If it’s Wednesday…it must be Friday?

Time was, you could automatically tell what day of the week it was during New York Fashion Week by simply consulting the show schedule. That was then and this is now. …
Because the Jewish New Year (Rosh Hashanah) is falling very early this year- it begins at sunset Wednesday, September 12th – instead of running from Friday to Friday, the shows were moved down (Wednesday to Wednesday) in order to accommodate the faithful.

‘Oy Vey’…talk about disorienting! Especially when you consider that Fashion Week started just days after the Labor Day weekend, forcing show goers to acclimate themselves and abruptly deal with the rude awakening that summer has ended and kids are going back to school (business as usual). And on top of that, when you factor in that even though Fashion Week formally began yesterday, at Bryant Park, from the look of things, it appears to have really started last Monday, at Flushing Meadows to be exact. “Tennis, Anyone?”

An impeccably tailored black tuxedo, an $800 haircut, a crystal embellished short bias cut red dress worn with black waist length jacket sporting billowy mesh sleeves, a little black dress trimmed with pink satin bow, statement making gigantic bags in high gloss patent, enormous gold hoops, pearls. No, I’m not describing the clothing, accessories, or grooming of models sasyhing down runways during fashion week, but rather, top seeded tennis players making their way on center court.

While fashion and athletics is hardly a new ‘marriage’ (especially as it relates to tennis), I don’t think I’ve ever seen so much focus and talk directed at the fashion statements ON the court as this year. There have been countless articles on the subject and last week, during his on air commentary, the ‘bad boy’ of tennis, John McEnroe & Company pulled a little ‘Cathy Horyn’ as they critiqued the clothing and accessories worn by the world’s most glamorous and top seeded players (both men and women). As they pointed out, not only are these great looking amazons (yeah…the women are generally 5’9″ and over, making them perfect mannequins) at the top of their game in terms of sport, but they’re at the top of their fashion game. It’s not just about playing good but looking good!

John even mentioned Vogue Editor in Chief Anna Wintour, her appearance at a Roger Federer match (which was the subject of a full page picture in The New York Post), and her apparent crush on the world’s number one player. By the way, while I didn’t spot Anna at Wednesday’s BCBG Max Azria show, where the run of show announced that it’s “A Lifestyle Brand” and “A Growing Retail Presence” (several of Vogue’s top editors did sit front row center), nor did I see her at Alexandre Herchcovitch where first and second row seats had to be filled in at the last moment (where was everyone?) and show attendees were treated to gifts of comfy pillows made from colorful Brazilian cotton (which had nothing to do with the almost red, black, and white menswear inspired clothing), she did show up at the Erin Fetherston show with not ONE but THREE bodyguards in tow. Now, can anybody explain why the fur loving Vogue editor, (who may well need bodyguards in the winter, to shield her from PETA protesters), requires a squad of burly bodyguards in September? Is she really concerned her little silk printed dress and cardigan sweater will incite the ire of the group?

Getting back to tennis, John also spent several minutes speaking about Roger Federer’s ‘black tie’ tennis duds (at night he’s been playing in urban chic all black, with tuxedo striped Bermudas, jazzy up black tennis shoes, and oversized high gloss black patent bag slung over his shoulders) and his Sally Hershberger $800 haircut).

Certainly, it was hard NOT to notice that the Williams Sisters have been making quite a splash as usual (in their own designs), and Maria Sharapova, who played at night in a little red dress with jewel encrusted bib, went on record with the admission that when she puts on a great looking dress and some lipstick, and looks at her reflection in the mirror, she says to herself, “I’m the bomb!”. Well, so much for great clothes being a panacea for everything….Maria was outplayed nonetheless, and Serena (little black dress and all) fell victim to a rather style-less but talented Justine Henin.

Oh, and by the way, speaking of fashion and tennis, Polo Ralph Lauren is a sponsor of the U.S. Open (as if you didn’t know). Could the designer’s signature embroidered polo pony be any LARGER on the t shirts worn by the ball boys (and girls)? And apparently, some fashionistas would rather attend a tennis match than a fashion show. A well respected high profile fashion insider (who shall remain nameless) told me she was going to the U.S. Open finals on Sunday and she would be missing some ‘important’ fashion shows. It’s obvious that Anna will also miss certain key shows if and when Roger Federer lands in the men’s final. (If you recall, Anna missed Diane Von Furstenberg’s Spring 2007 Show last year when she attended the men’s final which Roger Federer was playing in and won).

And on another note…we are embarking on yet another round of shows and yet another fashion cycle and so it’s not surprising that many of us will ponder the meaning or importance of fashion. Regarding, “Admit it. You Love It. It Matters” by Guy Trebay, in the Sunday ‘Style’ section of The New York Times, September 2. Whenever the subject of fashion comes up (vis a vis its inherent superficiality, materialism, vanity, and unimportance in light of more important issues)…what never fails to come to mind is the decades old television commercial for Barneys New York which speaks volumes about fashion’s universality. It ‘portrays’ a young Barney Pressman (the store’s founder) as a little boy (impeccably dressed and groomed even then) and is shot in black and white, as if to mimic New York’s Lower East Side at the turn of the century, When asked by a friend, “What do you want to be, Little Barney, when you grow up?” His immediate response is, “I don’t know but we’re all gonna need clothes!”

-Marilyn Kirschner

Y& Kei Water the Earth

Y & Kei Water the Earth described 2008 spring/summer collection as “a modern, sophisticated interpretation of the core ideas of the ’60s (rebellion, love, peace, and freedom)”. Foregoing the traditional runway show in favor of a presentation in the elegant Celeste Bartos Forum, located in the New York Public Library, their “Urban Hippie” collection was filled with tailored and blouson dresses, long flowing silk skirts and delicate tops. Colors and fabrics were a study in contrast as bright yellow and hot pink linen mixed with subtle silver and grey cotton and black silk chiffon and crepe. Equally noteworthy were the brightly colored, wide strapped, ultra high wedgies that the models wore on their feet.

Zang Toi

One of the A list parties of Wednesday night was the Zang Toi Charity Fashion Show for the Lance Armstrong Foundation “Uniting People To Fight Cancer”. Guests paid from $300 to $1000 per ticket to attend the event that was held at the Bo Concept store in Midtown Manhattan.

The highlight of the evening was Zang Toi’s presentation of his sumptuous “Chinoiserie Garden” collection. There was also a live auction and a performance by legendary singer Patti Labelle. Ms. Labelle paid tribute to the ever-charismatic designer while the adoring crowd looked on.
After the show, those in attendance were invited to “meet and greet” Zang Toi, Patti Labelle and the models while Team Toi members (clad in black Team Toi T shirts) passed sweets by Daniel Boulud and savory hors d’ oeuvres and champagne. As the party wound down, guest could be found dancing, lounging on the BoConcept beds and sofas or posing for photos with Zang Toi himself.

-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: betterbetsny.tumblr.com

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