Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Starry Starry Night


Just like the recent weather, what has been shown on the runways during New York Fashion Week for fall 2010 thus far, could best be described as a ‘wintry mix’ (you can take that any way you want to but what I mean is there’s been a little of this, a little of that, and everything in between) -- and that continued on Tuesday.

When the lights were dimmed at Badgley Mischka, (the first show in the morning), it was impossible to see the show program and everything else for that matter. The first outfit out, a rather subtle black matte jersey jumpsuit, followed a parade of 15 evening dresses and gowns, most of which glittered and shone in the dark, and given names normally associated with the sky and outer space. (a ‘cerulean’ matte jersey gown, a claret/cassis/Bordeaux galaxy gown, a gold tulle constellation gown, and a nude chiffon nebula dress). Apparently, Mark & James have been star gazing and are taken with the beauty in the galaxy; there in lies the inspiration for their line.


When the lights came on, I thought that was the end of the show, but I was wrong. Numbers 16 through 44 represented items from their new collection, Mark & James, and though I thought that’s where the daytime pieces would be, I was wrong again. Other than a few unembellished, fairly simplified pieces at the beginning (such as a black wool tunic sweater, a black suede dress and tissue jersey top, and several wool sweaters), almost everything else was geared towards evening.


Or perhaps a better way to put it, was that the line seemed perfectly geared for that young woman who is going straight from work to the clubs (or not going to work at all), because there was a distinctive club vibe, not only in the color palette (almost all black except for some gray and cream), but in the abbreviated lengths, the shiny second skin leggings (pewter glazed lace or lace jacquard), and the liberal use of tulle fringe, sequins, chain, mesh, glazed lace, faux leather and leather, and faux fur. It was also hard to ignore the thumping club music which served as the soundtrack for the show.

The Bride Wore Black


Vera Wang came back home for the last time, to the Bryant Park Tents, after showing in her Soho shop for a few seasons. But instead of using the large Tent venue (where she had traditionally shoed), she opted for the smaller Promenade. There were still plenty of empty seats. The run of show revealed that the title of the collection was 'The Bride Wore Black' (boy, it’s hard to remember that Ms. Wang began eons ago as a bridal wear designer), and Ms. Wang said that she used the Film Noir as a contemporary metaphor for youth, romance and sophistication tinged ever so slightly with a sense of mystery.


Let’s face it, black and (and gray) are known to be Vera's favorite colors (I don't think I've seen her wear anything else) so it's not surprising that an entire collection would be similarly hued. The first look out, a sharply tailored black dry wool twill jacket with prominent organza 'corsage' at the shoulder, shown over a black dry wool paperbag pant and jersey tank, set the mood and was a harbinger of other changes to come (we don’t normally associate strict menswear tailoring with Vera). When one sees a Vera Wang Show, there are always the signature staples (Vera is very consistent and has a ‘look’), and there were plenty of those signature touches: the twisted jersey dresses, asymmetrically draped tops, faille boleros with organza rosette appliqués, tulle appliqués, illusion dresses with iridescent sequined panels, structured yet loose coats with short sleeves, asymmetry, the use of long leather gloves, and other such Vera-isms.


The pieces that surprised and stood out, included the coated black fringed coat (leather?), several heavy wool twill coats with Mongolian lamb trim (on the hem of one, on the short sleeves of another); the Charcoal Mongolian lamb fur pocket scarf; an architecturally draped white linen voile top that reminded me of something Gianfranco Ferre might have done decades ago; and those strictly tailored jackets and coats with roots in menswear.

Examples: the black felt Nehru cutaway jacket shown over a jersey harness dress; the black heather felt and heavy wool twill cutaway jacket with grey faille and sequined corsage at the shoulder; and my favorite: the charcoal felt boyfriend’s blazer with cutaway back shown over charcoal wool knit zip front jumpsuit with tuxedo stripes. Oh, I forgot to mention that Vera used not one chain anywhere on the line. Instead, she used massive ropes of teeny tiny seed pearls (not only around the neck, filling in bare necklines, but on both wrists, making it appear as an oversized pearl cuff from the distance.



Remember what I said about Carolina Herrera being PETA’s number one enemy this season? Scratch that. My vote goes to Dennis Basso, who freely combined the most luxurious of furs, leather, alligator, and fabric, and pulled no stops in his decidedly dressed to the nines fall 2010 fur collection which he says was inspired by the ‘great sculpture of Venus de Milo” and “represents the strong, statuesque, elegant woman”. Certainly, it would take one of those to pull off much of the Russian broadtail, natural Russian Barguzine sable, Arctic Finnish raccoon, natural cross fox, hand painted velvet chinchilla, etc. coats, jackets, vests, which were shown in oft times voluminous proportions with large face framing collars, and were paired with everything from charmeuse and liquid wool dresses, and wool knit skirts hitting just below the knee, to floor length embroidered lace gowns.


One interesting touch considering the popularity of anything military inspired, (not to mention the popularity of army green), was the grouping dyed in evergreen and paired with tonal ready to wear pieces. Examples: an evergreen chinchilla and fox coat shown with a khaki wool skirt and top; an evergreen chinchilla fox and leather jacket shown with a matching colored wool knit skirt and top; an evergreen ermine and sable elongated vest with outsized pockets, shown with an evergreen wool knit draped gown; a fitted evergreen alligator coat with massive fox cuffs, shown over an evergreen wool knit skirt and top. Once again, platform shoes accessorized and on this runway, some of those by Ruthie Davis (complete with diamante ‘spikes’) looked as though they could pass for a dangerous weapon.

Variations on a Theme


To say that the Max Azria show had one specific point of view (that played out over and over again), is an understatement. In fact, the entire collection was understated (and lean). The program notes said the show was a “minimalistic journey of clean lines and artful tailoring” And that aesthetic (an artistic personal approach to pared down minimalism), for a lack of a better description, could not have been more opposite from say, the over the top, in your face luxury quotient on view at Carolina Herrera on Monday. So, if your idea of fashion heaven and your definition of ‘modern’ is clean lines, organic elements, weightless volume, and individualistic style, Max Azria would be your label of choice for the next season.


There was not one print, one bright color (the dusty mineral toned palette was limited to black, nude, taupe, beige, various shades of gray, dark moss), and unlike other runways, surface ornamentation was kept to a bare minimum (and I mean that literally -- subtle black beaded details appeared at the end on a group of black crepe dresses). Fabrics were mixed for day (leather, crepe, knit, wool felt, wool boucle, mesh), and evening (almost all black) was primarily done in silk georgette, ribbed knit, and crepe. Like elsewhere, a platform boot, was the footwear of choice.

- Marilyn Kirschner

The Daily Bet

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Casio Eco-Baby-G Watch

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Casio Eco-Baby-G, Model BGR300GR-3, $110.00
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-Rhonda Erb

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Wednesday, September 16, 2009

“I (don’t) feel bad about my Neck”

All Photos:

The whole statement necklace trend (and I hate using that word because it’s far more than a trend at this point) has really taken off so much so that probably by this time next season, we will all have gotten bored of it and it will look entirely passé. Until then, (if show goers and spring 2010 runways are any indication) they are here to stay.

And they make good sense on so many levels. At a time when the economy is the way it is and shoppers are exercising more caution in terms of their purchases, these amazing necklaces, neck pieces, bibs, chains, etc., are a rather simple, quick, easy, and inexpensive (or at least, they can be) way to instantly change one’s look and really make an impact, without even buying anything new.

The transformative nature of accessories (and the statement necklace in particular) was very much on display at the Badgley Mischka show held yesterday morning. In addition to ready to wear, the dapper duo, who originally made their name designing Red Carpet entrance making gowns, have a successful jewelry licensee, in addition to shoes and handbags, and as it turns out, the decidedly simplified, rather classic shapes that comprised spring 2010, were a perfect foil for their eye catching bijoux -- most notably their necklaces, which were presented in a variety of incarnations.

Among the standouts from the well edited 41 piece collection, (many of which benefitted from the use of these over the top neck pieces), include the chic salt and pepper silk and tweed skirt suit with belted and peplumed jacket worn over a narrow pencil skirt which opened the show; the simple white shantung jumpsuit; the white shantung tuxedo pantsuit; the white matte jersey gown with trompe l’oeil beaded belt; the ivory lace and taffeta clover (petal) dress; the black shantung jacket shown over an ivory taffeta clover floor length skirt; and the group of glamorous swimsuits in pimento, black and white (there was a maillot in white and a black bikini shown with a white blazer). FYI: the glamorous, dressed up swimsuit is shaping up to be a bonafide trend this season.

Strange Bedfellows

It looks as though it’s going to be a ‘brief’ season. Brian Reyes was yet another designer using almost ‘nothing’ but briefs (and mile high legs and higher heels), beneath his coats or jackets, on his runway. The designer always cuts a fabulously chic car coat and this season, in stone Japanese cotton, was no exception. Of course, it’s his prints and patterns that always stand out (this time, it was his group of ‘bleeding heart prints”). Also notable were the embroidered ‘skeletal’ print tank dress and top shown with black centipede skirt. A white Japanese cotton strapless harnass dress was simple, to the point, and elegant; and for pure color impact, the wasabi (bright chartreuse really) silk crepe tiered dress deserves a mention.

That said, one of the most curious aspects of the show, was the press release attached, announcing Brian's collaboration with Proper Attire, “The company Proper Attire condoms transform the "Staple" everyone should carry to the signature item every woman should own". The designer was selected because of his “ultra feminine designs that make every woman feel elegant and sexy”. Brian designed the packaging by incorporating a pattern used throughout his resort 2010 collection: a botanical motif with abstract poppies, blooming buds, and climbing roots, (I have a question: how exactly does one decide what print to put on a condom???)

At a time when so many designers are collaborating with different kinds of companies on a wide range of products…this one takes the cake!

‘After Five’

Dennis Basso cited “fluid movement with a nod to the ballerinas of the great Degas”, as inspiration for his 'After 5' collection that was dedicated mainly to “cocktail dressing”. I don’t know about you, but for me, the notion of a collection based on ‘cocktail’ hour, and for ‘after five’ seems rather old fashioned especially these days but I guess Dennis Basso knows what his gals want and furs continue to be used year round like any other fabric.

So it was hardly surprising that here were a smattering of pelts (horizontally worked pastel mink and organza cover-ups and abbreviated shrugs and boleros) on Dennis’s runway (PETA protesters were in position outside the Tents, shouting their disapproval and holding signs up but that didn’t deter some of Dennis’s faithful fans, including some of the social set like Jamee Gregory, Cece Cord, and Somers Farkas). Too many of the ‘ballet’ inspired dresses featured skirts that were too full and too short (and often had too much going on), and in general, the more simplified pieces looked the best, like the platinum jersey and bronze chiffon gown worn with a gold diamond dusted python bolero. And the group of dresses featuring a large poppy print on a white background appeared to interest the social set who always need dresses for garden parties and garden themed galas that always come up in the spring and summer months.

Architectural Digest

Ralph Rucci and Yeohlee are not the only designers with an architectural bent, who have lightened up, gone softer, more colorful, and less austere this season. The collection shown last evening by Narciso Rodriguez, was beautifully conceived, smart, chic, and wearable, and a study in restraint; and would suit the needs of many women who work and also need clothes that look special, not fashion victim-y (not often easy to find).

It was also a toned down yet natural evolution from fall’s almost jolting and bold graphic patterns (which were shown from head to toe in many cases) and its equally strong color story. This season, there were still shots of color (green, pink, fuchsia, burnt purple), used effectively with the designer’s signature palette of black, white, natural, and jute, but it did not look as jarring as it had for fall. And the patterns, while graphic and still effective, were more scaled down.

There was a feeling of lightness and weightlessness in the construction of garments, and the use of controlled volume throughout (jackets, coats, and dresses followed the lines of the body but did not constrain the body), and pleats gave movement to skirts and dresses. Layering and transparency, themes that have all been in Narciso’s stable of signatures, showed up again, and the over all effect is one that is feminine and even sexy without being obvious or vulgar in any way. This is something Narciso has perfected.

Suits, matched or unmatched, with jackets devoid of any stiffness, and shown with a soft skirt or narrow pant, were a recurring theme. (Sleeveless jackets, a trend on many runways this season, looked especially good here). The show opener, a beautifully shaped black linen canvas and silk faille jacket paired with an ecru pleated silk organza skirt and white satin chiffon top set the mood, and a white silk/linen organza jacquard jacket with a double peplum, shown over a white silk linen organza jacquard pant was very appealing.

There were two artfully constructed coats, in silk and cotton mud cloth and dresses (a Narciso mainstay) were given a lot of attention, appearing in a variety of ways. There were silk linen organza jacquard dresses, mud cloth dresses, printed dresses, dresses with arrestingly cut out backs, dresses with loose backs (a modified ‘sack’), and graphic tri-colored dresses (one notable example was the black/purple/coral silk crepe and chiffon dress). The show ended with a trio of gowns in black, white, and silver, that were short in front and long in back and when the models walked down the runway, they appeared to float.

-Marilyn Kirschner

"The Daily Bet" by Rhonda Erb

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