  turned up several vintage Hermes scarves with prominent horse prints, and on, I came across a large selection of both new and vintage offerings, including one far more unusual horse printed silk scarf blouse, and  cream wool knit cardigan whose front panels are covered with a multicolor horse silk print. By the way, if you yawn at the thought of a silk scarf, and have run out of ways to wear one, Hermes has added a Silk Knots App to their website, which instantly reminds you how to instantly create different looks.  And don’t forget to splash on a bit of Caleche, or their newest, Kelly Caleche (caleche translates to “a two-wheeled one-horse vehicle with a seat for the driver on the splashboard”).

Curtis Jere Brass Horse Head Sculpture

As for some notable non fashion horse related items, is offering a 1953 Lalique crystal molded glass Horse Head, $16,920; a Curtis Jere Brass Horse Head sculpture from the 70’s/80’s, $4200; a Horse and Rider weathervane, $13,600; and an 1800’s carved wooden rocking horse, $1600. And don’t forget the upcoming Winter Antiques Show (, an annual benefit for the East Side Settlement House. Celebrating its 60th year Diamond Jubilee, it is considered to be the “most prestigious antiques show in America” featuring the “best of the best” from antiquities through the 1960’s. Held at the historic Park Avenue Armory, it is THE perfect place to search for, and find, the finest collectibles in all categories. The show runs from January 24th – February 2, 2014. The Opening Night Party is on January 23rd, and the Young Collector’s Night, January 30th.

For press inquiries, contact: Josh Schoenfelder, Senior Account Executive Sharp Communications, Inc.;, 212 829 0002, ext. 136; Jessica Alter Account Supervisor:, 212 829 0002, ext. 104.

- Marilyn Kirschner

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

LTH Stands for "Love The Heck" Out of These...

Nowadays you can't even call yourself a New Yorker without a wardrobe of leather pants.  Whether they're leather jeans, leggings or the mixed media pants with leather fronts or patches, nearly every fashionable woman has dabbled in this ubiquitous staple of fall/winter.  I'm all for a great leather pant except for one huge, saggy problem.  I'm not a rapper and don't enjoy having my crotch down to my knees!   I understand that leather stretches and thought I was allowing for that by having the waists nipped in by the tailor after the first wearing.  It's after repeated wearings and repeated waistband tuggings that frustration has set in.

Several months ago I discovered the R13 leather chap/jeans combo pants and for a time, they made me happy.  Finally, I thought, leather pants that have solved the waistband issue with a jean top.  I had seen photos of Rihanna and Lindsay Lohan in them and wasn't sure that I could rock them considering that my chronological age encompasses both of theirs combined, but was pleasantly surprised when I tried them on and didn't need to constantly pull them up.  I also didn't think I would be arrested for impersonating a teenager but, truthfully, I'm not always the best judge of that.  The only drawback is that you are stuck with the denim on top look when you may not always want that, not to mention the exorbitant price ($850!) if you're not lucky enough to find them on a rare sale as I was. (Even on sale they were too pricey).

This past weekend I saw a photo of Ms. Lohan at Z100's Jingle Ball at Madison Square Garden where she was introducing Miley Cyrus's  performance.  I was fascinated at her apparel...Not the "Same Old Chic" oversized sequin top she wore;  her leg coverings set off a frisson of excitement in me like Elmer Fudd spying the "wabbit."  Whose are those and where can I get them??? became my mantra. supplied me with some but not all of the answer.  They were leather thigh-highs by Samantha Myer said the caption.  I did an internet search and came up with Ms. Myer's website but no info on where to buy. Incidentally, her website has several suggestions in the look book section on how to style the product as well as videos of Samantha's styling projects and my favorite quote:  "Less is not more."  Genius, I thought, this totally solves the droop-crotch problem and unlike the R13's you can add them over any pants, leggings, even with a dress or skirt.  Also, (another brilliant touch), you can wear ANY shoes since the thigh-high is attached with an elastic stirrup rather than being a thigh high boot!  Love that! 

In a phone interview with Samantha Myer, 23, I learned more.  Ms. Myer became a stylist while she was attending the University of Arizona only she didn't know it until later.  All the girls lined up for her to "rip their tights to make them look vintage" and she realized that she had a mission which did not include studying sociology but did include dropping out of school and returning to New York (she's from New Jersey).  She took a job at Intermix and soon became Alicia Key's stylist after styling a Budweiser commercial and getting noticed.  "Everything happened organically,"  said Samantha. "Suddenly I had a glimpse of what fashion meant, of what success meant, of what everything meant."  Samantha bonded with her next client Ms. Lohan because "we both had family issues, although mine weren't in the public eye."  The leather thigh-high came about as a "conceptual innovation" as Ms. Myer was styling herself and clients.  She wants nothing more than for everyone to "rock it and own it.  You should feel good in what you're wearing," she adds.  The concept was a huge validation for her as she struggled with her own demons and with others who didn't think she could be successful without attending school.  "This item filled a niche in my wardrobe.  It's a classic with a little edge."  I asked her if anyone thought these were too "Julia Roberts circa 'Pretty Woman' to which she responded that some had, but only those with "high fashion" sensibilities had understood the LTH's (as her website calls them) potential.  Of course, some may go too far..."If you wear these with a Herve Leger dress and super high heels, you're going to look like a prostitute," she concedes.  I personally like them styled with a wedge sneaker which gives them more of a hip-hop edge.

Leather leg warmer for Chanel 2011

How Lindsay got to rock them at Jingle Ball is another interesting story.  "Initially I did not want her to wear them," Samantha said.  "She is not a fashion icon and I didn't want them misinterpreted."  I am stunned to hear this as I expected that placing Lindsay in the product was a brilliant PR move that had been orchestrated months in advance.  Apparently, Samantha showed up at Lindsay's house wearing them herself and Lindsay begged her to let her don them.  "Well, it wouldn't be the first time I gave someone the necklace off my neck," she averred.  By the way, Samantha met Lindsay through a best friend's dad who was Lindsay's agent.  She then styled her for the Liz and Dick press tour and the rest is history. 

Samantha would like to see Rihanna and possibly Miley Cyrus (although her mother is unsure about Miley) wear the thigh-highs as well as the supermodels.  Her demographic is anyone under 60 (whew, I still make it) and they're for the customer who "wears what they want to wear."

"This whole experience has been crazy but humbling.  I originally wanted to name the product line Paradox as a reference to the two opposites.  There's something holding me back and something pushing me forward," she acknowledged.  From design inception to actually having a marketable product took about a year according to Samantha.  "I couldn't even talk about them until they were patented for fear someone would steal the idea" she adds. The LTH's landed at select Intermix stores in New York and LA on Monday in very limited supply. The next order is for 300 which is good to know as I predict a quick sellout. They are 100% stretch lambskin with combed elastic at the top, retail for $485 a pair and although they come in XS - L, Intermix is only stocking them in XS and S which refers more to the length than the width. "They look great with a pump," Samantha advises. She is planning other types of LTH's in the future so look out for suede, perforated leather and fringe styles, to name a few.  Personally, I love that someone so young and involved with the Hollywood crowd, is so grounded yet so creative and was able to realize her dream to launch an interesting product.

- Laurel Marcus

Book Review: "Vintage Fashion and Couture: From Poiret to McQueen"

The holidays are here and if you are still searching for the ideal gift for the fashionista in your life, you need look no further.  "Vintage Fashion and Couture: From Poiret to McQueen" is a lavishly illustrated decade-by-decade history of couture from the 1900’s to the present.  The author, Kerry Taylor, started as an auctioneer at Sotheby’s when she was just 21 and now runs her own auction house specializing in textiles and costumes.  She shares the knowledge and history of couture that she has gained in her career, coupled with a comparative sense of the values of the various pieces featured.  Taylor even gives a relative rating of the value of the vintage items shown.  Her 224-page book has hundreds of photographs and illustrations, showing key styles from each decade from 1900 on, as worn by fashion icons of the time. 

Camille Clifford

The book begins with the early twentieth century and a photo of Camille Clifford, the original “Gibson Girl”, seated in a full skirted, floor length dress demonstrating the ideal of feminine beauty in 1905: an hourglass figure with a “towering coiffure.”  The limited number of photos of the ankle-length styles of the early 1900’s gives way to the roaring twenties, with the trends of rising hemlines, exotic influences from China and Egypt, and the success of Coco Chanel.  Taylor points out that few of the silks of Chanel survived, making them more desirable but obviously more expensive.

Joan Crawford

The 1940’s are characterized as austere and innovative.  The war forces people to make do with what resources were available, recycling draperies as dresses, and raiding attics for old fabrics that could be used as raw material for new fashions. Taylor laments the loss of “many beautiful 18th century dresses” reused for new styles.  Hollywood glamour appears, with photos of stars promoting films, including Rita Hayworth in a scarlet dress with shoulder pads from You’ll Never Get Rich, Joan Crawford in a an evening ensemble with “exaggerated padded shoulders” from Humoresque, and Lauren Bacall with a bare midriff from To Have and Have Not.  The 40’s end with Christian Dior, termed the savior of French Haute Couture, with tips on collecting vintage Dior and the look and appearance of details such as labels, to help determine when they were created.

Lauren Bacall

Highlights from “The Luxurious Fifties” include Yves Saint Laurent and his first collection for Dior.  Taylor continues her history of couture, with market reports for collectors of vintage, covering the revolutionary sixties, radical seventies, and eclectic eighties. It’s an ambitious approach, with many trends to mention.  Taylor makes it work by focusing on select designers of importance, along with photos of fashion trendsetters such as Twiggy, Jackie Kennedy, David Bowie, and Princess Diana. 

This coffee table book ends with a how-to guide to vintage collecting.  Taylor advises only buying pieces that you love, and gives tips on how the vintage market works.  Her knowledge of the auction market is supplemented by her love of the subject.  One of her best tips: don’t stand near fires or hot lights wearing vintage sequin gowns - they will melt!

- Rhonda Erb

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Botanical Gardens Winter Wonderland Ball

Some Enchanted Evening

The Venue
(Click on images for larger views)
All photos unless otherwise noted Marilyn Kirschner

While I do admit to having an unlucky mishap on the afternoon of Friday the 13th, (I was on the computer and had forgotten that I had begun to fill up my bathtub, resulting in a mini flood in the apartment), there was nothing at all unlucky about the later part of my day. In fact, I consider myself to be among those lucky enough to have partaken in what is hands down, one of THE highlights of New York’s holiday social season: The New York Botanical Garden’s Winter Wonderland Ball.

Lookonline's Marilyn Kirschner (right)
 wearing Joanna Mastroianni cape & Tibi skirt 
& our reporter Laurel Marcus inTosca couture

With a mission of “public education, scientific research, and stewardship of our landmark site”, this event raises funds for the Botanical Garden’s “renowned Children’s Education program serving thousands of children in the tri-state region, especially the under served children in the Bronx.” ( With 450 in attendance, they raised almost $250,000 last night, according to Britt Hefelfinger, the Garden’s Special Events Coordinator. As always, the naturally glorious, magical, and festive Botanical Gardens were made even more so (if that’s even possible); transformed as they were for the spectacular evening that included cocktails, dinner, and dancing. FYI, in my opinion, one of the big treats was getting to view the mind-blowingly creative and fabulous 22nd annual Holiday Train Show, a display of magnificent models trains that wind their way through a “sprawling landscape featuring replicas of iconic new York landmarks” while enjoying cocktails in the Enid A. Haupt Conservatory.

Vanessa Grout, Melanie Lazenby, Elizabeth Kurpis

Honorary Chairs for the event were Sloan Barnett, Whitney Fairchild, Pauline Joerger, Nathalie Kaplan, and Molly Sims, and the long list of chairs included such as Alina Cho, Christina Cuomo, Alexandra Lind Rose, Gillian Hearst Simmons, Alexandra Lebenthal, and Linda Fargo. While this may not be a ‘fashion’ event per se, there has always been an undeniably high fashion quotient associated with it, as illustrated by its sponsors. Escada and Chanel have been past sponsors and this year, they were Bergdorf Goodman, (is there any store whose holiday windows better conjure up images of a ‘Winter Wonderland’?), Glamour, and Perrin Paris 1893.The invited guests, were bedecked in their holiday finery (furs and especially feathers were flying), and most had obviously taken great pains to factor in the evening’s dress code: Winter White and Black, Black Tie. (FYI, Linda Fargo’s absence was noticeable. There is almost nobody who loves a “good theme” as much as Linda and I always look to see how she has interpreted the dress code for a high profile soiree. There obviously must have been a good reason why she was not there).

Sally and Michel Perrin

Unsurprisingly, those who stood out for me, were creative in the way they used the different combinations of the two. Among the guests who caught my eye, were unsurprisingly, all three members of the chic Perrin family. Sally was in a winter white wool tuxedo jacket and a skirt that featured an asymmetrical hem (it was custom made by Tom Ford’s tailor, Mario of Beverly Hills), which she accessorized with a leopard printed calfskin clutch; one of her artistically gloved clutches from the Perrin collection,

Chloe Perrin

I also noticed several other attendees last night carrying Perrin’s sculptural, eye catching bags. (With boutiques in the Carlyle Hotel on Madison Avenue, Beverly Hills, and Paris, the storied label is focusing on bags, purses, clutches, satchels, totes, gloves, and sunglasses). Sally’s fashion plate daughter Chloe was in a white Rick Owens long asymmetrically cut dress which she offset with black opaque tights, long black fingerless gloves, and a small structured black Perrin bag. Michel cut a dashing figure in a black suit and white shirt, accentuated with a black fur scarf.

Eliza Reed Bolen

I loved the simplicity of Kat Porter’s black Chanel bi level dress, simply accessorized with classic cap toe pumps, massive pearls around her neck, and fingerless black leather gloves. And I loved that Melinda Gilchrist wore Marc Jacobs’ mod and graphic black and white sequined striped top and long sequined black and white hounds tooth skirt from spring 2013 (so ‘un- ballgown-y’). The designer Alvin Valley, threw caution to the wind and instead of black tie, placed a decidedly ethnic, black and white patterned shawl finished with lavish black fringe trim, over his jacket. Designer Kim Hicks created her dress, (which had an icy silver gray strapless top and a winter white skirt made of organza ‘petals’ that were cut to resemble feathers), as well as

Kim Hicks and Dr. Susan Krysiewicz

Dr. Susan Krysiewicz’s black feather creation; Eliza Reed Bolen was in a long black and white abstract floral full skirted dress by stepdad Oscar de la Renta (she wisely warded off the winter chill with an off white cabled fur trimmed and bejeweled scarf tied around her neck); Melanie Lazenby arrived wearing Tom Ford’s dramatic white one shouldered column with a long cape over her shoulders (Gwyneth Paltrow wore the same ensemble to the Oscars several years ago); Vanessa Grout wore a short full white Reem Acra dress with a fetching bare back, and threw a fluffy white fox stole around her shoulders.

Chiu-Ti Jansen

Chiu-Ti Jansen opted for Joanne Fleming’s winter white ostrich bolero over a pale silver Jenny Packham gown. She told me she is on her way to celebrate the holidays in Paris and Spain and will arrive in China in time to celebrate the Chinese New Year; this year it’s the Year of the Horse (it sounds very Hermes). Speaking of exotic destinations, Alexandra Lebenthal, looking beautiful in a long black gown accessorized with fabulous vintage Larry Vrba earrings, told me she and her family will be celebrating the holidays in Santo Domingo where they have rented a house; Yaz and Valentin Hernandez (she was a vision in white) will be in Costa Rica.

- Marilyn Kirschner