Monday, February 15, 2010

‘Band’- Aid


Every season, the Herve Leger by Max Azria label capitalizes on the legacy of its famed bondage or bandage dresses and separates. And just when you thought there were no other ways to interpret the formula, move it forward, and make it relevant, a great idea appears (and it’s usually predicated on whatever the ‘in’ mood or ‘thing’ is of the moment). Last season it was denim (duh!) and this time around, it’s another duh!!! The “speed of street athleticism” is how the show notes put it.


Well, considering the Vancouver Winter Olympics are under way, and on Saturday night, Apolo Anton Ohno speed skated to his silver medal. I’d have to say that one is totally “of the moment”. In fact, some of the pieces closely resembled neoprene second skin scuba wear what with the flashes of neon pink and green, mixed in with black, and in the opening group, lacing actually followed the contour of the body, as if to highlight what a perfectly formed, athletic body should look like. Regardless, the collection on Sunday, a study in white, shades of gray, nude, and black, was one of the best efforts by Herve Leger for Max Azria in terms of conception, realization, modern techniques, and aerodynamic details.

It’s still hard to ponder how amazing a body one would need to even think of wearing one of these creations (let along think of even trying one on in a two or three way mirror). And as I watched the models come out in 32 different (well..sort of) variations on the second skin, body armor theme, including some which bore cross laced panels, textured prints, and enameled surfaces, teetering no less, on their mile high platform ‘slash’ booties, I wondered how they can manage to not only look amazing but actually keep their balance and be graceful (hey, that’s why they get the ‘big bucks’).

‘Taylor’ Made


Glitter, sparkle, and shine, seem to be one of the trends of the coming season and glittery sparkly tweeds have been spotted on several runways. Doo Ri showed glittery tights, as did Rebecca Taylor, who layered them beneath her already multi layered ensembles. There’s usually a lot (and a lot of stuff) going on ON the runway of a Rebecca Taylor show and this time was no exception (feathers, ruffles, mufflers, prints, etc., all at the same time); but this time she showed more restraint and it paid off. Best pieces were the faux leopard and jaguar abbreviated coats which were tossed over white tux shirts and pleated front trousers; an abbreviated leopard puffer jacket; a salt and pepper tweed pantsuit featuring a fitted jacket; a short belted camel cape coat; an olive washed twill trench coat; an olive washed twill jacket with faux fur collar which was shown with a bow print silk dress with ruffle hem and striped muffler; the feather trimmed teal blue washed organza dress shown beneath a hand knit sweater.

Lela is ‘Moon’ Struck


Lela Rose was inspired by the craggy shattered landscape of the moon and earth and nature's various surface textures recalling the romantic concept of nature's brilliance, according to her show notes. If nothing else, this was obvious in the names given to the colors, fabrics, and pieces on her fall collection. For example, there was a constellation dot print, a sulfur (actually pea green) double face wool coat and jacket, a liquid sulfur folded tank, a midnight moon rock embroidered dress, a night sky embroidered gown, an asteroid silk one shouldered dress, etc. I think you get the picture. While there were some narrow or abbreviated jackets shown with sweaters and trousers, as well as cardigan jackets and skirts, the emphasis was unmistakably on the dress, which was shown in primarily short (above the knee) versions except for three at the end. And they looked quite good thanks to shapes and cuts that were interesting without being contorted or overly exaggerated.

And by the way, even her shoe collection for Payless (with its celestial and moon rock textural vibe) was replete with the natural lunar-earth references.

Hi Ho Silver


Remember last year when gray was proclaimed the ‘new black’? Yeah, well nothing can take the place of black ever, but gray does come pretty darn close. And no wonder. It’s neutral, chic, easy to wear, easy to mix with other colors, and it’s ubiquitous and readily available at every price point. Coincidentally (or not), or the 36 pieces designed by Raul Melgoza for Luca Luca, (now in his 4th season and hitting his stride) the items that looked the best to me were all rendered in various shades of gray or silver. This included two chic trenches, one in silver silk taffeta and the other in reversible gray silk shantung and lacquered silk, the grey silk brocade lame and wool knit cocktail dress, the grey sapphire tiered mink and sueded coat thrown over a gray stretch wool skirt, and two gowns at the end -a slate gray lame with black beaded bra bodice and a bias cut silver liquid lame gown.



Diane Von Furstenberg admitted “I always wanted to live a man’s life in a woman’s body” and this quote basically said it all about her fall line, which was certainly ‘very’ DVF from start to finish. One could easily imagine the CFDA president wearing much if not most of the 43 pieces shown yesterday afternoon. It was very true to form and very signature, and of course, Diane has always been outspoken about having a yin and yang, masculine and feminine duality - that is nothing new.

Lately, I’ve been seeing her well cut natty blazers hanging on the racks of stores like Barneys, and they look good. They must be selling because there were quite a few interpretations of the blazer (including one in metallic tweed shown with a cream organza dress, another in black felted wool which was paired with a nude plisse blouse and glitter jacquard skirt, and yet another in black leather, which was thrown over a sheer georgette blouse and black leather trousers). In her show notes, Diane described the blazer as a perfect ‘uniform’ and in each case, it was counterbalanced against something much


Similarly, Diane’s chunky hand knit cardigans (another signature) were paired with items equally unexpected. (the hunter green merino wool knit sweater shown with an abstract printed chiffon dress was a good example). Speaking of prints, DVF has known to be a print fan from the beginning and her graphic prints (done in vibrant shades), certainly made a statement. Unsurprisingly, there was plenty of glitter and shine coming not only from the use of metallics, but in the form of crystal cording, tinsel, chainmail, and sequins. The use of the latter on tailored pieces (like the midnight sequined knit cardigan and wool coat) was effective. By the way, what was interesting is that for a woman known for her dresses, this collection had more separates than usual, though that does not mean dresses were not important.


In a season where leather is ‘king’, her black leather bustier dress featuring a full knee length skirt with textural open work, stood out. FYI: out of the 43 pieces, there was only one wrap dress (in black jersey organza), and it came out near the end.

-Marilyn Kirschner

The Daily Bet

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Sennheiser PX200-II Headphones, available in black or white
Street Price: $89.95 (MSRP: $119.95)

Rhonda Erb

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Thursday, May 31, 2007

Pattern Mania

Calvin Klein with Diane Von Furstenburg last night at her store opening.

On Wednesday night, Diane von Furstenburg hosted an invitation only soiree in the permanent location of her flagship boutique on the corner of Washington and 14th Streets in Manhattan’s meatpacking district. There was no dress code, however, judging by the amount of DVF signature dresses worn by the crowd, the 2000+ square foot shop clearly held not only long time devotees, but new fans as well.

She has said, “Fashion is a very mysterious thing” and yet, over the years she has mastered the ever-changing moods of the industry, the very concept that so many study in hopes of achieving even a thread of her success. What she has so graciously contributed to three generations of women’s fashion is immeasurable. Her love of the industry is reflected in the newly designed, clean, colorful, and enormous space, built to house her collections of bold patterns and vintage prints, which are updated monthly.

The entrance to the store.

The official store opening drew friends and admirers who reveled in the new space and browsed the latest colorful designs while enjoying strawberry and rhubarb potato vodka cocktails, Moet, and delicate hors d'oeuvres. The well wishers numbered in the hundreds, as wall to wall guests included: Hamish Bowles, Ellen Barkin, Calvin Klein, Kenneth Cole, Graydon Carter and wife Anna, Hubby Barry Diller, best friend Ahn Duong, Fran Liebowitz, Marlo Thomas, Ann Dexter-Jones, Peggy Siegal, Meredith Melling Burke, Anderson Cooper, Anna Wintour, and fashionistas galore. Also spotted were a black and white Chihuahua, a Yorkshire terrier, and a Scottish terrier held by Vogue’s Meredith Melling Burke.

The gals of DVF were decked out in her bright and distinctive summer frocks. Some were meeting and greeting while others guarded the merchandise. I parked myself next to a smartly dressed security guard and assisted him briefly with the task of helping partygoers avoid stepping into the curiously placed and difficult to spot pools of water in the store.

Stairway leading up to second floor.

DVF made her way around the crowd and sat for photographers on the shiny white acrylic steps leading up to the forbidden level, the cordoned off second floor that taunted us with its out of reach designs. The flashbulbs reflected in the tiny mirrors strung above each step to the ceiling, creating a waterfall affect.

This must be the Stairway to Heaven.

-Kerri Mullon


Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Walking a ‘thin’ Line

With the latest news that Diane Von Furstenberg, President of the CFDA, has recently met with Anna Wintour, and a group of designers to examine the industry’s responsibility for what appears to be an epidemic of young women who are literally starving themselves, it is obvious that this issue is being taken very seriously. And well it should, the fashion industry’s impact on this growing problem cannot be ignored or underestimated. As she put it, “It is not responsible for members of the industry to ignore the impact fashion has on body image.”

What cannot be denied is that while artistic visionaries may try to promote different visions of beauty, being lean and narrow, especially if it’s stretched out over a long lithe frame, will always be perceived as the ideal form. And it will be worshipped by the fashion industry, particularly fashion designers, whose models and muses unsurprisingly tend to be women with ‘ideal’ bodies (to the extreme). This was exemplified by the long time relationship between Nan Kempner and the designers who dressed, worshipped, and befriended her, like Valentino and Yves St. Laurent.

In fact, this relationship was explored by Cathy Horyn in her front page review of the Nan Kempner exhibit in last Thursday’s Style section, (“A Woman Who Wore Couture Like a Second Skin”). The late Mrs. Kempner’s impossibly tall and skinny frame was as much a part of her entire chic persona as was her amazing wardrobe and there is almost no article that has not made reference to the fact that she was a walking ‘clothes hanger’.

As Ms. Horyn describes it, “While Saint Laurent’s tailoring -- the sharp shoulder line, the slight drape in the front, the natural waist of the pants -- owed much of its rightness to his sense of proportion, it helped that his favorite American client had long legs, a 26 inch waist and narrow, boyish shoulders. When you see the posse of Saint Laurent clad mannequins, you realize as well that Nan played a more vital role in his career than merely wearing his clothes well. In Paris, the equally thin Betty Catroux, the designers’ friend and muse, represented rock n’ roll, decadent Saint Laurent. But Nan- was the Americanized ideal.”

Being fit, lean, athletic, and healthy are all desirable traits. When thinness is unsightly, unhealthy, and life threatening, there is absolutely nothing chic or fashionable about it. But it is impossible to separate fashion from thin or to overstate the connection, and unfortunately, as long as it is held up as an ideal standard (in the same that being tall is perceived as such), it is human nature that some will take it to an unhealthy and even dangerous extreme. “One can never be too rich or too thin” is apparently a mantra which is taken literally by more than a few.

-Marilyn Kirschner

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