Monday, September 10, 2012

Ellin's Fashion Week Diary

CHADO RALPH RUCCI Spring Collection.
Sunday (evening), September 8
I have just seen the most extraordinary American collection I have ever seen. Let's set the scene. I arrive in a linen big shirt and tight jeans with chic Tod loafers. I am seated next to Margaret Russell, editor in chief of Architectural Digest. We had never met, but I am now crazy about her. She was wearing a very chic navy shirt dress. Judging by the fact that Deeda Blair across the runway was wearing the very same dress I would guess that the dress was Ralph Rucci. Sitting next to Mrs Blair in her navy shirt dress was the extraordinary Carmen Dell'Orefice wearing white gloves, six or more strands of big big fake pearls wrapped around her neck and an extraordinary long red coat of Ralph Rucci over slim black pants and high patent leather heels.
Fern Mallis, Lee Mindell, and Margaret Russell. Carmen Dell'Orefice.
Run to see and buy Ralph Rucci Spring Collection ... at least one piece. You may have to create a wedding for a daughter or a son so you have a very special occasion; or celebrate an anniversary big time; or make sure this Spring your granddaughter or daughter get Bat Mitzvahed or your grandson or son get Bar Mitzvahed. Or you may have to celebrate a year with your husband or significant other and buy a new wardrobe to do it. If you do not have any occasions to celebrate and/or the funds to buy the most extraordinary piece of clothing you have ever owned, just go to the best store that carries the collection and study it. There is no way for you not to fall in love! I saw the three big boys from Saks at the collection (which was 8 o'clock on a Sunday night) So if Steve Sadove, Ron Frasch, and Joe Boitano where there, and Jeffrey Aronsson is Ralph's CEO, you can bet that something big is being planned for Ralph.

I am serious about this collection. It is totally, thoroughly awesome. More colorful than it has ever been, younger and less complicated, but nonetheless detailed as ever. Superb!

The collection starts with some great white neoprene dresses and suits with trapunto details; he then showed a shocking pink trench coat, great shocking dress and suit and coat shown with very high heel Manola Blahnik sling backs of leather and plastic (Ralph and Manolo designed them together). There are some perfect white pant suits, some chrome yellow ultra suede and double-faced wool suits and dresses and rain jackets.
In between blasts of color there was a double-faced silk crepe black sheath (that is on my dream wish list) and a black kite jacket with insets of color over a shocking print crepe dress, and a black double-faced wool coat with paint strokes of color (that is on my dream wish list as well).
Razor-cut crepes looked glamourous, and feathers adorned chrome silk cloque as well as grass green. Yulia in multiskirted taffeta looked grand as did Barbara with the caviar beaded cage over the sheer pants, and Christina in a chrome caftan, and the finale of Alyona in black patent bra top hand painted gown.

I salute you Ralph. It is a brilliant collection and so are you!!!

And readers, seriously look for and ask for CHADO RALPH RUCCI as soon as possible ...
Backing up
Summer 2012. This was the first summer I admitted to myself that I no longer had a full-time job, and I stayed in East Hampton most of the time. I certainly miss working, but admit that my life at summer camp was a treat. I played tennis, golf, went to spin class, saw good friends and new summer friends, dieted thanks to Dr. Dukan's book (down 15 and hopefully 5 more to go), enjoyed my two eldest grandboys (15 and 17, how could that be?), and in between strict dieting days, consumed lots of rosé wine. Also deer watching on my front or back lawn as we are the only house on the street not to have a deer fence. How much longer that will be I don't really know as they eat the grass, the geraniums, and fortunately leave the flower garden alone, thanks to an ingenious gardener.
Deer watching.
I came into the city for the dentist and the dermatologist (squamous cell treatments), and then quickly jitneyed back. On one trip I headed to the Apple store on Broadway. The taxi driver asked how long I had lived in New York. When I told him, he asked what it used to be like. I went from Fifth and Madison being two-way streets, the el, pay phones on every corner, double-decker buses, and finally mentioned clothing and style.

When I was younger, much younger, ladies wore white cotton gloves in the summer, and hosiery (and probably girdles or garter belts as there were no tights). Many wore hats!
The swelling line waiting for credentials. One-plus hour at this point.
Fashion editors would go to Fashion Group lunches all done up with nary a bare head! This summer I could not tell where I was by the clothing. What I saw on East Hampton streets were in New York City. Short shorts (some folks with tan and great legs look very good, some god awful). Judging by the Spring 2013 shows so far, this will be a major trend next summer. Maxi skirts or maxi dresses sweeping the sidewalks, some very boho-looking and great; but many just silly in my mind. Men look as though they were fresh and not so fresh out of the gym with tank tops and cut-off shorts. However, some men in Bermuda shorts look just great! Love them in the city with jackets and even ties, love them in the country with no socks and loafers, polo shirt or button down and ubiquitous sweater over the shoulder (yes, it does get freezing in some restaurants).

The world has surely changed, much for the better in greater part, but it would be even better if people would check themselves in full length mirrors!
On line with the hatted ladies.
Wednesday, September 5
As children were prepping for first day of school, I was for back to work! Of course maintenance, finally have to take hair out of pony tail and have it "done," nails, camera batteries charged, invitations lined up, to-do list updated and corrected.

Attended a very sad memorial service for a tennis playing buddy's 35-year-old son; bipolar tragedy.

Felt really weird leaving the service to pick up my Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week coverage credentials from the mobile home on Columbus facing Lincoln Center.

This badge makes entry into the show tents that much easier, and collecting your seat assignments via check-in radar readers very simple. There was only one big problem, their computers had broken down so the line to collect credentials was endless. I arrived at 5:30 and left at 8, with my badge. The guard grew very smart, as we got rowdier and rowdier and more concerned that they would close for the night before attending to the at least 50 folks on this very slow line (only one person inside). He made a list of all our names and handed the list to the one person! Troops were called in to assist her and by 8 we were each announced and handed our badges with great applause! My thanks to Jack, the smart guard!!

Luckily enough I made it to Swifty's an hour late for dinner date with my dear friend Helen O'Hagan. Better yet, I was home on time for ex President Clinton's moving speech! I have been surrounded by Republicans at dinner parties all summer, and felt
the same Liz Smith felt as she mentioned a few days ago! Frustrated

Thursday, September 6
Nicholas K was the first show. They got me to their show by announcing that they were indeed the first show of the new season. I rather liked the collection, it was all soft layers, rugged, in earth tones starting with sand. Most of the models (men and women) wore tiny skull caps, and most of the clothes had hoods. It felt like "Lawrence of Arabia." As I did not know a great deal about these designers from the People's Revolution Group, imagine my surprise when Nicholas K turns out to be a very attractive young lady who designs with her male sibling Christopher Kunz and their boxer dog who came down the runways with them.
Nicholas K S/S 2013.
Nicholas K herself; and with her brother Christopher Kunz.
Chadwick Bell followed it. Great name! Very minimal. Some great black and white pieces and jade green evening look

Took it easy and watched some tennis! Confess I am very torn between tennis, conventions, and collections. Sad that Federer lost but happy for Sunday designers who show during the day. One major editor will be at their shows and not at the matches.
Chadwick Bell S/S 2013.
Thursday evening was Fashion's Night Out. I knew that DPC would be covering the streets (at least I was hoping he would be). I started down Madison Avenue on way to Donna Karan to see her and get "Connecting the Dots," her tribute to her late husband Stephen Weiss.

She was not at her boutique as yet so I kept walking thinking I would do Calvin Klein and see Francisco Costa, one of my favorites.

Bumped into two very very special fashion friends, Stan Herman, ex head of the CFDA and QVC success, and Mary Lou Luther, ex Los Angeles Times brilliant reporter, now Fashion Group genius. They said it was a madhouse at CK so we walked back to Donna Karan.

We waited for Donna and was I happy we did. I have known Donna since she was Anne Klein's right hand and successor; and I was fortunate enough to be at Saks when we were able to help launch her collection. It has been decades. We embraced and she nicely inscribed the book and gifted me with it. It is a beauty and a treasure.

Fortunate enough to get home on time for President Obama's speech.
Donna inscription.
Friday, September 7
Very excited to see some of my favorite designers who are represented by KCD, the very best and nicest PR, styling, and staging firm I know. They remember their old friends and treat us (me) with respect and decency. Thank you Ed F., Kerry, Julie, and all you fabulous people. There is only one problem with them: in their desire to have the best possible places to show they have avoided the tents and show way west and way downtown. I admit to being an UES gal, so getting to Milk Studios at 450 West 15 at 10AM still defeats me and with the new taxi fares it staggers my not-too-bright morning mind.

But no matter it is PETER SOM. I am fortunate enough to sit next to Lucy Danziger, EIC SELF, who arrived with her motorcycle helmet. Smart girl! And Lizzie Tisch, philanthropist and super young woman who was looking truly great in a Peter Som black and white print dress (a nice loyal customer as she arrived at JASON WU three hours later in his red and blue dress!)
Lizzie Tisch in Peter Som at Peter Som, photographing Peter Som.
Peter Som helper with red hair. Peter Som model with color-streaked hair.
Iced and hot coffee across the aisle.
Peter's collection was very interesting; and light and frothy. Perhaps a bit too pastel for my tastes but done with wit. The models had great colored hair pieces. He went in for gold as well, brocade pants, and some bold colorful prints. I hope his success continues to grow.
Peter Som S/S 2013.
I made an executive decision. Rather than go back to Lincoln Center in order to come back downtown again I would take a long (did not know how long) stroll through the Meatpacking District and visit some stores.

I first hit Jeffrey, where I was greeted very warmly. The store manager used to work with Isaac Mizrahi and remembered me. A sales associate, Desiree, a very pretty blond, offered me a glass of water (how nice was that?). I fell hard but did not succumb for a black lace Emilio Pucci dress (black lace with no print from Pucci?), some fantastic print Dries Van Noten pants, and a Courrèges dress in navy, looking like one of my ex oldie but goodie that is at the thrift shop. Now that dress could use white short kid gloves! It was smashing and timeless.
My mini-Meatpacking tour.
Wandered into DVF and Scoop and then started down Greenwich Street toward by next destination at St. John's on West Street. Passed the Standard, deciding it was brunch/breakfast time and a nice day to sit outside. Great idea but it was 11:35 exactly and they stop serving eggs at 11:30!!! So on my protein diet, a burger had to do ... and it was excellent as was the lemon water and black coffee. Continued my forced walk down to St John's Center at 330 West Street. Arriving madly in search of a ladies room. Guess what? There wasn't one (do not know what the models did), but the space was great. And after the show, I found the Ear Bar, which took pity on me.
5 minutes too late for eggs.
JASON WU is growing in popularity and success. His show had all the top brass there, from Anna to Glenda to Frasch and Schulman and all the new editors who have played musical chairs. It was very black and white, and leather and lace. I thought it was almost excellent. Any show that opens with Carolyn Murphy has to be great. Especially with great slicked-back hair.
Pre-Jason Wu show.
New Bergdorf big Josh Schulman (I knew him when), with Linda Fargo. Hamish Bowles of Vogue and Amy Fine Collins of Vanity Fair, with Michelle Harper in shorty shorts.
Jason Wu S/S 2013.
After the show and the pit stop (thank god for the Ear Bar), it was time to get back to Lincoln Center. Finally found a taxi (the driver said there were many people looking for cabs). I told him I would share so we decided that everyone who looked like a fashionista would be invited! No one passed the test.

Arrived at Lincoln Center with all my friends over the years as guards and went to REBECCA MINKOFF, whom I first met as a handbag designer. She is now doing ready to wear and shoes as well. Collection was said to have been inspired by Slim Keith. Must have been a different Slim Keith! But it was an okay show.
Rebecca Minkoff S/S 2013.
After the show, on my new attempt to be frugal, I found the crosstown bus number 66, which let me off on Madison and 66 or 67. On the bus was Ruth Finley, the unsung hero of the fashion show business. She schedules all the shows for her Fashion Calendar. She is 90, I believe, and still attends most shows. She is smart as a tack. I promised I would send her the link to NYSD.

Unsung hero, Ruth Finley.
One very big problem with frugality. The bus stopped right in front of J.Crew, which once was their wedding shop. Thank goodness they have just transitioned out of that and now are making it a special store for all of Jenna Lyons's special designs. I could have purchased almost everything in the store. While there, Mickey Drexler came in.

I congratulated him warmly (all the while hoping that he would offer me the friends and family card). This store is so great, and if you have not been in there recently ... check it out. It is age appropriate! Between this J.Crew and the one on Madison at 79, you may not have to shop anywhere else. The latter will cover your sportswear needs. I have a black and white silk print skirt on hold at 66 street in a size 4!!!!

Saturday, September 8
Pouring rain this morning. Very few shows that would interest you so another executive decision: catch up on the writing and if lucky watch some of the men's semifinals and get ready for the ladies tonight. Tomorrow there will be more shows, and more writing.

I am very happy to be back with you all again. Hoping maybe to do a shopping column from time to time with the best of the show places such as J.Crew!

Saturday afternoon and evening
Tennis semifinal between David Ferrer and Novak Djokovic was suspended at 5~2 in the first set due to tornado warnings. The women's evening final was canceled until Sunday. The weathermen were telling people to evacuate the stadium rapidly and all other folks to stay at home. I was stupid and listened to them!
Showed on the piers Saturday late afternoon. I sadly missed it, and judging by the runway shots, I missed a really good, clean collection with a clear point of view. It is very modern, very black and white (literally), very constructed, very tough chic. The black tape at the part in the hair might be a great idea to hide roots between color jobs!

Here are some runway shots so you can judge for yourself. Well done Alexander!
Alexander Wang S/S 2013.
A collection I have never been able to see on the runway, and a name you need to know. He is very talented and editor's favorite. Here is a taste!
Altuzarra S/S 2013.
I hate to steal David's weather report, but this Sunday was spectacular.

Started the morning with a quickie read of the papers, shuffling of papers and tickets needed for today, quick run to bleu sur bleu for the great $29 blow dry with Arson. Luxury well worth it.

The invitation in question.
Hopped into a taxi and said 330 West Street. "Wha you say? I cannot understand you!" So I show him the Derek Lam invitation and "wha you give me? I cannot read it!" I look up to where his license should be ... and it is not there. Okay, I am now late, the meter is running, and I have a blind and deaf and very elderly driver!

He finally tells me that West Street is the West Side Highway and he cannot stop there. I tell him to go and get off between Spring and Houston Street. He cannot do that either ... and just to prove it he left me off on the right side (right not correct) side of the highway with indeed no place to cross except to climb over the grass barrier. Walking back is the answer. First time in my life I only gave the driver a dollar tip for a $25 ride!!!

No wonder I like him so much. He once designed and worked for Michael Kors; and he consults for TODS shoes. He is indeed a tasty young man. Not really that young as he graduated from Parsons in 1990 so he has a decade of experience and class.
This collection was full of beautiful soft leathers and shapes, my favorites being a black lambskin pleated hem dress, an ink leather dress, and a cocoa viscose fit and flare dress. They were outstanding and I was so busy writing notes about them that I missed photographing them. Hopefully the wonderful, talented, bright, attractive, and charming Jeff Hirsch will be able to track these down.
My (Derek Lam) favorites: a black lambskin pleated hem dress, an ink leather dress, and a cocoa viscose fit and flare dress.
More Derek: Forest body suit and sea snake macramé skirt. Grey bonded leather skirt with white gabardine pullover. White fleece jersey pullover over gold metallic calf macramé skirt.
Burgundy lasercut foil Pailette dress. Note: the back is flat for sitting! Ink jersey pullover with ink lasercut foil PAULETTE skirt. Red purple, cocoa guipure lace tee shirt with tweed macramé skirt and patent leather Chelsea pump.
Tracy designed Michelle Obama's dress, which she proudly wore at the Democratic National Convention speaking beautifully and looking beautiful to proudly talk about her husband.

Tracy is a bright pretty clever African American designer. Her clothes are colorful, playful, tasty, sporty, and spirited. This was a very good collection.
The First Lady in Tracy Reese at the DNC.
Tracy showed some great shoulder slung bags with long fringe. Some of her best hits in my mind were a short purple ink sweater over a pleated kilt skirt, a bright green leather shift with a scalloped hem, and an aquarian cocoon dress. She had some great jumpsuits, one that was like pale beachgrass cropped short. And some great white pieces including an "I-want-to-own" pull-on white leather skirt under a white burnout leather big shirt; ending the show with some great beaded and embroidered pieces. She calls them "mashed up" and maybe that is part of their charm!
Good work Tracy.
Tracy Reese S/S 2013.
Very big problem. It stops right in front of my new favorite store ... the special J.Crew. For all my good friends: the basement is full of great cashmeres (Italian yarns) at 25% discount! Run, don't walk. I specially loved the navy-dotted bright green and couldn't resist it (pictured left).

Fortunately there are only three days more of shows in the tents at Lincoln Center so I cannot go too crazy, but there is a great sand and black stripe sweater there as well!

I am looking forward to CHADO RALPH RUCCI tonight. Diane and Timo and Zac and Zang ... sorry you will miss me! Luckily Azarenka and Williams are starring in my study as I write this. And Azarenka has just awakened and is giving Serena a big run for her money.
The Principessa Saltzman regrets she's unable to stand today! No one's fault. The young folks in the PR department have no idea who I am nor should they. But they should know NEW YORK SOCIAL DIARY.