Get Shorty!:

French, Fall/Winter 1958 sold at Doyle New York for $3,883

The upcoming CFDA Award ceremony, the Oscar’s of the fashion world, so to speak, to be held next Monday, June 7th, will be an interesting evening from many points of view. In addition to who will win what, there is the other pressing question: who will wear what? The night is by definition, a fashion spectacle and another good excuse to make a fashion statement (or two or three). And since it is an insider’s fashion event, those who attend (who are supposedly the style makers, style setters, icons, and fashion visionaries) are not necessarily a group that is prone to the predictable, the expected, the obvious, nor do they necessarily conform to the usual dictum about how to dress for ‘black tie’ (what IS black tie these days, anyway?)

In’s “CFDA Nominee Profile” of Wall Street Journal’s Teri Agins, who will receive the Eugenia Sheppard Award for Journalism, she vented about a number of things that bugged her, and one was this: “ I don’t know why designers design gowns when people don’t dress up. If you go around the country, especially here, you have a couple of galas here and the occasional red carpet occasion in Los Angeles, and every town has their wing-ding every year. But for the most part, if you were from California or Texas or somewhere else, people do not dress up. I don’t know why the hell people keep making these dressy clothes when there’s nowhere for them to go to.” How true – I couldn’t agree more.

Add to the equation the fact that there are no rules anymore (aren’t rules meant to be broken anyway?); quirky, unexpected, off beat, and ‘twisted’ mixes have become the norm; AND we are heading into summer with many of us thinking about taking vacation, heading out of town, and generally letting our hair down and relaxing – that is a prescription for ‘anything goes’.

While long gowns (worn with the ubiquitous fur stoles) have practically been de rigueur for the fall, holiday, and winter months, shorter lengths suddenly seem fresher and more appealing. And why not? There are so many interesting choices – quite a lot of variety in terms of shape and silhouette – so my best guess is that we will see many ‘best dressed’ attendees in knee length dresses (or skirts that hover around the knee) on Monday night including honorees Miuccia Prada and perhaps Sarah Jessica Parker. Miuccia Prada, who is the recipient of this year’s International Award is always offbeat and eclectic in her own fashion choices and manages to look like nobody else. And her vintage inspired full circle skirts and balloon hemmed dresses for spring/summer and fall/winter were some of the most alluring and prettiest around.

Speaking of the balloon skirt, this was a signature of Cristobal Balenciaga, and after Nicolas Guesquiere visited the house’s archives, he was admittedly inspired to re-create his own 21st century versions (paired with shrunken military jackets or rugged shearlings, they look completely new and of the moment). By the way, you can find original vintage bubble skirt or balloon hemmed dresses in vintage shops and through dealers, as well as online. Some good places to look might be,, And of course, there are always auctions- at Doyle New York’s latest go round, they sold a highly collectible black silk faille backless Givenchy cocktail dress with a bubble hemmed skirt from 1958, which was worn in pink by Jacqueline Kennedy during her White House years. It looks as modern and wonderful now as it did almost 50 years ago! And don’t forget about Ebay.

And while I am not always a fan of Sarah Jessica Parker’s fashion statements (regardless of the fact that she will be on hand Monday to receive the Fashion Icon award), she really got it right when she chose Oscar de la Renta’s poison green satin knee length torso fitting evening dress with double tiered full skirt to wear to the opening of the New York City Ballet last month. The tutu effect was perfect for the event – and the interesting color and shape was modern and clean, and stood out in a sea of long predictable gowns. Wisely accessorized with nothing more than a brooch in her hair, which was piled high in a chic chignon, open toed high- heeled pumps, and a sleek clutch, she stood out over the other social fixtures, in their predictable and boring long evening dresses.

The age old debate about whether to go long or short was even broached by Sally Singer in the May issue of Vogue (“Short v. long”). As she sees it, “formal is back, big time. But does black tie still mean floor length? Or is knee high the new long?” I must say I am enamored of the later – there are very few places and situations these days, where one feels obliged to wear a floor sweeping gown. Yes, long is dramatic, entrance making, and makes a big statement. But short is thoroughly modern, less cumbersome, easier to maneuver around in, easier to get in and out of car doors, better to show off well toned legs, and more youthful than their longer sisters. And with so many wonderful short options, if you do decide to go this route, one thing is certain: there is no need to feel as though you are on the ‘short’ end of the stick.

Posted by Marilyn Kirschner

Marilyn Kirschner

I am a long time fashion editor with 40+ years of experience. As senior market of Harper's Bazaar for 21 years I met and worked with every major fashion designer in the world and covered all of the collections in Paris, London, Milan and New York. I was responsible for overall content, finding and pulling in the best clothes out there, and for formulating ideas and stories.

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