Friday, November 28, 2014

All Wrapped Up: Idina Menzel and Bloomingdales Holiday Window Celebration

Idina Menzel
(Photo: Isabelle Erb)

A crowd gathered in Beacon Court at the Bloomberg building in New York City late Monday afternoon, just before sunset.  They were eagerly anticipating a performance by one of Broadway’s brightest stars, Idina Menzel.  Bloomingdale’s was about to deliver a holiday gift to the city in the form of a free concert featuring Menzel and dancers from the Broadway techno light show, iLuminate. Menzel took the time to meet many of her fans earlier in the day at Bloomingdale’s when she signed copies of her new album, Holiday Wishes, in the store.  The day’s festivities are all part of Bloomingdale’s All Wrapped Up holiday campaign.  The store is using the symbol of the classic Mylar bow to communicate the spirit of the season in everything from gift giving to giving back.

 This year, Bloomingdale’s has established three ways to give back through a marketing program that benefits the Child Mind Institute (CMI).  Their collectible Little Brown Bear is back for 2014 and $2.00 of each sale goes to CMI.  A percentage of the sales from a specially designed Little Brown Bear Charm Bangle from Alex and Ani and a collection of holiday gifts designed by Michael Aram will also be donated to the charity.

(Photo Isabelle Erb)

Just as night was falling, the show got underway.  The concert was also streamed live on Live Nation at The opening performance by illuminate combined state of the art special effects with fast paced choreography and a pulse-pounding soundtrack. Finally it was time for Menzel to take the stage.  The much celebrated, TONY award-winning actress has garnered additional fame of late for her performance of the song, Let It Go, from the mega hit film, Frozen.  Menzel, wearing a black fur jacket and slim black pants, immediately added a touch of intimacy to the outdoor scene, chatting casually about herself and waving to the fans gathered in the office windows above.  She performed selections from her new holiday album and, to the delight of her fans, closed the show with the afore mentioned hit from Frozen.

Store window
(Photo Rhonda Erb)

Following the performances, everyone made their way to Lexington Avenue to see Bloomingdale’s holiday windows and enjoy treats from the Coolhaus food trucks. This year, the store’s windows give onlookers an interactive experience, featuring games based on the holiday Gift A Bow theme.

- Rhonda Erb

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Monday, November 24, 2014

To Be or Not To Be "Sexiest Man Alive!"

A Highly Rewarding Title...

Chris Hemsworth 2014

People magazine recently chose the "Sexiest Man Alive" for its December issue, a decision that was greeted with much anticipation and attention. This was one of the most important news stories of the week, right up there with immigration reform, and the progression of ISIS. The country often waits with bated breath as to whom will receive this coveted title with numerous debates in social media as to whether the person chosen was worthy of the distinguished honor. This year's choice, as I am sure most of you know, was Chris Hemsworth, who graces the cover with a "Saved By the Bell" 1980's haircut and what appears to be a nagging neckache judging by the position of his hand. A brief view of his bulging pectoral muscles is visible along with his hairy arms and some come hither stubble. He looks like a younger version of Brad Pitt, who has graced the cover twice, so it is fair to say this was a predictable choice. For those who were hoping to see an unconventional hottie such as Steve Carrell or Jim Carrey, since sense of humor is considered "sexy" by so many females, you are out of luck.

George Clooney 2006

Moreover, if you were awaiting a groundbreaking cover featuring a gay Neil Patrick Harris or a former slovenly Chris Pratt, as no gay man or fat or formerly fat man has ever appeared on the cover, you must be very disappointed.  If you were expecting to see a gorgeous Asian or Latino man you are going to be unhappy, since the only minority to achieve a front page tribute is Denzel Washington-way back in 1996. If you like older men and were anticipating an octogenarian such as Clint Eastwood or a septuagenarian like Jack Nicholson on the cover-think again. This cover is mostly reserved for Anglo-Saxon white males, between the ages of 27 and 56, who are over 5'10" inches, ( except for Tom Cruise who comes in at 5'7") have full heads of hair, and muscular physiques that are Harlequin cover quality.  Additionally, these men are mostly noncontroversial, not too intelligent and somewhat enigmatic, a tabula rasa that we can project our fantasies onto. While most of the news outlets jokingly report on this nonevent event, what most don't realize is how important this is for People's overall advertising revenue, and how pivotal this honor can be in advancing the career of the celebrity who receives it. Consequently, the decision process is conducted with meticulous precision, accompanied by months of discussions by top People brass as well as focus groups and research studies to determine the perfect pick.

Brad Pitt 1995

It might be safe to say the Noble Peace Prize winner is chosen with less forethought than this title.  The Sexiest Man is a critical juggernaut in the overall profitability of the magazine contributing 3% or 30 million dollars to the revenue of the magazine.  Moreover, because the issue falls out at the end of November, just before Black Friday, it is highly significant to advertisers who spend the bulk of their budgets to reach pre-holiday shoppers. Celebrities who flippantly discuss this title as if it is some trivial event should be chastised for their ignorant evaluation.  A review of past winners reveals that this title is a momentous occasion in a career, with most of the cover boys going on to win Academy Awards, hefty paychecks, and mega stardom. So despite all the mocking sneers, this honor is one that is noteworthy and impactful, as proven by the upward career trajectory of past winners.

Mel Gibson 1985

The award, which originated with Mel Gibson in 1985, supposedly came to realization when the Gibson story was being readied and one of the editors exclaimed, "Oh my God, he is the sexiest man alive," to which another responded that would make a great cover title and hence the birth of the "Sexiest Man Alive." For numerous actors the Sexiest title has been a precursor to Academy Award nominations and honors beginning with Mel Gibson who went on to win 2 Academy Awards for "Braveheart" in 1995. Denzel Washington who was accorded the Sexy honor in 1996 subsequently won an Academy Award for best actor in 2001. George Clooney who was sexiest man in both 1997 and 2006 went on to win 2 Academy Awards in both 2005 and 2012. Brad Pitt who also appeared on the cover twice received 2 Academy Awards in 2006 and 2013 for two films he produced. Ben Affleck who was on People's cover in 2002 won a 2012 Academy Award for directing "Argo."

Matthew McConaughey 2005

In 2005, People took a risk by putting Matthew McConaughey on the cover after he had just come off box office flops "Sahara" and "Two for the Money," and it turned out to be the third-best-selling edition ever. Furthermore, McConaughey went on to win an Academy Award in 2014 and is considered one of the most bankable Hollywood actors. Bradley Cooper who was considered a somewhat controversial choice in 2011 after being pigeonholed as the "Hangover" guy, has received two Academy Award nominations since 2011 and is currently considered an accomplished and talented thespian. Even Channing Tatum, who was a 2012 winner, has achieved stratospheric success and is currently directing a movie. Admittedly, Harry Hamlin, Mark Harmon and Nick Nolte, all "Sexy" alumni may not have been the most successful bunch, however, over a 29-year period, factoring in the vagaries of Hollywood, three letdowns are not that bad.

One might incorrectly deduce that these sexy men might remain decadent bachelors, availing themselves of the throngs of female admirers knocking on their door-however, this is not the case. Many have gotten married after the title was granted to them including George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Ben Affleck, Matthew McConaughey, Ryan Reynolds and Adam Levine. Levine and John F. Kennedy Jr, were the only non actor cover boys in the bunch with the choice of Adam being a debacle as his issue sold less than 1 million copies on newsstands. Similarly, the Johnny Depp and Ryan Reynolds covers sold at or below average; however, the Channing Tatum, Bradley Cooper, and Hugh Jackman issues sold briskly. Some more "Sexy" trivia: the only year the sexiest title was not doled out was in 1994, and the only couple to receive this honor was Richard Gere and Cindy Crawford. Furthermore, cover stars Patrick Swayze and John F. Kennedy Jr. were the only 2 cover stars to die however, more than a few have been arrested (that Nick Nolte mug shot was anything but sexy). I would like to lobby People to strip someone who has acted in an unsexy manner of the title forcing them to live in shame for failing to fulfill expectations.

Ryan Gosling
Photo: US Magazine

Perusing this month's issue of People with Chris Hemsworth I must concede he is a highly attractive specimen who is probably giving a lot of the female and male readership a nice "Rush" (also a title of his movie). While he is not super famous he has been in some successful movies such as "Thor" and "The Avengers" and has some box office draw. Aside from a couple of squinty eyed provocative poses with his 80's hairdo sweeping the corners of his face while clad in tight t-shirts and foolish looking cowboy gear, the photo shoot is relatively covered up with no bare abs or buttockses on display (take note Kim Kardashian). Hemsworth is only required to answer a smattering of degrading questions such as: "What do you sleep in?" "Who was your first kiss?" and "Who was the first person to call you sexy?" (the last question was a doozy especially when he answered his drama teacher-uh oh). Recent rumors have circulated that Ryan Gosling has turned down this title numerous times perhaps out of fear of objectification and ridicule and I implore him to rethink his decision. Firstly, he has not had a box office hit since his debut in the 2004 "The Notebook." And more importantly, being included among the ranks of Cruise, Pitt, Clooney and Jackman, whose careers have flourished after the bestowal of this honor, is nothing to be ashamed of. In fact, it is about time this title receives the respect it so rightly deserves.

- Lieba Nesis

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Lookonline Celebrating 20 Years On-Line

Press Release: Gala Cocktail Party Sunday, December 7th Celebrating's 20 years online from 2PM-5PM at place to be announced. Contact: Ernest Schmatolla 212-734-9747

The "Godfather" of Fashion Websites

Original Invitation to the 1994 launch party
Over 800 attended the event at Sony Plaza is the longest running on-line fashion publication (of any kind) in the world. Before there was,,,,,,, and even, there was us. We have not always garnered the attention, funding or notoriety of some of these fashion sites, but those in our industry, who have followed Lookonline's development over the years, know we helped pioneer the use of the Internet in providing real-time coverage of fashion events, regularly scheduled video reports, fashion blogs (DFR: Daily Fashion Report has been in blog format for almost 14 years and is recognized as the first fashion blog), market reports, editorial cartoons and original runway and event photography long before there were sites like or Fashionweekdaily.
Our guiding editorial principle: "It is not how many people read us but who reads us that counts"
Since our official launch was on December 1, 1994 as a dial-up service (does anyone even remember what a BBS service is or was?), the Lookonline has been on-line "officially" for 20 years. Our first subscriber was Harper's Bazaar in 1994,, but it was not until December of 1994 we began a website (hosted under another domain name) in addition to our BBS site. Later in 1995, we discontinued our BBS service and concentrated on developing our website using our own domain name ''.

I want to personally thank our many contributors who, over the past 20 years, have helped support our site. First and foremost my editor-in-chief, Marilyn Kirschner, whose fashion expertise and determination has set the tone for our editorial coverage. And former editor Bernadine Morris for many years lending her name, expertise and guiding hand. Also special mention goes to Randy Brooke, an exceptional photographer who is always there when we need him; and Diane Clehane for providing us with first class coverage of major fashion and entertainment events. Also special thanks goes to Susan Sommers for her timely suggestions including coming up with the name "Lookonline".,

Kudos to our senior writers, Rhonda Erb, Lieba Nesis and Laurel Marcus for their great work covering the many shows, parties, press events and special assignment reporting required to give our editorial greater depth. Also a special shout out to photographers Udor Rothenko and Isabelle Erb; writers Stacy Lomman, Tricia Kenney, Eila Mell, Melanie McKinzie, Adriene Weinfeld-Berg, Alexander Erb, Anna Bayle, Muriel Geny-Triffaut, Logan Bentley Lessona, Tobin Levy, Sally Lourenco, Sarah Valdez, and Laurie Schechter for their past contributions and to Grace Mirabella, the former editor-in-chief of Vogue, for hosting our first three 'Master of Fashion Video Interviews'.

Additionally, I want to thank our sponsors Ty Yorio of Citadel Security Agency and Eddie Mullon of FashionGPS for their generous support. Finally, a special thanks to my wife, Deborah Brumfield, who all these years has sustained me in my efforts. Without her, none of it would have been possible

- Ernest Schmatolla

New York Fashion Cool-Aid™

Shirtstorm: A Tempest In A Science Lab?

Mr. Matt Taylor in offending shirt
(Photo: AP)

Many years from now (or knowing how the internet works, maybe tomorrow) the time we are presently living in will naturally acquire a moniker. I propose: "The era of the Global Attire Apology." Lately it seems that sartorially speaking, we are a culture of extremes that just can't be pleased. No matter how ill advised an item of clothing or an entire outfit may be, should we be shamed into apologizing for it? My first case in point would have to be the aptly named "Shirtstorm" brought on by one particularly clueless British physicist, Dr. Matt Taylor. This no doubt brilliant, yet tatted-up-with-sleeves-and- thigh design-of-the-Rosetta-mission, man managed to engineer the comet landing of the Philae space probe but couldn't figure out that a bowling shirt printed with voluptuous scantily clad women toting space guns (even though it was made and gifted to him by a female friend) might send the wrong message to those on earth, particularly the increasingly verbal Gamergate and Tumblr feminists who are, shall we say, "having a moment."

After the outcry reached a critical mass and basically overshadowed the scientific achievement, Dr. Taylor decided to make an apology on a Google hangout where he cried and called the wearing of the "offensive" shirt a "big mistake." And what was he wearing for that appearance? He took one out of the "Mark Zuckerberg Normcore Uniform" playbook and wore what I'd like to call, the "hoodie of shame" although it had the Rosetta logo on it making it completely appropriate. See Video click here to play In an interesting twist of further "misogyny," a similar shirt known as "Gunner Girls" with the same fabric as the objectionable one, quickly sold out online and has been placed on an eight week reorder. See website here.

Dr. Taylor has been accused of promulgating the "good old boys" network of science or STEM, however it doesn't seem to have phased his female colleagues at the ESA (European Space Agency) who probably just know him as a quirky guy perhaps along the lines of Doc Brown in "Back To The Future," who wore Hawaiian shirts. Otherwise it seems likely that one of these women (or even a slightly media savvy male) might have suggested he "rethink his wardrobe" especially for an important TV appearance, much like Julia Roberts as mini skirted Erin Brockovich was told to do when she joined a law firm and needed to be taken seriously. (Of course, she wasn't having it and retorted that her boss might want to "rethink" his ties and that as long as she had "one ass instead of two" she would continue to wear what she wanted).

Urban Outfitters Kent State Sweatshirt

Other recent apologies have come from several mass market clothing chains who either employ morons or sick jokesters. Examples of these are the Urban Outfitters Kent State red tie-dyed sweatshirt which resembled a bloodied mess reminiscent of the shootings there in the '70s and a Zara's children's striped shirt emblazoned with a large yellow star recalling a holocaust prisoners uniform. Both companies apologized once outed for any "unintended similarities" to that which they were compared and quickly withdrew the errant items. In an apparent attempt for a quick laugh which was supposed to be renamed before going live online, Walmart had to eat crow for featuring a line of plus-size Halloween offerings as "Fat Girl Costumes."

Katy Perry

Then there are the "cultural appropriations," those who don an outfit indigenous to another culture than their own ie. Katy Perry in Geisha clothing for her performance of "Unconditionally" at last year's American Music Awards which was termed "racist." It's ironic that Madonna did that many decades ago and it was just called art or a tribute. Similarly, Selena Gomez took heat for wearing a sparkly bindi (a Hindu religious ornament) during a performance of "Come and Get It" during the MTV Movie Awards, also last year. To my knowledge, neither of these performers ever addressed the backlash and I don't think they should as it seems clear that these performances were both beautiful and done in a spirit of honoring the cultures that they were accused of "appropriating." Is it too farfetched to think that a woman wearing a fabric with an animal print will soon be accused of "species appropriation"?

I suggest that the logical conclusion is that we all start apologizing for everything we've ever worn that could be construed as offensive, off-color, insensitive, tacky or just butt-ugly. I'm sure that there are plenty of bad prom dresses, leisure suits, bell bottoms, "obscene" fish ties--hell, how about any of the fashions from the entire '80s, that we should be doing penance for. A friendly reminder: brace yourselves for those soon-to-be trotted out abysmal yet campy, hideously ugly Christmas sweaters that someone should be atoning for.

Roselyn Sanchez 

On the other hand, I wonder what it says about those who leave off an article of clothing particularly undergarments, as well as donning entirely sheer dresses (Rihanna at the CFDA Awards, Roselyn Sanchez at the Latin Grammys, Kim Kardashian just about every day) that they never feel contrite. This is the last offshoot of the "wardrobe malfunction" as demonstrated by Janet Jackson who may or may not have meant to expose her breast to the entire Super Bowl audience, thereby coining the term and the 5 second broadcasting delay (which will most likely be deployed during Iggy Azalea and J-Lo's "Booty" performance this Sunday at the AMA's).

J.Lo and Iggy Azalea

Once we went down that slippery slope it seems not a day goes by that some actress/singer can't keep her breasts under wraps or her privates private. They are allowed to show or celebrate the female form whereas it's termed as sexism if a man does it. The fact that they are unrepentant attention whores certainly gets the "haters gonna hate" juices flowing and inspires yet a different type of ire. Where's that spare hoodie when you need it?

- Laurel Marcus

Thursday, November 20, 2014

The Apollo Circle Benefit & The Cubism Exhibition - A Perfect Combination

The venue
(All photos Lieba Nesis)
Click on images for larger views

The Metropolitan Museum of Art's Apollo Circle held its eleventh anniversary gala from 9PM to 12AM in the Temple of Dendur wing at the museum. The Apollo Circle, which was founded in 1997, is a membership group for young friends of The Metropolitan Museum of Art, ages 21-39. The black-tie event included dancing, cocktails, and hors d'oeuvres with flowers and special lighting illuminating the grand room of Dendur. The funds raised support the Metropolitan Museum of Art's conservation department.

Left: Daisy Yu, & Right: Ashley Roth

This year the sold-out event was immense with many commenting on the unprecedented crowd. The importance of this evening cannot be underestimated as it gets young people involved in charity work, and gives the museum a way to reach out to future donors and court the progeny of current contributors. The sponsor of the event was Maiyet, the luxury fashion brand which was founded in 2011, and makes ready-to-wear clothing, jewelry, handbags and shoes with an emphasis on masterful workmanship in their products.

Tamara Zhukova & Dmitry Razin

This night celebrated the Cubism exhibition donated by Leonard A. Lauder, and being shown at the museum from October 20-February 16, 2015. The collection contains paintings, collages, drawings, and sculptures by the four preeminent Cubist artists: Georges Braque, Juan Gris, Fernand Leger and Pablo Picasso.  The references to Cubism were omnipresent in the apparel of the night's attendees with numerous women appearing in black & white gowns adorned with square shapes. Furthermore, Maiyet is offering a special collection of scarves in an ode to the Cubism exhibit and there will undoubtedly be numerous references to square shapes in the showings of many designers.

Leandra Medine & Abie Cohen

The crowd this year did not disappoint with their fashion choices, wearing elegant gowns from Badgley Mischka, Valentino, Maiyet and Ralph Lauren. Leandra Medine, from the fashion website "Man Repeller," joined the event as a guest of Maiyet, clad in one of their beautiful red evening dresses. This was Leandra's first time at this affair but she was excited to celebrate Maiyet whose designs she loves because she said, "they are unfussy and highly elegant." Unlike the women who came dressed in multicolored, vivid evening wear, the men were in classic tuxedos with only a select few spicing it up with silver vests and sequined suits.

Tessa Morehouse, &  Steve Karan

There were many on hand to observe the fashion at this significant event with Refinery29 Senior Style Editor Annie Georgia Greenberg in the crowd trying to assess whether the attendees had achieved the ultimate goal of appearing "dressed up with effortlessness." One person who fit this description was Amazonian designer Tessa Morehouse, of the fashion label "Velvet Antler," who was striking in a feathered black dress. Morehouse lamented the absence of women with flair and attitude at this gathering, preferring to play it safe with beautiful and demure attire. Despite the current lewdness displayed at celebrity award shows and in numerous magazines, the crowd this evening was surprisingly modest allowing the beauty of their varied shapes and styles to take center stage.

Sam Kidd, Ruth Mauldin & Samantha Lynch

There were some fashion trends on display that were worth noting. First, black & white was ubiquitous and by far the most prevalent color combination of the evening with few solid black gowns in the group. Secondly, scarlet and blood red was abundant, with dresses lightly accessorized so as to highlight the drama of the gown. Thirdly, white, even in its summery version, remains a viable fashion choice, even for one of the coldest nights of the year. Lastly, women come in all shapes and sizes, and there were many voluptuous women who were dressed in colors and sparkles refusing to remain invisible in black ensembles (thank you Adele and Lena Dunham).

Rachel Besser & Annie Georgia Greenberg

As the clock struck midnight, the crowd began to thin while DJ Brendan Fallis and Hannah Bronfman continued to spin their tunes with a more manageable dance floor.  The attendees were waiving their napkins and yelling the tunes with a friend observing how special it was to dance around in the midst of a 2,000 year old temple.  This evening remains one of the premier events in the social calendar of the elite young New Yorker because it combines history and modernity, not unlike the Cubist collection being celebrated at this unique gathering.

- Lieba Nesis

Pratt Institute’s Legends 2014

All photos Patrick McMullan Company/Owen Hoffmann
(Click  images for larger views)

On Thursday, November 20, I, along with fashion designers Mary McFadden and Catherine Malandrino; Paper Magazine’s David Herschkovits and Mickey Boardman; Elle’s editor-in-Chief Michael Boodro; New York Magazine’s design editor Wendy Goodman; editor in chief of Architectural Digest Margaret Russell; publicist James La Force; Fern Mallis, filmmaker Albert Maysles (his latest is a documentary on Iris Apfel), and many others, attended Pratt Institute’s Legends 2014. Chaired by Pratt Trustee David Waltentas and his wife Jane (they founded Two Trees Management Company), the annual scholarship benefit honors icons of art and design whose “works have helped shape our cultural landscape”. Held at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel, the gala (cocktail reception, dinner and award ceremony) raises funds for merit and need-based scholarships, which is important because 80 percent of Pratt students receive financial aid to pursue their education.

Pratt Trustee, Gala Chair and founding principal of Two Trees Management Company David Walentas, NYFW Creator Fern Mallis

Since their inception in 1990, the Awards have traditionally celebrated those individuals in the worlds of art and design, whose accomplishments and values resonate with those of Pratt. Past Legends Awards recipients (individuals in the worlds of art and design whose accomplishments and values resonate with those of Pratt) include Laurie Anderson, Christo and Jeanne-Claude, David Easton, Pete Hamill, Marc Jacobs, Ellsworth Kelly, Richard Meier, Beverly Pepper, David Rockwell, Margaret Russell, Patti Smith, Julie Taymor, James Turrell, Bruce Weber, William Wegman, Robert Wilson, and Eva Zeisel.

Irish Apfel, David Yurman & Kim Hastreiter

There were three very deserving honorees this year: Iris Apfel, David Yurman, and Kim Hastreiter. The tireless 93 year old style icon and interior designer Iris Apfel arrived with Nigerian fashion designer Duro Olowu, who also presented her award. Fittingly, the designer is known for his exuberant use of prints and color, and while this can also describe Iris’s personal aesthetic, last night she was quite subdued in a black Mongolian lamb accessorized with her signature bangles and necklaces.

PAPER Magazine Editorial Director Mickey Boardman,
PAPER Mag Creative Director Drew Elliott, Honoree Kim Hastreiter,
Henny Garfunkel & Albert Maysles

Designer and CEO David Yurman, a sculptor, artist and artisan whose jewelry can be thought of as a work of art, received his award from Paul Greenhaigh, director of the Sainsbury Center for Visual Arts). PAPER magazine co-founder and editor-in-chief Kim Hastreiter accepted her award from Padma Lakshmi, the award winning author, model, and host of Bravo’s Emmy Award winning show, Top Chef.  Speaking of which, you must be living under a rock if you don’t know what’s been ‘cooking’ with Kim and Paper these days. (Does Kim Kardashian and her celebrated high gloss rear end, ring a bell?)

Edgar Battista & Fashion Designer Mary McFadden

I chose a beloved vintage Geoffrey Beene architecturally shaped quilted short coat for the evening, one which never fails to elicit oohs and aahs. (Of course, it’s impossible to think of great design without thinking about the late great designer). And coincidentally, in my mind, Kim and Paper are always inextricably linked. I'll never forget the time I interviewed him at his 57th Street atelier in 2002. I noted that the only magazine he had on his desk, was Paper. He actually admitted that he didn’t look at any fashion publications other than Paper. When I asked him why, he told me “The reason I like 'Paper' is I don't know who the audience is. I know Kim (Hastreiter, its editor and founder) very well and I respect her. She's probably the most open-minded of editors - whatever her magazine is. It's the only one I advertise in, and Kim knows that. I've just taken out a double page for May and I haven't advertised a dress in years. I don't know who her audience is and that sort of fascinates me."

New York Magazine Design Editor Wendy Goodman,
& Artist Alexander Vethers

Their long mutual admiration society was solidified when he wrote her a fan letter in 1988 after Andre Walker wrote an article in the magazine and borrowed a dress from Geoffrey which he proceeded to style in a very “unorthodox way”, which he loved. Still, I could not help but wonder how Geoffrey (the epitome of refined taste) would feel about the Kim Kardashian cover and inside pages, which, according to Ms. Hastreiter, came about with one goal in mind: the staff of Paper wanted to "Break The Internet" with their winter 2014 issue (it hits the newsstands next week). But then again, he was ultra-modern: the ultimate rule breaker with a divinely wicked sense of humor, so needless to say, he would probably love it (or at the very least, “get it”) which is precisely what Kim said, when I posed the question.

- Marilyn Kirschner

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

In the Market: FGI's Tastemaker Series

Ralph's "ALT"er Ego

Maybe FGI ( should stand for "Fashion Group Intelligence", rather than Fashion Group International. Is it my imagination, or do the powers that be at FGI have some sort of prescient, divining powers? In this past month alone, they have shone the spotlight on designers who were not only deserving of the honors, but who, as it turns out, had found themselves in the center of things, extremely of the moment, and newsworthy.

Case in point, at their annual Night of Stars held on October 31, one of the star fashion honorees was Peter Copping. While he had originally been selected, (months prior), for this work at the helm of Nina Ricci in Paris, just 4 days before the evening, Oscar de la Renta passed away, and Peter would be formally named the company’s creative director by Eliza Reed Bolen (Oscar himself had actually made this selection). The event turned out to be a fitting tribute to the beloved Oscar, and a formal welcome to New York/coming out party for Copping; a designer who had been under the radar on this side of the Atlantic (in fact, many in attendance admitted they did not even know what he looked like).

The most recent example was yesterday’s Tastemaker Series (the bi annual event centers around breakfast or lunch at an iconic restaurant and features an intimate conversation between a revered fashion designer and a famed editor). On the menu at yesterday’s lunch at Le Cirque (along with risotto with pomegranates and sea bass) was a talk between two fashion icons and good friends: Andre Leon Tally and Ralph Rucci. What kept it from being predictably interesting, informative and entertaining, and made it quite topical, is that just about one week ago, Ralph had announced that after 30 years as designer at the helm of his eponymous label, he would be leaving the company. It was obvious this would be a topic of conversation and jumping off point for the discourse. Indeed, when I spotted Ralph chatting with Linda Fargo and Constance White, I couldn’t resist asking him how long before the formal announcement was made, had he actually contemplated this move. He diplomatically answered that he really could not address that. But he was quick to say that there is something “very exciting” in his future, and while he wouldn’t divulge exactly what it was right now, he promised he would in the near future.

FGI President Margaret Hayes noted that this was only the 2nd Le Cirque lunch and as a stickler for keeping to schedules, she joked that everyone should eat and drink quickly (“you have 25 minutes” she said), after which she promised a conversation between two “charismatic icons” (“on different but converging paths”). Not that they needed introductions, but Ms. Hayes introduced Ralph Rucci as both an accomplished artist and world renowned designer and couturier, and Andre Leon Talley, who she described as an expert on all things fashion. As she put it, “Andre is often quoted as saying that he is usually always right”. This got a laugh: the first of many during the course of this lively, impromptu love fest which was unlike the others. Instead of being a true one on one interview conducted by an editor with a designer, each equally got to ask questions of the other, and they both shared intimate, revealing, often wonderfully funny recollections from the past (after Ralph posed some questions to Andre, the latter quipped: “I thought this was about you!”).

At one point Andre admitted, “Do you know what it’s like to have to get up and be me? The ALT that you see is many rivers that run deep. It’s a constant struggle to get up and tackle the constant struggles. You cannot judge a book by its cover. It’s not just about what you wear and what you look like on the outside. It’s a constant struggle. It’s easy to be bitter (especially in fashion where the corporate heads don’t get the creative side of fashion). My house now looks like a bookstore. To maintain my life in fashion is very difficult at this point, but I get through it.”

Ralph offered, “Everything has to have a certain level of expertise or I don’t do it. I’m proud to say that in my 30 years, I have never compromised. You have to go to bed with yourself, nobody else!” This got a round of applause from the guests. He continued: “I consider the first part of my life to be part 1. I hope that part 2 will be more refined, more clear, and more enjoyable. I am clothing the content of a woman which is why it is spiritual.” As for unforgettable moments, he recalled Elsa Peretti (in the 1970’s) wearing a cashmere bodysuit and carrying a brown paper bag as an evening bag. “I live for those moments. Without humility, there is no style. None!!” (He emphasized the word “none”).

The key moments from Andre’s professional life: learning how to analyze clothes without taking notes (he learned this from WWD’s John Fairchild in 1975), and learning (from Vogue’s Diana Vreeland) about the luxury of clothes, and the narrative behind what the designer is making. Karl Lagerfeld was the first great designer he met and he recalled that meeting in May 1975 (it was at the Plaza Hotel, with Andy Warhol). “I was always prepared. For one week prior, I read everything I could about him and learned everything about him. We became great friends.”“I learned a lot about the history of the culture of fashion from Karl”. Andre received a degree in French Literature from Brown University and observed that it has been very useful. He also talked about Vogue Magazine, a great learning place where all the top editors had a strong “point of view”.

Ralph asked Andre to describe his key fashion moments.  “The best collection I saw was designed by Karl Lagerfeld for the house of Chloe in Paris” (he couldn’t recall the year). He described how the show venue was made to resemble a prison cell with the models wearing fabulous hats and outrageous rooster pins on their v neck sweaters. In January 1978, there was Saint Laurent’s “Broadway Collection”, which he hailed as “landmark”. There have been many memorable Chanel shows, and then there was Marc Jacobs’ “train collection” for Louis Vuitton in Paris. “I cried, as did Grace Coddington, when the girls got off the train that actually moved.”

He was quick to point out: “It’s important to have a life at home that is the opposite of fashion. You must!” (he emphasized ‘must’). “At home you must cultivate your own garden. It has to be the opposite of fashion. You don’t want to become a fashion victim. This is very important.” He talked about how he had been very inspired by the fabulous, strong women in his family (he grew up in the south), and by nature. “Nature gives me great inspiration. Trees, the sky, books. You can’t get enough books.”

As for the ladies they both adore: Sao Schlumberger was number one on both their lists. Andre recalled that when he was the Paris editor of WWD, Sao was the first one to invite him to lunch (“nobody else did, and I don’t know why”). “She had great unorthodox taste. She was a very smart woman. It was amazing to see how she selected her clothes. I learned a lot from the way the ladies (which included Nan Kempner) bought their clothes.”

Ralph reflected on the 5 couture collections he showed in Paris and noted that his goal has always been “to make a garment that has no weight at all. And no superficial adornments.” His three favorite customers: Jacqueline de Ribes, Deeda Blair, and rock legend Patti Smith, who he proudly boasted has been invited by the Pope to sing at the Vatican (she will be performing at the Holy See’s Christmas concert this year, which means that he will be making something for her to wear).

Speaking of women, Andre mentioned that he brought his good friend Whoopi Goldberg, to Ralph’s spring 2015 show in September. “She bought 11 pieces and paid for all of them” he announced. “I love to watch people at a Ralph Rucci show. The way they respond to the beauty of his clothes” (and the enduring joy and beauty and will bring). He then mentioned that Lee Radziwell also loves Ralph’s clothes. At this point, Ralph said he had to share a remembrance from his fall 1999 collection when it was presented at Neiman Marcus in Beverly Hills. He was invited to Elizabeth Taylor’s home and he described how he smoked pot with the “teeny tiny star who wore no makeup”, and who then “absconded with a violet sable”.

Margaret then asked if anyone in the audience had any questions. Someone asked Ralph: “What do you think are the biggest hurdles with regards to fashion relationships?” His response: “Treat people with kindness. That’s what gets success.”

Another asked, “Why did you leave, Ralph?” “I needed to take a step in the future to revisit the past, so I can do the future.” This was met with a round of applause. It ended with loving words by a guest to Ralph about his enormous contribution to fashion.

- Marilyn Kirschner

New York Fashion Cool-Aid™: Reserve Magazine Party

"A Grand & Reserved Evening"

Reserved Magazine's shrine to cover model Helena Christensen

It's the coldest night of the season so far and I'm fighting off sinusitis and a twitching left eye. I'm also in a cab ($30 fare) on my way to the Reserved Magazine 2nd edition release party, ready to mingle with the beautiful people at Paul's Baby Grand (owned by Paul Paul Sevigny) in the Tribeca Grand Hotel. Figuring I would never make it past the discriminating doorman on an actual club night (waaay too old, not a size 0, blah-blah-blah you do the math) tonight is my chance to glimpse the netherworld of downtown after dark. I'm in full regalia--basic black (leather) with skulls (crystal Butler & Wilson choker, earrings) so let's do this. Courtesy of the young PR girls freezing their buns off whilst checking names and I'm in! "What a feeling (I can really have it all)..."

Helena Christensen & friend
(Photo: Laurel Marcus)

Past the red velvet curtains and down the stairs lies the small eclectic, Miami beach meets Victoriana space complete with palm fronds. The room is filled beyond capacity and yet the party is in its infancy. I make a quick circuit while I still can move, noting the  "hostess of the evening" and Reserved cover model Helena Christensen chilling on a banquette with a female friend. She looks lovely at 45; it is indeed hard to believe that she is from the dawn of the '90s supermodels, along with Linda Evangelista and Christy Turlington, who ruled the pack back in the day. When I try to take her photo beside official photog Patrick McMullan's son, an angry woman in an orangey red jacket appears. "Who are you with?" she demands. "We have our photographer already. Please don't bother her (indicating Ms. Christensen). I just want her to relax." Oookay...but a) as a model I'm sure she's used to having her photo taken and b) this is a press invited me and ostensibly you would like the coverage and photos are a large part of that, no? I take a few random shots of the crowd and another minion is upon me, this time a smaller yet imperious chap. "No flash allowed!" he says despite the fact that I witness flashes going off all around me. What is this, a museum? It's so dark that nothing will come out without a flash. I am told once more that I can't use my camera but obviously I'm not playing by the rules tonight.

Photo: Laurel Marcus

The crowd is a mixed bag of those primarily in their 30's and 40's, models, modelizers, those who remember the golden days of clubbing (Tunnel, Limelight, maybe Studio 54)and look worse the wear for it, as well as a Brooklyn version of Paul Bunyon, hopefully without his axe. Mitja Bokun, the editor-in-chief of Reserved is holding court near the bar. DJ Mick Rock is jamming an eclectic mix of mostly older/classic hits and some remixes while the thick air reeks of cigarettes and weed making me cough. I stake out a standing space, semi out of the way of the drink waiter's path and am alternately taking in the scene/fighting the urge to GTFO and hop right back into another $30 taxi.

As I'm standing there trying to decide what to do other than loom awkwardly, a woman who reminds me of a silent film star but with an eastern European accent which I'm having trouble decoding in the din approaches. "I don't know you, but I feel you" she begins and proceeds to nuzzle my neck. "I love that perfume. What is it?" Her blonde friend looks on slightly bemused. I just nod and try to look nonchalant. "Please go sit over there with us" she nods slightly to a space in the middle of the section of banquettes. "We will be back." I blink and try to regroup as they walk off to the bar or ladies, thankfully never to be seen again. I come to perch on an empty banquette lining the wall across from the bar, in relatively easy reach of the exit and people watch undetected for a while. I guy comes in with a bowl cut black wig and full length sable coat accompanied by a stylish woman in a black and white striped fur jacket and sparkly pants. He turns repeatedly, winks and waves at me. I smile back.  A couple comes in bearing huge Kurt Cobain books. I guess there was some sort of '90s retrospective going on from whence they came.

A young Geoffrey Holder type perches next to me at the adjoining table and I shift slightly so as not to be in his way. "You don't need to move. I've got room" he says with a twinkle in his eye.  We seems that he is quite the nightlife king and has skipped Diddy's taping of the Global Swing DJ's Awards to be aired next month, in favor of this event. "Since it's just a taping who knows if there'd be drinks or food?" he reasoned. He tells me he was "checking me out" and apparently it is not a bad thing to resemble a cross between Liza Minelli (I've heard that before), either Shirley of "Laverne and Shirley" or Joyce DeWitt of "Three's Company" (it was unclear which TV show reference he meant) and a school teacher (I was wearing my glasses). In an aha moment I suddenly remember my eye twitch...maybe everyone thinks I'm winking at them?!? The urge to bolt finally wins out and I flee into the cold air and thankfully, my getaway car aka a warm taxi that's dropping more people off at the party.

Right: Mitja Bokun co-editor

Reserved Magazine was originally launched on Indiegogo in 2013, raising just $1,650 of its $15k goal.  It is the brainchild of Vanity Fair's Photo Producer Richard Villani, and currently lists Whitney Mercurio and Mitja Bokun as Co-editors in chief. The first edition, out last year, billed itself as "The Magazine for Some People." The press release for this edition claims "We dig people with a lot of bandwidth. Our aim is to disseminate quality content on visual arts, film, fashion, photography, music, writing, design and anything and everything else that we and our readers fancy, that's just the baseline. We don't comply with any specific standard or format.  Our kryptonite is boredom. We stand alert, scanning the horizon for creatives looking to contribute and share their work, be it visual, literary, gastronomical, musical or whatever. But it better be interesting!" See edition here.

Laurel Marcus

A Fifth Avenue Christmas: Bergdorf Goodman

Holiday Windows Unveiling & UNICEF Snowflake Lighting

Photo: Getty Images
(click on images for larger views)

In spite of a soaking rain, Bergdorf Goodman brought some holiday cheer to Manhattan’s Fifth Avenue on Monday evening with the much anticipated unveiling of their holiday windows. This year’s ceremony also included the annual lighting of the UNICEF Snowflake, which hangs majestically over the intersection of Fifth Avenue and 57th Street throughout the holiday season.

David Hoey
Photo: Rhonda Erb

David Hoey, Bergdorf Goodman’s Senior Director of Visual Presentation, officially begins working on the store’s holiday windows with his team in January. Although, in actuality, for David, the work begins even sooner, “When we pull the curtain on these (windows), if I don’t know what we’re going to do next (year), I get very agitated and depressed” He and his team of six are never at a loss for inspiration and these days they can consider a broader range of ideas for their annual holiday display, “The themes over the years have become more and more unconventional so we have more freedom”, he says. It doesn’t always have to be a trip to the North Pole. It doesn’t always have to be The Twelve Days of whatever…” it does, however, have to be a theme that can be built upon to create variations for all fourteen store windows (the five main ones face Fifth Avenue).

Window Displays
Photo: Rhonda Erb

“This year, according to David, “ back in January, there was a theme for the whole store that was decided upon -- it was the word ‘inspired.” Thus, David seized the opportunity to create this year’s windows around a theme that he has wanted to do for years: “The Arts.” It is, in his opinion, “…a sort of manifestation of inspiration…we could have easily called it ‘Art Appreciation’, which would have been a little bit wittier.”

Photo Rhonda Erb
Each of the store’s five main windows features a different area of the performing, applied or fine arts: literature, architecture, painting, theater and music. The theme continues in the smaller windows with sculpture, film, dance, etc. Some of the windows proved to be more of a challenge than others. “One of them is the most labor intensive window we have ever done, says David, …it’s a window that’s made entirely out of soft sculpture and needle work and needle art. We calculated and there were at least 7,000,000 stitches that went into making it. It’s the red window (literature).”

Photo Rhonda Erb

What makes the holiday windows so special for David and his team at Bergdorf Goodman is the challenge of trying to go further each year. “The glass practically shatters on our holiday windows, there is so much going on”, he says. He feels that each of this year’s windows is special in its own way, but does he have a favorite? He does, but he won’t say which one it is. “You can hear people on the street talking about which one is their favorite, because they’re all so different, and which one they didn’t like. So I don’t want to put any ideas in anyone’s head.”

Photo: Rhonda Erb

After the 2014 holiday windows were unveiled, it was time to light the UNICEF Snowflake. That honor went to actor, UNICEF Ambassador and U.S. Fund for UNICEF National Board Member, Tea Leoni. Tea’s involvement with UNICEF is actually a family tradition. She represents the third generation of her family to work with the organization. Her grandmother Helenka Pantaleoni started the U.S. Fund for UNICEF in 1947 and served as the volunteer president for almost 30 years.

Photo: Getty Images

The Snowflake was designed by Ingo Maurer and consists of 16,000 Baccarat crystals. It is one of New York City’s most visible holiday symbols, “…And I get to flip the switch”, said Tea, “It’s exciting.” As she posed for photos with U.S. Fund for UNICEF President and CEO, Caryl Stern, Tea said that her daughter, West, told her to “get lots of pictures’.

Caryl Stern, Dena Kaye, Tea Leoni , David Hoey and members of Broadway Kids Care, who performed during the ceremony
Photo: Rhonda Erb

Also in attendance at Monday night’s festivities was Dena Kaye, daughter of actor Danny Kaye, UNICEF’s first Goodwill Ambassador. This year marks the 60th Anniversary of his classic film with Bing Crosby, Irving Berlin’s White Christmas. Bergdorf Goodman and select Neiman Marcus stores will be selling the Diamond Anniversary Edition of the film from Paramount Home Media Distribution throughout the holiday season. The proceeds will benefit the U.S. Fund of UNICEF.

- Rhonda Erb

Better Bets "Daily Bet"

Irving Berlin’s White Christmas Anniversary Celebration

It is a dream come true for fans of the 1954 holiday classic film, Irving Berlin’s White Christmas.  Fathom Events and Paramount Home Media are celebrating the movie’s 60th Anniversary by returning it to the big screen in select U.S. Cinemas on December 14th and 15th (in some theatres you will even be able to enjoy stars Danny Kaye, Bing Crosby, Rosemary Clooney and Vera-Ellen in all of their splendor on the IMAX). In addition to the film, additional features including backstage stories, original trailers, and a retrospective of the title song will also be included in the event. Tickets are on sale now.

For a complete list of theaters go to:

For more holiday Better Bets visit: 

Saturday, November 15, 2014

New York Fashion Cool-Aid™

Wearable Art Only A Mother Could Love

Burberry "hand painted" trench dresses

Way back in that mythical decade known as the '90s when the internet was in its infancy and television still dominated life, in order to entertain my kids and extricate them from  videos or video games, I would sometimes suggest a trip to "Our Name is Mud." It was a novel idea at the time; since taken over by chains such as Make Meaning; to go and paint a piece of ceramic (vase, plate, animal bank, cup etc.) and pick it up a week later after it was fired in the kiln. I thought it was a good lesson in patience (usually mine was tested more than my child's), discipline (don't mix all the paints together or you'll have an ugly mess), planning (think what you're going to do before doing it) and delayed gratification (you won't see the finished result for seven days or whenever mommy remembers to pick it up). Over the years my two-under-ten managed to "furnish" our living space with some rather interesting keepsakes some of which are actually still displayed.

I mention all of this because there is a recent trend among celebs; a high stakes game of self-expression known as letting your offspring "design" your Versace wedding attire (Angelina Jolie) or Hermes Herbag (Kim and Kanye) which I find a touch disturbing. Angelina had indicated that the Jolie-Pitt kids were very involved in the wedding plans, half half-jokingly that it would either be "Disney or paintball--one or the other." When the wedding photos appeared in People it seemed that the kids had gotten their wish on both accounts. Angelina looked like a Disney princess and while it was not exactly paintball, her veil had her kids' drawings sewn into it. In the case of the Wests, baby North was "supervised" and literally had a hand(print) in the making of Kim's birthday present. This of course was not Ms. Krispy Kreme butt's (ugh, how can I un-see another magazine cover) first hand painted Hermes offering as Kanye had gifted her previously with a Haut A Courroies (a suitcase-sized Birkin) hand painted by surrealist nude portrait artist George Condo for Christmas. Kim supposedly thought that this one was painted by an artist as well (the fact that the strap was dripped on should have been her first clue!) until she saw an accompanying video of her baby Rembrandt doing the honors.

Kim's North bag

Past experience suggests that I may not be a good indicator on this type of thing however. I vividly remember recoiling at my first sight of the 2001 Louis Vuitton/ Stephen Sprouse collaboration of graffiti bags only to later have it grow on me and eventually to own one as well as the Murakami Cherries. After the initial shock wore off upon seeing the Speedy worn by the most stylish mother in my daughter's private school and thinking that something sacrilegious had "happened" to her LV bag, I got educated, accustomed, acclimated. Since then there have been many other LV collabs and a monogram edition allowing the owner to customize the colored racing stripes and initial their bag. The Hermes Birkin has been a literal canvas for everyone from Lady Gaga (she had Japanese lettering and stickers from her Japan tour all over her white Birkin) See here, a purple zebra motif painted by artist Travis W. Simon, Click here a version that looks like it could have come off of a wall by graffiti artists Mint and Serf (called the Mirf) see here and a version in marker by Nicola Formichetti; actually quite well done if you like teal. see here The artist Jeff Koons is exploring something unique in charitable contributions for the United Nations Foundation and using Hermes bags as part of his Project Perpetual. Read about it:here.

Of course, hiring an artist to decorate a bag is one thing, giving it to your child to splatter paint on is another. It can be argued that these celebrities have so much money and want to have something of actual use that reminds them of their children as opposed to a piece of refrigerator art or even a porcelain "tchotcke". The most cynical among us will say that the real reason is that these pieces don't leave the home whereas an accessory can be shown off to the world. Somehow it seems like the worst part of ostentation and narcissism when a star is seen toting an item that most people can't even dream of affording, bearing the little tykes "signature."

Burberry shearling

The look of hand painting is all the rage now as seen on Burberry Prorsum's Fall 2014 collection of trench coats, shearling coats, boots and handbags. Although not individually hand painted they have a great look with their stylized large scale floral patterns and an eye-catching semi-bohemian vibe; but read less crafty than couture. If you feel a strong need for a hand painted accessory there are designers on Etsy as well as Deborah Thomson of Figgie Shoes who will custom paint shoes (they specialize in wedding shoes but will do any shoe you provide) to great effect.

Burberry Prorsum booties

What's particularly ironic is that there's a TV commercial that is currently running which indicates to me, just how dangerous this line of thinking can be. It's a spot for Payless Shoes, not a brand that the aforementioned celebrities would have much familiarity with, in which the mother walks in the door of her house and is presented with a loving gift from her young daughter: a hand-painted boot with fresh flowers coming out of it. Instead of being overjoyed with this masterpiece, the mother implied that since these are no good anymore she's going back to the Payless sale. Are we to believe that the celebrity mother would have oohed and ahhed at the "great creation" that her budding little artist made out of her Jimmy Choo and asked sweetly that they go paint the other one? See commercial here.

- Laurel Marcus

The Daily Bet by Rhonda Erb

Festive Looks For The Junior Set
These children’s fashions are just the right combination of style and comfort.

Ruum Layered Party Skirt

Layers of metallic gold and black tulle make this skirt the perfect choice for every special occasion this holiday season. It is easy care and machine washable. Girls’ sizes 5-16.

Available at: $36.50

Ralph Lauren Boys Cable Knit Sweater

You can never go wrong with a classic. This sweater is made of soft cotton so it is comfortable and not itchy. It features a ribbed crew neck and a two-button placket on the left shoulder. Machine washable for boys sizes 2-7.

Available at: $37.12 On sale

Ruum Chili Pepper Mini Stripe Button-Up

A button down shirt in comfortable woven cotton makes dressing up hassle free. Machine washable for Infant, Toddler and Boys sizes.

Available at:  $14.99

Clarks Dance Glory T

She will love dressing up in this stylish, quilted leather shoe that slips on easily with a hook-and-loop closure. It has a cushiony rubber outsole and a patent leather toe.

Available at: $55.00

Sperry Top-Sider Colton

The penny loafer never goes out of style. This one has comfort features that won’t hurt little boys’ active little feet. Available at: $55.00

For more Holiday Better Bets go to: