Thursday, February 27, 2014

"Would You Like A Side of Fries With That Moschino?"

Katy Perry, Jeremy Scott, Anna Dello Russo

If Jeremy Scott were Franco Moschino's son he could not have been a better design disciple.  Scott, a former intern, took over as chief designer just last October and debuted his first collection at Milan Fashion Week to both cheers and jeers. Only a week old, it is already well recognized for its, shall we say, less than high-brow influences of McDonald's, Spongebob, Budweiser, Hershey's, popcorn, jujubes and other brands" one must normally go to a bowling alley, ("Arthur" reference) to find."

Moschino finale

This fast food allusion has become "Fast Fashion" as the looks from the Runway Capsule Collection (or what I'm calling "McSchino's") are not only already gracing magazine covers (Rita Oro in Hong Kong magazine "Ketchup") but are also available for sale on and will be available at Opening Ceremony and on their website this week. has a handbag giveaway of a "McChanel" bag featured online (retail price $1,265) and Anna Dello Russo was photographed "hand to toe" in the "Moschi D's" look (she took a front-row selfie with the french fry iPhone case( $85) however her head was encased in a feathered headdress, possibly from one of Scott's eponymous collections.(Oddly enough, I recently saw a guy wearing a pair of Jeremy Scott's winged tennies that he did for Adidas, which I took photos of at the Gnossem event).

Golden Arches meets Chanel

"For me, one of the key elements of Moschino is humor," Scott has said. "It's one of the few houses that has humour and it's the same thing for me.  Another one of the bonding elements is their written messages that express thought and twist ideas. We share an obsession with poking fun at fashion." This enjoyment of word play and whimsy is abundantly clear upon first view of the entire collection. It's Target's Halloween costume aisle meets Andy Warhol by way of Project Runway's unconventional challenge with a wave from Coco Chanel and vintage Moschino all rolled into one. Clearly the" hungry for the next big thing Hollywood Hip" that its intended for have an appetite "gobbling it up" faster than you can order a Big Mac. That includes Miley, RiRi, Pixie Geldof, Nicky Hilton, and Katy Perry (who supposedly held up the Milan runway show, arriving late and in an ill-fitting black and gold leather Moschino get-up).

Less literal Spongebob fur is wearable

Some of the pieces in the full collection are actually quite wearable including the opening look of the "Golden Arches" colored red and yellow "Chanel" suit and the cow print skirt suit or dress and jacket however the "happy meal" bag may be too much. Ditto the gold lettering on the back of the cow print jacket reading "Cash Cow" but these are, of course, the suggestions of "messages" that Scott was mentioning and something inherently "Moschino." It remains to be seen who, if anyone, of the general buying public will step out in these clothes but those who like to call attention to themselves with their attire will no doubt take more than a "drive-through" look at the Moschino line.

- Laurel Marcus

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Oscars 2014 Coverage: "The Swag"

The Everyone Wins at the Oscars Nominee Gift Bag

Click on image for larger view

When the Oscar hopefuls gather at Hollywood’s Dolby Theatre on March 2nd, all but a select few will find themselves eluded by the golden statuette.  The top nominees need not despair, however, since a gift bag worth in excess of $80,000 awaits them as a consolation prize.  For the past 15 years, Distinctive Assets (the company that produces the Everyone Wins at the Oscars Nominee Gift Bag) has consoled the losers in the categories of Best Actor and Actress, Best Supporting Actor and Actress and Best Director, with the lavish gifts in their post Oscar hours of need.  Lash Fary, the founder of Distinctive Assets, shared some insight into his role in Hollywood’s biggest night…
You are one of the pioneers of celebrity swag. Have you seen an evolution of sorts in this type of marketing over the years?
In the past 15 years, I have certainly seen a substantial increase in overall value of our gifts to talent . . . due in large part to the addition of high-value trips in recent years.  Though we have always struck a great balance of high-end products along with practical commodities that everyone, regardless of stardom, can use and appreciate. The biggest part of the evolution is how accepted celebrity placement is now . . . more so than any other time in history. Brands no longer consider whether they should align their products with Hollywood in some way but HOW and at what financial commitment.
How do you go about choosing what goes into the Oscar gift bag and how long does it take to pull the whole thing together?
Selection is based on (1) ability of brand to pay the promotional fee, (2) availability of category (as we offer category exclusivity on a first-to-sign basis) and (3) the very basic litmus test of whether or not the inclusion will positively impact the recipient’s life (or have the potential to do so). The price tag is NOT our focus but merely a by-product of doing our job. Yes, it is a year-round endeavor though the majority of bookings happen from Nov-January.

What is the most memorable item that has ever been in one of the bags? Can you identify a favorite or stand out item in this year’s bag?
I’m sure that every nominee who has ever received one of our bags has a different item that stands out to them, but for me I always look forward to tasting whatever delightful treat Chocolatines has put together for the nominees (they have participated for 5 years now). Their creations are always both beautiful and delicious, but I have to say this year’s wine-infused chocolates paired with savory complementary elements like bacon, blue cheese and olives is my personal favorite to date. Magical taste combos and exquisite packaging!  We always include fabulous trips, and this year is no exception . . . from Canada to Japan and Las Vegas to Hawaii we have them covered. The trip I’m most excited to take myself this year is from Rocky Mountaineer . . . it’s a luxury rail journey through the Canadian Rockies with Gold Leaf Service and stunning views from a glass-domed rail car.
How do the recipients receive the bags and do you have a favorite story that you can share about someone’s reaction to the gift bag? Has anyone ever refused the gift bag?
The bags are delivered by us the day after the Oscars. Whether it is to the star’s home, production company or agent varies depending on whether or not we have an existing relationship with them and have gifted them before. Because we have been in this biz for 15 years, we have direct relationships with lots of talent. The only person I can ever remember refusing a bag is Sandra Oh. And George Clooney always auctions his off to benefit a favorite charity. Some of the past recipients who have most zealously and appreciatively gone through their gift bags and called to redeem various gift certificates include Amy Adams, Hugh Jackman, Ron Howard, Helen Mirren, Diane Keaton and
Jennifer Lawrence.
How soon will you start to work on next year’s bag?
The day after this year’s Oscars!
Here is the full list of gifts for this year’s lucky losers:
Chocolatines Savory Wine Infused Chocolate   $80.00
Halo Pet Food Shelter Donation     $6,100.00
Rocky Mountaineer Rail Journey     $6,850.00
Max Martin Luxury Shoes     $750.00
Slow Watches       $290.00
Dosha Pops Herbal Tea Based Candy    $35.00/6 pack
Blossom Blends Tea      $49.95
Steamist Total Sense Home Spa System    $2,560.00
Narrative Clip Automatic Camera and App   $279.00
Hydroxycut Weight Loss Products    $38.96
Polar Loop Activity Tracker     $109.95
Jitseu Handbags       $279.00
Rouge Maple Gourmet Gift Package    $280.00
Huntley Drive Fitness Personal Training Sessions   $850.00
Celebrity Acupuncturist/Nutritionist Heather Lounsbury  $500.00
Slimware Dinnerware      $59.00
M3K Beauty Products      $100.00
Aviv 613 Vodka       $30.00
Jan Lewis Designs Accessories     $400.00
Le Petit Cirque       $575.00
Imanta Resorts Vacation     $3,300.00
Koloa Landing Resort      $2,000.00
Loaded: The Story of a Ghost     $49.95
Makeup Studio by Diane Capt Organic Products   $105.00
Simon’s Happy Pet Shampoo     $15.00   
Bee Free Honee Organic Apple Honey    $39.00
Betty Jane Homemade Candies     $69.75
Cannonball Wine Company     $60.00
Acure Body and Hair Care Products    $300.00
Cherry Knit & Co. Mittens     $158.00
The Green Garmento Garment and Tote Bags   $23.00
Mane ‘n Tail Hair Products     $95.35
Hisy Bluetooth Camera Shutter Remote    $24.99
Epic Pet Health Eletrolyte Therapy    $1,571.98
°Coolway Go Pro Hair Dryer     $120.00
Vetvik Luxury Leather Goods     $230.00
Mace Brand Pepper Guns     $120.00
Gizara Arts Gift Certificate     $5,000.00
Wrag Wrap Sustainable Gift Wrap    $15.00
Drainwig Drain Protector      $6.49
Krystal Klear Water Filtration System    $4,895.00
The O-Shot Rejuvenation Procedure    $2,700.00
Artas Robotic Hair Transplant System    $16,000.00
Walk Japan Tour      $15,000.00
Best Of Las Vegas Vacation Package    $9,000.00
- Rhonda Erb

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

An Oasis of Beauty - The Botanical Garden Dinner

All photos Lieba Nesis
(Click images for larger views)

The New York Botanical Garden held its annual Orchid Dinner at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel.  This is a premier social event with floral enthusiasts and social luminaries gathering to show their support for horticulture.  The dinner began at seven with a cocktail hour and scant hors d'oeuvres, where rare and precious orchids were for sale as well as the auctioning of various plants.  The Hearst Corporation, Veranda, and BNY Mellon were underwriters of the evening, and all the proceeds from the dinner, which raised six hundred thousand dollars this year, go toward developing the Garden's orchid research collection.  Orchids, which have more than thirty thousand naturally occurring species, are the largest family of flowering plants.  The garden itself has more than six thousand orchids in its permanent collection, but enough about this amazing flower, let's talk about the illustrious crowd and the elegant atmosphere.

Jean Shafiroff and Dawne Marie Grannum in Oscar de la Renta with Joanna Fisher

The group this year appeared more jovial and relaxed- perhaps attributable to the excitement in seeing flowers amidst the frigid temperatures.  Martha Stewart, Jean Shafiroff and Alexandra Lebenthal were just a few of the social glitterati present to show their support for the Garden; however, it was the tables and their designers that were the true stars of the evening. The Garden and Veranda assembled an acclaimed group of over twenty five designers from the world of fashion, architecture, horticulture and literature who donated a dramatic orchid centerpiece and table setting for the event.  The theme of this year's event was "Key West Contemporary," celebrating the symbiosis between lush gardens and vibrant architecture to recreate Key West's charm in the heart of New York City.

Dan Dahl design coordinator

This event is all about understated elegance and Dan Dahl, the coordinator of table designs for the past eleven years, reiterated this by stating, "this year is not quite as flashy as the other years and I am not sure if this is due to the poor state of the economy.  However, the details of the vases, linens and arrangements are more intricate and exquisite.  I don't know too many people that don't like orchids; they have a beautiful color and scent and they last a very long time."  He prepares for this night months in advance and enjoys the way it transports him to another time period.  Martha Stewart, who of course grows her own orchids and probably talks to her plants more than she was willing to converse with me, loves the lavishness of this species of flowers.

Martha Stewart and Marc Hachadourian

Marc Hachadourian, the Garden's orchid specialist for fourteen years, has been growing orchids since he was ten years old, and is fascinated by the diversity of this plant life.  Hachadourian, has traveled to South Africa, Australia and Colombia to view these flowers in the wild and his passion for them has informed his life. Shawn Henderson, a relative novice in floral arrangements but a renowned interior designer who has designed homes for Will Ferrell and Glenn Close, designed his modernist table with inspiration from a Paul Rudolph sketch and loved that the table design only took him a day whereas, home design can take years.

Alexandra Lebenthal

As the cocktail hour began to conclude I spotted Alexandra Lebenthal, in a beautiful white springlike Tahari dress with jeweled sleeves.  She acknowledged that she wears white in the winter and does not believe in dressing "season appropriate."  Lebenthal, who chairs many Conservancy events, said the botanical gardens, in addition to being aesthetically beautiful, has a utilitarian function because it has more plant specimens than any other institution in the world, which are used heavily in pharmaceutical research.

Table settings

While the group proceeded to the larger room adorned with magnificent tablecloths, flowers, and silverware, a small crowd began dancing.  Before leaving I encountered a woman named Joanna, in a pink vintage coat and diamond and pearl earrings.  When I inquired as to her love of flowers she responded, "as a heavy set woman with few fashion choices the paltry sum I spend on clothing allows me to indulge in horticulture and gardening."   The exuberance and solace people feel around flowers is unsurprising and highly contagious; arriving in my apartment I hurriedly unwrapped the flowers I received for my birthday -  the beauty of the roses ameliorated the misery that accompanies turning a year older.

-Lieba Nesis

Monday, February 24, 2014

Gnossem's US Launch: Asian Fashion Meets Italian Sports Cars

(Photos: Laurel Marcus)

Lisa Crosswhite, former model, brand strategist for Ogilvy and Mather,  and now founder of online fashion retailer, believes that being attired in  well-known luxury designer's wares can" take a little piece of your soul" meaning that you are not displaying your own individuality by the acquisition and donning of these items. It would almost appear that Ms. Crosswhite is biting the hand that feeds her with that statement as she was named to Louis Vuitton Singapore's"Top Ten Most Stylish Women of 2012" list as well as Harper's Bazaar Singapore Stylish Women 2013.  Ms. Crosswhite held a cocktail preview for's US debut featuring independent designers and artisans, on Saturday night in conjunction with Maserati of Manhattan in the luxury car's showroom (619 W. 54th St.) to an over- capacity crowd. Other sponsors included Zico coconut water and Besfren chocolates. The name "Gnossem" is a made-up name inspired by French classical composer Erik Satie's "Gnossienne" that Ms. Crosswhite used to enjoy playing on the piano. She always thought the composition was "really mysterious" and so she used the derivation, to represent uniqueness and innovation.

Lisa Crosswhite being interviewed showcases designers that you are probably not familiar with unless you heard of them "from a friend of a friend" or are an extensive traveler who likes to uncover 'secret' craftsmen in their native locales. Most of the labels she has discovered are from Asia (she is a native of Vancouver but lives in Singapore) and has traveled all over the continent to find and source the labels she represents. The website features everything from lingerie and swimwear, to custom- made evening gowns (made to measure), to sportswear, as well as footwear, jewelry and other accessories all curated by Lisa herself. The prices range greatly from label to label but most are at an "affordable range." Ms. Crosswhite stresses that she only represents craftsmen who are involved in every manner of the scope of work from designing, to sourcing materials, to manufacturing. Since the items are made in small quantities (she mentioned one designer in Singapore that she works with who only makes 12, including all sizes, of a particular dress) each piece is "rare, exclusive and has a story. One of the labels she represents, GEORGINE, recently gave a show during Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week at Lincoln Center.

At the event, the line formed outside for entrance beginning early in the evening and didn't wane for most of the night.  Inside the large showroom it became quite crowded in certain areas including the bar,  step and repeat press area and the coat check.  The guests were a mix of fashion industry types, Maserati enthusiasts and perhaps friends of the popular DJ (and fashion designer) Timo Weiland who was supplying the music. Live models were featured on pedestals displaying various fashions to be found on however there was no identification of which designer they were wearing--a card with the designer's name on it would have been a nice touch. The models changed at least twice while I was there. All the chocolates, featured in open boxes, were immediately scooped up leaving just the paper doilies, within the first half hour so I'm assuming this was not a particularly weight watching crowd. There were also some specialty dessert liqueurs which I did not personally sample, likewise the coconut water.

Lisa Crosswhite is intent on filling a niche in the retail market between mass produced clothing such as H&M or Zara, and the ultra luxury of a status brand name such as Gucci or Chanel. Her own style of dress which she describes as being less conventional is not the only type of clothing featured on Gnossem as she strives to maintain a variety of unique designs for just about any stylish woman.  It is certainly an interesting idea, but only time will tell if it is a viable one.

- Laurel Marcus

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Those Who Give A Tuck...

Emmanuelle Alt

With Spring's arrival on the not-too-distant horizon I thought it might be a good time to ask "What the tuck?"  Soon we will be shedding our many layers of winter clothing, bulky sweaters and all,  in favor of  button downs and loose fitting tops and T's which begs the question of what to do with the excess shirt-age.   Of course, there is the full tuck or no tuck,  but what about all those 50 shades of gray areas of tuckage:  the half-tuck, the faux tuck, the semi-tuck or the one-tuck?  When did it become so confusing to negotiate the intersection between your shirt and your pants?  I've been thinking about the myriad ways in which tucking happens or doesn't happen and my head is about to explode.   I will (hopefully) try to decipher these terms whilst I explain them to myself (if that makes any tucking sense at all).

J. Crew Half-tuck

It seems that J. Crew, Calvin Klein, David Beckham and Emmanuelle Alt have a lot to teach us about dealing with a shirt bottom.  The J. Crew catalogs have, for years, been major proponents of what is either known as the half-tuck or the semi-tuck (front in, back out) or mullet shirt.  Another variety of the half tuck, and one that I remember using back in the '80's when I worked briefly in what used to be known as display (now  visual merchandising) at a major department store, is to tuck one side of the front tail of the button down in and leave the other out.  I'm wondering now if there is any significance to which side is which as there reportedly used to be with one earring?  Regardless, it is a good way to feature a belt and to add shape at the waist without a full "stiff-looking" tuck-in.

David Beckham tuck

Another old-school trend (I believe it was from the '50s or before as both Jayne Mansfield and Marilyn Monroe were photographed in the midriff exposer) is to tie-up the front of the shirt tails; the prevailing method back in the day.  It is a look I still favor when confronting a long shirt however it is not without its styling issues.  Sometimes the placement of buttons does not allow for the tie-up to happen at the ideal spot (just meeting the top of the high-waisted pants).  Then I will constantly play out the definition of insanity (you know; how you keep doing the same thing over again, expecting a different outcome) throughout the course of my day, tying and re-tying and never quite getting it right.

Ashlee Simpson rocks the half-tuck

I recently heard the term "one-tuck" on a style show where one "fashion critic" referred to a loose top that perhaps should have been picked up on the side and stuffed (excuse me, I mean" placed "in the pants) in order to look neater under the cropped jacket.  Another of the fashion commentators disagreed that the tuck would ameliorate the fashion crime, arguing that the shirt was too big and baggy and should not have been worn at all, no tuckin' way!  It is actually amazing how much space this whole issue gets on online forums and blogs.  Unfortunately, there are no hard and fast rules of tucking, some can carry it off while others look like they rushed out of the restroom and forgot to finish tucking in their shirt.  As with any style you've got to "own it."  Just don't take it too personally if someone suggests that you(r) tuck (is) off.

-Laurel Marcus

Monday, February 17, 2014

What's in a Fashion Acronym?

Fashion Week Neophyte: FWN

In my recent post "Confessions of a Fashion Week Neophyte" I attempted to make FWN (Fashion Week Neophyte) happen by describing myself as a deer in the headlights at MBFW.  I'm not sure that it was clear (something got lost in editing) but I decided that this was a good opportunity to talk about the acronyms that exist in fashion and maybe some that don't, but should.

We're all familiar with the LBD and its spring/summer corollary the LWD.  One must be careful when sporting the LWD not to have VPL (visible panty line) and/or VBS (visible bra strap), although it's tricky as that trend seemed to have a moment there for a while.  I'm not sure what the status on VBS is right now but I own a device available just about anywhere now (CVS for example, another acronym), that attaches to the straps like a glorified plastic paper clip and totally takes care of that problem .

If you're a high boots wearer those boots are OTK but if you're dressed like a blogger at Fashion Week you could be OTT.  BTW, you could also be an AW (Attention Whore).   Check out my past article: LTH (leather thigh highs) speaking of attention getting trends.


There are fabrics such as CDC (no, not the Center for Disease Control, it's crepe de chine, obviously) and PDS (not sure if they use that for Peau de Soie as it's more often referred to as Duchess Satin these days).  There's also PU (polyurethane), PL (Polyethlylene) and PVC (Polyvinyl Chloride or plastic) which is used as a coating on several designer handbags including Burberry and Louis Vuitton.

Paris Hilton is OTT
Of course, there are plenty of abbreviated fashion organizations: CFDA, FGI, FIT, FFANY...the list is too long to mention but you get the idea.  In the interest of not only creativity but also secrecy, my daughter and I had created an acronym more about the sorry state of affairs or lack of fashion which we called the WU (sorry Jason).   In our parlance WU stood for Westchester Uniform and referred to my daughter's observation that everyone in her pre-college days in the 'burbs where we spent our weekends, tended to rock the sweatpants/college sweatshirt/Ugg boots or flip flops as footwear (depending on the season) combo to SAT prep.  She was the only one who would actually make the effort to wear "real" clothing such as skinny jeans and a sweater.  Even the mothers would show up in some variety of this look, less about Lululemon and more about "I just threw this on to get a quart of milk and make a PBJ but somehow ended up in it all day."

Vanessa Hudgens wears
the WU
What my daughter and I could never understand is that it takes the same effort to put on a pair of stylish jeans as it does to look like the walking equivalent of an unmade bed so why go with the latter?  I think it may have to do with the suburban car culture where you are "protected" in your vehicle from the rest of the world and shielded from having to present yourself apart from your metal status symbol.  If the FP (Fashion Police) try to ticket you, just use the BMW defense.

-Laurel Marcus

Sunday, February 16, 2014

The Week That Was

All That Glitters Is Gold

Son Jung Wan
(Photo: Isabelle Erb)

Son Jung Wan was inspired by expressionist Mark Rothko to convey shades of emotion through her Fall 2014 runway show “ Re-composition”.  Pops of gold permeated the collection right down to the models’ lipstick.

Carmen Marc Valvo

At Carmen Marc Valvo, the crossroads of Constantinople and the opulence of the Ottoman Empire were channeled through chain mail, breastplates, metallic fabrics and lace.  The resulting silhouettes were never over whelming and flowed with movement.

Night Glamour

Monique Lhuillier
(Photo: Isabelle Erb)

Monique Lhuillier’s evening looks juxtaposed Old World Parisian Couture with the dark side of romance, best suited for a woman who is bold and dramatic yet utterly feminine.

B Michael
(Photo: Isabelle Erb)

B Michael described his Autumn/Winter show as quintessentially American and his “deliberately glamorous” eveningwear was designed to “remind us of our appetite for luxury.”

Fabulous Fur

(Photo: Isabelle Erb)

Kati Stern’s exquisitely tailored graphite silk gown for Venexiana was shown with a NAFA graphite silver fox jacket.  To complete the look, the model’s hair was coiffed by stylist Philip Pelusi to be reminiscent of a 14th century coquette.


Adeam designer Hanako Maeda incorporated fur outerwear into her wearable daytime looks that were dominated by pink, black, gray and white in her debut runway show at Mercedes Benz Fashion Week.

Oversized Looks

(Photo: Isabelle Erb)

For her Parkchoonmoo Fall RTW line, Choonmoo Park gave a down jacket an edgy quality with a chunky, angular collar.

Academy of Art
(Photo: Isabelle Erb)

San Francisco’s Popular Academy of Art University Fashion Show at Lincoln Center showcased the work of 13 up and coming design students and graduates. Designer Elizabeth Castellon sought to give her menswear a futuristic appearance while borrowing themes from 1930’s sportswear.

Celebrity Sightings

The Samsung Galaxy Backstage Lounge at Lincoln Center was designed in collaboration with Swarovski and featured a Swarovski crystal curtain. It served as a retreat for models, designers and other celebrities throughout the week.  Designer Rebecca Minkoff stopped by with the Samsung Galaxy Note Pro that she used for fittings prior to her runway show.

The Panasonic Beauty Bar was in residence for two days at New York City’s Salon SCK, just a short walk from Lincoln Center.  Celebrities and media were treated to blowouts and styling with Panasonic nanoe beauty tools and manicures from  Refreshments were provided by Tim Horton’s, Skinny Girl Splashers, and Lifeway Kefir, as well as gifting by Kleenex.  Nina Garcia visited the salon to have her hair touched up between shows.

- Rhonda Erb

Saturday, February 15, 2014

"Confessions of a Fashion Week Neophyte" / On and Off the Runway / Asian Supermodels

A Deer in the Headlights?

Laurel Marcus
(Photo: Joel Marcus)

On the final day of Mercedes Benz Fashion Week the Heavens opened up with a wintry wrath of snow, sleet and freezing rain as if to punish us for the seven preceding days of excess and frivolity. I guess that's one way to look at the conclusion of Fall/Winter 2014 Fashion Week. I WAS a bit "fawn" like ( please excuse me if you saw me with the "deer in the headlights" expression that I wore quite a lot). As the newbie, I was prepared for the looks of amusement on my veterans of countless past fashion weeks co-contributors yawning faces when introducing me to the workings of the tent at Lincoln Center on my first day of kindergarten.

My "M"agic pass

The sense of awe and amazement I initially felt began to dissipate gradually as the week wore on and I became (jaded) acclimated to the darkness in the tent, the maze like Disney-esque approach to a ride atmosphere upon entering the tent, and the constant requests to see credentials along my merry way. By virtue of my "M" status (accredited media who have paid for the privilege of a hang tag badge can attend any show even without an invite as long as they stand in "the media pit"... more about that later) I was waved in and past the "hoi polloi." Of course, once I got in I had to stand in the back (no media pit for me) but often would become a "seat filler" closer to show time. So much for my "special status" but I was really happy just to be in!

I also "did" the downtown scene, or what many are calling the more authentic fashion week experience: The MADE venues at The Standard or Milk Studios as well as the spaces at Industria Superstudios , Eyebeam and Center 548. I did find them to be more of an "insider" invite ( one needed a true "invitation" rather than just a press pass), not so many bridge and tunnelers and more fashion industry big-wigs, but that could just have been the few shows I attended. Since these venues are generally smaller and more intimate there's a better chance of rubbing shoulders with a top fashion executive or celebrity than at Lincoln Center where there is more of a delineation between first row and "back of the house." It seemed that I was at a modeling go-see while standing in line to get into a few of these as the women (and men) were generally quite tall, attractive, thin and interestingly attired.  The downtown Chelsea and MPD shows included some more experimental-type designers trying to break through which intrigued me and I tried to mix it up by seeing a selection of shows from some of the more established designers as well as some of the emerging ones.

Here's what I liked about the week in no particular order. 1. Gawking and trying to name as many front row denizens as possible.I don't watch much reality TV so that made it hard to positively ID some of the Real Housewives of Oshkosh. 2. The sense of anticipation before the show begins when you're not quite sure what to expect. 3. The rushing around from venue to venue and seeing others do the same. It was literally impossible to be late as every show starts from 20 to 40 minutes past schedule. 4. The single-mindedness of thinking this matters to the exclusion of any other demands on your time that don't have to do with Fashion Week (forget doctor's appointments, running errands or even buying groceries).

What I didn't like was 1. Everyone documenting everything on social media. If someone put a ham sandwich on the runway there would literally be thousands of people taking pictures of it. Please, is getting way better photos than you will ever get from the 4th row with your cell phone or iPad so stop blocking my view! 2.  How everyone would jump up seconds after the designer took their bow (sometimes while they were still doing so) and rush out of the room like there was a fire. We know you have other shows to get to but as previously mentioned, they all start late so get over yourself. It got so that I tried to get aisle seats as often as possible to avoid being trampled while I picked up my purse. 3. Despite the social media frenzy there was not much actual socializing/networking going on which I found surprising. 4. I didn't get invited to any after-parties (well, none of the really cool ones at Diamond Horseshoe, alas).

I want to devote a paragraph to the photographers in the aforementioned media pit who jockey for position. That's got to be the worst job and not one for a claustrophobe or someone with a strong sense of smell (one of the photographers I spoke to called it "the smelly armpit"). You do not want to be in the media line to get into a show if they make the "barbarians" wait at the gate or you will definitely be trampled. Apparently, a front row crossed leg is a photographer's nemesis (it gets into the runway shot) and one photog in particular would call out in the hush of the lowered lights as the show was about to start, to uncross your legs. Initially this was humorous but started to get less so as the week wore on.

Which were my favorite shows? I enjoyed most of them but a few had an entertainment component to them as well which broke things up a bit. Mongolian designer Katya Zol had an acrobat perform before the runway fashions which was different. Some shows were high energy which I enjoy including Desigual and Libertine ( I also seriously dug the coats)! Some were quite colorful and dramatic including Dennis Basso, Zang Toi, and Anna Sui. Betsey Johnson (although her show had not a single wearable item if you weren't a club kid) was worth seeing only because her models worked it (including Karlie Kloss) and Betsey herself at 71 is still doing those cartwheels and splits, this time adorably accompanied by her granddaughter. Misha Nonoo (of Fashion Fund fame) had a very sophisticated collection. I always enjoy a student show since they are usually unafraid to take risks and turn out some of the most creative fashions; the Asia Fashion Collection (my first look at a pre-show backstage area) and The Art Institutes didn't disappoint.  (I'm afraid I missed the Academy of Art University show but heard it was a good one).

The least enjoyable show for me was without a doubt Alexandre Herchcovitch (thanks for the nail polish swag, though) who showed women in cotton bloomer sets resembling Amish underwear (uh, this is a Fall/Winter collection?), followed by models in actual Amish looking dresses (buttoned up and to the knees) with crazy frizzy hair and glasses. I would not even call that nerd-chic just borderline insane asylum disturbing!

Now that I have officially survived the circus coming to town I am trying to re-enter the humdrum of reality, to wake up from the dream bubble of the constant energizer which, to me, was Fall/Winter Fashion Week 2014. Who knows what excitement awaits. Maybe I'll even make it to the dry cleaner.

- Laurel Marcus

On & Off The Runway - by Rhonda Erb
Charlotte Ronson

Charlotte Ronson
(All photos: Isabelle Erb)

Little Lord Fauntleroy serves as the inspiration for Charlotte Ronson’s Fall/ Winter collection. The 19th century novel, by Frances Hodgson Burnett, is about a little boy, Cedric Errol, who lives modestly in New York City after the death of his aristocratic British father. He is elevated from poverty when he becomes the sole heir to a vast English estate. The novel had a major impact on fashion, thanks to the Reginald Birch illustrations of the young boy in a black velvet suit with a lace collar. The Little Lord Fauntleroy suit, which was modeled on outfits the author created for her own sons, sparked a romantic style of dress for young boys remained popular until the turn of the 20th century.

Ronson, who herself has British and American roots, takes a modern approach to the Fauntleroy style, incorporating elements of lace, ruffles and chiffon on cropped sweaters, laser cut dresses and A-line skirts. The designer describes her muse as a mysterious woman who is “just a little bit spooky” and a hopeless romantic who favors leather and lace and floral prints on velvet and crepe.
Douglas Hannant

There was a celestial theme throughout Douglas Hannant’s Fall 2014 fashion show which took place at the dimly lit restaurant at 286 Spring Street in lower Manhattan. The low light served to enhance the metallic fabrics and iridescent prints that dominated the collection. Even the designer’s more subdued pieces were accented with a little bit of shimmer, like the Indigo Wool Crepe Suit over a Blue Metallic Sequin Tulle Shirt. Other standout pieces included a sumptuous Grape gown with hand painted “raindrops” that captured the light and the Cosmic Print halter Gown that was evocative of a star filled nighttime sky.
Katya Zol

Mongolian culture and artistry played a prominent role in the Katya Zol fall fashion show. True to her desire to share her culture through her brand, Ms. Zol featured a Mongolian singer and acrobat to open her show.  She endeavors to use the traditional raw materials of her country (wool, cashmere, leather and felt), creating designs that are modern with an exotic touch. Her color palette for the collection was predominantly neutrals highlighted with gold throughout.

The Pavillion at Lincoln Center

The jury is still out on the multitude of changes at the Lincoln Center location of Mercedes Benz Fashion Week (tightened security, the dark, “Goth style” tent lobby, etc.), but this new venue was a welcome addition. The bright, airy Pavillion space could be configured in a variety of ways, almost all of which gave the majority of guests a front row seat. There was even enough space to set up not just one, but two media risers for photographers. This is one aspect of the newly revamped Fashion week that deserves a second act in September.


An Ode to Asian Supermodels

Qin Shupei and Chiu-Ti Jansen
(Photos: Lieba Nesis)

YUE Magazine, in collaboration with Royal Salute Whisky, celebrated its winter 2014 issue featuring international supermodel Qin Shupei at restaurant Hakkasan during the middle of fashion week.  This year's fashion week has been dominated by Asian designers starting with superstars Jason Wu, Alexander Wang, and Phillip Lim.  Moreover, a lot of small Asian designers showed at the LIncoln Center tents such as Lee Jean Youn, Katya Zol, ParkChoonMoo, Concept Korea, Asian Fashion Collection and Lie Sang Bong. Feting an Asian supermodel in this arena was fitting as the Asian influence on fashion has become overwhelming.  Shupei, 24, currently resides in New York, and is considered a top Chinese model who has walked in Chanel, Valentino and Dior shows as well as appearing on the cover of numerous magazines including Chinese Vogue and Chinese Elle and in editorials in both W and Vogue.  Shupei also signed a lucrative cosmetics contract with Maybelline and appeared in an ad campaign for Gap.  Appearing on the cover of YUE's first issue seems to be a natural fit for a model who has crossed over into the United States market.  YUE is the first bilingual lifestyle magazine focusing on the unique luxury experiences in the US for affluent Chinese customers.  YUE publishes 4 issues a year and covers fashion, jewelry, watches, art and shopping.

Didi Pei

The cocktail party at Hakassan featured some notable guests such as Didi Pei, Jean Shafiroff and Lucia Hwong Gordon.  Didi Pei, the son of famed architect Im Pei, was there as a friend and has little affiliation with the world of high fashion.  He conceded that he has some big shoes to fill from his father but as chairman of the China Institute and an architect working on buildings, hotels and museums in China as well as a museum for the Sultan of Brunei he is doing quite well.  When I asked him the difference between fashion and architecture he stated, "fashion is more ephemeral whereas architectural buildings are timeless. With fashion what is in style in 2006 is out of style in 2010 but a building must last indefinitely."   Chiu-Ti Jansen, the publisher of YUE Magazine holds advanced degrees from Yale University and Columbia Law School and as a TV presenter and writer for China Happenings has a pulse on Chinese affairs.  Jansen said that Shupei 's "distinguished career and graceful style" have opened the doors for many young men and women aspiring to be in the fashion profession.  Jansen was impressed when Shupei accepted a fashion award in Beijing "on behalf of all the Chinese girls trying to make it on the international runway." Jansen herself was the first Asian partner at a major New York law firm and is therefore cognizant of the impediments  involved in being accepted as an Asian woman in the workforce.

The mood of the party was contained yet joyful, as the hor d'oeuvres circulated and the crowd socialized and posed for pictures.  When I asked Shupei what major American fashion magazines she was on the cover of she stated none.  This was shocking to me and then I realized while I see many Asian models strutting down the runway I could not name one famous Asian model.  While African American models have made incredible strides in the fashion industry appearing on the cover of Vogue as early as 1974, no Asian model has ever graced the cover of American Vogue or, to my knowledge, any other major American fashion magazine such as Bazaar or Elle.  When Fei Fei Sun appeared on the cover of Vogue Italia alone in January 2013 this was considered a major milestone.  However, this seems grossly inadequate and discriminatory - with all the magnificent Asian women and all the great Asian designers it is time for women like Shupei to get the spotlight and recognition they rightly deserve.

- Lieba Nesis

(Publisher's note: Of course, it is recognized historically that the first real "Asian Supermodel" was Anna Bayle who was originally from the Philippines. Anna was one of the great runway models of the 1980's and early 1990's working for every major designer both in Europe and in New York. Her walk was so distinctive and evocative that there was even a song about how she would strut down the runway. See for a video of  her work. Anna has also been an editorial contributor to

Friday, February 14, 2014

New York Fashion Week: Notes & Observations

On Cloud Nine

Marc Jacobs ombre shearling jackets and ribbed knits

Marc Jacobs cleaned up his act from last season, got rid of all the excess and trimmings, and put a fabulous exclamation point on MBFW last night with a pared down, ultra-modern, sports infused collection filled with sleek ribbed knits, fabulously over sized shearling jackets some of which were trimmed in Mongolian lamb, v neck tunics and pants, multi colored sequined dresses, and some of the best flat and low heeled boots around (including one that was particularly fabulous: a pale shearling over the knee boot).

Marc Jacobs tunics and over the knee boots

The clouds hanging over the Lexington Avenue Armory could be considered to be symbolic of many things. Not only did they mimic the pleasingly pale neutral color palette of the clothes (black was not shown at all), but Marc has a right to be on cloud nine, after leaving Louis Vuitton earlier this year to focus his energies on his own label - with an eye to an initial public offering in the near future (guaranteeing he will become fashion’s next billionaire). And now we can all be on "cloud nine", since MBFW has finally come to a conclusion. I know there are some who would say you have to suffer for fashion, but this past week, that’s been taken to a whole new level.  I don’t think I’ve ever gone through a February Fashion Week under such relentlessly hostile weather conditions; and unfortunately for us, it had to be during a season where shows could not have been LESS centralized. Boy oh boy, where was Bryant Park when we could have most used it?

Marc Jacobs graphic shearling flat over the knee boots

I don’t think it made it above 20 degrees the entire time and by the way, what IS going on with the weather? Is God trying to tell us something? It’s been ridiculously frigid here in New York, yet unseasonably warm in Sochi, where they could really use those conditions, (and reportedly, skiers are wearing tank tops). Maybe we should have switched locations. Actually, I don’t even want to say that jokingly, because some of the brilliant powers in charge of MBFW might actually think it’s a good idea. Putin would certainly love it. And for sure, the exotically out of the way locale might truly appeal to any number of hip and cool young designers who are at the top of their fields right now, and just love to prove they can walk on water. They just know the faithful fashion flock will go wherever they hold a show. Scoring that invite and getting there will be the ultimate status symbol. Then all anyone would need are the street paparazzi to follow, because without them taking your picture, why bother to get dressed and show up? LOL. I think I noticed that a few street blog fixtures changed outfits several times during the course of one day (you know who you are).

Ralph Lauren lilac feather jacket heather grey melange cashmere
turtleneck taupe melange flannel suiting pant

In any event, the icy snow literally stung my face and practically blinded me, as I walked to Washington Street for Ralph Lauren’s 10AM show at St. John’s Center Studios. Ralph changed things up by showing both Collection, and his new Polo line (talk about uptown vs. downtown). Collection, presented to the tune of a French soundtrack, which I suppose, was meant to emphasize the notion of Parisian chic. Not only did it feel like déjà vu all over again (haven’t I seen that before?), but overall, it looked a bit too pretty, ladylike and therefore, a touch old fashioned. Colors were predominantly ivory, cream, off white, shades of grey, mauve, lavender, pink (there was no black, which was used at Polo). Luxurious fabrics included cashmere and double faced cashmere, silk, crepe, suede, Mongolian and Tibetan Lamb, feathers, tropical wool, jersey, lame.

Ralph Lauren Cream cashmere jacket winter white
cashmere sweater winter white cashmere jogging pant

There were many capes and ponchos (too many, as it got redundant). The pieces that looked best were easy and effortlessly luxurious. That includes Karlie Kloss’s fabulously chic cream cashmere trench worn with a winter white cashmere silk boucle turtleneck, cream limo cloth jodhpur, and the fitted cream cashmere jacket, paired with winter white cashmere jogging pants, and a winter white cashmere sweater (both outfits were accessorized with cream kid suede hi tops); the grey mélange cashmere silk turtleneck worn with a leg baring long skirt in grey light jersey; the lilac feather jacket paired with heather grey mélange cashmere turtleneck and taupe mélange flannel suiting pants; a beautiful and simple pale pink lame narrow evening gown; and the grey light jersey evening dress with self-cape which closed the show.

Polo Ralph Lauren brown shearling aviator jacket, beacon linen dress,
 beacon wool and leather backpack; calfsuede clog sandal

The new Polo collection, which is obviously younger, cooler, more colorful, more eclectic, is also infused with touches of grunge, which has shown up elsewhere this week (Tommy Hilfiger and even Michael Kors, among others). And it really looks most like Ralph, who walked out dressed all in black with lace up hiking boots. Standouts, include the serape silk blend cardigan, khaki silk jersey dress and tan tumbled leather fringe bag; the brown shearling aviator jacket, worn with a beacon linen long dress, a printed wool and leather backpack, and calfsuede clog sandals; and the perfectly tailored long and lean black wool reefer coat which was shown over an elongated fair isle patterned sweater dress.

Polo Ralph Lauren brown shearling aviator jacket, beacon
 linen dress, beacon wool and leather backpack; calfsuede clog sanda

It’s not lost on me that Ralph’s location is not too far from Spring Studios at 55 Varick Street, where Joseph Altuzarra, Diane Von Furstenberg, Michael Kors, and Calvin Klein, held their shows. Maybe in the future, someone in charge of scheduling could at least push for these Tribeca based shows to be clumped together and see that they take place conveniently on the same day, AND perhaps find more suitable spaces in the neighborhood. This would more effectively make the most use of being there and ensure that going back and forth would be kept to a minimum. It could even be fashion’s answer to the Tribeca Film Festival. As you know, downtown (below Tribeca) is definitely on the rebound, so maybe this should be taken into consideration and explored. Just consider this: Conde Nast, which publishes Vogue and The New Yorker, will move over 5000 employees into 1 World Trade Center later this year. Brookfield Place, a 250,000 square foot mall, on the site of the former World Financial Center, will open in March 2015. Among the high end names who have signed on, Hermes, Burberry, Ferragamo, Michael, Kors, Diane Von Furstenberg, Theory, Scoop, and Calypso St. Barth’s.

Getting back to the more painful moments this past week…a group of show goers (including Andre Leon Talley) were stuck in an elevator leaving Oscar de la Renta’s Tuesday night show and as far as I’m concerned, this was an accident waiting to happen (though thankfully nobody got hurt, only rattled). When will organizers understand that showing in venues that necessitate hordes of people cram into small elevators to get in and out, is simply put, inconsiderate, not to mention potentially scary and dangerous. I understand that Oscar’s high floor west 42 street headquarters makes a far more economical show venue than the rather grand and welcoming 583 Park Avenue, (a landmark building that was recently restored and is now being used for private events), that he had been using up until a few years go. But there must be something in between.

Calvin Klein comfy and cozy

But luckily, while one must suffer for fashion when it comes to covering the shows (it’s just part of the job description), based on what I’ve seen on and off the runways this week, it’s obvious one need not make a choice between looking great and feeling great when it comes to one’s fashion choices. It’s been hard not to notice that some of the best collections had a relaxed ease, in terms of the mood and silhouette, and a noticeable level of warm, cozy, comfort, even where footwear was concerned. Thankfully, designers are really embracing flat and low heeled shoes and boots, and they have never looked better.

Time was, dressing FOR the cold weather was looked down on and frowned upon. Resembling Nanook of the north was akin to announcing to the world, that you do not have a car and driver at your disposal, and that you have to rely on public transportation to get around town. There used to be countless women who refused to give up their Manolo Blahnik stiletto pumps regardless of the season or the weather, and many continued to embrace the bare leg look even in the freezing cold.  But desperate times call for desperate measures, and this season, the ones who looked as though they were rushing the seasons (going bare legged in high heels, opting for flimsy jackets, sheer see through tops or chiffon skirts, etc.) not only looked uncomfortably freezing, they looked ridiculous. Just a note: just because you can doesn’t mean you should.

The best dressed women in my opinion, were not only dressed for the weather, but for running around to shows from morning until night. Often times, they were encased in fur (the brighter or more graphic the better), clad in unisex utility parkas (it was hard to tell the boys from the girls at times), or unfussy borrowed from the boys’ reefer coats (a tomboy thread ran through many collections as well). In many cases, show attendees wore head obscuring hoods, neck and face obscuring scarves, leg warmers, and arm warmers. Flat men’s style oxfords, flat riding boots, Hunter boots, and every manner of shoe with practical lug soles were all the better to maneuver the slippery streets. Beanie hats and knitted caps were the order of the day.

It’s not about looking like a pampered princess but a hale and hearty urbanite who not only wants to look good, but needs to efficiently get through the paces of her day.  Interestingly, this is quite a bit at odds with the amazingly rarefied world inhabited by late great couturier Charles James, who is the subject of the upcoming Metropolitan Museum of Art Costume Institute exhibition (to be shown in the new Anna Wintour Costume Center). One of the things he was most known for was his revolutionary sculpted ball gowns, and in case you haven’t noticed, ball gowns have almost disappeared from recent runways. So much so that even Ralph Rucci did not show one Infanta. But of course, there are plenty of other elements to explore, including his “design process and his innovative tailoring”. And in the words of Thomas P. Campbell: “Charles James considered himself an artist, and approached fashion with a sculptor’s eye and a scientist’s logic.  “As such, the Met is the ideal place to explore the rich complexity of his innovative work.”

-Marilyn Kirschner

The J. Mendel Show - A Study in Elegance

Red plaid broad tail coat with red sable bolero
(Photos: Lieba Nesis)

The J. Mendel show was held at the Theater in Lincoln Center on a day where the inclement weather resulted in a sparse turnout. However, the show was orchestrated perfectly with numerous references to the house's Franco-Russian heritage and the world of the ballet. Gilles Mendel, began his career apprenticing under his father at his fur salon in Paris in 1981, and has expanded his collection from furs to include a ready to wear collection catering to a high society clientele. Michelle Obama, Sandra Bullock, Taylor Swift, and Kate Mara are known to wear Mendel dresses and he has become an increasingly sought-after designer, especially during awards season. While many were not able to attend the event, some regulars such as Glenda Bailey and Hal Rubinstein were there as well as luminaries Anna Kendrick and Kelly Rutherford. The collection was simple and unadorned with fluid silhouettes, jeweled tones, and lush outerwear.

Off white and taupe knitted fox cape with silk straight pant

The show opened with red plaid minks and furs coupled with asymmetrical skirts highlighting the geometrical patterns on the jackets. The effect was sexy biker meets Russian oligarch and when paired with the lace cut out booties it was a knockout. When I was about to tire of the red furs and plaids Mendel quickly switched to lush colored furs, leather skirts and dresses. The black and red macramé gown with a red lace bootie was daring and edgy with a hard femininity that is difficult to achieve. The short black, purple and red dresses were highly intricate with little impact, the shortness of the hem opposed the intricacy of the bodices almost making the garments look incomplete. The white and black mink and shearling were divine; but my favorite look was the one Mendel does best- the lush off-white and taupe knitted fox cape with a silk straight leg pant- the voluminous jacket against the tapered pant was dramatic and delicate. The opulence of the outerwear was astonishing as exhibited by the eel paneled coats and multi-color plaid mink jackets- when belted these looks were structured and effective.

Off white chiffon gown with asymmetrical skirt

The finale of the collection was breathtakingly elegant with girls sashaying down the runway in chiffon gowns of sapphire, peridot, off white and black. The draping on these sheer cutout dresses was perfection with an angelic fluidity that amazed. Mendel said these dresses were supposed to capture the romance of the ballet and specifically the Ballets Russes- an itinerant ballet company that was based in Paris in the early 1900's. These gowns with little beading and embellishments were innately luminescent, similar to the dancers in a ballet. The collection ranging from lush furs to feminine gowns was executed masterfully. The attention to detail with touches such as the Blahnik booties and leather belts greatly enhanced the impact of the collection. The soothing classical music coupled with the jeweled toned furs and gowns made this show a triumphant success and a fashion week standout.

-Lieba Nesis

Better Bets by Rhonda Erb

PURE Evoke F4 with Bluetooth

Bring the world of internet, digital and FM radio into your home with a retro look. This attractive portable radio also allows you to stream music from your mobile device or laptop.  It has touch sensitive controls, an OLED display, two alarms, sleep and kitchen timers and an optional rechargeable battery pack.
Shutterball from Voxx

This remote shutter for your smartphone camera makes taking the perfect selfies a breeze. It works up to 60 feet away from your mobile device and it is iOS and Android compatible.  The coin cell battery (included) lasts up to 5 years.

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