Saturday, January 31, 2015

The Spring 2015 Haute Couture Collections

From Runway to Reality...

Chanel Haute Couture Spring 2015
(All photos, Getty Images &

Talk about going from the sublime to the ridiculous. Or perhaps it’s the other way around. No sooner did the menswear collections for fall 2015 come to an end in Paris, then the magical world of haute couture began. And while in past seasons, I might have pointed out that it quickly went from grounded reality to fantastical flights of fancy; not so this time around, as the menswear shows were certainly filled with their share of the latter and it could hardly have been considered a season that was ‘garden variety’.

 Valentino Spring 2015 Haute Couture

Speaking of ‘garden variety’.the haute couture shows for spring 2015 were marked by enormous variety (each of the 15 houses did their own thing and played off their unique signature strengths). That being said, it was hard not to notice an emphasis on flowers and florals (they never seem to fade from fashion’s horizon and in fact, they were even proposed for the guys on the recent runways for fall 2015). And while there were many highlights during the week, perhaps the most poignant show for me had to be Valentino (though I could have done without some of the overly costumey pieces). It was an homage to love, (“Amore”) and the design duo, Maria Grazia Chiuri and Pierpaolo Piccioli cited as their inspirations: Shakespeare, Dante’s Inferno, and Marc Chagall (a personal favorite of mine).

Marc Chagall was born Moishe Shagal in 1887, and emigrated from Vitebsk, Belarus in Russia to Paris in 1910. His instantly recognizable, fantastical, and mystical paintings were often religiously themed, and they focused on every day scenes from what was an impoverished life in the shtetl. Yet the resulting works of art were not depressing and sad or mournful, but hopeful, joyful, and life affirming, and for him, they represented a true labor of love. The fact that he was Jewish, as were his subjects, is not lost on me given the recent terrorist killings in a Jewish deli in the outskirts of Paris, and the rise of anti-Semitism in Europe, specifically France.

It was also hard not to notice how many designers seemed intent on injecting a dose of reality within their extravagant collections, accessorizing as they did with grounded boots and flat shoes. There were flat white espadrilles at Jean Paul Gaultier; flat black midcalf boots at Chanel; flatform thong sandals at Viktor & Rolf; flat ballerinas with upturned toes at Ulyana Sergeenko; flat metallic sandals at Elie Saab; and black patent leather pointy toed flat men’s oxfords at Jean Paul Gaultier and Bouchra Jarrar. But regardless, it’s a stretch to use the words haute couture and reality in the same sentence, given the astronomical prices, which are out of reach and beyond the grasp for most of us. Though, not for the glamorous celebrities who routinely seek out made to order, one of a kind creations for their real life needs (personal appearances, weddings, premiers, galas, openings, and all the various and sundry award shows).

And right now, there are plenty of big deal events looming in the horizon: the Grammy Awards are on Sunday February 8th, the Academy Awards are on Sunday February 22nd, the Met Gala, themed around the exhibition, “China: Through the Looking Glass”, is Monday May 4th, and the Cannes Film Festival runs through May 13th through May 24th. So, as I watched the shows, I found myself speculating as to which designs would most likely appear on which stars (or in some cases, which designs I would like to see on certain stars), and would thereby make it from runway to their reality.

Left Amal Cooney; Right: Bouchra Jarrar Haute Couture 2015
Amal Alamuddin not only travels the world as a high profile international lawyer, but as Mrs. George Clooney, she constantly shuttles to and from her homes in Italy, London, and Los Angeles. You could say she is the ultimate jet setter and as one of the most photographed women in the world, the press is always there to record her airport comings and goings, and her style is always being scrutinized. What better way to look chic on the go, than with this Bouchra Jarrar ensemble.

Left Kate Hudson;  Right: Versace Atelier Haute Couture Spring 2015
Kate Hudson has hands down, one of the best bodies around and her body conscious fashion choices are always spot on, making the most of what she’s got. It’s not surprising that she has traditionally looked to the house of Versace for her public outings. In fact, she not only sat front row at the couture show last week, but she was wearing one of the hottest dresses on the runway…a red number that was cut out on the derriere, proving she had nothing on beneath. When asked what her favorite piece in the collection was, she replied it was the white flared leg cat suit worn by Karlie Kloss, so I would say it’s a safe bet we will see her wearing it this season.

Left: Goldie Hawn in Laugh-In; Right: Dior Haute Couture Spring 2015
Miley Cyrus was described as today’s version of the “Sock it to me Girl”, a title given to Kate Hudson’s mom Goldie Hawn when she appeared on “Laugh-In”, the iconic 60’s TV show. “She is always getting it socked to her by the press and others” said Judy Carn several years ago (Carn was also on the show), and both agreed that it all began when they saw her “rubbing her bum up an older gent’s sock”. After looking at the 60’s inspired, unapologetically mod space age line up at Christian Dior, especially the psychedelically printed second skin bodysuits (time for a Pucci revival?), I was reminded of Goldie’s groovy body painting and I could easily envision the always unpredictable and irreverent Miley, who loves to show her body off, wearing one of Raf’s zany versions, while cavorting both on and off stage.

Left: Julianne Moore at the Golden Globes 2015 in Givenchy  Haute Couture;
Right: Elie Saab Haute Couture Spring 2015
Julianne Moore’s off duty style (at home in New York’s Greenwich Village), could best be described as streetwise, casual and functional. But when she hits the red carpet, it’s all about glamour. She doesn’t have one signature look, but she did admit to having a “thing” for feathers. Why not go full hog with this show stopping entrance making fantastical Elie Saab confection when she attends the upcoming Academy Awards (it would look pretty amazing with her flame red hair). Let’s face it; she is all but guaranteed to win an Oscar for her performance in “I’m still Alice”. How apropos: it will be yet another ‘feather’ in her cap (she already won a Golden Globe and Screen Actors’ Guild Award), and she would be capping off what has been a ‘fantastical’ season for her.

 Left: Rihanna in Chanel Right; Chanel Haute Couture Spring 2015
Rihanna is in a category of her own, simply put. She has a strong presence and is one of those bold fashion chameleons who can seemingly pull anything off. She puts her own spin on everything, from the demure and classic to the shockingly daring. But while she is more commonly associated with a hard edged, tough streetwise sensibility, I kind of love it when she goes against type, and hits that soft sweet feminine spot, as she is known to do when she wears Chanel (and she still manages to make it look kickass ‘bad’).

 Left: Lupita Nyong'o attends CFDA Awards; Right: Christian Dior Haute Couture Spring 2015
Lupita Nyong’o originally wowed us last year with her first few appearances on the red carpet (the red Ralph Lauren cape gown was THE look of the 2013 season). Without a doubt, almost nobody looks better in strong primary colors and graphic, bold patterns, and she is a risk taker. As illustrated by the Suno culottes and cropped top she wore to the 2014 CFDA Awards in June. I think her exuberant style is perfectly suited to this Christian Dior ensemble, down to the fierce boots.

Left: Katie Perry; Right: Chanel Haute Couture Spring 2015
Katie Perry is the ultimate pop star/outdoor California girl. Her sense of style is playful and whimsical, she has a real sense of humor, doesn’t take herself too seriously, and loves to experiment and camp it up (she is being outfitted by Jeremy Scott for her half time show performance at Sunday’s Super Bowl and promised, “a feast for the eyes and the ears”). If anyone can pull of this flower decorated Chanel, it is she.

Left Taylor Swift performs in London; Right: Atelier Versace Spring 2015 Haute Couture
Taylor Swift can hold her own with the world’s top models thanks to her long lanky frame and high cheekbones. She is coming into her own in terms of her red carpet style, as well as her offstage, and onstage persona. She can easily rock a languid gown, a spangled mini, or short shorts, thanks to her youth and long gams and with legs like those, why cover them up? I could easily picture her in Atelier Versace’s red mini and tall boots, while performing on stage or hitting the red carpet at the upcoming Grammy Awards.

Left: Emma Stone in Lanvin; Right: Ulyana Sergeenko Spring 2015 Haute Couture
Emma Stone is one of those fabulous young stars who shines regardless of what she wears, and with her beauty, poise, confidence, and innate style, she can pull off even the most fashion forward of designs. With reports that she and boyfriend Andrew Garfield are planning to get married in Rome, Italy this summer, it’s obvious she will be in need of a wedding gown. Andrew was quoted as saying he’d be happy to do it at City Hall, but she wants something more “memorable”. I think this Ulyana Sergeenko would fit the bill perfectly as it’s the best of both worlds: not your typical, fussy, overdone wedding gown, it is a bit more tailored, unusual, whimsical, and modern. While I happen to love the rooster bag, let’s just say, it’s optional- LOL.

Left: First Lady in Marchesa; Right: Valentino Spring 2015 Haute Couture
Michelle Obama is not a movie star, but the First Lady is a big star who makes a big impact on fashion. She relishes in getting dressed to the nines for high profile occasions, such as State Dinners and the like, and she always nails it. This gold Valentino whose skirt is printed with a line from Dante’s Inferno, is a perfect choice for those times (like the White House Correspondent’s Dinner) when she not only wants to make an entrance, but announce to her husband’s detractors and critics, “Go to hell!”

- Marilyn Kirschner

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

New York Fashion Cool-Aid™

The  Screen Actors Guild Awards 

Sofia Vergara's Love Hand
(Photos: Getty Images & E! Entertainment)

The Screen Actors Guild Awards celebrated their 21st year Sunday night and fittingly rang in adulthood with an air of serious sophistication and much less ribaldry than at the older, more established Golden Globes. This is to be expected for a number of reasons not least of which is the free-flowing open bar attached to the Globes. For another thing, who really cares what tickles the Hollywood Foreign Press's fancy; the SAG awards are voted on by members of the Guild and are thought to be an early indicator of who will win Oscar gold. The SAG awards have no host(s) to bog things down, therefore no jokes or musical numbers, and are confined to a two-hour telecast of non-stop award giving making timing and efficiency tantamount to any kind of grandstanding or chicanery. In other words, the stars have to get down to the business at hand and act like adults instead of kids on spring break. How refreshing!

Naomi Watts is Unflappable

Echoing that theme, the red carpet fashions seemed more grown up, elegant and elevated as well. This was evident during the E! Live From The Red Carpet pre-show, featuring the "B" team of Maria Menounos, Ross Matthews and Kelly Osbourne rather than the Globes Ryan Seacrest, and Guiliana Rancic with Ross and Kelly; a much different animal. While Ms. Menounos did ask the perfunctory "What are you wearing?" (rather than the Joan Rivers "Who are you wearing?") she tended to dispense with that quickly enough and move onto questions that engaged the actor regarding their craft/role/or background rather than just trying to be cute, funny and foolish as Ms. Rancic seems wont to do.

Julianne Moore

Occasionally, Ms. Menounos would suggest the star take a "walk" in the Mani cam and interestingly two stars refused to do it (Julianne Moore and Jennifer Aniston took a pass and it's unclear whether they didn't like their manicures or if they were told not to flash their bejeweled fingers and wrists by those who insure the baubles). Sofia Vergara showed off her line for Kay Jewelers with a bracelet and rings on one hand, even briefly walking the "love hand" with her diamond engagement sparkler/blinder for a quick flash.  (See here)

The awards show itself provided few surprises, those favored to win, did so, however there were some fashion surprises. Several stars who wore ill fitting or lackluster gowns at the Globes, definitely dialed up the glam last night. 

Felicity Jones

MOST IMPROVED included Felicity Jones in a pale peach Balenciaga which was great on her however I wish the color had been slightly more vibrant as she looked a bit washed out; Keira Knightly in a gorgeous shade of deep violet Erdem eyelet tiers disguising her pregnancy and Claire Danes in dark army green Marc Jacobs. Although I thought the wrap-around halter neck on Ms. Danes dress was too thick and fussy and wish she had left off the military surplus belt which created a poochy tummy as well as cluttered up her back, I still preferred it to the shapeless Valentino at the Globes.

Joanne Froggatt

CHAMELEONS or those who took on a very different look at the SAGS than at the Globes include Downton Abbey's Joanne Froggatt who looked sweet at the Globes and downright sexy at the SAGS. She was styled by none other than new addition to Fashion Police Brad Goreski and wore a classic black strapless fishtail gown reminiscent of Charlize Theron's Oscar dress last year. Froggatt had her hair down in a Veronica Lake side swept style as opposed to up in milkmaid braids pinned to her head at the Globes, enhancing her sophisticated look. Kudos to Jen Aniston who, although she's worn the low plunging neckline slip dress before, at least gave her favored black a break in a gold medallion patterned knit Vintage Galliano accessorized with the gold body chain that she recently wore with a red pant suit. Naomi Watts, who nearly took a spill while on stage with the cast of "Birdman" as she tripped over Emma Stone's sheer train, looked stunning in a much quieter and simple deep plum colored off-the-shoulder gown with shoulder sweeping hair. This was in marked contrast  to her yellow strapless gown with hair in an updo and large diamond snake choker at the Globes, but still quite effective.

Julianna Margulies

BEST DRESSED goes to another Valli girl (I loved Lupita in Valli at the Globes) Julianna Margulies who killed it in bright cobalt blue Giambattista Valli. Simple but stunning dress, hair, minimal accessories, the only thing I was unsure of was her black sandal which grounded the look. I might have liked to see a silver or gold metallic sandal instead but I think she may have been matching a black encrusted bracelet that she was wearing. (Side note: I once sat next to Ms. Margulies at the hair salon and she looked nothing like this! LOL). Runner up was Julianne Moore who stuck with Givenchy but this time in emerald green with sparkling green drop crystals. The simple tank silhouette worked well with the heavy embellishment and she even had a green fur wrap of some kind draped on the back of her chair. (I won't make any Oscar the Grouch comparisons)! She did point out her amethyst earrings; the green with purple accents seems to be a popular combo these days.

Emma Stone

RISK TAKERS include Emma Stone in a Dior Couture tuxedo mini/sheer skirt with train combo, Julia Roberts in a Givenchy (she's featured in their ads in a similar turnout) tuxedo jumpsuit and Lupita Nyong'o who seems to be into prints this season in a Elie Saab long sleeved, v-necked black striped, abstract floral design. It's interesting to note that wearing long sleeves and being covered up on those under a certain age is now considered "risk taking" on the red carpet. In the male category of risk taker were Matthew McConaughey in a shiny blue tuxedo jacket and Adrien Brody in a very shiny sharkskin gray tuxedo suit. Though these somewhat unorthodox looks could have easily gone "prom" on lesser mortals, McConaughey and Brody managed to take it to more dignified shores.

Rosamund PIke

WORST DRESSED is another Dior Couture wearer and risk taker Rosamund Pike in a voluminous appliqued mullet trapeze dress which made her look still pregnant. If we hadn't seen her at the Globes in a form fitting (although also ill advised) white Grecian style dress two weeks ago, one would assume she hadn't lost the baby weight or was again very pregnant so I'm SMH. Laverne Cox looked as though she had raided J-Lo's closet, made a few hasty alterations to her caped Globes gown and decided to take it for a spin at the SAG Awards.

Carrie Fisher, Lupita Nyong'o and Patricia Arquette

MOST 'SPEC-TACULAR' EYEWEAR is a category with only four entrants. Was it Patricia Arquette's purple specs, Lupita Nyong'o's thick black frames, Carrie Fisher's rectangular red glasses with dark tinted lenses or Rashida Jones' oversized flesh toned frames? Hard to say but as one of the "vision-challenged" I loved that they rocked the eyewear/formal wear look with a nod to making a visually adult, yet colorful statement.

Post script addendum: When I turned on the TV early this morning for the blizzard update (oh, to be in LA with the high temps they are experiencing) I noticed that at least three of the newscasters wore bright cobalt tops or dresses. While I'm aware that this is a newswoman friendly color I've gotta this just a coincidence or something more?

- Laurel Marcus

Monday, January 26, 2015

In the Market Report: Menswear Shows the Essence of Cool

Man, Oh, Man! 

Balmain Fall/Winter 2015
(All photos &

Smart modern women know that elements of a man’s uniform (which represent the essence of timelessness and authenticity), simply cannot be improved upon. I, like many others, routinely borrow from the boys and in fact, some of the most storied fashion icons past and present (Coco Chanel, Katherine Hepburn, Audrey Hepburn, Jane Birkin, Alexa Chung, Lauren Hutton, Ines de la Fressange, Caroline de Magret, Charlotte Rampling, Charlotte Gainsbourg, and Angelica Huston) routinely tap (or tapped) into their tomboyish sides. (FYI, while menswear for women is something that cuts through the generations and works for all ages, I think it’s an especially effective sartorial option for those of a certain age, as it’s far better than trying to look like a sexy young chick LOL).

Angelica Huston and Jack Nicholson in their tuxedo  jackets

Coincidentally, the 63 year old Angelica Huston was profiled in The Wall Street Journal’s Off Duty section this weekend, (“A Tux That Isn’t Textbook”, by Alexa Brazilian). There was a marvelous picture of her, wearing an Yves Saint Laurent black velvet smoking jacket, accompanied by her similarly tuxedo clad boyfriend at the time, Jack Nicholson, attending the Directors Guild of America Awards back in 1986. (YSL, who will be celebrated along with Halston, in an upcoming exhibit at FIT, was one designer who was responsible for putting women in menswear, specifically, ‘le smoking’). The author, actress, and former runway model, was known to stick to a uniform (“Levi’s, pearls, and a mink coat in the early 80’s”), and she has always had a strong, specific ‘look’, even on the red carpet. It was chic, smart, elegant, tailored, and a bit more covered up than her counterparts, and as she noted, “I loved when Oscar night wasn’t all about skin”. Touche! No kidding!

Emma Stone in Dior Couture at the SAG Awards

A woman in black tie never gets old, it’s appeal is often underrated, and in my opinion, it never fails to stand out, particularly in a sea of prom and wedding like gowns on the red carpet, which was exemplified last evening during the course of the 21st Screen Actors Guild Awards. Upon seeing Jennifer Aniston’s droopy boobs, I could understand why the show is called the SAG Awards, and while too many women looked like bridesmaids (no, not Julianne Moore or Octavia Spencer, or Lupita Lyong’o, who looked sensational on stage with Jared Leto), both Julia Roberts and Emma went the black tie route (Julia chose a fitted jumpsuit and Emma’s ensemble consisted of a black jacket on top, and a long black sheer skirt on the bottom so the result was very leggy).

Street style in Milan
Photo: Tommy Ton

And speaking of similarly dressed couples… these days, its commonplace to see similarly dressed couples in their matching pea jackets, parkas, trenches, moto jackets, camel reefers, toggle coats, shearling jackets, bombers, button down oxford shirts, jeans, and hoodies. Indeed, unisex dressing has become the uniform on the streets, and there is so much androgyny it’s sometimes hard to tell who the boy is and who the girl is. Sometimes, he’s the one in leopard and she’s in pinstripes. Or maybe the guy is the one with the long hair, chic crocodile satchel, and fur collared coat, and the girl has her hair cropped short, is wearing a parka, and carrying a backpack. Or perhaps he is wearing mink lined Birkenstocks and she is wearing lace up flat oxfords or trainers.

Street style in Milan
Photo Tommy Ton

Regardless, there’s a whole sex role reversal thing going on. Just as women are increasingly embracing menswear, and I don’t just mean elements here and there, but in many cases, they are going full hog (and losing none of their femininity I might add), some men are becoming more flamboyant, and tapping into their inner peacocks. This reminds me of the song made famous by Rex Harrison in “My Fair Lady”, “Why can’t a woman be more like a man?” Well, she can certainly dress more like one if she wants to. Conversely, a man can dress more like a woman should he chose. It’s simply another option. You can be who you want to be when you want to be.

Pharrell Williams with Al Gore at Davos

Through the ages, it was the men who were traditionally the dandies and peacocks, and many men are now luxuriating in the ability to break free from sexual stereotypes and express themselves through their clothing (channeling their inner Mick Jaggers and David Bowies). The spotlight is truly on the guys right now and they are more than ready for their close ups. “Fashion Forward Lads” (“pushing the style envelope with felt hats, winged sneaker and fur collared coats”) just happened to be the subject of Bill Cunningham’s “On the Street” column in the Sunday Styles section of The New York Times. Style Director Vanessa Friedman wrote a column about the current trend of men wearing thin silk or cashmere scarves, as seen at the World Economic Forum in Davos Switzerland. There was a picture of Pharrell Williams (with Al Gore) looking very natty in a double breasted gold buttoned navy blazer and jeans, with a scarf tied around his neck just ‘so’ (I mean really, is there anyone cooler or hipper than Pharrell? Or Lenny Kravitz for that matter?)

Junya Watanabe Fall/Winter 2015

Luckily for them, menswear designers are not only offering traditional, conservative styles, but they are continually experimenting, gender bending and challenging notions of sexual stereotypes; thereby enabling men to tap into their creative, if not effeminate sides. It’s a great time for personal expression on all fronts. This was exemplified during the course of the menswear collections for fall winter 2015 which ended on Sunday, and mirrored in the meticulously dressed show attendees (both male and female), as captured by street photographer Tommy Ton.

Saint Laurent Fall/Winter 2015

While this season has been especially interesting and intriguing to say the least, I’ve always followed menswear. Fashion is fashion after all, and it’s become increasingly important and directional. In addition, more and more influential labels and designers (Miuccia Prada, Alexander Wang, Dries Van Noten, Phillip Lim, Giorgio Armani, Tom Ford, Christopher Bailey for Burberry, Riccardo Tisci for Givenchy, Hedi Slimane for Saint Laurent, Missoni, Thom Brown, Junya Watanabe, Rei Kawakubo for Comme des Garcons, Alber Elbaz for Lanvin, J.W. Anderson, Alessandro Michele for Gucci, Olivier Rousteng for Balmain) are doing both men’s and women’s collections. As Miuccia put it, "Anytime I do a men's show, I'm thinking this would be fantastic for women—or at least for me. And more and more, it feels instinctively right to translate the same idea for both genders”.

Prada endorses a uniform that is severe and elegant
for Fall/Winter 2015

There is an obvious thread between the two, and I assume I will get an idea of what will eventually unfold on the women’s runways by seeing what is happening on the men’s. For the record, Miuccia, who showed a smattering of womenswear, went back to her roots (you know the black nylon bags that started it all?) and endorsed a “shared aesthetic: uniform, severe, elegant”. For his eponymous label, Alexander Wang was once again inspired by active wear and sports (duh!) but this time it had a Southern California surfer vibe. But as creative director for Balenciaga, it was all about a spare, monastic luxury that was pure of form if not severe. Junya Watanabe was apparently moved by the sharp tailoring of the nattily dressed Congolese Sapeurs (whose lives are not “defined by occupation of wealth, but by respect, a moral code, and an inspirational display of flair and creativity.”)

Dries Van Noten Fall/Winter 2015

Missoni’s trademark knitwear was richly hued, exotic, and decorative. Dries Van Noten, whose signature look is one that is always exotic, nomadic and cross cultural, looked to the Miao people of Southern China (perfectly timed with “China: Through the Looking Glass”, the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s upcoming exhibition at the Costume Institute. At Comme des Garcons, it was all about taking the traditional suit and twisting and deconstructing it.  At Alexander McQueen, Sarah Burton was inspired by the formal correctness, honesty and authenticity of uniforms. Burberry’s Christopher Bailey tapped into “Classic Bohemia”, with unexpected pattern mixes (leopard and flowers anyone?). Rick Owens gave new meaning to the phrase, Full Frontal Fashion, with his admittedly “depraved” Sphinx collection. But as always, it was his stellar knitwear, and especially, his outerwear (perfectly fitted, amazingly shaped pea coats and quilted jackets that were the essence of ‘urban armor’), that stole the show.

Lanvin Fall/Winter 2015

Olivier Rousteing’s vision for Balmain was unapologetically over the top and extravagantly in your face (’s Luke Leitch aptly described it as “louche skateboarding sea captain”. At Lanvin, Alber Elbaz approached the idea of easy, relaxed luxury (translated in more than 50 shades of gray) with superb texture and fabric mixes, touches of fur, and massive fringed trimmed scarves. Saint Laurent’s Hedi Slimane is sticking to his guns and his vision, revisiting familiar territory. He was one of the many designers who used both androgynous male and female models and they were dressed in almost interchangeable, chic Parisian classic wardrobe staples that are the essence of cool (you know the drill: black leather, skinny pants, shrunken jackets, tuxedos, pointy toed ankle boots, leopard, polka dots, graphic black and white stripes).

Elliot Sailors
Vivienne Westwood  Fall/Winter 2015

Nowadays, the menswear runways (like those of womenswear) are marked by enormous variety and this time was no exception. There was truly something for everyone; from the most classic, sober, and impeccably tailored pieces (which look better than ever I might add), to the most outrageously flamboyant. But naturally, it was the latter, the more sensational moments that had everyone talking. Specifically, the flat out androgyny that had been on display. When’s Tim Blanks reviewed the 70’s inspired Jil Sander show, he hailed it as “a new kind of menswear for a new kind of man”. He could easily have been referring to the entire season. Not only were there many elements of design that are traditionally feminine (lace, ruffles, pussycat bow ties, sleeveless tops, sheer insets, leopard, floral prints, artistic abstracts, miles of fringe, cut outs, fur, etc.), but in many cases, the models resembled women (with their long hair and facial features). So much so, I was often a bit confused. At Vivienne Westwood, an androgynous model started the show. Elliot Sailors, who had stints posing in bikinis for the likes of Bruce Weber and Ellen von Unwerth, admitted that she always loved androgyny in fashion. Though she was dissuaded from seeking a career in the men’s modeling industry, she followed her heart. After taking part in The Landmark Forum a few years ago, (a personal training and development program), she cut off her long blond hair, found her truth, and the rest is ‘his’ tory.

- Marilyn Kirschner

Thursday, January 22, 2015

New York Fashion Cool-Aid™

Fashion on a Gender Bender

Gucci men walk the runway
(Photo, In Style, and Getty Images)

As we near the end of the men's fashion shows which conclude on Sunday in Paris, and prepare for the coming weeks of women's fashion, I realize that men cannot be considered second class citizens any more, at least as it pertains to la mode. There seems to be less of a distinction between the two with men appropriating women's clothing and women doing the same to menswear. The transition (yes, that is the word) from male style to female is almost seamless now and will become more so in the coming years as androgyny and gender bending grow ever more commonplace. With awards going to actors who are either transgendered themselves, or who play transgendered roles on TV getting to be the norm (Laverne Cox in "Orange is the New Black," and Jeffrey Tambor in "Transparent"); Obama mentioning the transgender community in his State of the Union speech (the first ever such mention); as well as rumors that a former triathlon winner/former Kardashian spouse may or may not be transitioning (Bruce Jenner) see cover of In Touch Magazine , this is becoming the new norm.

Androgyny at Gucci

Along with the announcement of Frida Giannini's replacement at Gucci: former head of accessories Alessandro Michele, who supposedly put a men's show in Milan together in a week (Project Runway designers: listen up!) critics said they noticed a "notable aesthetic departure from Ms. Giannini's work" which seemed "directed at a younger and more sartorially adventurous consumer." This description may be referring to several "androgynous looks, including ruffled silk blouses, lace and cropped fur jackets" walking the runway, according to Vanessa Friedman at The New York Times.

Anna Dello Russo in Saint Laurent men's poncho

Last season I had noticed a gradual blurring of the lines in some of the designers collections (for instance Anna Sui) who feature both male and female models on the runway. Indeed the style and articles of clothing as well as the models themselves sharing physical characteristics became almost interchangeable as if there was only one gender. Of course, I attributed this to the styles of the sexy '70s, back in a big way for spring 2015; possibly the last time that the androgyny issue raised its unisex head. Many of the male models flirted with the David Bowie/ Mick Jagger/Marc Bolan glitter rock aesthetic. As Ray Davies of The Kinks put it "Girls will be boys and boys will be girls, it's a mixed up muddled up shook up world." To further illustrate that notion I just read that Anna dello Russo and Chiara Ferragni both wore items from Saint Laurent's menswear lines to Milan Fashion Week. (link)

A Fashion Week Attendee Gets Attention
(Photo Laurel Marcus)

All of this got me thinking about something else I saw during last September's fashion week.  It was not something on the runway, but on an equally influential fashion week attendee. Standing on the Lincoln Center Plaza was a young woman in a pale pink float-y chiffon like frock. What was notable was her choice of footwear. I didn't realize it at the time but later research showed she was wearing a pair of shoes from the Riccardo Tisci x Nike Air Force 1 collab (the white high boot limited edition); the perfect combination of hard and soft, yin and yang, masculine and feminine. I snapped a quick photo, as did many photographers, as I turned to leave, later thinking it was among the best looks I'd seen all day. It turns out that RT was a young basketballer growing up in Italy ( playing the sport from the age of 7 until he was 15 when he injured his knee) who idolized the American brand and consequently has worn white Nike Air Force 1's with his all black everything for the past 15 years. Seeing him taking his end of the runway bow in them made Nike approach him for the collaboration. " Being a European person, what you dream of when you think of America is all of these iconic things—the flag, which I am obsessed with, and collect personally. You have Coca-Cola, McDonalds, Nike, many things for you that are quite normal. But for an outsider, these things are so beautiful, strong, and powerful. " he said when interviewed. He thanked Nike for actually giving him a "blank sheet of white paper" in terms of the carte blanche to design the shoes.

Riccardo Tisci x Nike boots at NYFW

Tisci made three different colorways (white, black and a "band-aid" tan) of the same shoes (Low, Mid, High and Boot); each color having a separate release date (March, April and October 2014) and although he says he strove to make them accessible, around-the-block lines to purchase the shoe and its relative scarcity drove a frenzy.

Rihanna in Riccardo Tisci x  Nike

After thinking about the footwear (if I dream about it enough and it's not monumentally expensive I try to make it happen), as well as seeing various versions on my style icon Rihanna, I eventually scored a pair of the AF1 gladiator boots in white on eBay. (Incidentally, there are currently a few sizes still available in the white as well as the black boots). Mine were from a shoe store in the mid-west, selling at regular retail price. To my delight they came undisturbed and packed with literal pounds of paper stuffing all the way up the leg; the huge black & white box complete with extra black leather laces and accompanied by their original regulation mesh tote bag featuring an eagle on one side and the Statue of Liberty on the other. In urban slang, they're "gangsta" meaning "awesome." (see here) .  The only bad thing is that they are quite time consuming to put on so, at least for me, I must commit to wearing them all day. Although there is a back zipper to theoretically enable the ease of entry, I find that it is necessary to loosen all the laces in order to accommodate my high instep, and then tighten them back up once they're on. The good about that is I can definitely work up a sweat just getting into these bad boys; no need to actually partake in physical activity like basketball in order to burn calories.

A black pair on Naomi Campbell

Like anything distinctive and different they are not for everyone. Perhaps they are an acquired taste? Comments on various websites announcing their impending arrival ranged from those calling them "pro-wrestling boots" (I can see that), to posing the question "When did Nike start selling artificial limbs?" and "When's the whole bodysuit gonna drop?" as well as the more direct but less creative "Yuck!" and "You've got to be kidding!"

Joan Smalls and Riccardo Tisci

Fear of getting them dirty is also a deterrent to wearing them, but Mr. Tisci says not to worry: "... as they get worn in and destroyed they look even better." As for what outfit to wear them with, its true they look fine with skinny jeans but I definitely prefer the idea of teaming them with more feminine garb just to showcase their unisex vibe. (see here) Sadly, my days in a pleated schoolgirl mini are long over however I'm determined to "out them" with something femme currently "in the closet."

- Laurel Marcus

Sunday, January 18, 2015

In the Market Report

The Red Carpet? It’s Child’s Play...

 Lupita Nyong'o at the 2014 Golden  Globes

Death, taxes, award shows, and red carpets. While not necessarily in this exact order, these are just some of the things that are positively guaranteed in life. What is also guaranteed is that while there are always exceptions to the rule, in general, what we will most likely see on the red carpet (now that the red carpet season is now officially underway and in full swing), is yet another boring parade of predictable, very formulaic evening gowns and bijoux (borrowed no less). You know the drill. And I know that I will invariably be disappointed because I want that wow factor, and let’s face it, stars are not dressing for fashion insiders who have informed finely tuned finely honed senses of styles, but for a wider global audience who expect their stars to look like “princesses”. True fashion moments, such as Lupita Nyongo’s arrival at the 2014 Golden Globes wearing that floor length red Ralph Lauren cape dress, are few and far between. By the way, some of the reasons it worked so well: it was sleek and minimal, she wore no jewelry, it completely suited her, enhanced her natural beauty, made a bold statement, and it wasn’t just another pretty (prom) dress.

Jennifer Garner and Ben Affleck at the 2014 Oscars

Actually, this was the subject of Ruth La Ferla’s front page article in The New York Times Thursday Styles section on Thursday, January 15, “Flirting with the idea of risk”, which posed the question, “Why do so many Hollywood stars insists on dressing for the red carpet as if it were prom night?” Indeed, I couldn’t agree more with that assertion. And while there are hopeful signs, with a number of adventurous rule breakers thumbing their nose at convention, unfortunately, things seem to be changing very slowly, or not at all, as exemplified by last Sunday’s Golden Globes. Sure, there were many who looked good, including Julianne Moore in Givenchy Haute Couture, Lorde in Narsico Rodriguez's black tuxedo pantsuit, Lena Dunham in sculptural red Zac Posen, and Melissa McCarthy looked really chic in her full sleeved white shirt with black tie and long fitted black skirt, but there was no one particular OMG moment for me.

 Brad and Angelina at the 2013 Golden  Globes

And as usual, as soon as the show was over, the knives came out and the requisite Monday Morning Quarterbacking immediately began, with newspapers, online blogs, television news and entertainment segments devoted to dishing the dirt on who looked good, who looked bad, who looked ugly. And as always, almost nobody would agree, because it is all so subjective. Some of those who made the best dressed list somewhere, appeared on the worst dressed list elsewhere. For example, Sienna Miller got high marks for her ethereal Miu Miu gown, but it left me cold and Felicity Jones was criticized for her full skirted bottle green Dior Haute Couture gown, but it topped Adam Glassman's best dressed list

George and Amal Clooney at the 2015 Golden Globes

Case in point: Amal Alamuddin’s white gloves, which she used to accessorize her glamorous black Dior. Were they hit or miss? Glamour’s fashion news director Jane Keltner de Valle opined, “It’s pretty remarkable when you consider that she wasn’t nominated for an award, isn’t an actress, and isn’t even a part of the industry, and yet her confident, bold choice made her the most talked-about woman of the evening.  So many women in Hollywood feel they need to bare all to be noticed. Amal proved that you can maintain your dignity, be elegant and discreet, and steal the show”. But others thought the gloves were ill fitting (“If the gloves don’t fit, you must quit”, decreed The New York Post). And Kathy Griffin, in her first appearance on Fashion Police, went so far as to say they reminded her of a porn scene, “You heard me! Everybody run in fear! I thought it was weird she had those gloves that remind me of, like, a porn scene, where the guy goes home and there’s the naughty dishwasher and she only has the gloves”.

 Beyonce at the 2013 Grammy Awards

But there is one post red carpet ritual I find myself looking forward to, and no, it’s not the TV segments where fashion ‘experts’ show the public how to find the red carpet looks for less (remember Allen B. Schwartz who prided himself on being able to recreate almost overnight, the red carpet gowns for his company ABS?) I myself don’t care for the costly originals with their 4 or 5 figure price tags so why would I be in the least bit interested in their $250 knockoffs? No, I’m referring to Tricia Messeroux’s re-creation of the styles and poses of A List celebrities (George and Amal, Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie, Kerry Washington, Halle Barry, Lupita Nyong’o, Anne Hathaway, Beyonce, Ben Affleck and Jennifer Garner, Jared Leto, Pharrell Williams, J.Lo, J. Law, etc.) for ToddleWood ( Using toddlers between the ages of three and six, the New York based photographer (who admits she is a “child at heart”), enlists the help of her team of costume designers, stylists, and hair and make-up artists, to pull it off, and quite frankly, they do such a convincing job transforming “everyday kids into superstar celebrities, iconic figures, and historic legends”, it’s almost scary.

But to her credit, unlike Hollywood, there are limits to which Ms. Messeroux will go, and she has wisely gone on the record with this statement, "I make sure that every one of the images I shoot are always rated G -- I never go risqué. I never put kids in a position I wouldn't want my daughter in. ... They're playing dress up -- they have a lot of fun."

- Marilyn Kirschner