“I (Don’t) Feel Bad About My Neck”

Nora Ephron humorously pointed out that the neck is one part of the body that does not age too well and let’s face it, most of us don’t exactly resemble Audrey Hepburn in that – or any other – department. But if you seriously don’t love your neck, you’re in luck.

How could you possibly feel bad about your neck when there are so many fashionable ways to hide, cover, or camouflage it? Of course, why just stop at the neck? If you, like myself, tuned in to the Miss Universe contest this past Sunday night (which amounted to watching a two hour parade of the world’s most glorious creatures with impossibly perfect bodies) it would have been hard to wake up on Monday morning and feel good about any part of yourself…. but that’s another story.

Long before Nicolas Guesquiere seduced an entire generation into totally obscuring their necks with tightly wound long lengths of decidedly ethnic fringed and sometimes coin decorated scarves (which he made all the more hip and au courant when paired with shrunken schoolboy blazers and skinny jodhpurs for fall 2007), I was covering my neck with mufflers, scarves, turtlenecks, starched shirt collars, etc. And while this is not only easy, practical, and necessary in the cold winter months, I have been known to apply the same tactics year round, raiding my drawers for favorite vintage Hermes and Pucci silk squares, long, narrow Missonis, and YSL cotton voiles. And then of course, there are the necklaces and neck pieces.

Unless you’re living under rock, you already know that multi strands of pearls, bold chains, and especially, statement making necklaces, are de rigueur as of late. Designers (not the least of whom is Miuccia Prada) are even creating clothing (dresses and tops) complete with jewel encrusted collars, necklaces, and necklines. In fact, Richard Chai’s debut collaboration for www.target.com next month features a wonderfully graphic cotton tunic with a jewel encrusted top, which will sell for about $50.

All of the above examples are an easy way to add instant pizzazz and surface interest (particularly to simple classic pieces), and they do wonders for a neck that can use a bit of obscuring. And as luck would have it, there is a shopping destination right here in New York where one can find some of the most distinctive examples around: Roberta Freymann, 153 East 70th Street, 212 585 3767, http://www.roberta-freymann.com/ .

Ms. Freymann’s colorful, richly bohemian, and thoroughly addictive eponymous shop, has an unapologetically global, Eastern (particularly India) flavor. It’s filled with surprisingly well priced caftans, paisley print silk scarves, resin bangles, etc., and shopping there is like taking a trip to an exotic locale without having to leave town or spend money on airfare. A passionate world traveler and collector with an amazing eye, she boasts an impressive resume and is lucky enough to be doing what she loves most. She not only has an ever growing and loyal customer base (including some of the city’s most glamorous and high profile gals around town), but an ever growing empire. In addition to her two story east 70th street shop (which is housed in a landmark building), she opened Roberta Roller Rabbit, (1019 Lexington Avenue) a few years ago (it is stocked with apparel and linens made from Indian block print fabrics), and several years ago, she added an outpost in Easthampton (66 Newtown Lane, 631 329 5828).

Because I am always on the lookout for amazing necklaces and clothing with unusual neck ‘treatments’ (especially those that are cleverly designed and highly wearable), I was immediately drawn to the ornate semiprecious stone-encrusted bib necklaces which are made in India and strung on a gilded silk cord (they range in price from $200 – $250). Not only are they beautiful and eye catching but they are available in many different varieties and colorations and I can attest to the fact that it’s virtually impossible to pick just one. Because they are very lightweight, and imminently packable, they are perfect for taking away for a summer weekend jaunt (or on any trip at all). And since they are adjustable to choker length or a bit longer, they can be worn in a dizzying variety of ways: to dress up a simple cotton t shirt, add interest to the neckline of a simple shift or chemise, or tied under the collar of a shirt or shirt dress. Talk about versatile!

Similarly, I was taken by the $250 sleeveless heavy stretch satin top whose neckline is embroidered with tiny pearls, beads, and sequins. Available in red, yellow, royal blue (my favorite), and gray, this would not only look great paired with white jeans (or any jeans for that matter), but worn with shorts, Bermudas, or a skirt in any shape or length. For press inquiries: contact Dennis Gleason, Company Agenda at dennis@companyagenda.com.

Speaking about statement making necklaces, if your penchant is unique, one of a kind collectibles (with an art deco flavor), have I got a vintage dealer for you! Madge Novel is a native New Yorker who resides in Washington D.C. She has always been both creative and good with her hands and originally wanted to be a fashion illustrator. She attended the School of Visual Arts and the Traphagen School of Fashion in Manhattan. At one point, she dabbled in making (and selling) her own line of jewelry (which landed her in New York Magazine’s Best Bets). She also knitted her own sweaters (in the 80’s, Joan Vass invited her to knit for her after seeing her wear one of her unusual designs).

An incurable collector with a discerning eye, she, like Ms. Freymann, has turned her hobby and her passion, into a business and has amassed loyal customers and fans along the way. Her enviable collection of whimsical and iconic Enid Collins bags, was spotlighted in last June’s issue of “Country Home” Magazine, but Ms. Novel admits that jewelry is the major focus of her collection (prices range from about $100 – $400). Last year, she collaborated with good friend, Julie Wolfe, who designs interesting jewelry for Barney’s and Harvey Nichols (she did some “picking” for her and sold her a number of her own rhinestone pieces which she incorporated into her designs).

Recently, Julie sent the photos of some of those pieces to Vogue, and they are considering using them on the resort pages in the November issue. In addition, the manager of Ralph Lauren in Washington, D.C. “flipped over” some of Madge’s deco turquoise necklaces and has been trying to convince the Ralph Lauren General Manager to do a trunk show with some of her things.

While she has a fondness for Miriam Haskell and Elsa Schiaparelli, Ms. Novel says she is “not at all concerned whether pieces are signed or by well known designers or even from a particular period”. “I buy what I love. I go by my own aesthetic instinct and it seems to work. It’s the mix of pieces that I find exciting and that creates the look.”

For the time being, she can be contacted via her e-mail address: madgenovel02@comcast.net, but will soon be establishing a website and has plans to open an online store on “Trocadero” an online mall. If someone is interested in seeing her collection (which she describes as “ever-changing”) she can send pictures or meet with them whether in Washington or New York.

Right now, she is doing the FIFI venue in Washington but will eventually do other shows in New York. In addition, Madge will do personal shopping for pieces and is always interested in buying.

So, in the same way that you don’t need to resort to a surgical neck lift (if you don’t like your neck you can simply indulge in some pretty fabulous accessories), you don’t need to resort to a painful and expensive boob lift you can simply buy a new fashion gadget. Bralief (www.bralief.com) promises to “provide an alternative to surgery” while improving posture, while giving you an instant breast lift, and preventing the straps from falling off. All for the low price of $9.95 each or $22.95 for a pack of three. Available in black, tan, white, and pink and white, the proceeds of the net sales will be donated to Breast Cancer Research.

-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.

1 Comment
  1. What a remarkable timing, a tribute to the wonderful Nora Ephron! And, of course Mage Novel is wonderful, with terrific taste and great pieces!!

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