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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Thursday, September 17, 2009

Let’s try this again…Woops! Well of course, the title yesterday should have been, “I (don’t) feel bad about my neck”, not “I (don’t) feel back about my neck”….what can I say? In my haste to send out the story, rushing out to the morning’s shows, I somehow overlook the glaring typo. - Marilyn

Message to Michael

All Photos:

I am a big fan of Michael Kors. I always look forward to his collections since he is one designer with a consistent vision and great taste. And his clothes are not hard to wear for women who don’t look like Elle McPhearson or Gisele. In other words, the proportions and lengths are generally well suited for your average woman; a woman who wants to look great but not like a fashion victim. While he delivered some nice classic pieces and desirable items, as always, I’m sorry to say his spring collection, presented yesterday morning, was not one of his stronger shows. It just fell a bit flat, especially when you consider his blockbuster fall 2009 line, with its strong message and even stronger visual images. Spring simply ‘paled’ by comparison (pun intended).

The program notes said that the message of spring is “urban renewal...sleek architectural shapes...utilitarian luxury...splatter prints, etc”. But instead of East Coast, urbane chic, and a look that was ‘very New York’, much of the line smacked of the West Coast and was ‘Very Hollywood’. Oh gee isn’t that funny? Michael’s new fragrance is called ‘Very Hollywood’ and its elegant bottle, packaged in a chicly square coral and gold box and sitting inside its own mini shopping bag, was on the (white covered) seat of each show attendee. At least Michael was classy enough to put the gift on every seat, including those up in the bleachers.

How insulting it is, for a gift to be made visibly available to only the front row? This is exactly what happened later in the afternoon at Alexandre Herchcovits. And what a pity, because the chic and sturdy wood handled umbrellas, which were lined up in a rainbow of colors to mimic the rainbow hued, bold and graphic theme of the collection, was one of the more practical and desirable gifts given out this season. Especially since rain was threatening all day and rain was predicted for the last day of Fashion Week as well).

Getting back to Michael, the splatter prints sounded better than they were, the group of black stretch crepe dresses with their open cage work and transparent insets, looked too forced and contrived, and the use of one sleeved tops, often looked awkward. And when I read the run of show and saw the words ‘trompe l’oeil - it put me in a good mood. As an admirer of Roberta di Camerino and Elsa Schiaparelli, both of whom have dabbled quite a bit in trompe l’oeil, I have always loved its whimsy. And wouldn’t you know it, at that same moment, I saw Robert Verdi walk to his seat wearing a trompe l’oeil sweater that could be seen from rows away. But Michael’s black merino trompe l'oeil cardigan was not exceptional. You had to really look hard to see there was any trompe l'oeil in the silver and black paillette trompe l’oeil shifts that ended the show.

FYI, one of the best examples of trompe l’oeil I’ve seen in a long time, was the sweater (designer unknown) worn by Lizzie Tisch at last week’s Couture Council luncheon, honoring Dries Van Noten. Knitted on the front, was a larger than life facsimile of a huge, statement making necklace. What made this so much fun, is the way it mimicked what turned out to be one of the biggest trends (on, and especially off, the runway) this season.

That said, the white glove leather zipper shift was clean and modern; the strong modified pagoda shoulder, (especially when translated into a white stretch cotton suit) made a statement without looking like a dangerous weapon (Michael’s tailoring is also great); the coats were standout as usual including a perfect white bonded faille reefer coat with a trench back, and the ink blot cotton broadcloth pea coat and matching Bermudas, which was an interesting take on a classic. The mint crinkle cashmere oversized cardigan and ombred thistle tissue mohair tank, sea foam tissue mohair pullover, and watercolor shantung shorts looked fresh; the draped jersey dresses, one in thistle and the other, an asymmetrical white version to the knee, were great; and his graphically cut out swimsuits always make an impact (just be sure you have the body to carry them off).

Yes, Yes, Nanette!

Nanette Lepore is on a mission to save the garment center. She not only wrote an Op-Ed in The New York Times along with her husband Robert Savage, "The Fabric of New York”, which appeared on Monday, September 7th, but had time to put the finishing touches on her well done, lighthearted 28 piece spring collection which was shown yesterday. (Included in her run of show, was a copy of the editorial and a bumper sticker: "Save the Garment Center").

The overall message of the collection was its endorsement of color and prints, (notably florals and multi colored stripes which were often mixed together or juxtaposed against items normally considered to be utilitarian and military staples like the trench, the army fatigue pant, the drawstring short, the parka), and the use of knitwear. It was point/counterpoint (the idea of hard and soft, sweet and functional, girlie and masculine, street and evening). Best pieces were the short watercolor floral wrap dress and striped top; the olive utility trench jacket worn with a striped top and wildflower pants; the floral jacket, striped sweater, and raindrop printed shorts; the multi colored striped knee length cardigan worn over a shorter raindrop printed dress; and the midcalf khaki trench coat dress worn over a striped knit.

Phillip’s ‘Mac’ Attack

Phillip Lim’s clothes resemble nobody else’s. The young designer has a wonderful vision, a great sense of color and proportion, and his clothes have that rare combination of youth, modernity, personality, and sophistication. There is never anything vulgar or insulting about his designs.

Among those things he has become known for in a rather short time, are his inventive mixes, his beautiful fabrics, and his love affair with military inspired outerwear (trenches and Macs). The spring show which followed Oscar de la Renta’s double header, began with a grouping in lacquer red (almost head to toe), went on to grey mélange cashmere knits, and continued into tan and camel (here come the trenches and Macs, which were sometimes cropped of abbreviated). His pants and cuffed shorts are always beautifully cut and his offhanded combinations, taking classic shapes and wardrobe staples and putting them together in surprising combinations, are interesting. But for me, it was the beautifully done group of organza knee length, accordion pleated dresses at the end, (especially the sculptural, collaged, and appliqué numbers, some with abstract cubist detail) that stole the show.

'Marc’ my Words

FYI, I am so bored with that aggressive and ubiquitous ‘bridge and tunnel’ look which is visible all over town and in and around the Bryant Park tents: the skintight low rise jeans, the skimpy tops, the tacky hooker like high heels, etc. This is another reason I think the adulation surrounding Marc Jacobs is not underrated. Regardless of what you think of all his designs, there is always symbolism within a collection and what Marc’s collection pointed to was a return to the chic and feminine, a move away from the tough, aggressive look that has pervaded fashion, a call to dress up and have fun again, a re-evaluation of a longer length, and a signal that the heavy, clunky ‘orthopedic’ looking shoe which nobody can seem to walk in is over (I loved that Marc showed a decidedly innocent, practically flat, delicate, t strap shoe). I have spotted so many girls and older women literally having to lean on someone in order to navigate the streets in their ridiculously high heeled shoes. One editor-in-chief (I won’t say who), was seen leaving Donna Karan literally holding on to her associates in order to get to her car. Would you please explain what the appeal is of footwear that not only looks horrible, but is impossible to walk in, and makes the wearer have to literally hunch over?

-Marilyn Kirschner

In the Center Ring: Anna Sui


How apropos that Anna Sui’s Spring 2010 presentation would have a circus theme. The spectacle that is Mercedes Benz Fashion Week is, after all, held in an enormous tent. On Wednesday night, Ms. Sui entertained an audience that included celebrities like Whitney Port with what was undoubtedly one of the greatest shows of the season.

Only Ms. Sui could concoct a mixture of prints, plaids, dots and stripes and have it turn out to be such a sheer delight. Her collection was playful and flirty, and every ensemble was a study in unexpected contrasts.

The models strolled the runway to a soundtrack inspired by traditional circus music and a big top backdrop completed the theme. Ms. Sui showed a black capelet with an orchid print dress, a preppy purple cable knit sweater with a lilac floral crinkle chiffon blouse and liberty print skirt, and a foulard print dots and daisies dress with a circus striped sweater in black and cream. Her dresses in sunflower and marigold prints were particularly appealing, and the mix of a voodoo beaded jacket, royal paillette embroidered dress and denim short was a clear stand out. Accessories included majorette hats, oversize bags, and gladiator sandals.

Ms. Sui recently collaborated with Target on a successful collection inspired by Gossip Girl and received a CFDA Lifetime Achievement Award in June. Judging from the reception that her show received from the crowd on Wednesday night, it is clear that many will be running off to join Anna Sui’s circus.

-Rhonda Erb

"The Daily Bet" by Rhonda Erb

Casio Watch

This bright yellow Baby-G from Casio is definitely the “It” watch of the season. It’s been seen everywhere this week on the wrists of celebrities and fashionistas alike. You say yellow is not your color? This stylish watch is also available in black, red and white.

Casio Baby-G Watch

Casio Digital Camera

The Casio EX-S5 is the perfect little camera for snapping shots from the front row. It has 10.1 mega pixels and a 2.7” LCD monitor. The camera is small enough to fit into the tiniest handbag and its two-tone body comes in four great colors.

Casio EX-S5 Digital Camera

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