Thursday, February 18, 2010

Michael gets ‘Slashed’


Nobody does sporty chic, quite like Michael Kors and the collection he showed yesterday, filled with luxurious takes on “quintessentially American wardrobe staples” was “all about ease” (as described it in his run of show). The 64 pieces (both women’s wear and menswear and there were plenty of things for the guys that I wouldn’t mind having), played out in a chic neutral color palette consisting of camel (camel and more camel), smoke, anthracite, gunmetal, and of course, black and white. It was choc a block with great pieces and desirous wardrobe staples (great cashmere sweaters, sumptuous cross fox furs and fur accessories (flings, anorak coats, even a skirt), sporty anoraks, balmacaans, military coats, chesterfields, reefers, pea jackets, metallic tweeds, perfect trouser suits, silver cire storm coats, draped jersey and paillette jersey dresses). Every length and every proportion was shown and Michael seemed intent on infusing his signature, iconic pieces with an updated sexier edge.


To that end, ruggedly sexy boots or brown leather sandals (both on platforms) were used, and the body was visible even beneath the most oversized furs or classic of menswear inspired coats, thanks to the use of deep v neck cashmere sweaters or almost see thru mohair voile pullovers. Notable examples are the white Melton chesterfield shown over a white cashmere v neck pullover and a floor length white cashmere skirt, and the camel crushed cashmere pea coat worn with a smoke mohair voile pullover and smoke stretch flannel trouser. (Both of which, in addition to many other items in the collection, I could easily envision on Melania Trump- who was seated next to The Donald in the front row) Michael experimented with fabrics and surface textures by crushing and crinkling cashmere (giving his stellar outwear a somewhat lived in, wrinkly look), he also used distressed leather, and slashed (or slit) the elbows of some of his chesterfields, making them look as though they were ripped or torn but in fact, he was allowing for the narrowest of sleeves.

Coincidentally, when I left Michael’s show, I noticed that my vintage mink bolero had rips and tears on two sides. Instead of panicking or looking for a safety pin to temporarily patch it up, I thought of Michael and simply decided to go with the flow and let it ‘rip’.

Tory! Tory! Tory!


The many reasons for Tory Burch's amazing success were very much apparent at her morning fall 2010 installation held at the Bryant Park tents. Even though it was very early, the venue was jam packed, filled with energy, not to mention the signature clothing, handbags, boots, accessories that now bear the name of Tory Burch. It looked fresh, modern, youthful, and appealing and was all about great, accessible, well priced wardrobe must haves. There were great coats, jackets, tweeds (many of them shot with lurex). Abstract painterly prints broke up the solid colors, and there was very little black but when it was used, it was highly effective. (such as the black t shirt with long sleeves shot with lurex, shown with pants tucked sportily into boots and accessorized with a black hood and leather envelope clutch adorned with gold nail heads (it shouldn’t be surprising to hear that Tory's bags, which have been successful hits since the get go, were all standouts at yesterday’s lineup yesterday).


There was also a cropped black Mongolian lamb jacket paired with camel pants. The grouping in camel was especially strong, including a chic knee length coat thrown over a silvery tweed dress or the camel hand knit sleeveless sweater and matching knitted cap, paired with orange pants and accessorized with the crepe soled luggage suede high heeled lace up booties that were used throughout (and are destined to become best sellers next fall). I’ve always thought nothing looks as good with camel as orange by the way, and since orange is known to be Tory’s favorite color (and her signature), it’s not surprising that she has perfected a particular orangey/red shade which showed up in several other places. There was even an orange sweater and skirt ensemble (further accessorized with orange tights), that might have looked perfectly elsewhere but at TB, it looked chic as hell. Other notable outfits: the blue tie dyed mohair coat showed with cobalt leggings and the army green utility anorak thrown over a dress and tights in a matching abstract Jackson Pollack- worthy print.

FYI, I have known Tory since my Harper's Bazaar days (I was the senior market editor way back when she was an assistant). I’ll be the first to admit that when I first heard years ago, that she was starting her own line, I, like many others, was skeptical and thought that this was just another attractive, chic, well connected socialite with extra time on her hands, putting her name on a clothing line. And I had my doubts that this would really take off the ground in any big way. Boy, us doubters were we all proved wrong. It became very apparent very fast, that she had a major success on her hands and all I can say is it is well deserved...she is not only talented, with a fabulously chic taste level, and highly focused, but she is sweet and nice, doesn’t take her success for granted, and does she let it go to her head (What an unusual combination!) Congratulations Tory!

Out on a ‘Lim’


I’m a fan of the young and talented Phillip Lim and have come to appreciate his inventive way with classic wardrobe staples, his melding of seemingly disparate influences, wonderful offbeat mixes and contrasts, and his ability to infuse many different elements into a collection. Phillip Lim described his inspiration for fall as a woman “boiling with youthful revolt but distinguished by unexpectedly classic style” who has said “goodbye to too much glitter and too much skin and is looking for something more polished and streamlined”. Working in a neutral color palette (the color palette of the season): camel, ecru, grey, charcoal, hunter green, amber, buff, and black, there were suspender skirts, airy mohair pullovers, silk crepe tuxedo blouses and one great gold tweed tuxedo pantsuit, and a group of electric purple paves sequined dresses with asymmetrical hems.


But as usual, the emphasis was on Phillip’s stellar outerwear, especially outerwear with more volume than we’ve seen in awhile, from pieced lambskin and shearling coat, grey merino wool oversized ponchos with side lacing, and camel double face coats to voluminous cape coats in outsized checks, some of which were binded in leather, a la Bonnie Cashin. Is it my imagination, or was the late Bonnie Cashin, who I’m also a huge fan of, having collected some of her great coats through the years, somewhat of an inspiration?

-Marilyn Kirschner

“A Rising Star”

This year’s winner of the Fashion Group International’s coveted Rising Star Award for womenswear, Peter Hidalgo, showed his Fall 2010 collection at FGI’s venue yesterday. The presentation was a chic and concise display of body conscious silhouettes and clever draping that portrayed a distinct point of view. Hidalgo’s dimensional creations are intricate, but not overdesigned. The Dominican born designer apprenticed under the famous fashion illustrator, Antonio Lopez. “I was more of an illustrator before, but now I drape everything. I need to see how the fabric is going to fall, how it reacts,” Hidalgo said. When I asked him about the technique behind his black strapless “heart” dress Hidalgo explained, “I started with a v-neck and the pieces just fell down that way and created the shape.” The heart concept was manipulated in different ways throughout the collection showing up in neckline shape, draped folds and as a beaded appliqué. The underappreciated designer has endured for nearly two decades in this difficult industry -- perhaps the heart shape was a symbol of the dedicated Hildalgo’s passion for design.

-Stacy Lomman

Anna Sui’s Arts and Crafts Fare


The wonderful thing about Anna Sui is that her collections always focus on a theme. This season her Fall/Winter 2010 runway show, held in the Tent at Mercedes Benz Fashion Week, paid homage to the arts and crafts movement with a decidedly retro rock and roll edge. Appropriately, Peaches Geldoff, daughter of rock star Bob Geldoff, was seated front and center to observe the proceedings.

Sui mixed textures and patterns in layer upon layer to create looks that were homespun yet fresh and contemporary. There were jacquard knits, shearlings, silks and sequins in earthy tones like mushroom, rust, wine, cornflower and olive. Accessories included Adrienne Landau furs, James Coviello knit hats, and textured tights from the new Anna Sui Legwear Collection.

There are always ultra feminine looks in an Anna Sui collection and this one was no exception. The dusty blue/navy silk jacquard dress was particularly flattering as was the plum metallic velvet burnout dress. Other noteworthy looks included the short cocoa cardigan trimmed in velvet and paired with a metallic chiffon dress and a navy knit jumper over a print dress made of bamboo twill.


Sui saved her best for last, closing the show with vintage inspired dresses crafted of antique ivory lace and velvet that were exceptionally beautiful.

-Rhonda Erb

And Now For Something Completely Different: Douglas Hannant Rocks the Kaye Playhouse


Last season Douglas Hannant debuted his Spring 2010 collection at New York’s Plaza Hotel to coincide with the opening of his flagship store in the city’s venerable landmark. The location was just a stone’s throw away from the homes of his loyal Upper East Side followers. This season the designer took his show right into their backyards. His Fall 2010 showing was held on Wednesday afternoon in the Kaye Playhouse, located right off Park Avenue.


The audience included the usual attendees like Cece Cord and Kimberly Guilfoyle, but everything else about the theatrical showing was decidedly unexpected. Using the artist Jean-Michel Basquit as his inspiration, Hannant decorated the stage with graffiti covered panels and the models walked to a hard driving 80’s rock soundtrack courtesy of DJ Russian Bear. Surely this was not the Douglas Hannant we have come to know.

Leave it to Hannant to mix conventional elements like houndstooth checks and tweeds with graffiti inspired prints. A body hugging chocolate brown tweed banded dress was shown with a teal fox fur jacket and a leopard beret complemented a velvet and tweed jacket and skirt ensemble. Hand painted prints decorated stove pipe jeans and a short skirt. The color palette included metallics in silver, gold, blue and green as well as bright red and violet.

Douglas Hannant may have strayed from his roots with his fall collection but he has not forgotten who his customer is. His tailoring always complements the body and his 80’s inspired looks were all completely wearable. As always, Hannant closed his show with his signature formal gowns. He managed to infuse elegance into his graffiti stylings with a full-skirted taffeta gown and an exquisite sequin column dress that would be a stand out in any collection.

- Rhonda Erb

The Daily Bet

The Powermat Wireless Charging System

You can’t live without your cell phone or your iPod, but you could live without the hassle of keeping up with the chargers that it takes to power them and all of your other handheld electronics. The Powermat Wireless Charging Station charges up to three electronic devices simultaneously, using either a powercube that comes with the mat or individual receivers that are sold separately. There is also a foldable mat that can be used for travel.

Powermat Home and Office Mat and Powermat Portable Mat, $99.99 each

- Rhonda Erb

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Tuesday, September 15, 2009

What’s in the Air’


The weather was so glorious yesterday that it’s hard to imagine anything could happen which would spoil the good feelings. But it did and this one takes the cake. I boarded the bus provided by Mercedes Benz Fashion Week, right after the 1 p.m. Tracy Reese show ended, to head downtown to Donna Karan, who always shows her collections at 711 Greenwich Street. The ride was uneventful. The show was scheduled for 2 p.m. and we got there a few minutes before the show was to begin --approximately 2:30.

The 41 piece collection went by the title, ‘What’s in the Air’, and Donna cited inspiration from the elements: “the sky, water, wind, sand, earth and fire” (what else is new?) Whereas the designer seemed to revisit her roots for the fall collection (where all her familiar ‘best hits’ were re invented and re imagined), spring was a bit more esoteric and experimental (and what’s with those unnecessary Stephen Jones hats, Donna?). While there were a smattering of coats and some pants, it was primarily about artfully deconstructed and fitted skirt suits, worn over stretch body suits, in innovative fabrics (such as viscose matte stretch twill and silk/nylon stretch taffeta) which allowed for fabric manipulation and a feeling of movement.

Evening consisted of Donna’s familiar draped gowns (many of them narrow yet falling away from the body, exposing the sides and backs) in viscose/silk crepe jersey and viscose/silk satin devore. Admittedly, these are not the easiest dresses to pull off if you need to wear any sort of undergarment, or if you are not over 6 feet tall and weight under 100 pounds, like Donna’s stable of models.

The color palette carried out the ‘elements’ theme throughout, in barely there non colors such as pumice, storm, blush, and sky blue, not necessarily the most flattering shades to wear for most women; which made the periodic appearance of ‘fire coral’ (lacquer red by any other name), even more appealing. This turned up in form of a stretch taffeta coat, stretch canvas strapless dress, organza shell; a double linen envelope jacket and double linen scissor pant; a nylon stretch dress with coral branch belt; and a viscose/silk satin devore evening dress.

And since I was sitting across the room from Anna Wintour, who I knew was headed out to the U.S. Open men’s finals (she kept looking at her watch and checking her cell phone), I was reminded that red was the power color worn so well by her good friend Roger Federer this season (though he lost his match last night). By the way, Anna made her quick exit out a back door right before the show’s finale.

‘Dumb and Dumber’

Well anyway, after the show, I looked for Stephanie, the sweet intern who was trying to be helpful and in charge of getting show goers on the bus (in her fuchsia dress, she was hard to miss). She was also in charge of getting us up to the Yeohlee show at 4 (it did seem as though we would have a bit of time to kill but I thought that was wise). We waited and waited and finally, the bus came back and picked up a group of us. It was only after the bus left, that we were told it would make one stop, on West 21st street, where Thakoon was showing at 3. I assumed the bus was dropping show goers off to Thakoon to see the show. Well,I was wrong! When we got to the venue, Eyebeam, at 10th Avenue and west 21st street, we were told that we were going to wait until Thakoon ended, and then bring those attendees to Yeohlee, on West 35th Street.

When a few of us complained, it was obvious that Stephanie did not have the authority to give directions to the bus driver to drive us to Yeohlee or to bring us closer to transportation. She had to answer to ‘higher authorities’, specifically, Katie, at the ‘Command Station’ at the Bryant Park Tents. There were many of us who were irked because this was a huge waste of precious time. We were literally sitting and waiting on the bus for what turned out to be nearly two hours and literally felt we were being ‘hijacked’ and had no choice but to wait. And on top of that, when we finally got to 34th and 7th, just a few blocks away from Yeohlee’s showroom, the bus driver headed east, all the way to Madison Avenue in order to make a turn back to 35th street! We could have simply gotten off the bus on 7th Avenue, walked two blocks, and had gotten there a half hour earlier than we did (it was about 4:30 when we arrived). It was a true comedy of errors though it wasn’t really funny. I blame it on lack of communication and poor organization. But regardless, it was unacceptable.

Birds of a Feather’

In the meanwhile, when I walked into the Yeohlee showroom, in addition to FIT’s Valerie Steele and Patricia Mears, Elsa Klensch, and Joan Kaner, I spotted Iris Apfel sitting in the front row. Of course, she’s the original ‘Rare Bird’ (‘Rara Avis’ was the name given to exhibit mounted by the Met’s Costume Institute several years ago, when they paid homage to her colorful and eclectic sense of style). Coincidentally, after I read Yeohlee’s program notes that I found there was actually a ‘connection’ between Iris and Yeohlee’s collection, which was called, ‘The Shape of Sound’.

In addition to the “invisible sonic dimension of sound”, Yeohlee cited tropical birds with their colorful plumage as inspiration for a well edited 21 piece collection that was all about form, texture, and movement. And it was departure for the designer in that it was less severe, austere, and minimal than in the past, and dare I say, more colorful, playful and very feminine! There was a veritable explosion of color, and the use of a print (a fuchsia, green, buttercup ‘Macaroon Dot’ which was fashioned into a ‘bird’ dress and was also used for a peplum jacket paired with a striped sailor top and fuchsia cotton pique shorts). And, can you imagine there were even ‘ruffles’.

But not your typical ruffle, this is Yeohlee, so it’s always about the arduous, brilliant, and innovative manipulation of fabric, and working it into a theme where every detail tells a story. And so, a stripe embroidery fabric mimicked a musical score; sound was envisioned as ‘waves’ (as seen in the stripe embro wave top worn with a black jersey wing skirt); interlocking sound wave patterns were woven onto the top of a black jersey dress; and the wave theme continued in several metallic brass matelasse dresses, which exposed the fabric’s soft white cotton interior, (“a link to the contrasting surfaces found in melodic duality” according to program notes).

Carolina's a ‘Basket’ Case

Could it be that Carolina Herrera is taking boxing lessons with Ralph Rucci to help her stay in great shape? Perhaps that would explain why a longtime Rucci inspiration: the intricate forms, textures and techniques used in the ancient art of Japanese basket weaving, has found its way into her spring 2010 collection where they were translated onto fabrics, prints, and could be found in the interlacing of the accessories. Hence, there were stone rope weave jacquard linens, straw striped linens, embroidered rope weave printed cottons, and basket weave jacquards (like the asymmetrical gown that ended the show).

Carrying out the nature theme was the predominately neutral color palette, based around stone, straw, ivory, caramel, and amber, with hits of amethyst and rose. While there were probably more evening gowns shown on this runway, than on any other thus far, there were also knee length and ‘tea length’ dresses, many of which were beaded and embroidered, which added further texture, shine, and surface interest. And the designer apparently feels very strongly about the new ‘short’ suit (a belted jacket worn over shorts), because they were a recurring theme, several of which were beaded as well.

Blame it on Rio

Attending a Carlos Miele show is often like taking a quick trip to Brazil. Carlos's forte has long been his exuberantly colored eveningwear and he didn’t disappoint this time around. But in addition to his dresses and gowns, he included more separates this time, which made for a nice balance.

Standouts include the group of pink degrade silk chiffons (a mini dress was shown with a nude tropical wool pleated bolero, a long gown was shown beneath a nude silk chiffon vest with colorful silk ‘deadlocks’, and the pink degrade silk chiffon was used for a tank top and paired with nude wool pants and a dark denim bolero). Black and white beach and city photo prints found their way onto long and short dresses, and python and snake prints turned up in the form of separates and evening gowns…one, in silk charmeuse with a deeply plunging neckline, was standout.

Mirror like embroidery added texture and shine to a nude tropical wool jacket shown with stiff dark jeans; decorated a black wool jacket which was paired with nude tropical wool shorts, and completely covered a black silk bolero, which was thrown over a black silk tank and wool mini. All I know is when the show was over, I was somehow hungry for Brazilian food.

-Marilyn Kirschner

"Move Over Eloise": Douglas Hannant At The Plaza

Photos courtesy Douglas Hannant

The Park Avenue set has a new outpost to call home. Designer Douglas Hannant opened his first retail boutique last month in New York’s Plaza Hotel. There is no sign of a recession in Hannant’s chic new flagship store. The elegant boutique, designed by Geoffrey Bradfield, features white Venetian plaster, mirrored walls, and white marble floors. Located on the street level of the Plaza’s retail area and in close proximity to Hannant’s loyal clientele, one assumes that the store will fare better than some of the hotel’s other retail establishments.

To celebrate the boutique’s opening, Hannant presented his Spring 2010 collection at a cocktail party held Monday night in the Plaza’s Terrace Room. The theme was a tribute to Venus, the goddess of love, and the space was draped throughout in large swaths of white fabric. The designer’s new looks were displayed on mannequins mounted high above the crowd, as fashionistas and socialites sipped champagne while listening to an 80’s music mix.

In keeping with the theme, Hannant’s new offerings were predictably elegant and goddess like. The color palette included pale shades of blue, yellow, pink, lavender, and green. Two of his most striking gowns were in delicate prints, one in porcelain blue and another in a multi hued floral pattern.

Since not every night can be a party, even for Hannant’s social set, the collection also included skinny pants paired with soft blouses, knee length dresses and well-tailored suits. In addition to the designer’s luxury ready to wear, a new line of accessories will be sold in Hannant’s boutique. The line will feature jewelry, shoes, hats, and evening bags.

- Rhonda Erb

"The Daily Bet" by Rhonda Erb

The Sharpie Bar

Photo: Caroline Erb

On Monday, everyone’s favorite permanent marker, Sharpie, debuted its very first Sharpie Bar in the lobby of the tents at Mercedes Benz Fashion Week. Designer Betsey Johnson headlined an event to introduce her exclusive Sharpie Shirt. While there, she demonstrated her doodling skills using the colorful markers. The Sharpie Bar will be open until September 16th and Betsey’s shirts will be available free of charge, while supplies last.

Sharpie has designed personalized markers for many designers at the Tents and you can design your own by visiting their website.

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