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 cafĂ© 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!

Crap and Couture, Notes From the Back Row