Sunday, August 31, 2014

Fashion Essay: "Signs of Intelligent Life"

Rick Owens dress and boots
T Magazine September 2014

While there is no shortage of glossy fashion magazines whose September issues hit the shelves in August, it has traditionally been the arrival of The New York Times September women’s style issue (now called ‘T’), that for me, has always symbolized the official end of summer and the long awaited advent of the new season. Owing to its high minded newspaper association and heritage, it seems naturally geared for smart, intelligent women, and I always find it to be visually seductive and an interesting read, just like WSJ, the Wall Street Journal Magazine, which is the newer kid on the block. I must say I am a fan of their fashion and style coverage. I also look forward to the paper’s weekly ‘Mansions’ section on Friday (which is filled with dream worthy abodes all over the world), and their ‘Off Duty’ section, on Saturday.

Linda Dresner at home
(photograph by Adrian Gaut)

Of course, let’s call a spade a spade: using the term ‘high minded’ and ‘fashion’ in the same sentence can be termed an oxymoron… at the end of the day, it IS just fashion after all. Be that as it may, the WSJ’s latest issue features Daria Werbowy both on the cover and inside, wearing THE LOOK (worn in blue jeans, silk shirts, and extravagant furs). I read with interest Tim Blanks’ profile on Vogue Italia editor in chief Franca Sozzani (“The Franca Files”), and Lynn Yaeger’s article, “The Fortress of Modernism”, on retail pioneer Linda Dresner (one smart cookie!) whom I met many years ago. It included images of her ultra-modern home outside of Detroit, and named some of the Avant garde designers who she wore and championed. I was surprised to see that Zoran, the designer who stripped his designs down to their most essential form and used only the most luxurious fabrics (cashmere, satin, velvet, and high-quality wool), was never once mentioned.

With a cult like following (clients included Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, Lauren Hutton, Candace Bergen, Isabella Rossellini), his minimalistic, designs were available in just a few stores, including Linda Dresner’s shops on Park Avenue and in Birmingham, Michigan (he was notoriously picky when it came to who he would sell to). I’ll never forget the time I was summer vacationing in Northern Michigan, and I found myself in the same little lakeside restaurant as Linda Dresner. We were both wearing the same red Zoran red cotton sweatshirt, which had been one of his most iconic pieces, and we both smiled, (not just at the coincidence, but the knowledge that in this little place on the lake, far away from Manhattan, there was not a soul other than the two of us, who would have had any idea that this was not an ordinary run of the mill sweatshirt, or who would have ever heard of Zoran, or cared for that matter).

"Zoran: The Wizard of Ease"
(Vogue 1983)

During the course of an article about Zoran, penned by Cathy Horyn for The New York Times on April 20, 1999, “Zoran, The Master of Deluxe Minimalism”, she asked, “how someone with his practical wisdom and perverse assurance could still be such a fashion secret?” And Vogue Magazine labeled Zoran “The Wizard of Ease” in an editorial in March 1983, photographed by Arthur Elgort. Zoran Ladicorbic eschewed prints and patterns in favor of monochromatic black, gray, beige, navy, white, and red, and he was a champion of a ‘uniform’ way of dressing which is seasonless, timeless, effortless, eased up, comfortable, and chic. He was known for his knitwear, and his love of sporty shapes such as sweatshirts, square cut ponchos, tunics, parkas, shorts. His vision of spare, sporty luxury is as modern and relevant now, as it was more than 30 years ago (his first collection was in 1976) as it’s hard not to notice that a similar no fuss sporty ease and comfort are hallmarks of a current trend towards street wise fashion that embraces reality; one in which the common and banal are elevated, and the everyday is glorified. As T’s editor in chief Deborah Needleman put it, “There is a quiet defiance driven by normalcy and comfort and the freedom to wear things that are great but also allow you to focus on things other than what you’re wearing.”

 And it turns out that Zoran was also prescient on another front: his embrace of sneakers (his footwear of choice was humble white Keds, with the laces removed to pare them down further). Happily, one of the biggest (and smartest) trends to have emerged as of late (it’s played out everywhere, and was captured in all the big fall glossies), is the wholehearted endorsement of comfortable, grounded, footwear (sports inspired sneakers and athletic wear, flatforms, mens’ inspired lace up oxfords and loafers, ballerinas, and pointy toed single soled t straps: there is literally something for everyone). Indeed, all the major editorials have highlighted grounded footwear, and just about the only place you see high heels, is in the advertisements.

Chanel Fall 2014

There is no question that the proliferation and acceptance of comfortable shoes (and the elevation of the lowly sneaker), is one of the biggest stories and biggest fashion game changers in recent memory, and will hopefully put an end to the ‘tyranny’ of the stiletto heel, which has given too many women the false impression that being stylish, fashionable, glamorous, sexy, and well-dressed is somehow related to how high the heels (of course, those who are truly stylish and chic never thought so). I mean really, when designers like Karl Lagerfeld show nothing but trainers and sneakers for day AND evening, and all the ‘cool’ girls are running around in them, you know there is a change ‘underfoot’- literally. High heels, especially when worn during the day, have come to look old, staid, very Upper East Side, and ‘nouveau’, and indeed, there has been a palpable shift in aesthetics (so much so that my 94 year old mother, who always wears her white leather double Velcro sneakers, actually looks hip and plugged in these days). Shoes (some of them heavy and orthopedic looking), that were once perceived as downright ugly are now being touted as the height of fashion. I guess you can say ‘ugly’ is the new black.

Cara Delevigne wearing her high top sneakers and Burberry blanket
(courtesy Hewitt for Splash news)

I’ve long been a proponent of flats and low heels, (because I love to walk everywhere in New York, and quickly). And in my opinion, nothing could be smarter and more modern than wearing shoes that one can actually walk, or run in, if need be. One of the best, smartest quotes that have been made about heels versus flats, came courtesy Ines de la Fressange in her book, “Parisian Chic”. Yes, I know, at 6 foot tall in her stocking feet, she can make a case for never wearing a high heel, but her observation is still spot on: "Many women think they look better in heels but this is quite wrong. Just ask any man. No man would ever say "I'd love you more if you were four inches taller!" Nothing looks worse than a girl tottering about on unmanageable heels! The key to sex appeal is a feline walk, not a precarious wobble." This was the precisely the subject of an article in ‘T’: “The Invasion of the Flats”, by Sadie Stein who referred to them as “a symbol of power in the working world”, and noted, “whereas heels were once integral to power dressing, flats now connote a liberation from that stereotype. As clothes have become more gender neutral, the need to announce our femininity with a percussive soundtrack has vanished”. (Just don’t tell that to Anna Wintour LOL. FYI, I would LOVE to see her sitting front row center wearing a pair of chic sneakers or trainers!)

 Rick Owens Fall 2014

While heels, and high high heels most certainly have their place, and there are certain proportions that cry out for a heel, nothing could be more relevant and modern, than footwear that enables one to quickly and efficiently get through the daily paces of one’s life. (By the way, my definition of modern is Rick Owens, who shares a similar monastic aesthetic with Zoran, and whose fabulous flat over the knee sneaker boots were used throughout an entire portfolio, “The Big Easy”, in “T”). It’s safe to say we won’t be seeing so many women changing out of their flats or sneakers into their high high heels and back, even during fashion week, where everyone has to get to where they are going quickly, and town cars are not always an option. Plus, isn’t the idea of being chic, stylish, and well-dressed predicated upon understanding the notion of what is appropriate? If you think about it, Fashion Week (regardless of what city it’s in), is more akin to a sporting event (marathon, triathlon), than almost anything else. Doesn't make sense to dress accordingly (for speed and comfort)? It’s pretty obvious that Bill Cunningham, who always loves focusing from the knee down (major shoe fetish!), will be pointing his camera at rubber soled sneakers, pancake flats, and menswear inspired oxfords rather than vertiginous heels, when he checks out the front row and beyond in the coming weeks.

 Balenciaga fall 2014

Of course, not everything about fashion is sagely and wise. We all know that high fashion comes with high prices (so does low fashion at times), and in many cases, the prices are so high as to insult one’s intelligence. This is particularly evident where handbags are concerned.  A portfolio in the WSJ, “Crock Rocks” featured “the most coveted bags of the season in exotic leathers”. Bearing names like Dior, Hermes, Chanel, Balenciaga, there were no prices printed, and understandably so, as they are obviously astronomic. Among those who don’t think it’s such a smart idea to spend an arm and a leg on clothing or handbags (even if they can afford to), is Sarah Silverman. The funny, smart, observant, uncensored comedienne also happens to have a presence and sense of style (even if she doesn’t want to admit it), and as such, is as qualified as any, to make her opinions known. During the course of an interview for the May issue of Glamour, she shared her money saving tips (I truly laughed out loud): “Don't clutter your life with stuff you can't afford. Keep your overhead low. Get a car with good mileage. Work toward buying your apartment. Shop at Gap. Enough with obsessing over the latest bag. It's a purse. It holds stuff. Get a backpack. You're being ridiculous.”

 Blank Canvas Tote by Little Liffner

Another woman who agrees that a “bag should never come with the price tag of a two week vacation” and was getting tired of having to “compare her purchases with plane ticket fares and nights at charming hotels”, is Paulina Liffner von Sydow. The founder of Little Liffner bags (, was recently profiled on Her bags are made in Italy using luxurious materials, and they are indeed handsome, timeless, and chic. They also come with features that allow for personalization, and prices are in the $400 - $550 range.

Zara Croc leather bucket bag

I’ll go one step further. Some of the best, most distinctive bags (and everything else it seems) for the price, can be found at Zara ( Sure it’s hit and miss, but lately, it’s more of the former. Some recent standouts in the bag category include the soft dark green leather drawstring bag with rigid handle, $159; the chocolate brown crocodile embossed leather bucket bag, $179; the tri color bowling bag in cotton lined polyurethane, $99.90; the two tone mini city tote in white & black, or camel and black, also made of cotton lined polyurethane, $79.90.

Chanel paper shopping bag

But, if you really want a bargain, why not forgo a traditional bag and opt for a chic sturdy paper shopping bag such as the iconic, identifiable ones from luxury houses such as Chanel and Hermes? Alexander Wang’s luxurious leather bags for Balenciaga, fall 2014, bear a marked resemblance to real shopping bags, and for his fall 2014 Chanel show, held in what was made to look like a supermarket, Karl Lagerfeld presented his own luxurious, glammed up versions of market bags, along with the authentic paper ones. Then again, you can take a page from Vanity Fair Contributing Editor Elizabeth Saltzman. I will never forget seeing her during New York Fashion Week, when she was a young editor at Vogue: impeccably turned out, her bag of choice was not a recognizable status symbol, but what looked to be a humble brown paper lunch bag folded over (fyi, since then, the traditional lunch bag shape has been translated into all sorts of leather incarnations).

Sacks Metallic at Property

But for those who want a more glamorized version, check out the Sacks Natural (they come in 5 different sizes), at Property, 14 Wooster Street (, 917 237 0123), which are also perfect for storage and are made of durable, washable raffia and paper. Their Metallic Sacks, in gold or silver, (also in 5 sizes with prices ranging from about $14 - $52) are especially fabulous looking, and channel Alber Elbaz’s highly sought after metallic garbage bags for Lanvin, fall 2014 (but are far less costly).

- Marilyn Kirschner

"The Daily Bet" - by Rhonda Erb

Miracle Skin Transformer Body SPF 20

It’s Labor Day weekend and that means that the unofficial end of summer is here.  This moisturizing, tinted, body cream will allow you to keep that sun kissed glow into the fall. It softens with jojoba oil, organic narcissus, soy amino and hyaluronic acids and tones with marine extracts. Surface imperfections disappear thanks to skin enhancing silicone and sunscreens protect against the sun’s harmful rays. Miracle Skin Transformer Body SPF 20 comes in three tints as well as sheer, if you prefer to let your natural radiance show through.

Sperry Top–Sider Starling Rain Boot

September means that there are stormy days ahead.  These low-rise boots are waterproof with a cushioned interior that will keep your feet dry and comfortable without sacrificing style.

Origami Owl Custom Jewelry

Seventeen-year old Bella Weems is the designer behind this “social-selling” jewelry company that features clear glass “Living Lockets” filled with charms that tell a story about the wearer. You can create countless combinations from the multitude of charms available to tell your own unique saga.

Bella’s designs are available online or through one of the 60,000 independent sales consultants nationwide who sell the line at in-home “jewelry bars”.

Available at: Lockets, $16-$38; Charms, $5-$8

For more Better Bets:

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Summer Fashion Kool-Aid VIII: Mercedes-Benz "Et al"

Anna Wintour & her Mercedes in the background?

What do the U.S. Open and New York Fashion Week have in common? The answer is a lot more than you think. They both take place in late summer/early fall; boast colorful participants sporting outlandish outfits; feature plenty of theatrics and big egos; as well as frequent Anna Wintour sightings, although, surprisingly enough you’ll probably see her more courtside than tent-side as she has been known to skip fashion shows for tennis tournaments on more than one occasion. Another similarity is that both events are sponsored by luxury car manufacturer Mercedes-Benz who is also the “driving force” (pun intended) behind the Superdome, PGA of America, Ryder Cup and the James Beard Foundation as well as the USTA (U.S. Open) and MBFW in New York, Miami, Berlin, Australia and Istanbul. They became the proud sponsors of the US Open taking over for Lexus and of NYFW in 2009 (the last year in the Bryant Park tents) when most other companies were cutting sponsorship ties due to the recession. According to IEGSR in a May 27, 2014 article, Mercedes-Benz USA, LLC was the 25th largest sponsor on their Top Spenders List “peeling out” (sorry) between $50M-$55M in corporate sponsorships for the year 2013, down slightly from #22 the previous year.

It seems a slightly odd pairing although of course, luxury begets luxury.  Sports, particularly golf, make sense for a MB sponsorship. According to Lisa Holladay, national manager of experimental marketing for MB USA, and as reported by IEGSR in an April 2011 interview, “Golf is an important marketing platform and the one where we spend most of our time and energy.” According to a 2012 article in Forbes, Mercedes-Benz’s typical buyer is married (74%), male (63%), 53 years-old with a college degree (78%) and a household income of $185,000; similar statistics to golf fans but vastly different than your average young female blogger at Fashion Week. Lest there be any doubt, featured in a NY Times Thursday Styles article entitled “The Crazy Quilt of Fall” by Ruth LaFerla, are two photos of models posing with Mercedes-Benz sedans, yet no mention is made of the obvious product placement.

Serena Williams

Forgetting demographics for a minute (I was not a marketing major in college) let’s discuss, the real matter at hand: the fashion at both events. Unlike Wimbledon, its British, far from identical cousin (does anyone remember The Patty Duke Show?) the U.S. Open does not place color and logo restrictions on clothing, in fact, the wilder the fashion the better the crowd likes it apparently. Over the years, Andre Agassi and the Williams sisters especially Serena with her own clothing line, have certainly pushed the fashionable/colorful aspect of tennis and have run into trouble with the AELTCC (All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club) across the pond where even a slight flash of trim or a colorful undergarment (all white everything is the rule) is verboten. Agassi was known to appear at Wimbledon in all manner of crazy vibrant color over garments and would make a show of stripping down to his tennis whites, no doubt whipping the crowd into a frenzy. Serena is known for her love of graphic sometimes fluorescent animal prints (she wore one this past week), as well as her famous 2004 denim tennis skirt and black crop top paired with lace-up tennis “boots” which are on display on her wax figure at Madame Tussauds in New York. She also caused a stir with her black neoprene cat suit in 2002.

Alexander Peya of Austria and Brune Soares of Brasil

This year also featured Steve Johnson, Alexander Peya of Austria and Bruno Soares of Brazil in identical loud shirts featuring black and neon green in a near flame pattern which I would think would be quite distracting to their opponents. Johnson withdrew due to cramping however Peya and Soares played doubles and won suggesting that it might work when twinned. Emilio Gomez of Ecuador wore a fire engine red shirt (red is a sign of prowess and can intimidate your opponent according to this NY Post article:see it here) while 15 year-old American CiCi Bellis (the youngest to win a match since 1996) wore bright royal blue with shocking pink tennis shoes. Sloane Stephens, although she recently lost her match, favors fuchsia and bright orange on the court. Maria Sharapova likes to make a statement in stylish, form fitting outfits although she tends to favor less bright hues or wears them as accent colors. Recent winner Peng Shuai’s on-court apparel to shout as evidenced by her neon pink ensemble.

Polo tech shirt

Ralph Lauren is unveiling a biometric Polo tech shirt with sensors knitted into the fabric that detect a player’s heart rate, stress level as conveyed by perspiration (maybe they should have a deodorant company sponsor this) and other vital biological and physiological information. The data is then stored by OMsignal (the shirt’s co-creator) and transmitted to the wearer’s smartphone. The shirt is black with a bold yellow logo and was tested by No. 1 singles player Marco Giron at the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center during practice rounds. The second skin fit is said to enhance comfort and agility and has been supplied to the ball boys at the Open as well.

Anna Wintour with Michael Jordan and Roger federer

In the stands are also those making a fashion statement. Anna Wintour arrives everyday in another colorful designer frock and has been photographed in a seat near Michael Jordan and Roger Federer. Other celebs including Alex Baldwin and his wife Hilaria, as well as Joy and Regis Philbin, Gayle King, Mayor Bill DeBlasio, actor Josh Lucas and Model Karlie Kloss in a backless gray dress and ponytail have been in attendance and it’s only the first week. Stay tuned during Fashion Week to see how often Ms. Wintour, (a huge tennis enthusiast who is said to start her day with her own game of tennis at 5:45 AM), breaks ranks and disappears from the fashion scene to watch the volleying. I wonder if Mercedes-Benz supplies a chauffeur driven car to transport her from the Manhattan shows to the Flushing, Queens courts? With New York traffic what it is, perhaps she would be better off in a helicopter. Does Mercedes-Benz make a flying machine?

- Laurel Marcus

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Summer Fashion Kool-Aid VII: MTV & Emmy Awards

Robin Wright

Whatever misaligned in the cosmos giving us back-to-back televised award shows before Labor Day is a force that must be dealt with swiftly and mercilessly. We will take no prisoners; with the possible exception of the absent “E!” Emmys red carpet host Ryan Seacrest along with the unknown creator of Sunday Night Football who, perhaps unwittingly, precipitated the need for this cruel and inhuman scheduling. The Sunday night MTV Video Music Awards followed by the Monday night 66th Primetime Emmys is the one-two punch that has made me swear off award shows for at least six months; conveniently just about when the next round of ridiculousness “rears” its well-coiffed head. Incidentally, “rears” is the word that best sums up the VMA’s. (The acronym could easily be changed to "Very Much Ass").

Miley Cyrus

If the hospitality business calls for “heads in beds,” then the music industry, especially of late, is a cry for “rears in gear” or what Fergie-Ferg used to call “junk in the trunk.” Nicki Minaj in her snake-less performance (you may have heard that the python bit a back up dancer in rehearsal) sang “My anaconda don’t want none unless you got buns hun.” Poor Miley Cyrus, last year’s VMA’s scandalous twerking and grinding princess now defers to Ms. Minaj while lamenting her lack of boo-tay. “I can bring that body, I can bring that wrecking ball, but I can’t bring that ass!” she explained to Lucy Hale (“Pretty Little Liars”) and Rapper Sway Calloway during the red carpet pre-show at the Forum in Inglewood, outside of LA. What’s a girl to do? Short of implants, Miley has moved on to work on a new “psychedelic” sound and a new album in conjunction with The Flaming Lips (too much filler perhaps? Haha) but twerking is, at least for her, a thing of the past. In addition, she’s now a do-gooder striving to raise awareness for homeless teens, allowing one quite handsome male specimen named Jesse to accept her Video of the Year award for “Wrecking Ball” for her. Miley even put on some clothes if you can call a cropped black leather tube top and pleated high-waisted matching black leather pants, clothing.  For Miley that’s practically a nun’s habit.

Iggy Azalea and J Lo

Another booty-licious rapper is 24 year-old blonde Aussie Iggy Azalea. According to Ms. Azalea, her most recognizable feature is her bum.  She has said that she can go out incognito as long as she wears shades and most importantly, shields her posterior with a tied over shirt or jacket. She performed “Black Widow” with Rita Ora and shares her famous “Fancy” video (a spoof on the ‘90s movie “Clueless”) with British singer songwriter Charli XCX. Apparently she features Rose McGowan in her “Break The Rules” upcoming prom video (due in October). It’s all less than six degrees of separation as model Amber Rose (Kanye’s ex, Wiz Khalifa’s wife) channeled McGowan’s 1998 infamous naked “chain string” dress at the VMA’s. Meanwhile McGowan has come full circle and wore a figure hiding tube sack dress out to dinner on Saturday night.

Riff Raff, Katy, Britney and Justin

An artist paying homage to a previous iconic award show look would have to be Katy Perry and her date Rapper Riff Raff. The duo came in costume, driving an orange Lamborghini onto the red carpet and alighting in full Britney Spears/Justin Timberlake “all denim everything” circa the 28th American Music Awards in 2001. In place of the hat, Riff Raff showed off his cotton candy colored braided scalp and grills while Katy flaunted her recently pierced nose with a small gold ring. It seems more the kind of thing she would have done when she married Russell Brand in India but maybe she just got around to it now.

Taylor Swift

Other highlights of the VMA’s include Taylor Swift’s performance of “Shake It Off” in a two-pieced fringe number which was slightly more modest (and flattering) than her off stage get-up of a turquoise Mary Katranzhou alphabet onesie…definitely doesn’t sound like something an adult woman should be wearing, even for an awards show. Tiny Ariana Grande with her big Mariah Carey voice is adorable with her stage outfits of sparkly bodysuits or hot pants and over the knee boots. She opened the show as well as shared the stage with equally adorable Jessie J and Nicki Minaj who clutched her black minidress together in a possible wardrobe malfunction. There were some decidedly awkward moments when SNL’s Jay Pharaoh did his impression of Kanye West with Yeezus’ blushing bride and Jenner sisters staring at him from the front row. Kim introduced singer Sam Smith (“Stay With Me”) in a short Balmain caped and beaded Tribal mini complete with plunging neckline—a look we’ve seen from her quite a bit recently.

Blue, Jay and Bey hug it out at the VMAs 

The show ended with a kaleidoscopically high necked bodysuited Beyonce performing snippets of each of her current songs. Her ode to “Feminism,” was derided by many on social media since her gyrations on a pole seemed hypocritical. The night ended in one giant PR stunt as Jay Z with baby Blue Ivy on his lap clapped along and finally got up to present Bey with the Video Vanguard award amidst crocodile tears, kisses and thanks to hubby, baby and God. Call me cynical but the whole thing smacked of residual elevator damage control. By the way, Solange was apparently at the show in an oversized beaded jacket and pants but somehow she was not part of this happy family scene.

Giuliana Rancic

Last night’s Emmys were at the Nokia Theater in downtown L.A. For the first time in 38 years they were held on a Monday night and host Seth Meyers alluded to the fact that no one remembers the ’76 Emmys for that reason. Ok, he wasn’t that funny and at times kinda died out there. I can’t imagine he will be asked back again. As at most non-music award shows, the fashion was mostly a snooze-fest. Whereas musicians will take a chance with a possible mention on the worst dressed list, actresses, even those in television, are reluctant to venture out of their or more likely their stylists comfort zone which can lead to safeness and monotony.

Heidi Klum

What’s black & white and red all over? No, it’s not an embarrassed zebra… but just about every gown was one of those hues. Red was definitely in the majority beginning with E! host Giuliana Rancic, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Heidi Klum (gorgeous Zac Posen flowy and less structured dress in which he called her his “coral angel”), Octavia Spencer. January Jones, Christina Hendricks, Minnie Driver, Claire Danes in a Givenchy Haute Couture, a look I could picture Cate Blanchett in, and Uzo Aduba in a beautiful Chrisian Soriano gown. 

The white memo was received by Laverne Cox (the first transgendered nominee) in a Grecian inspired Marc Bouwer gown, Sofia Vergara (seksi as ever in a strapless “crumbcatcher” form fitting Roberto Cavalli which she was eager to display her backside in), Kristin Wiig with a thigh high slit, Kate Mara in J. Mendel, Julianne Hough in an unflattering almost bridal Dsquared 2, Anna Chlumsky in a similarly unstructured and soft Zac Posen (a sister gown to Heidi Klum’s), Lucy Liu who looked a little washed out in a cream colored gown, Taylor Schilling in a cream, halter necked beaded gown also looked like she could use a brighter lipstick. In contrast, always the best WAG (wife and girlfriend) Camila Alves in a sheer lace Zuhair Murad as a nice foil to husband Matthey McConaughey in a blue tux.  House of Cards’ Robin Wright rocked a backless, white Ralph Lauren jumpsuit which stood out in a daring way.  Katherine Heigl wore a cream colored matronly Little Bo Peep meets MOTB (mother of the bride) satin gown which was inexplicable. 

Gwen Stefani

Many others wore black, short navy (Julia Roberts in Elie Saab), or dark plunging neckline green on Sarah Silverman who quipped that her boobs were “the lowest they’ve ever been and the highest they’re ever gonna be.” Julianna Margulies in an ombre beaded Narciso Rodriguez split strap gown gets my vote for worst dressed. I’m pretending I never saw Lena Dunham with her weird platinum blonde bob (she mentioned that she likes to change up her hairstyle after she finishes a season of her “Girls”) and her pale pink blouse and pink shaded tutu (someone said she was channeling Tina Yothers). I also liked Gwen Stefani’s silver beaded Versace top and skirt which she said weighed a ton. Perhaps the heaviness had affected her brain or her tongue. When she announced winner Stephen Colbert (pronounced Kohl-bear) she said it as it is spelled: with a hard T leading to some pretend confusion among other nominees. The media wants to make an “Adele Dazeem/Idina Menzel moment out of it but it was nowhere near to the level of John Travolta’s recent gaffe. The L.A.M.B designer (she wore her own fuchsia outfit at the VMA’s) and Adam Levine of Maroon 5 are two that attended both night’s events and Mr. Levine even played a set for the crowd outside the arena at the VMA’s.

Kerry Washington

Kerry Washington, who just gave birth to daughter Isabelle four months ago, broke the color trend with an orange strapless Prada gown that featured a black sequin underskirt panel peeking out through a slit. Although a touch Halloweenish, I might have let her get away with it if the top had fit her better. Maybe she recently stopped breastfeeding and her cup size diminished or something but the top was too loose and formed a line under the bust which was distracting. Another actress who bucked the trend was Allison Janney in a magenta strapless gown which was lovely and fit well, however it was velvet, and this was a hot day in August. Maybe no one told her about the Sunday Night Football schedule change?

As for the award winners, I guess it’s a good thing that “Breaking Bad” finished its last season so that another drama can win for once.  Likewise, all of the actors, writers, etc. can stop thanking its creator Vince Gilligan. Ditto “Modern Family” in the comedy arena; the show won its fifth consecutive award. Sorry Sofia, it’s time to let someone else’s ample behind grace the stage.

- Laurel Marcus

(Photo Credits:, NBC via Getty Images, UK Daily Mail, Hollywood Life, US Magazine)

The Daily Bet

Valspar Reserve Paint

The new season is almost here and change is in the air.  Whether you are moving into a new dorm room or campus apartment or your home could just use a facelift, a fresh coat of paint can work wonders.  This new premium paint has HydroChroma Technology, so the colors you choose will stay true longer.  It’s paint and primer in one and one coat covers even the darkest colors. Valspar Reserve is incredibly durable and stain resistant.  The Interior Paint stands up to scrubbing without fading and the Exterior Paint is resistant to dirt, mold, mildew and seasonal elements.  With so many colors to choose from, it’s easy to get creative.

For more information: Valspar Reserve Interior, $42.00-$45.00; Valspar Reserve Exterior, $46.00-$49.00

CherryT Knit & Co. Classic Chunky Cable Knit Mittens

Labor Day means that before you know it, it will be time for warm winter coats and cozy mittens. CherryT Knit and Co. is a Canadian based company dedicated to creating “ the most beautiful winter-warmth ever.” Their Chunky Mittens are hand knit in a soft cotton wool blend yarn and lined in a plush polar fleece. Slip them on and see why they might possibly be the best mittens you have ever owned. When you purchase a pair, CherryT donates a new pair of mittens to a child in need.

Available at: $79.00

(Enter to win a pair of CherryT Knit & Co. Classic Chunky Mittens!  Register your email address at before 11:59 PM EDT, August 29, 2014.  Be sure to put “CherryT” in the subject line.  Two lucky winners will be chosen at random and notified by email.)

Krups Personal Tea Kettle

 Tea for two?  It’s fast and easy with this little kettle that holds up to a liter of water and can be used with loose tea or tea bags.  It shuts off automatically when the tea has been brewed and the internal water circulation system makes perfect tea every time.  The glass carafe is easy to clean and the cord stores conveniently in the base of the unit.

Available at: $44.99

- Rhonda Erb

 Check out the New Better Bets :

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Summer Fashion Kool-Aid VI: "Vacation Frustration"

John Hardy jewelry showroom

My well-loved, broken hinged bracelet went to Bali for the summer--and all I got was the chance to miss it! (Even the proverbial lousy t-shirt would have been an upgrade).  In the interest of full disclosure, Bali is where John Hardy cuffs (and all other types of their jewelry) go for repair - rather than for vacation. It would seem that my silver and black zebra striped piece, now more glistening than ever (it’s showing up the other two of its John Hardy “siblings” which I wear as an arm party of three on a daily basis), enjoyed the two months of R&R (Rest and Refurbishment) in Indonesia while I stayed here in New York. Can I help it if my jewelry lives better than I do? In mid June I tearfully waved my treasured jewel off to “camp” and told it I’d see it at the end of the summer. I did everything but pack it a lunch and promise to write.

John Hardy

Incidentally, all "jewelry-envy" jokes aside (and speaking of lunch), the John Hardy Bali factory does offer a tour and complimentary organic lunch. The tour is said to be spectacular and the lunch even better as all ingredients are supplied from the on-site farm and cooked in wood stoves sans electricity/gas in their open-air Balinese kitchen. Should your travels take you to the Ubud area of Mambal and you would like to tour/dine/possibly shop (although you are not at all obligated to do the latter) here are the details:

John Hardy Kali pattern resembles pebbles in the river

The Hardy compound looks absolutely breathtaking in photos with woven bamboo tube mats serving as flooring (no shoes allowed (cue “carbon footprint” quips). You will need to dig your toes in for balance from what I’ve read; above there are natural towering bamboo tree “ceilings” swaying gently overhead. The entire structure is built on stilts over the rice paddy patches enabling the irrigation system to remain undisturbed. Everything takes its cues from the natural setting; even the showroom jewelry display cases are held up by giant bamboo stalks. The jewelry designs themselves spring organically from the design elements in nature including the pebbled walkways, the rivers, and of course, the ubiquitous bamboo. Some of the more recent designs are more fanciful such as the Naga or dragon rings and bracelets. Balinese lore is that if you wear the Naga head towards you, the dragon is protecting you, if you wear it facing out, he is fighting your critics.

Guy Bedarida and Damien Dernoncourt

In the ‘70s, Canadian jewelry designer John Hardy was living the eco-friendly Balinese lifestyle and using native Balinese craftsmen to execute his designs in silver. He learned the native techniques and introduced them into his jewelry design including that of the classic woven chain made from tooled silver strands. His first commissioned order was from Neiman Marcus for a key chain design that they wanted made into earrings. By the late 1980’s he had built up his company and his compound using sustainable materials to construct low-impact buildings that blended into the surroundings. In 1995 he recruited Guy Bedarida from Van Cleef & Arpels as head designer. In 2007 Bedarida and CEO Damien Dernoncourt purchased the company from Hardy. They adopted the company slogan “Greener Every Day” and continue the effort to become carbon neutral. For each sale of their Bamboo collection more bamboo trees are planted and as of August 2012, the company uses 100% recycled silver in their designs.

Employee lunch table

Of course, it all sounds too good to be true and apropos to that I did find one reviewer who mentioned that the actual factory part of the tour was somewhat less desirable in terms of working conditions.  She cited overcrowded, hot rooms (a byproduct of the hot wax used for the jewelry molds) complete with chemical fumes. Since every piece is made by hand, the work is close and arduous.  It can reportedly take four hours to make one inch of braided chain! The work day is from 8 am to 5 p.m. with an hour for the same free lunch offered to visitors. All 700 employees sit down together in the beautiful open-air room and are served the same organic, culinary chef-prepared feast (no doubt a helluva lot better than anything we’re picking up at the salad bar, fellow New Yorkers).  Employees are also allowed to nap on the open-air orange pillowed lounge area!

Cara Delevingne is the new face of John Hardy

Since vacationing was still on my mind and I couldn’t make it to Bali this year, I decided to see what other hot-spots were trending.  The rich, famous, and beautiful are just like you and me, however they definitely “summer” better. Everyone from Leo DiCaprio, to Lindsay Lohan, from Kim Kardashian to Paris Hilton, from Cara Delevingne (incidentally, she is the new face of John Hardy jewelry) to Justin Bieber to Michelle Rodriguez, from Orlando Bloom to Miranda Kerr (Uh-oh! Awkward alert!) could be found in Ibiza on various yachts.

Ricacardo Tisci's 40th

Whether it was Riccardo Tisci’s 40th (see photos here), or Cara’s 22nd birthday it was celebrated in this locale, complete with supermodels Kate Moss, Naomi Campbell, or Kardashians Kanye West, Kris Jenner, Kendall Jenner, just to name a few. This past weekend Oprah and Gayle King showed up in Ibiza, perhaps a bit tardy for the party and may have wondered where everyone went.

Cara and Selena

Earlier in the summer St. Tropez got some love from rumored couple Delevingne and Selena Gomez who celebrated Gomez’s “pair of two’s” b-day there, however no Selena was present when it was Cara’s turn at double deuces. In Cannes we saw beach photos of Madonna, 17-year-old daughter Lourdes (smoking a joint), and the man first reported to be Lourdes’ 26-year-old boyfriend, Timor Steffans. Not a huge surprise when the boy-toy turned out to belong to Madge (celebrating her 56th on the 16th with this trip when she really needs to stay out of the sun…uh, make that the daylight)!

The island of Capri had its share of revelers including Jared Leto, Cameron Diaz, Lea Michele, Lindsay Lohan (she was everywhere) and, of course, our mayor Bill De Blasio and family. This past weekend Reese Witherspoon was seen in a black plunging one-piece yacht-ing it up with gal pals as well as dancing at a wedding in this gif along the lines of  the Taylor Swift dancing gifs: (see video). It was something of a “working” holiday in mid-July when Dolce and Gabbana launched their Autumn/Winter 2015 couture show. This amazing show attracted every major fashion editor who was brave enough to withstand the rough seas. Once there, guests including Hamish Bowles, Anna Wintour, Suzy Menkes, and several members of international royalty got a glimpse of the exquisite Alta Moda hand-painted one-of-a-kind, jaw dropping gowns. All this occurred amidst speculation of a squashed tax fraud article on the Italian designing duo set to appear in Vanity Fair. Here is Christina Binkley’s video report for the WSJ

George and Amal on Lake Como

When celebrities were not having birthdays, they were toasting their coupledom.  Jen Aniston and Justin Theroux were seen in Bora Bora celebrating their two-year engagement anniversary (are they waiting for Brad and Angie to marry first?), while another couple you may have heard of, George Clooney and Amal Alamuddin do not believe in long engagements. They will supposedly be tying the knot any day now and have been spied in Lake Como where George has a residence. There’s a good chance that Lake Como may well be the wedding location by the looks of things. Naturally, the baby bump watch has started already. Cue the “is it the wind or is she preggers?” photos of Amal. If you can’t get enough of celebrities and enjoy a red carpet challenge try this game:

Although I have generally been away at this time in years past, in defense of the trip-less, I would say that it’s almost worth skipping the summer vacation due to the advance preparation required. No, not talking about a bikini wax (although that’s bad too). I’m referring to the packing! It seems that no matter how carefully one plans it out, something is always missing that you swear you packed. Is there a “ghost of packing past” who sneaks into your suitcase after it’s all packed and removes that one item that you planned all of your outfits around? I tend to fall into the “Overpacker’s Anonymous” and need a 12-step program to teach me to just say “no”. If I’m on a trip with my daughter this actually works out well (for her) as she is a confirmed “Underpacker” who relies on me to supply anything that she might not have brought. Once I cram half the contents of my overweight bag into her smaller suitcase so as to avoid the airline overage fee, I tend not to see these items again, and if I do, they’re wrinkled beyond recognition and/or being worn by her.

Whenever I am faced with an empty suitcase and a looming voyage I think of the late comedian George Carlin’s riff on “A Place for My Stuff” which never fails to make me laugh. There’s something about the line: “Ever notice how everyone else’s stuff is sh@# and your sh@# is stuff?” that gets me every time. Watch it here and try and keep a straight face:

On second thought, maybe the staycation is the way to go. I’ll just wait for another piece of my jewelry to need a repair so that I can live vicariously.

(Photo credits:, Refinery 29, tmz/, Ramey Photo Agency,,,,,

- Laurel Marcus

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

In the Market Report


Michael Michael Kors faux leopard pea jacket

This has been a beautiful summer, and we did not suffer through too many uncomfortable days, but still I cannot wait until the advent of fall. And as luck would have it, the weather as of late has been cooperating. It’s been a true fall preview: almost cool enough to actually get one in the mood to go shopping or at the very least, be inspired to think ahead. FYI, it’s been so crisp and pleasant these days, Starbucks decided to bring back it’s very popular Pumpkin Spice Latte on August 25th, almost one month before fall officially starts on September 23.

Mansur Gavriel calf coated bucket bag

The new fall merchandise has been hitting the stores and the websites with a vengeance as of late and there have been certain categories that have stood out by virtue of their having been literally ubiquitous at every price point and across the board, with almost infinite variations on the theme: leather (there IS life after the moto jacket but it still continues with a vengeance); denim (denim, denim, and more denim); the entire category of athletic, sports inspired footwear; men’s inspired lace up oxfords (I especially love the pointy toed feminized versions as exemplified by Stuart Weitzman’s sharp black and white Leman Oxford, $395 and Attilo Guisti Leombruni’s pointy toed black patent oxfords, $360,; loafers (my two favorites are the iconic Gucci horsebit loafers,, and Prada’s gold metallic kiltie chain loafer, $890,; ankle boots (the Gucci “Lillian” ankle boot, featuring the company’s iconic horsebit hardware is hands down, the most distinctive,; bucket bags (I love the modern simplicity of Mansur Gavriel’s coated leather bags,; small structured trunk bags with distinctive hardware (a la Vuitton); mod (as seen at Vuitton, Gucci, Saint Laurent, etc.); oversized bombers and baseball jackets, fabulous coats, furs, fur trims, shearling (too many to mention); AND faux furs, which have quite simply, never looked better, been more believable, or more desirable.

DKNY Faux Fur Striped Coat

In fact, they are so fabulous (young, hip, modern, minimal, cool) these days, and light-years away from those ugly, bulky, tacky versions from yesteryear, even die hard real fur snobs will be tempted. In the same way almost everyone mixes real jewelry with fabulous fakes, real furs and faux furs will be peacefully cohabiting alongside each other in the chicest of closets. And anyway, let’s face it, many real furs look fake and many fake furs look real; it is sometimes hard to tell which is which unless you actually feel them - and maybe not even then!.

Short Fur Coat in ecru

That being said, they will never take the place of the real deal because they are not as luxurious or as warm (and thinking about last winter’s brutal frigid weather, this is worth noting). But on the plus side, (aside from the obvious: their easy on the pocketbook price tags), because they are made from synthetics (acrylic, mod acrylic, polyester) they are not really that warm, so one need not wait until it’s really cold to start wearing them.

Peter Hidalgo fake fur

Among the chicest standouts: Peter Hidalgo’s black fake fur coat with hood and waterproof lining, and his white fake fur cardigan coat, both $1380, (I love that they resemble monkey fur) available at Diana Broussard,; Zara’s ( faux leopard printed coat, $169, nude pink furry coat, $169; yellow fake fur short coat, $129, and ecru fake fur cardigan coat, $129; Asos’s ( white faux fur curly coat, $145.10, natural gray faux fur jacket $125.76, faux leopard reversible short coat, $148.97, multi colored striped faux fur scarf, $67.71, longline brown faux fur vest, $116.08; Michael Michael Kors’s camouflage faux fur coat, and leopard printed faux fur pea jacket, (both $295 and available at; and DKNYs strikingly mod ivory and black horizontally striped short coat with large collar, $495,, and faux fur bomber in black and ivory leopard print, $295,

Shrimps Mabel Coat and Pablo Clutch Bag

And last, but not least, is the London based company Shrimps (, which is entirely devoted to faux fur. It launched last year and is the brainchild of 23 year old designer Hannah Weiland who was inspired by her “obsession with fluffy animals” (her nickname as a child was “shrimp” because she was “small and pink”). Her highly sought after coats, jackets, collars, bags, and accessories (priced from $75 for a keychain to $995 for a coat), have quickly caught the eye of plugged in young fashion editors and fashion followers everywhere. Made from mod acrylic, they are available in a range of colors (both pastels and brights) and more often than not, feature unusual color combinations and graphic, sporty stripes. They are available on her website, as well as Opening Ceremony ( and on Net-A-Porter (

- Marilyn Kirschner