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. 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 (www.manrepeller.com) .

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?"

Rihanna

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: guestofaguest.com, goofeminin.de.com, nysocialdiary.com, getty images, vogue.com, style.com, elle.com, harpersbazaar.com, Bridget Fleming Photography, Andrew Zaeh Photography, streetkeeper.com, wonderfurs.it.com, fabover50.com, taylormarsh.com, guesswhatgirls.worldpress.com, nytimes.com



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