Friday, December 28, 2018

In the Market Report by Marilyn Kirschner

The Year of Fake News!

Faux furs, like this coat from Givenchy fall 2018, looked
 particularly exceptional this year
Click images for full-size views

2018 will go down as The Year of Fake News. No, not that kind! One of the biggest fashion trends of this past year was the wholehearted embrace of fake fur by top designers from New York, London, Milan, and Paris. Companies like Michael Kors, Gucci, Versace, Diane Von Furstenberg, Maison Margiela and Burberry joined the ranks of Stella McCartney, Ralph Lauren, Giorgio Armani, Tommy Hilfiger and Vivienne Westwood, all of whom have previously banned the use of real fur from their runways. Other notable designers who have effectively used fake furs in past collections are Miuccia Prada, Dries Van Noten, Hussein Chalayan, Sonia Rykiel and Karl Lagerfeld for Chanel (though he uses the real thing for Fendi).

The formation of PETA in 1980 initially brought awareness about animal cruelty, and slowly but surely, what was once the penultimate symbol of luxury and the mark of a well-dressed woman, has fallen from fashion’s prominence. So much so that nowadays, wearers of real fur are sometimes perceived as being “tone deaf” and not clued in to the current zeitgeist. FYI, San Francisco recently passed a citywide ban on fur sales, and Nor- way—a major producer of furs for fashion brands—plans to shut down its mink and fox farms by 2025.

Stella McCartney pre-fall 2015

Thanks to faux fur production today which combines the best of art and science, it is no longer looked down upon as a tacky and cheap substitution for the real thing (the ultimate ‘faux’ pas), but instead, is seen as hip, cool, and quite fashionable. Stella McCartney, a known advocate of cruelty-free fashion, prefers to call it “fur-free fur”. While she launched her eponymous line in 2002, it was not until her pre-fall 2015 presentation in New York that she actually showed faux furs. She was rather slow to warm up to their use and did so only after finding the high quality 100% modacrylic that was soft, plush, luxurious, and convincingly real enough to meet her approval. As she put it at the time, “people don’t care if it’s not the real thing if it looks and feels great”.

Quite frankly, some of the most standout outerwear designs on the runways for fall 2018 were made of faux fur, as exemplified by Clare Waight Keller in her second ready-to-wear collection for Givenchy. It was virtually impossible to tell that her coats were not the real thing, down to their appropriately astronomical price tags. The good news is that this is the time of the year when almost everything, including high end designer goods, is drastically reduced so if you were eyeing any of these pricey pieces, they can now probably be yours at 30% – 50% off.

The following 11 notable pieces are currently available:

Givenchy patchwork faux fur coat

Clare Waight Keller’s hazel and black oversized faux fur coat for Givenchy features a collarless design, side slit pockets, concealed front fastening and a graphic pattern, $2808 reduced from $4320. More info/purchase


This Givenchy longline coat is made from incredibly soft tufts of navy, white and beige faux fur, $3724 reduced from $5320. More info/purchase


Marking Christopher Bailey's final collection for Burberry, this truly exceptional cape, worn by Cara Delevingne as she closed the Fall '18 runway, was a tribute to the LGBTQ+ community. Made from plush faux fur in a rainbow of hues that the brand says are "a global symbol of inclusiveness and joy”, it is lined with their iconic heritage check and is now reduced from $5500 to $2250. More info/purchase

Gucci faux fur coat

This Gucci faux fur coat features the word Gucci retooled in a repetitive vertical pattern forming bold stripes in white, brown, and electric blue, $9300. More info/purchase

Stella McCartney Sugar Cane Coat

This oversized brown cotton blend “Sugar Cane” coat from Stella McCartney features a wide lapel, notched lapels, paneled long sleeves, hook & eye fastening, and a faux fur trim, $1098, reduced from $2195. More info/purchase

Mary Katrantzou

Mary Katrantzou’s “Oates” belted hip length coat is in a caramel, black, and white diamond pattern, based on tiles from the Arts and Crafts movement, $560, reduced from $1120. More info/purchase

Mary Katrantzou faux fur

Mary Katrantzou’s  “Stokes” self-belted coat in plush black and white faux fur coat is printed with a striking geometric pattern reminiscent of Victorian tiles, $959 reduced from $1370. More info/purchase

Tibi faux fur

Tibi’s oversized bathrobe coat is a standout in fuzzy neon yellow faux fur, $486.50 reduced from
$695. More info/purchase

Stand Faux fur coat

This mid-length faux-fur coat from Stand features an oversized collar, press stud fastening, belted waist, side pockets, long sleeves, and a striking grid black and white grid pattern, $465. More info/purchase

Fankie Monello faux fur

Frankie Morello’s neon multicolored faux fur jacket features a concealed front fastening, cropped length and long sleeves, $192 reduced from $478. More info/purchase

No. 21

No. 21’s brown cotton blend faux fur long coat has an oversized collar, concealed front fastening, front flap pockets, dropped shoulders, long sleeves, a loose style and a straight hem, $1761 reduced from $2515. More info/purchase

- Marilyn Kirschner

Thursday, December 20, 2018

In the Market Report by Marilyn Kirschner

2018: The Year That Was in Fashion

Nancy Pelosi wearing her Max Mara coat 
Photo by Andrew Harnik Associated Press
Click images for full-size views

The year has almost come to an end and what a year it was. Of course, the most pressing events were of a political/socio economic nature, but there was also a lot going on in terms of fashion. While one cannot equate anything as frippery as fashion with the more serious issues of the day, nowadays it’s impossible to take politics out of fashion and vice versa. Case in point: Nancy Pelosi became an internet sensation and was hailed as a fashion icon when she exited the White House with Chuck Schumer following that now famous meeting with President Trump, wearing her Max Mara burnt orange funnel neck Fire Coat. Max Mara turned this into a brilliant marketing ploy saying the coat, originally from 2013 represented “lasting values and projected personal strength and glamour” and described it as a “year on year companion designed to last a lifetime”. They will reissue the coat in 2019 in different colors due to popular demand.

When looking back over this year from a fashion standpoint it sometimes seemed like one big beach, or one Big Ugly "Dad" Sneaker lol (of course, ugly is in the eye of the beholder). In reality, it is now somewhat of a blur of people, fashion shows, fashion events, and fashion items but there were some moments and images that remain indelible in my mind.

The Dress and The Wedding

Meghan Markle's Givenchy wedding dress

If you are wondering which ones I’m referring to, you must be living under a rock! Didn’t we all get up at 5 a.m. to watch all the pomp and circumstance and view this historic event attended by real royalty and Hollywood and sports royalty? After months of speculation about THE DRESS, Meghan Markle stepped out of her burgundy Rolls Royce on Saturday morning, May 24th, wearing a custom design by Clare Waight Keller for Givenchy (refer to opening shot). It was a surprising but assuredly interesting choice. It was not only a dress with an important label, but Meghan is a feminist who specifically wanted a woman designer to have the honors. Also, Clare is British, and the first woman to have the title of creative director for the fabled French house, so there is some added symbolism there.

Doria Ragland and Meghan Markle arriving at the wedding

Oh, and by the way, Meghan paid for the dress herself. It lived up to the hype and more than met its expectations if not more so regarding diversity (Meghan’s American and black heritage were imprinted throughout the ceremony and just watching the expression on mom Doria Ragland’s face was priceless). It broke with tradition without being disrespectful and defined ‘modern’ fairy tale. When is the last time a black Reverend preached to British royalty about the resilience of faith during slavery? The only thing that could have made it more diverse and inclusive is if they had a Rabbi -- lol!

The Catsuit and The Tutu

Serena Williams wearing her Wakanda inspired catsuit

Serena Williams wore a slimming black Nike bodysuit with a red band around the waist when she defeated Kristyna Pliskova in the French Open this past May. It was her first Grand Slam victory since giving birth this past fall. She tweeted at the time, “For all the moms out there who had a tough recovery from pregnancy – here you go. If I can do it, so can you. Love you all!!” The daring ensemble was chosen not only because it made her feel like a “warrior princess” but for its practicality. Serena had serious complications related to a pulmonary embolism after she gave birth to her daughter Alexis Olympia on September 1st and she said she had been wearing pants in general to keep the blood circulation going. In any event, the outfit was subsequently banned by the French Tennis Federation with its president stating, “Serena’s outfit this year, for example, would no longer be accepted. You have to respect the game and the place”. FYI, the Women’s Tennis Association have just recently changed the rules surrounding female players’ wardrobes including the compression piece worn by Williams.

Serena Williams wearing Virgil Abloh x Nike black tutu during the U.S. Open

Taking it all in stride, the 37 year old Grand Slam winner switched gears for the U.S. Open in August and enlisted the help of Off-White founder and creative director of menswear for Louis Vuitton Virgil Abloh to design an alternative wardrobe for her in collaboration with Nike. The result was as rule breaking and highly controversial: a one-shoulder illusion top and black tulle skirt paired with fishnet tights and customized NikeCourt Flare sneakers. You go girl!

The White Suit and The White Hat

First Lady Melania Trump

On April 24th, when President Trump and First Lady Melania Trump greeted French President Emmanuel Macron and his wife, Brigitte Macron at the White House, Melania opted for a white off- the- runway, asymmetrical Michael Kors Collection double crepe jacket with a matching skirt and a customized wide brim hat. It was a departure for Mrs. Trump as she normally wears her hair in her signature middle part and layered waves. I personally thought she stole the show and so did many others, but social media exploded with adverse reactions and many were quick to compare her to, among other things, Don Fanucci, The Black Hand from my favorite move, “The Godfather”.

The Jacket 

Melania Trump wearing Zara

There were no defenders of the First Lady when she made an unannounced visit to see the conditions of migrant families and children being detailed at the U.S.-Mexico border. Boarding her plane to Texas, she was photographed inexplicably wearing a jacket from Zara that read, “I really don’t care. Do U?” While she was not wearing the jacket when she landed in McAllen, Texas, the First Lady’s choice of attire struck many as insensitive. Her communication director Stephanie Grisham made a statement saying that “It’s a jacket. There was no hidden message. I hope the media isn’t going to choose to focus on her wardrobe”.  Huh?

Is the Pope Catholic? No, He’s Rihanna!

Rihanna dressed as the Pope

It was obvious that this year’s Party of the Year red carpet, in celebration of the Metropolitan Museum of Art Costume Institute’s “Heavenly Bodies: Fashion and the Catholic Imagination” exhibition, was going to look like no other and it didn’t. But who could have predicted that it would be such an eyeful? Leading the pack, as always, was Rihanna, one of the co-chairs of the gala. She arrived wearing an ornate beaded white Margiela corset dress, matching coat, clutch, and mitre, completely replicating the one worn by the Pope. Oh what campy heresy! I can only imagine what Katy Perry et al. will have up their sleeves in May with this year’s theme, “Camp: Notes on Fashion”!

Rick Owens Spring 2019

Rick Owens Spring 2019 Ready-to-Wear
Photo: The Impression

The powerful Rick Owens spring 2019 show in Paris featured militant, warrior like models clad in neutral hued Brutalist/sculptural designs encircling a pyramid shaped tower that menacingly caught on fire. At the same time that it was getting under way, a groundbreaking, historic day was playing out in Washington D.C. Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh and Dr. Christine Blasey Ford, his first public accuser, were set to testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee. Each of their accounts, given under penalty of perjury, would be at odds, conflicting, and diametrically opposed. Talk about fortuitous timing.

 The Ralph Lauren Golden Anniversary Collection 

Ralph Lauren's fall 2018 Golden Anniversary Show

Ralph Lauren’s Golden Anniversary Collection for fall 2018, held in Central Park, was one for the ages and a true highlight of New York Fashion Week this past September. Much of the fashion, shown on 100 or so ethnically diverse, multi-generational models (toddlers, seniors and everything in between) was almost entirely interchangeable. In attendance at the designing icon’s eclectic presentation was a similarly eclectic group of icons representing the worlds of fashion, film, publishing, news, music, and politics and included the likes of Bruce Springsteen, Hillary Rodham Clinton, Oprah Winfrey, Steven Spielberg, Robert de Niro, Graydon Carter, Anna Wintour, Anderson Cooper, and Kanye West. As usual, Ralph once again proved that he is a master of the mix, which is what makes it all modern and relevant.

CALVIN KLEIN 205W39NYC fall 2018 

CALVIN KLEIN 205W39NYC  Fall 2018 Ready-to-Wear
Photo: The Impression

Raf Simons celebrated his one year anniversary as head of design for Calvin Klein by completely transforming the American Stock Exchange for his fall 2018 show. It was recreated as a post-apocalyptic barnyard/art gallery complete with gallons of popcorn, Andy Warhol photographs, and Sterling Ruby sculptures hanging from the scaffolding. It was an unapologetically dark vision of America, loaded with symbolism in terms of how he sees American society and democracy, but memorable for its creativity, strong oversized tailoring, fabulous sweaters, leopard pieces, and particularly, his riffs on American quilts.

Life is a Beach (or is it?) 

Chanel Spring 2019 Collection

In reality, modern life may be anything but easy and breezy but spring 2019 will go down as a season in which beaches seemed to be on many designers’ minds. Karl Lagerfeld transformed Paris's Grand Palais into Chanel by the Sea complete with models walking barefoot on a sandy beach, mini boardwalk, tiki hut, on-duty lifeguard and ocean in full view.

Thom Browne Spring 2019 Ready-to-Wear 

Thom Browne’s spring 2019 runway in Paris also had sand, cabanas, and lifeguards on duty, but his vision of beach life was controversial, quite different than Karl’s, and there was a storm of criticism over what some perceived as disquietly misogynist. Models' faces were masked, their lips were stitched, their arms were tied to the body, and they wore unwieldy vertiginous platform shoes. Thom is known to push the envelope and take creative liberties and this is hardly the first time he has employed these styling tricks on a runway. But this vision of a parade of women who are unable to speak, to move, or to walk struck many as disturbing and insensitive especially given the moment we’re in with women coming forward with their stories of sexual assault.

Raf Simons is another designer who had a somewhat dark vision of the beach. For his spring 2019 collection he cited inspiration from the iconic 70’s movie “Jaws” which was set in Cape Cod (included were pleated skirts with shark- bite cut- outs and Jaws/”CK” logo tees). In an unfortunate twist of fate, just days after his show on September 11th, a man was bitten by a shark in the water off a Cape Cod beach and died later at a hospital, becoming the state’s first shark attack fatality in more than 80 years.

Marc Jacobs Fall 2018

Marc Jacobs Fall 2018 Ready-To-Wear
Photo: The New York Times

Marc Jacobs’ fall 2018 ready to wear collection provided one of the only major fashion moments of New York Fashion Week in September. He looked like nobody else that season although he did look like his hero, Yves Saint Laurent circa 80’s but on steroids; far more exaggerated and over-the-top. Where Calvin Klein was all about Americana, for Marc Jacobs, it was quite couture like and Parisian. It had nothing to do with streetwear/sportswear but rather, a sophisticated, dressed up approach to sportswear. The attention to detail, choice of fabrics and accessories, and the way it was all put together was meticulous. In a season of color and stellar coats, he had some of the best. Was it commercial? No, this was unapologetic runway fashion, but not everything was impossibly voluminous and oversized, and there were some wearable pieces. More importantly, it was inspirational; about the joy of fashion, and the joy of dressing up. Of course, for Marc now, it’s all about the joy of dressing down as he is fully embracing "Grunge", the landmark 1993 collection that got him fired but finally put him on the fashion map permanently..

The Hostess with the Mostess

Tracee Ellis Ross wearing a Dapper Dan for Gucci cape and black sequined bodysuit by Nicolas Jebran
Photo: Getty Images

Tracee Ellis Ross drew raves reprieving her role as host of the 2018 American Music Awards and rightly so. The 34 year old “Blackish” star said it was all about having fun and boy, did she ever (and did we ever, watching her!) Clad in a black sequined catsuit, she kicked things off channeling her inner Beyoncé with a rousing sing and dance number complete with 20 back up dancers. Like last year, she had multiple wardrobe changes (10 in all) and once again, she wore only black designers in support and as homage to her culture. Each look was completely different down to the hair styling and she owned them all. Among the standouts were the Pyer Moss pale pink tuxedo and Jacob diamond choker which she wore on the red carpet; the black sequined Nicolas Jebran bodysuit and the Dapper Dan for Gucci floor length cape accessorized with white trainers; the frothy pale pink tulle gown by Off White; the boldly printed fishtail gown with dramatic bell sleeves by LAVIE by CK; the Sergio Hudson leopard-print catsuit worn with matching gloves, beret and sunglasses;  the black sequined Balmain double breasted floor length tuxedo gown. It will be fun to see how she can top this in 2019!

"Who’s Your Daddy?"

Louis Vuitton Archlight Sneaker Spring/Summer 2018 Release
Photo: Footwear News

Remember when a woman could only be considered well-dressed if she were wearing an elegant pump? Nope, neither do I! There’s been a change ‘underfoot’ (pardon the pun) when it comes to aesthetics and what was once considered to be ugly and unfashionable is now the height of fashion. It’s all about footwear, specifically "Dad" sneakers, that are heavy, clunky, and orthopedic looking; so much so that no one would have ever worn them unless they had a foot injury (and maybe not even then). This is exemplified by the Louis Vuitton Archlight sneaker, originally shown during Nicolas Guesquiere’s spring 2018 runway show. Inspired by the vintage 90’s basketball look and futuristic trends, the Archlight uses a mix of technical fabrics and features an oversize springy rubber sole and prominent tongue. The sneaker may have had its preview in 2017 but there was a wider release with more colorways earlier this year and that is when it really caught fire.

The Cavs + Thom Browne= Perfect Together 

LeBron James and the Cavaliers wearing Thom Browne

The Cleveland Cavaliers’ former teammate Dwayne Wade and designer Thom Browne were sitting at Cipriani’s before the Fashion Group International’s "Night of Stars" 2017 when Thom had the idea to create custom, matching suits for the Cavaliers to wear during the NBA playoffs in the spring. Star player LeBron James, who was also a loyal client, loved the idea of the team presenting a unified front and he thoughtfully purchased the fabulous threads (the cost was approximately $5,000 per suit) for his fellow teammates. (As if at their hefty salaries, they couldn’t afford them themselves lol). Who could forget when 33-year-old James showed up wearing Thom’s cropped shorts, striped socks, and an alligator bag that cost $41,000 right before the NBA championship finals on Sunday, June 6th? His picture was literally all over the internet, in the newspapers, and even made the evening news

Phoebe’s Final Bow

Phoebe Philo

Phoebe Philo’s final collection for Celine was on May 2nd, 2018. Photographed by Juergen Teller, the German photographer responsible for the company’s brilliant advertising campaigns, it was filled with all the ultra-modern elements that put the revered designer on the fashion map and made her faithful followers swoon beginning with her first collection back in 2010. There is a reason she has been a favorite of smart, strong, independent women who have no desire to jump on the trend bandwagon. They see her strangely beautiful, experimental, re interpreted wardrobe basics, statement making bold jewelry, iconic sculptural bags, standout knitwear, and art to wear designs as instruments of personal, individual self-expression rather than elements used to attract the male gaze, or win the approval of society for that matter. Her woman is confident of her own style and not someone who needs traditional status symbols, such as an Hermes Birkin bag, for validation.

Ms. Philo’s replacement was Hedi Slimane. It was a controversial choice and nobody knew where he would take this highly influential label. His Celine debut for the spring 2019 collection in Paris this past September, proved that once again, regardless of the name of the house he designs for, his designs always look like, well, Hedi.

Among the questions as we head into 2019:

Is this the year we will we see Phoebe resurface?

Will her protégé and supposed ‘heir apparent’ Daniel Lee (he was director of ready to wear at Celine and has taken over the design helm at Bottega Veneta), really remake Bottega Veneta into Celine?

Will PVH and Raf Simons renew their Calvin Klein contract when it expires in August 2019? There have been rumors of a crumbling relationship between Calvin Klein and Raf Simons. WWD recently reported that Emanuel Chirico, chairman and chief executive officer of PVH Corp., parent company of Calvin Klein, admitted that the “reimagined Calvin Klein isn’t “clicking”.

What other magazines will follow in the footsteps of Glamour, who shuttered their print edition this year?

The year is not yet over and who knows what will happen in the coming days. At the rate things are going, I have no doubt that as soon as this article is posted, something noteworthy will transpire. Stay tuned and Happy New Year!

- Marilyn Kirschner

Sunday, December 16, 2018

New York Fashion Cool-Aid by Laurel Marcus

Holiday Mixers

Sacai denim jacket
More info/purchase

With more social engagements on the calendar than at any other time during the year, the holiday season can heighten our fashion anxiety. Whether the invitation calls for festive, cocktail or even casual, that age old question of how to decipher the dress code can almost make you want to stay home in your PJ's. Does anyone remember the "come as you are" party? Did anyone actually do that? Of course, the semiotics or message that we want our clothes to convey can also change with our moods.   Prim and proper? Sexy and seductive? Elegant or edgy? Naughty or nice? I love an item that encompasses the wearer's quirky personality especially if the energy is likely to change at any moment.   Feeling a little sartorially bipolar? This trompe l'oeil mixed media Sacai denim jacket meets tuxedo jacket certainly fits the bill as does much of designer Chitose Abe's playful and creative line. You know it's a winner when Linda Fargo models it on her BG Instagram plus it's now marked down from $1,375 to $687!

Tov Button-Front Shirtdress
More info/purchase 

If you're all about the denim mix but want to try it out at an even lower price point ($172.59 marked down to $59.97) the TOV Button Front Shirtdress with Denim Contrast (available in pink or blue) may be of interest. It could be a "lewk" worn as a tunic over a pair of loose legged light-washed fashionably ripped jeans and perhaps some snakeskin high heeled "Yeezy-type" boots seen on repeat on Kourtney Kardashian. Add an oversized teddy bear coat and shades to achieve that young LA celeb casualness.

Sacai long-sleeve shirtdress
More info/purchase

Warning: I'm also a fan of shirtdresses and plaid -- these next few items "check" those boxes along with the idea of one-piece dressing with the look of separates. The Sacai long-sleeve button-front belted check cotton shirtdress conveys a more casual insouciance than your average frock. Dress it up with pumps or down with combat boots depending on the occasion or your mood. $1,730 marked down to $865

English Factory plaid combo A-line  shirtdress
More info/purchase

A super affordable "onesie" option is this plaid combo A-line shirtdress by English Factory.  You can never go wrong combining a white button down with plaid especially when it's already attached saving the trouble of having to find one to layer under. $99 marked down to $59.40

Alexander Wang white bell sleeved tee/black leather strapless dress 

If you spent a recent Saturday night in Brooklyn at the Alexander Wang Collection 2 show (or just watched the livestream) you'd have seen this look come down the runway. A checked man tailored button down with an attached slip dress over striped boxer shorts as well as a white bell sleeved tee/black satin strapless dress combo -- indicating that this trend has luxe legs going forward.

Oscar de la Renta dip-dyed tartan twill shirtdress
More info/purchase 

Back in variations of plaid as it's virtually impossible to overdo the plaid tartan thing this time of year this Oscar de la Renta dip-dyed Tartan twill shirtdress should see you through those festive holiday luncheons with class and a little extra attitude.

Maria tie-dye and check print shirtdress by Alturzarra
 More info/purchase  

Who would have guessed that tie-dye and plaid combine as winningly as chocolate and peanut butter? Altuzarra's Maria tie-dye and check-print shirtdress is the proof in the holiday plum pudding.

Lanvin Lace day dress
More info/purchase

If you're looking for a slightly dressier non-plaid "two-fer" how about this Lanvin lace day dress? It's got enough pattern and texture to make sure you stand out among the black-clad ladies who lunch.

Lauren Klani Matte Jersey Elbow Sleeve Day Dress
More info/purchase 

If subtle, minimal color blocking is your thing try this layered look from Lauren Ralph Lauren. This jersey day dress could be belted or accessorized with a long necklace or worn as is for a sheath silhouette featuring just a pop of color at the sleeve.

Christopher Kane laundromat "T"
More info/purchase

Finally, into each party season, a laundry day must fall.  Here's a top that solves that age-old problem of nothing to wear on wash day.  Leave it to Christopher Kane to create the perfect "laundry day swag" -- this oversized "metaphoric" tee will ensure that you're the talk of the laundromat or perhaps the artsy cocktail party scene. Certainly, the artistic irony is there -- this item needs special care so don't throw it in with your sheets!

- Laurel Marcus

Saturday, December 15, 2018

New York Evening Hours by Lieba Nesis

Elphia Beauty Heads to Hudson Street 

Paul De’Angelo and Joanna Krupa
All event photos: Lieba Nesis

Elphia Beauty had its pop-up shop opening on Saturday December 15, 2018 from 7:00 to 10:00 PM at 137 Hudson Street. Being that the holidays are just around the corner traveling downtown was a nightmare with traffic at a standstill. Arriving at the venue I bumped into a couple of familiar faces including famed fashion photographer Antoine Verglas and dozens of models-many of whom appeared Russian. This could have been a Victoria's Secret casting call except it was the wrong season.

When it comes to beauty everyone is always looking for the next best facial product and Elphia Exfoliating Gel and serum might be the real deal-it certainly is a great Holiday gift. What separates Elphia is it produces noticeable results within minutes and is vegan friendly. Moreover, the product is cruelty and GMO free, paraben free, phosphate free, sulfate free, however, it is not free altogether. A bottle of the serum will put you back $137 with a small bottle of the exfoliant costing $52 and reaching $102 for the largest bottle. The product is available on and can also be purchased at the concept store in Soho as well as in salons in Madrid, Miami and Atlanta.

Laurie Zdanowicz and Laurie Bendall

The face of Elphia is Joanna Krupa who is best known for her "Real Housewives of Miami" and "Dancing with the Stars" stints and is currently a judge on the Polish version of "Next Top Model." Krupa is extremely personable and told me at this stage she was only representing products she believed in. Her shoot for the product took two ten-hour days filmed in the beautiful Beverly Hills. Krupa, who suffers from rosacea, commended Elphia for being gentle on her skin-whereas, many exfoliants were abrasive and irritating. Krupa also likes to use the serum under her makeup to provide a healthy glow. The serum mimics the body's natural Sebum (the oil the skin produces) and is made from Jojoba Seed Oil which allows the body to absorb the nutrients. It also hydrates the skin providing a light non-greasy base for the face while diminishing pores. Krupa said she was careful to care for her skin since she wanted to avoid getting a face lift by the age of 50.

Model in front of floral display

When I asked Krupa if she followed a special diet she admitted she enjoys pasta and desserts because life was short and she wanted to enjoy it. Krupa is thankful that she is able to book jobs as a model without starving herself as companies appreciate her curvier look.  She conceded that she was no longer reliant on her television career but was pursuing a more entrepreneurial route with endorsements of lingerie and eyeglasses.

Left to Right: Ellen Peia CEO and founder of Elphia with Andrew and Dayna Frank

Some other entrepreneurs in the room included Andrew and Dayna Frank who run the world's largest corporate trading company called Active International a $2 billion dollar company with 550 employees that is represented in 18 countries. The company places products on major networks, billboards, bus shelters, and radio for cheaper prices due to the relationships the Frank's have with suppliers.

KC Klein and Kate Bar

There were many colorful dressers in the room who appreciated the daring trends in fashion that were currently available to both men and women.   As the DJ spun tunes guests were able to pose with a lavish purple floral display as cocktails and hors d'oeuvres were served-a fun conclusion to the end of an exciting Holiday party season.

- Lieba Nesis