Thursday, September 04, 2014

New York Fashion Week Notes


“Hail, Hail, The Gang’s All Here”

Honoree Carolina Herrera and Couture Council Chair Yaz Hernandez

FIT’s Couture Council Luncheon, in celebration of their annual Artistry in Fashion Award, was held yesterday at the David Koch Theatre at Lincoln Center. Its official: the summer is over, and the fall season (and the spring collections), is now underway. Looking around at all the familiar fashion faces, (Ralph Lauren, Oscar de la Renta, Anna Wintour, James La Force, Steven Kolb, Robbie Myers, Linda Wells, Ken Downing, Linda Fargo, etc.) made me break out in an impromptu rendition of “Hail, hail, the gang’s all here” (which I sang to myself, under my breath, of course). It didn’t hurt that it was a gorgeous late summer day, but for those showing up to pay tribute to Carolina Herrera, this year’s recipient, it meant having to figure out what to wear that would be both appropriate for the occasion and the weather; and heaven forbid anyone incur the fashion wrath of the Best Dressed Hall of Famer, Carolina.

Amy Fine Collins

Coincidentally, it had been reported in The New York Post’s Page Six on Monday, that she told Haute Living: “ New Yorkers have horrendous taste”, and she's “sick of seeing all those bare midriffs and shower shoes!” Fortunately, I did not spot any guests with (heaven forbid) bare midriffs, or shower shoes (I guess she means rubber thongs); although while, by and large, it was a well-dressed crowd, there certainly were some missteps (they shall remain nameless). On the flip side of that coin, I also did not see anybody rushing the seasons wearing inappropriately heavy fall or winter like clothing, which in my opinion, is almost as bad (case in point: last year Jean Shafiroff attended the event honoring Michael Kors wearing the designer’s hounds tooth mink stole on a day that was similarly balmy and summer like).

Julie Macklowe

Unsurprisingly, many paid tribute to the award winning designer by wearing her designs (and more often than not it was a dress, or skirt, often printed). Included in that group was Anna Wintour, FIT President Dr. Joyce Brown, Couture Council Chair Yaz Hernandez, FIT Board Chair Liz Peek, Vanity Fair Special Correspondent Amy Fine Collins (who arrived with Carolina’s husband Reinaldo), Fe Fendi, Chiu- Ti Jansen, Alexandra Lebenthal, Ivanka Trump, Renee Zellweger, and last but not least, Julie Macklowe, a luncheon Co-Chair. I say least, because she did not look like anyone else and stood out (and I don’t necessarily mean that in a positive way). Wearing a printed skirt from Carolina’s CH2 line, she accessorized with a neon green cross body bag and bright blue sneakers, she looked as though she were going off to her first day of school- kindergarten (yesterday was actually was the first day of school for many kids and it actually felt like the first day of ‘fashion’ show for us grown-ups!) Even though I theoretically love the idea of wearing sneakers (I just did a blog about flats and comfortable athletic inspired footwear), you have to know how to wear them, and when to wear them; if not, the results can backfire. Giving credit where credit is due, Julie embraced the sneaker trend long before Karl Lagerfeld showed them from day to evening on his fall 2014 runway, and she has been spotted and photographed around town this past year, wearing them day and night as well. When I asked her if she knew how many pairs she owned, she said she did not (this is a girl who I once spotted teetering around on heels so high during fashion week, she could barely walk).

By the way, I myself opted for a crisp white cotton shirt and printed skirt. While they did not bear the label of Carolina Herrera, since she is known for love her white shirts, I felt it was in keeping with her mood (the outfit met with Carolina’s ‘approval’). Carolina herself was flawless in a short sleeved white dress. I saw a few others wearing crisp white cotton shirts, including one very well dressed male, and was surprised that I did not see more, since for me, that is a perfect no fail, summer to fall, transitional piece.

Anna Wintour & Oscar de la Renta

Before and after a wonderful lunch that included black beluga lentils, asparagus vichyssoise, and lobster salad, there were welcoming remarks and brief (very brief) speeches. Julie Macklowe observed that “nobody deserves this award more than Carolina Herrera”. Dr. Joyce Brown noted that “Carolina is proof that life begins at 40. That’s when she reinvented herself as a fashion designer known for creating clothes with a timeless sense of style. Her designs and her life inspired our students. She’s spent countless hours mentoring our students and our students adore her. Fashion as you know, plays a dynamic role in our culture. In September 1944 100 students walked in and today, we have 10,000 students. FIT is a living laboratory”.

Renee Zellweger, Seth Meyers, Alexi Ashe

Next up was THE surprise guest host: Seth Myers, who was more than up to the task, even if you may not necessarily associate him with fashion. He began by saying that “fashion is personal” and went on explain the personal connection between him and the designer: she made his wife Lexi’s wedding dress (they are now celebrating their 1st anniversary) and he considers her to be his “wedding day fairy godmother”.He went on to regale the audience with the story of how Alexi fell sick with food poisoning the night before the wedding. When he saw her the morning of the wedding, she was on a gurney attached to an IV (while that is hardly a laughing matter, he somehow made it hilarious). “This is not the way you want to see your wife on the morning of your wedding” he quipped. “I know Carolina doesn’t make hospital gowns, but maybe she should plan to get into that.” “I looked great by the way. Lexi looked horrible. Nothing is worse than the groom “killing it”. The good news is that Lexi made it to the wedding and “looked amazing” thanks to Carolina Herrera and that beautiful dress. “The great thing about fashion is that it can make us feel better than the way we really look or feel”. “Because we are so in debt to Carolina (she literally MADE the wedding), we are naming our first child Carolina, regardless of whether it’s a girl or boy”.

By the way, I am a huge fan of Seth Meyers and, in my opinion, he can do no wrong. He is always funny, smart, clever, and never insulting or inappropriate, and he always nails it as he did yesterday. Personally, I think he would make a great host for the Oscars and I’m sure that is in his future. The last person to speak was Carolina herself, and she made what has to be the shortest acceptance speech in history. I think it was all of two sentences. She noted that “fashion is a dream that becomes reality” and then thanked the Couture Council of FIT for the honor. Brevity is great but I think maybe she could have added a few more sentences. FYI, when I asked Neiman Marcus’s Ken Downing how he would describe the appeal of Carolina Herrera to his customers, he quickly answered: “Her clothes are exquisitely elegant, perfectly appropriate, and fresh and the morning dew; just like Carolina herself”.

Speaking of "Hail, hail, the gang’s all here", many of the aforementioned ‘gang’ (including Ken Downing, Simon Doonan, Stefano Tonchi, and Steven Kolb) crossed the park over to Madison Avenue to attend Lisa Perry’s spring 2015 collection (as usual, she had two back to back presentations on live models). As I left the FIT lunch, I was thinking how, if I had only worn my sneakers, I could have easily hot footed it over to the show (my three inch heels proved a bit uncomfortable for that task and I had sort of wished at that point, that I had followed in Julie’s lead and worn my sneakers).

Lisa Perry red crepe gown with vinyl insets spring 2015
(Photo: Style.com)

When I arrived at Lisa’s chic Madison Avenue store, I looked around at the feet of fellow attendees. There were some sneakers, and flats, and of course, many high high heels, which many women obviously refuse to give up, so it’s still a mixed bag. I sat next to Steven Kolb who was going off to an event later that evening at Gracie Mansion. We talked about the CFDA’s recent purchase of the Fashion Calendar and its legendary founder, Ruth Finley, who is now being given a much needed opportunity to work, or take it easy, as she wishes. The formal transfer of the business will take place on October 1st. (Sitting across from us in the front row, the octogenarian hardly looked like someone ready to take a break or time off).

The 29 piece show was Lisa at her best: clean, pared down, inspired by sports and athletics (as in the use of clear vinyl, aligning stripes and horizontal stripes), and of course modern art (which is always a reference for this major collector of modern art). In the case of the latter, that came by way of splatter prints and the use of red paint details that appeared on a group of white crepe separates and dresses. The palette was strictly white, black, and red, and I could say Lisa was on fire literally, as the red pieces literally stole the show. Oh, and the shoes were fabulous. Actually, there was only one shoe: a sexy, pointy toed sling back pancake flat with a wide strap across the front, which was shown in black, white, and red patent (Manolo Blahnik). I want them all. As for Lisa, she was wearing all black, and high heels.






- Marilyn Kirschner


Additional photo credits: BFA photographs - Joe Schildhorn /BFAnyc.com Patrick McMullan Company - Clint Spauding/ Patrick McMullan 

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