Saturday, May 27, 2017

New York Fashion Cool-Aid by Laurel Marcus

How Makeup Matters in History

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Pub. Date: 05/28/2017 - Publisher: Schiffer Publishing, Ltd

Makeup is not just the face that you put on to encounter the world, it has also become a form of entertainment and sustenance.  Much the same way that many get their daily Starbucks fix, suddenly every neighborhood has its own Sephora, Blue Mercury, Rickys or MAC makeup store -- not to even mention all the drugstores, department stores and beauty salons, where one can purchase cosmetics. Coming soon: Manhattan's first Ulta (there are already two of these suburban staples in Queens) to the UES (86th and Third) -- just doors down from Sephora. Let the makeup wars begin! Besides the numerous retail outlets devoted to purchasing cosmetics, the plethora of YouTube tutorials, and the fact that every major and minor celeb seems to have a makeup line, there is no better time than now to acquire some knowledge of makeup's origins.

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I recently read Classic Beauty: The History of Makeup (2nd Edition) by Gabriela Hernandez, a fascinating compendium of makeup developments and trends through the ages to be released on 5/28 (more info/purchase at Barnes & Noble). The book begins in 33,000 B.C. with the use of face paint as it developed from its usage as a mask against evil figures and spirits to a form of personal adornment and skin protection. Early pigments were derived from mineral oxide ochre powders and lampblack (the soot collected from the smoke of carbon materials) combined with animal fats.

Cosmetics in antiquity include Egyptian kohl powder (2659 B.C. to 1070 B.C)made from soot, the mineral Galena, and other ingredients; green eye paint from the mineral malachite, and red ochre used as rouge and lip colorant. Sand mixed with clay and ash was used as an exfoliating scrub and egg and scented oil were mixed to make face masks to protect against the drying sun and insects. The ancient beauty rituals of Greece, Persia and Rome are discussed in this section as well.

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Chronologically the book details beauty in each historical era and how events in history directly shaped the fashion and makeup styles of the day. Each culture had its own beauty products -- the Norse used colorful tattoos, the Vikings brought aromatics to Europe from the Arab world, the Byzantines used rock-crystal cosmetic jars with jeweled lids and wore fragrance in crescent shaped earrings, the Crusaders brought blonde and black hair dye into fashion but not red hair which connotes prostitution and witchcraft, and Jewish traders circulated spices, dyes, ointments, and perfumes after the Crusades.

From the Medieval period to the Middle Ages, the Sixteenth through Nineteenth Centuries, each age is detailed with a timeline page. World events in Europe and eventually America, are presented with special attention to how these events impacted the creation and use of cosmetics, beauty rituals and hygiene customs complete with beautiful illustrations and photographs of early beauty icons. Before the onset of any governmental regulation of cosmetics some of these early discoveries were actually poisonous including ceruse, a skin whitening powder popular among the aristocracy, produced by applying vinegar to sheets of lead and scraping off the resulting "bloom." A pale complexion was so desired that even though ceruse ruined the skin, its toxicity eventually killing many society women, it continued to be used.

The Jazz Age
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Another less drastic example of the importance of makeup occurred during the world wars when cosmetics were less available in America, yet women (often those who worked in factories to promote the war effort) went out of their way to wear lipstick, as a morale booster both for themselves and others. Even in current times, much has been made of the fact that in a recession, women will cut back on the purchase of clothing but they will continue to spend on cosmetics.

After abbreviated sections focusing on the eyes, the lips and the face throughout history, the book breaks down the looks of the 20th and early 21st Century America by decade including the invention of important modern day staples such as the swivel lipstick case, the automatic mascara wand and the eyelash curler. In this section you'll also see magazine advertisements for various products, many of which I remember from the 60's and 70's. It's interesting to compare ads from that time which felt the need to explain the products efficacy and why you needed it, to the modern day ads which are much cleaner, often practically without any copy, sometimes not even featuring the product itself.

 Ads today resemble Instagram where the images are thought to be worth a thousand words and words are superfluous. Each decade follows a format which includes a photo of the prevailing look of the day, a brief history of events both historical and social, that had an impact on the fashion and beauty style, decade highlights, a diagram of the application of placement on the face, swatches from a color palette, as well as a focus on popular products including nail and hair preparations. Interestingly, the photos used here are from actual vintage cosmetics that the author owns and continues to collect.

I especially loved this section, particularly the '70s -- the decade when I first started experimenting with makeup. Much like reminiscing over clothing choices from back in the day, many of the makeup selections here -- Yardley lilac watercolor paint-on eye shadow for example -- brought back (sometimes cringe worthy memories) but at least I can see that I was right on trend! I find it fascinating that makeup trends are so pervasive in our culture that they can be pigeon holed this way, despite individual adaptations.

Gabriela Hernandez

About the Author: Gabriela Hernandez is the founder and CEO of Besame Cosmetics as well as an artist, photographer and cosmetics historian who consults with film and television productions for historically accurate makeup looks.

Hernandez concludes with her theory on why we should make an effort to care about beauty. "Feeling groomed and well cared for is a daily mood booster; inspiring us to be our best when we look our best," she writes. It also helps us to retrace the past: "I am convinced that when we pencil our lash-line and redden our lips, we are connecting with human beings who did the same thousands of years ago."

- Laurel Marcus

Friday, May 26, 2017

In the Market Report by Marilyn Kirschner

Paolo Troilo & Julio Espada: A Tale of Two Artists

Joy Venturini Bianchi and Paolo Troilo in front of a portrait he painted of her
 click images for full size views

Paolo Troilo, the 45 year old Italian artist who uses his hands instead of paintbrushes to create enormous black and white self-portraits, has single handedly elevated finger painting from something traditionally viewed as child’s play, to the heights of sophisticated artistic self-expression. His latest solo exhibition, “8 In the Name of the Fathers” which opened with a cocktail reception last evening, is on view through September 8th at the Italian Consulate on Park Avenue and 69th street. But don’t think you might have a chance to purchase one of the paintings. The Gucci family has reportedly acquired all the pieces for their private art collection.

Paolo Troilo artwork

Curated by Luca Beatrice, the large paintings are effectively displayed on the white walls of the Consulate’s elegant and grand main room on the second floor, boasting high ceilings and tall windows, which allow in the natural light. The exhibition is so named as it comprised of 8 canvases that make up a single artwork. It is a tribute to his father and all fathers and an homage to their complicated father-son relationships. Paolo used the number eight as it symbolizes infinity.

Loss by Paolo Troilo

The only canvas with a black, rather than a white background, is the one he calls, “Loss” and it’s also the only one where you can clearly see the artist’s face. Paolo, a father of two, told me his father passed away in 1995. Like all his work, this series is emotionally tugging, powerful, unapologetically erotic, yet classic and brings to mind late-Renaissance mannerist paintings (he has been compared to Michelangelo).

Paolo Troilo at the reception for his art installation

To say Paolo has a fascinating back story is an understatement. Craving more freedom, creativity, and personal fulfilment, he left behind a successful and award-winning 15 year career in advertising (in 1997 he was named Senior Art Director of Saatchi & Saatchi in Milan) in order to pursue his ongoing passion for painting. He has been painting with his hands, literally dipping them in jars of black and white acrylic paint, since the precocious age of 6. “My 15 years in advertising kept the artist within quiet, but also provided the education — advertising was my art school”.

Paolo Troilo paints his self portraits by hand

As for why he sticks to black and white: “I use black and white because I don’t want to give you the colors that advertising uses, the ones I learned to manipulate commercially, to catch you. The white and black canvas is like writing a book and giving you the possibility to take the next step on your own — imagining the colors, and giving the picture a meaning. I prefer the viewer discovers their own experience within the work”.

His work had been shown at major galleries in Europe and he was even included in the 2012 Venice Biennale but he did not make his American debut until March 2013 at Coup d’Etat, an 8,500 square foot antiques showroom in San Francisco’s design district. That is when he first met Joy Venturini Bianchi, and he considers this familiar face on the social circuit and a bona fide fashion icon in her hometown (known for her bold, entrance making style) to be his muse.

Italian Consul General Francesco Genuardi, Federica Marchioni,
Paolo Troilo and Joy Venturini Bianchi

He has painted four portraits of her (two in black and white, one in black and brown,  and one in color, because “that is how he saw her”.) She made the trip from San Francisco to be there last evening, along with an eclectic group that included Francesco Genuardi, the Consul General of Italy, Antonio De Carlo, (CEO and Founder of ADC, World of Art L.L.C. who was instrumental in bringing the exhibition to light), his wife Federica Marchionni who had been Chief of Brand Business at Ferrari, North American president of Dolce & Gabbana and CEO of Land’s End (a post that ended this past September).


Hat designer Kokin was there as well, and he had a rather busy month of May thanks to all the chapeaux he sold to women going to the Frederick Law Olmsted Awards Luncheon in Central Park and the Kentucky Derby, where he set up a successful pop up shop.

Julio Espada with Janice Dickinson in a 1970's Richard Avedon ad 

But while Troilo works almost entirely in black and white, another artist, Julio Espada, the 62 year old Puerto Rican born artist and designer pretty much sees the world in living color. Last Wednesday there was a reception to fete the opening of his first ever art installation, “Totem” which is on view through June 17th at the Hostler Burrows galleries (35 &51 east 10th street, 212 343 0471).  It’s quite a departure for the well- respected team of Kim Hostler and Juliet Burrows, as they don’t usually feature the work of a visual artist.

Julio Espada opening reception

It was a packed house with the worlds of fashion, beauty, art, advertising, design, and Hollywood colliding. Fashion notables Paul Cavaco, Julie Britt, Nina and Laura Santisi, Jackie Rogers, Jill Stewart mixed alongside celebrity hairstylist Maury Hobson, the young and talented fashion photographer Justice Apple, legendary art director Sam Shahid, illustrator extraordinaire Ferdinand van Alphen, gallerist Lucien Terras, American film producer Rachael Horovitz.

Julio Espada Totems

The 60 computer generated drawings on view are bi products of a journal Julio kept which recorded his thoughts following twice a day meditations over the past 7 years. Each drawing is a separate thought and he has arranged the smaller drawings (11 X 17 inches) in the shape of a totem, thus the name, “Totem”. As he said, “Their purpose is keeping an ongoing visual interpretation/record of the personal experiences and relationship to this practice. They function as reminders of ideals, intuitions, dreams, failures, myth, hopes, beauty, chaos, quiet, loss, eternity, light, and truth.” They range in price from $1750 for those that are 11 X 17 inches, to $10,000 for one that measures 46X 94 inches. Several have already been sold.

This talented artist is always sketching and drawing and while he is trained in all traditional mediums (oil, charcoal, etc.) his latest effort (modular digital art works) is very much in keeping with the digital age. It’s also enabled him to literally “carry his studio in his pocket” because the only other thing he needs to create his works of art, is a first rate printer. He also noted that being on Instagram, has helped fuel much interest in the exhibition.

Talk about fascinating back stories. I first met Julio in New York in the late 1970’s when he started his eponymous fashion line. I remember his small jewel of a store on the corner of Madison Avenue and 72nd street where he held many of his shows (it is where the Ralph Lauren flagship now stands). His advertising campaign was shot by Richard Avedon using four models: Iman, Apollonia, Janice Dickinson, and Patti Hansen, the latter also appeared on the cover of American Vogue in 1978 wearing one of Julio’s designs (it was shot by Avedon). He was also featured on the cover of British Vogue and Japanese Vogue.

Julio featured in Vogue 1978 spring collections

His designs were inspired by the iconic American fashion designer Claire McCardell who he refers to as his “guiding light as a designer”. He loved that “she set boundaries for herself of what was modern” and designed clothes that were easy to pack, weightless, and perfect for travel (she always traveled with just one suitcase). Julio’s goal was to create clothes that had the ease of a simple white t shirt: one could literally just pull them on and slide into them (“everything slid off the shoulder” he said). They were perfect for his customers who were looking for “liberation”.

He was known for his exceptional fabrication, wonderful color sense, an ability to temper tailoring with softness. He mixed together elements not normally found together (leopard spots and plaid for instance), and proposed flat shoes with everything (talk about being ahead of his time). His soft jackets (sometimes cut higher in front), high waisted pleated trousers, pull-on jumpsuits, draped blouses, cotton jerseys that wrapped around the body, fluid matte jerseys and bias cut layered chiffons were sought after by style icons such as Jacqueline Onassis and Babe Paley. “I kept a fashion house going for 10 years without any sizes, buttons, or zippers” he marveled. “We had such success”.

While he was not a household name, he had a cult following. Among his champions in the 80’s: the late John Duka, a revered style reporter for the New York Times, and Bill Cunningham, who at that time, wrote a fashion column for Details (in addition to his work at the New York Times). In 1978, he won the Lord & Taylor Design Award ( Richard Avedon shot the portrait that ran in W magazine).

Julio subsequently worked for Perry Ellis and Esprit, and in October 2000, he was appointed artistic director of Emilio Pucci (a post he had until 2003). Catherine Vautrin, the CEO at the time, believed it to be a match made in heaven owing to the famed Florentine label’s relationship to fashion and graphic art, and Julio’s experience as an “eccentric fashion designer” along with his talent as a painter and sculptor. Other projects have included interior design and product development. Highlights of his career comprise 3 covers of Vogue and have led to a first ever fashion installation at MoMA PSl.

When I asked if he is still thinking about getting back into fashion, he quickly replied, “Once fashion is in your system you can never get it out”. He also pointed out that many of the world’s greatest artists had a love of fashion, including Matisse and Rembrandt who both collected clothes. He said he loves seeing what people are wearing on the streets (“that’s the reality; magazines are the fantasy”) and has put together a portfolio of what he considers to be great designs from accessories to outerwear (they have yet to be shown to anyone).

When I suggest the horrible business climate might be a deterrent, his response was, “There will always be a customer for beautiful things. Running a business is the hard part. I’ve never been a good business manager. I am more of a hand’s on designer. There has to be a partnership between the creative and the financial” and he cited Tom Ford’s amazing success stemming from his partnership with Domenico de Sole.

- Marilyn Kirschner

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

New York Evening Hours by Lieba Nesis

ABT Spring Gala 2017 Debuts the Delicious "Whipped Cream"

The ballet
All photos: Lieba Nesis
Click images for full size views

The American Ballet Theatre (ABT) held its annual gala on Monday May 22, 2017 with its performance of "Whipped Cream" beginning at 6:30 PM at the Metropolitan Opera House. Tonight was all about joy, with Artist in Residence Alexei Ratmansky revisiting this work of art which was entitled "Schlagobers" in 1924 when choreography by Heinrich Kröller and a score by Richard Strauss was devised to bring merriment to Vienna after it was left recovering from the devastation of the first World War.

Ballet benefactors left to right: Amie and Tony James-President of Blackstone
and Lisa and Dick Cashin

This evening, Ratmansky chose as his creative collaborator masterful visual artist Mark Ryden who produced a feast for the eyes that was nothing short of spectacular. The production was lavish beyond belief, with over 150 costumes, numerous props and elaborately designed scenes embellished with Swarovski crystals. Swarovski was the sponsor of the evening and they impressed.

Junior Chairs Toby and Larry Milstein with Alexandra Lebenthal

Fantasy and humor abounded in this production where adult dancers played children with Ryden outfitting the adult characters with giant outsized heads. The first act contained Principal Stella Abrera as Princess Tea Flower dancing with a syrupy lightness-accompanied by David Hallberg as Prince Coffee, Blaine Hoven as Don Zucchero and Daniil Simkin as "the boy". Simkin is a favorite with spellbinding jumps and pirouettes wowing the audience time and time again.

Designer Malan Breton, Christian Zimmermann, Richard Kielar, Ballet Star Gina Pazcoguin wearing Malan Breton and Dancer Savannah Lowery

The night's repertoire was a bit risky as in prior years Kevin McKenzie, the artistic director, chose vignettes from signature ballets such as "Romeo and Juliet" and "Swan Lake" for the pivotal gala. However, the audience enjoyed the playfulness of this evening with a cohesive storyline and a child -friendly vibe that will ensure a similar audience to "The Nutcracker." In fact, much of the costumes, music and plot reminded me of "The Nutcracker" with candy and condiments replacing the ornamentation of Christmas.

Ken and Jill Iscol, dancer Wendy Whelan and Tommy Tune

Misty Copeland and Marcelo Gomes emceed the evening, introducing the 77th season by noting the 63 performances that will take place over the next 8 weeks. Gomes who is celebrating his 20th year with ABT, remains one of the best dancers in the world and welcomed Caroline Kennedy. Looking svelte in a black and white floral gown, Kennedy said she was glad to be back from Japan to enjoy this gala.

Dancer Blaine Hoven in Gucci

Tonight's honoree was Hamilton James, President and COO of Blackstone, who committed more than $3 million to the company making it the most successful gala ever by more than double the highest amount-raising a total of $3.4 million.

Dani Behr and Sutton Stracke

Additional contributors and guests included: Christine Schwarzman, Elizabeth Segerstrom, Janna Bullock, Ken and Jill Iscol, Alexandra Lebenthal and Jay Diamond, Ali and Monica Wambold, Dick and Lisa Cashin, Jeff and Liz Peek, Sutton Stracke and Emily and Len Blavatnik.

Katie Holmes in Zac Posen

There were also a smattering of celebrities with Katie Holmes, Blake Lively, Maggie Gyllenhaal and fashion influencers Hamish Bowles, Anh Duong, Amy Astley, Nicky Hilton, Malan Breton and artist Rachel Feinstein gracing the gala. There was so much eye candy between the fantastical ballet costumes and the beautifully clad audience members it was hard to absorb.

Craig Dix, Anka Palitz in Tony Ward and Conductor Ormsby Wilkins

Speaking of beauty and colors, Anka Palitz, was both elegant and dazzling in a turquoise and silver Tony Ward gown with a blinding diamond necklace. Anka is a staple in the New York and Palm Beach social scene having served on the American Ballet Theatre board for 28 years when Jackie Kennedy was a fellow member.

Nicky Hilton in Oscar de la Renta

Anka recalled Jackie's great sense of style and remembered her wide set eyes making her extremely photogenic. Tonight Anka bought box seats and a table for a price tag of more than $30,000 - I hope she's not reading this. Moreover, I learned that while most tickets for the dinner went for a paltry $2,500 (just joking) there were box seats of ten that cost $150,000 - more than the salary of 99.9% of the population.

Christine Schwarzman in Jenny Packham

Some of my favorite dresses of the evening on these well-heeled guests included Christine Schwarzman in a sequined Jenny Packham gown and dancer Gina Pazcoguin who wore a show-stopping couture Malan Breton design whose train went on for miles. Actress Katie Holmes was also dynamite in a red Zac Posen gown and Nicky Hilton looked smashing in a sequined Oscar dress.

Jeff Peek, Liz Peek wearing Oscar, Artist Anh Duong in Dolce
and Gabbana and Hamish Bowles in Dries Van Noten

Others who always bring their fashion A game included Anh Duong who stunned in Dolce Gabbana alta moda and Hamish Bowles who was dapper as ever in a Dries Van Noten tuxedo. Hamish was still talking about the great fashion at the Costume Gala on Rihanna, Amanda Harlech, and Cara Delevingne especially considering the difficulty of this year's Rei Kawakubo theme. Even dancer Blaine Hoven stepped up his fashion this evening in a floral Gucci tuxedo - which was on loan.

Elizabeth Segerstrom and Alvaro de Marichalar

The dinner which was held on the second floor of the David H. Koch Theater contained polka-dotted and striped pink-and-white tables with pink ceiling ornaments and pink flowers. Guests fraternized and danced while a delicious meal of steak and salad was served.

Dancer James Whiteside, dancer Gillian Murphy and Milk

Kevin McKenzie announced they had raised a total of $10 million toward their campaign of $50 million; with more nights like these it is safe to say their ambitious goals might come to fruition imminently.


 - Lieba Nesis

Friday, May 19, 2017

New York Fashion Cool-Aid by Laurel Marcus

The High School of Fashion Industries Honors Gary Wassner

Gary Wassner
Photos: Laurel Marcus
Click images for full size views

"Fashion is not frivolous, fashion is not trivial. It allows people to tell their own story every day of their lives. I am honored to be here to receive this award tonight," said Gary Wassner, Co-CEO of Hilldun Corporation, a company which provides financing and factoring to many of Seventh Avenue and the world's most prestigious fashion companies. Wassner is also a CFDA Fashion Incubator Advisory Board member.


I spent my Thursday evening learning about The High School of Fashion Industries by attending their Advisory Board Honors and student fashion show at the school on West 24th St. The event was hosted by the always entertaining Robert Verdi with appearances by Yeohlee and a video presentation from Jason Wu who was scheduled to present the Visionary Award in person but somehow ended up greeting us from Taiwan. Wassner was Wu's mentor and he spoke glowingly of how Wassner is always a calming influence. "When he asked me if I wanted to invest with his company, it was a no-brainer," Wu said.

"We would not have a fashion industry without Gary," said Verdi. "He is kind, generous with his time and he sets your sails in the right direction." About HSFI he said "this is the eighth consecutive year that over 91% of the students have graduated." The school raised $95,000 this year but would like to make it an even $100k if anyone would still like to donate. Other ways to get involved include offering industry internships, donating fabric or other goods or giving of your time and expertise.

The High School of Fashion Industries is the only school of its kind in the eastern U.S. with an occupational curriculum devoted entirely to the world of fashion, styling, design and their business and marketing. HSFI Advisory Board Member Robert diMauro dedicated his presentation to the memory of his father who had attended when it was known as Central Needle Trades High School. "FIT is born out of this school," he added. DiMauro also spotlighted a large mural on the auditorium wall documenting the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire and "the message it sends about immigration."

Robert diMauro interviewing students

Later he had what he called his "Art Linkletter moment" where he individually interviewed a selected group of seniors about their Student Industry Partnerships with companies including Adidas, Barneys New York, Mary Alice Stephenson's Glam4Good, Kleinfeld, Swarovski, The International Center of Photography and The Underfashion Club (who later gave out scholarships). Simon Doonan also sponsored some students who picked up some tips on window merchandising or display from the master. Examples of his tutelage are currently visible in the school's picture windows.

In his speech, Wassner praised the graduates as the "next creators" -- "I had no idea what I wanted to do at 15 -- you guys knew."  He spoke of how he ended up in the fashion biz "by accident" because finance was "so boring" that he couldn't imagine doing it for the rest of his life.  It all changed when he met a young Betsey Johnson who had $15k from Bloomingdale's and didn't know what to do to produce her line. "She was my first fashion finance client," he added.

Next came the greatly anticipated student fashion show entitled "Minimalist With A Twist" featuring "Faux Leather Evening Wear," "Androgynous Menswear Business," "Black & White Prints Sportswear," "Theatrical Avant Garde," "Resort Cover-up," and "Chic Winter Outerwear."

There were also some bridal fashions thrown into the mix. "This year's Fashion Showcase explores Minimalism merged with vibrant hues, defined silhouettes, and vivacious prints" and "This unconventional approach to modern day minimalism represents the various ways in which minimalism can be interpreted, exaggerated and transformed," according to the program.

I always enjoy student fashion shows because I want to see how young people are interpreting and processing all the disparate design influences today. This show featured a few outstanding looks, particularly in the outerwear section some of which channeled Rei Kawakubo, as well as a Swarovski crystal-encrusted-up-one sleeve sweatshirt top that I could definitely picture Rihanna rocking.

The students in the audience enthusiastically hooted and hollered encouragement to those modeling on stage, much as they had throughout the evening for faculty and other presenters Congratulations to this fresh crop of future fashion designers!

- Laurel Marcus

Thursday, May 18, 2017

New York Fashion Cool-Aid by Laurel Marcus

"Collaborating For A Cure" 4th Annual Luncheon

Carolina Herrera pre-fall 2017 fashion
Photos Laurel Marcus - click images for full size views

The world of the lady who lunches elegantly and for a cause was on full display yesterday at the private Upper East Side duplex penthouse of Andrea Stark. "Collaborating For A Cure" which benefits the Samuel Waxman Cancer Research Foundation celebrated its fourth annual luncheon and fashion show -- this year featuring Carolina Herrera pre-fall 2017 fashions. The event was chaired by Lauren Lawrence, Pamela Morgan, Andrea Stark, Marion Waxman and co-chaired by Erica Linden-Fineberg. Special kudos goes to Lauren Lawrence for bringing in Carolina Herrera this year and who also sold the most tickets.

Marion Waxman

The committee included Sharon Bush, Maria Elena Christiansen, Denise DeLuca, Boo Grace, Lucia Hwong Gordon, Susan Gutfreund, Mai Hallingby Harrison, Michelle-Marie Heinemann, Yaz Hernandez, Michelle Gerber Klein, Patricia Kluge, Jeanne Lawrence, Valerie Lettan, Lauren Day Roberts, Barbara Tober Karen Amster-Young. There were close to 100 women in attendance and less than a handful of men.

From left Chair Pamela Morgan, Chair Lauren Lawrence, committee member
Jeanne Lawrence and Anka Palitz

"Every year, this by-invitation-only and sold-out event has grown in support, doubling in attendance since it debuted in 2014," said Dr. Samuel Waxman, Founder and CEO of SWCRF. "The Waxman Foundation was founded as a result of the generosity of the fashion industry and it continues to support us with the likes of industry leaders such as Carolina Herrera. We are most grateful to Carolina Herrera for their participation this year."

Part of the evening wear collection

I kept seeing women descending the central spiral staircase so I decided to explore for myself. Bedrooms were off limits however the main attraction was the fabulous wrap around deck with views for miles and sun for days. Interesting how within the span of one week the weather went from blustery day in March to blazing July heat. Lunch was a wonderful buffet of salads and fish catered by David Burke at Bloomingdale's.

Believe it or not, the women actually filled their plates and enjoyed. Only clear beverages were allowed (makes sense -- Stark Carpets!) -- the white wine and Prosecco was donated by Palm Bay International -- which I found out when someone asked for coffee. On the bar were pouches of HFactor hydrogenated water however those were thankfully poured into a glass for those who wanted extra H in their H20.

Andrea Stark, Vicky Tiel and Lauren Lawrence
Photo courtesy of Vicky Tiel

After lunch and speeches by Andrea Stark, Lauren Lawrence, and Marion Waxman, as well as a few words from representatives of Carolina Herrera, the models began to descend the dramatic staircase. The fashions ranged from day dresses in a sunny butterfly print (which one guest sported to the event) to evening gowns including a shimmery black and white polka dot creation -- Ms. Herrera wore that one herself last December to "An Evening Honoring Carolina Herrera" at Lincoln Center where she accepted the Women's Leadership Award.

Model on the far right wearing evening gown Ms. Herrera wore accepting
her Women's Leadership Award

Herrera recently celebrated her 35th anniversary in the fashion business -- we were reminded that none other than the legendary Diana Vreeland was at least partially responsible for it. In 1980, when Herrera expressed an interest in designing textiles, Vreeland redirected her towards becoming a fashion designer because textile design is "boring."

Lauren Lawrence and Judith Miller

Among the notable attendees were a few newswomen including Judith Miller, former New York Times foreign correspondent, Pulitzer Prize winning author of "The Story" (a book about her time covering the supposed WMD in Iraq and being imprisoned for not divulging her sources), as well as Judge Jeanine Pirro of Fox News. The diminutive powerhouse was accompanied by Gwen Marder, an even more compact Gwen Marder, Fox News's "wardrobe whisperer" who is responsible for dressing over 200 newsmen and women for the cable news network.

Michael Musto

When I told her that I love how Judge Jeanine dresses she said that she "has her own style" which I guess is somewhat similar to mine. When a model wearing a fit and flare burgundy leather dress walked out, the always outspoken Piro emitted an audible indication that this was for her! Designer Vicky Tiel was also in attendance in her trademark gold necklaces and a long, black and white tweed, crystal embellished jacket. I briefly glimpsed journalist Michael Musto grabbing a bite to eat and then he was gone.

After the fashion show concluded and the raffle (donations included Alice & Olivia sunnies, an Eric Javits straw visor and matching bag, Oscar de la Renta earrings, a Arlotta Cashmere set and a floral needlepoint rug from --you guessed it -- Stark Carpet) guests were invited to linger with dessert (little cakes and really rich chocolate cake lollipops) and even catch a few rays on the upstairs sundeck.

Randi Schatz and Maria Fischl

Many departed at this point (me included) with a goody bag which held a Carolina Herrera Figuier Garden scented candle and a coupon for 10% off of all full-price items in the store, and the aforementioned container of HFactor water for the trek home. Shhh don't tell! While most of the elegant lunching ladies waited in the circular driveway for their chauffeurs or their Ubers, I snuck across the street to catch the M31 bus.

- Laurel Marcus