Friday, February 24, 2006

A Million Bits & Pieces: Part 2
Reported by Adrienne Weinfeld-Berg

The Greatest Show On Earth Is Over. But, not without all of the delicious controversy, beautiful corpses, and the like, that make Fashion Week so interesting and so much fun. Here, the real talk from the Industry Intelligentsia that separates itself from mere gossip; the real views that distance what’s seen on the runway; i.e., the important, behind-the-scenes chat that really counts, all told exclusively to lookonline.

Hamish Bowles, European Editor-At-Large, Vogue
Talk: Planting flowers at The Blow’s, Fashion’s Parallel Universe, Maverick Marc


“I’m getting on a plane after the Lagerfeld show to go back to England. I’m going to spend a long weekend in the countryside planting lily’s and iris in the garden to brace myself for the London shows. It’s a place I go to all the time; a beautiful Jacobean farmhouse on Isabella and Detmar Blow’s estate in The Cotswalds.”

“What intrigues me this season is that there have been two parallel schools of thought and universes; this very lady-like kind of Late Fifties/Early 60’s couture, referential clothes, and then there are other designers, such as Narciso and Proenza Shouler; Donna even a little bit, who are using other visions of the future to create something kind of geometric. I think it has been interesting.”

“I also think that a lot of the younger designers have done wonderful things. I loved Cloak for menswear, was a great, very accomplished show. Also Derek Lamb. But, for me, Proenza was just a stand out show. Marc is always interesting; because he’s sort of maverick in a way. He’s a maverick spirit, and he has his own vision; it’s not trend oriented and leads the trend.”

“As for whether women will wear his clothes the way in which they were shown on the runway, I think that he absolutely has a customer that will wear the clothes the way he showed them. But, he also has customers that will disassemble the pieces and put them together in their own way. He’s cornered the market in very stylish women who have fashion ideas of their own, so I’m sure they’d want to do that.”


Robert Burke, Luxury Retail Consultant, Robert Burke Associates, Former Senior Vice President/Fashion Director, Bergdorf Goodman
Talk: Mary J’s Surprise at Malandrino, Same Old, Same Old, New Biz, Who’s the next Kal


“I think we were all reeling just now because of Catherine Malandrino’s show, which was a presentation at Roseland. We’re reeling in a good way, because the models came out on this sort of revolving wedding-cake thing, and then un-known to anyone, Mary J Blige jumped out from back stage and started singing. And, no-one knew it was going to happen, so that was a particularly good, fun moment.Andre looked particularly excited when Mary came out on stage. He was doing everything short of dancing during the show.”

“It was remarkable how many camera crews were at the front of the house, as well as at the back of the house across the board, all pushing. Even though there weren’t all that many celebrities around this season, it seemed like the same Nicole Ritchie and Lindsay Lohan. I think that fashion is getting more and coverage from the average person.”

“I resigned from Bergdorf two months ago to start a luxury consulting business, and I based it on feeling that there were not many places for young designers or brands to go to get direction from a retail perspective. But, I’ll also be working with financial institutions who retain me that are looking at buying brands, and multi-brand retailers. I’ll also be working with Bergdorf; they’ve put me on retainer for a year.”

“When you ask who’s the next Kal, I don’t know if there could ever be a next Kal, necessarily, but I think now more than ever, stores need strong fashion directors. There’s more product than ever before, and there’s the fear that stores could get a lot of sameness or homoginization.”

“To answer your question of whether I’d pick up the phone when Bloomingdale’s calls, I’d pick up the phone when anyone calls.”

Simon Doonan, Creative Director, Barney’s
Talk: What FW really is, Shows in real time


“I don’t know; Fashion Week has become so completely incomprehensible, but it’s sort of fun. Fashion is supposed to reflect the culture, so if the whole fashion landscape is completely incomprehensible, that’s because culture is. There’s 400 million shows, 200 million people trying to get into them and they don’t really know why, 470 thousand people who’ve lost sight of the fact that this is really just a trade show, 80 billion celebrities trying to get into the shows, when it’s all just a trade show. So, I’m wondering if every one really does stop with Fashion Week. Or, do they also do Accent on Design, Car Shows? Why not go to all of them? Why simply pick Fashion?”

“What’s happened is more and more and more the brouhaha around Fashion Week is occurring at the wrong time. It needs to happen when the clothes hit the stores. All of this hoopla; one does question the function of it. As a retailer, I think it has no function, because as a retailer, the moment of truth is when the clothes actually get on the back of the consumer in the fitting room. The moment of truth is when the designer designs the stuff, and when the consumer actually gets it on her back, and shells out her hard-earned money for it. And, those are the two moments of truth. Everything else is just a big, dry hump. Like everyone running around being fabulous; it’s like what?”

David Wolfe, Creative Director, Doneger Group
Talk: The Real Reason Behind FW, Over-Hyped Shows, NY as Premature Ejaculation to Europe, The 25% Solution


“Fashion Week has been interesting because it has continually commented on what is happening in our society. There is a big movement towards conservative clothes for some people, and then, there are the others, who dress the way they always do as a protest against this way of change. I think that doors are closing, I think that women are walking back into the kitchen; all this overt femininity is scaring me to death.”

“You’re asking me about which shows I think are over-hyped. Just about every show was over-hyped. Anna Sui and Carolina Herrera were over-hyped. I think that only one show lived up to European standards, and that was Narciso Rodriguez. I feel that New York is the premature ejaculation, and that Europe is the orgasm. I feel that New York does not get the whole message. It gets its inspiration from Europe.”

“As for the celebrity question, New York is all about the media buzz. I mean the press would go to an opening of an envelope, and I am so over the celebrity buzz. The media builds up their pages with these celebrities that they think people are paying attention to, and no one actually is.”

“And, as for who should really be at the shows, well, that would be the 25% of the audience that’s here. They are the ones who should actually be here. Everyone else is hanger-oners, wanna-be stylists, groupies; just people who should not be here.”

Caitlin Lanphear, Senior Market Editor, Harper’s Bazaar
Talk: NY vs. Europe, America as Hollywood, Designer Likes/Dislikes


“New York is different then the Fashion Weeks in say Milan, because New York is more about the celebrity; American editors have become celebrities here; Glenda Bailey is a celebrity. It’s all about who is in the front row. In Europe, it’s more for and about the working press and the buyers.”

“But, America is the land of Hollywood; celebrity culture, which is a huge business. I think that the fashion, film, and music industries are all intertwined, and I don’t think you can separate those industries anymore. Plus, when you look at magazines, we hardly ever put models on the cover. Celebrities sell. Designers want to be affiliated with celebrity.”

“I think that there’s been some good celebrity sighting this week. We are inundated with celebrity now. With all the media coverage, though, of who’s with whom, and who’s in the front row, I believe that people who come to the shows to do their job, have basically become bored. We don’t even notice anymore.”

“When you ask me about the shows I’ve liked, I really liked Proenza Shouler; they are really talented guys, such attention to detail. Then, there’s Anna Sui; I mean, how could you not love Anna Sui. She does what she does; so much fun, such a fun, rock-chick, and she does it so well. We love and respect her for that.”

“But, when you ask me about the disappointing shows I’ve seen, I have to tell you that I’m very new to the market here; only two weeks into my job at Bazaar. But, I always think that we should judge a designer on themselves, so I want to give everyone a fair chance. I will tell you more next season.”

Constance White, Style Director, Ebay; Fashion Journalist, Chicago Tribune
Talk: FW Reality Check


“It’s been a great season in terms of lots of saleable, commercial clothing women are going to love; they’re going to want to buy it and wear it. It’s also been a much stronger season for women in terms of comfortable clothing; not too frothy. There are some great, very strong directions right now, but they’re more concentrated than last season, when, for spring, there were so many different directions designers took, and it was a bit hard to boil everything down.”

“The l940’s is a big influence. Menswear is major, but the statement is interpreted in several different ways, which is wonderful for women. Less important, but what will also be significant is military, along with representations of the l950’s, 60’s.”

“We’re still seeing dresses, such as cocktail and baby doll silhouettes, but not as much as we thought. We expected dresses to be so strong this season; retailers said it, but designers said no. Instead, we’ve seen pants and skirts. And, what woman wouldn’t want to have that great little jacket, skirt, or a terrific pair of pants in her closet.”

Agnes Cammock, Contributing Editor, Instyle
Talk: Where are the Fireworks, Celebrities-Gone but not Forgotten, In Love With Calvin


“Fashion week, hasn’t been totally dull this season, but it hasn’t been exactly fireworks. Where there usually was high energy with the celebrities and all kinds of crazy stuff going on, this season that quotient is not here. And, I don’t like that. I know people complain about the celebrities being here, but that makes shows exciting. It’s what makes a show a show. I’m not sure why there are so few celebrities here this season. I guess you could say that it is Award Season. But, it is always Award Season. I just don’t understand. However, we’re not done with celebrities. They will be back.”

“As for the fashion we’re seeing, I like all the Balenciaga style jackets, embellished sleeves, all the layers; so very interesting; the crop jackets with the longer shirts. I loved Calvin’s show. If I had the money, I’d wear all of his clothes.”

“I feel like Francesco is on a roll. Last season was wonderful, and I wondered if he could top himself, and this season, he has. I loved all the layers. I loved the geometric patterns and cutouts. The wraps and big sleeves and ties were just beautiful. Basically, he went with black, and with black you think somber, but everything was sort of artsy, and I love that. Basically, everyone I’ve talked to loved it.”

“I liked Zac Posen. I think that he’s also starting to evolve the collection, but, we’ve been having a debate about the show in general.”

Paul Cavacco, Allure
Talk: Dazed & Confused


“Well, I came to The Tents at 9:00AM today, to see a show. It turns out that the show was only three blocks from my house, so I had to go all the way back. By the time I got there, I missed the show. Then, I rushed through lunch because I thought Vera Wang was at 1PM. I ran down to The Tents, and I was all by myself again, because the show wasn’t starting until 2PM. So, there have been some difficulties. But, in the end, I saw Vera’s show. I loved it.”


Steve Eichner, Staff Photographer, WWD
Talk: The End of Photo Rage; Celebrities In Absentia


“You’re asking me about the worst thing that’s happened so far this week, and I have to say that actually not a lot bad has happened, because there’s a new system of giving passes to photographers that limits the amount of photographers that are allowed on the runways. So, there are a lot less fights now.”

“What used to happen before the new pass system, is that the photographers on the rafters would race down every time a celebrity would come in, and there’d be 1,000 photographers all in one space at one time, doing anything and everything to get that picture. It was pure chaos; a major crush. Now, there’s a barrier; like a rope, by the rafters, so that if you’re shooting the runway, you can’t run down to shoot celebrities without that pass.”

“Obviously, I am here to shoot celebrities, but this week, there haven’t been any big-name celebrities to speak of. But, the new barrier system is great because by limiting the amount of photographers, things are much more sane and organized.”

“As for the reason for the lack of celebrities at the shows, I think it could be the Super Bowl, The Grammy’s, but whatever it is, you know that from season to season there are either a lot of celebrities or very few. Also, I think that a big part of the celebrities not being here is the fact that they know about the way those millions of photographers who are here will act in the most aggressive ways, to get the picture. It just became a hassle for the celebrities to come to the shows. Even though they got a lot of exposure being here, the whole thing became a bad scene.”

Christopher Blumquist, Sportswear International
Talk: FW On The Down Low


“Fashion week has been quite low key; very little drama and hassles, its odd. I think that last season, with all the celebrities and so forth, every one bitched their heads off about that, so maybe that’s why many of the celebrities aren’t here. But, do I care why they’re not here? Not really. I’m just glad that they aren’t.”
As for the shows I liked or didn’t like, well, while there is nothing that I loathed, there are only a few designers I adored; loved, loved, loved, such as John Varvatos and Cloak. Also, while I wouldn’t say the season has been lackluster, we obviously do go through up’s and down’s each season. I’m not saying this is a down season, but I hope things get on the way up next time around.”

“As for going to parties, I haven’t. I have been going home and taking care of myself like a good boy. I went grocery shopping after Heatherette, and ran into Debbie Harry. So, yeah, the week’s been pretty low key.”

Patrick McDonald, Paper
Talk: Dishing Heatherette, Kenneth Cole’s Badgley Mischka inspiration, Grammy’s vs. FW


“Heatherette was full of dish. I thought it was strange that Patricia Field sat second row, because you know that Patricia launched Ritchie out by putting one of his “Carrie” shirts in Sex and the City, Also, Marc Jacobs was in the front row (with a companion who had the initials, “MJ” shaved into his buzz cut) checking everything out. Then, there was Kenneth Cole at Badgley Mischka. All you had to do was look at him to know that in his mind he was sketching what came down that runway.”

“Overall, the week’s been pretty mellow, but I like mellow. I like the lack of celebrities; no frenzy, We are back to what Fashion Week should be; Socialites are fine; editors, fashionistas, fashion-related people. Celebrities were using the show to promote themselves, and it was really taking away from the clothes, and even the designers. Occasionally, if there are celebrities at the shows because they’re close to a designer and they’re here to support that designer, OK, well, that’s great.”

“I think the big celebrity crush didn’t happen because of The Grammy’s. All of the Press Agents had to weigh between The Grammy’s in L.A and Fashion Week in New York, and the Press Agents probably opted for The Grammy’s because its their job to try and get their celebrities the most coverage and attention as possible, which is what that kind of event does.”


Cindy Jones, Publisher, Editor, Stylemedianewsletter.com
Talk: FW Haves-And-Have Not’s


“We’re a one-year-old, fashion newsletter, and we always have trouble getting tickets for certain, name designer shows. J. Mendel is very difficult. I’ve tried for three seasons to get an invitation and each time, the PR people have denied me; probably because they’re not familiar with my business. So, now, I’m turned off.”
“But, I have received quite a few invites to new, young designer shows, and so, I guess it depends on the size of the show, and how hot the designer is, whether or not we’re going to receive that invite.

I think it also depends on whether or not a particular designer has their own list, because they’re more likely to pass the list on to the PR company. The PR companies, with their own lists, are more apt to only invite the big name magazines, such as Instyle, Bazaar, or Vogue, for example, so that they can get that kind of press for their designers. But, for someone new, like myself, it is hard to get tickets to everything you want to see. It makes me feel unimportant and small, and it shouldn’t be that way. The smaller magazines, websites, etc. should certainly be included, whenever possible. But, that’s not usually the case.”

“What really irks me is when I don’t have an invite for a particular show that I believe is suited for my site’s audience, and then I see people who get invited, but aren’t in the business, or only come for the entertainment value or to get free things. That’s not fair.”


Irina Pantaeva, Runway Model
Talk: Fun at Aloft, Guesting is nice; Hilfiger Boys Rock


“One of the most fun things was being backstage in the W Hotels’ Aloft Lounge. For every collection, they’re doing different themes, encouraging you to be a designer yourself. They’re constantly coming up with different, fun things to do in the Lounge.”

“I ended up designing bikinis, which they brought in from Brazil, with all kinds of stones. You had to be creative enough to accessorize these bikinis.”

“My husband and I are here to support our friends, Vivienne Tam, Anna Sui, Badgley Mischka. I’m not walking this season; it’s nice just to be a guest.” “One of the highlights of the week happened last night we went to Don Hill’s, where our friends, Tommy, Andrew and Michael Hilfiger, were onstage rock-and-rolling. Michael H is a designer; he does these cool jeans. He’s also a great singer. Tommy and Andy got up out of their seats and jumped on stage, where they played guitars with Michael and his band.”

Adrienne Weinfeld-Berg, lookonline.com
Talk: More Bits & Pieces, Nice to be Nice, Men Behaving Badly, Snitty, Snitty Bloch, Bloch


“No one is busier during FW than 7th on Sixth/IMG fashion staffers, especially those hard-working types such as Fern Mallis, Executive Director, 7th on Sixth; VP, IMG; Production Manager, Christina Neault; PR Director, Zach Eichman; and Media Relations Manager, Andrew Freesmeier.”

“But, when this reporter asked for something special for her LIM Fashion Event Planning students, who made a field trip to The Tents, the group went way above and beyond the call to make the trip way more than just a little bit unique, interesting and memorable. A very special thank you to Andrew, who gave the students an all-access, VIP tour around The Tents, from front-to-back-of-house; Q&A session included.”

Interesting tips from Anonymous Editors … “Two guys – one, a well-known Fashion Director for a major Fifth Avenue retailer; the other, a well-read Features Editor for a major NY daily newspaper -- sitting front row at the Manuel show, laughing out loud and making fun of the clothes on the runway. The whole scene was un-cool, because if you accept an invitation for something, and you show up, the polite thing to do is to simply accept what’s going on in a graceful way, even if you don’t like or relate to what you see.”

“Phillip Bloch in the WE booth, loudly bellyaching to anyone who’d listen about how angry he is with WE; going on and on about how he feels that the network is not promoting his involvement with their new show, “Style Me With Rachel Hunter”.

“‘She’s in all of the photographs and her name is everywhere. I’m not mentioned anywhere, and I’m the only one who makes the show good.’”

“Obviously wanting to be courteous to Bloch, one of the girls working the WE booth said, ‘I’m sorry you feel that way, but the show is called “Style Me With Rachel Hunter”.’”

“That was all Bloch had to hear. Storming out, he yelled, ‘didn’t you hear what I just said? There are no photographs of me and no credits anywhere. I’m very angry with WE. I am not going to take a picture in your booth and I will not take a tote bag!’”

-end

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