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

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Rhonda Erb

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Monday, September 14, 2009

Derek’s ‘Brief’ Encounter

All Photos:

Derek Lam's program notes stated “Ode to Summer…something I heard on the radio…Asbury Park, Rehoboth beach, P Town and Key West…Patriotic, optimistic, free for all”. A carnival carnal and a little bit tawdry. Glitter dust. Summer love. A summer fever, some bittersweet memories. I wish you were here”. Derek is known for putting his spin on American sportswear, but this collection was a departure in that it was decidedly dressed up, somewhat retro in feeling (think 40’s pin-up girls), and downright feminine and sexy (there were halters, strapless corset dresses, the ubiquitous use of draped jersey, and it was all very short, accessorized with high heeled sandals).

It was also colorful (in addition to black, white, wheat, and khaki, there were hits of yellow, jade, turquoise, apple green, and red). And it was patriotic. Stars were a recurring theme, showing up in the form of jacquard prints, patchwork poplin, and they even decorated belts. In one standout black and white poplin dress, a huge star appeared to explode on the front, and the theme continued onto the star studded wrap belt. FYI - by now we all know that the Costume Institute’s upcoming exhibit in May, “American Woman: Fashioning a National Identity" , (tracing the archetypes of dress and femininity from 1890 to 1940, and then examine how they affect how women are perceived today), so this seems rather timely.

Do you recall the season that Miuccia Prada showed almost her entire collection over skimpy briefs? The tops: sweaters, coats, jackets were all rather hefty and substantial, but beneath those pieces, there was practically nothing. (Though in Miuccia’s hands, it was not at all sexy or titillating but almost unisex). While Derek didn’t show everything over barely there briefs, he was making a statement about the leg he introduced a ‘one piece’, which was not only offhandedly paired with an ivory tropical wool jacket with black satin trimmed collar, but replaced the more traditional dresses or gowns that normally serve as a runway show’s finale.

Out of the ‘Blue’

If the words “folkloric, homespun, boho, batik, artisan, crochet, braided, rope, tie dye, and patchwork don’t seem to gel with the seductive sexiness long associated with Herve Leger, you might want to think again. As I have always said, sexy is in the eyes of the beholder, and sexy is as sexy does. In the spring/summer Herve Leger by Max Azria collection presented on Sunday, the program notes emphasized the “folkloric beauty of home spun technique with the sophistication of couture” and went on to describe the “allure of authenticity”. Of course, keeping most of the dresses at thigh length, and cutting them as close to the body as possible, doesn’t hurt the cause either. Nor does putting the models in such towering riveted cork heeled platforms, that a few of them could not keep their balance on the runway.

It wasn’t until number 21 (out of 34), that a dress that looked more like a dress than a bathing suit, and was actually a few inches above the knee, and cut with a ‘forgiving’ flared skirt, appeared. And those few pieces, in pumice ribbon and crochet, were really quite pretty and far less predictable than bare beaded and strapless bondage dresses. Also looking good was the grouping in shades of blue (dark denim, indigo, and sky blue, sometimes mixed together collage style). A denim multi jacket that took its cues from a cropped moto/jean jacket, shown over a fitted denim blue batik patchwork mini, and a black suede/denim jacket in a similar shape, thrown over a black beaded crochet bandage skirt, looked of the moment and broke up the repetitiveness of the skimpy, barely there bandage dresses.

‘Midnight at the Oasis’

In her show notes, the designer cited influences from Orientalism to Pre-Raphaelite in terms of the palette, and called the spring/summer collection, ‘Oasis’. Diane von Furstenberg is a renowned globe trotter and her world travels seem to always show up on the runway. This season, once again, it was all about a jet setting, colorful, exotic nomad, with more than a touch of the ‘gypsy’. And it was a continuation of Diane’s stable of signatures: her love affair with the dress; the lavish use of prints and patterns (florals, animal prints, abstract and geometrics, etc.); the abundance of color; textural plays involving macramé and eyelet; the use of draping and asymmetry;

the almost drunken use of embellishments and gold (gold coin, gold mesh, gold foil); and a veritable pile on of accessories. This time, oversized, rainbow hued bangles adorned each wrist, there were ornaments in the hair, bags were so oversized they could carry the world, and of course, there were the sexy shoes. To say there was a lot going on at the show, is an understatement: you almost didn’t know where to look first.

‘Taylor’ Made

Rebecca Taylor’s well received collection shown on Sunday was continuation of her girlie aesthetic. There were her beloved prints (tiny florals, pin dots, leopard); the short skirts and abbreviated corset dresses; the lavish use of ruffles and peplums; the sweet and pretty blouses; jumpsuits; one shouldered tops; and a group of mini cocktail dresses in eye popping solid colors like cobalt, scarlet, cyclamen, and orange sherbert.

Also looking good were those items or those pairings that were unexpected, untraditional, and offhanded. For example, a gray sweatshirt fabric one would normally associate with active sportswear and the gym, was transformed into a chicly draped and sophisticated cocktail dress; a nautical blue and white striped top (which was actually hand painted), was paired with a gilded draped short skirt; a menswear inspired navy shadow striped sleeveless jacket was belted with a wide denim and lime Liberty floral turnlock belt and shown over gilded trousers.

“I’ll have what she’s having”

It’s impossible not to notice the beautiful Gisele staring up at you in all the magazines, wearing nothing but a classic tan London Fog trenchcoat ( In the picture, the coat resembles a Burberry but instead of being well into the 4 figures, is closer to $100. I guess that’s why she gets the big bucks.

-Marilyn Kirschner

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