Wednesday, February 20, 2019

In the Market Report by Marilyn Kirschner

Musings on Karl & Chanel: The Chanel Mystique

Virginie Viard, Karl Lagerfeld, and Hudson Kroenig, Karl's godson. 
Photo by Landon Nordeman for The New York Times

Fashion is 24/7 particularly for those of us involved in the fashion business, and particularly during collection time. But on the heels of the recent passing of two 85 year old fashion icons Lee Radziwill and Karl Lagerfeld, smack dab in the middle of the 2019 fall winter runway shows, there has been even more of a focus and interest.

But of course, Karl was not just a fashion icon; he was the most prolific, revered, influential designer of his time and the creative director of the one of the most iconic and successful luxury brands in fashion which he completely transformed. We will never see another one like Karl and since hearing the news, we have all had a chance to reflect on his singular brilliance, enormous talent, uncanny ability to connect the dots between high fashion and popular culture, and his sphere of influence which knew no bounds.

It’s not surprising that there has been so much said and written about Karl and Chanel and what his passing means to fashion and the luxury business. Karl was Coco incarnate. They became one in the same. In fact, it’s almost easy to forget that there was an actual Coco Chanel because Karl was such an embodiment, down to the rigorously edited black and white uniform: the white shirts with the starched high collars, the black ties with the jeweled stick pins, the perfectly tailored black jackets, skinny black jeans, and black boots

As for the Chanel Mystique: is there any other fashion label whose house codes are as timeless and as instantly recognizable? The quilted bag, the gold chain belt, the piped cardigan, the tweed suit, the cap toe pump, ropes of pearls, the little black dress, and the camelia are such universal and identifiable symbols of chic, many fashion fans mourned the Chanel designer by taking pictures of themselves in their favorite pieces and posted them on Instagram.

And they continue  to be interpreted and re-interpreted not only at Chanel, but by such designers as Rei Kawakubo, Junya Watanabe, Balmain, Gucci’s Alessandro Michele, and Brock Collection who had an entire group of tweed suits and dresses for fall 2019. Then there is Marc Jacobs who has been continually and unabashedly influenced by Chanel and especially, Chanel in the 80’s, when Karl first took over. In fact, it’s been reported that Marc wanted the job that Karl eventually got and he has been known to wear Chanel jackets -women’s size 12 to be exact- to high profile outings. That’s about as good as an endorsement as one can get.

But it’s easy to robotically knock off Chanel’s signature house codes as exemplified by mass market chains like H&M, Forever 21, and Zara. What’s not so easy is to actually breathe new life into them, make them modern and relevant, give them a living and breathing soul, AND make them alluring objects of desire. There is no question that it was only Karl endorsed sneakers for his fall 2014 ready-to-wear collection (turning the runway into a chic super market), that women were seduced enough to wear them 24/7 (and spend a small fortune on them).

This was what Karl excelled at and there’s no question that much of it can be attributed to his charisma: his rock star, larger than life image and personality.  By comparison, his successor, Virginie Viard, who held the position of director of Chanel’s Fashion Creation Studio, has no social media following and is a relative unknown to all but those at Chanel and a handful of fashion insiders. She is a woman who apparently prefers to stay in the background (she admitted that a big part of her job was keeping Karl “happy”) and said that she shuns high heels because she is already tall and as she put it, “prefers not to be noticed.” Well, like it not Ms. Viard, you are being noticed now. You had better get used to it.

According to one of the many profiles written about her since Tuesday’s appointment, Virginie thought that Chanel was “old” when she was growing up. But when asked by a journalist for Madame Figaro in 2017 what makes a “Chanel girl” her reply was, “As I have always been a Chanel girl, I don’t know how to be anything else”. I thought that was a great response because you don’t become a “Chanel girl” simply by donning a Chanel jacket and cap toe pumps or wearing black and white. That would be far too easy. It’s all about having a certain attitude, and an inherent synergy which cannot be taught. The same way Karl Lagerfeld’s talent could not be taught. It just was.

Virginie, who is in her 50’s, has been Karl’s closest collaborator for more than 30 years. He referred to her as both his right and left hand and they have apparently worked very well together. Most importantly, she has the complete endorsement of Alain Wertheimer, the billionaire co-owner of the house of Chanel, who is banking on her to continue on with Coco and Karl’s vision of Chanel, so she is obviously off to a good start. Still, she is an unproven quantity, and a lot is riding on her appointment.

Fashion is big business and if revenues begin to drop, so will she. You know that famous phrase from The Godfather, “It’s not personal, it’s strictly business”? Well, that certainly comes to mind. Maybe the still unemployed Phoebe Philo, who people had been talking about as Karl’s replacement (especially after Chanel moved its global headquarters to her hometown of London) shouldn’t give up hope just yet. The creative director of Celine from 2008 to 2018 was known for her uncomplicated style and sense of freedom. She has a proven track record, knew how to create ‘IT’ bags, and constantly challenged existing notions and created a new prototype for what is feminine, beautiful, attractive much like Coco herself.

Another name that had been mentioned was Hedi Slimane, before he took the job at Celine. But I have to say that if there was ever a great time for Chanel, which was founded by a woman (a rule breaking one at that), to be passed to another woman it is now.

- Marilyn Kirschner

Monday, February 18, 2019

Better Bets by Rhonda Erb

The 2019 "Everyone Wins" Oscar Nominee Gift Bag

Costa Rica Panama Coast

The Galápagos Islands, Iceland, the Amazon or Costa Rica and Panama; which would you choose for an adventure vacation? That’s the happy dilemma that will face a select number of Hollywood A-listers who will be the lucky recipients of this year’s “Everyone Wins” Nominee Gift Bags. For the 17th year in a row, these ultimate swag bags are being independently produced by Distinctive Assets founder Lash Fary and his team in Los Angeles. Oscar nominees in the categories of Best Actor and Best Actress, Best Supporting Actor and Best Supporting Actress and Best Director will personally receive the gift bags this week, as Tinseltown prepares for the most prestigious night of the awards season.

“Every human being, regardless of career or fame, appreciates a great gift,” says Fary, so once again he and his crew have pulled together a collection of gifts that range from simply practical to exceedingly eclectic. In an effort to focus on the spirit of giving rather than the value of the gifts themselves, Distinctive Assets is not disclosing the total value of this year’s goody bag. “While this gift bag does always boast an impressive value, that is never our goal. A great gift has nothing to do with the cost,” Fary explains, “We understand the interest in the ‘wow’ number associated with this now-legendary gift bag, but we prefer to simply celebrate the fun and festive nature of the contents . . . no matter how big or small.”

There is truly something for everyone in this year’s “Everyone Wins” bag, and whatever happens at the Oscar ceremony on Sunday night, nominees like Emma Stone, Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga are sure to feel like winners as they delve into the contents of this opulent gift. In the words of Samuel L. Jackson, “The best thing about being famous is the free stuff.”

Here is a peak at what’s inside the bag…

This gift box features Coda Signature’s premium edibles, topicals and concentrates. These handcrafted products can be found in more than 600 dispensaries across Colorado and will debut in California later this spring.

The nominee and a guest can choose 1 of 4 options – an adventure to Iceland, the Galapagos, the Amazon or Costa Rica & Panama. In addition to getting nose-to-nose with Galapagos sea lions or paddling along a peaceful Amazon creek, nominees will be spoiled with spa treatments, private chef-led Latin cooking lessons, and even secret celeb extensions in places like Quito or Lima! Depending on the trip they choose, the value ranges from $15,000-$20,000 per person.

The iconic Mexican soda, is committed to helping celebrities and their charitable causes and will be providing ample product for an event of their choosing. And Jarritos will be treating the nominees themselves to a Yeti Cooler full of various flavors for instant post-show gratification. Available in 11 great-tasting flavors.

Best-selling author and the nation’s leading phobia relief expert, Kalliope Barlis, helps you free yourself from bad memories and phobias in less than 30 minutes using mindfulness methods.

Annual membership to MOTA Los Angeles, an exclusive, members-only cannabis-friendly social club for creatives, complete with high-end concierge & spa services and custom event programming. Membership includes access for member + 3 guests.

Junod is a white absinthe handcrafted in the historical center of absinthe production at the Emile Pernot distillery in Pontarlier France.

Package of 10 Personal Training Sessions with one of Los Angeles’ premier trainers, Alexis Seletzky.

100% organic cotton designer T-shirts featuring limited edition art motifs.

One of a kind custom stained glass portrait created just for you by glass master and artist John Thoman.

Avaton Luxury Villas Resort, a proud member of Relais & Châteaux, is a stylish and contemporary beachfront escape overlooking the sparkling turquoise waters of Halkidiki, Greece. It consists of an exclusive collection of 16 villas.

Our limited-edition rose gold lipstick, light pink flower, with strawberry scent was designed to celebrate YOU and letting your unique beauty shine. All products packaged and fulfilled by people with disabilities.

CBDRxSupreme uses Organic full-spectrum CBD oil to improve health and longevity. The CBD Experience also includes a luxurious clinical facial using 1000 mg of infused organic CBD to replenish and nourish, resulting in a younger looking you!

Chocolatines’ newest collection in its Chocouture line, the Jewelry Box holds cocoa “jewels,” each handcrafted to perfection.

The Spa Kit for your Mouth.” CloSYS patented formula, ADA accepted specialty mouth rinse and toothpaste for exceptional gum teeth and breath protection. Gentlest. Oral Care. Ever.

FLORA FARMS (Los Cabos, Mexico)
From Our Field to Your Table. Flora’s Field kitchen is about handmade food using our farm fresh
ingredients. We strive to only serve only what we make, raise and grow.

A week (for two) of total mind, body and spirit renewal at the world’s #1 all-inclusive luxury wellness retreat.

Good Girl Chocolate is gluten-free, dairy-free, and naturally sweetened. It will appeal to your sweet tooth, satisfy your chocolate craving, and as an added benefit, it is made with organic low-glycemic sweeteners.

Luxury American-made t-shirts and sweatshirts that celebrate iconic happy places around the world like Los Angeles, NYC, London, Paris and Australia.

Realize your skin’s highest potential with our high five CANNABIS FACIAL MOISTURIZER and high expectations CANNABIS FACIAL OIL, revolutionary skin care powered by Cannabis sativa.

This star-studded gift box includes our best and brightest products: Transforming Melting Cleanser, Resurfacing Glow Toner, Triple Action Peel, Flawless Pads, Anti-Wrinkle Brightening Serum, C- Illuminating 3D Moisturizer, Xceptional Flawless Cream, Truly Transforming Brightening Eye Cream, Flawless Skin Mask, Powerful Retinol and Flawless Inner Beauty Ageless Complex.

(Photo here)
Salon quality deserves the best, which is why we designed this hair dryer with the industry’s best components, from the 100% copper motor, to the ionic power output, your hair will be dry quicker, meaning less damage, a better shine, and ultimately healthier hair.

Knotty Floss continues to be on the cutting edge of new and innovative dental health products to the consumer health market.

The travel makeup bag reimagined. No more digging, no more mess. Just pure, protected, washable, organized, beauty.
The whole luxury eyelashes collection by Le Céline. 15 products from our #DAILY, #PARTY and #LUXURY collection, 3 from our new #GODDESS collection and 2 #EQUIPMENT products from Le Céline Confidence & Star Appeal packed in a glamorous gold & black LE CÉLINE box.

Wear LOVE with our Love Is Stronger Than Hate tote bag and limited-edition shimmer heart T-shirt! Proceeds from every purchase will provide hope and healing to communities impacted by tragedy through our Stars of HOPE® therapeutic arts program and New York Says Thank You Foundation.

MILLIANNA accessories appeal to a wide
range of women and combine form with function. The company employs women from the World Relief Spokane refugee organization to make their pieces which provides these ladies with meaningful work while they resettle in the US.

The Mister Poop Plunger is super cute, 100% fully functional, holds a spare roll of toilet paper, glows in the dark, is anti-microbial, and has a drip tray to keep your floor clean.

Enjoy a luxurious weekend of rejuvenation, post award show season. Activities include: morning meditation, yoga, spa services, gourmet meals, an exclusive gifting suite and end the weekend with a cleansing ceremony with Shaman Soraya. 

 Lift & Lustre Golden Elixir Antioxidant Serum: This liquid gold, super-concentrated serum is rich in stem cells, botanical extracts and Hyaluronic Acid. The luxurious, silky formula deeply hydrates, protects against oxidative damage. Also includes Hydra-Bright Golden Eye Treatment Mask.

NANNETTE DE GASPÉ’s Bain Noir is an ultra-relaxing and over-the-top bath soak treatment filled with loads of hemp-derived Cannabis Sativa Seed Oil Extract which helps to soothe, revive and protect the skin while also destressing the mind and body. Feeling a little flat? Enter NANNETTE de GASPÉ’s Uplift Revealed TUSH ― the world’s first-to-market, non-invasive approach to curve enhancement! These luxurious, dry-printed Techstile infusers help re- shape the contours of the buttocks while restoring firmness, suppleness and bounce for a visually more sculpted tush.
The award-winning NANNETE de GASPÉ Youth Revealed Dry Techstile Treatment for the Face features a revolutionary dry-printed formulation and includes a unique blend of 87% powerful youth-restoring, brightening, and hydrating active ingredients and emollients that feed and nourish the skin for 6-8 hours following use.

Poolside dinner prepared by a celebrity chef at one of Shawn Elliott's ultra-luxury listings for the nominee and their friends.

Please enjoy the Optimum Nutrition Salted Toffee Crisp Bar for a high-protein, great-tasting snack!

Gift Box includes Shampoo, Conditioner and Styling Products.

A one-year supply of revolutionary Oxygenating Foundation (breathable formula that promotes healing and provides complete coverage).

Pepperidge Farm Milano cookies, the perfect balance of crisp cookies and rich, luxurious chocolate for a truly indulgent treat.

The spy pen enables caring people on set to blow the whistle on animal abuse by filming it and then reporting it to PETA's confidential whistleblower hotline.

2 tier gourmet pretzel gift box from Posh Pretzels, which are unlike any other pretzels in the market.
Commissioned original work of art from a Master of Emotive Realism.

Pure Organic Maple Syrup and Glamour Gourmet Gift Set: a selection of our best gourmet maple products with our delicious recipes for a sweet dinner!

Safety attachment for any leash tethered to your wrist. Allows hands free!

All-natural hair inhibiting lotion. It’s a laser hair removal alternative!

A candle designed to support well-being. A Soul Candle is a lifestyle choice.

An ALL-Natural, Gluten-free, Organically-sweetened full size (750ml) bottle of Southern Wicked Lemonade Moonshine. #WhyBehaveWhenYouCanBeWicked

Unique bright, exuberant “FRESH & SPARKLING” deluxe Custom Fragrance in a refillable ‘swivel’ atomizer packaged in a black velvet sachet. Plus an invitation to visit THE SCENTARIUM, NYC’s first custom perfumery, to create a one-of-a-kind signature fragrance.

Sponsored by TAPS, the Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors, the TAPS for Hope bracelet is an initiative of love and sacrifice benefiting families of fallen military. This beautiful, deep blue bracelet is crafted from Lapis Lazuli, (meaning Stone of Heaven), a precious stone mined from one of the world’s oldest gem mines in Afghanistan. The intention of the TAPS for Hope project is to bring together widows of war from America and Afghanistan to honor the service and sacrifice of their fallen heroes.

(Photo here)
Collectable 300-page coffee table book. All money raised from the sale of The Beauty Book for Brain Cancer is donated between two charities: SNOG (Sydney Neurology Oncology Group) and HEADRUSH. Both are non-profit organizations, have no overhead and rely on donations for the much-needed research, to help find a cure.

Certified female-owned, The Green Garmento creates clean closets and a clean planet! The GIGANTOTE is a multi-use, expandable tote that works like a basket. Great for laundry, storage, soccer games and wardrobe changes! Plus get your dry cleaning naked and skip the plastic with a 4-in-1 reusable bag! Responsible for taking close to 3 million pounds of plastic out of the eco system all across the US and in 25 counties.

TRU NIAGEN® is a unique form of vitamin B3 clinically proven to safely increase your cells’ ability to make energy, with NAD.

Natural hair growth system that brings hair back to life.

Magazine’s latest issue and a 3-month free subscription card.

Couture bow ties for men & women that are handmade in New York City.

-Rhonda Erb

Sunday, February 17, 2019

In the Market Report by Marilyn Kirschner

What Would Lee Wear? The Enduring Style of the Late Lee Radziwell

Lee Radziwell on the Cover of T

There will never be another Jackie O, but like her iconic sister, Lee Radziwell, who passed away in New York on Friday at the age of 85, mastered the art of making easy look elegant, AND elegant look easy. She was undeniably one of the chicest women alive, and she managed to look completely of the moment and relevant without looking like she was trying too hard, or trying too hard to look young. Not an easy feat (try that if you are lucky enough to reach her age!)

Whenever I saw pictures of Lee out and about (whether in New York or Paris), I was always struck by how perfect she always looked. She was unapologetically chic, stylish, and utterly fashionable, but was never a fashion victim. She wore the clothes and they didn’t wear her. If she was 'on' trend, it was only because the trend completely suited her, and was in sync with her own personal style. She always chose wisely, she completely got it, and always nailed it. One could do a lot worse than to follow her lead. All too many women seem to be clueless in terms of what is flattering, chic, or appropriate (to the situation, the weather, their bodies, their ages, etc.) Lee and her sister always understood the importance of the word 'appropriate' as it applied to themselves and to fashion, and they long embodied the idea of great personal style (past, present, and future).

At the age of 79, Lee graced Deborah Needleman's first redesigned cover of "T": The New York Times Style Magazine which debuted on February 17th, 2013 with the appropriately stark cover lines: "True Elegance". Instead of a young, happening, hip, of the moment celebrity or model for the cover, Ms. Needleman wisely chose Lee, photographed by Mario Sorrenti. There was a corresponding feature on Ms. Radziwill inside with images also taken by Mario. In describing her choice, Ms. Needleman said at the time, "I think we’re sort of post-everything. We’re post-race, post-feminist, but I feel like we’re not quite post-age. And we should be". "Everything is so chaotic and noisy and bloggy and she represents a kind of elegance." Well, 6 years later and things have gotten much noisier, thanks in large part to Instagram.

The notion of paring down was at the heart of her aesthetic which had served as inspiration for such designers as Yves Saint Laurent, Marc Jacobs, and Michael Kors, who once dedicated an entire collection to "the Lee Radziwill look". Pictures of Lee and Jackie, grace the walls of many of Michael’s stores. With Studio 54 behind him, I would not be in the least bit surprised if his next collection is an homage to her chic enduring style and her refined elegance. While the words chic, refined, elegant and tasteful don’t precisely sum up the overall tone of New York Fashion Week which just ended, they do apply to some collections, and there were definitely things that I could imagine Lee wearing.

Ralph Lauren spring 2019 Ready-to-Wear

I think Ralph Lauren’s spring 2019 collection would have been right up her alley; classic, classy, sporty yet dressed up. The black sequined stretch tulle t-shirt and black matte viscose long pleated skirt would have suited Lee to a ‘t.’

Ralph Lauren spring 2019 Ready-to-Wear

Lee loved fitted evening jackets and chose pieces that did not overpower her small frame. Ralph’s metallic gold leather cropped jacket and black satin-crepe skirt would have worked perfectly for her.

Brandon Maxwell fall 2019 Ready-to-Wear

Brandon Maxwell’s collection was similarly minimal, sporty and luxurious and had an ease to it that defined Lee’s fashion persona. And she loved dressing in black and white so I could envision her wearing his ivory satin cape blouse and black wide legged trousers.

Brandon Maxwell fall 2019 Ready-to-Wear

Another good choice would be his tailored white tuxedo jacket, white silk shirt, and black trousers.

Oscar de la Renta fall 2019 Ready-to-Wear

This Oscar de la Renta long white silk gown with an attached deeply fringed scarf is the epitome of understated, easy glamour.

The Row fall 2019 Ready-to-Wear

The luxurious minimalism of The Row would have suited Lee just fine (particularly the pieces that were not overpowering). This strapless dress reminded me of a Halston number I had seen her photographed in.

Jason Wu fall 2019 Ready-to-Wear

Lee loved red. Jason Wu’s knee-length red organza dress with petal detailing around the neck is simple yet impactful.

Tory Burch fall 2019 Ready-to-Wear

She also loved smart, tailored coats, like this glen plaid belted trench and pant from Tory Burch.

Theory fall 2019 Ready-to-Wear

Theory’s simple brown leather trench and ivory turtleneck dress are about as underdone and unfussy as one can get, yet chic as heck!

Tom Ford fall 2019 Ready-to-Wear

Tom Ford’s brown velvet jacket, khaki silk shirt, and army green satin trousers exemplify Lee’s throwaway chic, luxe sportif fashion persona. I don’t know if she would have necessarily accessorized with purple satin platforms, but nonetheless, the look is very her.

Tom Ford fall 2019 Ready-to-Wear

She loved abbreviated jackets so I could also see her in Tom’s charcoal faux fur bomber jacket and black satin trouser pants.

Tom Ford fall 2019 Ready-to-Wear

And she was confident enough, and modern enough, to pull off his liquid silver plunge front gown with massive chain adornment.

-Marilyn Kirschner

Saturday, February 16, 2019

New York Fashion Week Fall 2019 Review

 From the Sublime to the Ridiculous! - by Marilyn Kirschner

Michael Kors Fall 2019 Ready-To-Wear
Click images for full-size views

New York Fashion Week has morphed so noticeably from its inception in 1993 that it is almost unrecognizable to seasoned industry insiders who were there from the start. Just ask Fern Mallis, the woman who created NYFW in the first place. She remarked last September that she had not heard of 99% of the designers whose invites she was receiving. This season, Fern was given a ‘Standing Room” seat assignment at Nihl's menswear fashion show. The press team was obviously so young and unseasoned; they hadn’t a clue who SHE was.  There was a time way back when, that New York Fashion Week was ruled by big brands; the big gun designers were not only household names, they needed only one name to identify themselves.

Photo: The Impression

Boy have things changed; there is a new generation of talent, many of whom are still unknown to all but plugged in fashion insiders. Names like Sies Marjan, Sandy Liang, Marina Moscone, Brock Collection, Vaquera, Chromat, Dirty Pineapple, Self- Portrait, R-13, Gypsy Sport, and Khaite which was founded in 2017, and instantly became a fashion insider’s go to label owing to Catherine Holstein’s innate ability to reinvent and elevate pragmatic wardrobe basics, often with a military undertone. Catherine staged her first formal runway show inside St. Ann’s Warehouse in Brooklyn this season and used the opportunity to present her new line of capacious bags, belts, and great looking boots (I couldn’t help but seeing vestiges of Phoebe Philo).

Eckhaus Latta

Leading the pack is Eckhuas Latta. This design team which is part of a new generation of designers working at the intersection of fashion and art had what was widely considered to be a breakout collection this season. They may have been the subject of an exhibition at the Whitney Museum of Art, “Echkaus Latta: Possessed” which ran through last October, but they are not yet known to the masses (although that is sure to change in the future). Fall 2019 was wonderfully unconventional, eccentric, gender bending, and highly inventive; which makes it thoroughly modern and relevant.

Tomo Koizumi

Of course, the biggest surprise moment of the week, and a show that had everyone talking, was the debut presentation of Tokyo based costume designer Tomo Koizumi who never even studied fashion design. His 3-D collection of poufy “loofah” like designs was shown in a rainbow of mouthwatering color combinations; something that was seen on other runways but none as dramatic as his. Tomo was fortunate to have Marc Jacobs and super stylist Katie Grand, who discovered him on the internet, as guardian angels. The show was held in the basement of Marc Jacobs’ store on Madison Avenue and 60th street and Pat McGrath did the dramatic makeup. Not a bad way to start and yes, it was sublime.

Marc Jacobs
Photo: The Impression

But, forgetting all the new, young blood, you can’t count the ‘big guns’ like Marc Jacobs out. The designer once again put the exclamation mark on the week with an exceptionally well done and ebullient show at the Park Avenue Armory that spoke volumes (literally) about an elegant, couture like respect for the past (with plenty of nods to his hero Yves Saint Laurent) but at the same time, was far more controlled, and pared down than in the past. The models were given a completely natural look courtesy Pat McGrath and the only accessories other than the footwear were Stephen Jones’ small caps (some with feathers) and the ankle socks and glittery hose. This should make the hosiery market happy.

Marc Jacobs
Photo: The Impression 

This was a decidedly dressed up collection of daywear and eveningwear and Marc has clearly moved on from his beloved Grunge; there was nary a flat, Doc Marten boot in sight, though vestiges were found on other runways this past week. Instead there were high heeled boots (some laced up), classic pumps and sandals, almost all shown with the aforementioned hosiery. There were fabulous oversized woolen coats and sweeping capes, face framing high ruffled collars (a huge trend this week), wide legged trouser pants (some were part of natty suits), shredded tulle dresses, and an explosion of feathers, many of which are destined for the Red Carpet. The ageless Christy Turlington in that ‘Black Swan’ worthy black feathered gown? Sublime!

Michael Kors

And then there was Michael, who has expanded his empire, renamed it Capri Holdings (the vacation island of Capri is his favorite place in the world which should tell you something). He is still going strong, happy and smiling, and he wants everyone to do this same (and dance!). His upbeat, crowd pleasing show, held at 10 a.m. at Cipriani Wall Street (a venue more synonymous with black tie evening soirees) on the last day of NYFW could have been called “The Last Days of Disco”.

Michael Kors

It was an homage to his days at Studio 54 in the 70’s and a real mash up; it literally had everything AND the kitchen sink (sort of like looking back at Michael’s greatest hits all in one show). It was an over the top hodgepodge, accessorized to the hilt, and there was so much going on (maribou, fringe, feathers, metallics, snakeskin, patchwork leather, natty menswear fabrics, sleeping bag coats); you did not know where to look. Ridiculously flashy, down to the Barry Manilow finale. Yup, but it worked.

Ralph Lauren 
Photo: Landon Nordeman for The New York Times

Ralph, the elder statesman who celebrated his 50th anniversary in September, continues to create the sort of classic, refined, luxurious American sportswear that appeals to many women. He transformed the main floor of his magnificent Beaux-Arts mansion at 888 Madison Avenue into Ralph’s Café where guests enjoyed coffee and pastry while taking in his spring 2019 collection. It was an elegant study in black, white, and gold (lots of gold!) and an emphasis on tailoring, military and nautical touches, and languid dresses. Actually, it was so ridiculously refined and so perfect in that every hair in place Upper East Side sort of way, I actually wished it was a little more disheveled and messed up lol.

Photo: The Impression

Ralph’s civilized, rarified world could not be more diametrically opposed to that of Telfar Clemens. Telfar’s gritty and chaotic “Country” themed fashion show cum concert was held at Irving Plaza (which was turned into a mosh pit). Models did not walk a runway but literally fell into the jam packed audience and crowd surfed. Talk about going from the sublime to the ridiculous. Or is the other way around? I guess that’s all subjective lol. In any case, this dichotomy perfect illustrates the yin yang of fashion. Right now, there is a palpable push and pull between the young and the old, the old and the new, the conventional and unconventional, the traditional and untraditional (you can’t get more untraditional than Telfar, Chromat or Gypsy Sport for that matter).

Pantsuits, like this one from Proenza Schouler, were especially strong this season

There has been a lot of talk about the demise of NYFW, especially after Thom Browne decamped to Paris a few seasons ago. Raf Simons’ departure from Calvin Klein at the end of last year did not help, nor the fact that Kerby Jean-Raymond of Pyer Moss was a no show this season, or that Rodarte held their terrific show on the West Coast. But there were still worthy collections, high moments, and interesting things happening on the runways and presentations. There may be many changes afoot with regards to NYFW but what has definitely not changed is that it is a mixed bag with different points of view and approaches; a week filled with ups and downs. Of course, that is all subjective, no?

Among the things I considered to be sublime:

The Row

Almost everything at The Row fits the bill in my opinion but this season that would specifically be their focus on the waist. As the late L’Wren Scott once observed. “Men understand it as long as it has a waist”.

Proenza Schouler
Photo: The Impression

In a season of stellar outerwear, the graphic ivory and black trench at Proenza Schouler stood out. It’s a keeper!

Vera Wang

I can’t help but get that warm and fuzzy feeling from Vera Wang’s charcoal gray faux fur coat that fully reverses to a lining of enormous silver paillettes.

Tom Ford
Photo: The Impression

I was similarly taken by Tom Ford’s luscious faux furs (coats and hats) which were shown in unexpected colors like pale lilac. And the designer’s velvet strong shouldered jackets, turtlenecks, and satin trousers in luscious orchid like colors (red, pink, purple) float my boat.

Brock Collection
Photo: The Impression

I love the way Brock Collections’ lace up boots in floral brocade and nubby tweed matched the ensembles they were shown with.

Jeremy Scott

Jeremy Scott’s collection of bold black and white designs (in collaboration with artist Aleksandra Mir), was inspired by the never ending tabloid news. His clever solution of how to deal with the horrors and harsh reality of tabloid news? Instead of reading about it, wear it!

Greta Constantine

Greta Constantine’s long sleeved silver sequined bodysuit layered beneath a raffia gown is definitely not for everyone. Designers Kirk Pickersgill and Stephen Wong were inspired by Dubai this season thus everything was voluminous, covered up, modest, and uber glamorous.

Eckhaus Latta
Photo: The Impression

I loved the inventive way Mike Eckhaus and Zoe Latta transformed beaded pieces (most commonly found as car and taxi seat covers) into something almost couture like. It was a brilliant artisanal touch.

Eckhaus Latta
Photo: The Impression

Their collaboration with Uggs was similarly brilliant. The design duo worked together with Uggs on a collection of footwear (which includes an interesting hybrid of a court pump and a mule), and two cozy coats. They managed to take something that was once considered to be the ultimate faux pas (Uggs) and transform it into something quite chic. Who are you calling “Ugg”ly now?

Talk about going from the sublime to the ridiculous. Or in this case, the other way around!

Click here for our New York Fashion Week Spring/Summer & Fall/Winter Reports going back to 2003 written by Marilyn Kirschner and others by Bernadine Morris.

Thursday, February 14, 2019

New York Evening Hours by Lieba Nesis

Zang Toi Presents Red, White & Blue Extravaganza

Zang Toi finale
All photos Lieba Nesis - click images for full size views

It is rare to attend a fashion show and be greeted by Secret Service unless you are Zang Toi and dress Ivana Trump, Marla Maples and Kimberly Guilfoyle who brought boyfriend Donald Trump Jr. It was evident from Trump's face that he had never experienced fashion week in New York as he stared at the clothing with a bemused curiosity.

Donald Trump Jr. with Kimberly Guilfoyle

Aside from being a dresser to many in the Trump family Toi dresses royalty all over the world and celebrities including Sharon Stone, Meg Ryan and Pattie LaBelle. Those who don't know Toi are surprised to learn that he is 57 since he looks 37 and that he was born in the Kuala Krai district in Kelantan Malaysia. He arrived in New York City at the age of 19 and attended the Parsons School of Design, eventually opening his own atelier in 1989.  Zang's shows are romantic, exciting and elegant.

Marla Maples

The attendees are friends, family, customers and lovers of Zang and his fashion. This evening was extremely special to Zang as he was celebrating arriving in New York 38 years ago and he paid homage to the America he cherishes and appreciates.

Jean Shafiroff, Kim Maresca and Sarah Rose Summers

Zang who is known to use the finest materials of cashmere and silk for his clothing is equally famous for his heavily jeweled necklines and sweeping gowns and capes; however, tonight Zang was all about America.

Mohair Cape with matching mini dress

The show which began at 6:40 PM started with the national anthem. The first of the 29 looks were dark blue denim and corduroy trenches and skinny jeans. These were not the Levi's kind of denim but the type that a Zang client would shell out big bucks for.  Making denim look this classy is a near impossible feat that only Toi could pull off. The white and blue mohair mini dress coupled with a matching cape was luxurious and comfortable looking modern while still maintaining a classic air. Loro Piana was ubiquitous throughout the collection appearing in tweed blazers, trousers and capes.

White wool suit with fox sleeves

The Loro Piana cashmere coat with a mink tuxedo collar was positively royal as fox and mink were used generously throughout the collection. Toi's use of whites, blues and red-the colors of the American flag-were done in an extremely bold fashion with the glaring colors calling attention to the wearer. The white wool crepe kimono jacket with fox sleeves was divine and perfectly contrasted to the black shoes exhibiting once again that few do white suits better than Zang.

Red shirt waisted Ballgown

After a brief pause "America the Beautiful" played again and we were treated to Zang's specialty-opulent ball gowns. The navy gazar gown drifted down the runway along with a red princess gown and a blue empired gown with hand-beaded crosses. The finale contained a navy silk skirt with a hand beaded American flag and an "All American Freedom Gown" that had stars on the bodice and train that were absolutely divine. This collection expressed Toi's grateful expression to a country that has given him such an extraordinary opportunity to excel.

- Lieba Nesis

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

New York Fashion Cool-Aid by Laurel Marcus

Lauren Lawrence's "The Trouble With Words" Brings Socialites Out in the Cold

More info/purchase

As yesterday’s snowy, icy, blustery day turned inexorably into a slushy, rainy, slippery night, I thought it might derail the best laid plans of mice and men – or at least a book signing party in Lauren Lawrence’s honor at CH Carolina Herrera boutique on Madison Avenue. Although many would-be attendees apparently pooped out when they saw the weather, enough brave souls showed up that by the end of the night the books (only available at Shakespeare & Co. or online) had magically sold out.  Lawrence, famed personality of TV (RHONY Season 7 , and former host of “Celebrity Nightmares Decoded” on the Bio Channel) as well as the dreams columnist for the New York Daily News has written four books on dreams including 2002’s “Private Dreams of Public People,” while her other two books, tonight’s “The Trouble With Words,” and 2017’s “Side Effects” are works of poetry.

Ivonne Camacho, Lauren Lawrence
All photos Laurel Marcus

When I asked Lauren about her inspiration for the book she responded that around 2002 after watching "Apocalypse Now" she became so moved by the trauma inflicted on our young men who go to war that she started writing several antiwar poems. "I had been reading some of these poems to my dear friend Gore Vidal, who was living in Italy at the time. He loved them so much he encouraged me to write a whole book on the same theme, which was a rather daunting prospect. It took me 15 years to fulfill my promise to him because it's awfully hard to write over 50 poems on the same theme. But I took my time and tried to make each one different while carrying the theme of how war changes one. How there is so much irrecoverable loss. How one's selfhood can never fully recover.

Leda Nussbaum, Dena McCoy

The book title comes from the fact that no matter how hard I would try to conceive what these men went through, there are no words for this harsh experience. I wrote THE TROUBLE WITH WORDS hoping to distill some of the trauma of the veterans by repeating the initial experience at a time when they could control the event in a way that would weaken the stimulus. Several veterans have thanked me for the book." A portion of the proceeds from the sale of this book is donated to the Wounded Warrior Project.

Montgomery Frazier, Lauren Ezersky & friend

Those in attendance ran the gamut from the worlds of art, fashion, music, literature, business, society and philanthropy including author/columnist/cartoonist/poet/social commentator Anthony Haden Guest, Michele Herbert, Consuelo Vanderbilt Costin, Lauren Ezersky, Randi Schatz, Jane Pontarelli, Larry Parks (Director of FAME Foundation for the Advancement of Monetary Education), Ellyn Harris (singer/songwriter/publicist), Leda Nussbaum and Joycelyn Engle.

Anzhelika Steenolsen of Eliann couture and Lauren Lawrence

The event took place appropriately in a book lined room resembling a study, at the back of the boutique. I didn’t observe any of the guests actually shopping for anything other than the book which was a little surprising. I took a gamble and wore my “apres-ski” fur boots over my leather pants without bothering to bring “nicer” shoes to change into.

Michelle Herbert, Consuelo Vanderbilt Costin, Lauren Lawrence, & Randi Schatz

While many attendees teetered in their stilettos and cocktail dresses, others seemed to dress a bit more for the weather with some type of lower heeled boot although TBH I only saw one other person go all out in fur mukluks similar to mine. Unfortunately I don’t have a driver and limo waiting outside for me or I might have opted for more glamorous footwear. Lol

Gilda Sacasa, Daniel Alexander

Glimpsing a dashing young gentlemen sporting a Versace Medusa-head studded logo shirt, a Chanel logo cashmere scarf, and a Gucci stripe logo man-bag, I boldly asked him which label he was NOT wearing. It turns out that he is Daniel Alexander, a womenswear fashion designer who just showed his DA by Daniel line at NYFW as part of Art Hearts Fashion at the Angel Orensanz Foundation. His crowning touch (in my humble opinion, the best part of his OOTD) was his two-tone fedora which is (thank goodness!) his own label.

Elena Ayot & Lauren Lawrence

I admired a Swarovski crystal necklace woven with gold thread adorning the neck of Ivonne Camacho which came from a trunk show of Joe Vilaiwan Bijoux (his jewelry was a favorite of Joan Rivers). He’s also one of Camacho’s clients -- a “leading-edge online marketing and branding” -- DA by Daniel line is another.

Jane Pontarelli & Lauren Lawrence

Jane Pontarelli of the cotton-candy pink hair (she wears it proudly as a breast cancer survivor) spoke of Dennis Basso’s ability to sell high-end furs on Madison Avenue one minute and hawk shoes on QVC the next. “Sell to the masses and live with the classes, is what they say,” she quipped. Lauren Ezersky arrived in a soaking wet, yet chic black puffer coat. “We went to the wrong store,” she admitted. I was actually wondering if anyone would do that since Carolina Herrera’s primary boutique is located on 72nd Street while CH is on 67th – an easy mistake that I was happy not to have made!

- Laurel Marcus