New York Fashion Week Notes

The Incredible Lightness of Being

Spring 2014 Carolina Herrera white cotton blouse with organza panel,
black and white printed stripe cotton skirt
(Photos: Vogue &

It’s been hard not to notice that Carolina Herrera’s shows have benefited from a palpable lightness (I’m not just referring only to her fabrics, but to a light hand and light touch). They have become increasingly simplified, and have benefitted from a renewed youthful elegance. This was especially apparent yesterday morning when she presented her spring 2014 collection at the Tent at Lincoln Center to a packed house (Uma Thurman was one notable celebrity seated in the front row). It’s not a secret that the designer has tapped fashion icon and stylist Giovanna Battaglia (she’s also a L’Uomo Vogue editor and W contributing editor), to style her spring ad campaign and style her show. Giovanna, a favorite of the street photographers, bloggers, and a fixture on best dressed lists, (including mine), talents  are again put to good use.

Carolina Herrera ivory suede dress

According to her run of show, Carolina was inspired by the Kinetic Art movement ad Venezuela artists Carlos Cruz-Diez and Jesus Rafael Soto, and she was “embracing the exploration of the optical effects of motion and the eye’s perception.” The recurring geometric motifs were applied to organza, chiffon and voile, and small doses of jeweled embellishments and appliques added another dimension. Colors ranged from optic black and white to crimson, sienna, smoky umber, tea green, porcelain, and mauve. What was also very apparent in the 45 piece collection, was its emphasis on evening wear (cocktail and formal wear), and while there were plenty of short (hitting just at or above the knee length) dresses, the emphasis was on long and languid. Actually, there was practically nothing at all for work, daytime, or playtime, except for the porcelain and black stripe silk cotton dress with black silk organza detail, the ivory suede short dress, the porcelain viscose panama top with smoky umber patent leather applique and porcelain viscose panama pleated pant, and the black and white printed cotton bikini top and bottom with organza overlay shown with a hat bigger than its two itty bitty pieces combined. But this is not a sportswear line, and that’s not what Carolina’s customers go to her for – and she knows it.

By the way, Carolina herself has a uniform of crisp white shirts, which she pairs with skirts and trousers, and it’s been hard not to notice that this is turning out to be a season strong on button down shirts in every variety, shown for day and evening. While she didn’t show many of these, her first outfit out, was a white cotton blouse with organza panel, shown with a black & white printed stripe cotton skirt with organza overlay, and she used the basic shirt as a jumping point for an ivory and sienna clay kinetic motif print viscose shirt gown with organza overlay.

Carolina Herrera ivory and sienna clay kinetic motif print viscose shirt gown
with organza overlay

Caroline is a Hall of Fame Best Dressed List inductee and she  didn’t get there for nothing; her shoes are always chic, elegant, and beyond reproach (and by Manolo Blahnik). The shoes she selects for her shows always look like the ones she herself would wear. So you will never see platforms or anything remotely tacky. Yesterday, she showed many elegant t straps on a high heel, but she also some flats (notably, t strap open toed flats). I am happy to see designers using flat and low heeled shoes on the runway, and I wish they would continue because maybe, the customer will eventually catch on that they need not wear crippling shoes for the sake of fashion. Being fashionable has nothing to do with how high your heels are. This is actually something I feel strongly about. I understand wearing very high high heels for certain evening events. I don’t understand wearing shoes that throw you off balance and cause you to hunch forward, during the daytime. They not only don’t look good (and I’m talking about mile high stilettos, especially when they are on a platform), but they are impossible to really walk in without holding on to your companion for dear life, and one can easily suffer foot injuries. Is it really worth it?

I’ve been observing women as of late, and I have noticed that whenever I see someone changing out of her uncomfortable high heels, whatever she’s changing into almost always looks better than what she changed out of. Just saying.

“One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest”

Spring 2014 Thom Browne sculpted navy and white lace dress

I know we are living in a Mad Mad Mad Mad World, and I’m sure many of us had at times thought we were going insane, but is it REALLY necessary to be constantly made aware of it? Just days after the release of Simon Doonan’s book, “The Asylum”, filled with “real life stories of glamorous madness and stylish insanity”, Thom Browne, a designer who is used to pushing the envelope and creating controversy (who can possibly forget the coffins at The New York Public Library a few seasons ago?), managed to transform Center548 into an insane asylum for his spring 2014 collection. FYI, let me just say that mental illness is certainly no laughing matter, but Thom’s forte, and the reason he is so beloved and well respected, is that he regularly goes where others would never dare. As Marylou Luther put it, there are two real fashion moments that are guaranteed during the course of Mercedes Benz Fashion Week these days: one is Marc Jacobs, who now fittingly closes the week, and the other is Thom Browne.

Thom Browne embroidered jacket and mesh gaucho shorts

Even before I took my seat, I noticed the white padded walls (they WERE actually padded), the severed ‘limbs’ strewn about, the lifeless ‘corpses’ hanging from the ceiling, and the bottles filled with little white pills of an unknown nature which were ready to be dispensed. It was a vision in sterile white. There were also exposed light bulbs that disquietly went on and off, and plodding classical music that bordered on annoying, as the same thing kept on playing over and over again. The show was called for 5 pm., but 45 minutes later, we were all kept waiting, listening to the strains of the music and seeing the light bulbs go on and off.  Let’s just say the “natives” were getting restless. This is a vast space with several different rooms, and I was seated next to Marylou Luther, Stan Herman, Fern Mallis, Margaret Hayes, Dr. Valerie Steele, and Patricia Mears, among others. Each of us took stabs at what might transpire, and it was pretty humorous.

Was it Thom’s goal to drive all of us insane? Did he want us to question our sanity, his sanity, or the sanity of the customers Stan suggested that perhaps, the point of this whole thing was to make us wait so long, we would eventually all go crazy and want to kill each other off (I immediately offered that that sounded like fashion’s versions of “The Hunger Games”). Fern predicted that perhaps Thom wasn’t going to actually have a show at all, but by making us think there was a show, we would be driven mad. Finally, at a little after 5:45, the models, in full hair and makeup (quite fabulous and over the top I might add), began to walk out. The show had 40 looks and it was divided into three groups.

Thom Browne white tweed coat and  long tweed trouser

The first 10 models, a vision in white, with snoods in their hair and wire rimmed sunglasses, were the nurses (“Nurse Ratched” times 10). They served as the strict watchmen who checked on the patients and doled out the medication. The next 16, outfitted primarily in white with touches of navy, and the final 14 (all in shades of white), were the catatonic, zombie like patients with faraway looks in their eyes, rats nest hair, and blood scarred lips. It was like performance art, with the models doing their best at looking confused and out of it. It was as usual, extremely couture like in silhouette, fabrication, and execution, and while many of the ensembles, were extraordinary flights of fancy, when you took it apart, there were some beautiful, (some even ‘commercial’) pieces mixed in (Thom’s jackets and coats are always amazing). Fabrics included latex, pin tucked raffia, rubber, eyelet, buillion and mink trimmed lace, linen, inside out shredded tweed, shredded cashmere, cotton plisse, and pin tucked raffia.

When the show was finally over, it took awhile for everyone to leave the venue (it was on the 4th floor which meant jamming into one tiny elevator or walking down the narrow stairs. I thought I was literally going to go insane if I didn’t get out quickly (I’m claustrophobic), and I was glad to finally get out to the streets, into the bright lights, and on my way home to watch the end of the men’s tennis finals.

– Marilyn Kirschner

Yeohlee Teng

Spring 2014 Yeohlee cream black cotton chintz trench
 with black microfiber crescent shorts
(Photo: Udor Photography)

Yeohlee Teng’s collection was shown in the backyard of a townhouse on the East Side with the Jones Wood Garden, where the show was being held, an obvious inspiration for her show. The placid atmosphere was a perfect backdrop to the simple designs of her collection. Award winning designer Yeohlee Teng was born in Malaysia and has worked primarily in New York where her design house was established in 1981. Yeohlee is famous for her commitment to the garment industry and for designing with the smallest carbon footprint possible. Yeohlee was a winner of the National Design Award in 2004 and her work is part of the permanent collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The patterns in this collection, whether it be print or jacquard, were uniquely cut and juxtaposed at each seam. Yeohlee pays meticulous attention to the weight, texture, color and content of the material she uses and these elements inform each of her designs.

Yeohlee white cotton satin zero waste top
with black and white ikat shorts
(Photo: Lieba Nesis)

The show started with a cellular print silk georgette jumper with a pale powder grey jacket. The look was loose and comfortable with pockets on the side and a flat pair of black sandals-the model looked like she belonged on the beach in St. Tropez. The use of forest green and light hued purples and pinks was extremely effective in creating a feminine, relaxed effect throughout the collection. Most of the dresses and shorts were knee length and the woodsy palette of the clothing was inviting and luxurious. Additionally, the white shirts and jackets presented were crisp and clean and gave the models an elongated silhouette. My favorite look of the show was the cream and black cotton chintz trench with a black microfiber tank and black microfiber crescent shorts. This look is what Yeohlee does best – the architecturally square shaped shoulders were cut perfectly and coupled with the crescent shorts this look was sexy, sophisticated and precisely executed. There was alot of cotton used allowing for great elasticity in the look of the garments but losing the streamlined sophistication of more elaborate materials.

Yeohlee bonded pinkpowder u dress
(Photo: Lieba Nesis)

The collection was designed to be worn as shown or to be pared with other pieces in one’s own individual closet. The white raincoat with black striped detail and black shorts was another favorite for combining the classic white and black look with an edgier shorts ensemble. The light diaphanous silks were airy and ethereal but sometimes unflattering due to their amorphous nature. There was a heavy emphasis on the bonding and cut of the garments creating intricate shapes without heavy tailoring.

Fashion week has become circuslike, with throngs of people populating every show, blaring music accompanying each collection, and models coming down the runway in frizzy hair, bulky jewelry and heavy makeup. While the effect is often exciting, it was nice to attend a show with plain models, sparse music, and an intimate crowd. Yeohlee takes great pride in the clothing she produces and has made a conscious and socially responsible choice to participate in the fashion industry on her own terms. Yeohlee’s decision to make the comfort of women a priority in designing garments makes her the premiere feminist designer in the fashion industry.

-Lieba Nesis

The Daily Better Bets by Rhonda Erb

Manitobah Mukluks Infant Scout Moccasins

Manitobah Mukluks is a Canadian Aboriginal owned company that
creates authentic Aboriginal mukluks, moccasins, and accessories using old world
craftsmanship.  These moccasins were one of two pairs of infant shoes presented
to the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge by Shawn Atleo, the National chief of the
Assembly of First Nations and his wife, Nancy, to celebrate the birth of Prince
George.  The gift is a “symbol of friendship between the Aboriginal Peoples and
the Royal family.” 

            The moccasins are made of soft, Canadian Deerskin leather. 

 Available at:, $50.00

Cole Haan Kids Mini Cory


Your little one will be as sharply dressed as his fashionable
parents in these plaid loafers that feature the same classic details as Cole
Haan’s adult shoes.  They have an adjustable hook-and-loop closure for a secure
fit and a cushioned textile insole. The lightweight rubber sole is soft and
flexible for active little feet.

 Available at:,

Lieba Nesis

My love of fashion, writing and photography were something that always dominated my lifestyle however it wasn't until I was approached by the editor of Lookonline that I realized I could utilize these three skills in combination.

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