In the Market Report: “Its a 70’s Thing”

As a baby boomer, the 1970’s represent a time of coming of age and milestones for me; not the least of which are graduation from college and landing my first jobs in fashion (Seventeen and Harper’s Bazaar). It was also a highly charged tumultuous time in history, and a time of great change and transition in fashion, bridging the gap between the counterculture of the 60’s and the excesses of the 80’s.

Patricia Mears in vintage Halston & Dr.Valerie Steele in Ralph Rucci

The two most influential designers of the decade, and arguably the best known designers in modern history, were Yves Saint Laurent and Halston. Each had his own particular style and, on the surface, aesthetics that could not have been more different (let’s put it this way, there wasn’t an ounce of ethnic in any of Halston’s work). That being said, they both defined the “sexy and glamorous fashions of the decade” and, towards the end of the decade, there were growing similarities. This is precisely the subject of “Yves Saint Laurent + Halston: Fashioning the 70’s”, FIT’s new exhibition (February 6 – April 18th 2015), organized by Patricia Mears, deputy director of The Museum at the Fashion Institute of Technology, and Emma McClendon, assistant curator. I suppose you could call it, “He said, he said: Possible Conversations”.

Since the 70’s are once again having their moment in the sun with many of the world’s most influential designers taking inspiration from this time, this exhibition couldn’t be more relevant. With just a week before the start of New York Fashion Week, which kicks off a month filled with shows here and abroad for fall/winter 2015, it is perfectly timed.

Ralph Rucci

The opening was feted with a cocktail party and press preview on Thursday evening, and the first person I ran into was Ralph Rucci who was swathed in fur (a mix of customized Fendi and his own pieces, all incredibly lightweight), looking quite relaxed and Zen. I immediately told him that I will miss seeing his show this season, as it is always a highlight of the week, but he promised he would be showing a collection sometime soon (though he did not offer any specific details). He was there last night because of the subject matter of the exhibition.

Ralph has always been outspoken about who his design ‘Gods’ are: Balenciaga (he trained under a Balenciaga patternmaker), and Halston, who he trained under in the 70’s prior to starting his own label. Almost nobody is as articulate as Ralph and, during the course of an interview that ran in Harper’s Bazaar, he summed up Halston’s genius: “He took the idea of simplicity and gave it a grander and more modern point of view. His women never looked overdressed – they were ravishing, sexy, and at the same time cool.” (FYI, I immediately felt overdressed in my vintage YSL jacket embellished with gold coins, further accessorized with gold necklaces, which was admittedly more 80’s than 70’s LOL). He also had the best observation of the evening: “When H (Halston) showed a cashmere tube with a matching cardigan to the floor, and that Elsa Peretti leather belt – fashion stopped. Done!”

In fact, The Museum of FIT holds the Halston archives, which are considered to be the most comprehensive records of his work anywhere. They, along with major Yves Saint Laurent pieces (donated by high profile clients such as Lauren Bacall, Marina Schiano, Mary Russell, Tina Chow), comprise the approximately 80 ensembles and 20 accessories which are arranged thematically through the exhibition. The easy flow of the displays against the clean white walls of the gallery was quite effective. And the organizers were very successful in pointing out not only the differences but the growing similarities between the two designers. This was so effective that, while many of the pieces were readily identifiable, there were several cases where it was hard to tell which was which.

Gretchen Fenston

Among the guests on hand Thursday evening (a night so cold there was a long line of people trying to check their heavy outerwear): Dr. Joyce Brown, Dr. Valerie Steele (wearing Ralph Rucci and an exotic boars tooth necklace), Yeohlee, Gemma Khang, Maggie Norris, Adrienne Landau, Jean Shafiroff, Joy Marks, Rosemary Ponzo, Chiu-Ti Jansen, Suzanne Bartsch, Hamish Bowles (I told him I live nearby his new offices and he immediately wanted to know where to eat). Then there was Gretchen Fenston, Registrar, Archive & Records, Conde Nast, who looked like a mannequin that jumped off the display floor in her doppelganger vintage YSL bi-color black and ivory jacket, which she purchased recently at a vintage shop in San Francisco. And, Patricia Mears was wearing a vintage Halston black cashmere jumpsuit with long cardigan. The only thing missing was an Elsa Peretti belt. If she had that, as Ralph Rucci put it, one could honestly exclaim, “Done!”

– Marilyn Kirschner

Better Bets by Rhonda Erb

Burger & Lobster
The British are coming…with two American favorites

The name says it all about this newcomer to the New York City restaurant scene. Burger & Lobster recently opened in the Flatiron district, the latest addition to a chain of London based eateries owned by childhood friends Vladimir Borodin, Michael Zelman, Ilya Demichev and George Bukhov-Wienstein. Their mission is simple: to serve burgers and lobsters that are cooked to perfection.

Their menu consists of only 3 items: A 10oz. burger, a 1 1/2 pound lobster (steamed or grilled) and a meaty lobster roll. Each item costs $20.00, which is a bargain in more ways than one since the price in London is £20. For that price your entree comes with a hearty side salad (that just might be one of the best salads you have ever tasted) and perfectly cooked, thin cut french fries. You really can’t go wrong, no matter which option you choose. Just for variety, the dessert selections change regularly.

Burger & Lobster has a reputation in the UK for fast, friendly service and the New York flagship is equally worthy of such praise. Some of the wait staff  has been transplanted from London to help show their American counterparts how it’s done. Expect service with a smile and your food on your table shortly after you place your order. The Flatiron location is large (7500 sq. ft. on the ground floor and 5500 sq. ft. on the lower level) and has a pleasantly loud, trendy atmosphere. Downstairs there is space for private parties and two large, state of the art lobster tanks. One is known as a ” lobster-condo ” and holds 4000 lobsters and the other holds lobsters weighing more than 3 lbs.

Although it’s new, New York’s Burger & Lobster is already drawing crowds on this side of the pond.  The restaurant is open for lunch and dinner, seven days a week (no reservations are accepted). Come give it a try and chances are you will want to come back again.

Burger & Lobster, 39 West 19th Street, New York City
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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. Marilyn: Mariana Schiano? Marina Schiano, no? High profile client deserves correct name.

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