Sunday, March 26, 2017

Better Bets by Rhonda Erb

Say Bonjour to the Lady: Parenting from Paris to New York - by Florence Mars and Pauline Lévêque

Published March 21, 2017; See Amazon more info/purchase

Florence Mars & Pauline Leveque
Photos Rhonda Erb

It was a family affair last week at the launch party for the new book, Say Bonjour to the Lady: Parenting from Paris to New York. Authors Florence Mars and Pauline Lévêque were accompanied by their children, to the event, which took place at the Bonpoint children’s clothing boutique on Madison Avenue and East 68th Street.  The book is a light-hearted collection of insightful observations about the differences of raising children in New York as opposed to Paris.

As their children enjoyed the table of French inspired finger foods (madeleines anyone?), Mars and Lévêque posed for pictures and autographed copies of their book for their guests. The two Parisian moms have embraced family life in America in different ways. Mars, the vice president of Bonpoint in the United States, still adheres to many of the customary French parenting rules. By contrast, Lévêque, a French journalist turned illustrator, prefers to raise her children in a fashion that is completely American. They discussed how their experiences in their adopted home country have influenced them, and subsequently evolved into a book:

How did your collaboration come about?

Florence Mars: Since my family moved to the US seven years ago I kept a journal of all the things that surprised me, I really have been observing the locals with great attention! Arriving in NY it came as a complete shock how different Parisians and New Yorkers really are. As a mother of three and as the boss of Bonpoint in the US I have had A LOT to observe around parenting issues and I thought it would be interesting to do a book about all those little differences. It was very natural to ask Pauline to join the fun, as she is not only a very good friend and a mother but also a very talented illustrator.

Sample illustration from the book

Pauline Léveque: Florence and I met 20 years ago in Paris, we were both working for a TV company, we got reunited in NY and became very good friends. Flo didn’t really choose to live in New York, her husband moved here for his work. On my side, I always dreamt to become a New Yorker. Both mothers and Parisians, we often compared our culture and the education we received to the one our children were having. When Flo talked to me about this book’s project and asked me to illustrate it, I thought it was a wonderful idea.

Photo courtesy of the authors

What inspired your style of writing or illustration?

FM: For the writing I really wanted to have very minimalistic sentences, very factual. The illustrations were all Pauline’s; the idea was to play with black and white wallpaper like illustrations of our two favorites cities and some touches of colors for the details or for the characters.

PL: A few years ago, a friend of mine gave me a carbon ink pen and I totally fell in love with it. It draws very thin lines. I also love watercolors; it gives a very elegant texture to a drawing. My father is an artist, I grew up in his studio, playing with his brushes and helping him coloring his big canvases. I guess seeing him paint for a living and being free as an artist truly inspired me.

What do you like most about raising your children in New York?

FM: I am so grateful that NY taught our children open-mindedness. They will never raise an eyebrow if they see a man dressed like a smurf in the subway or covered in tattoos. No big deal. And they were taught the NO bullying philosophy at school which is pretty amazing. And did not exist in France when we were still living there.

PL: The way children are taught confidence as soon as they are able to talk. The cultural diversity and the energy you can find in New York. The fact that nobody judges you and that everything is possible if you really work.


Is there anything else that you would like to add?

FM: This is not a serious sociological survey, we just wanted to make fun of both the French very old school mother that is not willing to explain anything to her poor children (“no means no”) and the way-too-cool American Mother who is always explaining everything and also always willing to negotiate with her children. Pauline and I are convinced that the truth is to be found somewhere in the middle!

PL: I think Florence said it all. Both educations have their strengths and weaknesses, and I have no doubt that whatever nationality a mother and father are, they love their children the same way.

- Rhonda Erb
For more Better Bets visit:

Saturday, March 25, 2017

In the Market Report by Marilyn Kirschner

Cheap Thrills!

While high fashion undeniably comes with astronomically high prices, that doesn’t mean there aren’t bargains to be found, and who amongst us doesn’t love a bargain? Especially now, as the last day for filing taxes is soon approaching and naturally, finances are on everyone’s minds.

To best illustrate, I selected a number of items in the market and showed their high priced versions along with their (far) less expensive doppelgangers (in every case, they are a fraction of the cost of the originals). In several instances, I actually preferred the less expensive version and not just because of the price (it was by virtue of its design, size, etc.). FYI, if it appears that most of the inexpensive pieces are from Zara, that was unintentional but given how in sync they are with the pulse of fashion, and how successful they are with creating affordable fashion, it shouldn’t be that surprising.

Click images for full size views
Left: Zara Studio Collection padded vest, $249 - More info/purchase Right: Balenciaga inflatable zippered sleeveless jacket, $2525 - More info/purchase.

Left: Zara Studio slouchy trench coat with contrasting belt, $299.90 - More info/purchase Right: Simone Rocha tie sleeved trench, $2320 - More info/purchase.

Left: J Slides Piper black leather platform loafers with silver chain trim, $129 - More info/purchase Right: Givenchy silver chain trim loafers, $850 - More info/purchase.

Left: Forever 21 chainmail tank dress, $125 - More info/purchase Right: Paco Rabanne chainmail tank, $3650 - More info/purchase.

Left: Zara black leather fringed jacket with studs, $129.00 - More info/purchase Right: Gucci black leather fringed biker jacket, $6800 - More info/purchase.

Left: Zara embroidered lace up satin ballerinas, $119 - More info/purchase Right: Miu Miu lace up silver glitter ballerinas, $575 - More info/purchase.

Left: Zara pale gold leather wedges with jute platforms, $89.90 - More info/purchase Right: Miu Miu gold glitter platform espadrille sandals, $495 - More info/purchase.

Left: Michael Michael Kors red leather Cori small trunk bag, $368 - More info/purchase Right: Valentino red leather rock stud small trunk bag, $1295 - More info/purchase.

Left: Zara black asymmetric jumpsuit, $99.00 - More info/purchase Right: Co black crepe jumpsuit, $1095 - More info/purchase.

Left: Zara silver ankle boots, $34.95 - More info/purchase Right: Dorateymur silver leather ankle boots $490 - More info/purchase.

Left:  Zara red power pantsuit, $238.90 - More info/purchase of Jacket & More info/purchase on straight cut trousers Right: Versace red power pantsuit, $2800 - More info/purchase for blazer & More info/purchase for crepe flared pants.

- Marilyn Kirschner

Friday, March 24, 2017

New York Fashion Cool-Aid ® by Laurel Marcus

Tales From the Back of the Closet

Bill Blass Creative Director Chris Benz in a Comme des Garcons
 leather rabbit-eared baseball cap
(Published by Rizzoli March 2017 | Hardcover | 192 pages | List price:  $35.00)

The calendar says spring and my thoughts have turned to cleaning out my closet. In my case, plenty of  thinking = no actual doing. How exciting (let alone easy to get dressed) would life be if I could just locate half the clothing stored in there somewhere; not that my closet aspirations rise anywhere near the level of something seen in The Coveteur.

I've sadly become a silent stalker of The Real Real (high-end consignment which will send an actual human to amass a collection of valued castoffs) and Fitz ( which dispatches two organizer/stylists to your house for several hours to weed out/ prune/cultivate your overgrown closet and even (time allowing) make wardrobe suggestions. I have not actually been able to click here to challenge either of these sites to make good on their claims. I'm pretty sure it would take the wielding of a weed whacker to machete through this turf of overgrown, over burgeoned and overburdened closet acreage.

They say the average person wears only 20% of their wardrobe with any regularity. My numbers may be even lower lately as I live off a fairly steady winter diet consisting of a rotating stack of skinny jeans. All of that changes drastically once warmer weather arrives. If my closet had an eating disorder it would be gluttony: I need it to binge and purge. A Freudian's diagnosis: anal retentive. Many ill advised purchases have taken up residence due to TFW you spy something, be it at a sample sale; an exotic locale; or from SUI (Shopping Under the Influence). For sure, drunk shopping is regrettable but couple it with the exotic locale and you've got real potential for trouble. Unfortunately, I know firsthand.

Once, after a wine-soaked lunch at The Ivy, I ventured over to Rodeo Drive and purchased a very expensive, somewhat heinous silver cocktail dress, oddly enough from the short-lived line of (see book cover) Chris Benz -- that almost fit.  Of course by the time I had a possible occasion to wear it, it didn't come close to fitting. (I don't know about your experiences but in my closet resides an evil genie with magically unwanted powers. How else to explain clothing that's been shrunken in the hip area)!

Annabella Hochschild
Crayola dress bought for $8 at St. Marks Place

Since misery loves company, imagine my glee in finding this delightful little diversion entitled "I Actually Wore This: Clothes We Can't Believe We Bought" (out next Tuesday -- preorder here ). This is the brainchild of Emmy-nominated writer and filmmaker Tom Coleman with photos by fashion, portrait and celebrity photographer Jerome Jakubiec. I was intrigued the minute I laid eyes on the cover photo: the aforementioned Bill Blass Creative Director Chris Benz in a Comme des Garcons leather rabbit-eared baseball cap purchased in Tokyo. "If I was invited to an Easter Egg Hunt at a leather bar, I'd have just the thing." If Rei Kawakubo had anything to do with it perhaps he can drag it out for the upcoming Met Gala, although Madonna already did those Louis Vuitton rabbit ears). Hmmm...your thoughts?

Linda Fargo

Inside the book are 80 photos with brief narrative accounts, emulating the form of street-style chronicles like The Sartorialist but with a twist, from a varied group (no word on how they were selected) of normally style conscious individuals. Perhaps most notably is Bergdorf's Linda Fargo -- a hot pink Philip Lim suit "the color of strawberry Twizzlers" worn, unforgivably in a sea of black is the worst she can come up with? I noticed that many of the items of questionable taste were those deemed an unflattering or obnoxious color, those that culturally appropriated (there's that exotic locale for you), are too costume-y,  or those that just didn't suit the occasion or the lifestyle they were purchased for. Here's how Coleman explains it:

"While working on the book, some common themes arose in terms of why and how the regrettable items ended up in people’s closets. Sample sales were the culprit more than once, as it seems people are willing to buy Misfit-Toy fashion if it’s drastically reduced and slapped with the name of a designer they recognize. “Who knows, I might wear a Chanel gas mask someday.” Vintage boutiques, resale shops, and secondhand stores, no matter what you call them,they too supplied a handful of items for our pantheon of regrettable garments. This proves that bad taste, much like the German measles, needs to be eradicated quickly so that it cannot spread to future generations."

Molly Shannon

From SNL alumni Molly Shannon's floral jumpsuit bought for a girls weekend at a fancy ranch in Carmel (her Southern friend said it screamed "resoooort" prompting her into a quick change),to a twice worn Cheeto-orange cocktail dress purchased by art dealer Lee Potter, to apparel entrepreneur Tim Convery's Yeti suit (yeah it's a costume he actually wore 20 times!), the idea is that these items appeared in public (for the most part) and the wearer tells the where, why, how and how much the offending item set them back.

Rachel Antonoff
1980's dress by Geoffrey Beene bought at a Vermont thrift store
for a New Year's Eve party

The consistently humorous tone taken here is no doubt edited by Coleman. Most of the items are really not that bad -- the fact that they were held onto oftentimes for years is also occasionally addressed here. Case in point: the pink embroidered sample sale coat purchased by The New Yorker's deputy fiction editor Cressida Leyshon and worn once, which somehow followed her through several office moves (she says you can have it if you stop by her office) and of course, the "sweaty" Yeti.

Chip Kidd

Here are some of my favorite excerpts from the book. Chip Kidd, cover designer and co-author of True Prep, on his $250 rugby shirt bought for a sailing trip finds out that "real sailors wear faded Phish t-shirts and old Patagonia shorts covered in linseed oil, not shirts that make you look like you're in the chorus of Godspell." Book editor Ira Silverberg on his Hermes smoking jacket picked up at a 1998 sample sale: "Sample sales make you do crazy things. Items you would normally never buy become must-haves when their prices have been chopped more times than Lizzie Borden’s parents."

Brooklyn tattoo artist Virginia Elwood on her Ralph Lauren fringed buckskin pants: " I bought the pants at Ralph Lauren. Ralph Lauren is a very good place to find clothes for fantasy you, as Ralph deals in all sorts of fantasies. He can transform you into a Park Avenue princess, a prairie settler, a downhill racer — whomever you want to be, chances are Ralph has what you need to get there. He doesn’t mess around."

Claire Distenfeld

Of course, not all items worn once are a mistake in retrospect. Fivestory boutique owner Claire Distenfeld models her $475 Comme des Garcons sheer top "sunburst" dress bought in 2012, although she considered it out-of-character, as an expression of her post breakup "new me." She wore the vintage store purchase to meet friends at a bar where she was tapped on the shoulder by -- wait for it -- her ex-boyfriend. "As for the epilogue of this tale, the dress is now officially retired, and my boyfriend is now my husband. Good work, sunbursts."

- Laurel Marcus

Thursday, March 23, 2017

New York Evening Hours by Lieba Nesis

FIT Annual Gala Raises $4.5 Million

Ryan Seacrest, Tracey Lundgren, & her father CEO of Macy's Terry Lundgren
All photos Lieba Nesis
Click images for full size views

FIT held its Annual Awards Gala on Wednesday, March 22, 2017, at the Marriott Marquis with cocktails beginning at 6 PM. The event which honored CEO of Macy's, Inc., Terry Lundgren, was with more than 1,700 people gathering for cocktails and dinner to celebrate FIT and outgoing CEO Terry Lundgren. Lundgren has been Macy's CEO for the past 14 years, and is being replaced by Jeff Gennette, who is currently Macy's president.

Ralph Lauren, New Macy's CEO Jeff Gennette, Tina Lundgren & Ricky Lauren

Lundgren was the star of the evening with fashion luminaries such as Anna Wintour, Ralph Lauren, Fern Mallis, Andrew Rosen and Vera Wang attending to pay homage to this fashion giant who founded The Terry Lundgren center for Retailing at the University of Arizona. While tonight Terry was busy, I was fortunate to bump into him this past Monday at a Carnegie Hall function where we were able to talk. Terry told me that today's fashion industry was a very different place, with consumers currently spending on health care, technology, Spotify and housing renovations instead of clothing.

Olympian Evan Lysacek, Vera Wang and President of Sean John Jeff Tweedy

He recounted his background as a buyer for Bullock's, becoming CEO of Neiman Marcus and later moving to Macy's. Macy's now operates more than 700 stores under the nameplates Macy's and Bloomingdale's and approximately 125 specialty stores. Terry proudly boasted that Macy's was the sixth largest retailer in America and that when he became CEO in 2003 the internet business was a minuscule couple of million; whereas now Macy's has a multibillion dollar internet presence and sales of $26 billion per year. He noted he would remain executive chairman of Macy's and was weighing options concerning his future career trajectory.

Jean Shafiroff, President of FIT Joyce Brown, & B Michael

Lundgren has an overwhelming stature with movie star looks and all the right friends with Ryan Seacrest hosting the dinner and Puff Daddy, John Varvatos, and Ken Chenault appearing via film to laud his accomplishments. His beautiful wife Tina commented that he has manners and grace "without a hair out of place" and then joked that it was annoying.

Anna Wintour

Anna Wintour, clad in a floral coat, spoke about Terry and how she admired that, "while most people will attend an opening Terry is one of the few who opens his checkbook." Terry also has a great sense of humor thanking Anna Wintour and Ralph Lauren for coming and stating they were so iconic they were readily identifiable by their first names.

Beatles cover band the Hofners at the cocktail party

He also thanked Ryan Seacrest, who he said was more than just a pretty face, as he has brought great educational programs to America such as "Keeping Up With The Kardashians" seeing their potential before others did - adding that Seacrest suits were only available at Macy's.

David Lauren

Lundgren expounded on the importance of education noting that neither one of his parents nor his five siblings attended college and he considered graduating University of Arizona a pivotal moment in his life. Lundgren thanked his wife for never allowing him to be complacent and praised his two daughter's one of whom recently welcomed a child. Terry announced that $4.5 million was raised this evening for FIT and The Terry Lundgren Center for Retailing to which he received a standing ovation.

Chef Daniel Boulud presenting Terry and Tina Lundgren
 with birthday cake and Ryan Seacrest

Being that tomorrow was Lundgren's 65th birthday, and ironically he was handing over the CEO reins the next morning to Gennette, chef Daniel Boulud presented Lundgren with a cake made from chocolate golf balls while Puff Daddy sang Happy Birthday via a movie screen. As the crowd rushed home at the early hour of 9:15 PM, I grabbed a Macy's goody bag which contained a scarf, tie, cream and other condiments - a rewarding conclusion to a powerful evening.

- Lieba Nesis

Friday, March 17, 2017

In the Market Report by Marilyn Kirschner

March Madness

Dolce & Gabbana wicker ice cream cone bag with pom poms
drives me mad
Check out the price!

There’s a lot about fashion that makes me mad. The lack of diversity on the runways is one of them. Although that has slowly begun to change, and this season more and more designers cast real people instead of (or in addition to the usual glamazons) and took a stand for inclusion and diversity vis-a-vis ethnicity, body type, gender, and age.

Vetements Fall Winter 2017

Quite frankly, there were so many older models, I guess you could say the recent runways were filled with "50 Shades of Grey" hair. What has not changed however, are the ridiculously high prices. In fact, it’s gotten worse. You’ve got to be mad to pay these prices! I sometimes get the urge to open my window and shout, “I’m mad as hell, and I’m not going to take it anymore”. But of course, there’s also a lot that I love.

Among the things I’m especially ‘mad’ for right now:


Nothing is as cool or modern - and nothing compliments black and white quite like silver. It showed up on several runways including Chanel and Paco Rabanne where it helped impart a futuristic space age feeling. Needless to say, just a touch is really all one needs. I am completely mad for the Saint Laurent satin-trimmed silver lame tuxedo blazer with black satin lapels.More info/purchase

Pierre Cardin Couture 1960's Metal Bones Iconic Dress

This vintage Pierre Cardin Couture 1968 iconic Metal Bones dress (which is found in the permanent collections of the Met, the Museum at FIT and the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston ) has a massive silver metal plate collar built into the dress. Mod perfection! More info/purchase

How great would these Loeffler Randall silver leather Jasper pointy toed oxfords look with crisp white jeans? Knockout! More info/purchase

Black & White:

It never gets old, which is why I love this graphic color block Courreges cropped vinyl jacket (an update on the original 1960’s version) - the epitome of cool, hip, and modern.More info/purchase

Christian Dior

J’Adior Christian Dior’s J’Adior sling backs from Spring Summer 2017. Made of black technical fabric they are on a 2 inch comma shaped kitten heel that you can actually walk on. No wonder they are almost entirely sold out. Thankfully, there should be a new shipment coming next month. For more information call: 1 800 929-DIOR.

Chanel cap toe ballerina

While fancy footwear is ‘dope’, when all is said and done, you can’t beat these classic Chanel black and white cap toe ballerina flats. Timeless perfection! More info/purchase

Proenza Schouler sneaker  

The only thing better than black & white is the added punch of red. I love that lipstick red completely lines these black and white Proenza Schouler slip on sneakers making them even more graphic. More info/purchase

Play Comme des Garcons t shirt

How could you not smile when you see this Comme des Garcons Play t shirt? More info/purchase

Western Wear:

Balenciaga Santiago distressed leather boots

It’s hard not to be smitten with authentic American western wear, which was all over recent runways. Not only on this side of the Atlantic, but in Europe. Western boots reigned supreme in many incarnations, but leave it to legendary French label Balenciaga to create one of the best versions available right now -- their tall distressed leather Santiago boots have it all.More info/purchase

Vicki Turbeville Zuni Squash  Blossom necklace

Authentic Navajo Squash Blossom necklaces in sterling silver and turquoise are iconic and they look better than ever at the moment. What would look more fabulous paired with chamois, rust suede, head to toe denim, or worn with a white shirt and jeans for that matter? FYI, I’ll bet they (along with Concho belts, and all manner of Native American jewelry) will be accessorizing many layouts in fashion magazines’ upcoming fall issues.More info/purchase

Statement Making Gold Buckles:

Burberry Westford sneakers

So, remember I said I love silver? Well, I also happen to be mad for bold gold, especially buckles. All the better when gold studs are added to the mix; they literally take the place of jewelry. These Burberry slip on leather trainers feature a pronounced gold buckle (an obvious homage to the buckle on their iconic trench coats), and edgy gold studs. More info/purchase

Philosophy di Lorenzo gold buckled belt

I love the proportions of the rectangular gold buckle on this wide black Philosophy di Lorenzo Serafini belt.   More info/purchase

Great Looking Rain Boots

Givenchy Eva Chain boots

Since April is upon us (which means April showers), I can’t think of a better investment than a pair of black rubber boots that don’t look like rain boots. The Givenchy Eva Chain Boots featuring a rubber chain-link, are an edgy update to a classic style and are so chic you’d like to wear them as much as possible, regardless of the weather, More info/purchase

Belted Equestrian Rain Boots

The same can be said about Burberry’s weatherproof equestrian rain boots with knotted belt and loop detail.More info/purchase

- Marilyn Kirschner