Saturday, April 30, 2016

In the Market Report

Miniskirts in Paris

Photos: Laurel Marcus & Marilyn Kirschner
Click images for full size view

Medical Missions for Children (www.mmfc.org) is a nonprofit organization that provides surgeries free of charge to underprivileged children and young adults living in the most underserved areas of the world. Their focus is specifically on the surgical repair of cleft lip and palate deformities, burn injuries, microtia (absence of the outer ear) and head/neck tumors and their motto is “Let the healing begin- one child at a time”.

Lauren Lawrence, Vicky Tiel, & Joy Venturini Bianchi

On Friday evening, they held their first annual spring fundraising gala at 580 Park. Chaired by Board Member Margie Rotchford and Vice Chaired by Lauren Lawrence (who generously opened up her Park Avenue apartment to host the kick off cocktail party), it was called “Miniskirts in Paris” as a fitting tribute to their 2016 honoree, Vicky Tiel, the famed American born French designer, who (along with best friend and partner Mia Fonssagrives), put miniskirts on the map. (Ms. Fonssagrives-Solow was a Vice Chair for the event though she was unable to attend).

Vicky Tiel and Mia Fonssagrives in Life Magazine 1965
wearing their hand made Floppy Hats

The talented duo was discovered by Louis Feraud in Paris and their careers were kick started when their Mia-Vicky mini dress was included in his couture show in Paris in 1964. It prompted Eugenia Sheppard, the famed International Herald Tribune writer to headline her review with this startling caption, “Anyone in Fashion Over 25 Might as Well Be Dead”.

Vicky Tiel and Mia Fonssagrives on The Tonight Show with
Johnny Carson in 1964

Life Magazine subsequently wrote a five page profile of the young talents, “Two American Girls Show in Paris” and they became instant stars. Johnny Carson even invited them to appear on his show with their ‘daring’ creations.

Joy Marks in a Vicky Tiel gown & Lucia Hwong Gordon

For the record, I am WELL over 25, and don’t think my life is over lol. And I don’t wear minis either. Though that is precisely what Vicky wore (along with white lace tights), and I spotted a few others among the approximately 250 in attendance for an evening of cocktails, dinner, and dancing; all for a very worthy cause.

Vicky meeting Marylou Luther, with Nicole Fischelis,
 Marilyn Kirschner and Lynne Deutch

The guest list included Lucia Hwong Gordon, Marylou Luther, Nicole Fishelis (Vicky once worked for Nicole’s furrier father in Paris!), Joy Venturini Bianchi (who came all the way from San Francisco and looked fabulous in a fitted Tom Ford embellished jacket), Heather and Ed de Courreges, Martha Kramer, and Joy Marks, who was wearing a form fitting strapless beaded Vicky Tiel gown purchased at Bergdorf Goodman 15 years ago.

Margie Rotchford

Margie Rotchford was also wearing Vicky Tiel. The blue dress, a couture creation was made specifically for her. Vicky told me it was modeled after an 80’s design that’s been selling in Bergdorf Goodman and Neiman Marcus for 34 years and is the longest selling continuous dress in their history. It was copied in the movie “Pretty Woman” from the windows of Giorgio’s, who did it in red first. It’s called the “Pretty Woman” dress in the stores. When I saw it, I immediately thought of the 80’s hit show, “Dynasty”.

Denise and John James

Coincidentally, after taking the podium to make her welcoming remarks, she introduced the event emcees, Denise and John James (Denise is a former Miss World Australia who has her own radio show called “Let’s Talk Animals” and John is an actor who is best known for his role as heart-throb Jeff Colby in “Dynasty”). He wasted no time introducing a film about Vicky Tiel which was followed by a fashion show featuring some of her iconic, notoriously leggy designs.When Vicky took the podium, she jokingly admitted she had never been honored by anyone before, other than her “HOT” husband. For the record, she is married to fishing boat caption Mike Hamilton who is 15 years her junior. He is obviously her secret weapon in being able to turn back the clock; she looks decades younger than her 72 years.


Elizabeth Taylor and Vicky Tiel in Paris

She went on to explain that Elizabeth Taylor had not only been a loyal customer, but a great friend and an investor in her company. “How many people can say that Elizabeth Taylor was a great friend?” she asked. “She taught me that the most important thing in life is to give back and to think of others. The only time you should think of yourself, is when it comes to your jewelry”. This got a lot of knowing laughs.


She also remarked that she was lucky enough to have met Coco Chanel who inspired her to create fragrances along with her designs (they, along with her fashion, have become great sellers that have enabled her to enjoy a wonderful life). In fact, she once said, “I think of myself as a beauty expert. Fashion doesn’t come first, you know. The whole point of my clothes is to make a woman’s body look beautiful.”She has created 15 fragrances in 25 years and they can all be described as “feminine and seductive” just like her clothing. Her first was called “Vicky Tiel” and launched in 1989 and her latest, “1964” launched in 2014 and celebrates Vicky’s 50 years in fashion. A bottle of “Bonaparte 21” was at each guest’s place setting. The name of the oriental floral, created in 2013 is the address in Paris of the dress boutique Vicky co owned with Elizabeth Taylor (Vicky still owns the real estate which is no longer a retail shop).

John James came up again and announced that he has been in the entertainment industry for over 40 years and “these are the true talented artists”; an obvious reference to the approximately 375 volunteer surgeons, anesthesiologists, medical, dental, speech and nutritional specialists who generously donate their time and their remarkable services to literally change lives. He then introduced Dr. H. Dennis Snyder, Chairman, MMFC, who showed graphic and heart wrenching images before and after successful surgeries, putting names with faces. Truly remarkable!

The Denis Collins Band

This was followed by a live auction headed up by Ms. Rotchford and Dr. Shadi Daher. An operating room for one week: $15,000; an operating room for one day: $2500; one operation: $300. Afterwards, the celebration (music and dancing) began, courtesy The Dennis Collins Band with help from special guests Alfa Anderson, Luci Martin, and Norma Jean Wright (formerly of Chic). Vicky and Marcie helped blow up large purple balloons which matched the room. It was aglow in purple and I noticed it as soon as I walked in. Naturally, I immediately thought of Prince (though it should be pointed out that purple was also Elizabeth Taylor’s signature color). And yes, there was a tribute to the late singer as the group broke out with their rendition of “Party like its 1999”.

Vicky Tiel sketch for the mini wrap dress for the movie Candy 1968

But clearly, the evening was all about raising money for this wonderful charity. It also gave me an opportunity to finally meet Vicky and familiarize myself with her long and productive fashion career, which is still going strong, and includes many firsts (many years before Diane Von Furstenberg became a household name with her wrap dresses; Vicky created a bias cut wrap dress for the movie “Candy” in 1968). She has also designed costumes for iconic movies such as “What’s New Pussycat”, and her dresses have appeared on leading actresses in “Saturday Night Fever”, 1977, “Black Rain”, 1989, and “Pretty Woman”, 1990.

Models on parade wearing Vicky Tiel

Her couture evening dresses and gowns are available at Bergdorf Goodman and Neiman Marcus. Vintage websites like 1stdibs feature her sexy, form fitting designs and she has a collection which is available on HSN. Her autobiography, It’s All About The Dress: What I learned in Forty Years About Men, Women, Sex, and Fashion was published in 2011 by Saint Martin’s Press. (On Thursday, the day before the gala, there was a book signing party at the home of Vice Chair Lauren Lawrence was which being filmed as part of a documentary about Vicky). When I asked the woman known for her unapologetically feminine, body hugging designs, what she thinks of androgynous fashion (which is all the ‘rage’), she answered “I don’t think about it.” But quickly offered that everyone should dress the way they want.

Vicky Tiel beaded tulle dress in Bergdorf Goodman's Holiday Windows, 2004

Re-acquainting myself with Vicky’s resume and body of work made me realize just how impressive her accomplishments have been. She also has the honor of being the longest lasting female fashion designer in France (52 years). Given the fickle industry we are in, the fashion world’s well documented short attention span, and the never ending revolving door of designers, this makes Vicky’s staying power and longevity all the more impressive and miraculous. While this is hardly in the same category as the life altering work being done by Medical Missions for Children’s highly skilled team of physicians and specialists, it is miraculous none the less. Even more so when you consider that she has accomplished all this without a publicist! As she put it, “I just sell!”




- Marilyn Kirschner


Friday, April 29, 2016

New York Fashion Cool-Aid ®

Vicky Tiel To Die For...

All photos Laurel Marcus
Click images for full size views

Have you noticed that it's nearly impossible to attend just a charity benefit lately? It's become an entire affair rather than a one night stand. First there's the kickoff cocktail party for the event, followed by yet another event possibly to celebrate the honoree, then (if you're lucky) there's the actual main event -- the benefit dinner. Yesterday afternoon I attended the "middle event," a book signing for designer Vicky Tiel and her name droppy, sex-filled, fascinating memoir "It's All About the Dress: What I Learned in Forty Years About Men, Women, Sex, and Fashion" (believe me it's a lot as she counts as friends La Liz, Richard Burton, Goldie Hawn, Warren Beatty and others)! Ms. Tiel will be the honoree at the Medical Missions For Children (MMFC) Miniskirts in Paris benefit on Friday evening at 583 Park Avenue which I also plan to attend.

Ada de Maurier on the left with Host & Vice Chair of  MMFC's
 Lauren Lawrence on the right in a Carolina Herrera dress

Chairperson for the MMFC Event Committee Margie Rotchford greeted me at the Upper East Side home of our host New York Daily News dream reporter Lauren Lawrence,while clad in a beautiful soft purple classic Vicky Tiel frock. Rotchford, a resident of Saratoga Springs and owner of thoroughbreds, met Tiel recently through a friend and asked her right away if she would support her first time gala for MMFC; an organization which sponsors doctors travels to countries such as Ecuador and Peru in order to operate and correct disfiguring defects such as cleft palates.

Chairperson Margie Rotchford

The book signing event was called for 1 p.m. to 3 p.m., a little odd I thought since most take place after working hours. When I arrived on the fashionably late side of 1:30, the guest of honor had not shown up yet and there was panic in Lawrence's eyes. I spoke with some of the familiar faces including Joy Marks (in a fabulous Maggie Norris suit and Patricia Underwood hat), Adele Nino and Katlean DeMonchy.

Joy Marks

I also met a few interesting out-of-towners including Joy Venturini Bianchi, a San Franciscan with a great attitude and a love of statement making costume jewelry. A vision in her orange wool hat, huge tortoise glasses, chic navy pantsuit and orange bangles, Iris Apfel could learn from this bad ass broad! Check out her Instagram at Helpers House of Couture to get an idea of how she rolls (Spoiler Alert: she's on a motorcycle!)

Joy Venturini Bianchi

By 2 p.m. we were all getting a little woozy day drinking champagne (or at least I was) when we were informed that Ms. Tiel, who had "gotten the time wrong," would be here shortly. Vicky eventually breezed in, her red mane freshly blown out, in a multicolored, shiny short caftan with hot pink tights and black and hot pink booties. Ms. Rotchford introduced me to the inventor of the miniskirt, adding that I had a tale (literally from the crypt) to tell.

Vicky informal signing copies of her book

The saga involves my late stepmother who owned several of Vicky's ruched creations which spanned the ages. I pulled out photos of the saffron colored dress she had acquired in the '80s as well as a white lace number purchased circa 2008. I also hesitantly shared that her longtime housekeeper and I had made the decision to lay her to rest in the designer's red "Pretty Woman" gown; one that she had adored wearing. Ms. Rotchford not only told me Vicky would love this, but it is in fact mentioned in her book as a common occurrence. Sure enough, Ms. Tiel referred me to that mention (it's actually on the first page)! "Bergdorf's says that I'm the number one designer for this purpose. My dresses make the body look good in the box," she boasted.

"The scene"

Back amongst the living in the living room, a huge chocolate Passover cake courtesy of Joy Marks by way of William Greenberg desserts was proffered, along with more champagne, while Ms. Tiel got down to the business at hand: signing books. This was not your ordinary book signing (or maybe it was these days) as it was being filmed for a documentary on Vicky. Each customer got to sit halfsies in a chair with the designer, have a nice long chat, and get not only her signature but a little Sharpie version of the designer's famous dress silhouette "customized" for her body type.

Laurel Marcus & Vicky

When it was finally my turn (I kept losing my place in line as I went to take photos) there was nothing left to say as I had already spilled my somewhat macabre story. When I got to pride of place, Vicky suddenly remembered that her multi strand two-tone charm necklace of Egyptian artifacts (Queen Nefertiti's profile included) was lurking hidden beneath the front of her dress. (Was she hiding it on the subway or something)?

I handed her my book and she took up the Sharpie. I spelled my name for her:


"You're very sleek so I think this would be good on you" she said as she drew a strapless, modified sweetheart neckline with a ruched bustline and a long slinky yet slightly flared at the bottom gown.

"Sold!" I thought "Just don't bury me in it yet."




- Laurel Marcus

Thursday, April 28, 2016

New York Fashion Cool-Aid ®

When Life Gives You Lemons...

Purple Rain

For basically anyone with a pulse in the '80s, this past week was a shocker and a tough one to get through. Prince (when he actually went by his own moniker) was a large part of my MTV and concert obsessed youth. It's weird how several weeks ago I was flipping through the channels and stopped to re-watch an old favorite movie that I hadn't seen in ages: Purple Rain. I suddenly remembered how I felt the first time my younger self saw it, while my older self acknowledged how cheesy yet utterly evocative of the era the film really is; not the least of it having to do with the iconic fashions which Prince favored.



Last Friday, another stylish singer launched what is being hailed as this summer's "It-shoe." Needless to say, anything that Rihanna steps out in, let alone creates, is always wildly sought after -- the Puma Fenty Faux Fur Slides were gone off of numerous websites in minutes. The $80 glorified, gussied up version of a shower shoe-meets- bathmat in three colors blew out of major and minor retailers and even crashed the Puma website. They are now available sparsely in stores and on eBay for hundreds if not thousands of dollars. No definitive word yet on whether they'll be restocked.



Interesting to note that just a week before in mid-April, Beyonce launched her IVY PARK for Topshop line of activewear which included a pair of $35 black rubber shower shoe slides emblazoned with a large white lettered logo. All reports suggest that, although a feeding frenzy was expected, none ensued. The footwear and all other items were readily available online and in-store. Absent was the usual craziness that we've come to expect with a celeb collaboration.


Beyonce in Roberto Cavalli for Lemonade
Still from Tidal

Did Queen Bey find this situation disappointing or refreshing? And, speaking of refreshing, we know that she was busy making, Lemonade her newly released visual album featuring Jay Z bashing (Bey's "every woman who's ever been cheated on" anthem). This work is being hailed as a "brilliant marketing stunt," ironically available for streaming on her seemingly maligned, straying hubby's Tidal music service. There's plenty of speculation over whether this is a couple headed for divorce court or merrily holding onto their royal court with its vast riches.


Not Becky?
Photos: Getty Images/Wenn

Now let's go to the infamous line in the all-important 4th track. First of all, the number four is an important one for the Carter's; the roman numerals IV spell out their daughter Blue Ivy's name. Prince was also seemingly a numerology fan, naming another (death) related song "I Would Die 4 U." Is it also a coincidence that he's the Purple One and she's Blue? Not to mention that they're all royal. At any rate, this attention-getting Beyonce song entitled "Sorry" is seemingly about the "other woman" or in Bey lyric-speak, "He better call Becky with the good hair" and it's certainly been a topic of much speculation. The BeyHive is buzzing: Who is "Becky"? Is it Rachel Roy? Rita Ora? Hell, it could even be RiRi, or perhaps it is an amalgam of many "side chicks"? And where did we first get a hint that things had gone a bit south and perhaps Jay had a wandering eye? Yes, it was at the fast approaching Met Gala. If you remember back when (who could forget) the Bey, Jay and Solange elevator incident where it was rumored that Solange was mad at Jay for "seeing" Rachel Roy or was it for wanting to attend Rihanna's after-party?



And now we've come full circle: upon hearing that Prince died in an elevator I had two immediate thoughts. One was the Met Gala incident; the other was Prince's own lyric -- he uses an elevator as a metaphor in the song "Let's Go Crazy." Not only does he begin the song with the words "Dearly Beloved, we are gathered here today to get through this thing called life" among other death and afterlife references but there's this: "And if the elevator tries to bring you down, Go crazy, punch a higher floor."

Here's hoping Prince has reached that higher floor.



-Laurel Marcus

Saturday, April 23, 2016

In the Market Report: Prince & the CFDA

Prince: Fashion Icon


What are the chances that two idiosyncratic, beloved, highly individual, highly influential music legends, AND bona fide cultural and fashion icons, would pass away within less than 4 months of one another? David Bowie lost his battle with cancer this past January at the age of 69, and Prince passed away suddenly and unexpectedly at the age of 57 on Thursday (the exact cause is still under investigation).


While very different, the artists shared many similarities. In addition to their amazing bodies of work, they exerted enormous global influence, changed countless lives, and worked tirelessly on behalf of humanitarian efforts. And they were both known for their rule breaking, gender bending styles. The fact that we’re at a time in fashion which is all about gender fluidity and being unique, makes it even more topical and of the moment. But while David’s sexuality may have been ambiguous (he outed himself in 1970 and admitted he was bisexual), Prince’s attraction to women and his masculinity was legendary and would never be in doubt. He was a real lady’s man, and sex (the more explicit, the raunchier the better) was always part of his music.

Prince portrait in The Smithsonian National Portrait  Gallery

The worldwide reaction to Prince’s death has been truly astounding though not surprising. It even overshadowed coverage of the 2016 Presidential election (and Donald Trump). Yesterday it was reported that The Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery would recognize the life and accomplishments of Prince Nelson with a photograph taken in 1993 by Lynn Goldsmith. Many have stated that his songs were the “song tracks” of their youth. The only thing I can compare this to (maybe) is the untimely death of prolific American pop icon Michael Jackson at the age of 51 in 2009.

Prince 1995 VH1 Fashion Awards

Speaking of prolific; Prince created his own music and there is a lot of material that is yet to be heard. There are reportedly as many as 20,000 of his unpublished songs secured away in the massive vault inside Paisley Park Studios. His 55,000 square foot Chanhassen Minnesota recording studio took three years to build, includes a wardrobe department and an art department, and has been described as “his universe all under one roof”. It was so named because of his love of print design. When the charismatic enigmatic star (and Oscar winner) was asked by Larry King during the course of an interview many years ago, why he lives in his hometown just outside of Minneapolis rather than the more expected New York or Los Angeles, he smiled and answered: “It’s so cold it keeps the bad people out.” In addition to his high IQ, he reportedly had a wonderful sense of humor.


As for his fashion legacy, let’s just say that everyone has seemingly weighed in. Even news reporters have included segments on Prince’s style. A woman reporter said that her girlfriend told her that "Prince wears lace better than her girlfriends." The New York Times’ Vanessa Friedman wrote an article on Friday which appears in  Sunday Styles,“Prince’s Heels Elevated Him as a Style Icon”, which was all about his penchant for wearing all those traditional symbols of femininity: lace, feather boas, sequins, ruffles, and high heels.


The 5’2” star once said that he didn’t wear those 4 inch Cuban heels (which almost always matched his pants as to elongate his legs) to make himself taller, but because “women liked them”. Sadly, it appears they are also the reason he had to rely on painkillers (which might have contributed to his death). He was in pain all the time and had issues with his hips and ankles because he used to jump and strut around on stage wearing those heels.


In March, the CFDA announced that they would bestow their 2016 Board of Directors’ Tribute Award to British born David Bowie. It is not generally given posthumously though Alexander McQueen received the honor in 2010 (he passed away in February 2010). Iman will be on hand (at the ceremony which takes place on June 6th at the Hammerstein Ballroom), to receive her late husband’s well-deserved accolade.


The CFDA also made the decision to pass on this year’s Fashion Icon Award. Like the Board of Tribute Award, it is not normally given posthumously, but in light of recent events, I can’t think of a more fitting person to be so honored, than American born Prince, a man of vision and a true genius.




- Marilyn Kirschner

Friday, April 22, 2016

In the Market Report

Cover Girl Jean Shafiroff

Jean Shafiroff with magazine cover
Photo: Marilyn Kirschner
Click images for larger views

Jean Shafiroff is many things: a philanthropist, humanitarian, wife, mother, author (“Successful Philanthropy: How to Make a Life By What You Give”, Hatherleigh Press/Penguin Random House), AND cover girl. The busy mogul (www.jeanshafiroff.com) has not only been featured in several magazines; she has graced their covers.

Editor-in-chief Christopher A Pape
Photo: Marilyn Kirschner

Mrs. Shafiroff, who always stands out in any crowd (she not only does good - she looks good), opted last evening for a dramatic asymmetrical red Oscar de la Renta gown which she accessorized with a Judith Lieber minaudiere, Van Cleef & Arpels earrings and bracelet, and then proudly admitted that her ‘diamante’ necklace was by J. Crew. High/Low, there you go. You could have fooled me. Of course on Jean, it all looks real.


Joy Marks
Photo: Marilyn Kirschner

She was the July 2015 cover girl for 25A Magazine, and just appeared on their March cover (along with an attending story, “Jean Shafiroff On Successful Philanthropy”). Last evening, she was feted by 25A’s Publisher, Chase Backer, and Editor-In-chief Christopher A. Pape who hosted an invitation only cocktail party in her honor at the soon-to open Venetian restaurant Sant Andrea Cafe, 40 Central Park South.


Nicole Dicocco & Jane Pontarelli
Photo: Marilyn Kirschner

25A is the premier luxury magazine for the Gold Coast; the “ultimate guide to the sweet” life covering art, design, fashion, food, shopping, automobiles, travels, etc. It is named after the 73 mile long road which extends across Long Island’s North Shore. It caters to those with a “fine-tuned taste for luxurious treasures”. While they are based on Long Island’s North Shore, they are not limited to just that area. They are also a presence here in Manhattan, as well as the Hamptons (“seasonally”), in the words of Mr. Pape who also offered, “We’re the only magazine that covers all three”.


Pamala  Morgan, Jean Shafiroff, Lucia Hwong Gordon & Katlean De Monchy

Among those toasting Jean and sampling the food: Lucia Hwong Gordon, Nicole Dicocco, Jane Pontarelli, Katlean de Monchy, Montgomery Fraser, Lauren Day Roberts, Dr. Xiao Meng, Carmen Delessio, Pamela Morgan, Tracy Stern and Chiu-Ti Jansen in head to toe red. Also, Rosemary Ponzo was in in a purple dress and matching gloves as were several others dressed in purple who attended.  (I assume as a tribute to Prince).




- Marilyn Kirschner


Wednesday, April 20, 2016

In the Market Report

The First Wednesday in May

"Ladies that do Hats"
The Frederick Law Olmsted Awards Luncheon
Photo: Marilyn Kirschner

It’s late April, and Met Gala fever has hit big time. The event seemingly gets bigger, more anticipated, and more talked about (before AND after) each year. It was the subject of an article written by Matthew Schneier that appeared in the Sunday Styles section of The New York Times, “A Party to Mark the Met’s Monday”.

And just when you thought that wasn’t even possible, it’s profile just got a little bit higher. Andrew Rossi’s documentary, “The First Monday in May” which follows the “creation of the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s most “attended fashion exhibition in history, (“China: Through The Looking Glass”) and the accompanying party, opened with a very public world premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival last Wednesday, and the next day, everywhere you looked, there were images of Anna Wintour with Robert De Niro. This was followed by its L.A. premier on April 15th, with yet another A-List crowd in attendance.

Bryan Lourd and Anna Wintour attend 'The First Monday
 in  May' premier in Los Angeles

FYI, for this event, Anna wore Francisco Costa for Calvin Klein’s photo printed animal patterned coat and dress from his terrific Fall/Winter 2016 collection shown in February (it was one of his strongest). Coincidentally (or not), just yesterday there was news that both Francisco and Italo Zucchelli are out at Calvin Klein, as “part of a global revolution in the direction of the Calvin Klein brand.” Yup, another case of fashion musical chairs. There was even a rumor that Raf Simons might be the one to take over as creative director for the label. Personally, I think that would be brilliant!


Bette Midler attends a past FLO Awards Luncheon
Photo: Marilyn Kirschner 

But the Met Gala, (which is always the first Monday in May), is not the only celebratory rite of spring to greet us next month. The Frederick Law Olmsted Awards Luncheon has been held on the first Wednesday in May since its inception 34 years ago and this year, that day is May 4th. It was started by a group of 75 women whose goal was to “increase awareness from the private sector to support the restoration of Central Park”. (Nearly $3.6 million was raised last year). Originally held at Tavern on the Green, it has been tented in the park since 1987, and perfectly situated in the glorious Central Park Conservancy gardens for as long as most of us can remember. And almost always, the weather cooperates; all the better to appreciate the lush beauty around you.

Central Park Conservancy gardens
Photo: Marilyn Kirschner

This year’s honorees are Stephanie and Fred Shuman and approximately 1250 guests, mainly woman (who will have paid $1000 for a ticket), will attend. It’s a wonderfully eclectic New York mix that includes those from the public and private sectors representing the worlds of business, entertainment, politics, media, publishing, design, art, and fashion.

Carol McDermott in a hand made house hat
Photo: Marilyn Kirschner

While it’s not a fashion event per se and it’s hardly a fashion spectacle in the same category as the Met Gala it is a fashion spectacle nonetheless, where hats take center stage. Ascot "Schmascot"! The Easter Parade? Amateur hour! The Kentucky Derby? Feh! It’s one of those events where you actually feel almost obscenely naked if you go hatless. And you really cannot overdo it. As silly as you might feel at home in your ensemble, once you arrive, you find you fit right in.


Photo: Marilyn Kirschner

If you’re among those planning to attend, you most likely have already purchased your chapeau, but in case you haven’t (or you’re just looking for a great hat) I thought I’d share with you a few of my favorite statement makers. From the (somewhat) classic to the whimsical, edgy, and just plain extraordinary, they are sure to turn heads and are anything but ‘garden variety’. I mean that literally, because I am purposely staying away from typical flower decorated designs as they are so predictable.



Instead of flowers, what about a bow? The bigger the better, as exemplified by this vintage Frank Olive mod red straw hat with oversized black patent leather bow, $475.Click here for more info/buy



Instead of flowers, think leaves; all the better if feathers and rhinestones are added to the mix, as illustrated by this Jack McConnell pink leaf hat, $1895. Click here for more info/buy



Feathers are always delightful, especially when red is used with black. A perfect example is this Givenchy Haute Couture red and black feathered headband, $1250. Click here for more info/buy



Speaking of Givenchy Haute Couture, I love the bright graphic stripes on this 1990’s dramatic straw hat, $750. Click here for more info/buy



If you’re going to wear a boater, make it Thom Browne’s crownless woven straw boater, $1820. For more info/buy



Everyone will be ‘green’ with envy when they see your chic 1970’s vintage Adolfo green wide brim hat with feathers, $475.Click for more info/buy



Or this huge 1940’s Irina Roublon lime green organza petal brimmed hat, $1200.Click here for more info/buy



One way you are guaranteed to stand out in a crowd of floral prints, brights and saccharin sweet pastels is by wearing something edgy in black, decorated with metal studs or chains, like this Comme des Garcons leather studded headband, $905.74. Click here for more info/buy


Or this rare vintage black lambskin leather Chanel hat with gold chain decoration, $3955, as seen on Rihanna. Click here for more info/buy



There’s also this Nicolas Guesquiere designed Balenciaga black leather cap trimmed with gold chains, $650.58. Click here for more info/buy




If you subscribe to the idea that “Life is just a bowl of cherries” this 1950’s Arthur Rubin whimsical cherry hat, $475, has your name on it. Click here for more info/buy



Are you naturally optimistic? Eugenia Kim’s “Sunny” wide brimmed straw sun hat with black swan embroidery is perfect with a little black dress or simple pantsuit, $495.Click here for more info/buy


Are you more of a neutral gal? I love the shape and texture of this 1950’s Schiaparelli black silk and tulle hat covered in black and tobacco brown raffia, $518.17. Click here for more info/buy




If you want to communicate with nature and gravitate towards the whimsical and surrealist, you can’t go wrong with this rare 1950’s frog hat designed by Bes Ben, which is guaranteed to a put a smile on everyone’s face. Click here for more info/buy




Another whimsical choice is this Italian 1950’s figural pickle straw sun hat, $1295. Click here for more info/buy


If you’re a bit camera shy, this one’s got you ‘covered’. I especially love the Burberry like plaid. It’s the perfect chapeau to pair with a chic Burberry tan trench (something to keep in mind if it’s rainy). Click here for more info/buy



If you want to catch the eye of one famous photographer (Bill Cunningham) whom we all know and love, and who always attends this event, perhaps no better way to do so, is to wear a hat of his design. You’re in luck because 1stdibs has for sale, this black and white ostrich feathered number with a “William” label. Before Bill’s career as a photographer, he was a milliner in the 1940’s and 50’s working under the name William J., an abbreviation of his name. Click here for more info/buy





- Marilyn Kirschner