In the Market Report /Better Bets

‘Head’ Trip

The Couple at the tents

Just when you think you’ve seen it all. (Actually, at this point in my life, I never really think I have, especially where the fashion world is concerned). So, I was in the tents yesterday afternoon, going through some magazines and surveying the crowd, and yes, it’s obvious the 70’s are back both on and off the runway. That being said, from the look of things, too many are making the mistake of taking it a bit too literally and the last thing you want is to look as though you are stuck in a time warp. Anyway, in walked a couple, and while they were rather simply and conservatively dressed from the neck down, they were both wearing helmets that were covered in shimmering crystals, and in the somewhat dark tents, they really lit up. (FYI, this season, “the powers that be” were wise enough to let some natural light into the tents, from a courtyard facing window, as opposed to last time when everything seemed boarded up and completely claustrophobic).

Racing Stripes Helmet             

I asked them if they had just gotten off their motorcycles, and the woman replied that actually, they were on their way to a ski vacation. (Really? You look like you’re headed to a fashion show to me). In any case, they not only attracted my attention, but others, and people (who were apparently starved for something of interest to gaze upon) began taking pictures with their cell phones and cameras. I suppose that was precisely the point. It’s all about self- promotion, right? The woman, Hope Dworaczyk, wasted no time telling me that the helmets were from her company, House of Hope (, and she handed me her business card. When I got a chance to look over her varied resume, it all made sense. The former Playboy model (she was Playmate of the Year on 2010), has done runway for Balenciaga, Robert Rodriguez, Versace. She hosted Inside Fashion in Canada, appeared on The Celebrity Apprentice, and is host and co-producer for Insider Fashion in Canada for the E channel, among other things.

Diamonds Are Forever leather and chrome helmet in silver 

She launched House of Hope, a company which makes limited edition and custom ski helmets, in 2014. The avid skier admitted that she wanted something elite and special and did not want an average ski helmet. The way she sees it, everyone basically looks alike after they get themselves all bundled up in their ski clothes, and she figured the easiest way to really stand out on the slopes, was to wear a crystal embellished helmet. Made by hand in the USA, they are adorned with as many as 20,000 Swarovski crystals, available in 60 colors (you can also have something customized to your own specifications), and they cost $19,000 each. It gives new meaning to going to your head. All I can say is, good luck with that.

Kanye West + Adidas 

Ah, but we would soon go from an embarrassment of riches (with jewel encrusted ski helmets), to Kanye West’s post-apocalyptic vision. During the course of last night’s runway show that launched his brand new collaboration with Adidas (which enlisted the formidable talents of Italian performance artist Vanessa Beecroft), he used 50 male and female models. They represented true diversity in terms of race, shapes and sizes, but they somehow all had his signature scowl down pat LOL. While it was all about the footwear, he ‘accessorized’ with everything from military inspired outerwear and nude second skin bodysuits, to distressed knitwear (complete with hanging threads, rips, and holes). I keep trying to convince my husband that it’s not only perfectly alright for him to wear his well worn favorite leather jacket (the one that has a few rips and tears); it’s the height of fashion. Somehow, he’s not buying it.

– Marilyn Kirschner

Better Bets

JC Penney has a Cinderella Moment

Photos: Rhonda Erb

“Join us before the clock strikes noon for a magical soiree” read the invitation to A Modern Day Fairy Tale hosted by JC Penney on Wednesday at a modern day palace, New York City’s Palace hotel. The event kicked off New York Fashion Week and celebrated JC Penney’s collaboration with Disney on a line of products tied to the March release of Disney’s live action feature film, Cinderella. The highlight of the event, which took place in a fairy tale-like setting in the hotel’s Drawing Room, was a design competition featuring ten students from the Fashion School at Kent State University.

The students were asked to create a modern day fairy tale look using Cinderella’s actual ball gown from the film as their inspiration. They had less than two hours to complete the task, stationed at drawing boards throughout the room while members of the press, nibbled on refreshments and observed their creativity. Actress Katie Holmes, JC Penney style voice Nina Garcia and designer Charlotte Ronson served as judges for the competition.

Cinderella’s lavish ball gown served as a focal point for the room, which also featured a larger than life ice sculpture of a glass slipper. DJ Chelsea Leyland who was accompanied by violinist Charlie Yang provided music.The celebrity judges chose the design created by Jay Lewis as the winning sketch. As the winner, his sketch will be displayed at the JC Penney Manhattan Mall location in New York City.

JC Penney has been experiencing its own Cinderella moment of late, with a retail makeover. The retailer will expand their in store Disney shops, which first appeared in 2013, to an additional 116 stores this year. JC Penney chief marketing officer, Deb Berman said, “The Cinderella story perfectly aligns with our ‘fit’ promise at J.C. Penney.” The company hopes that their partnership with Disney will help them reconnect with customers, particularly women.

– Rhonda Erb
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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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