It’s a ‘long’ story

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I’m happy to see a return to longer lengths on the runways this season. I love the change of proportion and skirts had gotten so short, they can’t go any shorter. It also signals a new sophistication and graceful elegance. Almost nowhere was this more apparent than on the runway of Narciso Rodriguez, shown last evening at The Theatre at Lincoln Center. The designer, working in a signature color palette of ash, blush, nude, black, white, platinum, (with touches of coral, pale green and pale pink), not only endorsed longer lengths (indeed, many of his skirts and dresses hit just a little above the ankle), but it was done within in a relatively ‘short’ show (30 well edited pieces).

The collection also made a case for dresses. The first look out was an ash bias linen canvas and blush silk dress with a beautiful back and many that followed were bias cut and made from divine fabrics like silk crepe and washed silk, washed silk cloque and chiffon jacquard, bias silk and linen canvas, etc.. In one instance, Narcisco showed a fluid dress in washed kimono silk and chiffon cloque beneath a black compact wool coat that was several inches shorter, allowing a peek of the hemline to show. The contrast of ‘hard’ vs. ‘soft’, structured vs. fluid, or masculine vs. feminine, was highly effective and was a recurring theme. A coal waxed linen jacket was shown over a pale green silk corset top and a black washed kimono silk skirt, a black bias chiffon cloque/rose gold embroidered tank was paired with black compact wool pants, and one dress, which looked like two pieces, mixed platinum bias cut silk and black linen canvas all in one.

Then there was that perfect white waxed linen pantsuit, which featured wide legged trousers and an elongated strong shouldered jacket, which was unabashedly ‘borrowed from the boys’. But there was nothing at all boyish or masculine about the group of languid lingerie inspired bias cut slip dresses that followed; especially the one in black bias silk fil coupe with lace insets. Everything was shown with a very feminine and elegant pale high heel, which in fact, was the only accessory on the runway (though I think you can say a perfect body, like those of the models, would be the ultimate accessory for these clothes). Simplicity can speak volumes.

To Die For (?)

Vera Wang collection – Photos

Vera Wang’s program notes revealed that her source of inspiration for spring 2011 was Quentin Tarantino’s iconic movie, “Kill Bill” — more specifically, the idea of East meets West infused with a mixture of “boyish urban sophistication and romantic other wordly sensuality.” Which pretty much sums up the designer herself, who has a very specific and individual signature style that she really stays true to and does not veer from.

Vera is also a designer whose collections truly reflect her own aesthetic, so much so that one can generally picture her wearing most if not all the pieces on each collection (which you can’t say about many other women designers).

Ultra wide legged trouser pants are everywhere these days, and they have been interpreted on many runways, but I can’t really see Vera wearing them herself. They are not ‘edgy’ or uptown/downtown enough and besides, she favors legging like pants or opaque tights worn with skirts and dresses. So it was hardly surprising that there were none of the aforementioned full legged trousers on her line, though she did have a pair of black wool pinstriped wrapped ‘peasant’ trousers, several narrow legged jumpsuits, narrow boy shorts and draped shorts (the last two did not always work). While it was not necessarily one of Vera’s best collections to date, there were some beautiful dresses, jackets, coats, blouses, and high wasted skirts, all bearing the designer’s creative, artistic cuts.

Standouts include the grey cupro jersey dress with twisting pleats and sheer organza back drape; a poppy one shouldered knee length narrow dress thrown over an ivory organdy kimono blouse (giving it the informal look of a jumper); several dresses (one piece and two piece) in a Japanese floral print silk; a dazzling black and silver degrade sequin ‘blizzard’ top and black knit swirl skirt with horsehair inlay; and a recurring group of knee length silk tulle one shoulder hand rushed draped gowns with train, over stretch bustier underpinning, which were shown in a variety of colors throughout the 44 piece collection (one in pale blush ended the show).


An ‘Off Broadway’ production of Cats, (‘produced’ by PETA), was staged right across Lincoln Center two hours before furrier Dennis Basso’s spring 2011 collection was to be held. 5 women, each wearing next to nothing (only face make up and a body stocking painted to resemble the pelt of a leopard, a zebra, a tiger, etc.), held up placards with slogans such as “Your Fur had a Face” and “Animal Prints Not Animal Skins”, while a few police and several guys from Ty Yorio’s Citadel Security stood close by to made sure there were no incidences. There were none and it was very quiet. That said, it was fun watching the men walk by only to notice the women’s barely there ‘costumes’; at which point they would stop, stare, get closer for a better look, and in several cases, take out their cell phones to take photos.

Meanwhile, PETA would have had a ‘field day’ had they gotten into the show venue. Even though this was a spring show, that doesn’t mean there were no furs. Au contraire! There were even sightings of abbreviated fur shrugs and other little fur pieces on some of the guests who attended. Out of the 38 ensembles (short dresses, short skirts, and floor length gowns), quite a few if not most, had a touch, a trim, or an accessory made of fur or a skin of some kind (there was Russian sable, vanilla chinchilla, mink, snakeskin, python, and alligator). The problem was it looked forced and contrived and was too busy, and a bit too much, which looked out of place considering the mood elsewhere. Well dressed social figures like Cece Cord, Jamee Gregory, Somers Farkas, and Amy Fine Collins were all in the front row but it’s hard to imagine which pieces they themselves would wear, if any.

The short skirts and dresses were too short, there were too many cascading ruffles, and there was just too much going on all at the same time for my tastes (sheer inserts, fur trim, paillettes, and metallics, sometimes in one outfit). The best pieces were the relatively simple and graceful empire waist silk gazar hand printed gown, a short ruffled dress in the same print, and a strapless metallic hand embroidered net gown.

– Marilyn Kirschner

Betsey Johnson Takes Us For A Ride/Spring 2011

Photos: Isabelle Erb

It may have been raining on Monday night outside the Theater at Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week, but inside the sun was shining brightly on Betsey Johnson’s world. Celebrity guests Carmen Electra, Kelly Osbourne, Ciara, Denise Richards and Kristin Cavallari watched from the front row as Betsey shared her life long love affair with the two-wheeler by way of a film that was shown on the runway backdrop throughout her Spring 2011 show. The flick was one part home movie and one part madcap tour of New York, from a cyclist’s point of view.

Who knew that as a child Betsey Johnson aspired to be a female version of Lance Armstrong? Le Tour de Betsey took us to some of New York’s most popular locations, while models sashayed down the runway in the designer’s version of biker chic. In Brooklyn, brightly colored bodysuits and biker jackets ruled. Uptown Betsey’s girls were clad in some of her more subdued signature frou frou frocks, both long and short. Downtown at the Seaport, nautical bloomers and military jackets mixed with dresses and bustiers in red, white and blue. At the finish line in Times Square models were appropriately attired to look like prom queen tarts.

Betsey accessorized her looks with “Ride Me” chokers, petticoats, sailor hats, biker caps, studded belts, sunglasses and platform heels. Most, if not all accessories were no doubt courtesy of Betsey Johnson’s many licensees.

It wouldn’t be a Betsey Johnson show without the requisite amount of runway theatrics. At one point a model attempted to ride a skateboard in her open toed platform heels and striped thigh highs, only to find herself falling to the ground. Within seconds she was up on her feet and back in character. Betsey fared much better when she made her signature appearance for the show’s finale. She rode onto the runway on a bike, then hopped off to embrace her loved ones in the front row. Finally, Betsey executed her classic cartwheel while the delighted audience responded with cheers and applause.

– Rhonda Erb

I Want Candy: Douglas Hannant Spring/Summer 2011

It was all sweetness and light at the showing of Douglas Hannant’s Spring/Summer 2011 collection on Wednesday afternoon. Members of the press assembled with Hannant’s loyal followers in the Edwardian Room of New York’s Plaza Hotel. Clear plastic bags filled with candy sat perched on each and every chair and the musical soundtrack included classic songs with references to sugary treats.

Hannant’s show had a carefree theme (”Que Sera Sera”) but the designs in his new collection were still utterly sophisticated, using combinations of elegant fabrics in unexpected ways. A waffle weave multicolored microsequin shirtdress was trimmed with a dainty organza collar and cap sleeves. A lavender and gold dusted coat and dress ensemble featured a chiffon blouse. Almost all of the cocktail length looks were in confectionary pastel colors, like the rose print silk gauze strapless dress, but there was the occasional piece in basic black. For this reason, a black tweed jacket paired with a Chantilly lace skirt and a black lace cocktail dress were particularly eye catching. Equally notable was the rare pair of cigarette pants and a single pair of shorts, which stood out in this collection that was otherwise dominated by dresses and skirts.

As always, Hannant saved his best for last with a collection of evening wear that varied from a black gown with a fitted bodice and a full, diaphanous, tulle skirt to a mint silk cotton strapless with a frothy trumpet hem. At the finale, Hannant strolled the runway to the tune of “The Candy Man”. Considering his colorful creations for spring and summer, who could disagree?

– Rhonda Erb

Tik Tok

Photo: Isabelle Erb

Casio America, Inc. announced last month that RCA Records/Kemosabe Entertainment recording artist Ke$ha will be the new Brand Ambassador for the company’s enduringly popular Baby-G line of women’s watches. In addition to representing the brand, Ke$ha will personally design two unique watch styles for Baby-G. Look for the first of these watches to be in stores in Summer 2011.



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

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