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

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

New York Evening Hours by Lieba Nesis

Plein Takes Over Fashion Week in Another "Epic?" Display

Philipp Plein with Paris Hilton and Maluma
Photos: Lieba Nesis- click images for full size views

Philipp Plein held his much hyped fashion show on Monday February 11th at the Pool Room at 99 East 52nd street with a black tie dinner beginning at 9 PM. Plein who boasts 1.6 million Instagram followers is notorious for his fashion week spectacles and tonight he outdid even his over-the-top self. Plein, 41, is the king of bling embracing anything flashy and outrageous. The German fashion designer was studying law when he began designing luxury dog beds and furniture and using the leftover exotic leathers to make bags and accessories. His casual clothing brand was started in 2004 with his ready-to-wear label launching in 2008 along with couture.

Paris Hilton and Papi

In May 2016 Plein acquired a majority stake in the luxury men's wear line Billionaire Couture and showcased his 3 separate brands Philipp Plein, Plein Sport and Billionaire Couture in June 2017 at 3 different Milan shows. His fashion shows cost millions as he hires the hottest entertainment and stages the most elaborate displays. Last year he featured robots, snow and spaceships at the Brooklyn Navy Yard and this year proved to be equally otherworldly. Plein is an entertainer as well as a designer and brings his theatrics to all his endeavors. His Instagram page flaunts his latest Rolls Royce and Lamborghini purchases along with homes in Cannes, Switzerland and Lexington Avenue and leaves tongues wagging as everyone questions how he is able to spend such exorbitant sums of money.

Ariana Gutierrez, Maria Von Sothen and Reykon

Although his label sells briskly in Moscow, Miami and Macau raking in $236 million in sales in 2015 his exploding empire is hard to explain especially in a fashion environment that is continually downsizing. While his designs may not be original as the diamond encrusted skulls and studded leather jackets have been ubiquitous for decades; he knows what his client wants-- whether it is a bedazzled t-shirt or a fringe jacket and he delivers it in the most decadent way possible.


There was much anticipation for the show as rumors abounded that Kanye West was slated to perform but it was later revealed that Philipp was duped into forwarding close to a million dollars to a scam artist posing as a representative for Kanye. The crowds began forming a massive line before 9 PM as security was overwhelmed by the number of attendees which included Jonathan Cheban, Paris Hilton, Maluma and Bella Thorne who waltzed past the red carpet. Plein fails to attract the mega celebrities as his label is considered too tawdry for a major luminary to align themselves with. The venue which used to house The Four Seasons restaurant was lavishly elegant as one smashing guest after another walked into the vast space.

Models for the Billionaire Couture Brand

The first fashion show contained the Billionaire Couture brand as older male models ranging from 40-60 walked the runway in plush designs of velvet, snakeskin and silk-these men were mature, magnificent and fascinating to watch. The clothing was luxurious and elegant and was a one hundred and eighty degree turn from the Rock 'n' Roll vibe that he usually exudes. Kudos to Plein for veering so far from his comfort zone and executing it so effectively.

Model in Plein gown

After some entertainment and dinner we were notified by Plein that the Plein brand fashion show would be beginning in twenty minutes. This collection was signature Plein with sequins, denim, leather and buckles. The space cowboy theme lent itself to loads of fringes and cowboy boots as the models sashayed by with a contagious confidence.

Models from Plein

Plein always has the top models which tonight included Victoria's Secret Angels Lais Ribeiro, Shanina Shaik, Grace Elizabeth, Gizele Oliveira, and Alanna Arrington. Plein clothed his models in sexy shorts and fringed skirts along with plaid maxi dresses and plaid jackets which was a nice departure from his signature denim and leather. He also showed lots of green fluorescents including puffer coats and sports ensembles that were modern, edgy and practical.

Male Model in camouflage suit

The models and staging were so professionally executed that the clothing dazzled even when they were less than spectacular. The camouflage coats and suits on the men were slightly cheesy but once again the perfect staging made up for the lackluster wares. The gloves, the zebra prints, the bedazzled fanny packs and the NY logo have all been done before by Gucci, Cavalli and others but you can't help rooting for Plein as he adds a magic intangible element that has dumbfounded others.

Richie Akiva and Mickey Rourke

When the show concluded we were treated to a performance by Lil Pump and Smokepurpp who were wearing Plein and had previously walked in the show-looking dazed and out of place. Lil Pump played his “classic” Kanye West hit "You're Such a F--ing Hoe I Love It" as the crowd went wild.

At 11:30 PM after dinner and performances concluded Paris Hilton and dozens of others headed to the stage to dance and pose for pictures. This evening was undoubtedly a highlight of fashion week as Plein proves over and over the axiom that in order to make money you have to spend it -- a trick he has clearly mastered.

- Lieba Nesis