Thursday, May 15, 2008

Amazing ‘Lace’

(Photos by Scott Gries)

It was a no brainer, after Miuccia Prada unveiled her lace laden fall winter 2008 collection in Milan several months ago, that lace would quickly find its way back into fashion’s favor and have a rebirth, if you will. Not that lace was in danger of disappearing, mind you, but let’s face it, when arguably one of the most influential designers in the world breaths new life into what is normally a demure fabric, dusts off the cobwebs that are normally associated with it, and basically builds an entire collection around it, it’s obvious that lace would find itself the center of attention. And as it turns out, lace (in a variety of incarnations) figured prominently in two events I covered on Wednesday.

Oscar de la Renta staged his 66 piece resort 2008 show, at what has become his new favorite spot, 583 Park Avenue. Looking relaxed and tan, he could be seen meeting, greeting, and mingling beforehand with a crowd that included editors (seemingly all of Vogue was there and Anna Wintour looked uncharacteristically sporty in a crisp white shirt, printed skirt - by Oscar I presume - and high heeled sandals), retailers, and social fixtures (though I have to report that the second row in one section had to be filled in at the last moment since apparently, a handful of guests did not show up).

The upbeat collection was pretty, it was ‘ladylike’, it was colorful, and it was filled with all the dashing designer’s signatures and favorites...,in other words, it was ‘very Oscar’. Among the recurring themes were matched and mismatched suits (many in silk shantung, wool and silk, cotton and silk); a myriad of blouses (some had attached scarves, some were sleeveless, others boasted interesting sleeves); the use of islandly shades of Caribbean blue, coral, emerald green along with more neutral ochre, eggshell, black, and white; prints (there was a phoenix print, a tweed print, woodblock prints, ikats, florals, abstract brushstrokes); wide legged pants; caftans; jewel like embroidery on dresses and sweaters; hand crochet knits; one shouldered cocktail dresses (little black dresses and printed dresses); the use of highly textured 3-d organza ribbon and pleated organza.

And there was lace: guipure lace, Chantilly lace, colored lace, lace overlay, and embroidered lace. (Of course, don’t forget that images of Oscar de la Renta’s ivory lace wedding dress, worn by Jenna Bush for her nuptials last weekend, were seen the world over). Standouts in the collection include a short white guipure lace empire dress; a white silk taffeta blouse with black Chantilly lace trim worn with a knee length Caribbean guipure lace peplum skirt; a short black guipure lace dress with a silk woodblock print embroidered skirt; an entrance making full skirted black silk organza and tulle gown with guipure lace bodice.

-Marilyn Kirschner

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Wednesday, June 27, 2007

"Ebony And Ivory"

Zang Toi with model

Yesterday, I paid to visit to Zang Toi’s 57th street atelier, to view resort 2008. Both "High Roller" (Zang’s main collection) and the lesser priced "Toi House" (which he started about six seasons ago and quite frankly hardly appears to be ‘less’ of anything) are a study in ebony and ivory. Coincidentally (or perhaps not), both his fabulously chic design headquarters and his fabulously chic apartment, (which was recently showcased within 6 pages of Elle Décor’s March issue, entitled "Hip & Classic") echo the timeless and always elegant color combo.

The playful, structured, and very body conscious separates which comprise "Toi House" (with wholesale prices ranging from $230 to $1,500) include a terrific mini toggle coat, flawlessly tailored jackets (one with black knitted sleeves that give it the trompe l’oeil illusion of layering), minis, and classic trousers made of bleached cotton canvas. Form fitting sweaters in solid black, ivory, or black and ivory stripes, round out the collection and look sporty, fresh and appealing.

The softer, dressier, and more expensive “High Roller” (which wholesales from $1,000 to $5,000) is fabricated in luxurious silk shantung, silk Dupioni, silk crepe Monaco, and silk organza; hand loomed silk, wool, cashmere sweaters add texture and impart a luxe sportif feeling which has long been a signature of Zang Toi. An ivory cuffed sweater, which has the effect of a vest layered over a shirt, when paired with a form fitting black satin floor length skirt, can be considered a new take on black tie.

Zang’s painstaking and laborious attention to detail (another signature), is evident throughout. To wit, in order to get the exact shades of ivory he desired, he covered some of the Swarovski crystals (which embellish several black jackets and sweaters), with ivory organza. And in order to get the fit of his dresses just right, he used ivory grosgrain ribbon darts.

So, now that resort is now complete, with July upon is, it’s time to think about spring 2008, which will be unveiled during New York Fashion Week in September. While Zang’s show format and venue may still be up for grabs, there is nothing ‘iffy’ about his theme for the next season. He’s very taken with the old English style: ‘think’ Chinoiserie (as evidenced in the 10 panels of hand painted silk organza he had done specifically for him), and a very ‘English’ color palette replete with yellow, peony pink (though he is not totally abandoning black). He is hoping that next week’s trip to Bermuda, to soak up English Colonial color and ambience, will be prolific in both inspiration and sketching.

-Marilyn Kirschner

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Friday, June 15, 2007


What appeals to me about Tocca is that for over ten years, they have managed to keep an air of mystery around the brand, as though the lush fabrics, intricate detailing and whimsical prints were hand picked by gentle fairies for only the daintiest girly girls with banana curls and bows.

Taking a cue from the French Provencal countryside during the 1970s and 1980s, the Tocca Holiday/Resort/Spring Preview 2008 Ready to Wear Collection pays homage to an era of old glamour and understated sophistication not seen since those glorious nights on the French Riviera.

Chairman and Creative Director Edoardo Mantelli – one of the elusive men behind Tocca - indicated that he and his team enjoyed collaborating on the many new designs utilizing cotton, precious silk, poplin, double gauze and chiffon fabrics, and that his favorite piece is a cream silk dress with multicolored polka dots from the Spring Preview, which will be in stores next January.

I searched for a few exceptional words to convey what Tocca does to my senses and to describe how it feels to see and touch such rich wardrobe desserts. When I looked up ornate in the thesaurus, I found that the synonyms sit well with so many aspects of Tocca, yet I wouldn’t quite use the word ornate to describe the collection. The words that immediately to come to mind – dreamy, elaborate, adorned, feminine, and lacy – work much better.

Tocca Holiday had some standout pieces amidst the four black cocktail dresses – a silk, sleeveless chemise in three colors – golden camel, dusty blue and light pink. If you are really feeling festive, slip into a strapless option which gathers gracefully below the neck and has a long, draping bow in the middle. If flattering patterns are more your style, choose between fashion fuchsia/white and black/white sleeveless party dresses.

Resort was quite a departure from past frilly and flowery styles. Preppy pale blues and yellows were chosen for casual beach dresses of striped classic ticking complete with a tie around the waist. Navy shorts tied at the knee, and a piercing teal was used to create delicate eyelet pieces as well as comfy yet flattering jersey tops. There were still some flowery prairie dresses, but I was focused on a yellow silk dress prominently displayed on its own. The low neckline and empire waist made this the perfect summer event dress.

Polka dots have been peeking out in the voile designs in the past few seasons, and the pieces featured today in the Spring Preview were crisp and mature, as opposed to this years which were more playful. Luckily, the hems have risen on a number of the dresses and the bows and ties are still free flowing.

Although I did spot a few items that could be worn to the office – a cascading mauve silk shirt paired with trousers a shade lighter from the Spring Preview being my favorite – as we have come to expect from Tocca, each piece is interchangeable for a downtown dinner, drinks at a hotel bar, or an uptown charity event.

-Kerri Mullon

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