“The Show Must Go On”

What does it mean when the first day of New York Fashion Week is Friday the 13th? It’s not the first time and it obviously won’t be the last. But really…could things be any more ominous right now? (Although, if you read “The Daily” yesterday, you already know that not everyone thinks 13 is an unlucky number). That said, I think we are all expecting this season to be a bit ‘strange’ or at the very least, downsized this season, due to (well, if I have to spell it out for you, you should be ashamed of yourself). But hey, this is the fashion business and it’s ‘Collection’ time, so everyone is trying to remain hopeful, realistic yet cautiously optimistic about the current state of affairs. Oh, and by the way, the irony (and symbolism) of IMG/New York Fashion Week moving its venue from the circus like Bryant Park Tents (where many have already lost interest in the large spectacle), to the stately Lincoln Center in 2010 is not lost on me. Which ever way you look at it, it’s still theatre and as they say, “The show must go on.” Of course that is part of the problem. Fashion has become all about the theatre and the drama of the event, as opposed to the clothes.

But thanks to the new administration, (and the extremely charismatic, likeable, attractive, stylish, and photogenic First Family), things will hopefully look up as we head into 2009. While the first day of New York Fashion Week is traditionally a ‘light’ one in terms of heavy hitters, this time, the schedule was notable in its inclusion of several must see shows: Jason Wu, the First Lady’s designer of choice, and the talented, young Christian Cota, who was just honored with the Fashion Group International’s Rising Star Award and is considered by many to be ‘The Next Big Thing”. Unless you are living on Mars, I guess you know that Michelle Obama graces the March cover of Vogue Magazine, wearing a hot pink Jason Wu sheath. Andre Leon Talley made his rounds on all the big news shows this past week, talking up the cover and inside pages, photographed by Annie Leibowitz. (On CNN, speaking with Wolf Blitzer, he actually mistakenly attributed the cover outfit to J. Crew, not Jason Wu. And considering that he actually styled the pages that seems like a glaring faux pas, but perhaps one can chalk it up to a mild case of the ‘nerves’).

I would have loved to see what young Jason Wu was planning for next fall (and perhaps get a peek into Michelle Obama’s future closet), but alas, not only was my request for an invite to the show ignored (thanks to the folks at CM Media PR), but when I showed up at the Exit Art venue on 10th and 36th street, I could not even get standing and worse, those, like myself (unticketed), were actually asked to leave the premises, by a group of intimidating burly security guys, just as the show got underway. My goodness, you would have thought Michele Obama herself was there in person (this was an unsubstantiated rumor early in the morning but I can attest to the fact that she was nowhere to be found).

I did get to see young Charlotte Ronson’s fall 2009 collection, which I heard someone, upon leaving, describe as “sexy army”. A fairly apt description if one must put it in two words. While the pre-show music was unapologetically country and western, once the 40 piece collection got underway, it was thumping, upbeat, retro Andrew Sisters’ “Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy of Company B” all the way. The military themed, and predominately black, olive, army green line, was heavy on ‘fierce’ boots (tall and ankle length), arresting open and cut out backs, leggy looks (shorts, minis, leggings), leather, shearling, hammered silk, knitwear, and referenced Thierry Mugler (thanks to several wide shouldered blazers and jumpsuits), as well as Azzedine Alaia..

Highlights included the short black crackled leather and sequined jacket worn over a black pencil skirt with lace and zippered insets; the army green jumpsuit with black paisley lace mock neck underneath; the black suiting with back cut out detail worn over crop legged pants and plaid shirt; the black sequined cut out sweater paired with cropped leather high waist pants; the black hammered silk jumpsuit with white zebra sequined detail on shoulders; and the art deco beaded blazer with black paisley lace scoop neck, black hammered silk skinny pant, worn with black patent leather cage booties.

By the way, it’s only day one, but skinny legs (by that I mean skinny legs accented by skinny pants and/or skinny jeans accessorized with platform booties), is not only an obvious trend on the runways, but is something already copied by show attendees. (Hey, as they say…”You can never be too rich or too thin”. And while these days it may be hard to be “too rich”. I guess it’s easier to be “too thin”, especially where legs are concerned).

Max Azria, the “global, lifestyle brand” promised draping, geometric cuts, texture, embellishment, intricate pleating, and a focus on the “future with an emphasis on the artistic and functional sensibilities of Constructivism” for fall 2009. But somehow, it was hard to think of the line as futuristic, or especially modern, what with all the extra fabric bunching in the back of all those dresses, coats, and jackets. Is this really how the modern gal wants to run around, after all? The 36 piece collection, well attended by industry biggies, seemed a bit overdesigned and contrived, and unfortunately, was lacking in real daywear. Dresses (in dusty, muted shades) were the major story here and they were draped, dyed, multi colored, cloqued, striped, patched, jersey, and paneled. There were a smattering of exaggerated shouldered blazers, gunmetal tights, wedge boots, and Lucite clutches as well; but it was pretty much all about the dress. In a case of saving the best for last, the prettiest (and simplest of all) was the finale: the asymmetrical, one shouldered, cream silk hammered satin gown.

-Marilyn Kirschner

Red Dress Collection

Every February The Heart Truth’s Red Dress Collection Fashion Show proves to be a crowd pleaser and the 2009 presentation was no exception. Friday morning’s celebrity filled extravaganza featured dresses by 20 top designers and the catwalk stylings of celebrated women from the worlds of television, movies, and sports.

Tim Gunn described himself as “breathless” with excitement as he made the opening remarks, surrounded by large red hearts, which filled the stage of the Tent at New York’s Bryant Park. Young Hollywood was well represented by models Amada Bynes (in Swarovski), Hillary Duff (in Donna Karan), and Brittany Snow (in Marchesa). A mini 90210 reunion, of sorts, took place as Jennie Garth modeled Badgeley Mischka followed by Tori Spelling in Betsey Johnson.

Former Wonder Woman, Lynda Carter, looked wonderful indeed in her dress by Carolina Herrera. Actress Jane Kaczmarek, who for years played the beleaguered mom on TV’s Malcolm in the Middle, showed her glamorous side in Michael Kors. There was no shortage of divas on display as Susan Lucci (in Gustavo Cadile) and Vivica A. Fox (in Jenny Packham) strutted their stuff for the adoring audience. Cicely Tyson (in B. Michael) owned the runway as she seemed to savor each step she took.

This year’s show was somewhat more light-heated than usual, perhaps because it took place on the eve of the most romantic day of the year. It ended, as always, with an ebullient gathering of the participants at the end of the runway, no doubt relieved to have delivered their fashion week “valentine” with no slip-ups.

-Rhonda Erb



Kati Stern is something of a renaissance woman. An accomplished architect, painter, art historian, and of course, fashion designer, she has turned her considerable talents to the creation of the Venexiana Fall-Winter 2009 collection. Ever the optimist, Stern has drawn upon the opulence of Venice, and the influences of designers Mariano Fortuny and Paul Poiret, to create an elegant collection of cocktail dresses, evening gowns, and fur couture in which nothing has been “scaled back.”

The Venexiana woman is “Anyone who is not afraid to attract attention,” says Stern, “Anyone who wants to look cool and beautiful.” Her palette for this season centers around “the rainbow of black.” This is the first time that she has incorporated so much black into one of her collections. She mixes it with colors like dusty lavender, metallic gold, and mid-summer night grey.

The designer’s silhouettes range from voluminous gowns to body conscious cocktail dresses that fit like a glove. In fact, many of her looks were accessorized with finely detailed gloves, accented with Swarovski trim, or with leather belts. She lends a touch of glamour to day suits and evening gowns alike with the addition of fur jacket in mink or silver fox.

Kati Stern says her future plans include the possible addition of a line of shoes. “It is a completely different business” that would require a significant amount of work. Given Ms. Stern’s abundance of creativity, one can only assume that she is up to the challenge.

-Rhonda Erb

The Daily Bet :

Tumbador Chocolate

These elegantly boxed chocolates come in delectable flavors like dark-chocolate passion fruit and lime-ancho. They are the perfect gift for that certain someone or even as a special treat for yourself.

Henri Bendel

-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: betterbetsny.tumblr.com

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