Hurray…Things are looking up…

There were some substantial collections shown on Friday…things are definitely looking up. And of course, the gorgeous weather hasn’t hurt the first few days of New York Fashion Week. Though I myself would have preferred a bit more chill in the air. But hey…I won’t complain. It’s all about choices and options, and I am hardly going to propose just one look or just one style philosophy… As a whole, the designers who presented today did their ‘thing’ and stayed true to their design aesthetic. Which is not a bad thing.

Vera Wang’s collection was ‘very Vera’ (that would be a good name for another secondary line should she launch one) in its high/low, artsy, “nonchalant” (her words, not mine) approach to luxury. As she stated in her program notes, spring is all about the “celebration of the beauty and love of nature so prevalent in ancient Rome” with a focus on experimentation with “sensual takes on the toga”, color, and a continued emphasis on proportion and volume. Her fascination with the masterful couture cuts and details which defined the work of Madame Gres and Vionnet, was illustrated in the blousy backs (a big trend on the runways by the way), pleated bibs, and jerseys. While Vera made a point of stating that spring is more about cut and texture than ornamentation, ornamentation was very much in evidence nonetheless, finding its way on bibs decorated with colorful engineered stones and metal bouillon thread as well as chain mail that has been draped and “swagged like fabric”.

But I must say that as I looked at the 49 piece collection filled with such singular pieces as a silver lurex cotton and silk basket weave draped toga dress; an ink duchesse satin coat with brown raglan sleeves worn over a purple techno poly silk New Look skirt; a purple duchesse satin ocean blue lurex paint stroke two piece New Look dress; a sheer bronze metallic oversized cardigan worn over a silver lurex cotton and silk basket weave asymmetrically draped dress with gold paneled hem, I couldn’t help but speculate exactly how Vera plans to translate these rarified pieces for her very moderately priced Kohl’s line.

I thought Tracy Reese’s collection was charming and very well done. Concentrating on ebony and ivory, with hits of bright yellow, peacock, hydrangea, cobalt, cherry, standouts included the feminine takes on menswear (pinstripe jackets, skirts, vests, pleated skirts), an ivory blouse worn with high waisted sailor pants, the ebony sequined cardigan jacket worn with an ivory frilled shell and ebony grosgrain striped half circle skirt; the ebony sequined trompe l’oeil chemise that had the look of a separate vest and t shirt). And of course, the group of glamorous swimsuits and dresses that were shown with matching oversized fringe trimmed parasols.

As for the face framing (or face shielding) big brimmed hats (courtesy Jennifer Ouellette for Tracy Reese) which accessorized much of the collection….either Tracy is taking heed of dermatologists’ warnings about the harmful rays of the sun….or perhaps she was inspired by Marc Jacobs’ fall line which focused on statement making large brimmed chapeaux. Of course the one thing that’s obvious is that Marc will have abandoned them when he shows on Monday night and will be on to something completely different. C’est la vie!

Cynthia Rowley showed her upbeat and spirited 36 piece collection dubbed ‘Le Sportif’ at Gotham Hall on 6th avenue and 37th street (active and spectator sports were an underlying theme throughout and the show even ended with the designer and the models coming out on bicycles down the runway). While the venue is large and grand, I always find it to be a horrible place to show because the seats never seem to be graduated. Therefore, unless you were sitting in the front row, you basically could not see anything below the waist or below the knee (which was the case for me yesterday). In addition, those even with invitations were forced to wait on line outside in the heat until 1:20 (the show was called for 1 p.m.), and once inside, it was rather disorganized to say the least. But at least, each show attendee was treated to a snack of popcorn and bottled water.

By the way, several of the necklaces used caught my eye and had me checking the credits to see where they were from. I found a note card within the miniature show program stating that the jewelry featured in the show will be available on EBay starting November 15 ( . The 7th on Sale is the fashion industry’s “landmark fundraising event to benefit HIV and AIDS Organizations”. For more information, contact Laura Thomas at or 212 221 1713.

FYI, thought I’d mention that perhaps one positive aspect of showing at Gotham Hall (or the Bryant Park Tents for that matter) is it’s close proximity to the ‘granddaddy’ of all notion stores, M&J Trimming, (, located at 1008 on 6th Avenue between 37th and 38th streets. Whether you have a last minute ‘wardrobe malfunction’, need to replace a button, want some colored ribbon, are beset with the sudden urge to make over your outfit du jour, or just want to buy a great looking blazer crest (they are hotter than hot these days as you know)….you will undoubtedly find what you’re looking for (and then some) at this vast store.

Gilles Mendel labeled his spring collection a “study in sophisticated contrasts” and cited “the polished sexiness of a Guy Bourdin photo mixed with the couture sophistication of the New Look” as his inspiration. And of course, since he is a furrier first and foremost (and a pioneer at that), and one who believes strongly that fur is just another fabric…there will always be furs (broadtail, mink, dyed lamb)…even for spring and summer. Where else are you going to find a degrade lamb sleeveless tunic paired with camel suede shorts? However, I have to say that I didn’t love the day portion of the line as much as I normally do, and found some of it to be a bit too contrived and over worked. That said, Gilles never disappoints with his Red Carpet worthy graceful, and floaty organza, mousseline, tulle, satin faced chiffon and Chantilly laced evening gowns (some were smocked or pleated) which also look beautiful from any angle (front, side, and back).. Which also happens to be a ‘trend’ on the runways thus far.

Speaking of which….Award winning designer, Doo.Ri Chung ended her show with several beautiful and graceful gowns (in satin organza or jersey, all with net overlays…her signature) that were also beautiful from any angle. In fact, the backs of her dresses, long or short (like those at Vera Wang and Gilles Mendel), were so arresting that in one case, Bill Cunningham (who never lets a good shot get away) quickly moved from his front row seat in one part of the room to another just to get the perfect angle. Of course, the gowns were just a small part of her beautiful 36 piece collection which was shown on the ground floor of the Milk Studios. Refined, inventive and elegantly modern, it perfectly illustrated her adeptness with draping, and innovative fabric combinations. Relying on a soft neutral color palette (pale lilac, bone, khaki, aubergine, blackberry, boysenberry, and black), she easily went from abbreviated and lean to long and languid as she played with length, proportion, and volume.

While Doo.Ri is apparently taken with a high waisted wide legged pant this season, she also showed high wasted shorts. Skirts also ran the gamut in terms of length and silhouette. Many tops had built in bra or corset details, and layering was used throughout. A bit of shine came in the form of Swarovski crystal embroidery and accessories. What would a Doo.Ri show be without a trench coat? Nothing of course (she showed a beautiful version in bone cotton which appeared to have layered sleeves, throwing it over a short strapless dress).

-Marilyn Kirschner

Snoopy in Fashion

As the fashion set converged on the Tent at New York’s Bryant Park Friday night to attend the much anticipated snoopy in Fashion Show, everyone was ready for some fun. I dare say no one was disappointed. After all, this is not the first time that the venerable beagle (he is 57 years old, that’s 399 in dog years), has had a brush with fashion. A previous collection of miniature garments designed for Snoopy by some of the world’s most famous designers (Armani, Versace, Lagerfeld) continues to tour museums and galleries throughout the world. The current collection of designs for the “world’s most famous beagle” and the rest of the Peanut’s gang, was created by a group of more than 20 designers and celebrities, including Isaac Mizrahi, Kristen Chenoweth, Betsey Johnson, and Whoopi Goldberg.

The show, presented by MetLife, began with the voice of Jeanie Schulz, widow of Peanuts creator Charles Schulz, who gave a brief history of the comic strip. Then the ever-familiar Vince Guaraldi music was heard against a backdrop of classic images of Snoopy, Charlie Brown, and the others, before the switch was made to a more modern soundtrack. The looks that followed were interpretations of the familiar characters, in whimsical, exasperated, melancholic, reflective, and exuberant moods. The production was staged with just enough whimsy to keep everyone entertained, and the designs were not only fun and playful, many were attractive and quite wearable as well.

Isaac Mizrahi’s shimmery, yellow Charlie Brown dress, which started the show, featured the classic zigzag stripe, and was long on sex appeal. As was The Blonds bright magenta Charlie dress, which was slit high on the leg. Kristen Chenoweth depicted Sally with a short, frothy, empire-waisted tulle dress. Who knew that Charlie Brown’s little sister was a party girl?

Of course, the Beagle of the hour himself made an appearance to close the evening. A plush costumed character walked the runway with model Omayra, who was dressed in a short wedding dress by Heatherette, replete with tiny stuffed Snoopys.

All the original designs will be available to the highest bidders in an eBay ( auction to be held from October 1 to October 31, 2007. Proceeds from the auction will be donated to Dress For Success, a ten-year-old non-profit organization that assists women in entering the work force and gaining financial independence. Guests who attended the show, left with a big shopping bag full of Peanuts’ goodies, including a camera, a journal, and everyone’s favorite Snoopy Sno-Cone machine.

-Rhonda Erb

Rhonda Erb

Rhonda Erb writes about fashion, travel and lifestyle from a New Yorker’s perspective in Better Bets. A self-confessed Instagram addict, her work has also appeared in such publications as Runway Magazine. Follow her at: Instagram: @betterbets Twitter: @betterbetsny tumblr:

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