Saturday, July 30, 2016

Better Bets by Rhonda Erb

Campus Essentials
Fashion That Shows Your Spirit….


Yoga tank

Nuyu is the new fashion lifestyle brand that gives college women a chic alternative to the usual campus style options. Their merchandise will be available on several college campuses this fall (check out their website to see if your school is on their list) and more schools are coming soon.

Show your school colors in nuyu’s yoga tank. It features your school logo and is made of moisture wicking nylon spandex and mesh.

nuyu yoga tank: $65.00

Fabulous Footwear…

Shellys London

The Emma’s platform wedge sole adds a new dimension to the classic menswear inspired oxford, without sacrificing comfort.

Shellys London Emma Platform Oxford: $119.95


This shoe is called the Jayne Laceless, but laces are included to add some versatility to your look. The oxfords feature a removable cushioned footbed.

Sebago Jayne Laceless: $125.00


The forefoot Flex Zone and second density heel pod in the Yoga Flex gives you comfort and support for any kind of workout. The spider rubber sole prevents slippage.

Ahnu Yoga Flex: $110.00

The Right Bag…


This tote is made of a durable, high -strength nylon material that can stand up to the rigors of college life (it’s the same fabric that Birdwell uses in their popular boardshorts). There is a signature pocket on the back.

Birdwell Classic Tote: $48.00


The Lenox Greenpoint backpack is made of coated canvas and has convenient features like a padded laptop pocket and a zippered compartment on the bottom for shoes (up to a men’s size 13). For each Lenox bag sold, State will donate a bag filled with supplies to a child in need.

State Lenox Greenpoint Backpack: $135.00

Dorm Misc...


A well-decorated dorm room is a must. Start with coordinated bedding from Lacoste. The College Collection Green Stripe Comforter Set includes a comforter and one sham. The set comes in twin XL, so it fits most dorm mattresses. Accent pillows and matching sheets are also available.

Lacoste College Collection Green Stripe Comforter Set: $71.99

Dri Soft

These towels are woven with a special process that makes them extra plush yet fast drying (perfect for dorm life). They are all cotton and come in several colors.

Dri Soft Bath Towels: $6.99


This mug is dishwasher, microwave and oven safe. It’s perfect for sipping hot beverages with friends or for late night study breaks.

Fiesta Tapered Mug: FiestaFactoryDirect $10.99

- Rhonda Erb
For more Better Bets visit:

Friday, July 29, 2016

In the Market Report

Hillary Clinton & The Chain of Command

Hillary Clinton tops the chain of command at the  Democratic Convention
Photo credit: 

One normally equates this phrase with the rules of the military but of course, it also applies to government and politics. Hillary Clinton undeniably topped the chain of command at the Democratic Convention which ended yesterday, her historic nomination providing a long overdue “missing link” within our political arena.  By contrast, the only phrase using the word ‘chain’ that most applies in the case of the Republican convention, is “Chain of Fools.”

By the way, there’s no reason Hillary Clinton, who is poised to become the Commander in Chief and the leader of the free world, should not also have a sharp, commanding presence. Unsurprisingly, much has already been written about her fashion choices and we all know that Anna Wintour has been instrumental in getting her fashion look together.  But with all due respect, I think Hillary could look a lot better. For the record, while I liked the pantsuit she wore last night, the color washed her out. Instead of opting for white, the color of purity, I would have gone with red, the color of power.

She is an attractive woman and at 5’7”, she can certainly carry  clothes. (I never knew she was that tall because her long, often shapeless jackets and matronly tunics don’t do her any justice). I would suggest wearing more fitted clothing. Belted coats and trenches, tailored jackets and narrower pants in dark colors like navy or black are  always appropriate, thinning, lengthening and would perfectly offset her pale skin and blonde hair. I would advise that she invest in a wardrobe of crisp white shirts and silk blouses (black and white or navy and white always look good), distinctive black turtlenecks (always flattering), and instead of wearing head to toe turquoise (or that famous shade of blue that many politicians wear), my suggestion would be to add strong hits of color by adding a colorful scarf (and using it instead of a dainty necklace), or wearing strong hued pumps.

But regardless, I’m not talking politics here. What I’m really talking about are chains, commanding chains at that.

Right about now, with temperatures in the 90’s, it’s been impossible to think of wearing anything more complicated than a crisp white shirt, cotton t shirt, sleeveless shift, or other similarly simple pared down, spare pieces and separates. But all of this can admittedly get a bit boring. The easiest and most effective way to add some pizazz is through the addition of accessories, but often times, they can look a bit fussy. To my way of thinking, nothing is a better compliment to minimalistic fashion than chains (whether worn around the neck, at the wrist, around the waist, or added to a bag or shoes). They are at once timeless and classic, inherently modern, edgy and cool (both figuratively and literally, since they add no warmth).

Chains have been perennial favorites among designers and customers through the decades, and there are always great updates; this season is no exception. A number of pieces that have caught my eye have done so because they are bold, standout, and anything but run of the mill as they have all been somehow reimaged through proportion, scale, material, color, or design. They run the gamut from metal (gold, silver, bronze, and palladium), to plastic, resin, and Plexiglas; represent a mix of new and vintage; and can be decorative or functional.

Balenciaga Fall 2016 Ready-To-Wear

Of course, the best case scenario is the combination of form and function, as exemplified by the colorful and statement making plastic chain link eyeglass holders which were first seen on the runway of the Balenciaga fall 2016 Ready-To-Wear show in Paris.  (This is hardly surprising since one of the strengths of this iconic label’s new creative director, Vetements’ founder Demna Gvasalia, is his ability to take streamlined, streetwise, authentic designs and make them as highly distinctive as possible). They are $315 and will be available at Balenciaga stores in August.

FYI, about 20 years ago, I purchased two fabulous eyeglass chain holder necklaces made of large, oval links in black and tortoiseshell plastic, from Henry Miller Opticians on 72nd street and Lexington Avenue; they were $75 and alas, no longer available. I wear them all the time. They are not only great looking, but I never misplace my glasses. And they never fail to draw compliments. I can’t tell you how many times women have offered to buy them from me owing to their great design fused with practicality;  typically, what you find are those tiny, cheap looking dime store versions. This seems like such an easy thing to replicate at a relatively inexpensive price. Perhaps now that Balenciaga has offered a distinctive version, we will see other appealing interpretations

.Diana Broussard has long been known for her bold, over scaled Plexiglas and resin chains. A mainstay on her website and in her eponymous West Village shop (22 Christopher Street, 646 336 6365), is her signature 20 inch Nate chain necklace, $275, which is available in 11 colors. I especially love the vibrant red which would instantly rev up black. Info/Purchase

Pluma Italia (, a relatively new kid on the block, is the brainchild of Brendan Cannon, its Creative Director. In a relatively short time, they have become known for their bold, statement making yet classic necklaces, chokers, collars, cuffs, bangles, rings, earrings, and clutches which focus on style, high quality and attention to detail. Each piece is handmade by artisans in family run factories in Tuscany, Italy. Their triple large gold plated brass link Oro necklace, $792, would look as good with a plain t shirt or striped pullover, as with a little black dress.Info/Purchase

I love that this chunky Bottega Veneta chain link bracelet is in oxidized silver Info/Purchase

Miuccia Prada has long been a member of the “chain gang” and this season, several of her Miu Miu bags and shoes, like these fringed black suede moccasins, are  adorned with prominent silver chains, $850 Info/Purchase

I tend to gravitate towards vintage because I’m getting something that is all but guaranteed to be one of a kind. I love the unusual, eye catching, graphic color block design of this vintage Hermes multicolored plastic chunky chain necklace, $1115.03.Info/Purchase

This vintage Yves Saint Laurent chunky gold chain necklace can do double duty as a belt, $643

Of course, no label is as associated with chains, as Chanel. This rare and exceptional pair of bronze Chanel chain biker cuffs is laden with poured glass Gripoix cabochons in emerald, ruby and sapphire. Dating from the 80’s, they were designed by Victoire de Castellane, under Karl Lagerfeld, at a time when “all of Chanel’s iconography was pumped up on steroids”, $ 12,500. Info/Purchase

This iconic vintage Chanel fringe chain belt with woven leather buckle, $2800, was worn in a famous editorial featuring Linda Evangelista. How great would this look with a crisp white shirt and black skirt? Info/Purchase

This vintage Chanel 5 row gold chain necklace is a classic, and simply a wow! Price upon request.Info/Purchase

- Marilyn Kirschner

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

New York Fashion Cool-Aid ®

Black Bags Matter

Upscale Garment Bag Lady Linda Fargo in her D.I.Y. Raincoat
Photo credit: Instagram

It's happened to the best of us, especially now in the dog days of summer: TFW you're about to leave your office for the night and out of nowhere there's a clap of thunder followed by a deluge of epic proportion. What to do? If you're Linda Fargo you D.I.Y. a Bergdorf Goodman garment bag into a chic Prada-esque rain coat. I especially love how the clear patch "window" perfectly showcases her black and white striped outfit, as well as how the thin belt sets off the look perfectly. Naturally it goes without saying that as Bergdorf's fashion director she's the perfect brand ambassador for this "outerwear." Just for giggles I attempted to get a similar look using a white canvas "The Outnet" garment bag.Using the fabric loop as a halter and without slicing the bag I decided that what I had created was really just a belted apron.

Bradley Cooper

While Ms. Fargo seems to have cornered the market on garment bag couture, many celebs have raided their garbage cans sporting straight up Hefty bags -- all without even being asked to take part in "Project Runway's" infamous unconventional materials challenge. Who can forget Bradley Cooper wearing a black sack for his 2011 role in "Silver Linings Playbook"? Apparently this was taken from a direct reference to the character in the book who wore a garbage bag over his sweats as a weight loss aid. (Don't try this at home -- all you'll lose is temporary water weight, says WebMD.) According to costume designer Mark Bridges, the noisy garbage bag had to be put on mute so as not to have the rustling sound picked up by the camera's mic.

Missy Elliott & Abbi Jacobson

Perhaps the most iconic look belongs to Missy Elliott who famously wore an inflated garbage bag in her 1997 video of "Supa Dupa Fly." Legend has it that Elliott decided to give a big middle finger to the size-ist record execs who told her that she wouldn't be able to make it in the music business without a "perfect" body. An enormous inflated trash bag, some rose-colored sunglasses attached to a glittery bicycle helmet, and bam! -- she made a visual statement that still resounds today.  Abbi Jacobson of "Broad City" even copied her look in a hilarious video entitled "Eight F**king Thousand Dollars" which appeared in an episode of the Comedy Central TV show.

Lady Gaga
Photo credit:

In September of last year, Lady Gaga wore garbage bag couture during New York Fashion Week. She attended the Nicopanda presentation in this mini dress (well, actually it was a shirt over denim hot pants) which she accessorized with chains and ripped fishnets, thanking designer Nicola Formichetti for her head turning look from his new collection.

J Lo & Rihanna

Stepping back a bit to 2010 we have J. Lo and Rihanna, who went to the "bottom of the barrel," yet not too far from "throwaway chic" in these Lanvin dumpster diving looks. Who wore it better? Alber Elbaz showed large black plastic-y sacks as handbags in 2013 in case anyone wanted to crush the look of a second story man or alternately, just someone on their way to the curb.

Photo credit:

Also in 2010, here's Ke$ha (as her name was formerly spelled) at the VMA's doing her best to look as trashy as possible -- she described the look as "a celebration of being broke"-- from back in her "brushed-my- teeth-with-a-bottle-of-Jack" days.

Photo: Instagram

If transparency is what you're after during this election season, be forewarned --you probably won't get it. For a little controlled opposition to all the opaqueness, take a gander at the ever creative Solange slaying in her "dry cleaning bag" ensemble. She's even doing a little song and dance routine while wearing it on last month's Instagram post.

Ikea Bags Coat

If you believe that Blue Bags Matter and like to come full circle to the original idea of a store supplying the raw materials instead of a metal can, check out this raincoat made from recycled Ikea bags. Hard to fault the crafty "couture" upcycled from four of the Swedish carryalls -- wearing it as a coat means you won't have to assemble its contents from cryptic picture diagrams when you get home.

- Laurel Marcus

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Editorial by Marilyn Kirschner: Peter Copping & Oscar de la Renta

The Name Game

Since the news broke last week that Peter Copping was out as creative director of Oscar de la Renta, it’s been the topic of discussion among industry insiders and unsurprisingly, many have offered their opinion and sought to make sense of yet the latest in a string of designers’ firings. Let’s just say that even though many thought that on paper, due to many similarities, this pairing had all the earmarks of a success, I generally found Peter’s collections generally unexceptional, lacking the exuberance and excitement that had been there before, and never thought it was a match made in heaven.  Obviously, the bottom line is that Copping did not perform well at retail, and he apparently did not do so since the beginning (things would have been very different if he had). End of subject. Let’s just say that there were several factors at play.

We’re undeniably at a moment when there is just too much of everything: too many designers, too many brands, too many companies, too many stores, too many websites, too many bloggers, too many seasons, too much fashion, and a proliferation of fast fashion coming at the customer at breakneck speed. The customer, who has access to everything and sees everything, is confused, has a short attention span, and is fickle. But the bottom line is that what she wants is “amazing” fashion she can “respond to emotionally”; she doesn’t necessarily care what seasons it’s from or who the designer is. This is precisely what Neiman Marcus’s VP, Fashion Direction, Ken Downing had to say during the course of Fashion Group International’s "Tastemaker Series" last Thursday. Let’s face it, there are not too many designers like Gucci’s Alessandro Michele, whose fan base has reached cult like proportions and who can singlehandedly drive in sales.

Needless to say, these are challenging times for businesses and retail, and it’s especially difficult for established brands, particularly when they are faced with reinventing themselves and flourishing without the original designer at the helm. Sure there are success stories like Valentino, Chanel, Gucci, Calvin Klein, Balenciaga, Lanvin, Saint Laurent, and Alexander McQueen, to name a few, but there’s also Halston. Geoffrey Beene and Bill Blass, among others. Both iconic labels bore witness to a succession of talents taking over at the design helm but they could not manage to restore their original glory after the designers’ passings.

It can’t be underestimated that Oscar was the breath, the soul, and the face of the label for over 40 years. While Peter Copping preferred to keep a rather low profile in his rather short tenure, Oscar was a celebrity and an icon in his own right, and he seemed to revel in his role. Always dapper and debonair, he was inducted to the International Best Dressed List Hall of Fame in 1973. He was a commanding presence, undeniably attractive (inside and out), and quite seductive (who could forget his gleaming eyes and broad smile when he walked out on the runway after his shows, flanked by his favorite models?)

It didn’t hurt that both of Oscar’s marriages were to elegant, highly cultivated women who were internationally known for their exceptional taste in clothes and decoration (both were also celebrated hostesses).   It certainly didn’t hurt that his first wife Francoise de Langlade de la Renta (who had been fashion editor and editor in chief of French Vogue and passed away in I983), and his second wife, the philanthropist Annette de la Renta, were celebrated hostesses who wore only his designs. In both marriages, they were a high profile couple, formidable fixtures on the social scene (Oscar was on the board of the Metropolitan Opera and Carnegie Hall among other things). And it most certainly didn’t hurt that many of Oscar’s most ardent fans and most loyal customers traveled in the same social circles.

The fact that the focus these days, is on streetwise, relaxed, casual fashion, is yet another hurdle for Oscar de la Renta, a company synonymous with elegant, ladylike, feminine, opulent, clothing. While there may still be a customer for the sort of designs which have been the hallmarks of the label since its inception in 1965, under the guise of Peter Copping; and more importantly, without the driving force of the man himself, Oscar de la Renta, there was unfortunately nothing much to distinguish it from just another collection of expensive, chic suits and pretty dresses. My overall impression was, “Meh!” And there’s just too much competition. “Meh” just doesn’t cut it these days.

 Looking towards the future, I am intrigued by the list of possible replacements that have been mentioned thus far: particularly, Alber Elbaz, Francisco Costa (who worked in Oscar's studio in the 80's), and former Oscar de la Renta designers Laura Kim and Fernando Garcia. They launched the highly acclaimed label Monse last fall and are also consulting with Carolina Herrera where they are imbuing their youthful spirit into the line.

- Marilyn Kirschner

Friday, July 22, 2016

In the Market Report

Fashion Group International’s “The Tastemakers”: A Conversation with Ken Downing & Anne Fulenwider

Ken Downing and Anne Fulenwider
Photo: Alan Lungen

One of Fashion Group International’s ongoing signature events is their Tastemakers Series: a one on one conversation between two highly regarded individuals, at the top of their fields, representing the worlds of beauty, fashion, retail. Technically, one of the two normally ‘interviews’ the other; the only exception was a few years ago, when the featured guests were Andre Leon Talley and Ralph Rucci and they each seemed to be interviewing the other in equal parts. Their latest installment, held yesterday at Le Cirque, put the spotlight on Ken Downing, Senior Vice President, Fashion Director, Neiman Marcus, and Anne Fulenwider, Editor-in-Chief, Marie Claire, who steered the conversation and asked the questions. It was sponsored by Lafayette 148 and Neiman Marcus.

Photo: Alan Lungen

After a wonderful lunch of ‘Le Cirque’ salad and Mediterranean branzino, FGI President Margaret Hayes stood up and made her welcoming remarks. She said that Le Cirque is FGI’s “favorite” restaurant (it is equal parts “whimsical and elegant” and a perfect respite from the harsh realities of our everyday world). Always a stickler for keeping to a schedule, Margaret said that dessert (crème brulee) and coffee would be served after the main event, and quickly introduced the two guests. In summing up Anne’s impressive publishing resume she explained that before taking the helm at Marie Claire in 2012, she was Editor-in-Chief of Brides, and prior to that she was Executive Editor at Marie Claire. When she was a former editor at Vanity Fair, Fulenwider launched their now very famous Fanfare section, and this was after a Senior Editor position at The Paris Review, as well as a research assistant job under George Plimpton at the time he was writing Truman Capote.

Anne Fulenwider and Margaret Hayes
Photo: Alan Lungen

Margaret described Ken as an “expert in all things stylish; a “salesman extraordinaire” who knows the luxury market “better than anyone”. The Seattle born Downing attributed his love affair with fashion to his stylish mother. He explained that she was fond of saying, “pretty, not peculiar” and “women want to look pretty; if they say they don’t, they’re lying”. It was from his early work at an auction company that he developed a love for vintage clothing and thus began his lifelong love affair with fashion.

Ann wasted no time in asking what Ken thought about the news that Peter Copping had exited Oscar de la Renta. Ken replied that he considered Peter to be a “wildly talented guy” but was “not surprised” (“there was passion missing, but change is good”, he offered). He also brought up the name Alber Elbaz as an interesting replacement owing to his fabulous way with opulence (the operative word in his opinion) and femininity, and his ability to make them modern and relevant. Even though Peter had been given the “go ahead” by Oscar de la Renta himself (and he apparently had Oscar’s blessings), just days before his passing, for the record, I myself never thought it was a match made in heaven, and quite frankly, called it from the beginning  Read my article..

Meanwhile, according to WWD’s Rosemary Feitelberg, (“Industry’s Latest Talk: Who’s Next for Oscar?” July 22), Alber is in fact one of the names being mentioned as a possible replacement for Copping. Others are Rodarte’s Mulleavy sisters, Doo-Ri Chung, Jonathan Simkhai, Joseph Altuzarra, Francisco Costa, and Laura Kim and Fernando Garcia, the young duo behind Monse. Unsurprisingly, the latter three designers have all worked in Oscar’s studio (Costa was there in the 80’s and Kim and Garcia were there until they left to start their own label which launched in September, 2015. They are now consulting with Carolina Herrera and imbuing their youthful spirit into the line).

And naturally, what would any chit chat these days be like without talking politics (specifically, the upcoming Presidential election)? Ken said that at the recent round of shows in Europe that included the spring 2017 menswear collections (where he thought both Gucci and Thom Browne were “standouts” and hailed camouflage as the menswear equivalent to leopard), and fall 2016 haute couture, all everyone wanted to talk about was Donald Trump, “except at Balenciaga which was so good” as he put it. FYI, FGI Creative Director Marylou Luther told me she just came back from Nebraska (where she is originally from), and was proud to say that she had worked her magic and managed to “convert” several Trump supporters into Hillary supporters.

Customers were a major theme throughout this conversation and they are always on Ken’s mind. He noted that his customers want “beautiful clothes they respond to emotionally” and “don’t care who is designing them.” Similarly, they don’t really care about seasons. As he put it, “they don’t come into the store and ask, “Where’s fall?” What they care about is buying something “amazing.” In his opinion, “seasonless fashion is the answer”.

He went on to say that “the customer is very fatigued by the time the clothes hit the stores.” “Fashion shows have become a mega marketing tool and bloggers and social media have “got to pull back“.He went on to say, “We are a very broken industry now. It’s like the Industrial Revolution all over again. The customer is very fatigued by the time the clothes hit the stores. Technology is the most brilliant tool. The good news is that social media has created an appetite. The bad news is that we are showing too much too soon (the “bloggers and social media have to pull back”).

He also said that he spends “more time apologizing for designers” that make something “one off” for a celebrity. It “enrages the customer” when they can’t have something they have seen in a photograph (“they want what they want when they want it”).

Photo: Alan Lungen

When Anne asked Ken about emerging new talent to watch for, he singled out the team at Monse (for their “amazing shirting”), and the husband and wife team behind Brock.

AF (Anne Fulenwider): “Are men the new women?”

KD (Ken Downing): “We are in a very peacock moment. Men (of all ages) are the new peacocks of the street”.

“A demographic doesn’t excite me. It’s the psychographic.”

“It’s all about the casual cool approach to everything. The elevation of the sneaker. Guys are not eating so they can get their sneakers.”

AF: “What percent of your time do you spend with customers?”

KD: “50 – 75%. I am all ears around a customer. They keep me informed and I really listen to them. The customer is in control. Not you or me. The customer. They can tell us what they want and when they want it.”

“Technology is a large part of what we’re doing. We were the first luxury retailer to go online. The customer uses online shopping to research. Look books and iPad are an important part of what we’re doing.”

“I go to many events to bring the customers into the store. It’s all about creating experiences now.”
“In 2018, Neiman Marcus will open in Hudson Yards. It is the store of the future.”

AW: “Can you tell us more about it?”

KD: “No because then the surprise will be gone.”

AW: “Do you have any negative traits?”

KD: “I have no patience”.

AW: “Do you have any hidden talents?”

KD: “Gardening. I also love cleaning house. Give me a bottle of Clorox and a vacuum cleaner and I’m in heaven.”

AW: “Do you have a bucket list?”

KD: “I want to go to India and Morocco”.

AW: “What would you tell women they must buy for fall?”

KD: “A skirt with movement or volume; something opulent and over embellished (we’re having a David Bowie moment); gold gold and more gold (how about gold boots?); something in a seasonless floral.”

AW: “Who do you admire?”

KD: “My mother, who pushed me in this business.”

AW: “What is selling well at Neiman Marcus now?”

KD: “Over the top maximalism (as exemplified by Alessandro Michele’s Gucci), and high quality, tactile luxury (as exemplified by Ashley and Mary Kate Olsen’s The Row), and nothing in between.

Guests were invited to ask questions and one woman inquired whether Ken (who has obvious great taste and a discerning eye) had ever considered designing his own line. While it doesn’t seem to be in the cards at the moment, he said, “I never say never.”

This is also what he said when asked if he would consider having his own television show. While Ken is arguably a celebrity in his own right, that is not what it’s about for him. At some point, he even asked, “If everybody is a celebrity, who is the customer?” What it IS about however, as he succinctly put it, “I love clothes and I love to see people looking amazing. I like to make people feel good about themselves. Fashion used to be a velvet rope society and now it’s for everyone. We sell confidence, not clothes. We are really selling confidence.”

-Marilyn Kirschner

Monday, July 18, 2016

New York Evening Hours by Lieba Nesis

The Southampton Animal Shelter Gala Raises More Than $600,000

Jean, Martin and Elizabeth Shafiroff
All photos: Lieba Nesis

The Southampton Animal Shelter Foundation (SASF) held its Seventh Annual Unconditional Love Gala on Saturday July 16th in a Great Gatsby-esque mansion on Gin Lane. The house which is situated right on the ocean with acres of land was perfect for the shelter animals to roam around in. The Southampton Animal Shelter is listed in the top ten percent of no-kill shelters in the country and is used as a model for dozens of others shelters. Its goal is to place homeless pets in the community into permanent caring homes.

Georgina Bloomberg in Antik Batik

The night's festivities began with a 6:30 PM cocktail hour and honored El Faro De Los Animales. Event chairwoman Jean Shafiroff greeted guests in a sweeping Oscar de la Renta pale green gown strewn with ribbons. This is Shafiroff's fifth year as chairwoman and she and her daughter, Elizabeth, continue to travel the world in pursuit of saving animals. Georgina Bloomberg, another avid animal rights activist, wore a floral Antik Batik gown, and said she loved traveling with the amazing SASF organization to Puerto Rico in February. Georgina just came back from a riding competition in Europe and was looking forward to the August Hampton Classic.

Janet Constance, John Catsimatidis Tom Constance

The night's crowd was an illustrious group of well-heeled Hamptonites who prefer to remain under the radar including billionaire businessmen: John Catsimatidis, CEO of Douglas Elliman Howard Lorber, Ziel Feldman, Owner of the Rockets Leslie Alexander, and the founders of The Allen Company. The emcee Chuck Scarborough was dashing as usual as he and his statuesque wife Ellen graciously posed for pictures. Scarborough is the go to guy for animal events and his impeccable elegance is what the Hamptons is all about.

Ellen and Emcee Chuck Scarborough

When it was time for dinner, the 300 guests streamed into the lavish tent for a vegetarian dinner of fish with a delightful bean concoction and some delectable apple crisp. A live auction was then held where prizes included a three night stay at the Peter Island Resort and Spa in the British Virgin Islands and two nights at the Grand Hotel Minerva in Florence, Italy.

Sony Schotland and Jewel, founder of Pet Philanthropy Circle,
and Bob Morris

Jonathan McCann, the Southampton Shelter Board President, told me that 7 years ago they were going to close down the municipal shelter with no arrangements for the 250 homeless animals. After reaching out to residents on radio and television, he found someone to donate money to privatize the shelter and the rest is history.

Journalist and animal advocate Jill Rappaport with Southampton Shelter
Board President Jonathan McCann

Journalist Jill Rappaport then joined him in urging attendees to donate to this pivotal cause and the night's festivities raised more than $600,000-an exorbitant sum for an animal charity. The evening concluded with some dancing under the stars and the melodious music of the Alex Donner orchestra-a fabulous conclusion to another event filled Hamptons weekend.

- Lieba Nesis

Sunday, July 17, 2016

New York Fashion Cool-Aid ®

Two Ways to Enjoy the Spectacular Beauty of a New York Summer

Cooper Hewitt through the window
All photos Laurel Marcus
Click images for full size views

This week I finally got around to viewing an exhibition and a show that were on my summer to-do list On Tuesday night I attended a Sotheby's Preferred tour of Cooper Hewitt's Triennial Exhibition "Beauty" which opened in February and closes on August 21. After a cocktail reception held indoors (unfortunately the beautiful garden was closed that night however it is open on Thursdays for cocktails and performances for info ), we were introduced to Ellen Lupton, Senior Curator of Contemporary Design at Cooper Hewitt, and Mary Bartow, SVP Head of Department, Prints, at Sotheby's. These are two highly-credentialed experts in their fields: Lupton is the author of 13 books, a writer/curator/graphic designer/educator while Bartow has appraised countless art collections including those of Bill Blass and Jacqueline Kennedy-Onassis.

Mary Bartow of Sotheby's and Ellen Lupton, Cooper Hewitt

Lupton, appropriately wearing a newsprint skirt, began by saying that she enjoyed the opportunity to "be with real people and do a tour." She also mentioned that as of the day of our tour, the Museum had met its targeted number of visitors, which is exciting (she didn't reveal what that number was).

Giambattista Valli skirt and top -- Fall/Winter 2014-15

The exhibition seeks to quantify seven different categories of beauty with 250 works by 63 global designers: Extravagant, Intricate, Ethereal, Transgressive, Emergent, Elemental and Transformative. The first room of the two floor exhibition showcases everything extravagant: "Ballgown, hair, makeup, nails, adornment itself," said Lupton. The Giambattista Valli gown shows "gradient color being embraced which becomes this whipped cream that hits the floor."

Mary Katrantzou Pangea dress Spring/Summer 2015 and Dan C coat
Fall/Winter 2015 

The Intricate displays include a dress by Mary Katrantzou, one by African designer Vlisco, knitwear by Swedish designer Sandra Backlund, a woven textile by Columbian designer Hechizoo; all of which incorporate color, dense pattern, tattoo art and an elaboration of surfaces. The ethereal space includes Finnish designer Tuomas Markunpoika's contribution -- a wood cabinet that the artist covered in steel rings and set on fire -- thereby symbolizing the "ephemerality of memory," and "poetry in furniture," according to the curator.

Maiko Takeda "Atmospheric Reentry" headgear

Two of Maiko Takedo's "Atmospheric Reentry" prickly-looking-but-actually-quite-soft headpieces (the designer wore one to the press preview for the Met's Manus x Machina exhibition, causing a media frenzy) are here.

"Architecture is Everywhere" by Suo Fujimoto

Two other ethereal highlights include Japanese architect Suo Fujimoto's display which "invites you to enter the landscape and a window into the mind of the architect." Lupton spoke of her pine cone revelation here: a pine cone was the inspiration for a photo of the amazing looking building hanging here behind its inspiration from nature. If you like smell-a-vision don't miss the Sissel Tolaas (a pioneer in smell molecules) Central Park aromas wall where you can apparently sniff the scent of rotting leaves, runners sweat, horse droppings and whatever else Central Park smells like.

The Haas Brothers and Haas Sisters of Monkeybiz

Onto the third floor where The Haas Brothers designed some "super fun and emotionally satisfying creatures," (Lupton again), which are hand beaded by African beaders. I would categorize them a little differently: they're like a Unicef/Ikea/Dr. Seuss baby -- not sure why they occupy such a prominent place in the exhibition either.

 Iris van Herpen Wilderness Embodied dress of resin and iron fillings;
 Jolan van der Wiel Gravity stool in background

Also part of Transgressive: a collaboration between Jolan van der Wiel and designer Iris Van Herpen with some sort of extruded magnetic metal material visible on his small stool and her skeleton-like dress and shoes.

Gareth Pugh black plastic straw designs

There are also interesting jewels by Delfina Delettrez, creepy wrinkle jewelry by Noa Zilberman (we are told her husband hates when she puts this on and I can totally see why!), the unisex clothes of Rad Hourani, as well as black plastic straw couture by Gareth Pugh which can also be seen in the Met Museum's Manus x Machina exhibition.

Jenny Sabin cocoon

The highlight of the Emergent space includes Jenny Sabin's cocoon-like 3-D knitted pavilion made out of Nike Flyknit material. Lupton calls this structure "the lungs of the show" and points out how it changes color via lights taking it from sunrise to sunset.

Neri Oxman 3D printed molten glass lights

Israeli Neri Oxman's vibrant colored glass sculptures are actually 3-D printed wearable devices for extraterrestrial explorers... whaat? Oxman is the head of Mediated Matter at the MIT Media Lab which is at the juncture between technology and biology -- these "sculptures" are some sort of suggested replacement organs for use outside the body.
Wall hanging and mobile by Formafantasma

The Elemental section includes Formafantasma's "Iddu Mirror" lava mobile -- the lava was taken from an active volcano and baked in a kiln which was destroyed afterwards. The Max Lamb cast molten metal and sand tables (made by pouring metal into holes that were dug at the beach) also involve an interesting process.

Melitta Baumeister garments

Transformative items include German designer Melitta Baumeister's oversized glossy vinyl bonded garments with graffiti or catchphrases written on them, Laduma Ngxokolo's "circumcision clothes" inspired by African bead work, The Unseen finned leather jacket -- color sensitive to heat and wind pressure causing it to change hues,

Brunno Jahara's recycled plastic

Brunno Jahara's recycled plastic cap lights and Jantje Fleischhut's jewelry made up of sponge, concrete resin and other natural and man-made materials. The entire exhibition seems to be on the cutting edge between design, innovation and science and is worth checking out if you're into that sort of thing.

Rockettes perform "A Chorus Line" number

The second event I attended was the New York Spectacular starring the Radio City Rockettes (until August 7). I guess the Rockettes need something to do in the warmer months as this is the third season (and from what I'm hearing the best) that a summer show has been presented. As part of a Chase event (they sponsor the show) we were invited for a pre-show buffet dinner in the Roxy Suite where my husband's night was made when he got to pose in leg-up formation with two Rockettes.

Laurel and Joel Marcus with the Rockettes
in the Roxy Suite

Be warned: this presentation has an incredibly cheesy theme ("It's All About the Love") and involves a family of midwestern tourists who get separated from each other on the subway.  To make matters worse, (and to add a modern day twist) the daughter -- an angsty phone obsessed 14-year old concerned only with how many DM's she receives from a crush (at least it's not Pokemon Go) -- has just had her phone taken away by her mom moments before they are separated. Her precocious younger brother can hear the paintings in The Met talking to him, ditto the statues of New York, however his mission is to reignite his sister's lost imagination so that she can hear them too. The two young-uns go on a seemingly never-ending quest (actually it's 90 minutes) uptown, downtown, no geographic strategic planning involved here-- to find their parents based on Big Apple tourist spots that they had planned on visiting.

Singing in the Rain number

The best things to see here are the amazing special effects -- the recreation of the Grand Central stop of the subway, The Met, Wall Street, New York Public Library, the Alice and Wonderland statue in Central Park, and of course, The Rockettes can't be beat particularly "Singing in the Rain, "42nd Street" and "A Chorus Line" renditions.

Costume designer Emilio Sosa for the Rockettes

There are at least two direct fashion references: one is a Rockette fashion show set to Madonna's "Vogue" on Seventh Avenue (all 36 Rockettes wear a different outfit!), the other is a joke about Anna Wintour which I will not spoil. I was pleased to note that Bronx-born "Project Runway" and "Project Runway: All Stars" designer Emilio Sosa is the costume designer for the show. In the show's program Sosa claims "I cry tears of joy every time" he sees his work on the Rockettes. "When you're interacting with people who had those same dreams you had and they are coming together in one of the most iconic venues in the world, and you are responsible for what they look like...I can't put that into words."

At the conclusion of the show my husband was also having trouble putting his thoughts into words. Wishing to find a take-home trophy he ambled over to the souvenir shop only to leave empty handed. Of course, they weren't selling what he really wanted to take home -- a real live Rockette! For tickets click here.

- Laurel Marcus