Thursday, April 30, 2015

Girl Scouts of New York Annual Gala

Photos: Lieba Nesis

The dinner for the Girl Scouts was held at Cipriani 42nd Street, one of the most elegant venues in Manhattan. The Girl Scouts is a pivotal organization serving more than 29,000 girls annually, and helping to give these bright lights the "confidence, courage and character" to lead productive lives. Seventy percent of the girls come from low to moderate income families and the Scouts gives them a chance to expand their horizons and think outside their box.


The evening began with a cocktail reception and red carpet where all the beautiful young girls in their Scout uniforms were able to pose and smile for the photographers like real life celebrities. The self esteem imparted to these girls was evident in the joy on their faces and the dignity with which they carried themselves. At the conclusion of cocktails the dinner began with a welcome speech given by two "Troopers" Kailey and Alyssa; these young girls conducted themselves with such poise and maturity it was hard to believe they were not sent to finishing school.

The dinner

The CEO, Barbara Warrington, then spoke of the importance of the Scouts in helping all girls realize their possibilities, and then introduced Denisha Thiaw a remarkable young woman. Denisha grew up in the South Bronx with a strong hardworking mother constantly encouraging her to pursue her dreams, and possessed a love for fashion and art from an early age. Denisha recalled being surrounded by negativism and despair in her neighborhood but under the Scout leadership program she learned to change her mindset to one of positivity and hope. The program helped her score an internship at Eileen Fisher which changed her life and career trajectory. Denisha, will be attending College in the fall and from the Scouts she learned "you can do anything you want." Denisha's mother stood up to receive enthusiastic applause from the audience and I found myself tearing up at this emotional moment.

The Scouts numerous programs help girls choose career paths that they ordinarily avoid. The STEM program, an acronym for Science, Technology, Engineering and Math which teaches Robotics to girls from ages 5-17 provides hands-on experience and group challenges in an environment that fosters creativity and perseverance. Adele Gulfo, one of the night's honorees and the Executive Vice President and Chief Strategy Officer of Mylan, a pharmaceutical company with 22,000 employees, spoke of the need to encourage women to pursue careers in science. She noted that girls and boys are equally interested in science while attending Middle School however, when it comes time to choose a career men far outweigh women in the fields of science and math.

Honoree and executive vice president of Marketing
for the NBA, Amy Brooks

Reiterating this sentiment was Amy Brooks, another honoree who is Executive Vice President of Business Operations for the NBA, who spoke of the importance for girls to think into the future. The last honoree, Davia Temin, the CEO of a global marketing company, noted that the world was getting "a little bit meaner" with the advent of social media often being utilized for cyber bullying. She called on the female audience to inspire girls with compassion, kindness and respect to remedy the "soul killing" effects of this conflict.

The extent to which women are shaping and beautifying society was manifested by the significant contributions of the evening's illustrious honorees. The gala chair, Jennifer Lee, Managing Director of Private Banking for Wells Fargo, stated that this year's dinner attendance was 30% over last year and raised more than 586,000 dollars. A live auction was then held with the first item sold being a glass of milk and some Scout cookies for the paltry sum of $1500.

Leicha Richardson

Leicha Richardson, a personal assistant to famed makeup artist Trish McEvoy, who was closely watching the auction in her fashion forward color blocked gown told me that McEvoy hosts these girls at her offices and teaches them the 8 steps of putting on makeup and how to succeed as an entrepreneur. However, McEvoy mostly teaches them that beauty is inside out and reflected by how you treat others.

When I left this wonderful event my mother recalled how important the Girl Scouts was for her as an insecure young teenager from a small town in New Jersey, in instilling a feeling of self-assurance and hope for the future. The extraordinary ability of this organization to help underprivileged girls through so many different eras and time periods is a remarkable achievement that should never be taken for granted.

- Lieba Nesis

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

In the Market Report: Patricia Underwood Book Signing & Cocktail Party

Patricia Underwood with her book
(Photos: Marilyn Kirschner)

Hats will be the center of attention at the Kentucky Derby this Saturday, at the Frederick Law Olmsted Awards Luncheon at the Central Park Conservancy, (affectionately called the Hat Luncheon) next Wednesday, and at England’s famed Royal Ascot (June 16th through June 20). No doubt, a good many of them (whether they are made of straw, felt, leather or cashmere) will bear the label, Patricia Underwood (, whose mission from the outset was to make hats “a woman could wear”. I guess you could call her a ‘Thoroughly Modern Milliner’.

Ivan Leon and Victoria Perry assistants to Patricia

The famed British born milliner, who has been working in the USA since 1967, is known for her unwavering commitment to quality and design, and for her luxurious, custom made, hand finished and understated designs (all made in the USA). While attention grabbing and eye catching, they are never a distraction but rather flatter and enhance (many women claim their husbands were initially attracted to them because they were wearing one of her hats).They put the woman in the spotlight but never steal the spotlight.

Jeffrey Banks Doria de la Chapelle and Fern Mallis

Last night, hats (many of which were Ms. Underwood’s) were out in force, as was the designer herself. The occasion: a celebration of the publication of the new book, “Patricia Underwood: The Way You Wear Your Hat”, by Jeffrey Banks and Doria de la Chapelle, published by Rizzoli (, $33). Among the guests who attended: Fern Mallis, Mary McFadden, Freddie Lieba, Stan Herman, Cece Cord, Audrey Smaltz, Louis Dell Olio, Jean Shafiroff, Chiu-Ti Jansen, Teri Agins, Lauren Ezersky, Ellin Saltzman.

Patricia Underwood's hats on the Ralph Lauren Fall 2015  runway

In addition to having her own line, Patricia has worked with the some of the world’s most renowned designers (her headwear always adds the finishing touch and the right attitude to whatever story they are telling). This list includes Perry Ellis, Michael Kors, Donna Karan, Marc Jacobs, Oscar de la Renta, and Ralph Lauren, with whom she has enjoyed a storied and ongoing collaboration. So it could not have been more fitting that the venue for last evening’s event was the gorgeous Ralph Lauren flagship at 888 Madison Avenue.

Rizzoli's Nicki Clendening wearing a Patricia Underwood  hat 

As it turns out, the beautiful coffee table tome is a perfect way to celebrate (or should I say, “cap” off) the 40th anniversary of Patricia’s contribution to the fashion industry which began after she enrolled in an evening course in hat making at FIT. But it really took off after Vogue’s legendary Polly Mellen put one of her designs on Lauren Hutton during a Richard Avedon shooting. She has been appropriately honored with a Coty Award, a CFDA Award (she is an Emeritus Board Member of The Council of Fashion Designers of America), an American Accessories Achievement Award, and Fashion Group International’s Entrepreneur of the year award (of which she is a member).

Tziporah Salamon wearing a striped turban

The book contains images from her own archives in addition to iconic magazine editorials by the world’s greatest photographers (Richard Avedon, Irving Penn, Horst, Annie Liebovitz, Barry Lategan, among them). Ms. Underwood’s designs have been featured in such films as “Sex in the City 2”, “Cinderella”, “Sabrina”, “Four Weddings and a Funeral”, “Austin Powers”, and they are in the permanent collections of the Metropolitan Museum Costume Institute, Fashion Institute of Technology Museum and the Philadelphia Art Museum.

Marilyn Cane wearing a Patricia Underwood hat

Here are some of my favorite quotes about hats through the years:
"Wearing a hat is like having a baby or a puppy; everyone stops to coo and talk about it." (Louise Green)
"Fashion was not only supposed to make women beautiful, but to reassure them, to give them confidence, to allow them to come to terms with themselves." (Yves St. Laurent)
"Life is like a new hat. You don't know if it suits you if you keep trying it on in front of your own mirror." Shirley McLaine.
"A hat is a flag, a shield, a bit of armor, and the badge of femininity. A hat is the difference between wearing clothes and wearing a costume; it's the difference between being dressed and being dressed up; it's the difference between looking adequate and looking your best. A hat is to be stylish in, to glow under, to flirt beneath, to make all others seem jealous over, and to make all men feel masculine about. A piece of magic is a hat." (Martha Sliter)
"Fashion is a kind of communication. It's a language without words. A great hat speaks for itself.""Whenever you wear your hat, your day will be special." (Margo Nickel,
"Women are vain.  They think they look better in hats--if they have any sense." (94-year-old Louisa Hagood).

Marilyn wearing a hat and carrying a Ralph Lauren bag

There is no question that hats can instantly change the way you look, your outlook, and attitude. I even put one on for the occasion.

- Marilyn Kirschner

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

New York Fashion Cool-Aid™: Celestial Chic "Star" Footwear

1970's Glam Rock Platform Leather Boots made
for David Bowie ($2,500) at 1st Dibs

Stars are suddenly everywhere and I'm not referring to the kind you might have seen at the Tribeca Film Festival. The concept of celestial chic was featured in so many collections for SS2015 that now it's just a matter of seeing which of these interpretations actually float down to earth and translate from the runway to real life. Ironically, nothing is making me feel more grounded than these "twinkle toes."

Yves Saint Laurent star sneaker

Brands including Anna Sui, Saint Laurent, and Tommy Hilfiger apparently want you to walk on a cloud with their star embellished footwear. Think glam rock; Ziggy Stardust five-inch platform optional. Stella McCartney has a pair of star embellished creepers with a thick, high sole called Elyse while Saint Laurent's sandal platforms are almost exact replicas of the glitter rock era.

My Gold Booties

For me, this starry obsession all started just a few days ago with a photo from model Joan Smalls' Instagram. What immediately caught my eye was her footwear: Tommy Hilfiger booties with multi-colored metallic leather stars and a low stacked and sculptured shiny red heel. Not only "Yes, Please!" but "OMG! Need these!" cried out the side of my brain that continues to delude itself into thinking that I'm a '70s era rocker chick. With only three phone calls I tracked down the last pair "company-wide" in gold which I also love (Joan's are black) in my size. Once they arrive from LA-LA Land (as soon as they said they would check the L.A. store I knew that they would be found), I will do the fleet-footed dance of joy and contemplate a worthy outfit.

Joan Smalls in Tommy Hilfiger booties

Judging by Joan's IG photo, she was feeling both the stars and the stripes, but in a sophisticated manner rather than in a literal patriotic holiday way. Her soft looking and unstructured black and white striped silky blouse is a nice counterpoint but I prefer the crisper version I found in this Sass & Bide tailored jacket ($550). I also admired/purchased this TH Runway vest but would probably resist the urge to team it with the star booties; even my propensity to go all "matchy-matchy" knows some limits. LOL

Anna Sui star boot Spring 2015

Another example of a "star" witness is Anna Sui's lace-up star bootie made in collaboration with Ballin also from the runway of SS2015. Saint Laurent has both sneakers and the aforementioned platform sandals with star motifs in more typical patriotic/nautical colors.

Jimmy Choo black star-studded Dart boots

Perhaps the Jeffrey Campbell "See Stars" booties that I bought in 2012 (seen on Selena Gomez) may have been my "gateway drug." I believe they were copied from the Jimmy Choo star-studded Dart booties that were popular then, at $1,525 versus around $270 for the Campbell boots. Giuseppe Zanotti continues to make a popular high heeled sandal with raised gold stars as does Kate Spade in a more sedate pump and ballet flat version. The trend is quite different when you compare the two older JC (HA! Same initials) examples from the current models; the raised silver metal stars lend a moto/biker babe-vibe while this year's metallic leather versions convey a more rich bohemian hippie aura. That's my justification for owning more than one pair of star booties and I'm sticking to it. In terms of footwear and a few other closet items, I'll just keep "reaching for the stars."

- Laurel Marcus 

Saturday, April 25, 2015

In the Market Report / Better Bets

“The Tooth, the Whole Tooth & Nothing But the Tooth”

Diana Vreeland wearing her signature ivory tusk necklace

I’ve been busy working on my "The New Best Dressed List" (which will be out next month). I would be the first to admit that the notion of ‘Best Dressed’ is highly personal and it's all so subjective (especially nowadays when there are almost no rules). That being said, I am always struck by the powerful presence that defines or defined certain past ‘best dressed’ icons, all of whom I paid homage to on my first list  (Babe Paley, Gloria Guinness, CZ Guest, Audrey Hepburn, Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, Jacqueline de Ribes, Slim Keith, Grace Kelly) and it never ceases to amaze me the way in which they completely stand the test of time.

Diana Vreeland wearing her signature ivory tooth
necklace and matching cuffs

Then, of course, there's Diana Vreeland (maybe she's on my mind as of late because of the upcoming Costume Institute exhibition). While she was known for her over the top personality and pronouncements, she was simplified and utterly modern in that she basically stuck to a ‘uniform’ (albeit one that was luxuriously fabricated, perfectly cut, and proportioned), and she always accessorized with a few dramatic signature pieces: her Verdura cuffs, and her beloved Kenneth J. Lane ivory tusk pendants. In fact, Diana Vreeland and KJL were good buddies, and she was famous for wearing his horn necklaces with almost everything, (year round and for both day and evening). She sometimes wore two or three together (didn’t she famously say: “Too much is never enough”?)

Vintage Kenneth J Lane faux ivory tusk claw charm necklace 

In any case, I have long been obsessed with these iconic necklaces (they do look great with everything), and while they are indeed timeless, they have that boho vibe and immediately ‘say’ 70’s. And because both are having such a fashion moment as of late, they could not be more 'of the moment' and 'happening'. If you’re looking for the real deal, you’re in luck because Kenneth J. Lane ivory tusk necklaces are always available, it seems. There are several vintage versions on and on (priced at $70), which is where I also found a rare charm necklace composed of a faux ivory and red coral tusk, claw, jade arm hands, gold coins and glass beads ($229.99). A well priced non-vintage KJL ivory tusk necklace which was recently available at Neiman Marcus has unsurprisingly sold out.

Stephanie Lake Double Tooth necklace

Among the most noteworthy non KJL offerings: a wonderfully unique, one of a kind piece in antique gold capped ivory, and vintage resin ivory, made by Stephanie Lake (, $1125. And while you're at it, please check out her other amazing pieces which are not for the faint of heart ('Think' Iris Apfel)! But perhaps my favorite is the eye catching version by Dsquared2 (, which was used to accessorize many of the pieces on their 70's inspired resort 2015 runway. Made in Italy, it combines a brass link necklace with a resin tooth pendant measuring a hefty 6 inches long ($615). And perhaps you want to channel Diana Vreeland, and wear dramatic cuffs as well? Check out their brass and resin Armlet, $915. FYI, the good news is that the website is currently offering a 20% discount!

The whole "truth" certainly seemed to have come out during the course of Diane Sawyer’s gripping and extraordinary sit down interview with Bruce Jenner that aired on ABC last night. It was in fact, the only two hour interview the news icon had ever conducted and I must say, it’s hard to imagine anyone else pulling this off.

Bruce Jenner

“I am a woman for all intents and purposes”, and “my brain is more female than male”, said the sports legend, who confirmed that he will be transitioning into a woman (he did not want to reveal his new name at this point). “I am me, I am a person. I am not stuck in anyone’s body. This is who I am.” He displayed a self-deprecating and humorous side, and while he appeared a bit nervous at the beginning, he seemed truly relieved and at peace with his choice to come out in such a public way, after keeping a secret and living a lie up until this point. He was so conflicted, he admitted to having considered taking his own life at one point but decided he couldn’t go through with it (“I have to know how my story ends” he said).

During the course of the interview, which effectively made use of footage of the 1976 Olympics (during which time he was hailed as “The world’s greatest athlete”), Jenner admitted to cross dressing from a very early age (periodically raiding his mothers’ and sisters’ closets). He didn’t know why he was compelled to do so, except that it made him “feel good”.  He also said he was sexually attracted only to women  and considered himself to be heterosexual. “Sexuality is who turns you on but gender identity is who you identify with inside”, he observed. At one point, he took Diane into a room where closets were filled with dresses, and he pulled out a little black number which he said he would wear when they went out to a planned dinner. He joked, “at least you won’t be the tallest woman in the room”.

Married three times with six biological children and four stepchildren, love and devotion to family was a huge theme during the entire interview. A ‘star’ on the reality show, “Keeping up with the Kardashians”, along with his other family members, he found it rather ironic that he was, in fact, “the real story all along”. He told Diane that he and Kris would still be married if she had been “okay with this”. Interviews with his older sister and 87 year old mother, were especially touching and at the end, his mother said, I didn’t think I could be more proud of you standing on the podium at Montreal, but I’m learning I can be.”

Diane ended by asking Bruce (who will continue his transition in the near future) if this interview could be considered a “goodbye to Bruce”. He answered, “It’s not a goodbye to me but to people’s perceptions of me. This is who I’ve always been.”

- Marilyn Kirschner

Better Bets:  Mother’s Day Books for the Fashionable Woman

Horst: Photographer Of Style

This book is the companion volume to a 2014 exhibit of the famed fashion photographer’s work at the Victoria and Albert museum (V&A). The German born Horst worked primarily in 1930’s Paris for Vogue, then in New York, for Vogue and other Condé Nast publications.

Horst’s style was created in part by his training with other Condé Nast photographers and by publisher Condé Montrose Nast’s insistence on the use of oversized 10 x 8 inch black and white photographic plates.  This meant that Horst photographed his subjects, including many of the leading names in fashion and the movies, exclusively in the studio, with carefully crafted lighting that produced dramatic shadows.

As World War II approached, Horst departed for New York, where his work would evolve, influenced by Bauhaus and modernism, but always in his own unique style, including stunning color photography using Kodachrome.  The book draws on the V&A’s extensive collection of Horst’s work, as well as other important pieces, and includes a variety of interesting essays on the iconic photographer.

 Text by Philippe Garner, Claire Wilcox and Robin Muir; Edited by Susanna Brown; Foreword by Anna Wintour

Published by Skira Rizzoli
336 pages

Available at: $75.00

"A Healthy You" - by Carol Alt with Jocelyn Steiber

Super Model, Carol Alt continues her advocacy of raw food in her new lifestyle book, “A Healthy You” co-written with Jocelyn Steiber.  Alt, who hosts the A Healthy You health and wellness show on the Fox network, shares her personal raw food living philosophy, interspersed with essays by doctors and others who share her point of view.

 Starting with nutrition and the argument for a raw diet, Alt also covers fitness, skin care and beauty, and how to age gracefully.  The book is very personal, as Alt shares her journey from a model who avoided food to a practitioner of what she views as the optimum healthy lifestyle, including alternative health practices, such as coffee enemas for detoxing.

 The book includes a plethora of raw food recipes and personal tips, such as avoiding chewing gum because it stimulates digestive enzymes, staying away from non-refrigerated oils, maintaining a slightly alkaline pH, and fitting in squats during conference calls.  To be sure, the lifestyle described can take quite a bit of effort, as Alt tells us that she brings her own salad dressing to restaurants, and a platter of raw cheese and crackers (yes, these are also raw) to parties, but, according to Alt, the payoff is well worth it.

Foreword by David Perlmutter, MD
Published by Dey Street Books
288 Pages
On Sale 5/12/2015: $25.99

- Rhonda Erb
For more Better Bets visit:

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

New York Fashion Cool-Aid™: 5th Annual Madison Avenue Watch Week

John Varvatos boutique

When I heard that Madison Avenue was having its 5th Annual Watch Week (4/20 to 4/25) my first thought was that the luxury watch makers were either very brave or very naive to face the onslaught (read: hype) of the Apple Watch. Would these heritage brands like wise old owls, have their fixed stare aimed directly at the young fledgling smartwatch long enough to knock it off its perch of assumed dominance. Then three things happened which changed my thoughts on the subject. First of all, I realized that the "Tech Gods" (or "Tech Geeks" if you prefer) weren't completely sold on the Apple watch and were not necessarily bowing down at the altar of Apple (more on that later).

Secondly, I became aware that there are still quite a few traditionalists out there in the watch collecting community by virtue of reading the WSJ Off Duty article "Can Apple Topple Tradition?" which suggests that with too much technology, the pendulum will naturally swing back to the more classic. (The Wall Street Journal is also the sponsor of Watch Week so maybe there is a tie-in there). Case in point: the debut of the made in Detroit, Shinola, THE "Anti-technology watch." Thirdly, the tour I joined on Monday (right after a lovely Blogger Breakfast at the Plaza Athenee ) of several of the participating stores involved in Watch Week festivities was an eye opener.


Coming on the heels of the Swiss trade show BaselWorld and the Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie (SIHH), Madison Avenue Watch Week (MAWW) is designed for both the avid aficionado already familiar with these high-end brands as well as the neophyte who may feel intimidated walking into a luxury watch store."Although these watches are introduced at BaselWorld many real watch collectors don't get to see them until they come into the store" said Amy Rosi of Aros Communications, the press agent for the event. "This event is a real retail collaboration. As with any competing companies, brands are generally very proprietary about their designs. Watch Week is a time to discover your style" she added "Watches are not just a timepiece."

"There are so few ways that a man can make a style statement and a watch is one of them" agreed Blogger Karen Klopp of What2WearWhere. She recounted a story of shopping with her 27-year-old son in Saks and steering him toward the watches. Like so many of his generation he doesn't wear a watch preferring to consult his phone instead, again begging the question over whether the Apple watch will be successful.

As I mentioned, this same issue raised its head when I attended the Fashion Law Institute Symposium's session on wearable tech and surprisingly, heard doubts raised on the Apple Watch's viability by the resident geeks. I myself had what I'm going to call a "Katy Perry moment" and no, it doesn't involve shooting whipped cream out of a bra. It concerned a video shown during the session, which featured Miss Perry on the red carpet in a CuteCircuit color-changing gown giving props to the London-based designers Ryan Genz and Francesca Rosella. Only problem is that like the SNL Coneheads she said they were a design duo from France, to which I, in my article said "oops!" Well, then I'm deserving of an even bigger "oops!" as I mentioned that the Apple Watch appeared on the cover of Japanese Vogue however it was Chinese Vogue. Sometimes I think evil elves are possessing my flying fingertips while I'm happily typing away at the keyboard or perhaps they create their mischief after I've put the article to bed? Maybe they're also responsible for shrinking all my summer clothes over the winter.

A. Lange & Sohne boutique

Back on the watch tour, I and four other bloggers (two from serious watch publications), Ms. Klopp and Lila Delilah, editor-in-chief of set off with Matthew Brauer of the Madison Avenue Business Improvement District to see the watch wizards. It was raining quite heavily making it a bit of an adventure just to negotiate the few blocks between 67th and 61st Streets. First we went to A.Lange & Sohne boutique, the only German watchmaker in the bunch. They have a beautiful new jewel box space with an upstairs area for private parties. Their watches were very tasteful, totally handmade as are all of the watches that we saw in each boutique.   There was an air of discipline among the salespeople who were very staid but welcoming; gray suits and brown shoes seemed to be the dress code for the men. The brand is currently celebrating their 200th Anniversary with a 200-watch edition originally of "The 1815" in platinum with a black dial.

An array of Men's Watches at John Varvatos

Next it was off to John Varvatos where we were greeted warmly and given a look at the more rugged and vintage-y, but no less luxurious watches which are a collaboration between Ernst Benz and John Varvatos. "I like that he (John Varvatos) didn't just get a licensing deal. He was very involved with the watch design" Ms. Rosi had mentioned during our breakfast. There are many different strap colors and leathers available to totally customize whatever watch you choose.  The watches here are of a more casual style which makes sense considering the slightly more laid back Varvatos aesthetic

Vacheron Constantin Lizard Watch

One block away was Vacheron Constantin but a world apart. The look was glitzier and more embellished including a watch that reminded me of a Keith Haring design but was in fact multiple lizards. There were two women sewing leather bands in what seemed to be a demonstration of sorts. I learned that on all high-end watches including each of the brands we visited, the back of the watch is always open in order to see the accurate-to-the second movement.

Shawn Carter's aka Jay Z Limited Edition Hublot Watch

We continued a few more blocks and crossed the street to Hublot Boutique where we spent quite a bit of time ogling several of the extremely ornate watches including one made for Jay Z with his Shawn Carter logo. The salesman showed us two huge open leather trunks of very intriguing watches which he removed from the case for our perusal. There were a large variety of colors and details and a lot more "bells and whistles" here...definitely more Hollywood or "rock star" than others on the street. In addition, they had a really nifty way of changing out the bands with a simple clasp almost like the mechanism in a seatbelt which is easily removable from the side of the watch face.

Panerai watches

Directly across the street is Panerai Boutique, a blend of Italian design and Swiss technology. The tiny but extremely elegant brand new store commemorates their history in Florence (in 1860) with a wall mural of the center of the town. The watches are very sleek but large, many with thick oversized round faces which instantly transported me to the age of Mod ('60s and '70s). The woman helping us reminded me of a "stewardess" of that era in terms of her dress adding to the cosmopolitan flair. They feature every color strap under the rainbow including exotic skins. We were offered homemade donuts and other Italian pastries which were amazing. We almost didn't want to leave.

At Jaeger-LeCoultre

Briefly we stopped in Jaeger-LeCoultre but they seemed unprepared for our group with no one there to meet and greet us. We inquired about their special debut of the Geophysic 1958 Boutique Edition Watch as well as an example of the UNESCO World Heritage collaboration and were told that it had mostly sold out and they didn't have a new one to show us. I know this is a well established and well regarded brand but their customer service seemed a bit lacking.

A Macaron Pyramid at Chopard

We moved on to Chopard, the largest and probably most well-known of the fine watch makers we visited. There we were greeted by a blonde "Watch Wench" in a cropped top, pencil skirt and matching stiletto pumps. She was happy to show us around and even had an Instagram worthy array of macarons, orange juice and champagne set out for us, although sadly no one partook. Chopard is known for their Happy Diamonds collection (for men and women), as well as their L.U.C Chrono One (Louis-Ulysse Chopard who founded the brand in 1860) and Mille Miglia Racing Watch Collection. She spoke to us about the Fairmined gold program that they have started. Apparently, the gold they were finding was not pure enough so they began their own process.

Chopard Bling

One of the bloggers asked our hostess if the trend in women's watches was towards the more diminutive and she answered in the affirmative.  "As the clothing styles get more feminine, the watches are getting smaller to complement them. You wouldn't want to wear a big, clunky watch with the more feminine fashions" she replied. I noticed that her blingy gold and diamond watch was on the larger side.

As part of MAWW many of the boutiques are featuring their own events including a John Varvatos/Ernst Benz cocktail party on Wednesday night and a "Children's Watchmaking Workshop" at Vacheron Constantin on Saturday, April 25th. Hublot is featuring a Master Watchmaker to offer insight into their in-house UNICO movement which guests are allowed to try and deconstruct. Other featured watch brands include David Yurman, de Grisogono, Faberge, F.P. Journe, Georg Jensen and Montblanc.

For more information or to request invitations and private appointments:

- Laurel Marcus

India Hicks Book Signing: From Bridesmaid to Biographer

India Hicks
(All photos: Lieba Nesis)

The book signing for "Island Style," India Hicks latest book was hosted by Roberta Freymann at her store on 176 Duane Street. Hicks, is a former fashion model and 678th in line to the British throne. She is the second cousin to Prince Charles, and became well known for her role as a bridesmaid to Lady Diana. While her career as a model was noteworthy in the 80's and 90's appearing in ads for Ralph Lauren, J. Crew and Calvin Klein, it is her second and third act as a developer and decorator of houses in the Caribbean and a bestseller on the Home Shopping Network for her home collection that have kept her prominent in the public eye. Moreover, this is the third book she has written about her life on Harbour Island, featuring photographs, essays and a foreword by none other than Charles himself.  If that is not intimidating enough, her statuesque elegance has been unmarred by her production of five beautiful children.

The store

Entering the "Roberta Roller Rabbit" store which was filled with handcrafted clothing, furniture and prints from India the first person I spotted was Hicks, a beautiful amazon with a presence that could fill ten rooms. As dozens waited for her to sign their books she posed for pictures with a poise worthy of a royal. Roberta Freymann, who is herself an accomplished designer owning 13 clothing stores, recalled how India would arrive at her walk-up apartment building to purchase clothing many years ago and how their friendship has blossomed over the years.

Roberta Freymann and Lana Ogilvie

Roberta was honored to host the event and was wearing her own designs this evening, although she admitted Dries Van Noten is her favorite designer. Lana Ogilvie, a well-known model who has retained her good looks, has also known Hicks for decades, recounting their modeling days as filled with excitement with visits to exotic locales and encounters with eclectic individuals. However, Ogilvie, lamented the cliquishness and immaturity of the fashion industry and noted that when she was modeling the Victoria's Secret and Sports Illustrated models were looked down upon whereas now they are sought after due to their large social media following.

Rose Hartman, India Hicks and Gigi Ganatra

This evening was a nod to those who have maintained enduring relevance in the fickle fashion industry, with Rose Hartman making a guest appearance as well as fashion veteran Sam Shahid. Shahid, is revered in the industry starting off in 1981 as the creative director at Calvin Klein where he catapulted Klein to iconic status due to the labels sexy advertisements and alluring image. After meeting Hicks through her modeling for Klein he then became creative director at Banana Republic, where he again used Hicks to model for the company and has been the artistic director for all of Hicks' books, Kelly Klein's bestsellers, Fern Mallis's recent compilation, and an upcoming book on Diana Vreeland. Shahid and Hicks collaborated on this book for a year and he is a man as excited by his job 35 years later as he was when he began as a novice.

Sam Shahid and India Hicks

Furthermore, Shahid started an advertising agency in 1993 that boasts clients including Versace, Valentino and Abercrombie and Fitch. Shahid has worked with Herb Ritts, Richard Avedon and Bruce Weber and admires their ability to tell a story with their photographs. Shahid recalled his earlier years in the fashion industry with a fondness for its conceptualism as opposed to its current state where it is predominantly product and celebrity driven with the only goal being to sell the item. He also recalled how Prada's creativity has diminished due to its desire for bottom line success. Fortunately, according to Shahid, the Europeans are still maintaining their originality and therefore, he enjoys working with other cultures. Shahid's low key manner, arriving in sneakers and a blazer without a hint of arrogance, belies his stature in the fashion industry with one guest asking me, "do you understand how important that man is?"

Available at Barnes & Noble

At the conclusion of the evening I had the opportunity to speak with the star of the evening, India Hicks. She indicated that she wrote every word in the book, a highly difficult feat due to her "severe dyslexia." For Hicks the most gratifying part of being an author was her realization of how lucky she is and how quickly time goes by with these books allowing her to document her life akin to a family photo album. When she recounted being a bridesmaid at the wedding of the century she said it seemed like an intimate family affair but now realizes being driven in a gold carriage to a wedding is "highly unusual."' The aspect of Princess Diana that sticks out in her mind most was her love of the Tea Rose fragrance and her "very bossy" nature. Hicks is herself coming out with an English Rose fragrance in an ode to Diana and on that note she exited the store with a grace and beauty reminiscent of old time Hollywood mixed with a bit of English irreverence.

- Lieba Nesis

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

In the Market Report: "7th on Fifth"

Saks Fifth Avenue's windows are devoted
to Fern Mallis's new book

You know Abbott and Costello’s famous question: “Who’s on First?” Well, the question last evening was “Who’s on Third?” - The third floor of Saks Fifth Avenue that is. And the correct answer? Almost everyone who is anyone in the world of fashion, because the fashion luminaries came out to toast Fern Mallis’s fabulous coffee table book “Fashion Lives: Fashion Icons with Fern Mallis” published by Rizzoli ($55). In fact, I suppose you could say it was 7th on Fifth, which is quite fitting since Fern (a game changer and icon herself) created 7th on Sixth.

The book signing cocktail party was also a “coming out” party for Marc Metrick, Saks’s new president, who co-hosted the event. 16 of the store’s windows, including all those that front Fifth Avenue, have been devoted to Fern’s book which draws on her wildly popular and always sold out “Conversations with Fern Mallis” interview series at the 92 Street Y. In each window, the books are stacked up, and mannequins are dressed in outfits from each of the designers included (a quote taken from the book is emblazoned in the window). In the case of a non-designer (like Bill Cunningham and Andre Leon Talley for instance), there was a mannequin dressed to look like them.

Fern Mallis with Calvin Klein

Fern has conducted 19 up close and personal interviews thus far (she is a master at getting people to open up and confide their little secrets). Her first, in 2001, was Norma Kamali followed by Calvin Klein, Donna Karan, Tommy Hilfiger, Tom Ford, Michael Kors, Diane Von Furstenberg, Polly Mellen, Marc Jacobs, Betsey Johnson, Vera Wang, Oscar de la Renta, Simon Doonan, Andre Leon Talley, Bruce Weber, Isaac Mizrahi, Bill Cunningham, and John Varvatos. Ralph Lauren, who wrote the forward, has yet to sit down for an interview but that will hopefully happen in the future.

Diane von Furstenberg with Marc Metrick

Among those in attendance last night: Michael Kors, Tommy Hilfiger, Diane von Furstenberg, Francisco Costa, Bill Cunningham, Steven Kolb, Calvin Klein, Ralph Rucci, Peter Copping, Bibhu Mohapatra, Stan Herman, Jeffrey Banks, Martha Stewart, Susan Magrino, John Varvatos, Richard Mishaan and Ty Yorio. Ty, whose security company Citadel, insures New York Fashion Week is kept safe and running smoothly, is looking forward to Men’s Fashion Week in July, and New York Fashion Week in September when we relocate to two new homes.

Steven Kolb

Quite frankly, about the only person who was noticeably absent was Kanye West (who seems to be everywhere else these days, including the cover of Time Magazine’s 100 Most Influential People in 2015). As you remember, back in February, Mallis told The New York Post that she was “kind of over” West and was “not a fan of his attitude”. West recoiled using Twitter, and the whole thing exploded into an internet feeding frenzy. But the two have since ‘kissed and made up’ (figuratively anyway) and Kanye said he would be willing to sit down for an interview with Mallis at the Y, when his busy schedule allows.

FYI, when I asked Fern who she has lined up next, she would only say, “I have a terrific guest locked in for June 3rd to be announced by week's end”. Then I asked the obvious question -- who she would like to be interviewed by and at first she did not know, but then replied “maybe Elsa Klensch?'

- Marilyn Kirschner