Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Vittadini - The Smart Thing

On February 16, 2009 I attended the Vittadini show. They just sent me two pictures of my favorite items in their collection. I want you, my loyal readers, to see these beauties.

To give the pictures some context, here is what I wrote about the collection:

Vittadini did the smart thing. Not only was the collection shown on stationary mannequins so we could actually get up close and personal to the goods, but the venue was ideal. It was held in the International Center of Photography just up the block from the Bryant Park tents. In between bites of some of the best brownies washed down with sparkling water, I checked out the clothes and fell in love with Vittadini's sophisticated knitwear pieces, such as the forest green double knit cocoon coat over a dolman tunic and vicuna color lambskin skirt. The warm soft grey knit tunic detailed with band cut ribbon trim and matching pants, Also gorgeous, the midnight green panne velvet graphic print shift dress. Affordable, stylish and definitely on the money.

Vittadini - stylish and confident. No high-speed stumbling models. They just gave everyone all the time necessary to see beautiful, well made garments!

Friday, February 20, 2009

FASHION WEEK DIARY…Half Way There and Still Strong

Feb 17: The day got off to a wonderful start since I went to one of my favorite events – the semi-annual Sears and Kmart fashion preview, held in the Bryant Park Hotel. I can see your eyebrows raising, but don't sneer, this retailer does a terrific job of bringing AFFORDABLE fashions to the outside world. I'm one of their biggest fans and believe me, I know my stuff! Personally I'd go for the cute, can't tell the price of it, black pea jacket that the mannequin wore over a cute print pleated skirt from the Apostrophe line, the Paul Franck dorm pjs, or one of Jacqueline Smith's simple tweed pencil skirt. The accessories too have a more upscale look, especially the chain necklaces and the faux snake hobo bag. Only a fashion snob would dismiss the collections.

It's only Tuesday and I'm already pooped. Thank God for Joanna Mastroianni. Her presentation held in her showroom was genius. Not only were the clothes gorgeous, I was able to get up close and personal to really see them. There were just 26 pieces but every one was a winner. Talk about couture workmanship and elegant styling. One caveat – everything was designed for evening and I personally don't have much call for Mastroianni's breathtaking embroidered pagoda gown or the lovely white organza and black lace blouse over black pleated wool trousers. I would however find the occasion to wear her magenta cocktail dress even if I had to toss a cardigan over it to go grocery shopping. Definitely one of the highlights of the week so far.

Even in the Produce Section C&C Wants You To Look Good
(of course there are far better places to wear this dress)!

Switching gears, my colleague and I trudged over to the Hammerstein Ballroom (a huge space, that was filled to capacity) to see the G-Star Raw show. Last season's show was a blast so my anticipation was great.

The crowd was filled with gorgeous Aryan blondes (the line's out of Germany) of both genders. The runway show lived up to expectations, as the clothes were very, high tech with a post modern vibe and most important of all, very wearable. All done in various shades of grey, I'd spend money on any one of the great coats, jackets and yes, the boots. The same goes for the men's wear too. I would however skip the pants with low droopy crotch. Suffice it to say, they just didn't work. After the models finished the show didn't end there. Very sexy actor, Benecio Del Toro, came out and read a piece from some - unknown to me- author. Cool!

Feb. 18: Only a masochist or dedicated fashion maven would have set foot outdoors in the pouring rain/snow showers and gusty wind. And that would be me. I narrowed it down to two shows (and mucho refueling stops at the McCafe), 1909 Victorinox and Anna Sui. The former, maker of the original Swiss Army knife, celebrated its 125th anniversary with an inaugural showing of its new, higher-end men's collection held at the New York Public Library's Celeste Bartos room.

For me, the collection combined the best of geek chic with vintage references. If I were a youngish guy I'd buy the not so basic car-coat length caped trench coat in waxed cotton the updated varsity jacket or one of the puffy parkas in a rich brown. Also saw my first celeb of the day, Marc Jacobs sitting in the first row, naturally.

Made my tired, rain soaked bod hold out for the 7:00 pm Anna Sui happening in the big tent and boy was it worth it. Only she could pull of such as hodge podge of references – from Art Nouveau, to Edwardian carnival/circus(?) and make it work in a madcap way. As always, the place was packed with trendsetters, hip celebrities, friends and Asian fashion groupies, plus the usual contingent of editors, photogs and press. While there was definitely something for everyone in the 50 piece lineup, I loved the opening segment in black and cream/ivory accessorized perfectly with the most wickedly gorgeous feather trimmed hats by James Coviello. I also zeroed in on her romantic golden madallion border print blouse and skirt over black leggings and a dashing Bordeaux velveteen sweeping long coat atop a buttercup tulip and plaid Ikat print crepe de Chine blouse and dress in coral.

Face it, Sui's clothes aren't for shrinking violet types, not with her mixed up colors and patterns and use of accessories. This was one of her best collections in a long time.

Feb. 19: Another early start. Today I hit the ground running. First stop, the Royalton Hotel where EBay was holding court in the penthouse. After scarfing down two cups of coffee and delicious croissants, I took a stroll around the space which was filled with display mannequins dressed in vintage designer apparel available on EBay through some of their most reliable collectors. The prices listed on every garment tag were extremely affordable considering the big names such as Geoffrey Beene, Yves St Laurent ( I wanted the '70s era vibrant silk print separates), an early Bill Blass for Maurice Rentner structured wool coat, a lovely, (also from the 60s') pale blue/gold brocade cocktail dress and a bone ostrich handbag by Lucille de Paris.

Ebay - The Lanvin Dress. Shop Victoriously and Beautifully

On to the tents and the Brian Reyes show. On a whole I enjoyed the collection. It was saleable, feminine and featured some great takes on the car coat, flattering pants that weren't skin tight and a lovely marbled print. My picks include the latter pattern in a draped gown, a chic, quilted box pleat car coat over a double fold flap dress and a pale gold hammered silk gathered dress.

One of the shows that I always look forward to is Ports 1961. While creative director, Tia Cibani always manages to pull something wonderful out of her hat, for me, this was her best effort ever.

Loosely inspired by India's Mughal Dynasty (anything Indian is hot right now), the show was in my opinion, her best yet! Accompanied by the beat of the Indian Brass Band the models paraded out in a symphony of muted colors and layers in clothes that were as saleable as they were approachable. The over the top styling was eschewed in favor of letting the garments speak for themselves. And speak to me they did. I WANT the gorgeous full skirted moonstone color boucle coat, the coat dress in amber and the chic Gota embellished wool coat over a lame brocade skirt. A collection to die for! On another note, go check out Ports 1961's brand new store on 9th avenue in the Meatpacking District.

No Slumdogs Here...
Tia Cibani
and Ports 1961 Will Have You Looking Like a Million

The beat finally ended with my last show of the fall season. Yeah, I know it's only Thursday, but I'm pooped (and besides I didn't get an invite to the Chado Ralph Rucci show on Friday afternoon.

That said, the collections ended on an upbeat note with the showing of Leifsdottir's event held in the company's showroom. I don't know what I expected but what I got was wonderful. Lovely Medieval inspired collection presented in an informal tableau setting where a couple of models sat around informally as if we the guests weren't even there.

Perfectly charming, the onyx embroidered vintage wool cardigan, white silk/cotton tee and berry color cavalry twill skinny pants. On top of everything, there was a table groaning under the weight of some fabulous desserts that were almost –I said almost – too pretty to eat.

Flutes of champagne, soft lighting, polite photographers and friendly pr staff, all added to the pleasure.

That's it for my fashion week diary, fall 09 as I bid adieu to the chaos at the start of every show, the fashion victims that tottered and often fell on their ridiculous stiletto platform shoes, the wonderful free moccachinos, celebrity spotting, the hard working PR folks, plus the ageless Stan Herman and cool as a cuke Fern Mallis who manages to be everywhere at once!

Talk to you soon, xx C&C.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Fashion Week… and the beat goes on..and on..and on

Feb 16: I started out with hopes, after all I was headed for the Carolina Herrera's show. Unfortunately, one of the world's most elegant women turned out a disappointing collection. The colors were drab and the clothes overwrought. However, her ladies turned out in full force and no doubt will continue to spend. Personally, I would have preferred a bit more Jackie O inspiration, who was one of Herrera's best clients, to the "Hollywood" red carpet angle (think Renee Zellweger). I did fancy the sharp beige Swakara fur jacket atop a caviar striped mohair organza blouse and silk pants.

Vittadini did the smart thing. Not only was the collection shown on stationary mannequins so we could actually get up close and personal to the goods, but the venue was ideal. It was held in the International Center of Photography just up the block from the Bryant Park tents. In between bites of some of the best brownies washed down with sparkling water, I checked out the clothes and fell in love with Vittadini's sophisticated knitwear pieces, such as the forest green double knit cocoon coat over a dolman tunic and vicuna color lambskin skirt. The warm soft grey knit tunic detailed with band cut ribbon trim and matching pants, Also gorgeous, the midnight green panne velvet graphic print shift dress. Affordable, stylish and definitely on the money.

I shlepped the bod back to the tents to catch the Tracy Reese runway show. Over the years this young designer has acquired quite a following among young girls about town for her take on flirty, feminine dressing. And judging by the overflowing hordes that crammed into the show, the cult-like adoration just keeps on growing. On a personal note, yours truly must thank James LaForce, head honcho of the hot pr firm, LaForce and Stevens who graciously allowed me in to the show at the last minute. He always exhibits grace under pressure (the man looked cool as a cucumber) in a very cutthroat business. Now about the clothes…Reese combines a mix of textures, patterns and rich colors on a neutral palette, all accessorized with some fun necklaces by Gerard Yosca. To me the mood evoked a 1920s American in Paris vibe when the jeunesse doree partied till dawn. So what did I love? The mauve beaded roses shell and steel color trousers, a floral frilled shift worn under a brown herringbone boyfriend jacket and the terra mélange cardigan tossed over a chemise in the beaded roses print.

I ran off to a civilized fall mens and womens fashion in-store presentation at Brooks Brothers. Think classic with a twist Wasp apparel that will never look dated. Perfect for the North Shore/Newport/Wall Street customer and their kiddies. Speaking of kids, I'd buy the grey shawl cardigan with crest from the boy's collection. Also to my taste was the more fashion oriented Black Fleece range, especially the luxuriously soft cashmere sweater shown over an inverted pleat skirt. The guys should just buy everything including the rugged leather weekender bags.

I ended my day with a very sedate Luca Luca presentation at the Plaza Hotel's Palm Court. The over 30 crowd would look terrific in some of the sophisticated late day ensembles. In this vein I would opt for a slinky wine silk velvet gown with chiffon insets or the gunmetal halter gown in chiffon velvet with beaded neck band. One item stood out, and that was the adorable charcoal cut-mink shrug (think teeny capelet). This shape was also repeated in charcoal silk and wool cable cord. Perfect item to throw over anything. Kudos must also go to the scrumptious petit fours that were placed on every table. In the name of research only, I felt it my duty to taste all of them. So not to worry, no chance of getting salmonella or any other food poisoning! You may thank me later.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Fashion Week Continued... More Notes, Same Back Row

Feb 14: While most normal people were enjoying a lazy Saturday, I made the trek to the tents to see the Lacoste show. Ah, the sacrifices I make in the name of fashion. Fortunately, it was worth the trip down to the tents. Alright, we all know the economy's in the toilets but if you have even a few bucks or a credit card just sitting around, run don't walk to the Lacoste store when the Fall line hits.

These were gorgeous clothes in a soft creamy color palette which worked nicely for both men and women. Personally, I'd buy everything, but if I have to narrow down the field I plan on buying one of the voluminous double-faced duffel coats in off-white and one of the cute knit caps. For my best bud, I'd suggest he get (he can pay for his own stuff), the relaxed bone suede cardigan with tonal knit sleeves and trim. These are great items worth spending money on.

Feb 15: You got it! I also worked on Sunday! What helped was the free coffee courtesy of McDonalds' McCafe, the brand's major marketing initiative designed to promote its upscale coffee beverages. I'm here to tell you the cappuccinos, etc are FABULOUS! I couldn't make it through the week without my fix. Now, about the shows… I started off with a triple header: Nicholas K., Sergio Davila and Mara Hoffman – all one after the other in the tent. I wasn't crazy about the first collection which was in need of editing. A bit too grungy and too long with 42 pieces. Davila was up next and according to the designer his inspiration was taken from 19th century Spanish vice- royalty. Personally I didn't get the connection but some of his menswear jackets and knits were good-looking. As for his women's stuff, eh, not so terrific. Mara Hoffman's terrific collection was another story. While, skinny pants/leggings and hoods seem to be the biggest Fall trend so far, Hoffman delivered some gorgeous takes on these. Particularly noteworthy, her printed silk "willow" dress and leggings (sort of William Morris type pattern) in soft colors. I also loved the cocoa color moleskin trench coat with attached scarf, shown over a chiffon skirt.

Next up was one of the most gorgeous collections I'd seen, held in Reem Acra's Fifth Avenue showroom – a hike from the Bryant Park tents, but worth the effort. Models were stationed in three separate room settings so I could get a close look rather than craning my neck from the back row. Forget the fact I will never be able to afford anything here, not to mention no occasion to wear any of Reem's evening wear, I WANTED EVERYTHING! If I have to narrow it down, I'd say max-out the credit cards for the gold silk satin-back crepe bias gown with necklace, the Cyprus silk iridescent chiffon strapless number or her gold cloque dress. Any one of these would go nicely with a James Bond look-alike escort, or failing that, a wealthy sugar daddy.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

FALL 09 FASHION WEEK DIARY More notes from the back row… or how I survived on a million cups of coffee and no sleep.

As I’ve told you before, you don’t need me to give you a blow-by-blow description of every single outfit on the runway since there are plenty of other websites which do a terrific job. Instead I’m giving you an idea of what an editor’s life is really like – and it ain’t glamorous!

Feb 11: Well fashion week got off to a fun start. I went to a party sponsored by GQ magazine, which in conjunction with the Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA), was formed to recognize rising new menswear designers in America. Held in a huge space in Rockefeller Center, the event was jammed with press, designers and industry honchos. For some reason, the food served at a mens’ press party is always better than the “healthy’ junk at other parties. Between bites of mini cheeseburgers, pizza and wine, I actually took note of some of the fashions worn by the cutest – and youngest- models around. Out of the six designers who showed, I liked Benjamin Bixby’s grey wool pea coat worn over a plaid cotton sport shirt, shawl-collared sweater and dark denim pants. Also very wearable was another car coat (do you see a trend here?) in black wool/cashmere thrown atop a short sleeve polo and black wool slant pocket suit pants.

Feb 12: Nothing like starting the day off with a fabulous designer, Monique Lhuillier who has to be one of my very favorites. Naturally, a late day collection this glam deserved a fitting venue and the informal show was held in the Plaza Hotel’s Oak Room Bar. Not only were the clothes gorgeous, the Laurent Perrier champagne I drank went very nicely with the mini quiches and tomato tarts. Insider tip: If one plans accordingly, one can basically make it through the week on hors d’oeuvres/coffee/bottled water/wine and anything else on offer in and outside the tents without spending a cent. On the downside, it’s not the smartest way to eat, but on the flip side you lose lots of weight running from show to show on empty. But I digress. While every single frock in Lhullier’s “Modern Ballet Russes” collection was to die for, I personally would rob a bank for the ivory/noir (think soft grey) ¾-sleeve tea-length, full-skirted cocktail dress in re-embroidered lace. Also not too shabby was her white silk organza one shoulder cocktail dress with horsehair detail.

Crap and Couture Would Rob Citibank of its TARP Money for this Monique Lhullier Beauty

Feb 13: I actually dragged myself out of bed at the crack of 8 am for one of fashion week’s hottest tickets, the Red Dress Collection held inside one of the main tents in Bryant Park. What this show’s about, the red dress, is the centerpiece of the Heart Truth which is a national awareness campaign warning women about their risk of developing heart disease. What makes the event fun is the fact that the specially designed red gowns are modeled by celebrities and not professional models. Hosted by Tim Gunn who got the ball rolling with an inspiring welcome message, the show kicked off with Amanda Bynes loaded down with Daniel Swarovski jewelry. Other “models” in this year’s lineup included Brittany Snow in Marchesa, Valerie Bertinelli in Christian Siriano (my favorite gown), Patricia Arquette in Nicole Miller, Cicely Tyson in B. Michaels, Hilary Duff in Donna Karan (another standout), Katie Couric in Carmen Marc Valvo, Viveca A. Fox in Jenny Packham, Kristi Yamaguchi in Vera Wang, Lynda Carter in Carolina Herrera, Daisy Fuentes in Pamella Roland, Tori Spelling in Betsey Johnson, Jennie Garth in Badgley Mischka, Nia Long in Tracy Reese, Susan Lucci in Gustavo Cadile, Jane Kaczmarek in Michael Kors, Amanda Beard in Cushnie Et Ochs, Nastia Liukin in Max Azria and Amanda Harris in (another winner) David Meister. After the excitement of the show I worked up an appetite so I can only hope that a double cheeseburger qualifies as health food.

Crap and Couture, Notes From the Back Row