Monday, December 8, 2008

Holiday Cheer - 12 Days of Crap and Couture

The Twelve Gifts of Christmas my true love - that would be moi - gave to me, cost under $100 apiece:

(Own a dairy? Didn't think so. Then you probably can't use eight maids a-milking. Calling birds are noisy and those ten leaping lords need room to, well, leap. And five gold rings while perfect, could be pricey).

1. The Asia Society, Park Ave and 70th St: I found Jim Thompson's gorgeous patterned silk dopp kits from Thailand for $33. While for her, some terric assorted jade pendand necklaces on black cords for $25.

2. M2 (Marvin & Mahoney), www.mtwollc.com: For those heading for resorts this is a terrific source for 'made in Bali' petite sarongs nicely packed in matching bamboo-handled pouches which can double as casual totes, $40.

What to pack... M2's bag and sarong
Their combo has you looking great and you don't need to pay onerous baggage fees!





3. Encore, 84th and Madison Ave: Italian high fashion designer Etro's printed cotton shirts are a steal at $95 at this upscale consignment shop.

4. Sloan-Kettering Thrift Shop, 1440 3rd Ave between 81st and 82nd St): Look no further for gorgeous kid gloves in brand new assortments of various colors and lengths, $25-40.

5. Payless Shoes, all locations: Your best bet is American Eagle's red and black plaid, with
black rubber, Wellington boots priced right at $43.

6. Cancer Care Thrift Shops, 84th and 3rd: I found the perfect item, a complete manicure set, unused, in a lovely blue leather zippered case. It's worth the $50 price tag.

7. Gerard Yosca, 39 W 38th St: Sample Sale on December 11th and 12th! Find fashion's must-have trendy enamel and resin bangles from this top accessory designer at 50-70% off retail.

8. H & M, 5th Ave and 51st St plus other select locations: I loved the scoop-neck party dress in purple satin belted in black. Pair this with their black satin shorty gloves for a great party look for New Year's. Both come to under $50. With the money saved you can buy your significant other a hip black fedora for $7.90.

9. Doyle New York, 175 E 87th St: Check their upcoming holiday gift auction Tuesday 9th December at 10:00 am. Get online (www.doylenewyork.com) or show up in person. Here is a terrific gift for some lucky little girl: Lewis Carroll's Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Alice in the Looking Glass published 1925 and 1927. These two slim volumes in crimson calf nicely slipcased is lot number 3545 and has an estimate of $50-100. Also a steal is lot number 3589, a set of eight musical-themed Piero Fornasetti porcelain dishes with estimate of $50-75.

10. Take the E train to Roosevelt Ave in Jackson Heights, Queens, for a taste of Bollywood fashions. Walk up 37th Avenue and scope out the authentic Indian sari's or the armfuls of colorful jewelled bangles. Too many stores to list by name, but start at 73rd Street and go up from there.

From my West-Coast correspondent, here are a couple more finds:

11. Paul Proppe Leathercraft, at the Winter Fantasy Sawdust Art Festival, Laguna Beach, CA until 14th December: Beautiful calf leather multi-compartment shoulder bag with croc-embossed (looks real) flap $98. Comes in black or brown or combo with leather 'like butter' and lasts literally years. This couple has no stores or websites but shows at four or five art festivals per year and has been around for decades.

12. Stephen Frank Garden & Home, Laguna Beach www.Stephen-Frank.com. Silver hinged candle snuffer with bone or precious wood handle $15. Wrought iron or steel angled candle-wick trimmer $11.50. These as a set make a unique and beautiful gender-friendly gift, especially presented in an organic brown paper, rafia and wide sage-green grosgrain ribbons and ceramic green frog charm wrapped a la Stephen / Frank.

Well, cheeers until next year! C&C

Monday, November 17, 2008

What's In Store

Hello fellow shoppers! Today I'm going to tell you all about some terrific store events I recently attended as a member of the press. While I don't want to make you jealous (well, maybe just a little), I thought you'd get a kick out of reading about what it's like at some of these "press only" fashion events. Besides, I'll zero-in on some of the fashions you should be on the lookout for come spring, and even some which are available now.

That said, let me start off with a fab event I attended to celebrate the opening of Bogner's New York flagship store. This is a Germany-based family-owned company, run by 1960/64 member of the German Olympic ski team, Willi Bogner Jr. The company has since grown to encompass not only ski wear but some of the best looking rtw. OK , the clothes ain't cheap, but the quality and styling make shopping here worth saving up those bucks. Remember what I said in my last blog about value? Well, you can't go wrong with the gorgeous spice-toned velvet jeans or any of the chic wool hacking jackets or the stunning butter-soft leather jacket. These are in store NOW so get your butt down to West Broadway in SoHo. As for the opening party, here's what they did. There was a multimedia show specially designed for the event by Willi Bogner himself. It was a truly impressive display on five rotating screens which gave a fun rundown of the brand and its founder starting with the 1930's and continuing into the future. Who knew that Bogner designed the ski chase scenes for the James Bond film, The Spy Who Loved Me, among other Bond thrillers and action documentary films? All the guests were riveted to the rotating screens not to mention the free-flowing wines and hors d'oeuvres. That's the way to do a store opening! Find out more on this iconic brand at www.bogner.com.

Step UP to Bogner's



They just let anyone in nowadays...
C&C Seeing and Being Seen at Bogner's


Next on my agenda was a cute store party held on the Upper East Side for French kid's brand Petit Bateau (I'm so Continental), to celebrate the recent flagship store remodeling. This is the kind of boutique which caters to moms who want classic babies’ and kids’ separates and accessories. Note: For the best understated pure cotton tees and tanks for grown ups, this is the place to go. I've worn them for years and they never seem to wear out or go out of style. Now about the party; Petit Bateau did a clever thing. They painted kid's tricycles in Crayola bright colors, attached flag poles to the back with the store banner and chained them (don't forget, this is New York, after all, where they'll steal your teeth if you're not careful) to parking meters, lampposts, etc. around the neighborhood, added balloons at the front door and voila! – a creative and fun way to attract attention. Inside, I saw lots of families with kids from the neighborhood scarfing up champagne (French, remember?) and the fancy cheese and other goodies spread out while I, in the name of research, stuck to taking notes on the merchandise, the atmosphere and the child-friendly store environment. Petit Bateau is a great place to shop year ‘round. Check them out at www.petit-bateau.com for other store locations.

I Followed These...

To Petit-Bateau's Show



That's it for stuff in-store this very minute. Now I'm going to tell you about four FABULOUS fashion events I covered with an eye to what's happening for Spring. The first was a ladylike editors’ tea party at the posh Bryant Park Grill hosted by Kmart. The reason? To introduce the guests to Jaclyn Smith and showcase her spring '09 style and design home and apparel collections. Normally, you couldn't drag me out on a miserable wet rainy Fall day just to cover another collection, but the temptation to see Ms. Smith in person was just too great to resist. After seeing her up close and chatting with her, I wanted to commit hara kiri. NO ONE SHOULD LOOK SO GORGEOUS! The woman hasn't aged a drop since Charlie's Angels. And on top of that, she's a lovely, down-to-earth woman so I can't even hate her. Dressed simply in one of her collection's leather pencil skirts and a black sweater, she looked stunning. Let's face it, the woman would look great in a potato sack! As far as the event itself, the café was packed (probably we all wanted to see her for ourselves), the food was wonderful and the merchandise terrific and very affordable. In particular, her bedding collection (in store now) was gorgeous and displayed beautifully in a room setting – I wanted to plop down and never move. You should note that Smith actually designs her stuff with the help of a great Kmart team unlike some other celebrities who just put their names to a product and rake in the royalties. To top things off, we were all given stylish black/gray graphic-printed white tote bags (available in Spring) filled with stuff from the home collection and a cute link bracelet. I had a great time.

Jaclyn Smith
Timeless Beauty, Great Style, and
Source of C&C'S Jealousy...

Look Good Out Of Bed with Jaclyn Smith's Designs



Look Good in Bed, Too...
Jaclyn Smith just defined C&C luxury!

I also had a great - if different - time at Macy's semi-annual press event held in its flagship store. This is one event I always look forward to as Nicole Fischelis, Macy's creative director and her staff really go all out to give editors a total picture of the upcoming season's fashion trends. For Spring, the space (upstairs in the executive office area, complete with giant plant-filled terrace), was decorated with gigantic, colorful crepe paper flowers which set the cheery mood right off the bat. As for the clothes and accessories, the pros really hit the fashion mark as I wanted to own everything, even the group of printed summer dresses, from which I normally shy away. Here's what you should know: color pops for Spring/Summer as do floral print dresses and separates, trench coats, ballet flats, wedge-soled sandals, patent handbags, etc., etc. Price points are also on the money as I noted that some of my fave pieces came from such affordable fashion houses as Nine West, Steve Madden and Michael Kors’ bridge line, not to mention Macy's own private label collections. The beautiful food and dessert buffet, and of course the champagne also helped put me in a wonderful mood. Macy's has so much great stuff to choose from, I urge you to check out the Spring lines – I think this will be one of it’s best seasons ever, at least in fashion terms. It will be money well-spent.

Last but not least, I attended two different press events in one (rainy, what else ?) night. The first was down in SoHo on Broadway at one of my favorite boutiques, Uniqlo. This Japan-based company does updated basics at a great price as I've previously mentioned. The reason for the party was to highlight some of Spring's offerings for guys and gals. While the store was still open to the public, the press was herded into a separate area and handed wine and nibbles. The merchandise was displayed on mannequins in double rows on a slightly raised platform. So here's the deal: The stuff was primarily aimed at the younger crowd, with some cute dresses in sweatshirt fabrics, preppy men’s blazers, jeans and sweater combos, plus lots more. This was just a sampling of what Uniqlo will have in-store come Spring (probably around February). From there, my colleague and I traipsed over to Parsons School of Design for the bash to end all bashes, Lilly Pulitzer's 50th anniversary jubilee and retrospective, "celebrating 50 years of a colorful life." And boy was it colorful! I never saw so many Lilly printed attendees in one place! Not only were the women dressed in printed dresses, but the men were decked out as well in a sea of pastels. Outside there was even a Lilly-patterned jeep parked! Inside the hordes – and I mean hordes – packed the place and swayed to the sweet sounds of a band singer from the Alex Donner orchestra. Even the piano was covered in a Lilly print! How cool is that?! The food and drinks flowed non-stop. There were mannequins tricked-out in a variety of vintage Lilly dresses and we spotted lots of celebrities mingling in the throng. We left happy campers loaded down with a printed goody bag filled with more Lilly Pulitzer swag. God! Sometimes I love my job!

So there you have it – my "store" adventures. Next stop, a fabulous Church bazaar. I'll keep you posted. Ta for now! C & C.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Best Bets: Investment Dressing

In my last blog I suggested you check out the vintage markets as a way to save money while still looking fashionable. OK, so maybe you don't go in for the whole retro thing, but you can still get the most bang for your buck if you're willing (and able) to invest in really, really great accessories.

In my travels around the city and designer showrooms, I've put together a core group of what I consider to be worthwhile investments. For my money, the stuff I've selected will set you back a pretty penny. However every item will more than make up for the initial cost with many years of stylish (forget trendy, these are ultimately classics) wear. And no, you don't have to have Ivanka Trump's bank balance to afford anything I picked out. Trust me, I've got many years of experience as a (alright, say it) compulsive shopper behind me and I can separate the best from the blah! In the latter category, that includes this season's terminally trendy baggy pants which should have bitten the dust with M.C. Hammer. Even Katie Holmes looked crappy in her oversized, overpriced boyfriend jeans. Also on my hit list – the "can't walk in ‘em, feel like a clubfoot" sky-high clunky platform shoes and boots, and any giant designer handbag which weighs more than you.

So let's get to it. These are some terrific, recession-proof items which make any wardrobe stand out from the crowd. I can't list prices yet as most of the stuff won't be available in stores till Feb for Spring ‘09, but you can get a jump on the competition. So START SAVING NOW!

At FRATELLI ROSSETTI you definitely should consider investing in their sophisticated lace-up oxford shoe. It's truly elegant and unique in bone python and the classic styling will look fabulous forever – and that's probably how long these shoes will last. If you prefer something a little dressier or just don't wear flats, check out Rossetti's high heel, open-toe version with cut-out sides (very sophisticated '40’s looking) which will work nicely with a skirt suit, flannel slacks or that vintage fur piece your mother left you. And don't let the pale color throw you off, this is a year-round neutral shade which goes with everything.

While COACH isn't usually considered in the designer bracket, it’s getting up there as far as price is concerned. Careful weeding out of the extensive Spring line, elicited some real winners in terms of savvy styling and wearability. I say skip the handbags (although they're chic enough) and concentrate instead on the fabulous ¾-sleeve soft-as-butter crop jacket. It has a spread collar, flap pockets and Coach's signature turn-lock closure. Along with the updated short belted trench, and grass green patent ballet flat - also with gold turn-lock hardware accent - these items will stand you in good stead practically year ‘round.

Soft, easy styling is what's so appealing in ANDREW MARC's handbag collection. Buttery soft and capacious without being oversized, embellished or too heavy to lug around, are the hobos, satchels and totes from the Traveler range. Outside zip pockets add the only necessary details, while the ‘go with everything’ colors are: coffee, clover, straw and chambray. Think of this line as affordable luxury.

DOONEY & BOURKE is always one of my fave collections to check out. While I would happily invest in practically any bag they produce (and believe me I already own more than my share, since they last FOREVER), this season I went ga-ga over their new limited edition Boldrini line. These are handcrafted in some of the finest Italian leathers. The heart of each bag is in the work of individual artisans - passed on from father to son (don't you just love it)? Each piece of leather is stitched; every braided tassel is carefully passed through nickel-plated grommets and finished off with the Boldrini insignia in elegant script. You must invest in the gorgeous medium ladder-striped bridle leather tote for years of wear. From the rest of the collection there are too many fabulous bags to list, but I loved the handsome Florentine Vachetta leather domed satchel with outside pockets in a rich chestnut shade.

"Gaa-Gaa" is not just a noise,
it is a state of mind when in the presence of this Dooney and Bourke bag
!



What's left of your 401k can fit in the side pocket:
Dooney and Bourke's domed diva



By now you know how I feel about PORTS 1961. Sure, their clothes are terrific and aimed at the fashion individualist, but I bet you didn't know much about their terrific accessories. Well, I'm here to tell you that on my last foray to the showroom I took a good look at them, in particular the shoes. I've narrowed down my choice to a pair of fashion-forward open-toe bone patent pumps. What set them apart were the beautiful wood cone heels. Not too high to actually walk in, they're a fresh throwback to the late '70’s cone-heeled shoes by Chloe. They were fabulous then and this updated version is fabulous now. Bonus points for the comfort factor! I walked around in them and definitely give them a thumbs-up. Designed by Julia Lundsten for Ports, she's known for deriving inspiration from natural architecture while her color palette reflects organic stimulation. Note that her heels are a recognizable trademark, often made from sustainable exotic hardwood. Whew! So pass by those over-saturated Manolos, Jimmy Choos and Louboutins and go for something truly special.

Your 401k is now a 201k, but is not too late!
Invest wisely now and get a pair of these from Ports 1961.



That's all for now, so start saving….you really don't need that 401k. Instead put your money on some fabulous Spring items. You'll feel lots better and if you have to go job hunting, you'll look DIVINE!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Vintage Advantage

Yes, I know we're in a major recession, but a girl's gotta shop, n'est pas? So I'm here to help you stimulate the economy. How, you ask? It's simple, just think vintage. For one thing, you won't see yourself coming and going, the quality is (usually) better and there are bargains to be had if you know where to look.

My friend and I (another shopaholic) hit the Manhattan Vintage Show which is open to the public and is definitely worth the twenty dollar entrance fee. Hint: this is a two-day show, always held on a Friday and Saturday so it's best to go the second day (as many dealers reduce their prices, rather than lug stuff back home). For example, I snagged - wait for it – a GENUINE ALLIGATOR shoulder bag from the '50s for twenty bucks! My friend grabbed a darling vintage pin in carved wood for even less moola. Needless to say, we found a terrific '60s beaver-trimmed tweed suit from Martha's (a chic, overpriced designer boutique, now gone) for $185 and a stunning John Meyer of Norwich classic two-piece camel hair shell and skirt - think Michael Kors/Mad Men – for a measly eighty-five bucks. Also a terrific buy, the reversible mink paw topper at $175 from Angela's Vintage Boutique. Even more affordable were Connie Schwab's assortment of wool tweed pencil skirts from the 1960's. These ran $24 - $35.

Upcoming show dates in 2009 are February 6th & 7th, April 24th & 25th and October 9th & 10th. Check out their website, www.manhattanvintage.com for more info.

I happened upon another terrific resource for vintage/designer clothes and accessories. It's a boutique on Manhattan's upper west side called Off Broadway. Disregard the outside of the shop as it looks like any other middle-of-the-road boutique, but walk to the back of the store and lo and behold, it's a treasure trove of AFFORDABLE vintage clothes and accessories. Noteworthy, the range of YSL skirt suits, under $200, a chic genuine cheetah beret, a steal at $65 and a gorgeous selection of handbags, jewelry and shoes from top designer names. I personally drooled over a paisley coat by Oscar de la Renta that was tagged at $90, and that's just the tip of the iceberg. Everything is in impeccable condition since the boutique works on a consignment basis. I don't want to name names, but some very well known celebs have been seen coming out of this shop. For more info, go to www.boutiqueoffbroadway.com.

Believe it or not, sometimes you can find some terrific stuff from street vendors. That said, Olivia Garay isn't just any old vendor. Her specialty is vintage jewelry and you can always find her on 3rd Avenue and 70th Street in Manhattan. Her business card states buy/sell/trade, and there's always something fabulous to unearth. Prices run the gamut but every piece is a collectible (you can always resell as costume jewelry goes up in value, unlike the real stuff). Want an example? The recent auction at Doyle New York where artist, Warhol muse and socialite Brigid Berlin and West Coast social star Ann Getty's costume jewelry and smattering of handbags went on sale. THE PRICES WENT THROUGH THE ROOF! How do I know this? Because not only did I attend the very posh cocktail party preview (where I got a chance to chat with Brigid and compare notes on our salad days and the high life, or at least what I can remember of them), but I sat in on the auction which was packed.

At Doyle New York:
Brigid Berlin and C&C Discussing Salad (Days)


Here's a sampling of the auction results: a group of five blackamoor pins from the '30s, estimated between $100- 150 went for 650 smackeroos, while a 1939 gold-plated metal cuff with cabochon and rhinestone flowers sold for $1,000. I had my eye on Trifari's orb pin in gold-plated metal set with faux pearls and colored stones (made in commemoration of Queen Elizabeth's 1953 coronation), that was valued at between $ 75-$100, but went for $325. C'est la vie… These pieces will only increase in value as time goes on, so investing in costume jewelry is worthwhile. You can't go wrong if a piece is signed. Names to look for include, Trifari, KJL, Jomaz, Gripoix, Chanel, Fahrner, Hattie Carnegie and Miriam Haskell, but there are many more great designers out there. Have fun hunting - great vintage costume jewelry is recession proof.

Jewelry Designers Robert Sorrell and David Mandel
Modeling The Latest in Human Accessories at Doyle New York



To check out Doyle's fabulous costume jewelry from the October 7th auction, go online at www.Doylenewyork.com.

Brigid Berlin Admiring Doyle New York's Latest Gold Lame' Mannequin
and Possibly the Jewelry, Too!


If you have any fabulous vintage resources, I'd love to hear about them. In the meantime, happy hunting, C&C.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Screw Wall Street, Look Good!

TODAY’S TIP: One of my favorite young designers, Shin Choi, just launched a contemporary line, Yarnie, featuring trendy, cool modern fashions for the budget-conscious Gen X customer.

Crap and Couture Adores Coleman McCartan

Now on a personal note, I must single out my favorite folks (at the Coterie/Accessorie Circuit, et al.), led by the trade shows dapper pr honcho, Coleman McCartan (who incidentally always looks as if he's just stepped off the cover of GQ), and his very able team. Why? Because he never fails to extend the same courtesy and attention as he does to the top editorial guns that show up at the press office for coffee, chat and info on the vendors. He's a class act and I only wish there were more like him.

As an example of "how it's done," check out ENK'S Coterie/Accessorie Circuit's website. C&C loves you, Coleman!

Pick Six

The next best thing to winning the lottery (well, maybe not) are these six terrific spring collections I checked out at the Coterie. AN ORIGINAL PENGUIN by MUNSINGWEAR’s vintage-inspired contemporary RTW collection was spot on. My personal faves include the "mod" ¾ sleeved coat in a khaki geometric print cotton, the coated linen/cotton swing trench jacket, the twill blazer with contrast piping and the cute plaid dress and Bermuda shorts. Believe it or not, the latter preppy style looks fresh and new again!

I must recommend BYRON LARS BEAUTY MARK, an affordably priced line of feminine dresses and separates. Byron has probably single-handedly revived the wasp waist with his iconic shapely silhouettes (first spotted on his fabulous runway shows many moons ago). Now his latest incarnation doesn't disappoint – only the price points are better. He offers a fabulous crisply tailored, yet still feminine stretch cotton coat with flirty bow back, a chic stretch twill group and a darling black and white gingham, full skirted sleeveless dress.

And You Shall Know Beauty By Its Mark!






So there you have my top six picks. Check them out these hot designers and their spring 09 collections in store around mid-February and remember, when times are tough, the tough go shopping.

After a week's much needed break from fashion, I trotted over to the spring Coterie trade show at the west side Piers and the Jacob Javits Center. Talk about fashion over kill. However, this is one show that I never pass up as most of the top RTW and accessory collections show here. OK, so what did I absolutely love this time around? In no particular order: BEN-AMUN's fabulous over the top and right on target aurora borealis star necklace, the branch coral on "gold" necklace and all the oversized chunky jet pieces blew me away.

On Your Neck and Out of this World!




Next up, I got a nostalgic thrill when I came across STEPHEN BURROWS WORLD. This was a name I remember from my swinging '70s days. Not one to rest on his vintage laurels, Burrows offered some terrific, easy summer dresses and separates in khaki, sand and stone cotton broadcloth.

All Grommets and No Wallace
Stephen Burrows Makes a Smart Dress

image by Paul Van Ravenstein

A newcomer to the show was a terrific, tongue-in-chic line called CA$HMERE where I found witty trompe l'oeil "Birkin bag" designs on sweaters and dresses and an oversized pink clutch bag with the words, Les Must de Counterfeit lettered across the front in gold. Tacky, but what a hoot!

Chinese Sweatshops Are Banging Out Fakes of These

More over the top were the dramatic rhinestone on sheer oversized necklaces from BONNIE STRAUSS repped at the Niche showroom. Finally, I was intrigued by the number of "vintage" type lines, in particular, WHAT COMES AROUND GOES AROUND. What this actual vintage dealer did was produce a RTW collection with a youthful retro vibe aimed at those who want the look of vintage but not the actual stuff which can be pricey.

That's all for now, I'm all “fashioned” out! Time to switch my closets and get out the fall stuff… that could take days. C&C.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

NOTES FROM THE BACK ROW

I’m back with more inside info on the spring ’09 fashion shows. So why do I refer to this as notes from the back row? Because, that’s where I usually get seated or as close to the back where there’s no view at all. Forget seeing the model’s feet as they parade down the runway. I couldn’t begin to tell you what type of shoes they wear. Mostly it doesn’t matter all that much except when only the first two rows get goody bags and the rest of us working stiffs look on in envy (and wonder if there’s anyway possible to grab a bag on our way in).

As for actually getting in to the actual venues inside the tent itself, that’s a whole ‘nother story. We all look terribly glam as we saunter our way up the steps and oh so casually pose by the guards in hopes of getting our pictures snapped by the onlookers (and there are many, not including the wire service photogs). The fun stops there! Once inside and it’s a veritable free for all, as even for those of us who actually got seat assignments in advance, the crowds of editors, reporters, store buyers, celebs and society types all try to crowd in at once and you take your life in your hands trying to duck the camera equipment, flying elbows and giant size – but always on trend – handbags and stilettos as everyone makes a mad dash to their assigned seats. However, that does not mean that the big shots actually sit down once inside. Nooo, they stand around gabbing and preening for the cameras, all the while blocking the aisles for the rest of us poor schleppers who really, really want to just sit and read the daily or WWD until the show finally starts. This can run anywhere from a half hour to an hour later than the actual starting time. Ah, the glamour never ends!

Another reason to get there early is to grab the (scarce this season) goody bag on our seat before someone else nabs it – and given half a chance, they will. This happens most often at Anna Sui’s shows as her bags are coveted and usually contain a cute sample of her latest perfume, some makeup and maybe a trinket. This time around, we got a darling charm bracelet and a pair of Spanx control panties. An interesting combination, I thought.

So much for the actual show venues, now I’ll tell you about the goings on inside the BIG TENT itself. The week got off to a good start with a cocktail party hosted by the Italian Trade Commission and the Italian Footwear Association to showcase Italian shoes natch. We the select few who got invites were treated to a roped off area around the Bryant Park fountain where drinks and hors d’oeuvres were served buffet style. To watch the starving hordes grab, one would think that the press never saw food before. Anyhoo, the event was fun and some of us actually looked at the shoes on display.

For those not interested or not invited, there was a stunning Mercedes sedan parked inside (it is, after all called Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week) , plus a jewelry display by designer Judith Ripka, free supplies for the taking from the Office Max booth, and a café (with the most uncomfortable, but terribly stylish chairs) and tables where people could sit out between shows or sip FREE cappuccinos or Bawls high energy sodas all week.

Now you know what goes on inside the tent, besides the usual primping and last minute adjustments and craziness behind the scenes where designers, makeup people, dressers and models congregate, all for a show that lasts on average less than thirty minutes. However, those thirty minutes can make or break a designer!

In addition to the tent venues, shows were held all over town, usually in totally inaccessible places to those of us without limos or unlimited cash to pay for cabs to places like the meat packing district, SoHo, and every obscure place you can imagine.

Undeterred, your intrepid reporter schlepped to a few off the beaten track places including Varick Street (way over on the west side) where I checked out the spring collections from Sears/Kmart. Don’t laugh, this blog is called Crap and Couture after all. By now, I’m sure that I don’t have to explain my definition of “crap” to you. Frankly, I saw some adorable stuff that will hit the stores in February. I plan on buying the Apostrophe line’s chic dark denim crop jacket with ¾ sleeves and a terrific khaki belted dress. Jacqueline Smith’s green/white shirtwaist could hold its own with Diane Von Furstenberg or Tory Burch any day and her crisp white eyelet button front sundress and geometric print tote in shades of red were equally on target.

And speaking of Target. Boy do they know how to throw a party. This was to celebrate Target’s latest crop of in-store exclusive designer offerings from some hot names like Anya Hindmarch (very chic, and normally expensive handbags from a top Brit designer), Scottish RTW designer Jonathan Saunders, Aussie makeup guru Napoleon Perdis and more. The event was held at one of Target’s temporary pop-up stores – there were four in all, but only open to the public for the following four days. We the select “many” were treated to a red carpet, blasting music, fab eats like mini cheeseburgers and quesadillas and drinks served in paper coffee cups straight out of a Greek diner. We were there to shop and shop we did for two straight hours. At recession prices, why wouldn’t we?

Portable Target - Who Knew?



Also “doing their thing” store-wise was the Gap in temporary co-branding partnership with hip Paris retailer, Colette. Open only for a month at Gap’s teeny Fifth Avenue store, the stock featured a selection of over priced novelty tees, candles, jewelry and a few other blah offerings. One item I did find relatively affordable and unique was a tan cotton belted trench coat updated with the addition of a quirky design randomly scattered. It had just enough edge to make it interesting.

Closer to midtown in the Bryant Park Hotel, I checked out the luxury handbag line out of Germany, MCM (Mode Creation Munich), making its comeback in the States. While this premium accessory brand was on my radar, the styling has been reinterpreted and updated for a more modern cosmopolitan customer. There’s going to be a store opening cocktail party at their new digs in the Plaza Hotel which I plan on attending. Also closer to civilization was the loft space showcasing Expose, a pr collective, featuring the collections of twelve RTW and accessory designers. While I and a colleague liked many of the lines (which I’m amazed to say I even remember as the champagne was flowing), the ones that stood out for me were the black and white offerings from Aussie-based firm, Shadows & Dust, French Canadian Jerome Rousseau’s beautifully sexy luxury footwear, Priestess NYC edgy, constructed street wear aimed at the totally hip chick and Yansi Fugel’s perfectly edited TravelJersey separates.

I must mention a fabulous show held at the Park Avenue Armory uptown. G Star Raw, a denim brand out of Europe, put on a show to end all shows hosted by Alan Cummings and Heather Graham who came out and spoke about the firm’s commitment to end world poverty by 2015 through its foundation and with the efforts of individuals and the government. After a heartfelt speech, the show began and what a show, models both male and female briskly strode out in pairs to a great soundtrack and froze mid step – very effective. Even the runway rose up and down in the center like steps, which added to the fun. Even from my perch, high above the crowd (and the huge space was packed), I had a perfectly unobstructed view, not to mention a terrific goody fabric zippered shoulder bag filled with a silk scarf, funky tee etc. After the show, we filed down to a party where the champagne was flowing, canapés came out and a five - piece band played their hearts out. What better way to end fashion week? C&C.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Same Tent, Different Circus

O.K., I can’t take credit for this headline – I took it right off a Full Frontal Fashion t-shirt. That said, Fashion Week really is a circus and the Spring ’09 shows only served to reinforce my opinion of the hoopla in and around the Bryant Park tents.

I’ll give it to you straight – you don’t need me to give you a complete rundown of all the clothes since everybody and his brother covers them in print, on the web and cable. What I will give you are my impressions of this past (and I mean long) week from my fave designer pieces and events, to my impressions of the whole “scene” inside the tents.

Let's start with what you should buy for Spring if you want to be a true fashionista! First and foremost, you really need to have a social life since most of the collections focused on stuff to wear after dark to a trendy club (unless you really want to go out on a limb and look ridiculous), or fancy schmancy social event. It’ll also behoove you to drop a few years as most of what I saw will look best on the twenty- somethings who don’t eat. Failing that, try to go out only when it’s really, really dark. For those occasions I’d suggest investing in Monique Lhuillier’s gorgeous wave-print organza cocktail dress with jeweled front (perfect for the uptown social scene), or Cynthia Steffe’s cute wallpaper floral jacquard bustier dress (to hit the downtown club scene). For that upcoming movie awards show you’re invited to, order Carlos Miele’s sexy shadow-print silk chiffon gown with stone embroidery or his gorgeous aqua chiffon number with Brazilian stone neckline embroidery. Oh, and it would help if you look like Giselle Bundchen!

Next up, it will come down to the choice of either buying some of this stuff or paying rent. If you choose the former option, I suggest you buy everything Vera Wang showed. Her collection was pure perfection and in my not-so-humble opinion her absolute best! Listen, Wang even made walk shorts look fabulous and don’t even get me started on her jewelry. Personally I would kill for the multicolor embroidered dress veiled in blush silk organza accented with a rose opal crystal beaded belt. Whew!

If your lifestyle doesn’t exactly run to galas, movie premieres, hip club openings, or dinners with the Brangelinas then you want to focus on actual clothes which you can wear during the day. This season it’s all about the trench coat/dress. Almost every collection I saw featured at least one, so better get that waistline in shape as they were all belted. Personally, I loved G-Star Raw’s cute white trench with giant cargo pockets and Nanette Lepore’s belted military-inspired belted khaki jacket, Tracy Reese’s satin-back linen trench shown over her leather stove pipe pants and Erin Fetherston’s metallic linen trench coat in blush over matching linen slit-front skirt and georgette blouse in rainbow wash.

And speaking of leather, it isn’t only for Fall anymore. Designers treated skins like the softest, supplest fabric. I crave all of Andrew Marc’s lightweight glazed or soft glove-lamb short, shaped-close-to-the-body jackets.

Moving on, we turn to ruffles! I mean everybody and his brother showed them. Some more successfully than others. Carolina Herrera offered a pretty white cloque gown with black organza ruffle appliqué and a rose-print lurex chiffon gown also ruffled in black organza.

While we saw lots of pants on the runway, my advice would be to stick with the slim versions and definitely skip the drapey zouave cropped versions. I won’t name names, but frankly when 90 pound teen models look awful in them, what chance do the rest of us have? Think about it.

As for the rest of the trends, go for the pattern-on-pattern mixes, one-shoulder cocktail dresses, subtle metallics, embellishment, that whole retro ‘50s and ‘60s ladylike styles. Nobody captured this mood better than Michael Kors with a sensational line-up that offers shoppers the most (high-priced) bang for the buck. However, his collection will only work if you want to look like a Wasp-y, high-society version of Grace Kelly or CZ Guest.

There’s more to tell, but you’ll just have to wait for my next installment where I’ll dish on the parties, press events I attended and what circus really goes on inside the tent. To be continued…C&C.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Couture at Christie's

You know that vintage couture has become a big deal when a venerable auction house such as Christie's decides to hold its' first ever clothing/jewelry auction. We members of the press got a preview peek at what is billed as "the finest collection of 20th century avant-garde fashion in private hands."

Lovingly amassed by noted vintage dealers, Resurrection, the collection represents pivotal designers from the 1960s to the 1990s and includes some very rare pieces such as a Paco Rabanne aluminum riveted plate mini dress, a stunning Hermes leather coat from the '30s that looked utterly of the moment and a bright red plastic bubble cape with bulls-eye detailing by Pierre Cardin. Target should bid on this one! In addition to the afore mentioned designers, I fell hard for an Ossie Clark floral chiffon number from the 70s that's the epitome of boho chic and Saint Laurent's iconic, laced front safari shirt and Rudi Gernreich's timeless, black jersey evening column that flows from a curved silver collar.

The collection comprised of over 250 meticulously assembled garments, headwear and jewelry – from pop art and the space age of the 60s through the iconoclasm of the 70s and the architectural revival of structured couture of the 80ss and 90s – is sure to draw a crowd of fashionistas and serious collectors. Only one teensy problem – the actual auction will be held in London at Christie's South Kensington saleroom on October 30th. So start adding up those frequent flyer miles now.

Can't get to London? Then be sure to check out the preview in New York on 3-6th September at Christie's Rockefeller Galleries. In London the dates are 25-29 October. The sale itself will be held on October 30th. All lots from the sale can be viewed online along with full descriptions on Lotfinder® which also allows you to leave an absentee bid. Estimates range from 500 to 10,000 pounds in case you were wondering!

Another auction house that's gotten back on the vintage bandwagon (they previously held some terrific twice-yearly sales) is Doyle Galleries New York. Upcoming is an auction devoted solely to designer costume jewelry to be held on October 7 with public viewing the 4th to 6th. No press preview yet but we did find out that two of the highlights of the sale will be collections from socialite Ann Getty and Andy Warhol muse and confidante, Brigid Berlin. Property from other noted collectors will include designs by Chanel, Gripoix, Christian Lacroix et al.

For more info check out Doyle's website costumejewelry@doylenewyork.com

Next up, the spring 2009 fashion shows and all the attendant hoopla. Talk to you soon, C & C.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Booty Call

Don't get excited. This isn't turning into a porno site. I'm talking about a treasure trove of accessory finds for those of you who love them as much as I do. That said, I plan on passing on to you a listing of my top ten picks on a semi-annual, (quarterly), oh hell, whenever-I-feel-like-it basis.

After a two day tramp through the major accessory trade shows – Accessorie Circuit and Accessories The Show, here's what I came up with (and it wasn't easy as I'm in hog heaven when confronted by baubles, bangles and beads and bags and….):

Wherever possible I'll try to list a contact phone/email, etc for info on retail outlets.

1. CLEVER CARRIAGE COMPANY: I drooled over the casually sophisticated genuine South African springbok (think antelope) east/west natural satchel and the capacious mailman messenger bags. Also chic and well-priced for the real McCoy is the "Kruger" crocodile flap clutch available in six colors. CleverCarriageCompany or 212-268-1117

Clever Carriage Company's Springbok Bag sans C&C'S Drool


2. GERARD YOSCA: One of my all-time favorite costume jewelry resources. I've been collecting Gerry's baubles for many years and always get compliments. This time I practically drooled over a magnificent faux ivory, hinged-cuff bracelet, embellished with gorgeous glass stones in a rainbow of colors –very Verdura/Chanel in looks, at a much better price and sure to up the fashion quotient of any outfit. This stunner also comes in black. Yosca stephanie@yosca.com or 212-302-4349

Yosca's Elephant-Safe and Bank Account-Friendly Bangles







3. MURVAL PARIS: This handbag/tote/travel collection was a real find. And judging by the crowds of buyers at their booth, I wasn't alone in thinking this. OK so I'll narrow my choices down to a fab oversized vinyl double-handled satchel (also offered in two smaller sizes). It comes in red, plum and black. Also hot is Murval's black moc-croc tote on wheels. It resembles the iconic Birkin bag and is in my opinion a terrific way to travel light and look chic at the same time. Murval or 305 715-9066
Let's Make It Simple.
You Want Murval's Satchels!









Murval's Moc-Croc on Wheels
C&C Doesn't Schlep Her Luggage. Why Should You?




4. SAM EDELMAN: Ever try finding a pair of boots which doesn't require taking out a small bank loan? Well I just did at this fashion-forward footwear collection. "Belle" is a knee-high, flat boot in buttery perforated suede and comes in delicious shades of sun, lilac, stone and ice. Sam also makes a bootie version which features an architecturally sculpted mid-height heel. California girls would probably wear these all summer long. For the rest of us, either pair will take fall/winter in style.
samedelmanshoe e-mail: Suzanne@samedelmanshoe.com or 212-245-7993

5. ESPE: I originally stumbled on this Ontario-based handbag/small leather goods resource in a trendy upscale Montreal boutique. The look is whimsical, almost kitschy, but really, really adorable and very affordable since everything is made of patterned vinyl with cute appliqué details. I bought one of the lunch bags (really a small zip-top handbag in rich red detailed with a cute olive green frog) and a butterfly wallet in brown/olive combo. There are lots of designs to choose from, each one cuter than the next. Espe or 800-786-7690

Lunch is in the Bag! Really. Ok, so I would never dare put food in this beauty by ESPE.



ESPE'S Butterfly Wallet
A Lovely Place to Keep All That Money You Just Saved




6. JEFFREY CAMPBELL: The craze for rubber rain boots continues with everybody and his brother hopping on the bandwagon. However, this footwear company was the first we found which offered boots in knee-high lengths which are much more flattering than the ubiquitous mid-calf versions. My personal fave was the paisley patterned boot called "Marsha". Also nice was "Voom" a rubber boot with a low wedge heel in an abstract pattern. jeffreycampbellshoes email: ty.nycjc@gmail.com or 347-623-0758

Marsha, Marsha, Marsha!



When Art and Footwear Collide... Va-Va-Va-Voom!







7. BOSOM BUDDY BAGS: Can't afford a Nantucket basket? Then check out the next best thing, this collection of made-in-Bali wicker handbags. I love the total Waspiness of the large oval Bali in natural with black handle trimmed with a tortoise buckle, and the medium oval bag in natural with woven handles and the same tortoise buckle. Both are part of the Buckle Series. Not cheap but beautifully hand crafted and worth the bucks.
bosombuddybags e-mail: info@bosombuddybags.com or 410-823-3669


8. SAND BY NIRVANNA DESIGNS INC: Gladiator sandals are still a major fashion trend. However, most of what's out there only looks good on a ten-foot tall model. I happened upon this extensive sandal collection and found some terrific alternatives. Particularly chic is the "Carrie", a flat t-strapped version with mock snake band which works nicely for "city" while the "Alexandra" and "Athena" would look best worn strolling the Greek Isles.
www.ShopNirvanna.com or 718-361-6520

Carrie,
She Dumped Those Other Girls and Got Herself Some New Friends




Meet Alexandra (left) and Athena (right)
Beautiful, Self-Assured, and Much, Much Less Neurotic




9. ORLA KIELY: Can't afford Hermes' latest item, a zipped leather pouch which opens up to a tote in one of their iconic signature silk prints? Here's the next best thing, Kiely's zipaway shopper available in three print colorways. Want a "real" handbag instead? Then go for her oversized satchel in tonal patent leather. It comes in dusk, truffle, claret. Not cheap but well worth the investment.
orlakiely or 212-643-4810


10. LOUISE GREEN: One of the best milliners around! Berets are in this season, so while Louise always offers in her extensive collection a charming assortment of cloche hats and face- flattering shapes, this time I fell for her must-have muted wool tweed beret accented with two tonal plaid appliquéd flowers centered with tiny satin buttoned bows. I love it in olive, but medium brown, dark brown and charcoal are also available.
LousieGreen or 310-479-1881

The Louise Green Olive Beret - You Need One!



Cute and Timely
Lawrence Green, CEO of Louise Green Millinery and
2004 and 2008 Olympic Beach Volleyball Gold Medalist Kerri Walsh





11. LACOSTE: I know, I know, I said that I'd keep this list to my top ten but I couldn't leave out this last but definitely not least designer. You already know about their great sportswear separates but maybe you've overlooked the terrific range of handbags and totes. In the latter category I flipped for the large glen plaid shopper – very bon chic bon genre or to put it another way – preppy with a French twist. For weekend getaways nothing beats Lacoste's gigantic signature tote bags complete with detachable zip top clutch inside.
Lacoste scott.saltzman@samsonite.com or 212-888-7442


That's it for now, next stop the gift shows to see what's hot in home accent décor. C&C

Crap and Couture, Notes From the Back Row