Monday, August 31, 2015

New York Fashion Cool-Aid™

ROYGBIV "Fashions" Dominate VMA's

Miley Slides In to Host The VMA's
((Photos credits: Getty Images for MTV, Reuters, WireImage)

Anticipating encountering  any serious fashion at the MTV Video Music Awards is like anticipating encountering the Abominable Snowman in the desert. Sorry, it's just not gonna happen. So let's roll with the homies and dish about some fun and colorful human Skittles who give us life each year at this awards show.

Jeremy Scott

First of all, how perfect is Moschino designer Jeremy Scott's test pattern cutaway suit worn shirtless (was he channeling Miley)? While the look is reminiscent of last year's yellow smiley-faced back suit, this year's version was completely in keeping with the spirit of the night and Scott's role as the creative force behind the color blocked "red" carpet look. He also gave the formerly silver Moonman award a makeover, or a colorization you could say, bringing the astronaut statuette into this year's "taste the rainbow" theme.

Walk The Moon

Other early red carpet appearances included the male group "Walk The Moon" who looked like they had perhaps walked into a Benjamin Moore during their celestial stroll. Their "paintball meets Jackson Pollock" inspired suits struck just the right note for this award show. Also, a shout out is in order to Actor Michael Willett in his artistically multi-hued "painted desert" suit by Anthony Franco.

Miley Versace Red Carpet Look

And speaking of our "hostess with the leastest", everyone was excited to see how much or how little clothing host Miley Cyrus would don. After walking the carpet in a silver Versace "Barbarella" inspired look (nice boots, uhh that's with a "t" Miley), she literally slid in to open the show in true kaleidoscopic fashion. Her sparking multicolored jumpsuit, awesome platforms and headdress were also totally on point for an event with all the solemnity of a weenie roast. There were several other colorful changes of clothing, some more successful than others but you've totally got to give her props for the sheer number of them--and thanks to the makers of all that strategically placed double-stick tape!

Miley on Jimmy Kimmel

I actually preferred her even more risque look on Jimmy Kimmel last week which gave us a glimpse of what we were in for. The former Disney star wore a multicolored cape and wide legged pant of jeweled hearts; in lieu of a shirt were sparkly heart-shaped pasties (no #Givenchy on these sticky items; she claims everything was purchased on Hollywood Boulevard) while Kimmel tried desperately to avert his eyes. When he asked her to please try to keep her arms to her sides so that the cape would not be flung open, she offered, by way of explanation that underboob and sideboob are acceptable in our culture, yet the nipple, inherent in both male and female anatomy, is banned. Thankfully she did not launch into full-on "Free The Nipple" proselytizing. Fast forward to late last night at the VMA's when Miley managed to sneak in an uncensored nip slip as she changed behind a curtain, despite a several second on-air delay: (Video clip).

Jeannie Mai

Believe it or not, there were those who actually wore more conventional clothing! One of them was TV host Jeannie Mai rocking an eye-catching outfit of patterned crop top and matching full length skirt, accessorized with a wide gold belt; one of my favorite outfits of the evening. It seems to me that the wearing of very revealing outfits (read most of the women), aside from the constant maintenance of having to adjust your bits from falling out everywhere, would have lessened the fun of the evening but apparently that IS the fun of the evening for many past and present VMA goers.

Amber Rose and Blac Chyna

Amber Rose and Blac Chyna seem to have teamed up in a common sartorial and sarcastic thread. If you take into account the well-fanned sparks of discontent (which regular humans get to witness via intermittent Twitter war eruptions) that both of these women suffer at the hands of various Kardashians and Kardashian spouses, these outfits made some sense. Rose sported a Sprouse-like catsuit while Chyna wore a low cut gown each emblazoned with some choice words; the outfits were not only colorful but featured some "colorful" epithets. Rose mentioned that the word "slut" was strategically featured across her nether regions while "Gold Digger" ran down her arm (think Kanye's song). Talk about a statement-making outfit!

Kim and Kanye Why So Drab?

Speaking of the Kardashians, Kim and Kanye bucked the trend wearing colorless and particularly unflattering khaki duds. Kim's Balmain safari themed dress could not have been more unforgiving of her pregnancy especially when she displayed a derriere side view resembling the mid-air Hindenburg. After Taylor Swift (the first two rows were nearly completely occupied by members of her #TaylorSwiftNation "Bad Blood" girl squad) ironically presented West with his Michael Jackson Video Vanguard Award, Kanye, as he is wont to do, proceeded to engage in a typically cringe worthy rant for what seemed like an eternity. In his baggy tan t-shirt and matching drab pants Yeezus clearly didn't get the festive dress memo. The black leather shirt he wore to disrupt Taylor's acceptance speech six years ago, which he derided in his rambling speech, would have actually been an upgrade. If only Taylor hadn't invoked those now famous words "I'mma let you finish..." we might have been spared what was hopefully the biggest joke of the night: Kanye West running for President in 2020!

- Laurel Marcus

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

In the Market Report

The Color of Money (In the Bank)

Bill Cunningham's On the Street, It Bag featuring Robert Verdi's
 colorful $120 bags
(Click images for larger views)

Nothing escapes the all seeing eye (and lens) of Bill Cunningham, and he appreciates it all, from the highest of the high to the lowest of the low. Though I actually happen to think he REALLY appreciates those who not only exhibit a great deal of personal style, but find a creative way to get around the staggering high prices of fashion (it’s very much in keeping with his practical and economical aesthetic).

The Color of Money (In the Bank) photographed by Bill Cunningham

To wit, many years ago, he began to ask me about my clothes and accessories, which were admittedly, a combination of vintage finds, and ultra-high end pieces (high and low, there you go). He seemed to particularly love it when I told him something was scored for a ridiculously low price. The result was an 18 picture column, “On the Street: The Color of Money (In the Bank)”, which ran in The New York Times Sunday Styles section, February 11, 2000.

Just about now, all the BIG FALL issues are coming out, hawking clothes and accessories with astronomical price tags, (in many cases the prices are so heart failure evoking, they are not even listed but instead, the copy reads, “price upon request”). Leave it to the ultra-modern and with it Bill to put the spotlight on a great looking bag made of a durable,  EDA material, popularly priced at $120

Great Bag Co. Model M bag

His Sunday column “It Bag” featured Robert Verdi’s ‘Model M’ bag for the Great Bag Co. (Robert wanted to use this name for his company rather than his own, because whenever he sees someone carrying a fabulous bag, he exclaims: “That’s a great bag”!) The lightweight, stylish, stress crack resistant bag (which is easy to clean and will never slouch), is a one- piece molded handbag (an injected mold product, like Hunter boots). It’s made of a proprietary polymer called Fashion Flex and weighs only 1.4 lbs. It was approximately one year in the making (“the strap was the biggest challenge” Robert told me) and was formally introduced at a launch party held at the Bridgehampton home of Lizzie and Jonathan Tisch last summer.

Closeup of Model M's buckle

Bill likened the bag’s handsome shape to that of the iconic Hermes Kelly and Birkin, but Robert sees it as a “finely crafted generic Italian leather handbag”. An avowed and longtime collector of ‘major’ handbags (he claims when he dies, there will be an amazing auction of his swoon worthy collection), he was inspired by all the details he personally loves: locks, padlocks, skeleton keys (“which are not being used anymore”). More importantly, he wanted to create an affordable “forever chic” bag that “people depend upon”, such as the L.L. Bean boating tote (always imitated, never duplicated).

He considers Model M (named after his mother Maria, who has always inspired him), a “fresh, modern version of that idea”. And he proudly hails it as “futuristic”, not only in its look, but since it is a single unit, (goes from “pellet to product”), and doesn’t require assembly (which reduces the cost of manufacturing), it is the “future of accessories”. It is currently available in 7 vivid colors (emerald, onyx, tourmaline, citrine, diamond, topaz, and aquamarine), but 5 more are planned for this fall (oxblood, brick red, chocolate brown, olive green, navy), and two more for holiday (matte gold and silver). When I asked Robert if he had a follow-up model planned, he told me he is concurrently working on a small cross body, a messenger, and a clutch.

Robert Verdi monogram gift bag

By the way, I was not in the least bit surprised that the always inventive and creative Robert (he started out as a successful designer of hand crafted silver jewelry, is currently selling sunglasses on HSN, and is working on a watch collection) has finally gotten into handbags. In 2013, in celebration of his 15 year anniversary in the fashion business, he designed a striking gift bag filled with a sweatshirt with his likeness, and gave them out during New York Fashion Week in September of that year. He took 300 black cardboard boxes and he had them printed with his interlocking initials, RV, in white.

It looked exactly like the iconic Louis Vuitton monogram which is probably not a coincidence since Robert is an admitted Louis Vuitton aficionado and it’s a brand he’s always collected and been associated with. It was as he put it, a “whimsical, amusing concept” for him; one which perfectly reflected his sense of style and his sense of humor. I still use this bag today as it is compact yet roomy, lightweight, goes with everything and is highly distinctive (it’s doubtful I will find too many others carrying it). And it’s a cheeky take on a luxurious standby.

- Marilyn Kirschner

Thursday, August 20, 2015

New York Fashion Cool-Aid™

Em-Bell-ished Jeans are Back: Bell Is Optional

Embellished hippie jeans

Did you ever think that we'd be revisiting denim bell bottoms much less those with patches or embroidery? The scene: early '70s, junior high school. The crime: everyone owned that one very special pair of embellished jeans. The guilty party: Landlubbers of course, indicated by the iconic orange and purple label as well as the embroidered purple "L" on the back pocket. Jeans had no stretch in those days and the reigning wisdom was to buy them as tight as you could stand them, necessitating all sorts of weird contortions such as laying on your back in order to zip them up.

Embroidered Landlubbers

The "customized" hippie jean was the thing that determined how cool you were, to my knowledge you couldn't just buy them already decorated. My jeans had all the accoutrements: Happy Face patch, peace sign, inked drawing of flower power traveling down one leg, and various other timely embellishments adorning the wide flared legs. I can actually recall wearing my Landlubbers and feeling groovy in a scoop neck body suit, tie-dyed tee or cropped button down tied at the navel. I even had a floppy, fringed denim hat and a gold paper clip chain with a whistle while my feet were shod in Kork-Ease wedge sandals. Who had any idea that fast forward forty-plus years, my early teenage look would still be all the rage?

I did a little digging into the history of Landlubber products and found that they were originally manufactured in Massachusetts. At their peak in the mid-70's they enjoyed retail sales of about $100 million. Once 1979 rolled around, the extreme flare leg, or "elephant-bell" was dead and Landlubber ceased production. Americans re-discovered Levi's 501's : in fact it was a definite trend in my high school for girls to wear boys Levi's complete with gaping waistband, as well as Guess modified peg legs.

Seafarer mid-rise deep vintage flower Syrene jean

Landlubbers were briefly brought back in 1990, with another iteration of less flared and higher rise pants through a licensing agreement from Hoffman Apparel, which owns the rights to the name.   They were sold at Macy's, Canal Jeans, Trash & Vaudeville and Bloomingdale's for around $42, a big increase from the 1964 original version which sold for $7 to $10 at Army-Navy stores. I actually think mine were from a super cool second-hand store that all my friends shopped at, however I certainly did my fair share of raiding the Army Navy stores for other cool styles including over-dyed jeans.

The Seafarer jeans

With the current '70s fashion revival in full tilt, we've seen plenty of flared leg jeans but not so many of the decorative or embroidered style--until now. I was excited to see a luxe version from The Seafarer of this old-new trend a few weeks ago on Moda Operandi, the web site that features trunk shows from upcoming designer collections. MO featured a pair of the brand's Museum-Worthy Embroidered jeans ($530), so called because the Metropolitan Museum actually owns a pair of Seafarer jeans in their permanent collection. I had previously never heard of The Seafarer, a brand that was initially developed and inspired from the sailor pants of enlisted men's uniforms. The sailor pant was originally created in the 1900s by Italian immigrant and US Navy veteran Tony Alzalone.

Jane Birkin in seafarer jeans

During the 1960s and '70s fashion icons such as Brigitte Bardot, Ursula Andress, Jane Birkin, Raquel Welch, Jacqueline Bisset and Farrah Fawcett found Seafarers in second-hand stores and embraced the look. Seafarers were re-launched in 2013 by an Italian design team in a pop-up shop at Colette in Paris. I recommend checking out their Instagram for some great denim inspo! The brand can also be found locally at Maggy Frances (280 Mott Street) and online at Luisaviaroma, Shopbop as well as several other online stores.

Stella McCartney the skinny boyfriend jeans

If you fancy the embroidered denim jean look but can't wrap your head (or your lower extremities) around the flare leg, then take a look at Stella McCartney's Fall collection, recently seen at Saks and on Her Bow-Embellished tomboy jeans are $780, Wild Cat skinny boyfriend jeans are $735 and embroidered skinny boyfriend jeans are $695.

Stella McCartney jeans at Saks

In case you believe in that old saw about not wearing a revival trend if you wore it the first time around, I say nonsense. If the embellished jean fits, why not give them a chance to transport you back to your youth?

- Laurel Marcus

Monday, August 17, 2015

In the Market Report by Marilyn Kirschner


Diana Broussard dbChronicle bag 

Diana Broussard, (who was the subject of a prior blog), just launched the Limited Edition dbChronicle bag, $1950 (only 150 were made) and it’s ‘technically’ speaking, the best bag I’ve ever seen! It is fabulous and sleek looking: made of her signature resin (plexiglass) with a version of her signature NATE chain as the shoulder strap, you have your choice of gold or palladium hardware, and it also has a small metal chain inside. It's not only sleek but high tech and actually allows you to personalize and carry your own video wherever you go. Perfect for upcoming New York Fashion Week

This is how it works. The Diana Broussard video has been downloaded inside the memory disk. There are two other video spaces which allow you to personalize the bag. You can convert any video to AVI to download it and the video will automatically play one after the other. It comes with a USB cable to add or remove the videos. The same cable can be used for recharging the battery with the electric plug, or you can use it to recharge to PC/laptop (the battery lasts for 90 – 120 minutes).

dbChronicle bag screen side

When I asked Diana what initially inspired her to come up with the idea, she answered: “The factory with whom I am working has been perfecting this for six months. I was asked to design some clothing with flexible LCD screen for a group of architects, and I have been constantly thinking about LCD and a way to truly make a luxury accessory ever since”.
MK: “How long did you work on it?” 
DB: “Six months on the handbag, and then there was the collaboration with Giovanni Locantore, a young motion graphics artist that I love. From there, I approached David Lang, the Pulitzer Prize winning composer that I had worked with briefly on a project for Susan Marshall and the Next Wave Festival at BAM. He provided the ideas from his vast repertoire of pieces. It is performed by So Percussion (published by Red Poppy Music from the album The Woodmans: Music from the Film, courtesy of Cantaloupe Music). We finished the video and music within two weeks. THe collaboration just clicked.
MK: “Are there any other tech things planned for the future?” 
DB: “Yes, I am working on a unisex tote with a flexible LCD screen. I love this chic dbChronicle bag, but a great bag to throw in a computer and work items is a near future must.”

 Louis Vuitton gold and silver Epi Mini Trunk Bag  Fall/Winter 2015

Speaking of structured bags with distinctive hardware, it’s virtually impossible to open any of the BIG Fall fashion magazines without seeing images of Nicolas Guesquiere’s trunk bags for Louis Vuitton from fall 2015. First spotted on the Paris runway earlier this year, they are featured in editorials, and ‘star’ in the company’s advertising campaigns (a curated series photographed by Juergen Teller and Bruce Weber). They will also run you well upwards of $4,000. But I’ll let you in on a little secret. Some of the best trunk shaped bags are those produced by Borsa Bella in the 50’s 60’s and 70’s, which I’ve been collecting for years.Also known as train case bags, they, like the Louis Vuitton incarnations, immediately evoke memories of a time (long past), when traveling (and traveling by train) was actually glamorous, luxurious and romantic (decidedly more ‘Orient Express’ than #4 or #5 Lexington Avenue Express no doubt).

Black crocodile effect vintage Borsa Bella trunk  bag

Borsa Bella bags are made in Italy, and the name translates to “beauty purse”. Constructed of sturdy, durable vinyl (in finishes that resemble alligator, crocodile, snakeskin, etc.), other signature features include the use of distinctive gold metal hardware, double swivel handles, t-latch closure, key latch closure, signature lining with label, and double opening which makes them convenient. The typical size is 8” wide, 6 12” high, and 5 ¼ inches deep (compact yet surprisingly roomy).

Vintage Borsa Bella red lizard trunk bag

The good news is that they are always available at vintage shows, on vintage websites, on Ebay and on Etsy, and I’ve seen them priced from about $50 to $300, but are mainly in the $100 range. A recent search turned up several good ones. A $75 Borsa Bella bag in a shimmery black textile punctuated with pewter hardware, a $150 red lizard with gold toned hardware; one auctioned in black "crocodile" and another $59 in white.

- Marilyn Kirschner

Sunday, August 16, 2015

New York Fashion Cool-Aid™

Vogue a Snooze; Bazaar is "Des BARE it"?

The all-important September issues of two major fashion “bibles,” namely Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar, recently unveiled their covers online and inside pages to much ado. Vogue announced that their cover girl is none other than diva Beyonce while Bazaar went with pop princess Katy Perry. While Katy looks lovely in a Saint Laurent gown as part of the Carine Roitfeld and Jean Paul Goude “Icons” shoot, her cover was completely upstaged by the later release of some nude pictures. No, the naked images were not of Perry but of 57-year-old Sharon Stone whose black & white photos are safely tucked away inside the magazine.

Sharon Stone
Photos: Mark Abrahams

Either by accident or design, both periodicals manage to demonstrate and hang out for public consumption, two of the most important issues in America today: Racism and Ageism. Beyonce, 33, is in her third turn on Vogue’s cover. She also marks a three-peat of the appearance of a black woman on the cover of the September issue, having been preceded by Naomi Campbell and Halle Berry.   The Mario Testino photo features “Just B And the Art of Global Domination” in a $12,000 Marc Jacobs dress with a wet wavy head, similar to her visage at this year’s “Drunk In Love” Grammy’s.


Inside the magazine she wears looks by Givenchy, Atelier Versace and Stella McCartney, and shows off her well-known and well-documented assets. Unfortunately, there is really nothing new to see here. We all know about the “shape shifting virtuoso,” her “fierceness” and her ability to wear couture. My initial response is that this cover is a phoned in snooze fest. I found it very predictable and anticlimactic that Queen Bey, who is #21 on Forbes 2015 Most Powerful Women was featured completely in character exactly the way we expect to see her. Some critics say it’s all about the “undone” hair and owning that, but, I’m not buying…Beyonce could have appeared on the cover bald and she’d still be Beyonce. Incidentally, Vogue’s Anna Wintour ranks #28 on the Forbes list as the highest ranking woman in the media sector.

Sharon Stone  

By contrast, HB’s inside edition of Sharon Stone is a little startling, a little “Wha?” Although we are a nation somewhat desensitized to nudity at this point (Thanks Kim et al) we haven’t seen Stone completely naked since July 1990 Playboy and no one remembers that because it was before her breakout role in “Basic Instinct.” Ironically, she mentioned then that she had posed nude to go against type and show that she could do sexy when at her own admission “no one thought I was sexy.” Stone, IRL is no less a drama queen than the dazzling Ginger McKenna, the character she played in “Casino,” the role for which she received a 1996 Oscar nomination. For that momentous occasion, Stone is famous for having grabbed a charcoal gray Gap turtleneck from her closet at the last minute to accompany her Valentino trumpet skirt; an outfit which has gone down in the annals of history as one of the All time best looks and an early example of the now ubiquitous trend for mixing high-low.

Sharon Stone in a $22 Gap turtleneck for the Oscars

The woman known for the onscreen leg cross heard round the world, also made headlines for her troubled personal life including two marriages and divorces; lost custody of one adopted son, and adoption of two other children. In 2001 she suffered an aneurysm and subsequent brain hemorrhage which left her numb in one leg, unable to read and with a stutter. Having faced all of this, not only to survive but to fight her way back to Hollywood; not to mention that she looks eerily like a woman in her mid 30s (she admits to some facial fillers and she’s never been through a pregnancy) it’s really no wonder that posing nude, save a Bulgari snake necklace, is all in a day’s work. HB claims that she even ate a brownie off the craft services table right before the shoot -- now that’s bravery with a capital B! For those who cry foul by way of Photoshop, yes, I’m sure it was retouched, as is any image in a magazine, but if you look at her red carpet photos, her body is basically the same.

In the accompanying interview, Stone, who plays the Veep (move over JLD) and executive produces the upcoming TNT show “Agent X,” complains of not being able to snag a date, adding that interested fellas should contact Harper’s Bazaar. Subsequently, Bazaar’s Executive Director and fashion journalist Laura Brown tweeted this: I am fielding calls from gentlemen who want to date Sharon Stone.   Typical Friday.

Stone, who admits she tries to flirt, can now blame her brazen outspokenness on her physical ordeal saying “I have brain damage, deal with it.” Beyonce’s biggest known challenging experience to date? Yes, she had a miscarriage which is sad but unfortunately pretty common, and who can forget the Met Ball after-party elevator incident? That had to be trying as well as whatever underlying tension she deals with on a regular basis between Solange and husband Jay Z. And while Sharon Stone will never know what it’s like to be a black woman, Beyonce will, God willing, one day know what it’s like to be an older woman here in America. At that point, perhaps we’ll see another side to her besides Sasha Fierce.

- Laurel Marcus

Friday, August 14, 2015

In the Market Report

The Little Scarf That Could

 Zara's $9.90  Tie Style Scarf

It’s amazing how transformative a narrow length of fabric can be! It’s hardly big news to point out that scarves are HUGE these days. They are always a popular accessory, particularly in the winter time when they are most inviting in huge, body obliterating, blanket size proportions. But right now, it’s the smaller neck scarves that are packing a huge punch, specifically those in black.

Christian Dior ready-to-wear spring/summer 2013

I can still vividly remember Raf Simmons’s debut spring 2013 ready-to-wear collection for Dior. His first look out: a model wearing a perfectly cut black pantsuit minimally accessorized with nothing but simple high heeled black pumps, and a narrow black silk organza scarf tied tautly around her neck with the ends flowing in back, spoke volumes. The next two models were similarly dressed but their neck scarves were pink and lipstick red. Raf would repeat this styling trick 4 more times, showing the black scarves with, among other things, a black wool strapless tuxedo dress and  several long sleeved black crew neck sweaters paired with long floral printed ball skirts. The effect was cool, effortless, hip, young, and modern. The choker style scarves were not only effective substitutions for necklaces, they actually made fancy jewelry seem old fashioned and dowdy.

Saint Laurent spring/summer 2015 ready-to-wear

For spring 2015, Saint Laurent’s Hedi Slimane, (in keeping with the rock n roll, Parisian cool vibe he’s become synonymous with), wrapped angle edged lavaliere scarves around the necks of many of his models (they were shown in black, pink, burgundy, in leopard prints, pin dots, polka dots, and subtle menswear patterns). He likes the look so much, he even included several on his menswear spring 2015 runway.

Chloe fall/winter 2015

Another designer apparently taken with the cool vibe imparted from the long black skinny scarves is Chloe’s Claire Waight Keller. They added the perfect finishing touch to her stellar greatcoats and long flowy frocks on the runway for fall 2015.

Rockins bias cut fringe trim leopard and rose printed skinny scarf

Seen on the necks of fashionable women like Carine Roitfeld and Kate Moss, it’s a look that is easy to replicate. And speaking of Kate, both she and Karen Elson (among others) share a special fondness for London brand, Rockins' Scarves, .My two favorites are the graphic black & white Mitred fringe trim scarf, and the bias cut fringe trim yellow and green leopard and  rose printed scarf, $290.

Saint Laurent Classic Lavaliere in black and red lipstick
 printed wool etamine

Saint Laurent’s 60.5” X 7.8” classic lavaliers are currently available on the Saint Laurent website and are being offered in black silk crepe $295, black lace $375 , tan and black leopard printed silk georgette, $325, and black and red lipstick printed semi sheer wool etamine $295.

Echo long scarf

Needless to say, there are a number of good, less expensive interpretations out there. Echo Design is currently selling long oblong hammered silk scarf, $31.99, which is available in 7 colors.

Zara's $9.90 Tie Style Scarf

But hands down, the best and most versatile one I’ve found for the money, is (unsurprisingly) from Zara  Made of a silk like polyester, you can wear it long with the ends hanging down or triple wrapped and tied around the neck choker style (if you want to duplicate what Raf Simons did). You can even make it into a pussycat bow to instantly add interest to a white shirt. Let’s face it, what else can you get these days for $9.90?

And speaking of versatile small scarves, as far as I’m concerned, you can’t beat the humble, authentic, and traditional 100% cotton bandana scarf, usually seen in red, black, navy printed with a white paisley design. All but ubiquitous on both the guys and the gals this summer, they can be worn in a variety of ways (tied in front Boy Scout style, tied in back bandit style, or wound around the wrist). They are readily available (for about $5 or less) at almost any drug store, notion shop, (or on many New York street corners for that matter).

Saint Laurent gray black white printed cotton bandana scarf

While admittedly they are not as luxurious as the Saint Laurent incarnations which range from $145 for the 25X25 inch printed scarfto $645 for the slightly larger versions in cashmere and silk etamine, once folded and tied around your neck, you get pretty much the same effect.

- Marilyn Kirschner

Thursday, August 13, 2015

New York Fashion Cool-Aid™: Shopping In The City

Entrance to Cynthia Rowley store
Photo: Laurel Marcus

The last few weeks of the summer are upon us yet work week Manhattan is not its usual late summer ghost town. By contrast, NYC's shopping avenues seem full of energy during these "lazy, crazy, hazy days." Some of the activity can be pinned on an influx of tourism, however it appears that many locals have stayed en ville rather than decamping to the Hamptons, Europe or other parts unknown. What's the point, really, when we have the best of everything, especially shopping right here! Accordingly, I have compiled a short list of a few interesting boutiques that are off the beaten path and may be foreign even to those who live here. After all, there's always someplace new to discover in this city, even if it's in your backyard.

The Cynthia Rowley store at 43 East 78th Street (off of Madison) is one such "backyard delight." As someone who lives in the 'hood I was astonished to realize that I had never ventured into this adorable boutique before, however I see how one could easily miss it. The store's entrance is set back from 78th Street with tree branches curving around an arched walkway giving the feeling that you've stumbled onto a secret garden. On the ground floor is the actual store which currently features Ms. Rowley's neoprene-like dresses, pants and tops along with other offerings such as a chambray peasant tunic from her spring/summer line, all on sale. The feel of the neoprene is not your usual somewhat rigid fabric; rather it's surprisingly soft and comfortable to wear. The sales associate duly warned me of its habit forming properties. I also admired a tray of rings and proceeded to get one stuck on my heat-induced swollen knuckle, hence my foray upstairs to run my hand under cold water.

Cynthia Rowley's Curious Candy
Photo: Laurel Marcus

As if the store itself wasn't enough cute in its Alice in Wonderland fashion, just wait til you get up a flight-- you may think you've gone to the Mad Hatter's tea party when, in actuality, you've just entered Curious Candy. A long center table and chairs are flanked by candy dispenser covered walls and more sweet treats than anyone's sugar tooth could possibly shake a piece of dental floss at. The space is perfect for kid's birthday parties but has also marked the spot, (appropriately enough) for "Sweet Sixteens" and other more adult happenings. It's worth taking a peek just for the kitschy adorable-ness factor.

Astro Gallery's back room
Photo: Laurel Marcus

Another store which can take you on a flight of fancy, this time of the natural history/geological kind, is the Astro Gallery of Gems at 417 Fifth Avenue between 37th and 38th Streets. I had originally visited the store a few months ago for a cocktail party featuring: a rare gem as the guest of honor  Since then I had the opportunity to go back for a guided tour by owner Dennis Tanjeloff. Needless to say it was fascinating; I even brought along my 20-year-old son who enjoyed it immensely.

Astro Gallery
Photo: Laurel Marcus

The gigantic store houses museum quality gems in their natural state, crystals and fossils from archeological digs at all price points, as well as jewelry and decorative items such as shells, coral, sponges and the like that would be great to display in a beach house (hostess or housewarming gift, anyone?). There's something in the gallery to interest everyone from an extensive collection of shark teeth of varying sizes and ages, to beautiful malachite boxes, petrified wood tabletops and even a full bear skeleton. Pieces are brought in from Europe, Asia and the U.S. and collectors everywhere are familiar with the treasures that can be found here. What's more, the store ships worldwide and will deal with any and all customs issues in case that's a concern. Make sure you check out the back room where cases of the most pricey and rare of all the collectible gemological specimens are displayed.

Eve Bari store
Photo: Laurel Marcus

If shopping were a hockey tournament, then this third store would be the hat trick. Nothing could be more fitting since Eve Bari, 205 W. 57th Street (between 6th and 7th Aves) is an accessories boutique predominately known for its hats. I like to come here at least once a season (although TBH, I probably frequent the place a lot more often than that), to scope out the great selection of lids and fascinators. I have yet to leave this store without purchasing several unique items.

Hats Off to Eve Bari
Photo: Laurel Marcus

Prices are quite reasonable while the sales associates are friendly, knowledgeable and extremely helpful in guiding you to the hat that most suits your personality and lifestyle. I always get compliments on the various head wear that I've picked up there and since I've been growing out my hair I am resorting to them more often than not. I find that hats are great for looking both pulled together and mysterious. Of late, I have been favoring more big brimmed hats to shield myself from the sun, however you will find every kind of brim style here.

Monika Chiang Coat at Roundabout

My last two stores get an honorable mention and are both on the UES. I've written about Roundabout New & Resale Couture in several previous articles. Make sure you ask for Patrick who is a great brand ambassador for the Madison Avenue and 83rd Street store. As of yesterday, (Wednesday, August 12) the boutique is now featuring its fall/winter merchandise. You can find everything from Chanel suits and handbags, to Alexander McQueen moto booties, to Gucci furs plus lots more, all in barely or never worn condition. It's rare that I don't fall in love with something here which is why I restrict my visits. Prices are generally not ridiculous and are in line for what an item should be. There is an additional Roundabout on East 72nd Street, however I prefer this newer, slightly uptown location.

Lanvin necklace
Photo: Laurel Marcus

Finally, there's Chuckies Shoes, also with two UES locations, one on 75th and Lex, the other on 85th and Madison. They both carry a curated array of high-end designer shoes, handbags, scarves and jewelry including this Lanvin necklace at the 1169 Madison Avenue store.  Right now there is a sale on spring/summer sandals and sneakers while new fall/winter shoes and boots are here and more are arriving every day.

If you do go late summer shopping, make sure you stay hydrated. In this heat it wouldn't take much to literally shop til you drop.

- Laurel Marcus