Thursday, May 29, 2014

In the Market Report: "Summer & Silver Go Great Together"

Whistles "Verity" backpack

As the unofficial start of summer arrived this past weekend, I reflected on some of  my favorite warm weather options.   Some things are a hit all year round but become especially fabulous in summertime. Yes, the obvious answer is ice cream which I will eat in a blizzard, but since I'm focusing on accessory options I would have to single out the cool iciness of silver, particularly in its latest leather incarnations.

You know how they say that three items equals a collection? I like to think that seeing three similar items (or more) in short succession equals a trend. On Friday as I browsed through Bloomingdale's I noticed that they had added a new leased department on their steadily improving trendy second floor. The UK brand Whistles is not seen all that commonly in the US, and other than a few boutiques, Bloomingdale's is the only major store carrying the high street brand. What immediately caught my eye was the shiny leather silver "Verity" backpack or rucksack as the Brits call it for around $500( also available in ho-hum navy and tan), which would be a stylish way to lighten your load at least visually for the summer months.

Kenneth Cole Sling Bag

On Monday I came across an ad for the Kenneth Cole Avenue B metallic sling bag in silver. While not technically a backpack it has that look of fun summer nonchalance slung over one shoulder instead of two. It's available at for $348. Another interesting option in more of an east/west shape is the Alexander Wang silver lambskin metallic Marti Bucketbag Backpack which is reduced from $1,150 to $920 on This bag is more of a crinkled leather perhaps making it softer and a bit more squishy as well as being a higher end designer therefore justifying the investment. If you prefer more of the north/south orientation in a bag there is the Novella Metallic Leather Backpack by Collina Strada reduced from $485 to $315 on It is also available on Urban Outfitters but not currently on sale there. This bag is more of a matte silver with a sort of art deco-ish magnetic flap closure giving it a kinship with the Whistles bag that features the magnetized flap as well.

Collina Strada Backpack

If you're wondering how versatile a silver bag is, I would suggest it as the new neutral. Silver is stunning with summer brights or neons, as well as more monochromatic looks of all black and all white or black and white together. It also looks great with softer pastel colors; in fact there's not much that it won't work with. You may want to put it together with some silver shades and of course a silver statement necklace, earrings or bold bracelets. It's hard to OD on silver when the mercury goes up as it adds such a refreshing bite to your outfit. I have noticed one thing about sterling silver jewelry which is that in the warmer months it tends to mix with the salt in perspiration and dull a bit quicker than usual. You will also notice this reaction if you are at or near the beach and the silver is exposed to the salt air.   A tip I picked up at the John Hardy jewelry counter is to clean your silver  with a quick sudsing and rinsing of Kiehl's Liquid Hand Soap Coriander which smells wonderful and will brighten up your silver very nicely without having to put on gloves the way you do with most silver polish.

Still not convinced that silver is the way to go this summer? Consider the attention you will receive from your megawatt showstopper bag. It will give you "sweet" memories of your childhood at camp when you opened the Hershey's silver chocolate wrapper and made and ate S'Mores by the campfire. And "reflect" on this need to bring an actual reflector to the beach or pool. Your bag can do double duty by both carrying the sunscreen and serving as a "soleil reflecteur."

- Laurel Marcus

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Where Are They Now? Famous Garments of the Last 20 Years...

Monica Lewinsky's blue dress

In recounting the history of fashion it is hard not to recollect those items that have achieved great notoriety- sometimes even receiving their own entry in Wikipedia, and other times changing the course of history. One of the items that lead to the impeachment of Bill Clinton is Monica Lewinsky's blue dress. While Monica Lewinsky recently said she wants to "bury" the dress, the history books choose otherwise. This garment proved critical in catching the President in his great lie. The President who insisted he did not have sexual relations with Ms. Lewinsky actually had no knowledge of the semen stained dress; however, unfortunately for the Clintons - Linda Tripp did. Monica wanted to wash the dress and re-wear it but Tripp told her she looked too fat in it.

Thankfully, Monica kept the Gap dress so that her story was corroborated when the FBI confirmed that the stain was the President's. How would our lives be different today if Monica had thought the dress was flattering and decided to clean it? That is hard to say, but I would surmise: Clinton would still be denying his affair, Al Gore might have become President without the Clinton "liability," and Hillary would likely be the Chief Executive in the White House currently wearing the pants, instead of Barack Obama. The Smithsonian rejected this garment for display on its walls yet, its hallowed place in history will never be forgotten.

Elizabeth Hurley's safety pin dress
(Photo: JustJared)

The next dress, that has its own entry in Wikipedia, is the black Versace dress worn by Elizabeth Hurley at the 1994 premiere of "Four Weddings and a Funeral." The black dress was made from pieces of silk and Lycra fabric, with oversized gold safety pins used to hold it together. This dress was the garment that launched Hurley's career and made her an international phenomenon. This garment also increased the "exposure" of Gianni Versace, this being his most famous creation up until that time. Hurley, at the time could not afford to buy a dress so Hugh Grant's press office lent her the only item they had left in their office-the Versace dress. After her red carpet appearance, Hurley became the face of Estee Lauder, appeared in an Austin Powers film and launched her own swimwear line. Lady Gaga wore a duplicate of the dress in 2012 but it appeared relatively demure compared to her other fashion choices, and made a slight splash - if any - in the fashion pool.

Lady Gaga's "Meat Dress"
(Photo: JustJared)

However, a dress that did make a huge fashion statement, and has its own Wikipedia entry, was Lady Gaga's meat dress which she wore to the 2010 MTV Video Music Awards. The dress was designed by Franc Fernandez and styled by Nicola Formichetti over the course of a week. The dress was asymmetrical, with a cowl neck and was made from Flank steak with the meat coming from Fernandez's family butcher. The dress was condemned by animal rights groups and went on to be displayed at the 2011 Rock & Roll Hall of Fame after being preserved by taxidermists as a kind of jerky. Lady Gaga defended her donning of the dress by stating, "if we don't stand up for what we believe in ... we're going to have as much rights as the meat on our bones;" however, nobody bought her interpretation and most just assumed it was another ploy for publicity.

Jennifer Lopez's Versace dress
(Photo: JustJared)

Jennifer Lopez's green Versace dress, a Wikipedia entry, was another iconic dress that crossed unimaginable boundaries. The dress which Lopez wore to the 2000 Grammy Awards ceremony received 642,917 downloads from the Grammy website within 24 hours of the event. The dress which was green with touches of blue to give it an exoticism was a see-through silk chiffon dress with a tropical leaf pattern with bamboo, and a citrine studded crotch. Lopez wore nude shorts underneath and used double-sided tape to avoid any malfunctions. This dress, Donatella Versace acknowledged, was a turning point in Donatella's career, who had taken over Gianni's business, and helped establish Lopez and Versace as fashion trendsetters. The gown is currently on display at The Grammy Museum in Los Angeles.

Left: Sharon Stone 1998 Oscars & Right: 1996 Oscars

Another actress who deserves to be praised for her bold fashion choices, before H&M was a household name, is Sharon Stone - who wore a $22 Gap short-sleeve black turtleneck to the 1996 Academy Awards. She made it distinct by not wearing a bra beneath the stretchy polyester top. Sharon Stone received accolades from the fashion press and was entered on many best dressed Oscar fashion lists. However, let's not forget she wore a Valentino skirt and Giorgio Armani evening coat over the turtleneck, worth I am sure an extraordinary sum.  However as Sharon said, "I thought, hey I'm nominated (for Casino), and I'm presenting two Oscars, so why not have some attitude?" Sharon Stone again repeated this daring mix of high-low fashion when she chose a Vera Wang skirt and her husband's cheap white-button down shirt from the Gap to wear to the 1998 Oscars. Sharon Stone will go down in fashion history for being one of the originators of the trend of mixing high end with lowbrow-something we just saw in the 2014 Chanel collection which paired gowns with sneakers.

Bjork's Swan dress
(Photo: Mirek Towski FilmMagic)

Unfortunately, I would be remiss if I did not mention 2 major fashion missteps, where the celebrities achieved extreme notoriety due to their disastrous fashion choices. The first, was Bjork's swan dress which she wore to the 2001 Academy Awards, and which also has its own Wiki entry. Designed by Macedonian designer Marjan Pejosky the dress was in the shape of a swan and at the Academy Awards Bjork mimicked laying an egg on the red carpet. She had 2 copies of the dress made because it could not be taken to the dry cleaners. The "swan" became the fashion faux pas of the decade and is constantly referenced when speaking of a fashion blunder. The dress has been parodied in movies, television shows, and award presentations. Bjork's garment has received some salvation by being re-imagined in the Spring 2014 Valentino Couture show which received rave fashion reviews from the social media. However, one must take note that since 2001 Bjork has largely disappeared from the public eye and it is not hard to understand why.

Kim Kardashian in Givenchy floral gown

Last, but not least, is the queen of fashion disasters, Kim Kardashian. During her pregnancy the fashion press and media had loads of fun comparing her to balloons and umbrellas and anything else that was circular in nature. However, her 2013 appearance at the Costume Institute Gala, in a dreadful floral Givenchy, gave the world, including Robin Williams aka Mrs. Doubtfire, the greatest guffaws as yet. She was compared to couches, drapes and slipcovers, and the surveyed public felt Euphegenia Doubtfire looked better than Kim; she overshadowed all of the other attendees at the event. Kim was on the worst dressed list of almost every major news outlet and Riccardo Tisci was forced to defend the look by saying, "she was the most beautiful pregnant woman I dressed in my career." The dress was referred to as the "couch dress" and came with floral gloves attached to the garment. Apparently, Kardashian had such faith in Tisci she let him completely design the look without any of her input-not a good idea. Kardashian, has somewhat cleaned up her act, even appearing on the cover of Vogue - but few will forget the fiasco of that gown.

Over the past 20 years fashion has evolved with stylists and designers taming the looks of many of the celebrities. The days of Bjork's experimentation seem long gone. However, it worries me that in the process we will lose the creativity that comes with freedom of self expression, Lady Gaga notwithstanding. Moreover, the joy and schadenfreude that comes from seeing a celebrity mess up is a sensation that should not be undervalued.

- Lieba Nesis

Sunday, May 25, 2014

A Farewell to Tony Mazzola

Harper's Bazaar Tony Mazzola in the 90's, captured
 by his good friend Slim Aarons

Upon hearing that Anthony T. Mazzola, former Editor-in-Chief of Town & Country and Harper’s Bazaar, and the curator of Hearst Corp’s fine art collection passed away at the age of 90 on May 21st, I immediately saw a good part of my professional life as a fashion editor flash before my eyes, and my mind was filled with many images and remembrances of things past. Starting with wanting to be a fashion editor from a very early age, and after I received my BA from The George Washington University (where I studied fashion magazines with the same intensity that I studied my liberal arts curriculum), I came back home to New York and started making my rounds of fashion magazines in order to land a fashion editorial job. My first job was an assistant to the photography editor at Seventeen but, while it was a great learning experience,  that is not where I saw myself. I had my eyes set on Vogue or Harper’s Bazaar.

Tony Mazzola in the Bazaar offices
in 1978, photograph by Slim Aarons

So, after one year I started searching again, went back to Harper’s Bazaar and was immediately hired to be an assistant to Rachel Crespin, one of the most creative of the senior fashion editors. It was 1971 and the Editor-in-Chief at that time was the "Grande Dame" Nancy White. She resigned after James. W. Brady, formerly publisher of Women’s Wear Daily, was brought on to “modernize the magazine” and named publisher and editorial director of Harper’s Bazaar.  These were turbulent times to be sure, and the controversial Brady wanted the magazine to reflect that turbulence. Unfortunately, he stirred things up in a way that was far too politically controversial for the powers that be; so much so that it was almost unrecognizable to readers and they began to question if it was actually still a fashion magazine. Then ad revenues plummeted. I’ll never forget the time he wanted a fashion editorial shoot to include a ‘double’ of then President Richard Nixon. Before long James got the axe and in 1972 Tony Mazzola, who had been Town & Country’s Editor-in-Chief (he was the magazine’s youngest art director at 25), was named to the top spot at Bazaar.

Harper's Bazaar Over 40 and Fabulous! October 1980
Sophia Lauren shot by Albert Watson

There is an ever revolving door that defines fashion magazines and I had personally witnessed and survived a seemingly endless parade, including the coming and goings of countless Senior Fashion Editors: China Machado, June Weir, Gloria Moncur, Carrie Donovan, Nonnie Moore, Elsa Klensch, Robert Ruffino, Freddie Lieba. But Tony Mazzola outlasted them all (he continued on until 1992, when Liz Tilberis was hired), and we worked together for 20 years. Relationships between editors and their Editor-in-Chiefs are always highly charged, complicated, conflicted, have their moments, their ups and downs; and needless to say, not everything was wonderful all the time. That being said, thanks to Tony I was able to do what I loved and will always be grateful for his mentoring. Under his tenure, I evolved from an assistant, to a senior market editor, and I had the privilege of working with a group of enormously talented people like bona fide stars Carrie Donovan and Anna Wintour.

"Over 40 and Sensational!" Elizabeth Taylor September 1981

It’s impossible to think about Tony Mazzola’s Harper’s Bazaar without reminding everyone that he was a trailblazer, quite ahead of his time, and prescient on many fronts.  In an effort to make Bazaar topical and more than just another "pretty face"  he began focusing on relevant, real life issues and timely themes (he loved a good theme). He also felt strongly about this, to the chagrin of his editorial staff (to be sure, there was plenty of "eye rolling" going on at meetings). He felt strongly about placing celebrities on the covers and featuring them inside. He tackled age head on, long before it was the politically correct thing to do, and eventually the August issue became the annual “Over 40 and Fabulous Issue” (of course, nowadays, 60 is more like 40). Long before People Magazine’s 50, 100,  or “The World’s Most Beautiful Woman” issues there was Bazaar’s annual “10 Most Beautiful” September issue.

America's Single Woman March 1976 issue
(Marilyn Kirschner and Anna Wintour bottom row)
Click on image for larger view

Other themes were “Nobody’s Perfect” (what to wear if you’re too short, too tall, too thin etc.); “America’s Single Woman” , which included the spread shot by Bill King, featuring Bazaar’s single editors (including myself and Anna Wintour); “America’s New Working Woman”, and “Unconventional Couples” ,  (nowadays I guess that would be “Unconventional Consciously Un-couples” LOL). Tony’s wife, Michele Morgan Mazzola, who was a force to be reckoned with (she was on staff), had patrician lineage, but being Indiana born had that penurious Midwest mentality, especially pertaining to clothing, and she often made her presence felt. Tony wanted to focus more on real life, affordable fashion: inexpensive finds that looked expensive. Luckily for me, as a young editor, that was my market, and I began searching for and discovering new, young, and up and coming designers to add to the Bill Blasses, Geoffrey Beenes, Oscar de la Rentas, Yves Saint Laurents, etc. At the top of that list was Perry Ellis, who I met when he was at John Meyer of Norwich.

Unconventional Couples 1985 of
Kelly Emberg and Rod Stewart shot by Scavullo

Other things that stick in my mind about Tony: 

He had enormous restraint, self-control, will power, and always watched his diet. He took mile long walks to and from the offices, and he diligently did those mid-day power walks before they were understood to be fundamental in staying trim fit and healthy. While most of us would be eating calorie laden sandwiches or fast food in New York, or plates of pasta in Italy, Tony would eat a tomato, a piece of fruit, or just nibble at his meal (no junk food for him). He had a look that could be described as distinguished (with that slight graying of his hair at the temples), and he was rather vain, relishing in the fact that many people thought he closely resembled the late actor John Forsythe (which he did). He also loved to tap into his proud Italian heritage. He would speak in Italian whenever he went to Milan for the collections and conversed in his native tongue with the designers (Giorgio Armani, Gianni Versace, Gianfranco Ferre, etc.)

And he loved to be an intimidating presence. He was the Editor-in-Chief --  the one in charge, wielding the power -- and he never let you forget it! Mounted on the wall behind his desk was a huge ominous sign that read “Italians get mad. Sicilians get even”. It stared you in the face whenever you were in his office. That being said, he was supportive, appreciative, and never hesitated to thank you for a job well done. Twice a year, editors were required to turn in their ‘Six Month Plan”: an extensive plan to include specific fashion, beauty, and health stories, as well as ideas for features, etc. It was grueling and quite an undertaking, but it really gave editors a voice and a chance to shape the magazine. I was very pleased to see that many of my ideas had been incorporated into the magazine and he never failed to let us editors know that he valued our opinions and contributions.

 Finally, these remembrances would not be complete without mentioning Tony's less public face. He had a real soft touch whenever he was in the presence of Alisa, his young daughter, literally morphing from an intimidating Editor-in-Chief, to a beaming, loving, and doting father.

Thank you, Tony. May you rest in peace...

- Marilyn Kirschner

Friday, May 23, 2014

Parsons BFA Runway Show 2014

The Graduates

Elsa Ling
(All photos: Jonas Gustavsson)

On Wednesday, I attended Parsons, The New School of Design’s annual runway show which highlights the top collections by the graduating BFA Fashion Design class and was held for the first time at their new state of the art University campus on lower 5th Avenue. The CFDA Awards will be held just a few weeks later, on Monday, June 2, and the significance of its close timing is not lost on me. If you sat through the show, you could predict with certainty, that many of the talented and creative graduating seniors, whose work was on display, will no doubt, follow in the footsteps of prominent alumni and design luminaries such as Marc Jacobs, Donna Karan,  Narciso Rodriguez, Isaac Mizrahi, Alexander Wang, Jack McCullough and Lazaro Hernandez, and Jason Wu, the latter of whom was honored at Wednesday night’s annual Fashion Benefit, along with the global fashion house Hugo Boss.

Daron Buckley

Now in its 66th year, the benefit raised $1.2 million for scholarships at Parsons (Hugo Boss also gave a $250,000 gift to be used for scholarships). In addition to the runway show, which was repeated from the afternoon, Designers of the Year were announced. This year's recipients were Womenswear Designer of the Year Victoria Hayes; Menswear Designer of the Year Simon Li; and Childrenswear Designer of the Year Ashley Yoon Chang. Past recipients of this prestigious award include Marc Jacobs and Proenza Schouler’s Jack McCullough and Lazaro Hernandez,  I guess you can say with authority the event is a pretty good barometer of whose careers will go off into stratospheric orbit.

Mijia Zhang

Getting back to the graduate’s afternoon runway show, I guess you could call a dress rehearsal for the event later in the evening. Divided into three segments, it was interspersed with speeches and ended with a video. In addition to the aforementioned three award winners, highlights and names to watch: Mijia Zhang’s graphic collaged fur outerwear; Elsa Ling’s optic herringbones; Wenqui Wu’s oversized winter white felted coats; Daron Buckley’s pure vision in white; Young Ji Cho’s gender bending ticking striped puffer coat; Jennifer Cho’s minimal separates in black and white; Hye Won elegant tie dyes; Greta Valigi's global world traveler; Hye Gin Hamm's blue denim menswear; Grace Kang and Erica Kim’s childrenswear.

The only misstep (literally), was during the Justin Chu segment when a few models wearing his experimental, voluminous designs, took nasty tumbles on stage thanks to the vertiginous platform shoes they were given to wear (which reminded me of Daphne Guinness's signature footwear). Thankfully, nobody was hurt. (FYI, I don't happen to think that being unable to walk, or wearing dangerous shoes is modern, cool, or hip any more. Nothing is worth breaking a leg).

Simon Lee

Simon Collins, Dean of Fashion, Parsons, the New School of Design was first to come up to the podium. He jokingly asked, “Which of these students came to Parsons because of the fabulous midtown building (at 560 7th Avenue)?” Naturally, everyone laughed because the answer, is “nobody”. This was the point, since they have moved and are now ensconced in their fabulous new space. He took great pride in noting that the school’s students (whom he referred to as “the next generation of creators”), are so talented, they were even up to the task of showing during New York Fashion Week (which they did this past February, and  images were posted on “This city is the greatest mentor you can have. Always continue to support our amazing school. You may graduate Parsons, but you will never leave.”

Victoria Hayes

Among Mazdek Rassi’s tips for the grads (he is the mastermind behind Milk Studios, where the students held their show during MBFW): “Always define yourself before others define you”, and “the best inspiration you can get is from New York”. Graduate Alexis Arnold, was asked to speak about what life is like at Parsons. She is obviously a brilliant student who attended Stanford where she studied psychology and Italian. But her creative ‘itch’ and desire to pursue a career in fashion design brought her to Parsons. “Stanford was a decent warm-up to Parsons”, she opined. “It has given me a profound freedom of mind and spirit. It has enabled me to see beauty and originality of design both in and out of the classroom”. “New York is the crossroads of the world”.

Wenqi Wu

Parsons Executive Dean, Joel Towers, noted, “The students are the life and energy of the college. It’s amazing to be a dean here. And an honor”. He gave a shout out to Kay Unger, Chair of the Board of Governors and then announced a major partnership between Parsons and the Ford Motor Company, the Ford + Parsons Design Lab. This will enable 5 fellows, selected in the near future, to show their work during the upcoming Fashion Week in September.

Last was fashion designer Chris Benz who gained early recognition as a recipient of a CFDA scholarship while attending Parsons, and is celebrating his 10th year anniversary graduating from Parsons. Born and raised in an island off Seattle, he talked about how wanted to be a fashion designer at a very early age. He had a chance to meet Parsons grad Donna Karan in the late 90s, when she came to Seattle to stage a fashion show. He made a point of meeting her and asked her if she had any suggestions of where to study. She said, “Well, there’s only ONE fashion design school and it’s Parsons, of course”.

- Marilyn Kirschner

Thursday, May 22, 2014

A Sustainable Stench: Should You Wash Your Jeans?

Chip Bergh, CEO of Levi Strauss

"How often do you do it and how dirty is too dirty?" were the questions at the conference.  No, this was not a convergence of porn stars, it was a sustainability conference,  and the questions referred, of course, to the debate on laundering denim jeans.  According to Chip Bergh, CEO of Levi Strauss who was interviewed at Fortune's Brainstorm Green Conference on Tuesday, the answer is almost never but if you absolutely must, then about once a year.   Bergh, who wore a "Canadian tuxedo" of lighter denim shirt and darker denim jeans with a selvedge edge fold, had one leg crossed over the other as he answered questions from Fortune Magazine's Andy Serwer.  Serwer asked if he might touch the jean fabric and reached for the cuff.  Upon being told that this particular pair had been worn for close to a year and had never been washed he looked like he wanted to cut his fingers off or at the least douse them in hand sanitizer.

Tamron Hall and Savannah Guthrie discuss
dirty jeans on the Today Show

Obviously, Bergh may be striving to make an environmentally conscious point of conserving water in both the production and by the end user or consumer.  "Levis is working with farmers to find a cotton that uses less water" he said and added that as part of the Dockers line there is now a  "waterless jean" that uses ozone and no water for its processing.  This" tempest in a wash basin" had  initially become a point of interest in 2011 when "raw" denim first left its mark on the scene as well as, unfortunately, pretty much anywhere else that it came in contact with.

Stacy London and Anderson Cooper

For those without a Ph.D in denimology, "raw" denim is the stiff, dark fabric which hasn't been washed after the dye application.  This denim is meant to wear in with you and water is its enemy.  If you are after the "slick fade" and "perfect creasing" associated with premium denim, then you are supposed to allow the jeans to wear in and naturally fade or distress and generally "become you."  Anderson Cooper has mentioned that he is a proponent of not washing his APC's, and lest you think that it's only a male phenomenon, Tamron Hall, NBC Today's Take anchor doesn't believe in immersing her jeans either.

Jeans in freezer

So how does one deal with the inevitable: a spot or the olfactory assault?  For a spot, former P & G executive Bergh recommends a toothbrush and some Tide.  For the stench caused by bacteria from the sloughing off of the wearer's skin I will refer you to a 2011 article entitled "The Myth of The Frozen Jean."  Yes, believe it or not, there are those who recommend that you freeze your jeans overnight, right next to the container of Haagen Dazs and the frozen peas. Eww!  Scientists believe that some bacteria may be killed off from the cold temperatures, however not all of them will be and as soon as they warm up and are placed next to skin, the bacteria will be reactivated.  The idea of placing your jeans in the freezer strikes me as ridiculous on so many levels.  They can't be put in a baggie  as no air will circulate around them; food can get on them; they may get stuck to the freezer or generally not fit in it, not to mention how disgusting the idea of letting one's dirty bacteria laden jeans commingle next to one's food.

University of Alberta Student Josh Le

I also read about Canadian college student Josh Le who conducted an unofficial experiment in 2011 wearing his $150 Nudie Brand Hipster jeans for 15 months, occasionally freezing them when the pants threatened to stand up and run away on their own.  He took a swab of the bacteria after that time, washed them and continued to wear them for two more weeks.  After the two weeks he swabbed them again and found the same amount of bacteria as he had found after the 15 month count.  Somehow this made him feel that it wasn't so bad to wear them for that ridiculous length of time.  I guess he had plenty of time to conduct the experiment as  he didn't have to waste a lot of it doing laundry.

Anderson Cooper's Jeans

If the thought of never washing your stretched out, bagged out, odoriferous jeans is an unappealing one and you feel you must "baptize" them, the preferred method is by hand in a container of cold water, turn the pants inside out and add a little Dark Woolite (I never knew there was such a thing)!  Agitate by hand and then soak for 45 minutes.  Rinse well, squeeze carefully to remove water.  Use an old towel as the inevitable dye will come off and roll  to remove excess water.  Finally, hang to dry.  It seems that the days of yore when denim dungarees won the West and were considered a work pant  have reversed and now you must work for your denim. I'm surprised no one mentioned singing the pants a lullaby as the care they need is akin to a newborn baby.

I find all of this somewhat ironic:  in the '70s we wanted our jeans to fade and quickly.  I remember getting a pair of new jeans and washing them repeatedly to get them to just the right softness and color.  It wasn't until the '80s that the pre-distressed denim caught on followed by the addition of Lycra and Elastane to improve the fit and comfort.  I would love to get the reactions of the gold miners in the 1800's if they could see their rugged attire getting the full on fashion hipster treatment that it now receives.

- Laurel Marcus

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

In the Market Report: "Cheap Thrills Continued..."

Banana Republic and Marimekko Crew-Neck Sweater in Kivet Print,
Mid-length Patio Skirt in Kivet Print, and Ankle-Strap Sandals

No discussion about “Cheap Thrills” would be complete without mentioning the launch of a limited edition capsule collection which marries Banana Republic’s iconic designs with Marimekko’s signature prints ( 25 piece limited edition summer capsule, comprised of printed separates, tunics, maxi dresses, a romper, zippered clutches, ballet flats and sandals, will retail from $39 to $149. It’s available online starting Wednesday, and will reach the stores on Thursday.

Banana Republic’s Vice President of Women’s Design, Melloney Birkett, admitted, “Marimekko’s unique design of pattern and colour has always inspired me as a designer”. “We were inspired by Marimekko founder Armi Ratia’s motto of, ‘Stand out from the rest,’ and we designed a collection of must-have summer standouts.” And there’s no question one will stand out in the collection’s highly distinctive patterns, created by three of Marimekko’s famed designers, Maija Isola, Maija Louekari and Aino-Maija Metsola. The “intriguing landscapes, folk-inspired art, and circular dots that dance in a single file”, play out in bright hues and in striking and graphic black and white, the latter of which is, alas, my personal favorite.

On my ‘must buy’ list is the Kivet printed crew neck sweater ($69.95) and mid length dramatic ‘patio’ skirt ($98). The top is in small circles and the skirt is done in larger circles. They will be perfect worn together or taken apart and mixed and matched. It doesn't hurt that I already own Marimekko’s black white Kivet printed large silk scarf and cotton canvas bag, (from several years ago), and the Mari long sleeved t shirt in black and white horizontal stripes, which is a classic, always available at the store or online, and my summer standby, $95.

-Marilyn Kirschner

Monday, May 19, 2014

In the Market Report: "Cheap Thrills"

Joe Fresh red,white, &
blue striped t & skirt
"There are those expensive purchases that demand some thought and consideration, and then there are the ones that by virtue of their unbelievably low price tags (and classic timeless nature), are "no brainers". I am an equal opportunity shopper, subscribe to both ends of the totem pole, and am not above a 'cheap thrill' ". 

I have previously mentioned that I almost never walk out of a Joe Fresh ( store without purchasing something and this past Saturday was no exception. I was at their Flatiron location (16th Street and 5th Avenue), a study in clean optic black & white with an emphasis on stripes (right up my alley and as far as I’m concerned, you can never have enough of either; especially at those prices). Within minutes, I picked up two horizontally striped short sleeved bateau neck t shirts in thick, soft Ponte cotton: one, in black with white stripes, the other, crisp and nautical, in wider stripes of red, white, and blue (each $39).

Joe Fresh Contrast Buckle Loafer

My eye immediately gravitated to the handsome, eye-catching shiny black patent loafers with contrasting white soles and white "enamel" horse bit buckle (a la Gucci, except for the price, that is - marked down from $59 to $39). Then I saw a shelf filled with simple, chic pumps on a 2 ½ kitten heel (very Manolo Blahnik/ Jimmy Choo). I selected the ones in black textured linen, which set me back $89. (They are also available in navy and camel suede and in a textured linen plaid).

Joe Fresh large striped tote

I paid and was on my way out, when I spotted an enormous structured tote bag (9 ½ inches high, 7 ½ inches wide, 19 ½ inches long) covered in graphic, wide black & white stripes. Upon inspection, I noticed it was made of crisp cotton poplin, fully lined, with a zippered compartment and a few more for cell phones, etc. Not only was the price right, $39, it was practically weightless, and I surmised it would be perfect to schlep around town. Not to mention that you could pack an entire summer wardrobe for a weekend jaunt out of the city in it, and would make one helluva chic beach bag. And since I was heading over to the Union Square Greenmarket, I decided to take the tags off and use it immediately, so I could fill with my fruits and vegetables.

Pavilion building
(photo Milo Hess)

By the way, Saturday was a gorgeous sunny spring day, the kind of day when the market is at its best. It could not have been a more perfect day to take note that what had previously been a grand but empty concrete pavilion, had been wisely converted into a restaurant, the first one to open in Union Square since 2006. The Pavilion, Located at 20 Union Square West, (212 677 7818), it has already been compared to Tavern on the Green as you don’t feel like you’re in New York (its inspiration is the French Riviera).

 Inside there are gorgeous chandeliers and palm trees, and the outside is lined in hibiscus bushes (you can dine alfresco shaded by large orange umbrellas: the patio seats 100 and offers view of the park). Best of all, much of the produce used by Chef Mario Urgiles, comes straight from the Union Square Greenmarket. The market café is open daily and serves brunch, lunch, and dinner. FYI, while it’s not exactly a “cheap thrill”, by New York standards, prices are reasonable.

-Marilyn Kirschner

Sunday, May 18, 2014

In the Market: "Ode to Blue-nettes, Greenheads and Viol-ondes"

There's been a lot of talk about occurrences in elevators lately so here's one that I observed.  Spoiler alert:  no family "diva-"namics were involved and no stiletto heels were used as weapons however it is a "colorful" story.  The elevator in question is in my building and I was riding down with a very cute and precocious toddler who was conversing with his caregiver until the door opened and a young woman got on.   She had a wavy mane of aqua colored hair reminiscent of a tint normally observed at the bottom of a swimming pool.  "She's got blue hair!" the little boy exclaimed as the pretty girl smirked a bit and I waited for what would happen next.  "She's a princess!" he announced.

Poppy Delevingne in L'Oreal ad featuring the "splashlights"

I've certainly noticed a proliferation of "unnatural" hair colors be it blue, purple, pink, green, bright red or yellow and it's not just on clowns  or Goths anymore. Cyndi Lauper with her "true colors" in the '80s may have been one of its first proponents but since then  plenty of celebs including Lady Gaga, Katy Perry, Rihanna, Gwen Stefani, Kelly Osbourne, Nicole Richie, Kylie Jenner and even Lupita Nyong 'o who had a purple tint applied to her hair for the Met Gala, have been known to embrace the unusual locks. In fact, there was a recent twitter battle over green hair with Gaga intimating that Katy Perry had stolen the look from her. Further evidence that the unnatural hair color trend has gone mainstream includes a L'Oreal ad with recent bride Poppy Delevingne featuring fuchsia "splashlights" and no, she didn't wear them to her wedding. LOL

Dame Edna

Meanwhile, while not a new trend, I feel that I'm seeing it more on the street "unicorns" in everything from a full head of purple, pink or blue, to various strands dyed in multi colors to only the ombreed tips also known as the dip dye trend done in a neon green or fluorescent pink.  In addition, the look is skewing older than just the club kid scene (unless that club was Studio 54 many moons ago). So what is going on here?  Are we so bored with blonde, brunette and redhead or is this a natural extension of the same influence present in odd lipstick colors (black, green, blue, yellow, purple), nail polish and possibly even body art?  Could the current obsession with multi colored furs which gained favor with the spring 2014 Prada coats seen on Marc Jacobs, Anna Wintour and Anna Dello Russo have somehow held sway on hair color?

Lady Gaga and Katy Perry

The argument of "so where do these people work anyway?" is also not as relevant as it once was.  I would assume that, depending on how flamboyantly the hair is "altered" they are often employed in highly artistic and experimental fields, hairdressers, stylists, art students, creators and emulators of "My Little Pony."  Almost certainly they are not bankers, lawyers, surgeons and people in more "serious" professions. They are also people that can afford, both  in time and in cost,  the high maintenance of these colors as roots seem to sprout up overnight.  The more vibrant colors seem to fade into a creepy pallor and since bleach is necessary as a primer, the hair tends to become dull and lifeless if done too often or by a novice.

Rainbow hair locks

On those I've seen with natural gray in their hair, the color will take vividly to the gray strands and less so to the more pigmented ones giving an odd effect.  Conversely, I've seen that gray hair is sometimes embraced by the young a la 2010 when Karl Lagerfeld sent models down the runway with silver tresses,  or maybe that's just the after effects of what happens when the bright colors wash out. For those who don't wish to actually strip and dye their hair, assuming the hair is not overly dark, they have the option of being able to try out a temporary color rinse such as Special Effects, Adore or Manic Panic.  There is also hair chalk, perhaps more for the music festival crowd as I've read that it's quite messy to deal with and very transitory lasting only a few hours; perhaps best saved for an evening in late October, ie. Halloween.

Despite its drawbacks including  upkeep,  risk of its wearer being dismissed as being as flighty as a peacock, not to mention little kids making funny remarks,  I appreciate those who have the aplomb necessary to carry it off  and it makes me happy when I see it.  Once, years ago someone  told me that my naturally dark hair reminded her of Veronica's in the Archie comic strip; that it was so black,  it had  blue highlights.  Now, years later I wish that I could go a step further and actually put a dark blue rinse through my hair however I'm pretty sure it's never going to happen.  I will entrust dark blue locks to the truly adventurous (read glamorous) humans.  Truth be told,  I've had nightmares of running into Wonder Woman in an elevator where she appropriates a line out of Joan Rivers playbook:  "Bitch stole my look!" right before she threatens me with her magical sword.

-Laurel Marcus