“In the Black”

Photo: WWD

It was the final Black Friday for Barneys New York, a liquidation sale to end all liquidation sales. The once iconic shopping mecca was covered in garish red and yellow clearance signs, and markdowns reached 30% -35%. An escalator broke down adding to the pandemonium. Someone likened the scene to when RadioShack and Circuit City died but without the $5,000 leather trench coats from Prada.

I spoke with Sandy Schreier on Friday morning before she went back to Detroit. Ms. Schreier has a long history with Barneys going back to her original boutique, designed by Peter Marino, which was located on the first floor of the original 7th Avenue store. It came to fruition after Gene Pressman heard that Sandy had the “greatest things in the world”.

Sandy Schreier’s Haute Couture Boutique in Barneys New York
Photo courtesy of Sandy Schreier

Sandy told me that she stopped by Barneys last weekend. While not buying, she did have a chance to say goodbye to each floor. Sandy is still “in a state of disbelief” of this New York shopping mecca closing.

When Barneys opened on Madison Avenue in the ’90s, it was the ultimate place to shop for the avant-garde, minimal black clothing, and accessories. Almost everything seemed to be black, including the hip, cool, black-clad sales staff, and the black shopping bags.

Speaking of black, “Black Friday,” a much-overused phrase has lost much of its meaning. But I was inspired to search for exceptional black items in the market. The 10 featured are an eclectic mix of haute couture, ready-to-wear, and accessories priced from $254 – $43,500. No, this is not a bargain hunter’s story.

This astounding 1960’s black silk gown by Madame Grès is indicative of Gres’ experimentation with form and structure in the 1960s and 1970s. It is the maxi length with an empire waistline, a v-neck, and the most amazing, voluminous sleeves. The sleeves billow out from the shoulder, drape, cape-like, over and around the arm, gaining length as they approach the wrist. The dramatic, theatrical, spectacular sleeves contrast with the subdued, classical, pillar-like empire-waist body of the dress.

Madame Grès Haute Couture gown

The Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute owns an identical Madame Grès dress, and it was on view at The Cloisters in Gallery 06 as part of the “Heavenly Bodies” exhibition in 2018, $43,500. More info/purchase

Noir Kei Ninomiya asymmetrical top and Alexander McQueen trousers

Noir Kei Ninomiya is renowned for designing cool, unexpected silhouettes that are still entirely wearable – this top has a sharply pleated panel that creates an exaggerated asymmetric hem. It’s been expertly made in Japan from floral-jacquard and has a slightly loose silhouette, $327 (reduced from $545). More info/purchase

The top is perfect with high waist wide-legged pants like these from Alexander McQueen. They are tailored from black crepe and fall long enough to slightly pool on the floor, $1790. More info/purchase

Fendi holographic down jacket

Fendi’s appliqued holographic down ski jacket is designed with a logo-stamped belt to match the taping at the sleeves. It is made in Italy from padded shell coated with a glossy holographic finish and pumped with insulating down for warmth, $3590 More info/purchase

Roger Vivier Maharaja Pumps

Nostalgic of late 18th-century royal courts, Roger Vivier’s Maharaja sling- back kitten-heeled pumps are made of Italian-crafted velvet. The sculptural heels are crafted from silver metal, and the shoes are adorned with ostrich feathers and Swarovski crystals for a regal finish. Who says festive footwear has to kill your feet? They are the perfect thing to dress up a pair of jeans but would look just as great with a cocktail dress, $1295. More info/purchase

Faux-Fur-Trim Moon Boots

Moon Boots are all over the market, but I’ve never seen one with faux fur, which adds a touch of luxury and a feeling of cozy warmth. With snow on the way, these are sure to come in handy, $254. More info/purchase

Monies Laura Necklace

Monies’ Laura necklace is made of leather and black Kamagong wood, which is nearly unbreakable. This piece is artisanal, sculptural, and statement-making, in keeping with the iconic company’s aesthetic, $690. More info/purchase

Black mink tailcoat by Givenchy

This stunning black mink tailcoat by Givenchy (date unknown) is one of a kind and sized French 36. It is embellished with gold-framed honey-colored stars, pearls, beads, rhinestones, and stone-like studs in shades that go from amber and ivory to black on the front and back. The body and the elbow-length kimono sleeves are trimmed in black leather. It closes with five pewter colored snaps. It is over-the-top but pretty fabulous.! $15,000. More info/purchase

Bottega Veneta Shoulder Pouch

This voluminous (15.5 x 12.5 inches) Bottega Veneta shoulder pouch is made of exceptionally soft supple calf leather. Minimal and luxurious, it is an evolution of their new icon, the Pouch, which reflects the house’s heritage with a modern attitude. Daniel Lee is ‘killing’ it in the accessories arena, in my opinion, $2800. More info/purchase

Bottega Veneta jacket in quilted Nappa leather

Bottega Veneta’s cropped tab collar leather biker jacket features a molded and padded body and sleeves, curved double zipper, and jersey zippered cuffs. The interior is bonded with neoprene. $5490. More info/purchase

Perfect Moment Polar Star helmet

For those who simply can’t give up their image when getting into safety gear, this black Polar Star fur-trim helmet from Perfect Moment will ensure that your time on the slopes is going to go smoothly. Featuring a woven textile strap with buckle fastening, padded and dial fastening, $284. More info/purchase

At this time of the year, we are bombarded with so much color and visual stimuli. A lot is going on. But in my opinion, the perennial appeal of noir is only heightened. Minimal or fanciful, each piece is unique in its own way. Not a turkey in the group!

Marilyn Kirschner
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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