In the Market Report: On the “Dot”

Vionnet Fall 2014 Couture

Notwithstanding the fact that I recently wrote a blog about turning 65, there are thankfully not too many events I go to where I feel as though I am the oldest person in the room. Such was the case (well, almost) last Thursday evening when I attended the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Young Members Summer Party (, for members between the ages of 21 and 35. I say ‘almost’ because I immediately spotted the venerable and ageless Bill Cunningham, doing his ‘thing’, and while HE claimed to be the oldest person there, I pointed out that in actuality, that honor belonged to the ancient Egyptian mummies who inhabit the first floor/

The evening (called from 7:30PM – 11:30PM) was a celebration of art, fashion, and music. Cocktails and hors oeuvres were served; there was dancing (with music provided by the Antoine Drye Jazz Quartet); and private viewings of Charles James: Beyond Fashion and the Roof Garden Commission: Dan Graham with Gunther Vogt (weather permitting). Luckily, the weather WAS permitting, and suffice it to say, that is where most of the guests (approximately 1300 were in attendance) gathered to enjoy the spectacular city and Central Park views at sunset. Including the dashing eligible bachelor Nick Loeb, who, fresh from his split with Sophia Vergara, was apparently more interested in finding a “substitute” for his bodacious ex, than checking out the voluminous Charles James ball gowns (alas, that gallery was almost empty when I checked it out).

 Marilyn and two girls wearing the marimekko polka dots

Indeed, the evening felt like a “mixer”, with New York and the Metropolitan Museum of Art as a fabulously seductive backdrop, and that was precisely the tone of an article that appeared in The New York Observer, July 11, written by Alexandra Sternlicht, (“Appreciating art, fashion and macaroni balls with young New Yorkers”). When asked what the objective of the evening was, one 21 year old man said he was “trying to find a wife out there”, and another actually admitted “I’m trying to get laid with a girl who appreciates art”, as he watched the sun set over Manhattan. Oh well. So much for high minded culture.

Marimekko for Banana Republic Kivet Patio Skirt

In any event, the dress code was ‘summer chic’ (better known as “anything goes”), and that was certainly the case. There were  lbd’s and lwd’s (some so abbreviated they resembled swimsuits); flowing maxis; bi level slip dresses; garden floral printed cocktail dresses; a smattering of Clover Canyon’s vibrant digital prints; graphic black and white stripes; and polka dots. As for the latter, perhaps the biggest coincidence was that several guests (including moi), showed up wearing versions of Marimekko’s iconic black & white Kivet circle print (designed by the late Maija Isola), which had been translated into different pieces for Banana Republic. The collaboration, a limited edition capsule collection which launched in May, was wildly successful, with most of the pieces selling out in pre order before hitting the website or the stores. In fact, for many, the only way to get the patio skirt, was through EBay, where wily sellers doubled or tripled the price in some cases (the skirt was initially priced at $98).

Louis Vuitton Resort 2015

Like leopard prints, polka dots (from teeny tiny pin dots to oversized circles) are perennial favorites with both designers and customers alike, and they seem to reappear after they’ve been absent for a while. Even though there is always a playful element to them, depending on the size, scale, and the way they are used, they can be sweet or sultry; retro or futuristic; dowdy or daring; childlike or grown up; edgy or classic; sophisticated or silly. Speaking of silly, who could forget that December 2013 WWD cover featuring George Clooney in black & white polka dots, the theme carried on to the background? It puts a smile on my face whenever I see it (or think about it).

Rei Kawakubo glassed elevator covered in polka dots at the Dover Street Market

There is an undeniably strong connection between the arts and polka dots and some creators are so obsessed with them they have become their signatures. To wit: Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama, long obsessed with dots, collaborated with Marc Jacobs and Louis Vuitton for an eye popping fashion project in 2012. And Rei Kawakubo is so obsessed with polka dots, prominent black ones teasingly decorate the glass elevator in her Manhattan Dover Street Market outpost.

Ralph Lauren Resort 2015 Collection

They have also turned up on a number of collections for resort 2015. At Ralph Lauren, (a chic study in navy, white, and gold, with nautical undertones), one of the main themes was large polka dots; they were sometimes mixed with stripes, and they even covered his chic satchels. At Fendi, they were made of shearling and had a 3d effect. For Nicolas Guesquiere’s second outing at the helm of Louis Vuitton, they appeared as cut out circles on several tops and he covered a chicly tailored navy pantsuit with white circles. For his Demi-Couture Collection for Vionnet, shown during the Haute Couture collections in Paris last week, Hussein Chalayan designed a black mink collarless jacket emblazoned with a pronounced white circle on the front.

Fendi Resort 2015

It seems like everyone’s going dotty these days, including the always fabulously dressed. Last month, I spotted Iris Apfel at the FIT Foundation Gala at Cipriani 42nd street, wearing a vintage two piece long dress in black chiffon covered with large silver coin dots (she continued the theme with her polka dot covered bangles). Several weeks ago, at a party at the Whitney Museum in celebration of the Jeff Koons Retrospective, China Chow wore Stella McCartney’s wonderful asymmetrical charcoal gray dress covered with large white polka dots from her pre fall 2014 collection. This past Saturday, Lisa Perry attended the Parrish Art Museum’s Midsummer Party in Watermill, wearing a long ivory silk halter dress of her own design, printed with green, aqua, and orange circles, and navy and yellow rods. It reminded me of one of Wassily Kandinsky’s abstract paintings, which is not surprising, considering that Lisa has always been inspired by art for her collections, and she and her husband Richard, are renowned collectors of modern art masterpieces.

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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