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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Saturday, September 13, 2008

Show Notes from Bernadine Morris

Ralph Rucci

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

The final event at the New York spring fashion shows was the thunderous applause and standing ovation for Chado Ralph Rucci, the final event on the calendar. It was a fitting response to the elegance and artistry of a collection that embodied the finest expression of dressmaking that has been seen in the New York tents--or perhaps anywhere. It gave prestige and honor to the week of shows.

For the last two seasons Mr. Rucci, an American born in Philadelphia, showed his clothes in Paris. Now, he declared, his New York workrooms could handle the intricacies of his style. He also skipped the couture segment of his show. Everything could be made ready-to-wear. He joins the pillars of American fashion, Norman Norell and James Galanos, in producing clothes that could be bought off the racks and not be made to order. It is a magificent achievement.

A recurring theme in this collection is the combination of thick and thin fabrics in ways to provide decorative effects. Varing patterns in the body of the clothes, a thin band of sheer fabric at the hem--these are some of his ideas. Jackets have sheer inserts to lighten the look for spring.

The basic shape is a small, snug bodice joined to a full sweeping skirt. It is a shape that is easy to wear for many women. There are also full kimono-like styles and narrow pants. But the bouffant dresses look like the winners.

Other techniques are the use of pleats, tiers and the occasional splash of glitter as in a black dress with a gold Mondrian design or a gold-beaded bolero. Seaming that makes its own pattern of mind-bogling intensity.

Most clothes are in white, beige or taupe, but there is a selection of wear-forever black dresses and a striking cerise or coral dress. Welcome back, Rucci.

Ralph Lauren

Ralph Lauren 2009 Spring Collection (Photos:

Another excellent collection was presented by Ralph Lauren, who also received a standing ovation on the last day of the shows. The Lauren clothes were modest, good-looking and, as usual, wearable. Indians, a recurring theme throuhout the years, turn up again, but not the American kind.

These Indians are from the East, and their clothes involve gold turbans, full dhoti skirts or pants, with some safari suits thrown in, all crisply tailored and mostly white. The collection is filled with tasteful, wearable clothes that have their own impact on fresh American clothes.

Calvin Klein

Calvin Klein Spring 2009 Collection

Calvin Klein was lucky in his choice of a successor. Francisco Costa clicked almost immediately. The Halston and Bill Blass collections were not so fortunate. Several designers have failed to keep those collections going. Mr. Costa managed to keep the Calvin Klein spirit alive with clothes that were gentle, wearable and contemporary. Now he's trying something new. The key word, probably, is square. Seams are squared off, not clinging to the body. Sleeves are also squared, away from the arms. The shape is boxy.

Is this the look of the future? Are slithery, body-hugging clothes a part of fashion's past? Mr. Costa obviously thinks so. Instead of familiar bone buttons, he has foumd things like lucite. This adds to the architecture image. Certainly the path Mr. Costa has taken is a momentous one. It goes beyond raising or lowering hemlines or waistlines. Perhaps the closest to compare it with is Chanel's freeing women from corsets back in the early 20th century. In retrospect that doesn't feel as dramatic as dressing women in boxes.

To many in the audience, the look was decidedly strange. Will it turn out to be accepted? It is hard to say.

Donna Karan

Donna Karan Spring 2009 Collection (Photo:

Donna Karan has long been one of this country's favorite designers. This season she too has a leit motif. She has done it before, but this time her favorite motif is draping. It is the opposite of the Costa squared off box.

It is all soft and flowing and she has learned how to do it to reveal legs and chests and give the clothes a seductive look. Some dresses are long, some short. Some are touched with glltter. Most everthing is draped to one side, which adds to the intrigue. Colors are the usual pale shades with an occasional shot of lime or sea green.

The Donna Karan collection is for the more sophisticated woman while the DKNY is for the younger and swingier. There is not much overlap. The more sopisticated styles are often of jersey or other fluid fabrics and flow over the body. They call for earrings, jewelry and even satchels to complement the look. Embroidery adds o the glamour. Jackets and coats are added to the draped dresses to create a complete ensemble. There are even pants to provide some diversity.

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Friday, September 12, 2008

Vera’s ‘Chain’ of Command

Vera Wang Spring 2009 (Photos: by Frazer Harrison)

Vera Wang is nothing, if not consistent. She has finely honed and perfected a personal, and highly identifiable look and one that evolves rather than abruptly changes with the wind each season. As such, she represents one of a handful of designers whose work can immediately be identified (among the others are Ralph Rucci whose highly anticipated show will put the perfect finishing touch and exclamation point on New York Fashion Week this evening).

Vera Wang Spring 2009 (Photos: by Frazer Harrison)

Her by now legendary signatures, which were all in force on the Bryant Park Tent runway yesterday morning, include a reliance on black, navy, gray, and an admittedly ‘mousey’ neutral color palette (enlivened only with hits of color here and there), clean architectural and sculptural shapes, experimentation with cut and volume, stiff couture like fabrics such as gazar, organza, and taffeta, creative layering, an abundance of cardigans, streetwise leggings and t shirts, and of course, the artful expression (which is not only evident in her hand painted fabrics, but in the overall look and feel of the collection). And of course, the amazing ornamentation, which has, in the past few seasons, focused on large, statement making, necklaces.

One of the consistent themes throughout Vera’s spring 2009 collection, which was dedicated to the amazing personal style of Niki de Saint Phalle, was the use of massive, crystal ‘motorcycle chains’ in a variety of shades and finishes. They appeared as necklaces, belts, bracelets, and found their way onto bags. Just when you thought chains couldn’t get any bigger and more pronounced, they have (come to think of it, I think they weighed more than the models themselves).

Naeem Khan Spring 2009 (Photos: Scott Gries)

The shine and bling factor was so high at Naeem Khan, which directly followed Vera Wang (not only on the runway but in the audience as loyal fans paid homage to their favorite designer by wearing his beaded, shiny gold pieces), that one could have used sunglasses. The designer dedicated the collection, dubbed ‘Orient’, to exotic style icons Diana Vreeland, Loulou de la Falaise, DD Ryan, Babe Paley and Tina Chow and he is not alone in his embrace of the Far East. While he chose to open the show with a very chic ‘China’ white silk jersey one shoulder draped gown, what followed was an explosion of exuberant color, floral patterns, and ornamentation, much of it with a decidedly Oriental flavor. Among the standout pieces were the red peony and pink cherry blossom ¾ sleeve embroidered kimono style coat and dresses (long and short including one with an origami pleated bustier); the orange/red great wave embroidered kimono sleeve coat shown over a matching mini dress; the coral and red beaded silk georgette draped halter gown with an amazing back; and a duo of satin show stoppers: the red satin halter gown and the orange satin ‘byzantine’ gown, both with heavily jewel encrusted collars, obliterating the need for any other accessories. But the outfit that got the most applause from the audience (and his following is comprised of some of the most photographed social butterflies in town) was a simple white silk jersey t shirt shown with gold sequined embroidered wide cuffed trousers, which I instantly thought would look as amazing, if not better, worn with a black tuxedo jacket.

Anyone who knows Zang Toi, knows that he is as passionate about cycling as he is about creating, and he possesses a generous spirit that has moved him to find ways to give back. His “fun afternoon of fashion, auctions, and a special performance by a celebrity guest (talented Julian Fleicher & Band)” as the invite promised, took place at Daniel, on East 65th street, and while the spring 2009 collection was the ‘main event’, it was not necessarily the only, or most important part of the afternoon.

There was a live auction of 9 items, the proceeds of which will benefit the Lance Armstrong Foundation (the 7 time Tour de France winner and cancer survivor is a friend and often, cycling companion of Zang’s). Included was a private bike ride with cancer survivor and 7 time Tour de France winner, Lance Armstrong, (which fetched $9500), the legend’s autographed candy red Trek 7.3 FX 20” men’s bike (which sold for $5000), and a framed Livestrong Jersey in the foundation’s signature yellow and black racing colors, donated by Zang Toi himself (this went for $8000).

The chic 26 piece spring collection, a very urbane study in black and white with accents of pink, was filled with chic tailleur, knockout coats, silk/satin gowns, and unusual combinations of lace and plaid (my favorite was the black and white boucle plaid floor length ‘diva’ skirt shown with a long sleeved white silk chiffon jewel neck top pieced with black Chantilly lace on front and on the cuffs). It ended with 4 show stopping pieces that bore beaded, sequined, and mirrored facsimiles of iconic New York buildings: the Crown Building, the Hearst and Time Warner Towers, the No. 9 building, and the finale, a dramatic white floor length cape whose back was covered with a black beaded New York skyline. Considering the date, (9/11), this could not have been a more fitting way to celebrate the spirit of New York.

-Marilyn Kirschner

Reem Radiates

Reem Acra Spring 2009 (Photos: Frazer Harrison)

Rich, saturated jewel tones and soft, iridescent metallics paraded down the runway at Reem Acra on the penultimate day at the tents. Colors given names such as “Cobalt”, “Garnet” “Flamingo”, “Sunshine” and “Clover” (a bright emerald) indicated inspiration from the Far East, as did the luminescent jacquards. Other clues revealing the Eastern vibe were lovely water color, sumi ink style prints, and the golden jacquard jacket with mandarin collar and frog closures (worn with tonal charmeuse pants).

We should all be grateful that the talented Ms. Acra (whom started her career as a wedding gown designer and embroidery artist) crossed over to evening and daywear, as each piece was more spectacular than the next. Garments were jewel encrusted, dramatically beaded, ornately embroidered and “littered’’ with paillettes. Sunburst pleating was used throughout in skirts as well as dresses. A magnificent dress in a color Reem called “Sunshine” (how appropriate), neatly gathered the pleats together on one shoulder, then dropped a large section of the pleated fabric to the floor, emulating the rays of the sun.

Reem Acra Spring 2009 (Photos: Frazer Harrison)

Volume played a large part in the show as well, though garments never appeared heavy due to the light and airy nature of the fabrics. This was illustrated through sheer, iridescent cross dyed (and solid) chiffon caftans, and full, billowy pieces in translucent jacquard. Perhaps one of my favorite pieces of the collection was a pale blue and gold shimmering jacquard with embroidered cuffs. The dress’ V neck plunged all the way down to the belted waist, and the sleeves and skirt were so full, it looked as though it were a hot air balloon becoming inflated.

Of the forty looks comprising the collection, Acra only showed four pants; one of which was part of a ½” width, black and white stripe double breasted suit. While clearly the “odd man out” it was still a gorgeous suit! Long belted jackets with top collars and shirt dresses also made an appearance. Accessories were limited, however a twisted rope belt with (what appeared to be) an enamel and crystal closure, secured the waist of many looks. Shoes were kept simple so as not to distract from the glamorous pieces, and models glided in colored snakeskin high heeled mules or silk embroidered slippers.

Finding fault with this Spring ’09 presentation was impossible. Ms. Acra certainly knows her customer, and remains true to her own philosophy -- appreciation for the traditional and classic with the modern fashion needs of today’s stylish woman.

-Stacy Lomman

Custo Barcelona

Custo Barcelona Spring 2009 Collection

At the previous Fashion Week in February 2008, Custo Barcelona created a surprise with a somewhat gothic runway show performed under dimmed lights with an almost spiritual procession of models whose cadence slowed as the show neared the end. This time around, the highly creative Spanish designer takes us in a whirlwind tour of colors, patterns, appliques, lames and patchworks. It was an upbeat mix of a decidedly very iconoclastic fashion sense.

Metallic fabrics dominated the show, as seen in hats, jackets, pants and skirts, a reminder of the ever strong metallic effect. In recent years, these fabrics have steadily gained ground to become strongly enmeshed in the every day life: while silver and gold were once unseen outside of fancy parties and entertaining affairs, it now is everywhere, just as any other type of fabrics : Mr Barcelona embraces the use of silver and gold finishes fabrics with a great exuberance as seen in the runway show. Most of the designs gleamed from the use of fabrics or beading, with contrasting fabrics blending beautifully together a a result.

The show was carefully and precisely orchestrated: greens and cerulean blues dominated at the start, abruptly interrupted by bold and daring men's suits in all sorts of colors and fabric patterns: from a boldly and colorful striped suit to another one all in black and white with a flowery pattern, the suits were also about the call many designers make for bolder and more diversified men's fashion styles.

The women's line was extremely colored, with neon and sorbet colors taking the first step followed by cerulean blues, greens, then pinks, oranges, purples... life as seen by Custo Barcelona is all about bright and cheerful colors.

As seen in other collections this week, the most prominent details were about the waist, cinched at most times, and adorned with bows in the back on some designs, a reminder of the predominance of the Far East for the next spring-summer season.

Custo Barcelona Spring 2009 Collection

The designer surprises and enchants with his skillful placement of contrasting fabrics and patterns to create an always stunning effect. What could look as tacky and "unmatched" (read ugly) with other designs is simply beautiful when it comes to the clothes Mr Barcelona creates. Appliques, lames, beaded fabrics abounded in this collection, yet each and every design had its own sense of minimalism: the genius of this designer is in his excellent choice of fabrics paired with a strict and relatively simple tailoring of the clothes. The result is a rich display of clothes that are not overwhelming to live with, and at the best, be dressed with.

- Muriel Geny-Triffaut

Zac Posen’s Night of Stars

Zac Posen Spring 2009 (Photo: Isabelle Erb)

I arrived to check in for the Zac Posen Spring 2009 show on Thursday night prepared for the usual experience: long waits, being herded from one holding area to another in order to reach my seat. Much to my surprise, there was very little waiting time at all, the crowd flowed smoothly, and I was able to make my way into the tent in record time. This allowed me to settle in comfortably to enjoy all the pre-show festivities.

The parade of VIPs began almost immediately. A woman seated behind me emarked, “This show has real celebrities.” At that moment, the crowd began to cheer as tennis stars Serena and Venus Williams arrived. They were followed closely by Jada Pinkett Smith and Claire Danes. The Williams sisters were installed front and center on one side of the runway, directly across from Suzy Menkes of the International Herald Tribune, and seated quietly in the third row behind her, Miss J from America’s Next Top Model.

Zac Posen’s spring collection was a study in contrasts. There were peach sorbet colored dresses with metallic accents (perplex plating), and suede biker jackets layered over chiffon. Sheer leopard print dresses were presented in delicate colors like lemon and pistachio lipstick.

(Photo: Peter Michael Dills)

Some of Posen’s most appealing looks included a pastel biker jacket paired with a feminine flared skirt and a figure flattering ribbon dress that had just the right amount of sparkle. I was somewhat less enamored of his combination of a suede biker jacket shown with a loose top and capris and the short shorts and bikini top seemed rather out of place here.

There were several adorable bags in a variety of styles (drawstring pouches, totes, oversized clutches). I also liked the peep toe, sling back shoes with colorful contrasting heels. These looked appropriate with both day and evening looks.

The collection of gowns that closed the show varied from the sexy, navy starry night fringe gown to a black strapless look with an empire waist and an asymmetrical loose skirt. The most striking was the black and white silk Alhambra gown that worked surprisingly well in its unique color pattern.

-Rhonda Erb


Thursday, September 11, 2008

Michael Goes ‘Dotty’ for a ‘Platform’ for Change

Michael Kors Spring 2009 Collection (Photo: Frazer Harrison)

Anna Wintour may casting her vote for delicate, pointy toed shoes with thin spindly heels (the sort made popular by Manolo Blahnik, her particular shoe maker of choice), and hoping against hope that heavy shoes will disappear (I would love to see Anna wear platform booties just once), but from the look of things (as the spring collections come to an end), they are very much here to stay. While there are always different options and choices out there, and no one specific way to go, it seems the platform shoe with a chunky heel (whether it is a sandal, lace up bootie, or rope soled espadrille) is still very much a popular choice with designers, who have been using the style to impart a sporty, casual, natural, and grounded aesthetic.

(Photo: Frazer Harrison)

They were certainly in evidence at the upbeat, sporty and athletic collection shown by Michael Kors yesterday morning and, in fact, an exaggerated platform sandal in white or black were the only shoe he used. Other accessories which successfully carried out the sports theme were oversized white gleamy visors, aviators, and his always amazing, oversized, statement making bags (which I personally coveted). The collection, which referenced Malibu and Portofino, was very signature and pure Michael through and though. And that ain’t bad. With the optimistic and energetic Beach Boys soundtrack (“Good Vibrations” kept playing over and over) the models (gals and guys) strode down the runway looking so healthy and fabulous…it would be impossible to NOT want to look like them.

(Photo: Frazer Harrison)

What I loved about the collection was its consistency from beginning to end (the sports theme continued into evening, where Michael proposed a jersey scuba gown, a black cashmere t shirt worn with a gunmetal crushed lame track pant, or perhaps a silk faille anorak) and the fact that it didn’t resemble anything else thus far: there was nary a floral, a ruffle, a peplum, a piece of lace, or a piece of chiffon in sight. Instead, there was neoprene, cashmere, silk marocaine, gingham poplin, gingham faille, sailcloth, tech madras, jersey, stretch merino and crushed lame. There were graphic bold regatta stripes, checks, plaids and especially dots, large polka dot appeared on tops, on swimsuits, on dresses, and often, on matching bags. The forever chic combination of black and white or the nautically inspired navy, white, and red couldn’t have looked better and Michael offered both an eased up, slouchy, often voluminous silhouette as well as something narrower. Swimwear was knockout (graphic swimsuits with surf shorts, banded bikinis), and the runway was filled with items like cire windbreakers, lame t shirts, silk marocaine pullovers, crushed habitai track suits, scuba jackets, as well as some great dresses including one knockout in navy and crimson striped stretch wool featuring an arrestingly cut out back that resembled a ladder (hence the name: the ‘ladder’ dress).

Philip Lim Spring 2009 Collection

I must say I loved 3.1 Philip Lim which was very creative, individual, and all about a youthful, eccentric glamour and a ‘different’ sort of beauty: hair was pulled back into severe buns (often to one side), and reading glasses with unusual frames, were often used to accessorize, along with Christian Louboutin’s sculptural, often colorful shoes. The bullfighter served as inspiration and a Spanish theme was more than vaguely in evidence, as illustrated by such items as a fitted antique white linen matador vest trimmed with gold ribbon embellishment worn over a short sleeved antique white blouse and black ‘fold back’ trousers, a cropped black ‘conquistadora’ leather jacket shown with a taupe organza ruffled mini, a black Mantilla fringed bateau neck sweater worn with a parchment fold over middy skirt, ‘castanet’ adornments which found they way onto organza tanks as well as cummerbunds, and two sculptural ‘ole’ zipper dresses…one in black silk organza and one in pink. It was all about offhanded mixes (masculine vs. feminine, hard vs. soft, day vs. night, opaque vs. sheer). Couture like peplums encircled more than a few waists and ruffles showed up on organza and leather jackets, organza blouses, trimming a chiffon trench coat, and cascading down the back of a floor length dress. Speaking of which…the idea of back interest (arresting cut outs, details, etc.) has been a recurring theme at the spring 2009 shows, and that’s perfect especially when one makes their way on the red carpet (it guarantees you will be photogenic from every angle).

Oscar de la Renta Spring 2009 Collection (Photo:

And speaking of the red carpet, Jennifer Lopez made her late entrance into Oscar de la Renta’s show just as the 62 piece collection was to begin, and she looked quite fabulous (wearing the designer’s black strapless dress). Undoubtedly, she was there to scope out selections for upcoming red carpet events and it was not a stretch to imagine the megastar wearing several glamorous evening gowns, including the avocado floral print gown with vinyl embroidery, the graphic white silk faille peplum gown with navy Harlequin embroidery, the silver and pale pink brocade strapless with a mermaid skirt, and the finale: a strapless silver ‘maco’ bead embroidered gown that looked like liquid silver, accessorized with a massive silver collar (silver was a theme throughout). In addition to silver, this season, Oscar is making a case for statement making necklaces, color blocked swimwear, crochet and lace, florals, ikat embroideries, and cherry prints (at least I think it was a cherry, it was hard to see details as I was sitting up in the balcony since they scaled down on the seating downstairs and had to add another section upstairs).

-Marilyn Kirschner

Douglas Hannant’s Rooftop Garden Party

Douglas Hannant Spring 2009 Collection (Photo: Isabelle Erb)

Members of New York’s social set mingled with prominent VIPs of the fashion press, as Douglas Hannant hosted a rooftop garden party for the presentation of his Spring 2009 collection. Nina Garcia of Project Runway arrived with E-Bay’s Constance White. Ivana Trump was also in attendance. In fact, so many heavy hitters filled the narrow space high atop Manhattan’s Roosevelt hotel, that photographer Patrick McMullen was hard pressed to shoot them all before the show began.

(Photo: Isabelle Erb)

As the guests settled into their seats, some were lucky enough to be seated in the shade, while others had to endure the blistering rays of the sun. No matter, Douglas Hannant knows his customer, and the audience was immediately delighted with his first offering: an elegant slip dress with lace insets in blush silk, replete with a wide brimmed hat. It was an outfit that was picture perfect for the garden setting.

(Photo: Isabelle Erb)

Hannant knows how to flatter the feminine form, whether he is showing a crisply tailored white pant suit or a ballet inspired black micorsequin tweed dress with a tulle skirt. He even manages to incorporate a sporty racerback into a buff floral print dress that is the epitome of a garden party frock.

To complete his collection, Hannant offered a selection of gowns in frothy colors like powdered blue and lavender. Each piece was an eclectic mix of intricate detailing accenting an elegant, ladylike shape. The lavender silk organza ball gown had a skirt so voluminous that it seemed to be inflated. It featured a substantial amount of ruching just along the hemline. In contrast, the powder blue/ pewter strapless gown was form fitting with an elaborate pattern of ruffles covering the entire length of the dress.

After the show, attendees quickly made their way through the maze of hallways from the roof to an elevator or stairwell to reach the main floor. Each guest received a bag filled with various cosmetics and a congratulatory note from Barneys New York which read: "Congratulations Douglas Hannant on another wonderful showing of true American luxury."

- Rhonda Erb

Anna Sui’s Spanish Sunset

Anna Sui Spring 2009 Collection (Photo: Isabelle Erb)

Upon entering the Tent at Bryant Park, on Wedensday night, for the Anna Sui show, one immediately noticed that the runway was bathed in a deep red light and an imposing image of the sun dominated the room. This was just an inkling of what was to come as Sui wowed the crowd with a Spanish themed presentation of her Spring 2009 collection.

Right from the beginning, Sui introduced an ensemble that featured a lively mix of stripes and dots as the first model marched down the runway to the strains of a hard-driving Latin beat. The music set the mood throughout the show, lending just the right amount of playfulness for each outfit.

(Photo: Isabelle Erb)

I was immediately drawn to the richly colored palette of Sui’s collection. The brightly colored dresses in turquoise, teal, lime, or tomato prints made me think of summer cocktails by the pool, while the more subtly colored pieces in khaki or olive evoked more of a desert like feeling. Still another aspect of the designer’s theme was represented by the predominately black, and/or white pieces, like the sun panel print linen hooded dress.

(Photo: Isabelle Erb)

Anna Sui accessorized many of her looks, like the Rose foulard daisy border print romper, with roomy square bags with long shoulder straps. There were also a number of colorful totes in vivid patterns of red or yellow. She showed several interesting styles of footwear, ranging from gold patterned boots to ornately decorated ankle strap sandals that were anything but ordinary.

Near the end of the collection, I liked the pairing of bikini tops with vibrant print, swingy dresses, to create a look that was at once feminine and edgy. Sui closed her show with two looks that featured bolero jackets. One of the models wore a hat reminiscent of a matador’s.

The audience seemed energized by Anna Sui’s Latin inspired show. It provided the perfect respite for fashionistas after a long day in the middle of Fashion Week.

-Rhonda Erb


Tuesday, September 09, 2008

“Vote for Marc”

Marc Jacobs Spring 2009 Collection (photo: Randy Brooke)

In keeping with the election theme of Fashion Week, Marc Jacobs should run for office. He certainly has the power of the people on his side, with an even deeper pool of celebrity followers than Obama! Marc debuted his Spring 2009 collection last night and the scene on Lexington Avenue could have been mistaken for a box office movie premiere (by anyone oblivious to fashion week). Traffic was jammed by the Armory as the street was blocked with limousines, press and loads of onlookers trying to catch a glimpse of the action and the celebrities. This event draws them like no other at the tents (or off site shows), and last night proved not to disappoint. The major players were there of course; Anna Wintour, Glenda Bailey, Hamish Bowles, Sofia Coppola, Helena Christensen, Padma Lakshmi and Lauren Hutton just to name a few. I didn’t have a lot of time to scan the venue, because the show nearly started on time (O.K. approximately half past nine, but I think that’s a record)! I arrived at 8:55, went straight inside, and after a fairly quick “airport security” bag check complete with chugging my Evian and tossing it into the trash, I proceeded to the main stage. After passing the blinding flashes of the cameras and squeezing my way through the mob, I made it to my seat on the metal bleachers and regretted wearing my micro shorts. It was 9:05, not bad; certainly better than JFK.

Marc Jacobs (photo: Randy Brooke)

Shortly thereafter, the first model strutted down the catwalk. If one didn’t know any better, one could have assumed that Jacobs was showing a Fall line, featuring hues of burgundy, magenta, jade, navy, brown and mustard. In fact, mustard was used quite liberally throughout. Models were wearing men’s straw skimmer hats during the first half helping to create a spring-like vibe. About half way through, the disc shaped hats were replaced with navy turbans neatly covering the head. Fabrics were ornate and detailed in most cases, consisting of dark ground, multicolored jacquards, bright patterned knits, and soft woven plaid shirting. Leather, jersey, sheer mesh and metallic blend knits were also represented. Somehow, Jacobs managed to marry odd combinations of fabric, pattern and color to create beautifully balanced ensembles. He used wide banding (looked like 5/8” width) in solid black to outline, border, cut up and separate the various prints. He also utilized a wide belt to break and divide the top and bottom half of the body, allowing for two completely different palettes or patterns to occur simultaneously.

The Spring 2009 collection mixed glamour, luxury and high society with the working class. The apron appeared to be an inspiration with crisscrossed back straps repeating in many different pieces, and the bow tie in the back consistently surfacing as a detail. Variations on the bib overall also played into the mix and further conveyed the spirit of blue collar. Even the turbaned head piece could have been interpreted as a babushka or handkerchief. However, the elegance was not overwhelmed by the humorous twists. Feminine, pretty pieces flowed down the runway, reflecting in the mirrors stacked like dominoes down the center of the runway.

Marc Jacobs (photo: Stan Honda)

Jackets were an important component in the collection. Shoulders were strong, sharp and crisply padded with an emphasis on the cap. Jacobs repeated the use of the cap sleeve throughout, adding a narrow, rigid piece to an otherwise sleeveless jacket or top. He also used it on long sleeve jackets where it was seen jutting out slightly past the natural shoulder. Marc showed classically clean jackets in solid black and navy, one being a double breasted, notch collar paired with narrow bermudas. A good amount of the jackets gliding down the runway were longer, and cut in more ornate fabrics. Most of these beauties were shawl collared, and all of them belted with cummerbund-like wraps. The emphasis on the waist was apparent, as the cummerbund cinched the majority of the models.

Marc Jacobs (photo: Stan Honda)

Skirts were mostly long and narrow; however, they were far from simple. Many were multicolored and patterned, and one silhouette (which appeared several times) was ruffled along the bottom, crossing diagonally up along the back to the waist, with fabric being drawn into a bow, creating a lovely package. Other skirts were multilayered with different prints on the layers. One marvelous piece was cut shorter in the front than the back, with solid color in front and a bright print decorating the back layers. Even the jade, leather pencil skirt was folded and pleated in front with a bow tied at the back waist. Pants weren’t featured, but the silhouettes present were narrow Bermudas or tapered cropped, with a wide cuff finishing a couple inches above the ankle. Oh, I almost forgot one other pair of bottoms – plaid patterned undies worn with a belted jacket.

Draping, gathering, ruffles, ties and manipulated excess fabric translated into shapes. There was definitely a sense of soft versus hard as the strong shoulder offset the lighter pieces. Softness and fullness was controlled by the use of a belt, a bow tie, even by neatly shirring fabric into a back yoke piece on a blouse. There was a lovely gathered, asymmetric top that seemed to come together in a bow at one shoulder. The last few dresses to grace the runway felt a bit out of place, though they did deliver the clear message of spring. Navy/white and red/white fine stripes in what appeared to be heavy jersey generously draped the body with an excess of fabric to create long, languid dresses evoking Madame Gres.

The collection was artful, complex, bold and daring – just like the women who possess a passion for Marc’s clothes. So, remember in November: Vote Marc.

-Stacy Lomman

Loose’ Change…

Proenza Schouler (photo: Andrew H. Walker)

As I was saying about ‘change’… at a time when the debate about anorexic models, unhealthy body weight, and eating disorders continues, it seems rather apropos that as the spring 2009 season unfolds, one ongoing trend appears to be the idea of an eased up silhouette and the use of volume and structure (the models may not be actually gaining weight but their clothing is giving the illusion of putting on some much needed pounds). Such was the case at Proenza Schouler, shown fittingly at the Park Avenue Armory. I say fittingly because much of Lazaro Hernandez and Jack McCollough’s 34 piece collection resembled armor thanks to the reliance on stiff couture like fabrics (bonded cotton, bonded silk, coated gazar, glazed aluminum, glazed silk, silk mesh, and leather) that held their shape in an almost exaggerated way, and that includes sleeves. (I especially loved the white bonded cotton ‘trench’ jacket and coat with a lowered waist, both shown with an ivory silk batiste ‘jogging’ pant).

The color palette was pared down and minimalistic: white, optic white, ivory, ecru, (often mixed together), and black, with just a few hits of green and purple and while there were some great silk laser cut dresses, the emphasis was on utilitarian sportswear (expensive utilitarian sportswear at that). A take off on the jogging pant was shown throughout, there were jumpsuits (overalls really) for day and evening (the finale featured a group of heavily beaded white, black, and silver jumpsuits), and there were details like harness straps, zippers, touches of silver, and clear, porthole type cut out embroideries which found their way on the hem of a pair of pants and several dresses. The feeling of dressed up sportswear, the importance of the pant, and the idea of ‘day for night’ was exemplified in the slouchy black viscose linen jacket shown with an embroidered viscose knit top and silver beaded cropped full pants.

Carolina Herrera (photo: Frazer Harrison)

Earlier in the day, Carolina Herrera did a complete about face from last season, getting off her ‘high horse’ and leaving fall 2008’s overly theatrical equestrian romp in favor of something far less contrived (nary a pheasant feather in sight). The emphasis was on texture (through the use of tweed organza, textured silk, lacquered raffia) and on contrasts: tempering the overtly feminine with the masculine (best were the menswear inspired black jackets thrown over beaded or ruffled gowns), and playing color (persimmon hibiscus, marigold, teal) off black and white. There were floral prints, tiers, ruffles, ruffles, and more ruffles (what else is new?), strapless dresses, bustier tops, and peplums, (recurring themes elsewhere), and Carolina offered variety in terms of ‘skinny’ versus volume. A black textured blouse shown with a raffia pleated skirt had the ease of a kimono top but then several black tuxedo pantsuits, including one in raffia, featured fitted, almost shrunken jackets and cropped cigarette pants. And then there was the stunner shown on Agyness (an off white duchess satin jacket which was fitted in front but featured a flyway back) shown with black duchess satin cigarette pants, which seemed to straddle both worlds.

By the way, when all was said and done, it was the grouping in black and white, the more simplified and subtle pieces, that were in the end, the most successful. This was exemplified by the slim, back buttoned, short sleeved vanilla and white silk gown, cut with the ease of an elongated t shirt, but decorated with a delicate spray of ruffles on the top right. In a veritable sea of ruffles, this is the dress that stood out.

-Marilyn Kirschner


Yeohlee (photo: Slaven Vlasic)

There is nothing cookie-cutter about any of the clothes Yeohlee designs. Each is individual, inventive and not like anything else you see presented in other designers' shows or hanging in any store"s racks. Each piece is an adventure and this collection is one of her very best. It makes other shows of the season, even the good ones, look, well, primitive or derivative.

Yeohlee (photo: Slaven Vlasic)

As usual, Yeohlee ls fascinated by architecture. And the terms she uses to describe her collection are parabola, the cube and the crescent. But don't worry about it. Her clothes work as fashion. Expanding her source of inspiration to include the ocean, she mentions the jellyfish, which refers to a soft, gentle shape altenating with the more severe ones. The shape is perfectly acceptable, though I have some reservations about the name.

Yeohlee (photo: Slaven Vlasic)

Throughout the collection she has unusual ways of cutting her clothes. Tops are often soft and blousy, like bubbles. This contrasts with the bottoms, which can be strict, but not symmetrical. Hemlines vary. They often slant in diverse ways. Fabrics include a translucent jersey, which has a built-in glow and some fish-net effects, which refer again to the ocean theme.

Colors are white and stone shades with an occasional brick red. That is part of the architectural inspiration.

-Bernadine Morris