Sunday, January 28, 2018

New York Fashion Cool-Aid® by Laurel Marcus

Fashion Group International's 21st Annual Rising Star Awards Luncheon

The Luncheon
Photo: Laurel Marcus

If it's late January it must be FGI's Rising Star Awards -- Thursday marked the 21st annual luncheon at Cipriani 42nd Street which recognizes emerging talent in the fashion and design industries. As always, nominees are selected and voted for by a jury of their peers -- this year in particular it sounded like several winners had recruited their very own cheering sections. After the requisite and always welcome Bellinis and hors d'oeuvres which began at the eye-opening hour of 11:15 A.M., FGI President Margaret Hayes gave her welcoming introduction. She acknowledged that many nominees often win on their second or even third shot (if at first you don't succeed...) while warning attendees now seated in the packed room that we had thirty minutes for lunch. This year tradition was broken with a delicious asparagus, cheese and pasta appetizer followed by filet mignon, beets and potato casserole, a departure from the usual cantaloupe and prosciutto followed by Chilean sea bass that I've come to expect. Even though it was heavy on the carbs (including some sort of meringue pie for dessert!) IMO it was a welcome change.

John Varvatos

Menswear Designer John Varvatos was this year's keynote speaker -- after last year's Whoopi Goldberg appearance I was expecting someone from show biz, maybe like Oprah (ha). I was not wrong as Varvatos's aesthetic certainly rings true to rock musicians and performers who support his brand. "Your path in life is probably the most interesting thing," he explained while detailing his almost accidental rise to the top of the fashion pinnacle. "When I started my company in 2000 there was no e-commerce, there wasn't even an iPhone." Unbelievably, those didn't exist until 2007!

Margaret Hayes

"I grew up in Detroit -- in the late '60s, early '70s and it's not a fashionable city. It was very industrial. I never thought about fashion until my teens when girls told me they loved what I wore. It became like a heroin addiction -- I needed that fix," he joked. At 15 he took a stock boy job moving to the selling floor at 16 and continued to work in a clothing store all the way through school while he sought a pre-med degree. "I still never thought about becoming a fashion designer. We were seven people living in a 1,000 square foot home with one little bathroom." His thoughts on graduating with a degree in the sciences "I don't use any of that shit now -- maybe a little biology trying to get myself in shape."

Elle McPherson
Photo Gerardo Somoza

When Ralph Lauren opened a men's store in Grand Rapids, Michigan, Varvatos said "a light bulb went off" and he began taking fashion illustration courses. He worked for Lauren and in 1990 for Calvin Klein, taking over when his licenses were returned for the CK brand. "I learned to be a sponge. Just when you think you know it, you don't really know it. I didn't want to be a one-trick pony -- I studied everything." Varvatos said he was wooed back to the Ralph Lauren brand in 1995. "I was passionate about Ralph as a person and loved what his brand stood for."

During a walk through Barneys when he was about 40 years old another "light bulb or lightning bolt went off. I'm going to start my own brand -- I know the DNA of the brand. It was an epiphany. My brand launched this week in 2000 in Barneys, Bergdorf's, Saks, Neimans -- everywhere I wanted to be. I didn't realize how hard it would be." By 2005, Varvatos who describes himself as "passionate about music but not that good at it," claims that "artists started coming to us. It kind of changed our whole world of who we are and what the brand is about." Varvatos gave advice to the crowd particularly those starting out on their journey urging them that "staying true to your dream, never wavering from the path even though it may take you in winding directions," would serve them well. "Surround yourself with people who you like and respect. If you believe in yourself and believe in your vision you can succeed," he concluded.

The winners

Now that we're all inspired and uplifted how about some awards?

Accessories -- Presenter and fashion icon Kate Lanphear. Nominees: 1 Atelier -- Stephanie Sarka and Frank Zambrelli; Alumnae -- Kari Sigerson and Eliza Axelson Chidsey; behno -- Shivam Punjya; Marion Parke -- Dr. Marion Parke (the winner -- a surgical podiatrist who developed stylish high heels that don't hurt!); M. Gemi -- Cheryl Kaplan and Maria Gangemi; Rory Worby Studio (Rory Worby); and Tarryn Simone -- Tarryn Simone.

Fine Jewelry -- Presenter Bergdorf's Kelley Doherty, Nominees: 64 Facets -- Gourav Soni, Anna Karlin Fine Jewelry -- Anna Karlin (winner who was deeply touched and cried throughout her acceptance speech), CB Bronfman -- Clarissa Bronfman (I predict she'll be back as PR Maven Amy Rosi was wearing a stunning necklace of hers); and Misahara Jewelry -- Lepa Galeb-Roskopp.

Beauty/Fragrance Corporate -- Presenters Andrew Goetz/ Matthew Malin, Nominees: The Estee Lauder Companies -- Elena Wood; Givaudan Fragrances -- Natalie Brand; International Flavors & Fragrances -- Fanny Bal (winner who apologized for her strong French accent which she claimed was made more so from emotion).

Home Furnishings/Product Innovation -- Presenter E.I.C. of Elle Decor Whitney Robinson, Nominees: Charlie Sprout -- Rebecca Bravin; Hawkins New York -- Nicholas Blaine and Paul Denoly; Jacob Laws Interior Design -- Jacob Laws (whose first words were "Oh, shit!) I'm an ex-child actor who shouldn't be so nervous. Thank you to FGI for giving us weird creators a platform for doing what we do" and thanked his" style icon grandmother Winnie who's no longer with us."

Retail -- Presenter Robert Burke, Nominees: byReveal -- Megan Berry (co-winner who I chatted with briefly during the cocktail hour); -- Amanda Hearst and Hassan Pierre; Queen of Raw -- Stephanie Benedetto; and The Perfect Provenance -- Lisa Lori (co-winner). The first tie of the day!

Isabel & Ruben Toledo

Beauty/Fragrance Entrepreneur -- Presenters Isabel & Ruben Toledo, Nominees: Dr. Barbara Sturm Molecular Cosmetics -- Dr. Barbara Sturm; Farmacy -- Mark Veeder (winner); strangelove nyc -- Elizabeth Gaynes; WelleCo -- Andrea Horwood and Elle McPherson.

Menswear -- Presenter former winner Todd Snyder, Nominees: Dyne -- Christopher Bevans; Krammer & Stoudt -- Mike Rubin (winner and ZZ Top frontman lookalike - lol); Private Policy -- Haoran Li and Siying Qu.  Rubin who said he wasn't expecting to win, started "trying to make clothes in LA about 5 years ago and I had no idea what I was doing." He thanked his wife for "pushing me further than I could ever go on my own." Winning this award "proves to me that coming to New York was the right thing to do," he added.

Hilldun Business Innovation Award was presented by Gary Wassner to Trove -- Mary Orton and Rich Scudellari for their digital marketing app that combines fashion and technology in a supporting innovation. "We couldn't find anyone better for this award -- it's pretty fantastic," remarked Hilldun urging attendees to check it out. "Browse ready-to-shop outfits from the world's top fashion bloggers with styles to match every taste," is how it's described online.

Designer Asher Levine and muse Amy Fine Collins
Photo: Geraldo Somoza

Womenswear with Presenter Jason Wu (also a former winner and along with Gary Hilldun a huge fan of our hostess Margaret Hayes as they both sang her praises in their intros). Nominees: Asher Levine -- Asher Levine (co-winner who brought along muse Amy Fine Collins wearing his designs); Chris Gelinas -- Chris Gelinas; Cristina Ottaviano -- Cristina Ottaviano; J. Dosi -- Jenna Marie Piantedosi; Jeffrey Dodd -- Jeffrey Dodd (co-winner); Romeo Hunte -- Romeo Hunte; Tabula Rasa -- Emily Diamandis.

Congratulations to the nominees and winners!

- Laurel Marcus

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Wednesdays at Michael's by Diane Clehane

Brenda Vaccaro On Her #MeToo Moment, Michael Douglas & Netflix

Brenda Vaccaro & Diane Clehane
Click images for full size views

One of the best things about doing this column is that I get to meet some of the most fascinating people in the world by sheer coincidence because, as I’ve said many times, among certain circles in this city, all roads lead to Michael’s. That’s how I met this week’s lunch date, Brenda Vaccaro. Several months ago, I stayed up very late one Tuesday night binge-watching the Netflix series, Gypsy. The show starred Naomi Watts as a therapist with some serious issues – and some equally troubled patients. In a bit of inspired casting, one of those patients, a clingy mother who was desperately trying to stay connected to her adult daughter who wanted nothing to do with her, was brilliantly played by Brenda Vaccaro.

Imagine my surprise the next day when I showed up at Michael’s to do my column and saw Brenda sitting with my good friend Mickey Ateyeh. When I went over to say hello, I told her I thought I was seeing things because first off, this seemed so random.  And secondly, I went to sleep with a particularly heartbreaking scene Brenda had done in the show in my mind and when I woke up, I was still thinking about it. Her character, trying to hide her pain, disappointment and embarrassment was left standing outside the apartment building that her daughter had just moved from without telling her mother. When I told Brenda she had moved me to tears, she was very gracious, and we chatted briefly. I’d seen her a few times since then with Mickey and a few weeks ago, we finally made a date to have our own lunch.

In preparation for our meeting, I spent several hours yesterday on YouTube watching snippets of her incredible performances in Midnight Cowboy, Airport 77, The Mirror Has Two Faces and HBO’s Kevorkian bio pic, You Don’t Know Jack where she starred opposite Al Pacino. (Much more on what she had to say about her costars later). I also happened to find some award show footage with Brenda from 1974. Suffice to say those award shows were a lot more fun back in the day when the stars were real stars not pop culture curiosities, (largely) unscripted and not styled and ‘handled’ within an inch of their lives.

The clip from the 1974 Emmy Awards where Brenda won Outstanding Supporting Actress in Comedy-Variety was particularly riveting. Wearing a flowing, low-cut gown and a messy updo, Brenda was the epitome of seventies sexiness as her boyfriend Michael Douglas (just wait) got up to let her out of her seat. She floated on to the stage and playfully offered her thank-yous in that voice.

“That was James Reva,” recalled Brenda when I described the dress to her in that same wonderfully throaty voice that instantly turned heads at the tables around us. “It was Greek [style]. And white.”

Let me just say that I wish we could have had our lunch run into dinner. This is a woman that has stories. Real stories. About Pacino, Hoffman, and Streisand. And strong opinions. She’s smart, thoughtful and hilarious and completely unconcerned what anyone thinks about what she says. I loved her.

I barely knew where to start, so I thought I’d ask her about the #MeToo and #TimesUp movements. “It’s absolutely brilliant. It’s where we should be,” she said after we dispensed with ordering (Korean tacos and a Sprite for her, Chicken paillard and Diet Coke for me). She was at last weekend's Women's  March  in the city. “The age of silence is dead.” As for actors using award shows to speak out on important social issues she told me, “Any occasion there is a chance to speak up, you should do it. If it’s a celebration, you hope it’s done with grace.”

I wasn’t at all surprised to hear that Brenda had experienced sexual harassment in Hollywood. “Everyone has got a story,” she continued. Hers involved director Paul Wendkos when she was working on a play with Hal Holbrook in the late sixties. “It was during a rehearsal and Hal had just left the stage. [Wendkos] walked over to me stuck his tongue down my throat. I heard some of the crew go ‘whoa.’ I froze. I was in shock.” But she said nothing. “That was a time where women felt they had to let it go. They did that for a lot of things like staying in bad marriages. I said, ‘Let it go.’ I wasn’t going to call [the producer] and halt production.’ Afterwards, when she told Holbrook (“He was the best!”) what had happened he offered to confront Wendkos but she declined his offer. That doesn’t mean she’s forgiven her attacker. “I never spoke to him again. I hope he’s dead.” (Wendkos died in 2009).

Given the impressive roster of leading men Brenda has starred opposite during her career, I asked her if I could throw out a few names and get her take on each one. It proved to be the liveliest part of an already incredibly animated discussion.

Dustin Hoffman (Midnight Cowboy): “He kept me laughing. He was always pulling gags. He once did this [she raised her arm and made a fist] and ran back and forth on the set. No one knew what he was doing and when we asked, he said, ‘Jerking off a dinosaur.’ We couldn’t stop laughing. He was the cutest and the funniest.”

Jon Voight (Midnight Cowboy): “Very serious and very into himself. So young and vulnerable.”

Jeff Bridges (The Mirror Has Two Faces): “Sexy. I had such a crush on him.”

Jimmy Stewart (Airplane 77) “I brought an egg sandwich down to the dock every day [some scenes from the film were shot in the water and actors were taken to the set by boat] and he would show up with a suitcase. One day I asked him, ‘What’s in the suitcase? He said, ‘You never know if you’re coming back.’ I told him I was going to start bringing a suitcase.”

Although she didn’t say so, it was clear that Al Pacino ranks at the top of Brenda’s list of her favorite leading men. “I adore him,” she told me. “He is a rehearsal dragon.” The actor used to host marathon sessions in his New York City apartment with Brenda and actor Danny Houston who would gather at Pacino’s home on the weekends during production. “We’d start at noon and go until 7 o’clock and sometimes much later.”

Brenda recalled as shooting went on, she and Pacino “became The Bickersons” explaining, “We were in the car [shooting a scene] and he said, ‘Stop the car!’ and I said, ‘That’s not a line.’ Then I asked him, ‘Are you mad?’ He said, ‘I’m working!’ He was improvising. He blew my mind. He’d pull that shit all the time.”

It turns out the film’s climatic scene shot in Flint, Michigan where Brenda, as the doctor’s sister Margo, confronts Pacino’s Kevorkian was entirely improvised. The day of the shoot, director Barry Levinson told Brenda to put the script aside and then just let the cameras roll. “When I yelled ‘Who takes care of me?’ That was my Aunt Marge. I was thinking of my Aunt Marge. [After the scene] I walked out and kept walking. I think it was a single cut. When Al asks, ‘Where’s she going?’ He was actually talking to Barry, but the angle was right, so Barry left it in.”

As much as I loved that story, I liked this one about Pacino even more. “If Al doesn’t like you, you rest with the fishes. I once told him I was going to work with a certain actress and he just looked at me and [wagged his finger]. I didn’t.”

Michael Douglas & Brenda Vaccaro

But it was Brenda’s four-year, live-in relationship with Michael Douglas that had always intrigued me. They were the hip Hollywood couple of the seventies. Think Jen and Brad but much, much cooler. In that YouTube clip of the Emmy Awards, it was Douglas, with his feathered hair and  wearing a ruffled blue tuxedo shirt, who was seated next to Brenda in the audience.

“Look at this,” she said holding out her phone to me. “Someone just sent me this on Instagram.” The stunning black and white photo shows Brenda and Michael in all their youthful glory. “Look at his beautiful hands. I sent it to Michael and said, ‘Look how beautiful we were.’ He loved it.” It was clear from listening to her, they have stayed close. “One of the great regrets of my life is that we didn’t make it.”

These days, Brenda is loving living in New York City (shockingly, she did not grow up here – she was raised in Texas) with her new puppy, a four-month old pug named Christina Maria Pavia (“Pavia is in northern Italy near Milan, where my mother is from – we call her ‘Christina’”). In 2016, Brenda had one week to relocate from Los Angeles after landing her role on Gypsy (“I had to read and send in a tape. I think that’s important for young actors to know that you’re never finished”). With the help of assistant Gina Biscotti (who was with her today), she found the perfect apartment just in time. Gina, it turns out, used to work for Brenda’s dear friend Barbra Streisand’s production company. “I’ve known her since ‘I Can Get it For You Wholesale.’ I was doing ‘Cactus Flower’ [on Broadway] and she was doing that. I adore her. She is one of the most incredibly loyal friends ever.”

When our coffee arrived, I asked Brenda what she wanted to do next. “I’d like to do another series [Gypsy was not renewed after its first season]. Netflix was a class act. I’d love to do something else with them. And Broadway, I’d like to do Broadway.” We’ll be there on opening night.

Seen & Heard Around The Room

GIII’s Morris Goldfarb presiding over a table of ‘suits’ on Table One … Andrew Stein on Three … Robert Zimmerman and Fox 5 ‘s Baruch Shemtov … The Imber Gang: Dr. Gerald Imber, Jerry Della Femina, Michael Kramer and Andy Bergman at their usual perch on Table Six … Town & Country’s Vicky Ward and PR powerhouse Chris Taylor in Seven … New York Social Diary’s David Patrick Columbia on Eight.

More Sightings

Dr. Robi Ludwig on Table Nine … Joan Jakobson on Eleven .. Simon & Shuster’s Alice Mayhew on Fourteen … Joan Hamburg and pals on Sixteen … The Paley Center’s Maureen Reidy on Twenty … Entertainment scribe Roger Friedman and Jill Brooke on Twenty-one... and Cindy Lewis in the Garden Room.

Saturday, January 20, 2018

Better Bets by Rhonda Erb

Film Review: "Phantom Thread"

Click images for full size views

“I cannot start my day with a confrontation. I simply have no time for confrontations”, Daniel Day-Lewis declares with measured indifference as Reynolds Woodcock, a London couturier in Paul Thomas Anderson’ s film, Phantom Thread. The statement is made in response to Woodcock‘s soon to be ex-lover who has made a futile attempt, over breakfast, to learn what she might do to regain his interest and affections.

Lesley Manville

It is the 1950’s and the rakishly handsome Woodcock is a talented genius who exercises total control over every aspect of his existence. With an insatiable interest in the female form, he charms women into his life, only to discard them when they no longer suit his fancy. Woodcock is ably assisted in both his business and his life, by his sister, Cyril (Lesley Manville), a stalwart supporter of all of his eccentricities. She enables his self-absorbed behavior, even when it borders on abject cruelty. The aforementioned breakfast companion is dismissed by Cyril with only a Woodcock designed dress to console her; cast aside before her mere presence might interfere with Woodcock’s creative process.

Vicky Krieps and Daniel Day-Lewis

Enter Alma (radiant newcomer, Vicky Krieps), a young waitress that Woodcock encounters at a nearby restaurant and is instantly taken with. The attraction is mutual and the two meet for dinner, eventually retiring to his home where he takes her measurements. When Cyril walks in on the blossoming relationship, she positions herself like an observer in the room, telling Alma that she has the type of body that Woodcock prefers. Clearly Cyril has witnessed this scenario before as part of her brother’s seductive process.

There is, however, something about Alma that differentiates her from the women who have come before her. As she swiftly becomes his muse and his lover, it soon becomes apparent that she is not the naive young woman that she first appeared to be. Alma is strong willed and opinionated, and her obsession with Woodcock and his work is coupled with a touch of insanity. As their twisted romance progresses, it becomes increasingly difficult to ascertain just who is actually in control.

Vicky Krieps

The costume designer, Mark Bridges, has worked with the director on several previous films. In creating the fictional House of Woodcock, he designed more than 50 garments, ranging from the dark, subdued wardrobe worn by Cyril, reflecting her effortless composure, to the opulent gowns that are featured as Woodcock’s creations. Bridges repeatedly uses color, fabric and silhouette to convey elements of the wearer’s character or a particular point in the story. Day-Lewis, who has said that Phantom Thread will be his final film, even became involved in creating one of the gowns for the movie, choosing a lilac color for a full-skirted gown, overlaid in lace.

- Rhonda Erb

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Press Release About Marilyn Kirschner

The Manhattan Vintage Clothing Show Returns to NYC February 2nd & 3rd

Vintage Courreges vinyl coat & vintage Pierre Cardin bag
The Marilyn Kirschner Collection
Press Release:
Contact: Ashley Lutzker at AMP3 PR

This season’s featured exhibit is pulled directly from the archives of Marilyn Kirschner New York, NY—The Manhattan Vintage Clothing Show, NYC’s premier vintage shopping event, makes its Winter return to the Metropolitan Pavilion on February 2nd & 3rd, with a special shoppable exhibit curated by lifelong vintage collector and former Harper’s Bazaar Fashion Editor and current editor of, Marilyn Kirschner. The exhibit will display a 30-piece collection pulled from her personal archives.

New York Times 2001 Bill Cunningham On the Street Column "The Color of Money"
Click image for full size view

Marilyn Kirschner is a fashion icon and industry leader. As the editor-in-chief of popular online publication, Marilyn has made her mark as a preeminent voice in fashion. She understood the power of vintage long before it hit the mainstream and continues to lead the way in determining trends and defining style. Her remarkable eye for fashion began at an early age when Kirschner would go thrifting and vintage shopping to create her own unique looks. Over the years, Kirschner has made regular appearances in Bill Cunningham’s most noted columns in The New York Times, “On the Street”, and “Evening Hours”. As a noted muse of Cunningham’s, Kirschner was even the subject of an entire 18 picture “On the Street” column in the Times in 2001, entitled ‘The Color of Money (In the Bank)’. This season’s exhibit will be especially noteworthy,as many of the items shown were purchased by Kirschner over the past 25 years at the Manhattan Vintage Clothing Show.

“For me, it’s all about the serendipity of the shopping experience and at this show you just know you will never be disappointed, nor will you walk away empty handed. I am avowedly an equal opportunity shopper, and when I looked over my collection and thought of the amazing pieces I have amassed over the years, I can honestly say that many, if not most of my most treasured pieces were purchased at one of these shows,” says vintage icon, Marilyn Kirschner. “I’m so honored and excited to be the focus of this season’s exhibit, and to be opening up my collection to other vintage enthusiasts.”

Kirschner says the Manhattan Vintage Clothing Show is so special and unique because of, “the dizzying variety, amazing assortment, and the perfectly curated mix of top notch dealers,” and her advice for show visitors,“Don’t be bogged down by trends, they’re so overrated. What’s good is always good, and everything comes back in style anyway. It’s not about what is deemed ‘in’ or ‘it’ by so called experts. It’s about what appeals to you.”

Vintage Bonnie Cashin coat
The Marilyn Kirschner Collection

Launched in 1992, the Manhattan Vintage Clothing Show is now the largest, and oldest, vintage apparel & accessories show in the country. Featuring top vendors from around the world, it has become a true shopping mecca for fashion & costume designers and vintage fashion lovers alike.

Silver necklace vintage 1970 by Givenchy and Alisei 1980's orange silk pouf skirt
The Marilyn Kirschner Collection

Hosting 70+ vendors, Manhattan Vintage will produce an event full of vintage finds that explore the decades of fashion. This season will see a number of new vendors including Lucinda From Portobello— selling chic designer fashion and high style vintage from London, and True Vintage Eyewear —with an authentic range of vintage frames from certified optometrists. Staple vendors will also be returning to celebrate their shared love for vintage, including Cherry Vintage, Another Man’s Treasure, What Was Is Vintage, BUIS and Whistles, Swanee GRACE, La Poubelle Vintage, and many more.

Bill Blass for Bond Street 1970 striped trench with vintage floral glass necklace
The Marilyn Kirschner Collection

The Manhattan Vintage Clothing Show will be open at the Metropolitan Pavilion on Friday, February 2nd (1pm to 8pm) and Saturday, February 3rd (11am-6pm). To learn more about the Manhattan Vintage Show, or for any press related inquiries, please contact Ashley Lutzker at AMP3 PR via 646-827-9594 or  .

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Wednesdays at Michael's by Diane Clehane

Alec Baldwin, Star Jones and The Return of the Faithful 

Diane Clehane & Daisy Goodwin

Happy New Year! Having been away from Michael’s for almost a month between the holidays and one stubborn flu bug, I decided to forego my usual weekly ‘Lunch’ interview and instead make the rounds in the dining room to catch up with my favorite regulars and see what they’ve got going for 2018. Boy, was I glad I did. The usual suspects were out in full force with plenty of news to talk about. Much more on that later …

I do, however, have a ‘Lunch’ interview to share this week that turned into a phone interview at the end of December when both my daughter and I were sick at home at the same time which was just so much fun. Author Daisy Goodwin and I were supposed to meet at 55th and Fifth when she was last in town from London to talk about Victoria, whose second season premieres this Sunday night at 9 pm ET on PBS Masterpiece and the new official companion book, Victoria & Albert A Royal Love Affair (St. Martin’s Press), that she wrote with journalist Sara Sheridan.

Daisy and I ‘Lunched’ at Michael’s last year (that’s when the photo with her in this week’s column was taken) when the show debuted here on PBS in the states simultaneously with her book of the same name. I marveled at how anyone could write novel and a television show at the same time. And, even more amazing, both were deliciously romantic, gracefully done and full of wit. I couldn’t wait for season two to find out more about Queen Victoria (Jenna Coleman) and Prince Albert (Tom Hughes) and the dashing Lord Melbourne played by Rufus Sewell whose chemistry with Jenna Coleman (Victoria) in season one nearly melted down my television. Yes, I still watch shows on television.

When I rang The Whitby Hotel (where, apparently, everyone British in entertainment stays these days) to speak to Daisy she told me she was thrilled that “there had been so much enthusiasm” for the series to warrant a second season which chronicles Victoria and Albert’s marriage and how the couple deal with balancing their royal duties and personal lives. By all accounts, the couple had a tempestuous relationship and the series depicts it in ways that give interesting insights into both Victoria’s and Albert’s personalities. “As their relationship evolves, it’s hard for both of them,” Daisy told me. “After the birth [of their first child] Victoria’s [dependence] on her mother strains her relationship with Albert.”

A central storyline to the second season is how Albert copes with being an ‘outsider’ married to the Queen. “There is prejudice against him because he’s German,” explained Daisy. “And English was not his first language.” She also told me that in researching both the book and the series, Daisy found the prince to be “very underrated” because “he was pretty much a genius.” (He brought plumbing to Buckingham Palace!) This made it all the more difficult for him to be a “husband who was not master of his house” at a time in history when “women were their husband’s property.”

When Daisy told me, “I’m amazed at how little people know about Victoria and Albert,” I assumed she was talking about our own reality-show obsessed culture that considers last year ancient history, but what she said next really shocked me. Turns out it’s the Americans, not the Brits who know more about the history of the royal couple – but it’s a very specific group. “The Masterpiece audience is extremely literate.” Indeed.

Speaking of the written word, I told Daisy I love the companion book full of rich and fascinating detail that goes beyond Victoria and Albert themselves and all historical aspects of the period. It also includes interviews with the cast and a behind the scenes look at various aspects of the production including the sets and the costumes that are sure to delight the show’s many fans.

But first and foremost, said Daisy, Victoria and Albert is a great love story. “It’s a timeless story that could have been a marriage of convenience, but was one of great passion between two very different individuals. They had huge rows.”

This season that passion is front and center in the series – and ‘Lord M’ makes a return. “Rufus is fabulous. We’re very very lucky to have him back,” she said.

Daisy wrote two best-sellers before she penned Victoria and this is her first television series. I asked her now that’s she been doing television for a while, which is more rewarding. “I love hearing people say my words. There is no greater thrill. Sometimes it makes me very emotional.”

Before we said our good-byes, I had to ask her what she thought of Prince Harry’s engagement to Meghan Markle. “It’s fantastic,” she told me. “There’s no doubt there’s a lot of love there,” but she warns, “The British press is a nightmare.” I guess we’ll have to wait a while to see how the historians treat the history-making royal couple.

Seen & Heard Around the Room

Judy Twersky, Diane Clehane & Lisa Lockwood

I was thrilled to see two of my favorite people, PR maven Judy Twersky and WWD’s Lisa Lockwood in the dining room and they kindly invited me to join them. I hadn’t seen either of them since Mickey Ateyeh’s lunch for me in this very dining room to celebrate the launch of my first novel, "Imagining Diana". But I digress.

These two power gals were meeting to talk about the myriad of PR projects Judy is juggling at the moment which include HBO’s, The Number on Great-Grandpa’s arm, a documentary short which will debut on January 26th and Barbara Hannah Grufferman’s new book, Love Your Age: The Small Step Solution To A Better, Longer, Happier Life (National Geographic/AARP) which comes out next month and Sherman Yellen’s touching memoir Spotless: Memories of a New York Childhood (Moreclacke). If you’ve got a hot book, Judy should be your go-to publicist. Just ask Sheila Nevins and Chris Whipple.

Joan Kron, also a client of Judy’s, celebrated her 90th birthday with a brunch here at Michael’s on Sunday. Judy told me Joan got “the best birthday present ever” when her new film, Take My Nose ... Please, a documentary which explores plastic surgery through the eyes of female comedians, was featured in Tuesday’s Times’ television section under streaming recommendations. You can catch it on demand and on itunes and amazon. Don’t miss it!

Busy Judy is also working with Victoria Shaffer, (Paul’s daughter) producer of “Extra Innings with Bill Murray and Brian Doyle-Murray” on Facebook Watch. Paul wrote the show’s theme with Bill and Brian. Victoria makes her ‘dancing’ debut on the sixth episode! Victoria is also the production coordinator of David Letterman’s new Netflix series. And Lisa, who is one of the fashion industry’s most respected journalists, has some interesting stories in the works, so stay tuned.

Star Jones, Dennis Basso and Diane Clehane

After I dined and dished with Judy and Lisa, I stopped by Star Jones and Dennis Basso’s table to say hello. I have known Star since her days on The View, I have to tell you she has never looked better. Today I found out why. Big News: now living in Chicago, Star is engaged to Richard Lugo (the date is top secret at the moment) and is loving her work as spokesperson for International Association of Women. Star told me the organization, previously the National Association of Professional Women, has just gone global. Today was her second fitting on her wedding dress, which Dennis is designing, of course. Dennis’ designs are always exquisite and he’s sure to make Star shine on the big day. It was a lot of fun catching up with them.

And there’s more … BDA PartnersEuan Rellie was hosting some colleagues on Table One … Actress Brenda Vaccaro and fashionista Mickey Ateyeh, who is off to California, were lunching on Table Two … Dan Abrams and Brian Kilmeade were on Three.

Alec Baldwin, who spent a lot of time on his cell phone with a ‘suit’ we didn’t know on Four. An exec from ABC perhaps? … Producer Jean Doumanian, who stopped by to say hello to Brenda and Mickey when I was chatting with them on Five … Andrew Stein on Six … New York Social Diary’s David Patrick Columbia on Eight … Simon & Schuster’s Alice Mayhew with 60 Minutes’ Lesley Stahl on Alice’s usual Table Fourteen. Has Lesley got a new book in the works? I wonder …

I also got say a quick hello to attorney Bob Barnett and John Miller who were on Table Fifteen and check in with British Heritage Travel’s CEO Jack Kliger on Eighteen … LAK PR’s CEO Lisa Linden introduced me to “the best event planner in the city” Melanie McEvoy on Table Seventeen … The ‘two Joans’ – producer Joan Gelman and the grand dame of radio, Joan Hamburg were catching up on Table Twenty …And advertising guru Martin Puris was on Table Twenty-Four .

Who says nothing happens in January?

Tuesday, January 09, 2018

New York Fashion Cool-Aid® by Laurel Marcus

Diving into Vintage -- A Panel of Pros Instructs How

Cameron Silver, Decades; David Casavant, Stylist & Collector; Bridgette Morphew, Co-Founder, Morphew; Katherine Zarella; Founder, Fashion Unfiltered
Photo: Laurel Marcus: Click images for full size view

Whether you're a neophyte vintage shopper just dangling your toes in the pool or a seasoned pro swimming merrily in the deep end, the panel discussion I attended yesterday at the Javits Center's Vintage @ Intermezzo (Jan.7-9) had something to get you in the water. Led by Fashion Unfiltered's Katherine Zarella, panelists included Bridgette Morphew of Morphew Vintage, Cameron Silver, founder of L.A.'s famed vintage boutique Decades and fashion director of H by Halston, and David Casavant, stylist and collector. As someone who's relatively new to collecting vintage, I thought I'd go and soak up some knowledge as well as check out the select group of vintage sellers.

Vintage @ Intermezzo display

."How do we view and consume vintage differently than we did 20 years ago?" asked Zarella. All panelists agreed that the internet has created a more knowledgeable customer as well as more accessibility to vintage fashion however Silver feels that vintage should be experienced firsthand. Years ago "vintage was inaccessible and for 'poor people,'" he said, however times have changed. "How do we keep that sense of discovery one experiences in a brick and mortar store? We don't want to lose the mystery of surprising the customer. Vintage is everywhere and nowhere at the same time. I miss the old days -- making myself seem vintage.As the name Decades suggests, clothing items featured include those from the '30's right up to what he terms "Neovintage" -- clothing from 10-15 years ago, all mixed together.

Vintage is often used for designer inspiration with houses like Morphew supplying a showroom for browsing and buying. "Designers use vintage for production to show or communicate an idea. They use it for shapes, pattern making and even for prints of fabrics from the past. Sometimes they'll even pull full Pantone colors from a dress," she explained. "Vintage is the opposite of fast fashion with silhouettes coming from the '50s seen at the Golden Globes Dior-style. The old used to inspire the new." Casavant said that "it's less the idea that it's vintage and more that it's mixing -- if you're young vintage doesn't feel old if you've never seen it before." He also thinks that there's less of a stigma in attributing design inspiration and referencing older things than there used to be. Silver agreed: "If you're a 16-year-old, then that 3-4 year old Stella piece is one-quarter of your life. To them it's just great sh*t!" I am left wondering how many 16-year-olds frequent/ purchase anything at his high-end store? As far as designers buying items for creativity it happens less often now. "Buyers used to have a big budget. Now they just show a tear sheet instead of the actual garment," he added.

According to Silver, you create value with vintage as quality matters as opposed to disposable fast fashion and (shudder) Rent the Runway -- which he names as "two of the biggest threats to our business but we can all live together. People need to own their glorious memories (rather than just renting them or throwing them away). At Decades we have things from happy moments in a person's life." He later told a story about recently widowed "Maria" who consigned the black Chantilly lace dress that she met her husband in. "It sold to Tom Ford and he redid it for Gucci. Perhaps someone met their husband or their husband for a night in that dress," he quipped."Vintage reminds people what it's like to have a visceral connection to clothing."

What of the celebrity on the red carpet? "What inspires celebs to wear vintage?" asked Zarella. Who better to answer than Decades owner Silver whose store was pretty much ground zero for dressing Hollywood award show attendees. "Celebrities used to buy clothing but it's much more difficult now. Their ability to get everything for free has infiltrated purchasing and really screwed up retail. Last night was a renewal of what the red carpet is about," he said referring to Sunday night's Globes. "It was an effortless, less commercialized version. People wanted to own and look like themselves the way it used to be. It was about artists not show ponies. Zoe Kravitz was flawless, Viola Davis had a '70s moment, Sarah Jessica Parker had a '50s moment -- all vintage inspired and iconic. Back in the day people like Nan Kempner and CZ Guest wore clothes over and over again. It's ok to repeat, to be simple and style yourself. We've had 15 years of cupcake dressing -- this was a moment of timeless, effortless elegance."

When it comes to luxury fashion how do you know what to buy to have it increase in value? Silver recommends buying those pieces that "got away" which you'll sometimes see at Woodbury Commons. "If you see something that was on the runway at 70% off, buy it -- as long as it's not butt ugly." Casavant recommends buying samples from shows that weren't produced or were one of a kind or one of a few. "Buy things that speak to you. Stick to your instincts and your viewpoint."

Any advice for first time vintage buyers? Casavant says just do it. "The more you buy the more you get informed. Don't over think it," he cautions. "I bought a lot overpriced and a lot under priced -- it all works out in the end so don't get too bogged down. When buying for her showroom Morphew looks for originality. "If it's something I haven't seen before or haven't seen often I'll buy it. I'm always looking for thing that I don't normally see." Guidelines for the vintage newbie according to Silver: "If you love it and can afford it and it's in good condition, buy it." He recalls his first vintage purchase in 1987 of a tuxedo with tails for $75 which he wore to his high school prom and eventually donated to LACMA along with his men's archive. Other words of wisdom from Silver: "With vintage your tailor is more important than your therapist, your dry cleaner is more important than your lover."

A word about vintage pricing and what determines it ended the discussion. According to Morphew when she buys something she considers not only the design and label but who is the customer. "My co-founder and I try to think of five different companies that would want it. It's like the stock market with vintage. Sometimes it's hot, sometimes it's not." Casavants wisely remarks that "the value is whatever someone would pay for it." Silver points out that the customer is now so informed that they will spot something on 1st Dibs that they already own being offered at a ridiculous price so they think the piece that they own is worth that. "I tell them it's been on for five years and it's not going anywhere -- there's priced to sell or priced to dream." Morphew chimed in that the pieces don't just bring themselves to her showroom particularly on the occasion when a customer says they've seen an item for less somewhere in their travels. "I tell them buy it at Telluride. You pay for the curation of a product and for having it now."

And with that I went off in search of my next vintage fix, awaiting the thrill of discovery of my newest old treasure.

- Laurel Marcus

Monday, January 08, 2018

In the Market Report by Marilyn Kirschner

The Golden Globes’ Black Beauties

Reese Witherspoon and Eva Longoria

Given all the black last night, it was hardly surprising that the 75th Golden Globes looked more like a serious New York fashion event than a televised Hollywood ritual and the unified dress code lent a powerful visual impact to the evening’s red carpet because after all, what looks better with red than black? This was exemplified by Mandy Moore’s Rosie Assoulin black gown with elegant train, pocketed skirt, and red sash. I thought she looked particularly modern, fresh, and comfortable.

Mandy Moore

Dressing in noir certainly worked wonders for many if not most of the attendees. Someone like Reese Witherspoon for example, can tend to look saccharine sweet in pastels and fussy prints but she looked quite chic last night. Even Mariah Carey looked better than usual; sophisticated rather than tacky.

It was anything but dull and boring and there was plenty of variety within the fashion choices, with women showing their strong personalities, which is exactly what I expected to see. But for me, the ones that really looked the best showed restraint and let the fashion do the talking. When accessories were used to make a statement, they were wisely chosen.

Among the various looks that stood out:

Diane Kruger in Prada (I loved everything about this dress including the touch of sparkle)

Jessica Biel’s divine Christian Dior Haute Couture creation.

Wonder Woman Gal Gadot who never gets it wrong, looked every bit the strong powerful woman in a sharply tailored cropped black tuxedo jacket and draped jersey dress by Tom Ford.

Alison Brie in a strapless black jumpsuit with an over skirt (clean, simple, statement making).

Rachel Brosnahan in Vionnet

Tracee Ellis, who loves to experiment and is a bona fide fashion plate, added a turban to her black dress.

Viola Davis in black velvet Brandon Maxwell with Harry Winston necklace, made a wise choice wearing her hair au naturale.

Zoe Kravitz, added emerald green drop earrings to her otherwise simple black velvet gown.

Kerry Washington in all over black sequined Prabal Gurung accessorized with Roger Vivier black booties.

Young Millie Bobby Brown, a true budding star  with an obvious flair for fashion looked appropriately youthful in a short and sculptural Calvin Klein dress.

Most kept it rather sedate, dignified, and elegant, but that doesn’t mean sex was not in the air. I was surprised when I saw Catherine Zeta-Jones arriving in an ultra-sheer ultra-sexy black lace Zuhair Murad which I thought given the evening, was a strange, rather inappropriate  choice (it looked too boudoir for my tastes).

Nicole Kidman’s black Givenchy was a better way to wear lace.

But the one who really took the cake was Blanca Blanco in a red hot red dress that left little to the imagination. Since I assume she is not living under a rock and was completely clueless about the message underscoring the evening, the only thing I can think is that perhaps it was her way of taunting Harvey Weinstein and sending him a message: “Eat your heart out. This is what you are NOT getting tonight”.'

Interestingly, another woman eschewing the black dress code and opting for red was Meher Tatna, President of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association. But she had good reason explaining that in her culture, you do not wear black to celebrate something. And yes, there was a lot to celebrate and no, it was not just the fashion!

- Marilyn Kirschner

Saturday, January 06, 2018

New York Market Report by Marilyn Kirschner

The Golden Globes 2018: Not Fading to Black

Ralph Rucci's timeless Spring 2015 Ready-to-Wear gown

Ever since news broke that the Golden Globes would be a sea of black, with many women (and some men) dressed in black to show their solidarity against sexual misconduct in the workplace, I have tried to imagine how this would play out and what the evening would actually look like. I was psyched not only because of the obviously strong political/ social statement, but also because it has all the makings of a highly visual photo op/ fashion moment.

I was flummoxed that more than a few voiced concern that a parade of black would be dull, boring and uninteresting to the audience, as though it’s a recipe for a sea of women in sack cloth and ashes. This is not a funeral. If I had to wear just one color for the rest of my life, it would be black, and I know I am not alone. It is the favored color (or lack thereof) of seasoned fashion followers, urbanites, and most of fashion’s most revered creators, and for good reason.

There is endless variety within the one shade and the way I see it, it’s a great opportunity to break from tradition and rethink dressing for the red carpet - something that is long overdue.  What is important now is honesty and integrity, so perhaps we will even see some stars going into their closets and picking things they love and feel most confident in; clothes that best express their personality and mood. It’s not a one size fits all proposition.

In advance of the highly anticipated televised event, I wanted to show of my favorite designs in black which represent its many sides and enormous versatility. Who knows, we might even see some (or versions) of them on Sunday night.

Click images for full size views:

Yves Saint Laurent Rive Gauche tuxedo 1980's 

What could possibly be more feminist or authentic than a vintage Yves Saint Laurent Le Smoking?

Tuxedos never lose their appeal, and designers never stop trying to re interpret the genre, as exemplified by Jean Paul Gaultier’s version for Fall 2017 Couture.

Tom Ford’s cropped tuxedo jacket over long draped jersey dress from Spring 2018 is a sleek and modern update.

What better way to pay homage to Azzedine Alaia, the master craftsman/couturier who passed away last year than with one of his drop dead gorgeous museum worthy creations, such as this from Fall 2011 Couture?

Speaking of master craftsman, Ralph Rucci Fall 2014 Ready-to-wear.

I love the idea of something bold and unexpected, such as Ralph Lauren’s sleek black patent leather maxi trench from Fall 2017.

Speaking of nontraditional, how about a black dress in a divine 1950’s shape made of a waterproof nylon normally used for tents, like this one by Raf Simons for Calvin Klein, Spring 2018.

This Saint Laurent black velvet asymmetrical dress and matching boots  from Spring 2018 is the epitome of cool.

This gown from Valentino Fall 2017 Couture is easy, graceful, and quietly beautiful.

Making an entrance is great, but what about also looking fabulous when you make an exit? Narciso Rodriguez has that one figured out with his sleek black jumpsuit from Spring 2018.

This Chanel Pre-Fall 2018 is a wonderful example of sheer AND opaque.

Rick Owens Spring 2007 Ready-To-Wear

Rick Owens’ designs are dreamy, sculptural and avant garde.

Marchesa Resort 2018 

Marchesa has long been a red carpet staple. More than likely, someone will show up in one of co-designer, Georgina Chapman’s designs, and that would be fitting considering her soon to be ex husband Harvey Weinstein will not be present at the Golden Globes this year. As you know, Georgina left her husband after reports of his sexual misconduct.

- Marilyn Kirschner