New York Fashion Week

Beauties, Freeks and Geeks

-By Adrienne Weinfeld-Berg & Photos by Isabelle Erb
OK. OK. We know how much every Fashion Week “insider” wants to get close, cozy and lovey dovey with all of the big editors (Anna, Andre, Glenda, Robbie, Linda, Cathy, ad nauseum) and the even bigger “name” fashionistas (designers, stylists, photographers) across the board (or in the case of FW, The Tents). Well, we’ve had quite enough of that. Now, for something new and different, we scoured The Tents (and beyond) during FW, with a sharp eye trained on bringing you something you might not have seen, heard, read about or even thought of before.

With all of this in mind, we’re bringing you a diverse array of fashion folk, we’re calling “the great undiscovered”. For this interesting and virtually unknown (up until now, that is) group, who really do place quite an interesting and signature spin on the categories of beauty, freek or geek (we know, but we’re leaving it up to you to draw your own conclusions), some of the most interesting looks, style and FW observations come.


Affiliation: Publisher, Editor,

And, you are wearing … Silver gray, early 1950’s, fitted suit; very Bergdorf Goodman at that time. I’m channeling Christian Dior via Lucy Ricardo. The cuff is from Gerard Yosca; the pearls and the fur are from H&M.

Thoughts on Fashion and the Economy … To me, glamor is sort of fading. Most of the designers are aiming at the 18-year-olds who go to clubs, or at most of the shows that I have seen, the clothes are for the society woman who has these mgnificent balls to go to, which I really do not think is the right way to go right now. We’re in a recession and I think that the idea is to sell beautiful, wearable clothes; not just to present a fantasy idea of that on a runway. Plus, if the clothing is expensive, it should not necessarily be timeless, but still high fashion and not something to be worn just once and then spend the rest of its life in the woman’s closet.

Move to Lincoln Center … Personally, I am unhappy, and the people that I have spoken to about this topic are also unhappy. For the most part, it becomes difficult to maneuveur around; not everybody who covers Fashion Wee has a limo, you know. Public transporation is difficult, because there’s no express that you can take anywhere. Then, there’s the NYC Crosstown bus, which is a joke. Lincoln Center is really not a place, I think, that has much to offer by way of relaxing between shows. Also, for the established designers, as well as the younger, less known designers, many of whom may want to show in their showrooms to do a presentation; well, some of these designers, especially the younger ones, may not get the traffic. I really feel that many of these younger designers will get stuck, and they will suffer, because to go from Lincoln Center all the way down to The Garment Center, is going to be hard and extremely time consuming. That’s truly how I feel, and I doubt that I am alone in what I think.

Trending the season … Skinny, skinny, skinny pants that you have to be 8 feet tall and anorexic to wear … lots of drab, dull colors, which could be a subconscious manifestation on the part of many designers right now, of the economy and the times … For example, at Carolina Herrera, the skirts are falling below the knee. Usually, when you’re going down into a depression, hemlines drop accordingly. Unfortunately, I hope that’s not going to fall true. But, we’ll see what happens.


Affiliation: Costume Designer, ABC TV’s “All My Children”

And, you are wearing … My oldest suit; Ralph Lauren; probably 15 years old. A custom-made coat from Grenfell, in an exclusive orange color, which I specifically asked them to create for me. The shirt is custom-made in Italy by Antichi Telai. I’m wearing a Charvet tie, Edye Jetta scarf and To Boot shoes.

Thoughts on Fashion and the Economy … Fashion overall is probably at its most exciting point. It’s a time to re-invent; it’s a time to get back to real quality. I feel it’s a time to not follow a look or a trend, just because it is in, or follow a certain name because that name is in or popular, or puts a lot of advertising behind it. I think right now, it’s really going to go back to quality; what is right for a particular person and what that particular person feels attractive and good in, vs. to being simply a follower. I’m on my way to Tracy Reese right now, and to me, she’s fantastic and so right for the times. In all of the 20 years that I have known about Tracy Reese, she has always presented great, wearable clothes that show a great mix and something for everyone/ Each collection is unique and individual, and this is why I think that is one good reason why she has continually maintained and built her name and brand.

Move to Lincoln Center … I’m open to it. I actually began my career as a fashion designer, doing my own shows here at Bryant Park. And before that, we did the shows at Parsons. So, yes, I am open to and embrace change.


Affiliation: Owner, Port City Models, Freelance Fashion Stylist, Writer, based in Portland Maine and Boston

And, you are wearing … BCBG Max Azria, little black dress and boots, Le Chateau accessories, Express fur piece (I’m like Michelle Obama), Chanel bag. I’m opening a division of my modeling agency in New York City soon, and I’m at FW because I brought 3 models with me who are doing some of the shows.

Thoughts on Fashion and the Economy … I’ve been covering FW for awhile, and this season, especially, I see fewer big name designers showing at The Tents, and that’s good, because they’re allowing more emerging designers in. Generally, young designers don’t pay as much to show here, and this is giving them the chance to be seen, known and recognized by so many more press and buyers, vs. showing somewhere else. Also, the chic people are still chic and everyone loves fashion and frivolity. Everyone wants to enjoy life, and fashion is a way to express oneself and get away from the everyday, humdrum of counting pennies in this economy. But, in this economy, more and more people are buying vintage items and mixing in a few expensive, luxury pieces. For example, Michelle Obama is buying J. Crew and mixing in Jason Wu. Overall, I think that looking too luxurious is almost looked down upon at this moment. It’s all about people that can be creative and still look fashionable without being too showy or ostentatious.

Move to Lincoln Center … That’s going to be hard to get used to, especially considering the fact that the whole aura of FW is that it needs to basically be under one, easily accessible tent, and I’m not so sure that Lincoln Center is going to provide that. I love being here in Midtown Manhattan, and being close to the hotel and the apartment where I am staying. Just being close to the hub of everything is wonderful and exciting. Although the move away from Bryant Park is inevitable, I will miss Bryant Park. It saddens me a bit, but at least, FW will still be celebrated. Allowing FW to remain in NYC in one central location is good, because the event just wouldn’t be the same if all of the shows were held in a million, different off-site locations.

Trending the season … I love Miss Sixty’s 80’s theme, Rocker Chic, lots of black, but not depressing black; they’ve dressed black up with lots of great accessories.


Affiliation: Publisher, Editor,

And, you are wearing …Comme des Garcons top, wild mink wrap by Northern Furs, Jeans (I don’t know actually, I just thought that they were hot), YSL boots, necklaces (wood, 18karat gold and diamonds) by Kara Ross, vintage Chanel, bracelets by Louis Morais (a gift), Burberry, 18karat gold vintage, watches from Hermes, Bulgari, Gucci, sunglasses by Bernard Willhelm

Thoughts on Fashion and the Economy … Well, it’s funny, because I’ve been talking about this, and everybody’s been interviewing me about this-I expected the clothes on the runway this season to be much more somber, and it’s surprising to me that there’s been way more fur and a lot of rich color mixed in with lots of metallics and layers. So, there is richness, even though the economy has gone bad. But, people need to cut back, and maybe not everyone is going to cut back on fashion. Well, maybe something else that they can cut back on could be coffee, for instance. Let’s face it, we all go to Starbuck’s, but now, we can all go to McDonald’s and get a McCafe for 69 cents and I think that’s why McDonald’s is right here in The Tents at FW. They’re trying to pick up on our kind of crowd. They already have their urban crowd and they already have their lower income crowd and they already have the crowd in Middle America. But, they don’t have us. They don’t have the more fashiony, NYC crowd, and it only makes sense for McDonald’s to capture and bring in this crowd, especially now that times are hard.

Now, I don’t have any money, but I’d rather spend what I do have on looking good and feeling good, vs. spending my money on a regular-tasting $5 cup of coffee, especially when I can get a really good cup of coffee for 69 cents. That makes sense to me. I haven’t really cut back on maintaining my interesting haircut, because I’m an artist and I love to look unusual, because I feel good that way. So, I want to have my hair looking chic. Before, I had razor stripes in my hair, but then, I said no, I can’t do this anymore. But, I have cut back on where I live and work; now, I live and work all in one place; downtown on Exchange Place. Basically, I think fashion is all about mixing right now. People cannot stop shopping. I have many friends who can afford basicaly anything that they want, but they feel guilty to just go out and buy everything and anything; they don’t want to be flashy anymore.

But, for me, if there’s a time to be flashy, this is it. If we don’t buy and we don’t shop, the economy is just going to go lower. But, while we’re still shopping, we have to keep in mind that we need to shop differently. And, on my website, that’s exactly what I believe in. I tell my readers to go to stores such as Ina’s Designer Re-Sale or to H&M, where the word “bargain” is the name of the shopping game. I wear a lot of vintage myself; I do buy re-sale, but I also go to Barney’s, especially during the sales. I mix it all up, buying thrift and buying luxury. For example, I might scope things out at Barney’s prior to the sales, and if I’m dying for something that is not on sale at the time, and have to have it right this minute, well, then, that is my investment. I’ve had to shop this way my entire life and I continue to shop this way now. Clearly, we all live from check to check, even though some of our checks are cuter than others. You know what I mean? I live from check to check, but my check is just cuter now than it used to be. So, because I am still not wealthy, I’ve just made choices to do things differently.

For example, if I go to dinner in Tribeca, I’ll order one cocktail, instead of two or three cocktails. I’ll have a cocktail or some wine at home before I go out to dinner. Then, I’ll walk home, rather than spend $10 on a taxi. It’s great exercise and I’m working off that dinner. So, all of this is about thinking about how I spend my money, but still not stopping to spend that money.

Move to Lincoln Center … The Tents are The Tents. The Tents are a classic. The Tents are and always will be, to me, at least, synonomous with FW in New York City.


Affiliation: Freelance Fashion Stylist; Independent Film, Personal Shopper, Special Events

And, you are wearing … Aubrey Meade cape, Vintage fur by United States Furs, vintage gloves, H&M pants, Aldo shoes, Heather Huey Milliners, custom-made chapeau, eye-liner, naturally plump, pink lips (my lips are real; no Restalin or Botox; Angelina Jolie can eat it), custom haircut by a New Jersey lady. I’m all about New Jersey for hair. I just like to pump up the volume a bit. Do I dress like this everyday? Well, what I’m wearing today is a bit formal for me, but when it comes to FW, I always like to take it to the next step.

Thoughts on Fashion and the Economy: I think I’m a little upset this FW because in times of financial trouble, designers should strive to create and produce those special, one-of-a-kind pieces that never go out of style, especially those pieces that are just so over-the-top and funky. But, I didn’t see very much, if any of these kinds of pieces this FW; I think that too many designers this season just played it close to the vest and overly safe, so that the bigger stores will pick up their lines. I think that too many designers did not step up this season. Instead of going over the top, they were boring and uninspiring. I always want to see the new and different at FW; that’s what I come here for. But, I didn’t see much of that this season. But, I did like Diesel’s Black Gold show, which was just great as a commercial line. They always do fun, crazy stuff and I think that this season, the show was no exception. The furs were really phenominal and the models, hair, make-up and styling were as out there as always, which is Diesel’s signature. The fact that they stayed true to their roots, and showed everything in the way that they did, especially so much fur, even with all of the crazy PETA nonsense going on out in the street, is just great and made me feel good. I’m looking forward to seeing Untitled Love, which is another one of my favorite shows. They’re going green with lots of organic fabrics paired up with vintage embellishments (buttons, zippers), and to me, that’s a great move right now.

You didn’t ask me about the people walking around The Tents. To me, the majority of these people look derelict and demoralized. Very few people, if anyone, even dress up for the shows anymore. I think there’s just me and you and Rosemary Ponzo, and isn’t that sad. I have always felt that FW is such a great event to have fun and experiment, where everyone gets the chance to have their own style.

Move to Lincoln Center … Really pathetic. There’s just something so tender about FW at Bryant Park, and it’s not only so historic, but also so traditional, welcoming and iconic. While I do think that some designers – Marc Jacobs comes to my mind – are better suited to different venues aside from The Tents, per se, I also feel that for the majority of designers who show during FW (known and new), The Tents have become and are home. To now take all of these feelings and ideas and transpose everything away to another place, well, I don’t know if that work work.


Affiliation: Creator of special events at The Tavern On The Green, Creator of Studio 54 with Ian Schraeger and Steve Rubell

And, you are wearing … Bebe top, dress and belt by Dolce Gabbana, Aldo boots, fur and metallic bag

And, you are here because … I came today especially to see Cho Cheng’s show, which I loved, because of all of the very young clothes, especially the short skirts and bright colors. I adored the finale piece – meringue-colored evening dress. I want to grab a little bit of FW, because in two days, I’m leaving for Rio to enjoy ten days of Carnivale.


Affiliation: Salon Tea

And, you are wearing … Gilles Montezin haute couture gown. Any woman who wears this gown, which is so haute coutre in its feeling, feels so special; just like a fairy princess. Gilles is a close friend of mine, who recently came to NYC from Paris, where he worked with LaCroix. Vintage designer bracelet, YSL bag, Lanvin shoes.

And, you are here because … I came today to see another friend’s show; Cho Cheng. He always makes lovely jackets and they are wearable, but in a fun, spirited, never boring way. I liked the very short skirts that he showed, but I don’t wear anything that’s not underneath myk nee. I’m very ladylike.

Thoughts on Fashion and the Economy … For me, if someone has style, that person can go into their clset and put things together in a unique, creative way. You have to use what you have in your closet, and then, add the accessories, but always pairing everything together differently. We all have to be respectful of the times. I have not really gone out and made a major purchase, except for shoes. I’ve definitely toned back


Affiliation: Professor, LIM (Laboratory Institute of Merchandising), The College For The Business of Fashion

And, you are wearing … Coat and pants from Banana Republic, “Sex Slaves” t-shirt by FCUK, Cashmere shirt, “looks like to came from Kmart, but it’s not; it’s Ralph Lauren”, Missoni scarf, shoes, “so old I can’t remember where they’re from”, tote bags, the store at LIM and various FW bags, drinking, “some type of vodka drink, but not a “Passionista”; rather, a real Martini-ista with olives from the cocktail lounge. Your boss gave me this”.

Thoughts on Fashion and the Economy … I think the worst mistake that most companies are making right now is trying to play too safe. I think in order for anyone to purchase anything, it’s going to have to be exciting, different, and something the consumer does not already have in their closet. It’s the “if I already have it, I’m not going to buy it” mentality. That’s it, period. And, I think from what we’ve just seen on the video screens here in The Tents this afternoon, Diane von Furstenberg has certainly gone in the right direction. The collection was wonderful. She just doesn’t seem to care and that is the attitude that people should have right now. Speaking of that kind of attitude, as I watched this show, I really was captivated by the fantastic hats. I immediately channeled Vivienne Westwood. I mean, where else would you find someone as eccentric as Westwood? She never reads magazines. She doesn’t watch television. She believes in researching from history.

Why not? I still believe that even in this economy, shoppers in general want so much creativity and fashion, but in a different way than before. They are going to be adding on to what they already have in their closet, but still, their add-on piece or pieces have to be things that are worth buying. Everything has to be fabulous, exciting, fresh and new. The customer is not going to be looking for the same, old, dull, basic things that they have been buying for God knows how long. The Gap, forget it. And, the feeling is everywhere. I was in London in December, and the stores were not only giving stuff away, but you’d buy one and get three. So, it’s not just in America, where people are feeling the recession.

But, I also think that it’s more to do with the same stores that it’s happening with here – stores such as Tommy Hilfiger and The Gap – American companies that have opened in London, for example, and are now starting to feel the thing that Europeans are much more fashion-oriented than they are prepared to be. So with this being said, I think that these stores are in jeopardy, period, worldwide, with the exception maybe of somebody like Ralph Lauren, who is selling a lifestyle, rather than pieces. He’s selling an image, which people have bought into for years now. As I’m speaking with you today, I’m reminded of a disappointing event, which happened to me when I first came to this country from London. In my first job in America, the principals weren’t interested in the fact that I’d spent seven years of my life, training to be a designer. All they were interested in was, “who sent you to Europe?” and “how much money can you spend on samples to knock off?”.

As a menswear specialist, I think that the most exciting menswear company is Rag and Bone. The designers there just happen to be English guys, who are married to American women. They’re really doing stuff that is edgy, exciting and still very wearabe and understandable. The one thing that I have to give them credit for is that the line is made in this country. They have opened up factories in the South, where the women were there, ready to work, and they’ve done it. So, the pieces may be a little bit more expensive, but everything is beautifully made, and they also do womenswear, as well. And, it is all different, yes.


AFFILIATION: Jacob, 17, HS student, soon to be at Parsons; Erla, 16, student at Art and Design

And, you are wearing … Jacob: Imported from India Twigs top, Genetic Denim jeans (“very comfortable; they feel like leggings”), Calvin Klein boots; Erla: Children’s Place top, shirt bought on the street, Genetic Denim jeans, Dr. Martens boots, home-made twine bracelet, baby pink manicure

And, you are here because … Jacob: This is our first time at FW. Our mother got us tickets to FW. I’m so excited. We’ve been to a few shows and noticed that lots of designers are using gold and feathers. We’ve seen so many glamorous things. Erla: FW is awesome. I’ve never been to something like this. Everything is so inspiring. I can’t wait to get to the next show.


AFFILIATION: Fashion Icon, Designer who presented her collection for the first time this season at The Tents, Creator of the pink, plastic editor’s bag

And, you are wearing … Everything vintage, from swimwear, to accessories, to the ponytail and make-up.

Thoughts on Fashion and the Economy: Darling, I have seen it all. Remember that even though I still look like a modern woman, I have been around for a long time. And, I’ve had several reincarnations. But, through it all, and even though the economy is hard right now, I’ve always believed that it is a woman’s right to have fashion, beauty and love in their lives. That’s the passion and zest for life. And, this is FW. There are beautiful and fresh collections from so many designers, established and new, and each one is making a personal statement about the ways they want their designs to be seen and worn. Now, for me, it’s all about color, color, color and lots and lots of fun.




Ernest Schmatolla is publisher of Lookonline since 1994. It is the longest running fashion site on the Internet.

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  2. McDonald’s is smart for adapting high-end coffee to a slow economy, but still, their McCafe coffees aren’t a whole lot less than Starbucks

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