Sunday, January 31, 2016

Better Bets by Rhonda Erb

Isaac Mizrahi Smartwatch Launch

Smartwatches are great, but usually not so great looking, so when Isaac Mizrahi set out to design a smartwatch, he “didn’t want it to look like the average smartwatch.” On Thursday night, at a launch event held in New York City, the designer debuted his new smartwatch: a timepiece that did not sacrifice fashion for function.

The new watch, a collaboration between Xcel Brands’ Isaac Mizrahi and Engineered by HP, looks like a classic oversized tank watch. The round face is surrounded by Swarovski crystals in silver or gold-tone stainless steel and the leather band comes in five interchangeable colors.

Isaac with DJ Fiona Byrne

HP Engineering makes the Isaac Mizrahi Smartwatch a valuable accessory for the busy, modern woman. With the use of the Isaac Mizrahi smartphone app (compatible with iOS and Android), its features include message notifications, social media connectivity and a pedometer. The digital display is hidden when inactive and the watch vibrates gently when receiving a notification. Mizrahi “wanted to integrate something so modern and mechanical into a feminine look,” calling the design “a hidden treasure”.

Celebrity fashion stylist Phillip Bloch

DJ Fiona Byrne provided the music for the Mizrahi launch event, which was held at And & And on West 12th Street. Guests included models Lana Ogilvie and Basia Milewicz and celebrity stylist Phillip Bloch.

Lana Ogilvie and Basia Milewicz 

The Isaac Mizrahi Smartwatch is currently available for $249.00 at:

- Rhonda Erb
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New York Fashion Cool-Aid ® by Laurel Marcus

SAG Awards Support Diversity of Actors and Fashion

SAG Award Winners Idris Elba, Viola Davis, Uzo Aduba, Queen Latifah

Last night’s 22nd Annual Screen Actors Guild (SAG) Awards offered an antidote to the chatter regarding the upcoming Academy Awards, once again trending as #Oscarssowhite. In fact, the hashtag #SagAwardsnotsowhite was suggested to describe the inclusion of a diverse cast of nominees and winners covering both race and gender.

Not to be outdone, the fashion was equally diverse with those who really brought it (werq!) and those who probably should have stayed home in their sweats. One of the big trends of the night was the color green, in varying hues, which is not always so common on the red carpet. The verdant hue can be a hit or a miss and is by no means as “safe” a color as most shades of blue, red, white or even yellow.

Those critical of the usual red carpet fare also acknowledge that it can be risky to venture too far astray lest you appear to be at the wrong awards show altogether. IMO a few of the more cutout dresses may have made their debut about two weeks too soon as they skewed more appropriate for the "anything goes" Grammys. Fashion Police’s Brad Goreski who styled Kaley Cuoco in one such egregious ensemble, I’m looking at you!

Without further ado here are my picks:

Alicia Vikander

Best Dressed: Alicia Vikander in a sequined patchwork Mondrian-esque Louis Vuitton long sleeved gown. WOW! I love this look on her so much more than the boring white dress she wore at the Globes. The styling is totally on point from her hair to her earrings. The only small bone I have to pick with this is that when she was standing at the podium accepting her award and framed in a close up shot, I questioned the placement of the white square by her shoulder in the typical “name tag” spot. Otherwise it was pure perfection which is about as rare as a unicorn sighting.

Viola Davis

Runner Up—I really liked Viola Davis’s Zac Posen gown and am undecided on what to call the hue. At any rate, the purple/mauve/taupe/cocoa color along with the structured style hit that sweet spot between a unique yet flattering look for Ms. Davis.

Rachel McAdams

Too Try-Hard—Rachel McAdams in matronly Elie Saab. I really wanted to like this black bead embellished point d’esprit A-line number on Ms. McAdams but I felt that it aged her immensely. The short sleeved top was ill fitting and made her appear round shouldered and uncomfortable.

Nicole Kidman

Also, trying hard and missing the mark was Nicole Kidman in an iteration of a trompe L’oeil striped Gucci look that we’ve seen on Dakota Johnson recently—also more Grammy friendly.

Julianne Moore

Worst Dressed—It’s nearly impossible to make gorgeous redhead Julianne Moore look bad but this chartreuse beaded Givenchy cutout dress managed to accomplish that difficult feat. I don’t even know where to start with this one – the color, fit, style are all conspiring against Ms. Moore and she should immediately fire her stylist, if she has one. She looked ill at ease, as well as a bit lumpy and schlumpy while she posed awkwardly. Actually she looked just as bad sitting in her seat during the show. Which brings me to the next category…

Carol Burnett

It’s Not Easy Being Green—Among the actresses who went for the color of money were Uzo Aduba, Kate Winslet, Lifetime Achievement Award winner Carol Burnett, Marisa Tomei and Eva Longoria. I definitely think that Ms. Burnett rocked the emerald tone by mixing it with a black beaded shell under her two-piece ensemble. A footnote—she sported gray Ugg slippers on the red carpet but changed footwear to accept her award from an almost unrecognizable brown haired Amy Poehler and Tina Fey.

Laverne Cox

Ubiquitous trend of the night-- What Sarah Hyland referred to as her "Angelina Jo-Leg" pose, also adopted by many including Brie Larson, Laverne Cox, Ana Faris and Joanne Froggatt


- Laurel Marcus

Friday, January 29, 2016

In the Market Report by Marilyn Kirschner

Fashion Group International’s 19th Annual Rising Star Awards

The Winners
Photo: Laurel Marcus
Click on images for full size views

The Fashion Group International held its 19th Annual Rising Star Awards Luncheon on Thursday. Sponsored by Hearst Magazines & Saks Fifth Avenue, the setting was once again, Cipriani 42nd Street, where the signature Bellinis began flying at 11:15 a.m. FGI President Margaret Hayes made her welcoming remarks and warmly chided guests that they had “25 minutes” to enjoy their lunch of prosciutto and melon and Chilean Sea Bass (Cipriani makes the best Chilean Sea Bass on the planet). She then introduced this year’s Keynote Speaker: Linda Fargo, describing Bergdorf Goodman’s Senior Vice President and Director of Women’s Fashion and Store Presentation as “the eyes of Bergdorf Goodman” and hailing her as “all seeing, all knowing about luxury and style”.

Margaret Hayes
Photo: Laurel Marcus

Linda, looking chic as always, described this event, which celebrates “new dreams, new talents”, as a “great way to kick off the New Year”. “We’re all members of a strangely wonderful tribe” she noted, looking around at the more than 400 guests who packed the room. “Each of us has a story. We’re all stylish lemmings in this cut and sew cake”. Referring to the nominees, she said, “You all deserve an award for just being here and making it” in an industry that “employs well over 75 million people” and has “overtaken sports as a global business”.

Linda Fargo
Photo: Laurel Marcus

“There’s room for all of you who have an idea and a dream.” Where there’s a will there’s a way. If you want it, it’s yours for the taking in this fabulous city. Only the best, most interesting ideas rise to the top- hence, “Rising Stars” (she noted that past star winners include Tory Burch, Jason Wu, Joseph Altuzarra). Stay inspired. You’re a winner to be here today.”

The venue
Photo: Laurel Marcus

Then the awards (generously provided by Movado), were given out (winners of Menswear & Women’s RTW received sponsored venue and production generously provided by “Style Fashion Week”). There was a tie in two categories, Accessories and Menswear. Cornelia Guest handed the Accessories Award (which she won last year) to Brett Heyman of Edie Parker, who promised to “keep working hard to keep you proud”, and to Dee Ocleppo Hilfiger (Dee Ocleppo) who credited her husband Tommy, for inspiring her to start the company (“he prepared me all week for losing”).  She went on to say that prior to founding her company, she was a model and observed that “being a model is a walk in the park compared to what you all do”. Other nominees in the category were Frieda Rothman (Frieda Rothman); Heather Hubbard (Mr.); Jodie Fox , Michael Fox,, Mike Knapp (Shoes of Prey); Elena Corsano, Michelle Vale (Soak); Yliana Yepez (Yliana Yepez LLC).

Tommy Hilfiger and Dee Ocleppo Hilfiger

David Curcurito announced the two winners in the Menswear field: Donrad Duncan for EFM and Malan Breton for Malan Breton Homme. They edged out Greg Lauren, Peyman Umay, and Rochambeau’s Laurence Chandler and Joshua Cooper. For his part, Donrad thanked his coworkers and said, “I’ve been on this journey for a while. What I’ve learned from you has helped me to get to this step”. Malan Breton described the win as “so unexpected” and he singled out the two major two mentors in his life: Paul Cuss at Turnbull & Asser (he “taught me elements of design for men”), and “Mr. (Arnold) Scaasi”, who “passed away last year.” He ended by saying, “All the other nominees’ works are stunning and you have inspired me as well.”

Emily Dougherty gave Clio Ermenidis of Fermenich, the award for Beauty/Fragrance Corporate. She beat out Stefano Ruggieri (Estee Lauder, Lab Series Skincare for Men), Linda Song (Givaudan), and Ana Paredes (LVMH Fragrance Brand, Givenchy).

Carol Brodie announced Michal Kadar for Cadar, as the winner for Fine Jewelry. She seemed truly surprised, apologizing that she was “not prepared” and thanked Fashion Group International. Other nominees were Natalie Frigo (by/natalie frigo), Katie Scott (Katie Scott Jewelry), and Meredith Marks (Meredith Marks).

Presenters Katia Beauchamp and Emily Dougherty

Katia Beauchamp helped prove that old adage, “Three is a Charm”, for vbeaute’s Julie Macklowe (she had been up two previous times and finally won this year). When a good looking guy (Billy Macklowe) got up to receive the award, he deadpanned, “I’m not Julie. I’m Mr. Julie Macklowe.” “Julie could not be here today because of circumstances out of our control” and went on to say that the award represents Julie’s product which he said was “fabulous, luxurious, yet at a price point women can relate to.” He then added, “As a mother of a young girl, for Julie, it’s all about “women’s empowerment”, and he then thanked Fashion Group International (fyi, there were a few winners who unbelievably, did not thank FGI). Julie was up against Fabian Lliguin, Amazon Beauty, Inc./Rahua; Tiffany Masterson, Drunk Elephant Skin Care; Linda Stephenson, Mereadesso, Inc.; Sue Phillips, Scenterprises, Inc.

Margaret Russell announced Aerin Lauder (Aerin) as the winner in the Home/Interior Design Category. Aerin called it “a dream come true” and then quoted her uncle Leonard Lauder: “You’re only as good as the people around you.” Her competition was Mela Artisan’s Dipali Patwa and Savage Interior Design’s Jonathan Savage.

“Thrilled is an understatement” said Plan de Ville’s Catherine Smith upon hearing Roopal Patel call her name as the recipient of this year’s Retail Award. “Thank you to the designers who said “yes” when I first asked them to fill this initial small order”. FYI, she edged out Kelly “The Candyman” Jaime, The Sweet Shop NYC; Maxine Bedat, Zady, and Trunk’s Aimee Grubel, Radka Osickova, Natasha Samoylenko.

Roopal Patel

By the way, all of us have made fashion mistakes from time to time and I bet that when Ms. Patel sees images of her from this event, she may well come to the conclusion that alas, her wide horizontally striped black and white dress might have not been the wisest choice. Stripes may well be ‘in’ (when are they ever ‘out’?), but this was unflattering, and made her look more like an escapee from Sing Sing than fashion director of Saks fifth Avenue, a post she has held since September, 2015. Just saying.

Last but not least, Nina Garcia announced Brandon Maxwell to be the winner for Women’s RTW. “I had two glasses of champagne because I didn’t think I’d be standing here”, he joked when he took the stage. “Thanks to Margaret Hayes. This is my first season. I hope to make you proud”. Others in this all important category were Katharine Polk (Houghton); Ji Oh (Ji Oh); Meggie Kempner (Kempner); Sarah LaFleur (MM Lafleur); Khanh Nguyen (Nha Khanh LLC); Jordana Warmflash (Novis); Matthew Orley, Alex Orley, Samantha Orley (Orley).

“And thanks for all the good fortune that has come my way. I was a stylist before and I’d like to thank every magazine that supported and hired me. Fashion Group International is an organization started by women. When I grew up, I never felt that I fit in so making women look and feel beautiful has given me much joy and happiness.”

When it was all over, it was not even 2 o’clock (the lunch was called from 11:15 a.m  – 2 p.m.), so once again, Margaret proved that she runs a tight ship. The legend lives on.

- Marilyn Kirschner

Evening Hours by Lieba Nesis

Prabal Gurung-A Palm Beach Virgin

Prabal Gurung
Photos: Lieba Nesis

On a rainy Thursday in Palm Beach, I decided to shop on the famous Worth Avenue-you better be worth a lot of money to go to this Avenue. After Perusing St. John, Ralph Lauren and Chanel, my friend Ashley, he's a guy, suggested we check out Neiman Marcus.

Upon entering this shopping heaven I spotted a boyish Asian who looked very similar to famed designer, Prabal Gurung. Gurung, 37, is a Nepalese fashion designer who attended Parsons School of Fashion Design and launched his first eponymous collection in February 2009. In fact it was Gurung himself in white Levi jeans, a t shirt and navy blazer-looking very Palm Beach meets Soho.

Gurung models

He greeted me enthusiastically and told me this was his first time in Palm Beach (hence the title Virgin) flying in for the day to show his spring resort and pre fall collection. The pieces were very Floridian with high end construction and understated embellishments, containing lots of pastels, blue and whites and even some sequins. Gurung's models were in over-the-knee dresses and stood emotionless while DJ Lovelock spun tunes.

Gurung's collection

Prabal was also there to show his designs to the YMA scholars who attended a 100 person luncheon supporting the fashion scholarship fund. One of the attendees told me this was the first time Neiman Marcus partnered with YMA and lauded Prabal's looks because they perfectly fit the Palm Beach vibe being "modern yet elegant." Gurung is a master of his craft, dressing fashion stars ranging from Kate Middleton to Lady Gaga but was surprised by the impeccable shopping taste of his Palm Beach constituents. He looks like a kid which he attributes to religious workouts and his 8-hour-a-night sleep schedule.

Prabal was excitedly anticipating his February 14th fashion show being held at the "iconic" Moynihan station, and rushed out to catch his flight back to New York City to tend to his busy schedule. I myself had to leave, but decided to make one last stop at the Breakers to see where Sofia Vergara held her nuptials and to watch Palm Beach society gather for their latest charity gala.

- Lieba Nesis

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Evening Hours by Lieba Nesis

Kelly Klein & Palm Beach-The Perfect Combination

Kelly Klein
Photos: Lieba Nesis

While the Floridian climate has proven mercurial, Palm Beach on this Wednesday evening, January 27, was downright miserable. As the rain poured down, I found myself longing for New York where at least my hair doesn't look like a bale of hay. However, I proceeded to uber up from Miami to Palm Beach with poor visibility, to attend the Avenue party celebrating Kelly Klein's cover and her seventh book which contains the most interesting photos she has taken over the past 35 years.

Lieba Nesis, Ashley and Susan Sosner

The best word to describe Kelly is "chic." As the former wife and muse of designer Calvin Klein she has largely maintained a low profile splitting her time between Palm Beach, New York and the Hamptons. Kelly is the epitome of understated cool and she is a proud mother to son Lukas. Kelly has hung with the rich and famous during the era of Studio 54 and these icons appear in her latest book. Kelly said Kate Moss was one of her favorite people to shoot because she was such "a natural." Other great subjects include Warren Beatty because he was so relaxed and Woody Harrelson because he is Woody Harrelson.

The house

The night's festivities were held from 6PM to 8PM at a beautiful house for sale on 100 Casa Bendita Place-one of the most pricey neighborhoods in Palm Beach. The house which was being brokered by Paulette Koch was smack on the beach and going for the paltry sum of $43 million. Paulette who has been a prominent realtor for the past 35 years said Palm Beach is having a very strong year despite global economic instability.

Nicole di Cocco and Ambassador Mary Ourisman

The house was lavish complete with an underground gym and a spectacular pool. The fashion amongst the Palm Beach set is spectacular with Ambassador to the Caribbean, Mary Ourisman, appearing in a perfect green Oscar de la Renta and Nicole di Cocco in a white BCBG dress which she sewed 1300 Swarovski crystals on. I showed up in black gladiator boots which I soon found out was atypical Palm Beach attire.

Realtor Paulette Koch and Randi Schatz

At the conclusion of the event, Randi Schatz, the indomitable President of Avenue magazine, invited everyone to Cafe Boulud for an exciting after party where I bumped into reality television star Harry Dubin-a perfect conclusion to an unreal evening.

- Lieba Nesis

New York Fashion Cool-Aid ®

Spotlight on Lampshading: A Glaring New Trend

(Click images for larger views)
Photo: Daily Mail

Realizing that many among us may be suffering from the darkness known as Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) previously known as the mid-winter blues, I'd like to shed some light on a new fashion/older TV trope that I've just learned about called "lampshading". No, it's not a form of throwing shade or getting drunk and wearing a lamp shade on your head, both of which I'm embarrassed to admit, did cross my mind. I actually knew nothing about either definition but trust me, once there's a portmanteau and a hashtag, it must be illuminated since you'll be hearing about it all day.

Liza (Sutton Foster) and Josh (Nico Tortorella)

Ready to be en-"light"-ened?  In a TV show or movie, lampshading (aka lampshade hanging) is basically calling attention to the elephant in the room so that the plot can move on. It's a technique of making sure the viewer knows that the characters are self-aware; they realize that they've hit an implausible plot point. By acknowledging the improbable, the incongruent or the cliched, the hope is that the viewer will continue to suspend disbelief. I originally encountered the reference while reading a blog on the A.V. Club concerning an episode of my current favorite show ("Younger"). Liza and Josh's relationship was termed "On again off again. Classic." by Kelsey as a means of describing why the couple has been so star crossed recently. "Hanging that lampshade doesn't make the dance any less tedious, writers" the author admonished.

Kate Moss

In the fashion arena, lampshading is both more literal and visual--the manner of dress makes the wearer resemble a lamp shade by wearing high or over the knee boots and a somewhat baggy dress, over sized sweatshirt or tunic top that hits just at or slightly above the boot line.


Naturally, plenty of young celebs including Kylie, Kendall, Gigi, Zendaya, Selena and Ariana have all been recent proponents of this look. Kate (Moss) and Rihanna were two early birds, first spotted in this previously unnamed look back in 2013. The origins of lampshading may lie with sorority girls who would run about in large over sized jerseys that may have belonged to their boyfriends, which they paired with unseen shorts and flip flops. The celebrity version is much more chic and upscale yet retains its casual vibe.


I'd like to know what to call a few of the looks seen on the Paris Haute Couture runway this week. The fringe trim on a few of the pre-fall Balmain dresses and gowns definitely reminded me of a Victorian lampshade with its embroidery, beading and fringe trim.

Ballerina lampshade Giambattista Valli Haute Couture

Likewise at Giambattista Valli where many of his dresses resembled lamp shades. This pink one somehow conjures up both a tulle lampshade and Sia's wig.

Gigi Hadid

Nothing to do with lamp shades but can we get a name for the extreme torn denim which is becoming so commonplace particularly among young trendsetters? Maybe something like Chopt but for denim? At any rate, if your name is not Gigi Hadid, do not try this one at home or anywhere else. Even on the supermodel it seems borderline ridiculous to have a pair of jeans hanging open so ludicrously at the knee that they may as well be shorts.

Kristin Stewart at Sundance

While I'm not fond of the ultra torn denim look, even in its "dressed up" incarnation a la Gigi, I would normally detest it worn sloppily on Kristen. I'm actually willing to give her a pass for the mere fact that she wore tights/leggings/long johns underneath in the freezing cold of Sundance. Kudos for layering rather than lawyering up!

Next on my wish list-- a portmanteau that deals with the inevitable backlash against those tiny little mushy bites of chopped salad... #wholegreens please?

- Laurel Marcus

Monday, January 25, 2016

In the Market Report by Marilyn Kirschner

Fashion Snow Jobs

Azzedine Alaia and one of his gowns on exhibit
Photos: &
Click images for full size views

We’ve just come through an almost record breaking snowstorm for the ages. But that’s nothing for the fashion world because as a group, we have probably all been ‘snowed’ (good or bad)  by fashion at one time or another.

Alexander McQueen Savage Beauty

There have been blockbuster ground breaking exhibitions such as the Costume Institute’s “Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty”, May 4 – August 7, 2011 and the glorious “Alaia” Retrospective which ran from September 2013 – January 2014. Featuring 70 iconic models, it retraced the master’s unique career, and was presented in the newly renovated Matisse Room at the Musee d’Art modern de la Ville de Paris.

Battle of Versailles Fashion Show 1973

There have been the hard to forget runway shows, none more so than the landmark “Battle of Versailles” fashion show in 1973 during which time 5 French designers (“old masters of French design such as Pierre Cardin, Yves Saint Laurent, Givenchy) were ‘pit’ against 5 American designers (“bold upstarts” such as Halston, Anne Klein, Oscar de la Renta, Bill Blass, Stephen Burrows). Luckily, as it turns out, the latter group had a ‘secret weapon’: eight African American models.

John Galliano for Christian Dior Haute Couture
 Spring/Summer 2007

From time to time (not as often as we would like of course), we’ve been treated to memorable runway shows from such creators as Yves Saint Laurent, Jean Paul Gaultier, Alexander McQueen, Valentino, Alber Elbaz, Rei Kawakubo, Junya Watanabe, Dries Van Noten, Courreges, Rick Owens, Thom Browne, Donna Karan, Geoffrey Beene, Ralph Rucci, Gianni Versace, Nicholas Guesquiere, Phoebe Philo, Karl Lagerfeld, Marc Jacobs, Alexander Wang, Miuccia Prada, John Galliano, etc.

Marc Jacobs always 'snows' us with his attention grabbing  presentations

But on the proverbial other side of the coin, seasoned pros and die hard fashion followers alike, have shown that they can easily fall prey to ‘snow jobs’. That’s not to say that they are being purposely deceived, but it proves that it’s not difficult to get caught up in the moment and in all the hype (and what’s fashion without the hype?).

Marc Jacobs Spring 2016 Ready-To-Wear  

Case in point: Marc Jacobs might have snowed us (as he often does) with his theatrical Spring 2016 presentation staged at the iconic Ziegfield Theatre this past September, but how are the clothes in the least bit relevant? There isn’t a snowball’s chance in hell you’ll actually see women out and about wearing this stuff. Don’t get me wrong, there is no question that Marc is a talented guy, but I often feel that in terms of his relationship with the press, it’s almost always a case of “The Emperor’s New Clothes” because of all the hype and overriding expectation that surrounds his collections.

Gucci fur lined mules  

Alessandro Michele not only snowed many of us with his renewed vision for Gucci, but from the look of things, he has apparently done a good enough (snow) job ‘convincing’ armies of men and women that life is not worth living (lol) unless they own a pair the kangaroo lined horse bit mules that made such an impact on the runway back in February 2015.

Chanel Fall 2015 Ready-To-Wear  

Karl Lagerfeld always snows us with his boundless energy, creativity, and prolific ideas which he spews out at breakneck speed. He made a statement showing only ONE shoe on his Fall/Winter 2015 runway: the iconic two tone sling back pump which was favored by Coco herself. It’s not a stretch to imagine that many a true Chanel addict might have begun to think that it was truly the ONLY shoe she would never need in life. Silly her. Of course, Karl has quickly moved on; for his next collection, there was nary one of them in sight.

Yeezy Fall 2015 Ready-To-Wear

Though perhaps the best example of a fashion snow job is Kanye West’s collaboration with Adidas, Yeezy, which was unveiled during New York Fashion Week last February. Does he really believe that what the world needs is another sportswear collection filled bedraggled clothes, $430 banal sweatshirts and hoodies, and hole laden knitwear priced from $880 - $1650?

Danish street style star Pernille Taisbaek
 in black culottes

That being said, no discussion of fashion snow jobs would be complete without talking about the trend for inner wear to be worn as outerwear (just the thing to wear for your subway commute, ha!). And you will never convince me that there is anything remotely appealing, attractive, or flattering about culottes, but apparently, enough designers, retailers, and members of the press, have done a good enough (snow) job convincing the customer that she needs to own a pair. The same can probably be said about unwieldly, exaggerated platform shoes (ugh!). Just the perfect things to wear for a brisk walk around town, or should you want to dance the night away and break your ankle. How 'modern' is that?? Not!

Grace Coddington wearing her pj's to the 2015 Met Gala

Finally, unless you are Grace Coddington, don’t even think about wearing your pajamas to the office, for a night out on the town, or on a transatlantic flight. You run the risk of being mistaken for an Alzheimer’s patient who forgot where she was, and where she was going.

- Marilyn Kirschner