Friday, June 27, 2014

Summer Fashion Kool-Aid: July 4th Edition

Liza Gottlieb jewelry

Sparklers of the Non-Incendiary Kind On Sale: A few weeks ago I visited the Gale Grant store on Madison Avenue in search of a statement necklace to wear with a multicolored, abstract floral (it actually resembles camouflage) gown. I had already searched many stores and couldn't quite find what I was looking for and was starting to think it didn't exist. A two-strand creation of unusual vintage beads that echoed the colors in my dress immediately caught my eye. In addition, I bought a beaded and silk tassel necklace and a pair of earrings to add to the ensemble.

A show stopping necklace

All of those pieces were designed by Liza Gottlieb  who also sells out of her East 61st Street. studio. She is having a sample sale on July 1st and 2nd in which many of her designs including bracelets, show-stopping necklaces, earrings and rings will be half off. "These are not things you find in Chinatown," Liza said referring to her one-of-a kind pieces. She travels the world three times a year collecting and curating materials from flea markets and other sources in her native Paris, Barcelona, St. Petersburg and Vienna where she grew up. "You just can't find these here," she said, showing me the type of well-made, sturdy base used for one model of her elaborately beaded earrings. She proffers an example of what's available locally and I see that it can be bent in half quite easily unlike its French counterpart. The quality she insists on has apparently been noticed by Hollywood elite. "I call this one the Catherine Zeta-Jones" she remarks while showing off a multi-strand many colored torsade; a twin to a necklace that had previously been purchased by the star.

Not only is the jewelry itself interesting but Ms. Gottlieb has designed it with beautiful, functional and easy to use clasps that hook into each other effortlessly; a feature which anyone as inept as myself will certainly appreciate. She has several necklaces that can be added to others, in order to lengthen a choker by virtue of decoratively embellished and crystallized magnetic clasps. Several others are made as lariats that simply tie closed. She also has some magnetized embellishments that can be added to any of her necklaces so that you can further customize your look. Sale priced jewelry begins at about $100 for a bracelet with semi-precious stones (they make great gifts) on up to some of the more flamboyant necklaces which retail for about $900 and will be $450 for the sale. For more information about her July 2 4PM-8PM sample sale contact (917) 292-9964 or

Balmain flag print jean jacket

Patriot Act: The red/white/ blue and ubiquitous wearing of "Old Glory" in clothing normally reserved for July 4th has gotten an extended turn this year thanks to the World Cup. Beginning in mid-June I started observing this trend and initially thought the wearer was getting an early jump on Independence Day. Silly me, I eventually realized the error of my ways and noted that there would be an entire month devoted to the donning of the flag. A similar event happened way back in 2012 (Summer Olympics anyone?) enabling a writer in Boston to sound off (tongue-in-chicly, I'm assuming) as it is technically a "federal offense" to wear the flag or its knock-offs. (see Boston Magazine article) Maybe someone should tell that bit about not wearing stars and stripes to Ralph Lauren...HA! Why the writer calls out women in particular (It's entitled "Ladies, Stop Wearing the Flag") when the guy in the photo wears a flag swimsuit as well, is a mystery.

Catherine Malandrino's flag dress

Among the iconic garments worth a mention here is Catherine Malandrino's famous American flag dress which first appeared in 2001 (eerily pre 9/11) and has been re-issued due to its popularity and re-made in slightly different forms ever since. In a more international forum, shoe and bag designer Charlotte Olympia who's half-Brazilian has issued a limited edition of her Perspex clutches complete with soccer flag inserts as a sporty tie-in. Fun fact: her trademark spider closure is painted to look like a soccer ball. I also took note of several classy vintage finds from 1st Dibs, just in case your 4th involves something dressier than a weenie roast. These include a Balmain flag print jean jacket, a Jean Paul Gaultier dress in draped red and white as well as a red with white polka dotted jersey Pauline Trigere dress; to the last two dresses you could always add a blue accessory.

Seen On (and around) The Subway: No, not flashers, thank goodness, although judging from The New York Daily New's recent "coverage" (or should I say "exposure") they're very common. My observations were of a kinder, gentler sort including the grin inducing "Pac-Man gobbling up the dots" sign seen on the L train. I also did a double-take and had a laugh at the electronic sign in the window of the 2nd Avenue Subway's Information Office located near 86th Street on Second Avenue. Only 921 days and counting (for those mathematically challenged, that's almost 3 years!) until you can ride its first installment. In all fairness I saw that sign a few days ago so we could be talking a mere 915 days by now. This is actually something to marvel at as my husband remembers his father speaking of 1935, the year he was 15, when the Third Avenue El was torn down and the Second Avenue subway was invoked as the line that would replace it. Unbelievably, it never happened in my father-in-law's(aka "Poppy's") lifetime.

Out of the Mouths (and off the Backs) of Babes: I don't as a rule like to mention the Kimye duo on this blog and knowing their propensity for everything outlandish actually cringed at the thought of what they might do to celebrate baby North West's 1st b'day. As we now know they brought "Kidchella" to Kourtney's backyard complete with Ferris wheel, musicians, carnival food and face painting. Of course with the Kardashians there's got to be a scandal; Khloe got in trouble with the Native American community for wearing full Indian headdress. I say forget it as long as there were no " Molly" laced lollipops floating around and no pacifiers used to prevent "ravers" rolling on "E" (rather than tuning into E!) from biting their tongues. Little birthday girl Nori's OOTD (Outfit of the Day) was a fringed suede-like "Pocahontas" inspired dress (don't even want to know what high-end designer made it), the all important crown made of flowers, and looks to have included encasing her little chubby baby legs in gladiator sandals at some point. Yes, that is child abuse in my word on whether she even walks yet (somehow we know that the "other Royal baby" aka Prince George is getting around on two feet now). Certainly any attempts at footing it that "Norphan" or "Ignori" (as the press have dubbed her) might have considered would be indefinitely quashed with gladiator pre-walkers.

Here's wishing you a Happy matter what you wear!

- Laurel Marcus

Monday, June 23, 2014

"This Is What Sixty-Five Looks Like!"

Marilyn Kirschner
(She turns 65 June 23)

On Monday, I turn 65. There, I’ve said it. And based on a friend’s reaction when I told her I was writing about it (she said I was “brave”) you’d think I was confessing to a double murder. But no, I am hardly trying to hide it; which is almost impossible nowadays because of social media, et al. And, if you know when I graduated college and started working, it would be fairly easy to figure it out. Plus, it’s too exhausting to lie (you have to have a good memory and remember all the ‘right’ dates you initially rattled off); and quite frankly, I’d rather people think I look pretty good for 65 than horrible for 50 or 55. It’s a rite of passage and a badge of honor to have made it this far.

Anna Wintour in Prada's face printed fur coat
(She turns 65 November 3)

Things have certainly changed since the "old" days (pardon the pun), when there was a climate in our society that encouraged women to lie about their real ages (dictated or forced would probably be more to the point). Many, many moons ago, when my mom (who is now 94!) was asked her age, she would never divulge, but instead would always coyly answer: “39” (channeling the late Jack Benny). Of course, WAY back in the day, I used to think 39 was about as old as Methuselah and I didn’t understand why, if she was not giving her real age, she would make herself so "old" (who knew?). FYI, mom has always defined  "old age" as being “10 years older than whatever age you are” (that works for me!)

In any event, when it comes to age (and everything else), it’s all about “mind over matter” (if you don’t mind, it doesn’t matter). And, as they say, “it’s better than the alternative”. While turning 65 is hardly as impressive as turning 75, 90, or 100, it is a milestone and one I cannot ignore. I am now a card carrying member of the ’49’ (1949) club (I will soon get my Medicare card, and my half price Metro card).

Miuccia Prada at opening of Fondazione Prada's Exhibition Art
(She turned 65 May 10)

And guess what? I happen to be in good company. Among those high profile celebrities who have, or will be turning 65 in 2014: Bruce Springsteen, Billy Joel, Jessica Lange, Meryl Streep, Richard Gere, Wolfgang Puck, Sigourney Weaver, Jeff Bridges, Lionel Ritchie. And within the world of fashion: Paloma Picasso (April 19); Miuccia Prada (May 10); Vera Wang (June 27); Twiggy (September 19); Annie Leibowitz (October 2); Anna Wintour (November 3). To paraphrase Gloria Steinem (she is now 80), who, four decades ago famously said, “This is what 40 looks like; we’ve been lying so long, who would know?” this is what 65 looks like!

Paloma Picasso with Eric at the Mille Miglia Race 2014 in Brescia
(She turned 65 April 19)

As you can see, nobody in this group (all of whom are at the top of their fields), shows any signs of slowing down. Paloma Picasso is continuing on with her successful collaboration with Tiffany & Co. and her line of signature perfumes (for men and women). Twiggy (born Lesley Lawson) who literally defined the 60’s, is currently designing a line for Marks & Spencer (she has modeled for this British retailer since 2005 and has starred in their advertising campaigns). And we certainly know what Annie, Anna, Vera, And Miuccia have been up to as of late.

Twiggy for Hello MagazineUK March-2014
(She turns 65 September 9)

If there was ever a good time to grow old (or older), it is now, since life expectancies are longer and people are living healthy, productive, amazingly fulfilled lives well into or past, their ‘golden’ years. Age has almost become irrelevant; it’s just a chronological number, not a state of mind. And even though getting older has its obvious drawbacks and challenges (which I refuse to bore you with - you know what they are), thankfully, when it comes to the beauty and fashion landscape, things could not be better for us baby boomers.

Jessica Lange with Marc Jacobs at the 2014 Met Museum Gala
(She turned 65 April 20 )

This is a moment in time defined by ever changing points of reference, tolerance, and understanding across the board. The global perception of beauty has markedly changed as well: beauty comes in all guises and there is not just one standard with regards to height, weight, ethnicity, color or texture of one’s hair (or lack thereof); OR, age. Furthermore, one can choose to go with the flow and celebrate one’s lines, wrinkles, and strands of gray or white hair; or one can opt to camouflage and turn back the clock (though, in my opinion, too much ‘work’ never works and continually going under the knife can often have worse results than going au natural).

Iris Apfel the ultimate 93 year old rule breaker 

In terms of fashion, simply put, anything goes; there are no hard and fast rules to live, grow old by, or dress by. And anyway, rules are made to be broken. I never tire of pointing out that at 93, Iris Apfel, a celebrated rule breaker if ever there was one, is always the coolest cat in any room (not to mention easily the best dressed and the best accessorized) and she has the spunk and energy of someone half her age. Among the key elements that keep her ageless and young at heart: she is passionate, taps into her creative side, and remains curious about the world around her. You too can channel Iris and be bold, out there, and as expressive and as eccentric as you want; if you’ve come this far, you’ve earned it!

I beg to disagree with those who complain that fashion is only for the very young, that the older customer is summarily ignored, and that designers don’t address their needs. I’ve heard women say they can’t find dresses with sleeves, everything is too short, and pants are too tight. Say what? I don’t know where they’re looking. If you want to complain about the astronomically high prices for fashion, that’s one thing (and there are plenty of ways around that too, as you know), but to suggest there are no clothes for grown-ups is preposterous. Quite frankly, I can’t think of another time quite like the present, where there are so many options across the board (vis a vis style, overall look, length, shape, silhouette, color, etc.) and  that is not about to change.

Vera Wang
(She turns 65 June 27)

Actually, fashion is the ultimate equalizer. It works as a perfect camouflage and is a great tool, if you know how to use it to your best advantage (accentuate the positive, downplay the negative). If you don’t like a part of your body, or simply want to (or need to) cover up your arms (perhaps you suffer from that dreaded UAJJ - under arm jingle jangle), legs, tummy, etc., you can easily do so without looking as though you have to. Legs are usually the ‘first to go’, so if you want to show off your great gams, great! If you don’t like your legs, who says you have to wear skirts or dresses? Pants are always a viable and chic option. Hate your feet? Don’t wear bare sandals; opt for closed toe pumps. Do you hate high heels or are simply uncomfortable in them? Low heels and flats could not be more ‘of the moment’. Not that they were ever out of style. Just look at past fashion icons, (the chicest women on earth), such as Coco Chanel, Gloria Guinness, Diana Vreeland, Babe Paley, Slim Keith, Audrey Hepburn and Jackie O, who favored flats or moderate heeled shoes both day and night (in my opinion, there’s nothing worse than seeing an "old lady" having a hard time walking in unwieldy high heels. It’s far more attractive and chic to be able to glide around gracefully).

Feel bad about your neck (a la Nora Ephron)? There’s no problem hiding, or deflecting attention away with a black turtleneck (a wardrobe staple),  a sculptural collar, statement necklaces (chokers, collars, bibs), and scarves (narrow, wide, long, short, solid, printed) which always add just the right touch. Having a bad hair day? There are so many great hats these days. Try turbans (it worked for Eleanor Lambert). You can also invest in hair pieces or wigs; or simply chop it off and wear it very short, which is not only practical, but really stylish. Do you hate prints and find them unflattering? Opt for monotone solids.

Sigourney Weaver
(She turns 65 on October 8)

Furthermore, there are a number of creators (almost too many to enumerate) whose intelligent, sophisticated designs and aesthetic seem particularly well suited for smart grownups who are years out of puberty: Alber Elbaz; Phoebe Philo; Derek Lam; Dries Van Noten;, Raf Simons; Jason Wu; Mary-Kate and Elizabeth Olsen; Joseph Altuzarra; Damir Doma; Azzedine Alaia; Tomas Meier; Narciso Rodriguez; Anne Demeulemeester; Jack McCollough and Lazaro Hernandez (Proenza Schouler); Oscar de la Renta; Francisco Costa; Nicolas Guesquiere; Alexander Wang; Vera Wang; Miuccia Prada; Christopher Bailey; Donna Karan; Stella McCartney; Ralph Rucci; Martin Grant; Haider Ackermann; Michael Kors; Carolina Herrera; Frida Giannini (Gucci); Maria Grazia Chiuri and Pierpaolo Piccioli (Valentino); Ralph Lauren, among them. (If I left someone out, you could blame on my having a "senior" moment). And let’s give a shout out to the likes of Rei Kawakubo, Junya Watanabe, Thom Browne, Karl Lagerfeld, etc., who enable us to tap into our creative sides, dream, and fantasize. In any event, most women don’t buy head to toe designer anyway: they pick and choose and incorporate select pieces into their wardrobes. The bottom line is designers can only propose. It’s up to the informed customer to make it her own.

Bruce Springsteen
( He turns 65 on September 23)

A far better suggestion would be to stop trying to be "fashionable". As Coco Chanel said, “Fashion Fades. Style is Eternal”. Don’t follow trends; instead, tap into your personal style, own it, and tweak it. Personally, I find I am far more appreciative of fashion history (maybe because I’ve lived through much of it? LOL), which in turn, makes me more appreciative of my fabulous, unique, one of kind vintage pieces including icons such as the black vinyl Courreges logo embossed cropped jacket from the 60’s and an Azzedine Alaia faux leopard bolero jacket from his autumn winter 1991 & 1992 collection. (I have a bucket list that includes the iconic 70’s khaki Yves Saint Laurent lace up safari shirt and a vintage red Hermes Kelly bag). I am more interested in quality and integrity than "trends", and am usually on the hunt for those perfect distinctive classic pieces that I know will last forever. Case in point, THE perfect gold buttoned navy blazer, a seasonless, timeless staple which everyone needs in their closets; I think I’ve found it: Joseph Altuzarra’s navy wool Seth blazer, $1695, available at Bergdorf Goodman. If it sounds like a splurge, (when you consider how often you would wear it), it’s really more of an investment and, of course, there are less costly examples.

Meryl Streep
(She turned 65 January 8)

Most importantly, it’s not about looking young, but about looking your best. There was a famed fashion editor (she shall remain nameless!) who was in great shape, had a petite build, and often dressed in a decidedly youthful manner, down to her printed Pucci leggings. If you saw her from the back, you could easily mistake her for a spry young thing; until you saw her wrinkled face (eeeuw). Being young at heart and wanting to affect a youthful image is fine (among those items that I consider to be forever young, yet completely ageless: Chuck Taylor’s red Converse All Star High Tops; leather biker jackets; jean jackets - -actually, anything denim; striped t shirts; crisp white button down shirts). But there is nothing worse than trying to look too inappropriately puerile. Oh, I just thought of something: trying to look too sexy.

There is nothing more unfortunate, than seeing a woman from the back, clad in a short tight provocative dress, wearing very high heels, and you think she’s a hot young chick, only to see her from the front, and realize she is no spring chicken (double eeeuw!). What you do in private is your own business; trying to look sexy in an overt way, (especially over a "certain age") is well pathetic, if not desperate: kindly refer to, as it works for all ages. Having said that, far be it for me to preach or tell anyone how to (or how not to) dress. It’s an individual matter and if that’s your thing -- go for it.

It’s stating the obvious to point out that staying in good shape is not only recommended from an aesthetic standpoint (clothes will automatically look better on you), but health wise. While studies have shown that skinny rats live longer than plump ones as you get up there in years, the good news is that there is scientific proof that a few added healthy pounds can actually extend your life. So enjoy good food and wine! More good news: with age comes experience, knowledge, wisdom, and confidence. You are less hard on yourself and less inclined to care about what others think. You know what’s important and you can put things into proper prospective. You also appreciate everything much more; you don’t take anything for granted and you realize life is a gift.

So, relax and Happy Birthday fellow 49ers!

- Marilyn Kirschner

(Photos credits: Getty Images; Hollywood Reporter;; Hello Magazine;)

Sunday, June 22, 2014

In the Market Report by Laurel Marcus

"Summer Fashion Kool-Aid" 

Here are some things I've been thinking about, reading about, or experiencing lately. Several are shoe related so I will attempt to start off on the "right foot."

Miley Cyrus
SEEN IN BLOOMINGDALE'S DESIGNER SHOE DEPARTMENT: Two beautiful young girls being served champagne as they tried on literally every pair of Chanel shoes from the sandals to the over-the-knee boots (yes, they're in stock already)! I'm not sure how many pairs were actually purchased between the duo but let's just say that the salesman could not have been happier to see them. This scene definitely reminded me of  Miley's London Chanel haul from last summer

 DIFFERENT DAY, SAME SHOE DEPARTMENT: An advisory: Don't even think of trying on the "shoe of the moment" seen on every major Hollywood starlet since early spring, known as the Stuart Weitzman "Nudist" (even footwear has jumped on the naked bandwagon these days) if you are over 50 and have "aging" tootsies. Just as you wouldn't (hopefully) rush towards the smallest bikini in middle age, more is definitely more when attiring your feet as well. Supposing that you could maneuver in these five inch heels for an evening (there is actually some padding which minimizes the pain of a high heel) they will not be flattering if your veins are popping out and your dogs are barking to the tune of Bruce Springsteen's "Cover Me." I took these puppies for a quick spin around the selling floor in the interest of all the hype and it was horrifying!

Givenchy skate shoes
DIFFERENT DAY, DIFFERENT SHOE DEPARTMENT: I recently bought two pairs of Givenchy skate shoes on sale at Barney's.  Still debating if they're keepers or going back as I'll surely not be popping a kickflip in this lifetime. I've always preferred sandals to closed in shoes in the summer but I'm definitely rethinking that stance after my SW "Nudist" encounter! Decided that a pair of Fendi low wedge mixed media (part elastic and animal print) sandals were the perfect compromise of style and comfort. 

Fendi Sandal
BROWSE IN SHOP WINDOW, BUY ONLINE: I have mixed emotions about jumpsuits. In theory, what could be better than an adult "onesie" however in practice they're annoying when you need to visit the restroom. Zara has a super cute floral one in the window but it sold out. There should be a law that sold out items must immediately be taken off of displays!   Hooray for was placed at 5:17 p.m. and delivered to my door less than 24 hours later. How do they do that? It's the fashion equivalent of Chinese food that appears before you hang up the phone or more likely these days, click  "order now." Fast fashion, indeed!

Elizabeth Hawes titles
 ON THE LITERARY FRONT: Elizabeth Hawes was "The Most Brilliant American Fashion Designer" that you've never heard of according to T Magazine (New York Times Sunday Mag of June 15 Hawes chronicled her  fashion career first as a "copyist" in Paris making knock-offs of Paris Couture and later as her own label beginning in the late 1920's through the '60s as well as being a prolific writer who published nine books. From the article I was inspired to read "Fashion is Spinach" which I discovered, amazingly enough, is available free online.

Elizabeth Hawes, designer and author If you plow through this book which details her early years in the biz, you will learn about the life-span of a trend (it's about three years), the difference between being merely fashionable, being stylish and being chic (a word for which there is no English equivalent which should tell you something according to Hawes), not to mention her insight into the fascinating world before "ready to wear" became a thing. I can't help thinking that if Ms. Hawes was alive today perhaps, in the spirit of Lady Gaga, she would have designed a dress of Popeye's favorite food  although she obviously didn't mean that "fashion is spinach" literally.

 PART DEUX ON THE SUBJECT OF READING: What's with the proliferation of fashion business retailer/designer/entrepreneur "How I Made It" books being published lately? First there was "By Invitation Only: How We Built Gilt and Changed the Way Millions Shop" by Gilt founders Alexis Maybank and Alexandra Wilkis Wilson. The book details how the two authors met at a mixer as Harvard Business School students and decided to form an unholy alliance that would eventually rob me of most of my savings (haha). I've since quit that addiction and hardly ever look at the sales. (RIght!) Then there's "The Glitter Plan: How We Started Juicy Couture for $200 and Turned It Into A Global Brand" by Juicy Couture founders Pamela Skaist-Levy and Gela Nash-Taylor.
These two smart women started their company by forging a bond over good t-shirt design. With $200 and Gela's one-bedroom Hollywood apartment as a workspace, they turned Juicy into a brand which they eventually sold to Liz Claiborne for $50 million. Their mantra was to never create anything they weren't obsessed with. They have a new line called Pam and Gela currently available at Bloomingdale's. Next there's "#Girlboss" by Nasty Gal founder Sophia Amoruso who is worth a cool $100 million and went from dumpster diving thief to internet company chief. I have not read any of these books and therefore can't recommend or discourage you from doing so but perhaps they'd be good beach reading.
Lipita Nyong'o in Vogue
If you prefer a magazine to a book at the beach: pick up July's Vogue with first time covergirl and style star Lupita Nyong'o.  In a similar vein to Gwyneth's non PC comment about online commentary being like going through a war, Ms. Nyong'o mentions that Red Carpet season was like a "war zone" and she was basically shell-shocked by all the attention and all the photographers. Of course, she is not a stupid girl ( they don't give out those Yale degrees to everyone) and begs editor and writer of the piece Hamish Bowles not to feature her comment in bold which he didn't. Good move, Lupita. It's so much better to ask for what you want or don't want than to leave it to chance. At least you go on record and there's a possibility that your wish will be granted.  In addition, the Mikael Jansson photos of her (cover and inside photos) are totally inspirational. Shot in Marrakech amidst a May heat wave there's a marketplace scene, a balance ball, the obligatory swim suit however my favorites are the bathtub as well as Lupita vs. cobra. Jansson recently punished the visual world with the shot of Kendall Jenner topless but he somehow manages to redeem himself here. 

Willagirls at work
 MORE WITH THE PRINTED WORD: "I read the news today, oh boy" (oh girl?) Apparently the tween is replacing the Avon lady at least according to this WSJ article. Tweeners between the tender age of 8 to 13  are having "Tupperware" type parties where they sell a skin care line aimed at them called Willa which was formerly available at Target. The sales reps (they really ARE salesgirls), known as "Willagirls" can make money by selling products and recruiting their friends to become Willagirls too. Just wondering at what point they will run out of girls to sell to? Products featured include the "sleepover travel kit" that can be later used as a pencil case for school. I also learned that the Mall is a four letter word now; a once cool hangout a few years back, hence the downward spiral of stores such as Aeropostale, American Apparel and (thankfully) Abercrombie (the worst offender). Now if only they'd close the Fifth Avenue store and replace it with something less sidewalk blocking, touristy, scented and obnoxious! For more about the downward spiral of stores such as American Apparel and Abercrombie and the answer to the question of whether sex no longer sells t-shirts, check out Vanessa Friedman in the Times here. 

WHICH SEGUES NICELY INTO: Dressing for success not excess.   I've had to reacquaint myself with what constitutes appropriate office attire.  Not for me, but for my rising-college-senior daughter who is employed as a summer intern at a big time real estate firm and must dress in suits or business dresses. Clubbing LBD's need not apply and it's been a struggle to imprint the corporate stamp on her wardrobe yet do it in a youthful, style conscious way. Once again, footwear has become all important as loafers, low heeled pumps and ballet flats have taken a toll on her youthful, vein-less, normally unblemished feet, now covered in blisters. When she was caught at work, Band-Aids in hand, she felt the need to explain to her supervisor. "I'm not used to actual shoes,"  as her college days are spent in sneakers and flip flops.   Thankfully that means no champagne, no Chanel, no "Nudist" high heels. No need to put my foot down.

Laurel Marcus

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

The "New" Best Dressed List for 2014

What is “Best Dressed”, and how do you define it? And why does it matter? (Maybe it doesn’t, but I have my own opinions and I thought it would be fun to share them). As I have said, it is all so subjective, and it means different things to different people. For me, it can be defined in many ways and include a variety of looks and styles. It may be an elusive element but as they say, “you know it when you see it”. Last year, I compiled "The 'New' Best Dressed List of 2013" and this year, I could easily include all those that made the cut in 2013, but I wanted to add new names and some different categories. Also, see "2014 The Year of Naked Ambition" by Lieba Nesis.   

Now in random order:

The Best Dressed International Lawyer

Amal Alamuddin

What sets her apart? More impressive than Amal’s obvious flair for fashion and personal style, is her impressive resume. This beautiful and brainy woman is a high powered, well-respected international lawyer who specializes in human rights issues. She is of Lebanese descent, lives in London and works for legal firm Doughty Street Chambers. Her most high-profile client is Julian Assange, the WikiLeaks founder. Alamuddin is defending him in his extradition case with Sweden.

That being said, among her sartorial signatures: she has gorgeous legs which she often shows off; she never goes out without her aviator sunglasses; she has a penchant for bold, statement making accessories (chandelier earrings and necklaces). But of course, she’s got the most rarefied, coveted and elusive accessory of all (there’s no waiting list and its priceless): George Clooney. When you’ve got that, let’s face it, you don’t need much else. FYI, he will apparently be in her ‘permanent’ collection, as the two are planning to wed later this year.

The Best Dressed “Man Repeller”

Leandra Medine

What sets her apart? Her look is all about perfect unexpected mixes, breaking the rules, adding a sense of humor and playfulness, not taking fashion so seriously, and dressing to please herself, rather than to please men. Even if it means being a “man repeller”, (“outfitting oneself in a sartorially offensive way that will result in repelling members of the opposite sex”). This is not only a term she coined, but then had it copy writed, and parlayed  into a highly influential blog and lifestyle brand ( .

She also penned a book “Man Repeller: Seeking Love, Finding Overalls”. In 2012, Medine was featured in Forbes’s “Top 30 Under 30” as one of the year’s “most influential trendsetters” and was recognized in Time’s “25 Best Blogs of 2012”. You could call her a cultural icon.

"Red Carpet personal style is an oxymoron (and only a moron would equate the two). But four amazingly talented, beautiful, and classy stars (the best and most elusive combination), always shine."

The Best Dressed Actresses

Cate Blanchett

What sets her apart? Nobody can hold a candle to her on the red carpet. She is one of those lucky ones who can pull anything off because of her height, stature, carriage, innate elegance, and intelligence, all of which shine through loud and clear whenever she appears. Her choices reflect her love of fashion and appreciation of great design. She diligently does her homework, and instead of going the obvious predictable route, her selections speak to an informed knowledge of fashion. And she loves to add an element of surprise. Very often she wears a gown that is demurely covered up in front, only to reveal a surprisingly risqué back; other times, she surprises with her choice of design and/or designer. Let’s face it, who else would wear a structured and architectural Delpozo two piece pant ensemble on the red carpet at Cannes, like she did last month? (While respected within fashion circles, Delpozo, designed by Joseph Font, is a relative newcomer, rather than a household name).

Lupita Nyong’o

What sets her apart? What doesn’t? Only one year ago, she was a veritable unknown, and now she has an Academy Award, was named Most Beautiful Person of 2014 by People Magazine, has been tapped as the face of both Lancome Paris and Prada, and graced countless magazine covers. Her look represents beauty in a diverse world. As for her personal style, which she has in spades, she ‘had me at Ralph Lauren’ (I’ll never forget seeing her in that red RL cape gown at the Golden Globes) and she has been flawless on the red carpet since. But, to her credit, she is not stuck in a style rut and her style is evolving all the time. She can be classically elegant, severely minimalistic, and all out playful and experimental. This was exemplified by the multi striped culottes ensemble she wore to the CFDA Awards which was met with mixed reviews. One can even forgive her that Prada misstep at the Met Gala last month but even then, SHE apparently loved it, had fun in it, and isn’t that the point?

Marion Cotillard

What sets her apart? The Oscar winning actress is also the face of Lady Dior – a match made in heaven. She is the walking, breathing, living, and modern embodiment of the iconic French label, and in all the ads, her inner and outer beauty, integrity, and natural elegance shine through. She looks sensational wearing Dior in real life (her selections are always on the money), but as a lover of fashion, she has been known to wear other labels, always choosing wisely those styles that suit her enigmatic style.

Emma Stone

What sets her apart: This gorgeous, charismatic 26 year old chameleon, has proved to be sophisticated beyond her years, can literally get away with anything, and it seems it's impossible for her to ever look anything but classy, regardless of what she wears (she always nails it on the red carpet by the way); which is probably one reason she has already graced the cover of American Vogue countless times in the past few years. She is the face of a whole new generation of superstar actors (move over Julia, Gwyneth, Nicole, etc.)

The Best Dressed Keeper of the Best Dressed List

Amy Fine Collins

What sets her apart? With her signature closely cropped hair and long lean frame, the Vanity Fair Special Correspondent and keeper of Vanity Fair’s Best Dressed List along with Reinaldo Herrera, resembles a tall, elegant and chic pixie. But there is nothing at all pixyish about her serious, museum worthy wardrobe, accessorized with a never ending cache of fabulous handbags and Manolo Blahniks. Her sophisticated yet playful sense of style favors strong lines rather than surface ornamentation and is the perfect combination of owning “the well trained eye of an art historian” and a formidable insider’s knowledge of fashion and fashion history. She understands the notion of appropriate and always dresses the part but that is the only common thread in her many visages. Her wardrobe and her looks are varied, and there is always an element of surprise.

The Best Dressed on the Social Circuit

Chiu-Ti Jansen

What sets her apart? Underdressed is not a word you would ever use to describe this brilliant woman of many talents and facets. She studied literature and art at Yale and then went to Columbia Law School after which she was a corporate lawyer specializing in international law. She is currently Publisher and Co-Owner of YUE Magazine - a luxury Chinese-English lifestyle magazine; a writer for a "Chinese Elements" blog for Sotheby's; a fashion columnist for the Chinese edition of the Financial Times. She is passionate about everything she does, not the least of which is fashion, and her appreciation of beautiful design is quite evident whenever you see her at high profile events. She goes to great lengths and takes great pains to get her look 100% right, down to the smallest detail, and she is one of those women who always stand out. You cannot help but notice her.

Fe Fendi

What sets her apart? This prominent philanthropist, social figure, and patron of the arts (ballet, opera, shows up at all the high profile events in New York) attends all the high profile events in New York, always perfectly turned out (from head to toe), in a variety of styles and designs, all of which suit her. She is married to Alessandro Fendi, (he is third generation and serves as a collaborator for Fendi USA as well as a legal consultant to the famed label), and, with her long lean frame and patrician good looks, she is a natural born "ambassador" for the famed label. But while she wears it fairly religiously, she is as an admitted "lover of fashion". You will see her also wear other labels from time to time, depending on what she fancies at that moment.

The Best Dressed with the Best Dressed Apartment

Lauren Santo Domingo

What sets her apart? LSD (as she is known) is model tall, thin, and gorgeous; is married to a billionaire; is a Vogue contributor; and co-founder of online retailer, Moda Operandi. Needless to say, she can have and buy anything she wants. But she is a good editor when it comes to her own wardrobe, which while varied, always shows a certain restraint, and is geared to what is appropriate for each occasion. Thus, she can effortlessly tap into a classic, neo preppy look; don a perfect tailleur or little black dress; be the height of minimal simplicity; look whimsically enchanting; or go for all out glamour, depending on the occasion. And, it must be pointed out that her apartments (one in New York, and a duplex in Paris where she kept the original 18th century plaster), are as chic and perfectly appointed as she is dressed.

The Best Dressed Musician, Composer, & Performers

Janelle Monae

What sets her apart? In an industry where many young superstars dress like pop tarts, this musician, composer, record producer, and multiple Grammy award nominee, is sophisticated beyond her 29 years. Her look is 100% consistent. Perfectly offsetting her signature pompadour and red lips, she dresses in only black and white (or ivory), and favors menswear: tuxedos, starched white shirts, black ties and bow ties, two tone flat lace up oxfords, and jaunty hats (and she did so long before androgyny became THE LOOK of the moment and mainstream).

Taylor Swift

What sets her apart? She is blessed not only with a God given talent, but with looks. In fact, she could easily model (at 5’10”, she held her own at the Victoria’s Secret Runway Show this past February). To her credit, she never looks inappropriate or overtly sexual and regardless of whether she is performing on stage, walking the red carpet, or hanging out with her friends, her selections are right on and appropriately youthful or glamorous, depending on the occasion (she can also be old fashioned/retro at times).

The Best Dressed "Reality Check"

Melissa Kuba Lederer

What sets her apart? Let other women dapple in the trends du jour. Melissa Kuba Lederer, Director of Design & Manufacturing at Verdura, is more than happy to stay with her signature uniform, one that exemplifies the forever appeal of menswear components translated for a woman: an impeccably tailored blazer, a crisp button down shirt, natty two tone lace up flat oxfords, accessorized with classic leather bags and belts. She always looks smart, comfortable, effortlessly chic, and pulled together in an easy, natural way (down to- or should I say, up to- her sleek cropped hair). Not surprisingly, her fabulous consistent look (which always includes narrow white jeans and aviator sunglasses) has also caught the eye of one famous iconic street photographer whom we all know and love (Bill Cunningham), who has religiously captured her going to and from her 5th avenue offices over the past few years. In “Reality Check”, his portfolio following on the heels of New York Fashion Week for spring 2012, she was featured 9 times. This past winter, she was photographed with a fabulous striped mink poncho coat worn over- what else- her signature wardrobe staples. Now, that’s what I call consistent).

The Best Dressed Fashion Director

Caroline Issa

What sets her apart? She can look ladylike, classic, edgy, and of the moment all at the same time. The brainy, exotic looking creative publisher and fashion director of Tank Magazine (born in Montreal to a Chinese mother and a half-Lebanese, half-Iranian father), has a business degree from Wharton and aptly describes herself as “a businesswoman who loves fashion”. Signatures are her exuberant use of color, her sense of proportion, her love affair with tailoring and layers, an emphasis on statement making high heels, and the seemingly effortless way she mixes it all up with ease and panache. Furthermore, even when she taps into the trends du jour, she never looks like a fashion victim, as the result is always organic and seamless, comme il faut, and she makes it her own.

The Best Dressed Luxury Goods Department Store VP

Linda Fargo

What sets her apart? If ever there was a perfect ambassador for a luxury goods department store, it would have to be Linda Fargo, who has held the position of Senior Vice President, Fashion Office and Store Presentation of Bergdorf Goodman since 2006. Always flawlessly groomed (with her signature platinum hair and red lips), and impeccably turned out (regardless of the occasion) she is the embodiment of Bergdorf Goodman. She wears a variety of styles and carries them all off with aplomb, and they suit her to a t. Furthermore, there is nobody who shines as she does, at high profile fashion events, especially when they are themed (as she once told me, “I love a good theme”).

The Best Dressed Fashion icon/ Fashion Stylist/ Beauty Entrepreneur

Linda Rodin

What sets her apart? Renaissance woman doesn’t even begin to describe Linda. She was a model in the 60’s, worked at Harper’s Bazaar in the 70’s (where I first met her), began freelancing and became a fashion stylist, opened one of the first boutiques in Soho in 1979, had her own shop in Bergdorf Goodman in the 80’s, and started a highly successful skincare line with an enormous following, Rodin Olio Lusso New York, about 5 years ago. She has been called a “grown up style icon” and she describes her understated style as “classic with a twist”. While I hate to bring age into the equation (because it’s really irrelevant), Linda is over 60, and has perfected the art of aging (and not just gracefully, but amazingly), and many women, of all ages, would benefit from following her lead.

She eschews trends in favor of a signature personal style that suits her and her lifestyle: she only wears flats or very low heels (shoes and boots), has traded in eye-makeup for a statement making glasses, keeps her platinum hair in a simple ponytail or bun, wears red lipstick. And her enviable, carefully edited wardrobe, is based on simple clean unfussy lines, and her love of denim, specifically dark, original, un creased denim. As she put it, “I like jeans with anything! Casual or dressy. Jean jackets with a dress or skirt, jeans with vintage sequined tops...jeans are always right. They have been the main part of my wardrobe since I was 16."

The Best Dressed Couple

David and Victoria Beckham
(You didn’t really think I was going to say, Kim and Kanye did you? LOL)

What sets them apart? The genetically blessed soccer phenom/fashion icon, and his superstar designer wife, complement one another perfectly, are undoubtedly each other’s best accessories, and often dress in matching ensembles (or at the very least, are color coordinated, and hardly in a cutesy way). The couples that dress together stay together? Perhaps.

Pharrell Williams and Helen Lasichanh

What sets them apart: I love that they coordinate their outfits, as further proof that they are on the same wavelength (both creatively and in life). Maybe that is truly the key to eternal 'happiness'(?) In any event, what more can you say about Pharrell, a fashion icon in his own right, whose exuberant and expressive personal style suits him perfectly (plus, I can't stop humming his infectious "Happy"); and Helen, his model/designer wife, who prefers to be covered up (often in menswear inspired pieces), rather than to bare it all.

The Best Dressed at the Met

Sarah Jessica Parker

What sets her apart: As the Metropolitan Museum Costume Institute Ball becomes more and more high profile each year (thanks to Anna Wintour), one can argue that it deserves its own category. And without a doubt, nobody 'owns' the moment more than Sarah Jessica Parker, who painstakingly does her homework and research, and has brought her A Game to this event in the past few years. The only problem is that now, the expectations are so high, one has to wonder how can she top last year, or the year before? I don't know, but it will be fun to see how she does it (and I'm sure she will, regardless of what the subject of the exhibition will be!)

"The Best Undressed?"


What sets her apart? It's official! I am so "over" that whole Rihanna, expose-it-all, leave-nothing-to-the-imagination fashion (if you even want to call it that). It is far more chic and seductive, to leave something to the imagination! If anything, Rihanna, who showed up to receive her CFDA Fashion Icon Award in basically, a Swarovski crystallized version of her birthday suit, deserves to be in a category called "Best Undressed". Actually, now that I think about it, maybe she is (unwittingly) on to something. What she was "saying" was that the most important part of a person is themselves, their spirit, and who they are, rather than what they are wearing (or not wearing). So, kudos to her!

The Best Dressed Mothers and Daughters

Sally and Chloe Perrin

What sets them apart? Mother and daughter Sally and Chloe Perrin are proof that the apple doesn't fall far from the tree. They are Creative Director and Brand Director of Perrin Paris, a family owned luxury line that dates back to 1893 and is now undergoing a renaissance thanks to the duo, and family head Michel who serves as CEO. Dividing their time between Paris and New York, both are the epitome of French understated chic mixed in with New York pragmatism. Favoring neutral colors, minimal yet dramatic lines, and a penchant for avant-garde labels (like Rick Owens) the tall, lithe duo (Sally is a former model) always accessorize with one of their fabulous simple, chic, distinctively shaped Perrin bags, making them the perfect walking advertisements for the luxury accessories label that they oversee.

Anna Wintour and Bee Shaffer

What sets them apart? It can't be easy being the daughter of arguably the most powerful woman in the world of fashion. But luckily, Bee Shaffer has no desire to compete with or follow in her mother's footsteps. While she is always stylishly turned out, the beautiful and brainy Columbia University grad (whose father is Anna's ex husband Dr. David Shaffer) has her own sense of style, independent of her famous fur loving mom (actually, I don't think I've ever seen her wear fur), and she is currently working as a segment producer for Seth Meyers' "Late Night" on NBC.

- Marilyn Kirschner

Photo credits:,,, getty images,,,,, Bridget Fleming Photography, Andrew Zaeh Photography,,,,,,