Message to Michael

Let’s try this again…Woops! Well of course, the title yesterday should have been, “I (don’t) feel bad about my neck”, not “I (don’t) feel back about my neck”….what can I say? In my haste to send out the story, rushing out to the morning’s shows, I somehow overlook the glaring typo. – Marilyn

I am a big fan of Michael Kors. I always look forward to his collections since he is one designer with a consistent vision and great taste. And his clothes are not hard to wear for women who don’t look like Elle McPhearson or Gisele. In other words, the proportions and lengths are generally well suited for your average woman; a woman who wants to look great but not like a fashion victim. While he delivered some nice classic pieces and desirable items, as always, I’m sorry to say his spring collection, presented yesterday morning, was not one of his stronger shows. It just fell a bit flat, especially when you consider his blockbuster fall 2009 line, with its strong message and even stronger visual images. Spring simply ‘paled’ by comparison (pun intended).

The program notes said that the message of spring is “urban renewal…sleek architectural shapes…utilitarian luxury…splatter prints, etc”. But instead of East Coast, urbane chic, and a look that was ‘very New York’, much of the line smacked of the West Coast and was ‘Very Hollywood’. Oh gee isn’t that funny? Michael’s new fragrance is called ‘Very Hollywood’ and its elegant bottle, packaged in a chicly square coral and gold box and sitting inside its own mini shopping bag, was on the (white covered) seat of each show attendee. At least Michael was classy enough to put the gift on every seat, including those up in the bleachers.

How insulting it is, for a gift to be made visibly available to only the front row? This is exactly what happened later in the afternoon at Alexandre Herchcovits. And what a pity, because the chic and sturdy wood handled umbrellas, which were lined up in a rainbow of colors to mimic the rainbow hued, bold and graphic theme of the collection, was one of the more practical and desirable gifts given out this season. Especially since rain was threatening all day and rain was predicted for the last day of Fashion Week as well).

Getting back to Michael, the splatter prints sounded better than they were, the group of black stretch crepe dresses with their open cage work and transparent insets, looked too forced and contrived, and the use of one sleeved tops, often looked awkward. And when I read the run of show and saw the words ‘trompe l’oeil – it put me in a good mood. As an admirer of Roberta di Camerino and Elsa Schiaparelli, both of whom have dabbled quite a bit in trompe l’oeil, I have always loved its whimsy. And wouldn’t you know it, at that same moment, I saw Robert Verdi walk to his seat wearing a trompe l’oeil sweater that could be seen from rows away. But Michael’s black merino trompe l’oeil cardigan was not exceptional. You had to really look hard to see there was any trompe l’oeil in the silver and black paillette trompe l’oeil shifts that ended the show.

FYI, one of the best examples of trompe l’oeil I’ve seen in a long time, was the sweater (designer unknown) worn by Lizzie Tisch at last week’s Couture Council luncheon, honoring Dries Van Noten. Knitted on the front, was a larger than life facsimile of a huge, statement making necklace. What made this so much fun, is the way it mimicked what turned out to be one of the biggest trends (on, and especially off, the runway) this season.

That said, the white glove leather zipper shift was clean and modern; the strong modified pagoda shoulder, (especially when translated into a white stretch cotton suit) made a statement without looking like a dangerous weapon (Michael’s tailoring is also great); the coats were standout as usual including a perfect white bonded faille reefer coat with a trench back, and the ink blot cotton broadcloth pea coat and matching Bermudas, which was an interesting take on a classic. The mint crinkle cashmere oversized cardigan and ombred thistle tissue mohair tank, sea foam tissue mohair pullover, and watercolor shantung shorts looked fresh; the draped jersey dresses, one in thistle and the other, an asymmetrical white version to the knee, were great; and his graphically cut out swimsuits always make an impact (just be sure you have the body to carry them off).

Yes, Yes, Nanette!

Nanette Lepore is on a mission to save the garment center. She not only wrote an Op-Ed in The New York Times along with her husband Robert Savage, “The Fabric of New York”, which appeared on Monday, September 7th, but had time to put the finishing touches on her well done, lighthearted 28 piece spring collection which was shown yesterday. (Included in her run of show, was a copy of the editorial and a bumper sticker: “Save the Garment Center”).

The overall message of the collection was its endorsement of color and prints, (notably florals and multi colored stripes which were often mixed together or juxtaposed against items normally considered to be utilitarian and military staples like the trench, the army fatigue pant, the drawstring short, the parka), and the use of knitwear. It was point/counterpoint (the idea of hard and soft, sweet and functional, girlie and masculine, street and evening). Best pieces were the short watercolor floral wrap dress and striped top; the olive utility trench jacket worn with a striped top and wildflower pants; the floral jacket, striped sweater, and raindrop printed shorts; the multi colored striped knee length cardigan worn over a shorter raindrop printed dress; and the midcalf khaki trench coat dress worn over a striped knit.

Phillip’s ‘Mac’ Attack

Phillip Lim’s clothes resemble nobody else’s. The young designer has a wonderful vision, a great sense of color and proportion, and his clothes have that rare combination of youth, modernity, personality, and sophistication. There is never anything vulgar or insulting about his designs.

Among those things he has become known for in a rather short time, are his inventive mixes, his beautiful fabrics, and his love affair with military inspired outerwear (trenches and Macs). The spring show which followed Oscar de la Renta’s double header, began with a grouping in lacquer red (almost head to toe), went on to grey mélange cashmere knits, and continued into tan and camel (here come the trenches and Macs, which were sometimes cropped of abbreviated). His pants and cuffed shorts are always beautifully cut and his offhanded combinations, taking classic shapes and wardrobe staples and putting them together in surprising combinations, are interesting. But for me, it was the beautifully done group of organza knee length, accordion pleated dresses at the end, (especially the sculptural, collaged, and appliqué numbers, some with abstract cubist detail) that stole the show.

Marc’ my Words

FYI, I am so bored with that aggressive and ubiquitous ‘bridge and tunnel’ look which is visible all over town and in and around the Bryant Park tents: the skintight low rise jeans, the skimpy tops, the tacky hooker like high heels, etc. This is another reason I think the adulation surrounding Marc Jacobs is not underrated. Regardless of what you think of all his designs, there is always symbolism within a collection and what Marc’s collection pointed to was a return to the chic and feminine, a move away from the tough, aggressive look that has pervaded fashion, a call to dress up and have fun again, a re-evaluation of a longer length, and a signal that the heavy, clunky ‘orthopedic’ looking shoe which nobody can seem to walk in is over (I loved that Marc showed a decidedly innocent, practically flat, delicate, t strap shoe). I have spotted so many girls and older women literally having to lean on someone in order to navigate the streets in their ridiculously high heeled shoes. One editor-in-chief (I won’t say who), was seen leaving Donna Karan literally holding on to her associates in order to get to her car. Would you please explain what the appeal is of footwear that not only looks horrible, but is impossible to walk in, and makes the wearer have to literally hunch over?

-Marilyn Kirschner

In the Center Ring: Anna Sui

How apropos that Anna Sui’s Spring 2010 presentation would have a circus theme. The spectacle that is Mercedes Benz Fashion Week is, after all, held in an enormous tent. On Wednesday night, Ms. Sui entertained an audience that included celebrities like Whitney Port with what was undoubtedly one of the greatest shows of the season.

Only Ms. Sui could concoct a mixture of prints, plaids, dots and stripes and have it turn out to be such a sheer delight. Her collection was playful and flirty, and every ensemble was a study in unexpected contrasts.

The models strolled the runway to a soundtrack inspired by traditional circus music and a big top backdrop completed the theme. Ms. Sui showed a black capelet with an orchid print dress, a preppy purple cable knit sweater with a lilac floral crinkle chiffon blouse and liberty print skirt, and a foulard print dots and daisies dress with a circus striped sweater in black and cream. Her dresses in sunflower and marigold prints were particularly appealing, and the mix of a voodoo beaded jacket, royal paillette embroidered dress and denim short was a clear stand out. Accessories included majorette hats, oversize bags, and gladiator sandals.

Ms. Sui recently collaborated with Target on a successful collection inspired by Gossip Girl and received a CFDA Lifetime Achievement Award in June. Judging from the reception that her show received from the crowd on Wednesday night, it is clear that many will be running off to join Anna Sui’s circus.

-Rhonda Erb

“The Daily Bet” by Rhonda Erb

Casio Watch

This bright yellow Baby-G from Casio is definitely the “It” watch of the season. It’s been seen everywhere this week on the wrists of celebrities and fashionistas alike. You say yellow is not your color? This stylish watch is also available in black, red and white.

Casio Baby-G Watch

Casio Digital Camera

The Casio EX-S5 is the perfect little camera for snapping shots from the front row. It has 10.1 mega pixels and a 2.7” LCD monitor. The camera is small enough to fit into the tiniest handbag and its two-tone body comes in four great colors.

Casio EX-S5 Digital Camera



Ernest Schmatolla is publisher of Lookonline since 1994. It is the longest running fashion site on the Internet.

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