New York Fashion Week Notes by Marilyn Kirschner

Vera’s Brush ‘Stroke’ of Genius

Spring 2014 Vera Wang white and charcoal silk gauze one shoulder top
hand painted white silk gazaar skirt opening
(All photos:

Vera Wang’s run of show included one page of notes that was about as short, sweet, and to the point as could be. She summed up the collection in one sentence: “Spring explores an Artful and Architectural Approach to clothes with a decidedly Athletic reference”. Of course, these elements have always figured prominently into Vera’s aesthetic, and they have contributed to her identifiable look. That said, she still finds new ways to explore the 3 A’s. Art came by way of color blocks and an inkblot and a “Brushstroke” print, the latter of which was hand painted by Rebecca Moses, and used for a number of dresses both long and short.

Vera Wang cobalt silk crepe sleeveless top cobalt silk gauze dress
and white silk gauze circular seam skirt

The athleticism was evident in ‘sporty’ blouson crop jackets; baseball jackets (Vera’s are made of silk gauze, stretch net, and techno net);  zip up merino wool cardigans; techo mesh inverted pleat skirts; and racer backs, which seemed to be omnipresent.  As for architecture, there were strong architectural shapes (like the blouson crop top that opened the show), and the use of circular seaming and collaging (in several silk gauze and silk chiffon dresses). Speaking of dresses, it was all about skirts and especially dresses, in a variety of lengths, though Vera still loves her high-low pieces (they are shorter in the front and longer in the back). There were almost no pants, but when the few were shown, they were wide legged palazzos.

Vera Wang black silk gauze cropped baseball jacket
black techno mesh pleated skirt

As for color, black is a Vera Wang signature, as is charcoal, but she lightened and enlivened through the use of white and sand, and the welcome addition of cobalt, citron and geranium. Fabrics (silk gauze, rette gazaar, silk chiffon, silk crepe de chine) were light as air, floaty, gossamer, and sheer, were often layered to create another dimension., and beau. There seemed to be emphasis on beautiful backs. Not only were many dresses quite bare, they often had trailing pieces of sheer fabric, which was quite effective as the models walked down the runway with the wind blowing.

Upon exiting the Tent right after the show, I bumped into Michael Gross and he told me: “I allow myself one show a season to remind myself how much I hated it. And you can quote me on that”. For the record, he liked the Vera Wang collection, but was referring to the scene and everything that goes along with fashion week. “It’s become such a freak show” he said, looking around the reception area of the main Tent. When I asked what specifically he didn’t like, he replied: “It’s too difficult to describe”. But he did mention the frozen mask like expressions on many of the show attendees (and he illustrated by doing his best impression). I could not agree more and have always wondered why so many fashion people cannot smile. Is there something inherently, organically, impossible about doing so? I think this goes hand in hand with the idea of taking oneself too seriously, and acting as though one’s self importance knows no bounds. Get over yourself: you’re not finding a cure for cancer.

In the meanwhile, Michael certainly knows a thing or two about fashion. The American author, journalist, and editor, has an impressive resume FAR too long to list but among his books: 740 Park, Model: The Ugly Business of Beauty; Genuine Authentic: The Real Life of Ralph Lauren, Rogue’s Gallery. And when he was at The New York Times and New York, he was one of the first American journalists to write about the most influential international fashion designers of the day, including Helmut Lang, John Galliano, and Marc Jacobs.

Earlier in the morning, J. Crew showed their spring collection for men and women. J. Crew creative director Jenna Lyons, who not only made my best dressed list, but Vanity Fair’s, was on hand and watched from the sidelines but also spoke with members of the press. I am a true fan of the popular label, and not only stock up on their great basics: each season, there is at least one special piece that catches my eye. This time it’s the ivory bonded eyelet popover which was shown with white cotton and linen shorts. But I could see wearing it in a variety of other ways and think it would look good paired with black as well. In addition, they always have new designer collaborations, and this season, they have a group of ultra feminine and whimsical shoes by Sophia Webster. They were used to accessorize almost all the outfits.

-Marilyn Kirschner

Naeem Khan the Master of Evening Wear

Spring 2014 Naeem Khan red nude lace embroidered tulle gown
(All photos: Lieba Nesis)

The Naeem Khan show was held at the Theater in Lincoln Center with great anticipation from the celebrity and style studded crowd. Naeem Khan has gained prominence over the years through the wearing of his styles by top celebrities in Hollywood. Stacy Keibler and Michelle Obama both wore his dresses at the 2013 Academy Awards (Michelle Obama was on a video screen) and received high acclaim from fashion writers and pundits worldwide. Naeem Khan, 55, is an Indian-born American fashion designer. He is the designer and CEO of his label which was launched in 2003. Michelle Obama frequently chooses his gowns and evening wear for state dinners, dinners abroad and even inaugural events. So while Naeem’s profile has risen over the past couple of years he remains somewhat enigmatic and low profile in the fashion arena. Nonetheless, the crowd was replete with style mavens such as Colin Cowie, Amy Fine Collins, Linda Fargo and Padma Lakshmi. Colin Cowie, a design and event planning expert, has know Naeem for seventeen years and only attends his show during fashion week because [he], “loves the massive dose of glamour this show brings, with Naeem constantly transcending all expectations every year.” Amy Fine Collins, a contributing editor at Vanity Fair, loves the “refined opulence” of his collections and his dresses which are “big entrance makers.” His shows never disappoint and they almost always conclude with a standing ovation for the man behind the magic.

Naeem Khan fuchsia black floral gown with satin

The presentation had a leafy green backdrop lending an aura of woodsiness and romanticism to the afternoon. The Spanish Rose, a symbol of love and beauty, played a pivotal role in this collection and was utilized through various techniques in the embroidery. The prints were inspired by Mexican ceramics and tiles and the laces and embroideries were in tribute to the beauty and elegance of Latin culture. The show opened with a white floral embroidered chantilly lace gown with exquisite detailing and a partially sheer bodice. The woven lattice-like lace was delicate and sexy- against a nude palette it was a showstopper. The next looks were white and red floral dresses knee and floor length with a heavy Spanish influence conjuring up romantic images of flamenco dancers on the streets of Spain. Especially effective, was the red floral gown with a nude backdrop allowing the red embroidery to appear in its full flourish. The sheerness of the gowns were sexy bordering on overly provocative, but this is fashion week and the poor photographers need some eye candy. Black and white gowns and caftans were used to great effect with plunging necklines and thigh high slits, yet still extremely refined and reminiscent of the tiles at the Alhambra in Spain.

Naeem Khan black and white floral applique strapless faille gown

The next couple of looks seemed out of nowhere and created a dissonance in the collection with yellow and orange multicolored striped gowns and dresses coming down the runway; it seemed like this was part of a different show, yet the beading and design on these dresses were so exquisite it was a nice respite from the heavily Latin inspired garments. The use of fuschia and black with satin cording in the gowns were a modern take on the Spanish mantilla and were nicely executed. The white caviar beaded gown was luxurious and equally beautiful when transposed on a slim pant and t-shirt. The next coral and gold gowns were delicately laced and diaphanous throughout, with a beautifully tapered look while maintaining a soft silhouette. The black and white floral appliqued dresses were bold and brilliant, but my favorite was the blush tulle and caviar beaded empire gown- the intricacy of the embroidery and the perfection of the fit will make this a red carpet favorite. What would the collection be without Naeem’s signature gold, metallic and black look something Khan does better than most with a hard edged feminism that has dominated the runway this season. After all this beauty how could Mr. Khan outdo himself? At the conclusion of the show a model walked down in a bridal dress embroidered with roses- which even had Linda Fargo, the fashion director at Bergdorf Goodman, whipping out her phone to take pictures. As a harbinger of things to come we were notified that Khan will be launching a bridal collection on October 12th.

Naeem Khan blush tulle and caviar beaded empire gown

Naeem Khan’s shows are filled with the glamour and extravagance of old Hollywood with a modern, and sexy bold edge. As Robert Verdi, the famed stylist said, “he is the go to guy for any celebrity that has to walk a red carpet. There is no woman who does not take a look at a Naeem dress who is about to attend an awards show. He has great gowns for both movie stars and socialites that turn heads when they walk into a room.” While the collection was somewhat of a hodgepodge and the music was blaringly cacophonous the show was a knockout. Mr. Khan has not yet received the accolades of the truly great gown designers however, for someone who only debuted in 2003 he is quickly becoming a celebrity magnet and a rising star whose potential is boundless. When the show ended Mr. Khan had a big smile on his face- he mastered the evening gown and he knew it.

-Lieba Nesis


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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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