Fashion Notes: Day 4:

Urban Legend

Talk about going from the sublime to the ridiculous or vice versa, depending, I suppose, on your point of view. My day began with Carolina Herrera and ended with Yeohlee (alas…because of the scaled down Marc Jacobs show this season, I did not get an invite but that doesn’t mean I didn’t ‘see’ it thanks to all the websites which keep up to the minute). And I can’t imagine two shows, both geared to an urban customer, more diametrically opposed (in look, mood, philosophy, and aesthetic).

Carolina Herrera held her show, as usual, at the large Tent in Bryant Park. No scaled down venue for her. I must say, it was not only hard to see the clothes from my 5th row seat, but it was harder still, to follow the program or attempt taking notes, thanks to tricky dim lighting and obnoxious almost blinding flashes of light going off right before my eyes. I won’t even get into the distracting music.

What was easy to see, was that the show was rather opulent to say the least. Muted colors and narrow shapes: slim pencil skirts and skinny pants, kept things somewhat ‘grounded’ and the focus was unapologetically on eveningwear. Quite frankly, there were very few ‘obvious’ day time clothes. I suppose Ms. Herrera knows that her customer is really not going to her for ‘sportswear’, though the designer always takes her ‘bow’ in a crisp white shirt and simple trousers. A fitted forest green mink cropped jacket with caviar silk tulle corset paired with skinny copper lace embroidered pants and a copper and forest green mohair organza jacket with caviar silk tulle corset paired with forest green textured silk pants were just about as ‘daytime’ as CH got. Just the thing to wear to Gristedes!

More often than not there was a blurring of the lines between what was day and what was evening within the 34 piece collection, and rather than showing daytime first, which is usually the order of things, the two were mixed. That said, one of Ms. Herrera’s best ideas this season, was the unexpected pairing of sturdy, double face woven crepe jackets or suede coats with dramatic floor length chiffon gowns, offsetting their delicacy. The color palette was jeweled toned and rich (rich is the operative word here), emphasizing copper, forest green, lapis blue, cassis, and smoke gray. Hems, cuffs, collars, and mini shrugs were jewel encrusted as were the belts, which shined in metallic copper.

In terms of fabrication, it was all about the layering of luxurious textures (textured silk, reflective jacquard, lace, suede, and a floral fils coupe). It was about a lavishness, richness and opulence that spoke volumes about a pampered life of privilege and a customer who is probably being chauffeured around town, which also made it seem a bit out of sync with the ‘new’ reality. That said, how one dresses in these times, is a personal decision, there is no ‘right’ and no ‘wrong’ way…it’s a matter of choice.

And it’s obvious as the week unfolds, that not all designers are proposing a ‘doom and gloom’ reaction to the current state of affairs, exemplified by Marc Jacobs’ colorful, big shouldered, big hair collection recalling the club hopping days of the 80’s. Yay Marc and thanks for making it ‘okay’ to wear color again. Not that we need his ‘approval’ but you know what I mean. And gee, come to think of it, that hot pink ‘Barbie’ Official Gift Bag from Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week is beginning to look better to me.


At the opposite end of the specter, Yeohlee eschewed hotel rooms and museums from past seasons and opted for her loft like West 35th street showroom, as the venue of choice to stage her 23 piece collection. Her muse is and always has been the Urban Nomad (it’s a term that not only defines her work but could not be more relevant and in sync with the times). She is a woman who is strong, grounded, unspoiled, and undoubtedly walks everywhere or takes the subway. To wit, only pancake flat black calf boots with a slightly pointed toe (Manolo Blahnik for Yeohlee and Nancy Geist for Yeohlee) were shown throughout for both day and night (no high heels and not an unwieldy platform in sight — thank goodness). The color palette this season was again very urbane and very signature Yeohlee. It was edited down to chalk, black, shades of grey and grey mélange (a combination of black and white), and ‘molten’ or liquid silver.

This season, Yeohlee cited inspiration as the industrial landscape photographs of Edward Burtynsky with his inverted cubed architecture, but more importantly, as one of the most consistent designers around, she wanted to ‘pare down’ to the ‘bare bones’ of her work, emphasizing the workability, versatility, practicality, and enveloping nature of her pieces. At the same time, she wanted to illustrate the many ways one can transform her clothes into different looks. In her program notes, she proudly pointed out that factoring in the current world situation, she wanted to create a collection with ‘zero waste’. Every inch of the fabric was used and not scrap of material is wasted.

The pieces that stood out from my point of view (all were shown over a fitted black jersey bodysuit), were the ¾ length hooded chalk white cascading triangles ‘painter’s coat, belted with a wide black leather belt; the black denim ‘apprentice’ cape back jacket and beautifully shaped black denim quarry coat, both paired with black denim trousers; the utilitarian hooded and cropped black rubberized felt vest and catenary jacket; the black leather belted grey mélange alpaca Yeti ovoid coat and matching skullcap; the sleeveless v neck molten (silvery) metal triangles dress (with asymmetrical hem); and the molten metal mobius jacket, tank, leggings, and skullcap which had a decidedly futuristic space age look. The show began and ended with a graphite pinstripe ankle length sarong shown over a black jersey bodysuit but in the finale, the model stepped out of her skirt and folded it neatly on the floor.

-Marilyn Kirschner

Adrienne Vittadini Fall 2009 Collection

Recent excesses and over-the-top designs and lines are disappearing in
the fashion industry. This year, Fashion Week shows how much
designers have scaled back in many ways: less guests invited to the
shows, less glitz, less of just about everything. The impact of the recession is felt everywhere when it comes to fashion. Designers are showing smaller collections, and many designs show separate pieces to allow customers to mix the new with what they already own.

Adrienne Vittadini is a perfect example of the new mood shaping up the
industry: she chose to display her Fall 2009 line at the International
Center of Photography in New York City; mannequins in lieu of live
models walking the catwalk, simple yet effective designs.

This year Vittadini is going back to her roots, or if you will, she
is choosing to offer simple knitted pieces that fit well with the
times. Her iconic signature designs are back, offering fashion lovers
updated lines that are more affordable. It is still luxury knitwear,
only scaled back to show elegance and austerity. And the designer is a
pro when it comes to knitwear.

A lot of grey is everywhere, as well as black, forest green, and dark purple. Colors are darker and patterns are rare. The mood is somber nowadays, and Ms Vittadini’s pieces fit well in these times, allowing the wearer to still feel a sense of chic in easy, wearable, well designed clothes. Indulgences are seldom but of quality: peacock feathers embroidered on collars, sequins shining just on some parts of the clothes. The lines are sleek, simple and casually elegant. Unusual and beautiful ceramics created by Amanda Ferrer adorn the necklines of many of the mannequins. The beautiful one-of-a kind feather embellishments are the creation of Julie Everett.

The whole collection allows one to use already owned pieces
and blend them with this new line. Here and there, a jolt of color is
provided through the use of chartreuse (a hit color in fashion
and interior design lately). Her line speaks of uncomplicated
designs and are easy to wear for just about any body type. This is
not a simple feat, and she does it in a very elegant and understated manner.

– Muriel Geny-Triffaut

Let’s Get Jazzed

In her collection show notes, Reese tells the press and buyers that she is blending romance and understated glamour over rustic undertones, adding a brush stroke of whimsy, inspired by post-impressionist portraiture, including the works of Vuillard, Van Gogh and Modigliani and their expressive use of color. As a vehicle to convey mood, Reese combines textures, patterns and rich hues on a neutral palette to create an eclectic fall 2009 collection. Right on, Tracy. And, true to her word, the designer channels the modernist flapper and mixes in a healthy dollop of Anna Sui on the tame. While there is lots of black and shorty short lengths in the offing here – only one floor-length piece was shown (finale); black shaw tux and plaster flirty floral long slip – the designer certainly layers on the color and patterns, which add more than just a bit of fun and dash to the repertoire.

Looks such as the raspberry argyle applique shift, brown herringbone boyfriend jacket and basil floral frilled shift, deep mauve melange alpaca dress and dotty dots tie-back blouse, which so immediately reminded this editor of lookonline’s, Marilyn Kirschner, saffron ruffle dolman sweater and prune flirty floral tiered skirt, were excellent, covetable and oh so easy to wear. Not so, unfortunately, were Reese’s bronze brocade blazer and trouser, which not only looked stiff and out of place in this easy, breezy collection, but seemed to be borrowed straight from a later-year’s Elvis concert in Las Vegas. Elvis, Las Vegas and gold aside, the accouterments Reese featured in the show were spot on and quite cool. Accessories such as tight, little stocking caps, and black thigh highs and black tights from Hue were nifty and looked just right with the clothing, as were the shoes from Highline United for Tracy Reese. The flirtateous jewels, conjured up by Gerard Yosca exclusively for Reese were long, luscious and lovely. Overall, the designer’s show, which had Miss J of America’s Next Top Model fame, seated front row and in rapt attention as the looks paraded down the runway, was definitely young, with it and refreshing.

– Adrienne Weinfeld-Berg

Daily Bets:

Living Proof

There is new help in the battle to keep your hair frizz free on humid days. Living Proof products were created by a group of MIT scientists who have taken a fresh approach to fighting frizz, which does not involve the use of silicone. As an added bonus, your hair will be more repellant to dirt and you can actually go longer between shampoos.

Living Proof
Sephora stores and

The Sharper Image

I tried this portable sound system, which features wireless speakers, at the Consumer Electronics Show, and I was amazed by the sound quality. The speakers transmit up to 150 feet. The unit can be used with all ipod models, as well as CD players and other music players.

The Sharper Image Wireless Speakers Dock for ipod
In stores in September

-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:

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