What’s Black and White and ‘Red’ All Over?

I have a feeling there will be a few embarrassed copy editors and proof readers at the Old Gray Lady. In today’s Metro Section of The New York Times, where they have a column, ‘Tomorrow in The Times’, under the heading ‘Thursday Styles’, they promise two stories: ‘The Ups and Downs of Daryl K’ by Eric Wilson, and a review of the ‘spring 2006 haute couture collections of Chanel, Dior, Armani, Gaultier, Givenchy, Valentino and Lacroix’ by Cathy Horyn.

Hmmmm, what’s wrong with this picture? Well, the couture shows that just ended were for fall 2005!

-Marilyn Kirschner

Coat ‘tales’*

(*not just because every coat has a story but because coats ARE the story)

Run for ‘cover’! Within the world of fashion, it has become increasingly more about the top layer than anything else it seems. Not only are furs and feathers big news (year round, which is even bigger news), but the entire range and category of coats (tweed coats, trench coats, maxi coats, mini coats, raincoats, evening coats, cape coats), has become the focus of attention by designers and customers alike. During Fashion Week, they have emerged as the true stars on the runways where the truly amazing versions steal the limelight away from the models who wear them.

This scenario played out most recently in Paris where the fall/winter 2005 couture shows just came to a close. While dresses, suits, and especially elaborate evening wear are all given their due, designers seem to go all out with their coats- whether classic and tailored (like Jean Paul Gaultier’s fur trimmed redingote) or gloriously ethnic, beaded, and ornamental (like Lacroix’s imaginative incarnations).

I have always believed in collecting a wardrobe of coats and I am not alone. There is a good reason why coats are so popular and beloved. Not only do they provide protection against the elements (rain, cold, wind) but they serve as the final finishing touch. Simply put, they can be counted on whenever time is of the essence and you need to reach for that one major item to pull it all together. You can throw a coat over the simplest thing (from a little black dress to your favorite pair of jeans) and you look instantly pulled together. Coats can hide a multitude of ‘sins’ as well: you can throw one over your pjs or nightgown first thing in the morning and rush out the door to walk your dog or go to the store for a carton of milk without getting formally dressed!

Notwithstanding the summer heat waves we’ve been enduring as of late (where it’s hard to imagine putting on anything more than just the thinnest layer over your skin), coats are now on view in all their glory in store windows and on mannequins inside designer departments where they are formally announcing the imminent arrival of fall 2005. And hardly surprising, it’s a veritable black out. As we all know, black as a color story is the biggest news for the coming season, and if a woman is going to spend a large sum of money on a ‘major’ coat, it makes sense to buy one in black since the color instantly renders it expensive, chic, sophisticated, grownup, and timeless, and gives it the look of couture (whether it is or isn’t).

I recently checked out Barneys on Madison Avenue where the windows are decidedly ‘blacked’ out. In one, a series of black suits and dresses from their private collection are juxtaposed against a wonderful couture like black mohair coat from Martin Grant- whose collection they carry on the 5th floor. The style, which is a real beauty, ties with a heavy grosgrain ribbon and has elegantly full sleeves ($1595). The 5th floor also carries Behnaz Sarafpour and several of her fall coats are now on display. My favorite is the seemingly simple and lean black wool mid calf coat ($1865) which is double breasted and trimmed on the bottom with large white tassels, giving it a slightly ethnic feel.

On the 4th floor I found a beautiful fitted princess style mid calf coat by Alexander McQueen in black shearling ($5370) and an unusual heavy black cotton lace knee length coat by Undercover which had black wool sleeves and a thick plush black fur lining ($3380).

On 3 is where you can find Jil Sander (the black cashmere belted trench is chic and understated) as well as Prada, and as always, her coats are sensational. Catching my eye was a black heavy satin high belted mini coat with short puffed sleeves, which is retro inspired yet modern ($2875), and the black cashmere mini toggle coat trimmed with mink ($4235).

And speaking of the wise saying, “Every cloud has a silver lining”, for Chanel Couture, Karl Lagerfeld saw to it that every one of his stellar coats had an equally fabulous lining. Karl made a major statement in black, sending out his group of black coat clad models all at the same time to really drive home the point. And the linings really stole the show. There were pink ribbon linings to match pink ribbon trimmed black gowns and tweed linings to match tweed suits and strapless dresses.

Speaking of silver linings and the joyful color pink….coincidentally, I saw the images of the Chanel couture show on Friday, the day following the terrorist attacks in London. And while I don’t mean to imply that frivolous fashion can remedy such a horrific situation, the sight of Karl’s brilliant flashes of happy and cheerful pink splashed against his beautiful black clothes, certainly put a smile on my face.

By the way, you may not be able to afford a Chanel couture creation, but you can achieve a somewhat similar effect at almost no cost. Simply take yourself to a notion shop like M&J Trimming and buy various shades of pink ribbon in satin, velvet, or grosgrain, in different lengths and widths. You can use them as a belt, as decoration, or to transform that trusty little black dress, or simple black wool coat.

-Marilyn Kirschner

Registration Opens for Olympus Fashion Week:

Press and industry registration for the upcoming OLYMPUS FASHION WEEK has now opened at www.olympusfashionweek.com. The Spring 2006 collections will run from September 9 to 16, 2005 in New York’s Bryant Park.

For more information on press and industry registration, please contact:

Andrew M. Freesmeier
Media Relations
7th on Sixth
420 West 45th Street
New York, NY 10036
tel. 212-774-4381
fax 212-772-0899

Other important dates for Olympus Fashion Week:

August 15th – Late registration begins (increased fee)

August 22nd – Final press list circulated to designers

September 3rd – Final date for online registration

September 9th to 16th – Olympus Fashion Week

Important update regarding press and industry registration:

New York, NY, July 12, 2005 – 7th on Sixth, the producers of Olympus Fashion Week in New York, Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week at Smashbox Studios in Los Angeles and Sunglass Hut Swim Shows Miami presented by LYCRA (R), recently announced they will begin registering buyers, retailers, stylists, and related industry professionals for all of their shows in North America. The new categories are in addition to the print, broadcast, and freelance media that are already being registered. These lists are distributed to participating designers to facilitate their invitations to their individual shows.

“We realized that there are a tremendous number of retailers, buyers and stylists whose needs could be better serviced by ‘officially’ registering them as part of our Press and Industry List,” said Fern Mallis, Executive Director of 7th on Sixth and Vice President of IMG. “Its our hope that by bringing these individuals, and the companies they represent, into the fold we can insure that all of our designers are getting the best attendance possible, and as event organizers we can communicate to all of them more directly with appropriate information, updates and benefits in travel, accommodations and so forth.”

Registration is now being accepted for New York’s Olympus Fashion Week Spring 2006 collections, September 9th to 16th, at www.olympusfashionweek.com and for Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week at Smashbox Studios in Los Angeles, October 16th to 20th at www.mercedesbenzfashionweek.com.

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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