Just Great

Style.com ran a feature in the days leading up to the beginning of Fashion Week, called Front Row Chatter, with a number of discussions leveled around New York Fashion Week’s hot topics. The one that really got me smiling, and nodding my head in total agreement, was the one posing the question: “What’s up with street style photography?”

The subject, of course, was the ubiquitous phenomenon which is hard NOT to notice. “The Monster that ate Fashion Week”: the rise of the street style blogger, the informal catwalk outside the shows which has all but overshadowed the runway shows. The fashionista “tryhards” who are dressing for attention, piling on trends just to get noticed, and “working overtime to get photographed”. GQ’s Will Welch does not find any of this to be inspiring, but rather, pathetic.

As he put it, “A good litmus test is, are you dressing totally differently during fashion week than you do any other time? If so, maybe you should ask yourself why?” Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think there is anything wrong with tweaking your look during fashion week. There is certainly nothing wrong with going into your closets, finding new and interesting combinations, or dusting off styles you may not have worn for awhile but are starting to look good again. Actually, I find that quite satisfying.

But to put yourself together looking like you are going to a costume party, or to feel as though you have to go out and stockpile on the trends du jour, is not only costly, but stupid and ridiculous. The effects will backfire. The key thing is knowing what suits you and sticking with that. If a ‘trend’ does not flatter you, or is irrelevant to your lifestyle or age, simply don’t go for it. If it’s in sync with your own personal style, then embrace it – if you so choose.

I personally loathe the word “trend” and I loathe the concept; it’s so mechanical and impersonal (paint by numbers), but I am using it for lack of a better word. I also think the word is far too abused and overused especially by so called “style experts”. As we all know, true style has nothing to do with blindly following trends. Anyway, what’s so great about being trendy or ‘on trend’? How about looking just plain great?

This always reminds me of two things. 1 – Mirabella Magazine’s monthly feature called, Just Great, which highlighted outfits and pieces that transcended any trends, that the editors apparently thought were, well, just great. 2 – The late great Geoffrey Beene, who was always tired of being asked by editors, “What’s new?” As he recounted, he would have preferred to have been asked, “What’s great?”

Come to think of it, there’s a third: The fabulous late Joe Eula, whom I once shared an office with at Harper’s Bazaar in the 70’s, pranced up and down the hallways announcing: “I’m b to d with f” (I’m bored to death with fashion). Me too Joe. Well, sort of, especially when it comes to boorish public relations firms who fail to act professionally. They confuse who they are with who they work for.

I am finding myself being drawn to people who have a signature look and stick with it. The ones who always look like themselves, and not like they are trying to be someone else. And if you think about it, why would you want to look like everyone else? If something becomes very “in” maybe that’s the time to forget about it and do the opposite. So much more interesting.

My personal pet peeves are those who are truly the “posers” of the world, though I won’t name names – you know who you are, or at least, you know who THEY are. I guess you can say anyone who wears a giant apple sculpture on his or her head falls into that category (plus, it’s rude to block the view of people sitting behind you). Other pet peeves are those show goers who jump seasons and completely dress in a way that makes no sense for the weather. Why do fashionistas automatically think they have to swathe themselves in fur just because it’s fall, or fashion week? That is so un-modern.

Even worse, this past Thursday, I spotted a young woman wearing a faux fur shaggy vest just the thing for a damp, soggy, muggy day in early September – NOT! Then there are some young women who insist on running around in see through clothes leaving nothing to the imagination which is not only ugly but downright dangerous especially in a big city, and plenty who continue to teeter around on unwieldy stilettos and platforms, which are so difficult to walk in. They practically need to hold onto someone in order to stand upright. Can you please tell me what is so good looking about that???? I agree totally with Ines de la Fressange who offered, “Many women think they look better in heels but this is quite wrong. Just ask any man.” No man would ever say “I’d love you more if you were four inches taller!” Nothing looks worse than a girl tottering about on unmanageable heels! The key to sex appeal is a feline walk, not a precarious wobble.!!

Mara Hoffman Spring 2012 Collection
Photo: Randy Brooke

Going back to the idea of “Just Great”, even though the Mara Hoffman show started late because the show before, Rebecca Taylor, ran very late. And even though guests were kept waiting in a rather stifling, un air-conditioned hallway, it was all worth the wait. I’ve always thought Ms. Hoffman was a true talent, with a very signature, specific point of view. She is known for her colorful, bohemian fashions. This season, she was inspired by the personal style of a Mexican woman, notably, the iconic artist Frida Kahlo for her 20 piece collection, dubbed “Mexican Mamas” which was shown installation style on models.

Mara Hoffman Spring 2012
Photo: Randy Brooke

The custom prints were all designed in house. There was an abstract tribal, a woodcut, geometric dots with orange and purple colorways, ticker stripe embroidery, a black and white woven print, bright colorful tiny animals, and a group of bright serape striped knits. There were jumpsuits, tunics, and tea length column dresses; there were plenty of embroidery and hand weaving and the use of sheer over opaque. Holst and Lee’s ethnic, colorful rope necklaces were layered to excellent effect. The hair on all the models were wrapped with beads and rope, and the same custom fabrics used for the clothing, were also used for wrap and tie platform sandals.

While goodie bags and gifts in general have been few and far between, when I exited Lincoln Center after the show, I was offered a chic little black and white striped bag from a woman who was handing them out. Little did I know that the bag opened up to be a tote. Inside, there were a pair of black ‘patent’ ballet flats trimmed with a white bow, courtesy DSW. Since I was dressed in black and white, and my Prada pumps were starting to kill me, this gift could not have been more welcome. I quickly changed and the smile came back on my face.

The “Daily Bet” by Rhonda Erb

Moët & Chandon

Thanks to the drenching rains in New York earlier this week, tennis fans will have one more day to enjoy the US Open, now that play has been extended through Monday. Moët & Chandon, the official champagne of the US Open, has designed 2 limited edition commemorative bottles to celebrate the 2011 championship. The crystallized bespoke US Open flame magnum and 187 ml mini with a bouncing tennis ball are available through /September 11, 2011.

Available at: www.mymoet.com, Magnum, $199.99; 187 m, $35.99

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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