Friday, February 12, 2010

Ralph lets it ‘Rip’


Chado Ralph Rucci (Photo: Randy Brooke)

What a way to begin Mercedes Benz New York Fashion Week, than to hear the shocking news of the untimely passing of a true creative genius, Alexander McQueen. And how eerie that he committed suicide at the age of 40, just about three years after his best friend, muse, and discoverer, Isabella Blow, took her own life.

It’s WAY too early to talk about trends, but from the look of things yesterday, the first official day of New York Fashion Week, one trend that seems to be unfolding, is that shows will continue to be shorter and more well edited, and they will most probably start on time (meaning…not more than a half hour after they are called for). Of course, as I said, Thursday was just the first day. Another trend that seems to be a no brainer, is the continuation of the military theme (both on and off the runways). When I refer to seeing a fashion ‘army’, I mean that literally. Olive (not so) drab, is unsurprisingly the color of the season, and military jackets and army fatigue parkas were spotted on many a show goer (both the gals and the guys).


Chado Ralph Rucci (Photo: Firstview.com)

Speaking of ‘marching’ orders, I adore and respect Ralph Rucci but I have to say I was surprised if not a bit irked when I noticed the dictum on his invitation, “Evening Dress Requested”. I also wondered if those attending would take it seriously. (Did that really mean I’d really have to forego the ‘cool’ neon orange rubber wedge wellies I was wearing, which had been necessitated by the snowfall on Wednesday?) First of all, most fashion people don’t want to be told how to dress or what to wear. And it’s not a modern concept. These days, there’s ‘day for night’ and ‘night for day’ and a blurring of the lines between the two (even at Chado Ralph Rucci). I would assume that many of those invited to Ralph’s chic Soho atelier had been running to shows all day, or were coming from business, and would not have time to go home and change to evening wear just for the show.


Chado Ralph Rucci (Photo: Firstview.com)

Ralph had traditionally closed New York Fashion Week with the last show on Friday evening but this season, he showed on the first night (either way, a fitting beginning or end). But regardless of when he shows, (or what he requests), the one thing that is undeniable, is his amazing talent, imagination, and creativity. And the excruciating precision and execution that goes into each and every piece. The smaller and lighter showroom (certainly much more intimate than the Bryant Park Tents), with its white walls, mirrors, and dramatic wall mural, proved to be a perfect venue in that it provided those in attendance with an up close and personal look at the astounding workmanship and craftsmanship inherent in the museum quality pieces (the Met’s Harold Koda and FIT’s Valerie Steele and Patricia Mears, both clad in Chado Ralph Rucci, were seated in the front row).


Chado Ralph Rucci (Photo: Firstview.com)

The run of show stated that ‘levels of seduction’ (blatant and subliminal) would be an underlying theme and indeed, it was (this has been somewhat of a Ralph Rucci signature). I’ll even go as far as to say that some of what was shown (including the shoes that tied up the legs), had a somewhat bondage, fetishest feeling (Naughty Ralph!), but of course, done in the most elegant, ‘haute’ way possible. The dark color palette, with an emphasis on navy and especially black, provided the perfect mood and backdrop and was highly effective. Almost nobody can do as much magic with black as Ralph Rucci, thanks to employment of texture (an almost 3D quality), fabric mixes, and the use of transparency. In fact, some of the most incredible pieces on the line were noir, among them: the ripped black wool crepe on silk tulle dress and coat, a black silk tulle and ripped cashmere suit (the idea of tearing or ‘ripping’ fabric and hand sewing it onto silk tulle, was a theme), the dramatic black jersey and taffeta gown with fur trimmed hood, the black knitted mink and fox coat, the black leather zipper jacket and skirt, the black spiral sable and horsehair coat, and the black wool crepe and tulle slip dress with a black braided wool crepe jacket which was one crowd pleaser in particular. I must also make mention of the brilliant black broadtail pieces (who else but RR can make broadtail look as lightweight as silk?). Oh, and in case you’re wondering, I was glad I didn’t change from my orange wellies: a quick look around the room confirmed that not too many of the guests (as well heeled and well dressed as they were) took the ‘evening dress’ request too seriously


BCBG (Photo: Firstview.com)

BCBG and Max Azria’s inspiration for fall 2010 is the “urban tribe”. His show notes spoke of a “clean and modern approach to fashion”, finding that perfect combination of form and function. How that played out was in a mainly neutral palette (various shades of gray and black), enlivened with shots of vibrant color (mainly blue and yellow), transparent pleating, painterly geometric patterns, color blocking, and galactic prints. As usual, there was the employment of layering, asymmetrical cuts, and draping. Belts defined waists and legs were clad in cream tights (perhaps not the most flattering unless you have perfect legs). While there was an emphasis on the dress (a Max Azria signature), there were more separates his season.


Richard Chai (Photo: Firstview.com)

Richard Chai said he was going after a “sophisticated non chalance” (love that idea) for the collection he now calls ‘Love’. I guess he must be in love with the cool girls, because that is the group his clothes seem destined to show up on. Of course, just wearing his pieces could make almost anyone look ‘cool’. Mr. Chai’s collections always exude a streetwise sensibility and are always about the play of soft and hard, masculine and feminine, day and night, other seemingly contradictory, unorthodox pairings, and playing with proportion. This time around, in addition to a wide selection of pants (everything from ribbed leggings to slouchy boyfriend trousers in a variety of lengths), he is also in ‘love’ with a tubular, long lean ribbed skirt and dress. The soft, neutral and sophisticated color palette was easy on the eyes, the knitted pieces were beautifully done, the Saga Furs smoke fox belly vest and coat added texture and ‘luxe’, and once again, it was Richard’s wonderful way with tailoring (perfectly cut and perfectly oversized boyfriend jackets and military inspired, structured coats, some with a military feeling in fabrics like felted wool), that were standouts.

The Duckie Brown label is always synonymous with clean lines, tweaking the classics, and adding fun to traditional wardrobe staples for the guys. This season, the best pieces were the mixed plaids (Stewart Plaids, Watch Plaids, Brush plaids, and Tartans); the well tailored lacquer red wool topcoat, and the lime green mini trench.

-Marilyn Kirschner


Red Hot: The Red Dress Collection 2010



On Thursday, the Heart Truth Red Dress Collection returned to Mercedes Benz Fashion Week, making its eighth appearance at New York’s Bryant Park. The annual runway show combines the talents of some of America’s top designers and celebrities from the world of entertainment to raise awareness among women of the threat of heart disease. This year, the event moved from its usual morning time slot to the evening, which only increased the party like atmosphere that always surrounds this much anticipated show.

As always, the “fish out of water” aspect of the Red Dress Show is what makes it so enjoyable. Each celebrity faces the daunting task of maneuvering down the long red catwalk, which always makes for some unexpected surprises. Reality TV star Bethany Frankel waged a constant struggle with her short Isabella Oliver dress to prevent it from riding up and revealing too much of her pregnant physique. Actress Felicity Huffman received an impromptu kiss from her husband, William H. Macy, as she made her way in a design by Oscar De La Renta. That’s So Raven’s Raven-Symone kicked up her heels and sent her Brian Atwood shoes flying as she completed her walk, and Olympic swimmer Dara Torres barefooted her way down the runway, carrying her uber high heels in her hand as she modeled a short Rachel Roy Dress.


Joan Collins

Two of the loudest ovations of the evening went to two of television’s legendary stars. Valerie Harper, appearing on Broadway, proved that she is nothing like her alter ego, Rhoda Morgenstern as she strutted in a Pamella Roland creation. Joan Collins, best known for her role as Dynasty’s Alexis Carrington Colby, made a grandiose walk in her Stephane Rolland gown.

For the second time, some of the dresses worn by celebrities in the Red Dress Collection will be available for the public to bid on at clothesoffourback.org. Accessories and other items from the show can also be purchased through the online auction, which benefits the National Institutes of Health.

-Rhonda Erb

The Daily Bet



MSI’s Wind U135 Netbook

Candy and flowers are nice but your gadget loving Valentine might prefer something a little bit more hi-tech. The MSI Wind U135 10” netbook has an easy to use chiclet keyboard and its 6-cell battery gives 7.5 hours of battery life. It’s the first Wind Netbook to run on Intel’s Pine Trail Platform and it comes in four colors, including ruby red.

www.msimobile.com, $329.99

-Rhonda Erb

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Sunday, September 13, 2009

Day 3
If it’s Tuesday, this must be Belgium”



Photo: Firstview.com

And if it’s 7 pm at the Tents, on the final night of New York Fashion Week, this must be Ralph Rucci, right? Wrong. Talk about disorienting. Not only is fashion week going from Thursday to Thursday this season, rather than Friday to Friday, as it traditionally has, but there were a number of changes to the show schedule early on, which really threw things off kilter for many of us. I know it did for me.

Chado Ralph Rucci has long held the coveted spot as the ‘official’ last show of the season, and given the beauty of the collection, and the tremendously unique and rarefied talent of Mr. Rucci, all of us have considered it a bona fide treat and the perfect high note with which to end the week. But this season, his show was held on Saturday evening at 7 pm, at the Tent at Bryant Park. When I exited, I couldn’t help but feel as though the week was over even though it’s only just begun. Oh well, I guess one can argue it’s a wonderful way to start the week.


Photo: Firstview.com


The collection was undeniably remarkable, hitting all the high notes, and including the myriad themes and references that have come to define RR’s oeuvre and aesthetic (the detailed insets, the hand sewn blocks of wool crepe sewn onto tulle panels, the braids of leather and silk woven together, the incorporation of textures found in traditional basket weaving, the references to human anatomy, the homage to Japanese culture, the use of feathers and horsehair, etc.) It was signature Ralph, and I couldn’t help but think the song playing in the background, with the words, “Stop trying to change me; I am what I am”, was meant to reiterate that fact to the show attendees.


Photo: Firstview.com


But of course, the design process is always about refining, improving, and evolving, especially for a perfectionist like Ralph. This season, the late Pina Bausch’s “personal style and nonconformist choreography” served as strong points of reference throughout (still photographs from her performances were amazingly screened onto silk gazar creating strong, graphic visuals). And this season, Ralph was palpably more controlled, and more ‘low keyed’ than other seasons, and rather ‘reserved’. There was no haute couture shown, only ready-to-wear, (which, for RR is practically one in the same anyway). In place of beads and crystals, silk tulle and chiffon were shredded and sculpted into layers, enabling him to actually create his own fabrics and his own vocabulary of textures.


Photo: Isabelle Erb

Quite frankly, it was some of the ‘simpler’ items that really stood out: like the perfectly proportioned chic black pantsuit that began the show; the black matte jersey cartridge pleated deep v neck dress; the lacquer red silk faille dress; the amazing silk/wool gazar and gros de longres coats; the black double faced wool crepe vertebrae tailleur, and the white double faced sponge crepe vertebrae gown that was the finale. Volume was held in check and there wasn’t even one ‘Infanta’ in sight. Come to think of it, the only voluminous ‘gown’ in view was not only the runway (well, not quite), but worn by Andre Leon Talley: a white ‘Papal’ coat which had so much fabric, I theorized he needed 3 seats to contain it.


Photo: Isabelle Erb

By the way, the change in the show time was not the only surprise involving Ralph Rucci. Mr. Rucci is a man of many talents as we all know. What we didn’t know (well, most of us anyway) is that RR is also very much into boxing, as was reported in The Daily on Thursday. The interviewer asked Ralph how he felt about high end designers pairing with low end companies (you know, like Karl Lagerfeld and Stella McCartney for H&M, or Isaac Mizrahi for Target, etc.) He said he thought it was basically absurd…like crafting an “Hermes bag from plastic”. I got a kick out of that because awhile back, I joked (sort of), that it would be great to see the couturier put his name on a popular and affordable brand. Maybe Ralph might change his mind sometime down the road? After all, a collaboration with Everlast, for example, would be a fitting scenario.


'Class’ic Act


Photo: Firstview.com

The Chris Lemaire for Lacoste spring/summer 2010 collection for men and women, shown yesterday morning, (dubbed ‘Out of the Blue: Simply Sporty Chic’), was an homage to the timeless and chic classics, (which in some cases were re-imagined, with proportions ‘tweaked’). It could not have been timelier considering that yesterday was Super Saturday at the U.S. Open (though a soggy one at that), and factoring in the iconic company’s history vis-à-vis the sport of tennis. And it certainly looked good. After so much black black black for this fall season, all the white which not only opened the show in the form of classic tennis whites, but showed up later by way of crisp tailored suits, sportswear separates, swimwear, and dresses, looked particularly fresh and appealing. As did all the shades of blue - varying shades traditionally associated with Provence (these were often presented in mixed hues and in mixed patterns, but with silhouettes that were simple and clean).


Photo: Isabelle Erb

Also making a statement were the crisp striped shirtings, shirtwaist dresses, polos, and the different takes on the classic French sailor striped pullover that is so ‘of the moment’. And talking about tweaking the classics, one heavily cabled ivory v neck pullover trimmed with black stripes was elongated so much it could be worn as a dress, and a black cire nylon hooded anorak, was given new life when cropped to the waist, given short wide kimono like sleeves, and paired with crisp white shorts. The finale, all in sunny fluorescent yellow (a mix of sportswear pieces and swimwear, accessorized with bright yellow sunglass frames for both the guys and the gals) was especially welcome considering the dismal, dreary, gray day outside. It was accompanied by the upbeat song, “I’m a believer”. Don’t forget: young Georgian tennis sensation, Melanie Oudin, who lost in the quarter finals last week, had the word “Believe” on her tennis sneakers. Is this any indication that Lacoste is planning to use Melanie as an endorser of their products, much like Andy Roddick?

-Marilyn Kirschner

Christian Siriano


Photo: Isabelle Erb

It would be hard to deny that Christian Siriano is in a class by himself in the ever-growing list of “Project Runaway” designers. He has parlayed his plucky personality, and natural marketing ability into a mini fashion empire. On “Fashion’s Night Out”, Siriano could be found at Saks Fifth Avenue, posing for photo after photo with his adoring fans. Those who cannot afford his ready-to-wear line at Saks can pick up a pair of his shoes at Payless.

On Saturday, Siriano debuted his third collection at Mercedes Benz Fashion Week. Those in attendance included “Project Runway” regulars like Nina Garcia as well as Hollywood actresses like Tori Spelling.

Soriano’s Spring 2010 line was inspired by the idea of Mediterranean Travel. It began with some rather over the top looks that featured wide brim hats that overpowered the earth tone pieces that they were paired with. He was much more successful with his more subtle designs that drew attention to delicately ruffled shoulders and other intricate details.

Some of the designer’s best looks featured rich volcanic or oceanic prints in deep hues of red, orange, or blue. Siriano used this print for one of his floor length gowns, which featured a bubble like skirt. The print didn’t fair as well on a form fitting body suit that looked more like a costume than a ready to wear outfit.


Photo: Isabelle Erb

Siriano has a flair for the dramatic, and this is best expressed in his eveningwear. The three gowns which closed his show featured yards of cascading layers of fabric. It was a fitting finale for a designer who has definitely arrived.

- Rhonda Erb

"The Daily Bet" by Rhonda Erb


Photo: Isabelle Erb

Designer Vivienne Tam and HP have collaborated once again on a custom-designed netbook. The “Digital Cutch” debuted last night on the runway, during Tam’s Spring 2010 fashion show at Mercedes Benz Fashion Week. The notebook design, like the designer’s 2010 collection is based on the Chinese love story, “Butterfly Lovers.”

Available in Spring 2010

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Saturday, February 21, 2009

A Tale of Two Ralphs


Ralph Rucci Fall 2009 Collection (Photo: Firstview.com)

I decided to start with what I saw last, not first, not only because it seems everyone else is reversing orders these days (though who really cares about ‘everyone else’?), and because I didn’t feel like ‘saving the best for last.’

Chado Ralph Rucci is always one of the most long awaited shows of the week for me (and I’m not the only one who shares that opinion). Not only because it symbolizes the close of the New York Collections, but because you know you are in for a rare treat. I always wait in anticipation to see what this master craftsman and couturier has up his ‘sleeves’. And as it turns out, one can say that literally, since the sleeves of jackets held a “special place” in this collection, and were an area of much interest, focus and experimentation. (According to the program notes, in many cases, sleeves, for both day and evening wear, in a variety of fabrics including fur, cashmere and satin duchesse, began at the center back of a fitted torso and then “undulated forward and outward, creating a spiral effect around the arm to form a pronounced curve”.)

But there was something else that was obviously on RR’s mind, other than sleeves- SEX. Not only was this one of Ralph’s most modern, simplified (well, as simple as it can be for such a tireless creator and perfectionist), stripped down, and perfectly executed collections, it was one of his most body conscious, and pretty darn sexy at that. It oozed sex, but relying on the hint and suggestion of nudity, it was not in a vulgar obvious way, but in a refined and elegant way), as exemplified by the black and white zebra shrug shown over a black velvet jumpsuit whose bodice looked sheer but had a strategically placed self ‘pattern’ mimicking the zebra stripe; the black double faced wool crepe on nude silk tulle foundation jacket which had a seductive spider web effect; the black feathered floor length ‘cage’ shown over a caviar beaded jumpsuit, which had the look of an insanely luxurious nightgown. And then there were the pieces given names like, ‘silk tulle fetish jacket’, and the ‘sable and silk tulle fetish coat (to me the ‘fetish’ pattern was somewhat box like and resembled a shadow plaid). When I went backstage to congratulate Ralph after the show (me and hundreds others)….I couldn’t resist making my observations known and asked him if he had sex on his mind. He smiled a wicked smile and answered, “Constantly!”


Ralph Rucci Fall 2009 Collection (Photo: Firstview.com)

In addition to the sleeves and the sex, other themes that stood out were the lean black wool jersey jumpsuits (one actually began the show and others were perfect ‘foundations’ beneath something else); the textured rainwear, quilted to resemble reptile skin (how chic are those?); the quilted and slashed black nylon balmacaan, bordered with black patent leather; the tulle insets on jackets and coats in double faced cashmere; the leather embroidery and leather braiding; the chinchillas and sables; and of course, the dramatic and signature silk gazar, chiffon, and organza gowns printed with screens from Ralph’s own paintings and blown up photographs of 7th Century Khmer statuary. One word of caution: they look amazing on the beautiful young models who wore them on the runway, but I would stay away from them if your face in any way resembles that of the statues. Sleek, sexy, over the knee boots (leather, suede, alligator) by Vanessa Noel, architecturally shaped bags by Leonello Borghi, fingerless leather gloves by Samantha Storto, and cool Lucite (or plastic) ‘headbands’ which had the effect of a sporty and sexy ski goggle (all of which were made expressly for Chado Ralph Rucci), were the only accessories shown. By the way, this was the first time a middle aisle was eliminated at the Tent in Bryant Park, opening up the runway but giving the presentation a different look and feel, and making the venue seem a little less intimate and personal.


Ralph Lauren Fall 2009 Collection (Photo: Firstview.com)

Ralph Lauren held his two back to back shows at the Skylight Studio yesterday morning. While he began the show with a group in black (a short black cocktail dress, several long black gowns, a long black beaded skirt, double face wool sweater and wrap jacket), these evening pieces were not representative of what was to follow. Nor did they set the mood for a collection whose strong points were its decidedly vintage flavor, predominantly monochromatic, tonal neutral color palette with an emphasis on browns, beiges, and especially winter white (it was here where fabric mixes, including the use of Mongolian lamb, was especially effective), or one that capitalized on Ralph's strengths when it comes to mixing metaphors: masculine and feminine, old and new, soft and hard, day and evening, tough and delicate. And in a season of tweeds, well. RL almost ‘owns’ them so it’s not surprising that he focused on herringbone and Donegal tweeds, offhandedly putting them together to create something a bit more personal, eclectic, and unexpected (that eccentric glamour ‘thing’ that has been seen on so many other runways hit just the right chord here as well).


Ralph Lauren Fall 2009 Collection (Photo: Firstview.com)

As such, the collection could have been called, Ralph’s Greatest Hits, which is not a bad thing, filled as it was with smart tailleur, perfectly tailored jackets, vests, well cut trousers, lean jodhpurs, great coats (standouts were the brown wool and cashmere patchwork coats), hand knit cashmeres, beautiful vintage silk organza blouses, vintage velvet separates, shearlings, languid charmeuse and georgette beaded gowns. Among my favorite looks were the brown wool cashmere patchwork coat shown over a lovat tweed vest, brown cashmere and wool fairisle sweater, and tan cavalry twill pants, and a similar version ‘thrown’ over a languid honey charmeuse beaded gown; the fur collared brown Donegal windowpane tweed vest, brown Donegal cashmere sweater, honey silk voile blouse, and tan cavalry twill pant; the lovat elongated Donegal cardigan worn with a honey silk charmeuse beaded short ‘flapper-esque’ dress; the cream Mongolian shearling jacket, antique cream cashmere hand knit sweater, vintage cram silk organza blouse, and winter white velvet pant

By the way, I thought I would thank all the guys from Citadel Security, headed up by Ty Yorio, for doing their jobs in the most professional way and never losing their cool (read our interview with Ty Yorio). And I’d like to thank McDonalds, who certainly advanced their ‘cause’ and upped their profile, with the little coffee café, McCafe, set up at the Bryant Park Tents. Not only were all the employees gracious and considerate, (smiling and greeting you upon entering, asking what you wanted, making you feel comfortable, etc.), but there was usually a place to sit, and the coffee (espresso, lattes, cappuccinos, hot chocolate) custom made to order, were great -- and better yet, they were free!

-Marilyn Kirschner

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Saturday, September 13, 2008

The ‘Sheer’ Genius of Ralph Rucci


Ralph Rucci Spring 2009 Collection (All photos by Frazer Harrison)

After showing his ready-to-wear and haute couture in Paris for the last two seasons, Ralph Rucci returned home to a familiar time and place: the 6 pm time slot on Friday evening, officially closing New York Fashion Week. And how fitting, because he is undeniably in a class by himself (in fact, he was chosen as the Mercedes Benz featured designer for New York Fashion Week). While RR has traditionally shown ready-to-wear and couture back to back, this time, he opted only for the former; yet in his hands, given the amazing level of technical mastery, architecturally complex construction methods, workmanship, painstaking attention to detail, and artistic expression, the results were the same.



Ralph Rucci is highly consistent and does not change for change’s sake…or because of pressure from the outside but rather pressure from within: to perfect, hone in, and fine tune his craft. It’s all about continuity, and evolving from one season to the next, and this time, the emphasis was on experimentation with texture (sometimes to a 3-D effect), transparency, and the use of sheer fabrics (horsehair and organza were inset into the seams, and silk tulle was used as a base throughout). Sheer insets decorated a black jersey tube dress, a mesh shell was shown with wide black hopsack gazar trousers, and a black wool crepe cutwork jacket was shown over a black silk tulle full skirt.



Ralph seems to be taken with the idea of creating back interest thereby adding the element of surprise. This was illustrated by a black mohair ‘smoking’ which looked chicly sedate from the front, but was anything but when you saw that back of the jacket was transparent. Along those same lines, a floor length white silk crepe tube with a self braided belt looked elegant and serene until you happened to notice (and it would be hard not to) the fringed silver mylar cascading down the entire back (how would one actually sit in that?) Speaking of which, silver mylar was another recurring theme, and showed up for day as a duo of raincoats (one knee length and fitted; the other ¾ length and shown over white trousers). Paillettes may be used on other runways, but they never look the same in Ralph’s hands. Geometry has always figured into the Rucci oeuvre, and this season, he took the math to a new creative level, decorating black, white, and light taupe silk crepe dresses with geometric panels comprised of paillettes.




Black paillettes were transformed into an evening ‘tailleur’ (comprised of a cardigan jacket, floor length skirt and sheer black top); the use of matte paillettes had astounding results when used on fishnet, resulting in a ‘simple’, long sleeved form fitting gown; and let’s face it, who else but Ralph could use matte gold paillettes and beige puckered silk chiffon to create a soft skirt suit with the effect of tattered tweed? Madame Chanel would have undoubtedly approved.



And by the way, this couldn't be timelier, since the highly anticipated three hour movie, 'Coco Chanel' starring Shirley MacLaine, airs tonight on the Lifetime channel.

-Marilyn Kirschner

Christian Francis Roth: “Too Cool for School”



Christian Francis Roth Spring 2009 Collection (Photos: JP Yim)

Spring 2009 signifies the return of fashion’s boy wonder of the early nineties, Christian Francis Roth. Apparently, Francis (as the new label is known), doesn’t “give a damn about his bad reputation” as Joan Jett’s rebellious tune pumped through the speakers at the start of his presentation yesterday. Held in St. Patrick’s Youth Center downtown, one quickly sensed that Roth’s “comeback collection” drew inspiration from NYC school kids; i.e. gossip girls, preppies, downtown hipsters and the like. Forty ensembles were broken up into groups (or “cliques” if you will), and girls stood in a posse by the entranceway of the space (which seemed to be a gym) arms folded, hands on hips, exuding aloof attitude and lack of concern.



The first “clique” to strut their stuff, clad in a fusion of madras patchwork paired with Navy, looked like a pack of misbehaving Catholic school girls. This group was comprised of shrunken blazers, tiny shorts, a sexy little vest baring a lot of skin, and an adorable pleated mini skirt embroidered with faux safety pin closures. Brightly color blocked tank dresses and T-shirt dresses in jersey bounced through the gym next, followed by a nautical flag printed sundress, cotton Bermudas and pique polo dresses, one of which (cleverly named the “Accost”) was branded with an oversize embroidery on the left chest.



Succeeding the nautical theme, girls donned a gallery of artwork displaying charmeuse dresses with spray painted and appliquéd graffiti, and an adorable pleated baby doll dress printed with the NYC subway map. The final clump of ensembles channeled the elite upper crust and its black tie affair charm. Dresses in grey cire cotton and black taffeta were detailed with ruffled trim, a white tuxedo bib and bow ties. Additional bow ties were directly inked onto the models necks forming perfect little triangles joined oppositely at a point. One girl wore a black top hat with a blonde hair extension tied around acting as the band. Another wore a black, shiny streamer pom-pom hat (a cute way to add some school spirit).

Roth’s humor and creativity were ever present and I loved the way he previewed his collection in terms of carrying out the theme. It really felt as if the models were a bunch of school girls hanging out after class, while we happened to be privy to a little glimpse of their world. Though humor was used throughout, the pieces weren’t all quirky. Pants, shorts, skirts, vests and jackets were tailored beautifully and fit well, preventing them from appearing too “tween.” Classic styles such as a denim trench and denim shirt dress were livened up with red topstitching, and a short army green cotton jacket sported an elastic cinched waist in back, along with orange topstitching. The bias cut, chevron dress was very grown up, but Roth kept it young by fitting it tight to the body and hacking off one arm, creating an asymmetrical look (another ‘trend’ that seems to be in the air for Spring ’09).

After a fairly long hiatus from designing his own label, Francis’ point of view remains intact. His style is (and was) young, flirty and playful. The clothes are not for the demure, the self conscious, or the uptight. Rather, they cater to the bold, confident woman (young woman), who craves attention and strives to be individual. Welcome back Francis, school’s in session.

-Stacy Lomman

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Monday, April 16, 2007

‘Label’ Suit

Am I the only one who noticed a faux pas in Friday’s Page Six of The New York Post? In Richard Johnson's absence (it is stated he is "on vacation"), the widely popular column is being edited by Paula Froelich with contributions from Bill Hoffman and Corynne Steindler. In the column headed, "Sightings", there was a blurb, "Italian designer Ralph Rucci, Dame Celia Lipton Farris and Town & Country publisher Pamela Fiori at the Palm Beach Historical Society soiree at Neiman Marcus Palm Beach". I had a knee jerk reaction to labeling Ralph Rucci an "Italian designer". The celebrated couturier is an American born (Philly to be exact) resident of New York who shows in both New York and Paris, and has a Soho atelier. His lineage may be proudly Italian, but to call him an 'Italian designer' is akin to beginning a sentence, "Jewish designer Ralph Lauren".

And ironically upon reflection, what occurred to me was that I was hard pressed to think of another designer who would be as difficult to define by his lineage (or country of birth) as Ralph. As an avid world traveler and global aesthete, one who not only paints and sculpts but whose artistic and architectural collections routinely meld and pay homage to different cultures, he defines the term ‘citizen of the world’.

Speaking of labels…this Sunday was “T”, The New York Times’ Style Magazine’s Spring 2007 Beauty issue, which was called, “Budding Beauty”. Though it’s labeled as a beauty issue, it is yet another curious yet admittedly entertaining and informative hybrid filled not only with columns devoted to new trends in lip and nail color, how to deal with that trip to a hair salon, spa trends, and aging, but covers all areas of style: fashion, shopping, accessories, people.

And talk about from going from the sublime to the ridiculous… it’s all about shock value and the element of surprise. In addition to pretty people, fabulous jewels, and arresting photography, there is Josh Patner’s engaging back page story, “Celebrity Endorsement: How to be 96 and look like Kitty Carlisle Hart” in which she admits her lifelong love affair with Nivea; you can find out everything about feet that you wanted to know, “Pedicure Junction” tells you why feet smell if you care to know, and who are the most famous foot fetishists in history; as well as which new fragrances may work as aphrodisiacs.

In “Dirty Tricks”, Chandler Burr announced with obvious surprise, that Agent Provocateur does not smell like “unwashed panties” (his words not mine) but rather, “crushed raspberries and black plums on hot skin”, L’Autre smells like “piles of spices simmering in the hot African sun, dirt on the street, and a hint of body odor” (yum????), Rese 31 will remind you of a “hit of armpit from a hot young woman”, or “something you smell between your sheets”.

-Marilyn Kirschner

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Saturday, December 23, 2006

New Exhibition at The Museum at F.I.T.

Ralph Rucci: The Art of Weightlessness

A retrospective of the work of the acclaimed fashion designer Ralph Rucci will be on view January 12 through April 14 at The Museum at FIT. A graduate of the Fashion Institute of Technology, Rucci was the first recipient of the Couture Council's Artistry of Fashion Award. Ralph Rucci: The Art of Weightlessness marks the twenty-fifth anniversary of his career in fashion. It includes approximately 100 of his garments – including some suspended from the ceiling.

The first American to show officially during Paris couture since Mainbocher in the 1930s, Rucci also designs ready-to-wear which features extraordinary dressmaking techniques and luxury textiles. The title of this exhibition comes from an article by Suzy Menkes, in which Rucci said, "The whole idea is to take the structure, completely tailored with all the propriety of a suit, but make it weightless."

Patricia Mears, deputy director of the Museum at FIT, said, "Ralph has a profound knowledge of fashion history and he is a true connoisseur of fine art from around the world. Our goal is to present the many facets of his creativity."

Ralph Rucci: The Art of Weightlessness has been organized at The Museum at FIT by Patricia Mears, together with Dr. Valerie Steele, director and chief curator; and Fred Dennis, associate curator. Accompanying the exhibition will be a full color catalogue, published by Yale University Press, with more than 150 images and essays by Valerie Steele, Patricia Mears, and Clare Sauro, assistant curator of accessories. This exhibition is supported by The Couture Council of the Museum at FIT.
Opening Night Reception
Thursday, January 11, 2007: 7PM-9PM
Seventh Avenue at 27 Street.
RSVP Required: 212-217-5958

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