Monday, March 5, 2012

"Fashionable" Musings On ...

Pre-Reem Acra show; sweeping the black mirrored runway in an attempt to keep it clean.
"Fashionable" Musings On ...
Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week: Fall/Winter 2012

by Jill Lynne

"East Side, West Side.
All around the Town,
Fashionistas Rush To & Fro,
Fashion Week is back in Town!"

Let's begin at the end!

The exciting grand finale of the Fall/Winter 2012 Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week was a sold-out FGI (Fashion Group International) VIP screening of The Tents.
Margaret Hayes, President, Fashion Group International, at Tribeca Cinema, Introducing The Tents. Designer Geoffrey Banks (featured in The Tents) at the screening.
The Tents was filmed in 2010, during the last season when Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week was held in Bryant Park. A first film by the very talented James Belzer and cinematographer Marcus K. Jones, co-produced by Lisa Silhanek, The Tents documents the history of the constantly evolving NYC fashion industry, as well as the runway shows of dynamic designers since its formalization in 1993 as "Fashion Week."

It is also the story of Fern Mallis, past Executive Director of 7th on Sixth, VP of Marketing for IMG (International Management Group) – one amazingly dedicated Femme – whose force of conviction and unbridled tenacity, along with that of the three-time Coty Award-winning designer and past President of the CFDA, Stan Herman, is responsible for New York Fashion Week, as we now know it.
Fern Mallis at the Fashion Week finale after-party. Designer Stan Herman at the after-party.
At first there was just Market Week. Designers would scramble about searching for appropriately innovative spaces in which to unveil their collections.

In 1991, while Michael Kors was showcasing his new creations at a raw loft space, the ceiling literally fell in. The following day, headlines read, "I'll live for Fashion, but NOT die for it!"

The incident prompted the development of a central, safe location in which designers could present their creations. The effort was spearheaded by designers Donna Karan, Ralph Lauren and Calvin Klein. Curiously all have now moved on to off-site spaces that can accommodate their elaborate, time-consuming staging.
Stylist Elena Mussa at the screening wearing Chanel glasses & H&M bag. Lauren Rae Levy in Vintage Kamali with Chanel Jewelry & Marc Jacobs boots.
This centralization played a strategic role in placing Manhattan (and the USA) on the forefront of that global fashion market. Instead of following the European shows, our presentations began premiering the new season.

With an unprecedented energy, the showings during Fashion Week not only attracted an ever-increasing global audience, but also became a beacon for emerging designers the world-over. Recent years have brought an Asian infusion of talent.

Surprisingly, The Tents left many of us a bit teary-eyed!
Journalist Lynn Yaeger in The Tents.
Beyond the obvious tug of nostalgia for seemingly better/easier times, it reminded us that we are privileged to be part of a community that applauds creative genius, rewards difficult work, understands and appreciates beauty, knows how to play 'n frolic, and increasingly endeavors to be charitable, contributing to world betterment (From Donna Karan's wonderful Urban Zen Foundation though Ralph Lauren's Polo Ralph Lauren Philanthropic Foundation, Fashion Designers for Haiti, Fashion Targets Breast Cancer with Betsey Johnson at the fore...).

The Docu allows all to view that intriguing secret Fashion "scene" – and the individuals that are so integral to it – the actual designers, show producers, stylists, hair and make-up experts, journalists, media, and publicists/public relations.
Lest We Forget: Mourners pass corpses from the tragic Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire in 1911, where many young women jumped to their death after trying to escape through locked exits.
For me, it was poignant, for Fashion is in my very blood! My grandfather was a patternmaker/designer for the respected Jonathan Logan, and an early Investor in Frye Boots. I grew up with impassioned tales told by elders of the importance of the ILGWU (International Ladies' Garment Workers' Union) developed after the tragedy of March 25, 1911, when 146 seamstresses were killed because of the unjust labor practice of pad-locking exits at the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory.

The theme of the after-party and exhibition Make it in Manhattan is also exceedingly relevant!

For years I have touted the importance of the USA retaining its manufacturing sector (as well as its agricultural) – continuing to produce "real" goods – as opposed to just being a "service economy." I have railed in voice and writing, against not allowing this infrastructure to dissolve.
Make it in Manhattan exhibit featured the beautiful designer apparel and accessories, fabricated and manufactured right here, in New York City. The presentation featured garments by Yeohlee, Loris Diran, and many more.
Director and Producer of The Tents, James Belzer (his forthcoming film is Make it in Manhattan). Fashion Show producer Lynne O'Neill (featured in film).
Unfortunately the dissolution of our manufacturing continues to have a devastating impact, not only dwindling down our NYC garment center and fashion industry, but sorely weakening the general American economy.

Zillions of our jobs have been lost to "Made in China."

I am not implying that in these times of complex interdependent national economies, there are simplistic solutions, or that we revert to absurdist isolationist policies, but rather that we return to putting America FIRST!
Designer Loris Diran with his progressive retro-men's suit. Designer Misha Nonoo.
The Make it in Manhattan exhibit featured the beautiful designer apparel and accessories, fabricated and manufactured right here, in New York City. The presentation featured garments by Yeohlee, Loris Diran, and many more.

If only this Exhibition could have lasted more than this one eve. Any suggestions?

As two bright hip-hop kids noted, after break-dancing outside the ELLE Lounge, "Lighten up! We're not finding a cure for Cancer. It is only Fashion!"

Leading up to this grand finale was the Mao Brothers's production of The BLONDS
(David and Phillipe Blond).
Lauren Ezersky and Warren Schultz at The Blonds. Lee Black Childers and Baroness Sherry von Korber-Bernstein at The Blonds.
At the Blonds: "Dandy" Patrick McDonald with Dustin Pittman (center) amongst Edgy Fashionistas.
Colorful fashion at The Blonds.
Unique. Anita Evans and Kayvert Zzol.
Jay Manuel and Robert Verdi with friends at The BLONDS.
Designer Larissa. Miss Black USA Ocielia Gibson.
Fashion commentator Michael Musto. Designer Maripol and Anita Sarko.
The "Show" preceding the runway show was drop-dead-fabulousness!!!! Every other gorgeous drag queen, cross-dresser and glitzy-clad wannabe turned out.

And the runway, the most theatrical of the season! Not the "Little-Lady-Dresses" one would wear when being introduced to their future in-laws but instead, the glitziest statement of statements.
Xenon lightcycle, Lithium electric streetbike at The BLONDS.
"Prickly" Fashion ... Collaged Mini-Dress ... Golden-Patterned Catsuit.
The triumphant BLONDS (David and Phillipe) glide down the runway. BLONDS Fan wearing signature bejeweled corset.
These closing events were a welcome change from the beginning of Fashion Week, when a pall of sadness seemed to envelop the Tents.

The tragic death of the brilliant and beloved 48-year-old Whitney Houston, who emerged from one of America's great music families (Dianna Ross, Dionne Warrick, Cicely Houston), blessed with an angelic Gospel-trained voice, paralleled that of the great Michael Jackson, succumbing to drugs at too early an age. The tents seemed grayer than gray.

I recollect not only her significant musical legacy but meeting a young and vibrant Whitney, when she, her mother and godmother, checked out a gospel brunch I was producing way back in the 1980s ...
Trends, you ask???

This could be a No-Trend Season!

It seems that in these tough financial times, designers are mostly re-crafting themselves, doing a redo on their most safe and salable. This produces a loveliness but also a lack of the edgy. Trends that I have previously forecast continue and accelerate:

First and foremost of is the impact of Physical Fitness on Fashion.

Both men and women typically work out, exercising hard and long to produce those buffed bodies, tempting torsos, and tight forms. And they want to show-them-off, wear them boldly.

Not only in active-wear for health clubs and gym, but in the form of clinging, arm-exposing sheaths, gowns and super slim and tight-fitting silhouettes.

Double-stretch fabrics in jeans, spandex in everything – even when unspecified (as in much menswear).
Actor Chaske Spencer from the Twilight saga's New Moon calmly awaits the EMU runway show. Happy EMU show-goer with her new boots in EMU bag.
The Australian Brand EMU debuted in the USA two years ago. Now known worldwide for its easy-to-wear outerwear, casual clothing, and of course, its signature warm 'n cozy boots.
Photographers at the ready at Zang Toi.
Front row readies at Zang Toi.
Alex McCord in her transparent coat at Zang Toi.
Jean Shafiroff, Jamee Gregory, and Lucia Hwong at Zang Toi.
Valentine's Day audience at Zang Toi wearing a fab red Zang coat. Designer Pamela Roland and Bronson Van Wyck at Zang Toi.
Zang Toi fashion drama as model appears in Ruby Slik Organza Princess Ball Gown.
Printed silk for both men and women. Zang blows a kiss as he receives a well-deserved standing ovation.
Secondly, it is impossible to ignore the predominance of tattoos as fashionable body art decorating these gorgeous bodies. They have become an integral part of a fashion aesthetic. Although not generally featured, these alluring totems peek out at you from beneath garments.

Thirdly, the prevalence of Tights and Leggings have all but displaced Pants and Trousers.

And not just for Femmes but as part of the New Macho.
Journalist Marilyn Kirchner (always dressed in her extensive vintage collection) with one of our favorite security personnel. And who is this masked man carrying another one of his great men's bags?!
The Reem Acra Collection and the illusion.
Fourth. Capes and Caplets – short and long – for both sexes - are so "In."

Fifth. Animal Prints still prevail – and may always ...

Sixth. Metallics – especially gold, copper and bronze - titillate every collection.

Seventh. Most waistlines have finally returned to the waist.

Eighth. Accessories are Big and Bigger! From Statement Jewelry – the widely popular Lia Sofia Collections – to oversized, fun handbags.
Front row at designer Betsey Johnson.
Stylish attendees (many dress-up for a BJ show!). Cutest front row-er shyly opens Betsey's generous gift bag (few designers still give gifts).
Top, l. to r.: Nostalgic Beatles-Themed-Collection ... Betsey's Signature Tutu-like Crinolines with Ballerina-style Flats Forever ... A bit of Boho-Chic ... Always Fun and Funky with Splashy Colors.
At 71, Betsey still does her signature cartwheel down the runway.
Ninth. The exception being, the almost dainty, lady-like "Clutch" bag – depriving women of the use of both hands!

Tenth. Yes. Death-defying all-too-high platform heels and boots continue. Ultimately causing foot, leg and hip problems for women, and some daring men ...

Eleventh. Cutting on the bias, creating asymmetrical, uneven hemlines for everything from shirts, sweaters, skirts, dresses and outerwear.
Midge Richardson, former Editor-in-Chief Seventeen, Ex-nun for 17 years, author of two books, at the Josie Natori show. The Josie Natori 2012 Collection: Models descend the stairs at the beautiful Rubin Museum of Art.
L. to r.: Kimono-Influenced Casual-Wear (Note: Waist Sash-Wrap and Hair Upsweep) ... Popular Red Clutch-Bag Style ... Red Satin Ensemble (Note: with Opaque Black Tights Trend).
Finale with models wearing the Natori Collection.
Filipina designer Josie Natori with models. Enthusiastic attendee wearing vintage Natori loungewear.
Twelfth. Three-quarter length sleeves applied to all – from dresses through jackets.
Originally created to be worn with long gloves – a la Jackie O – but rarely done today.
Perhaps popular because the style necessitates less fabric ...

Thirteenth. Saturated colors! Bursting with "Flavor." Acid greens, neon oranges…

Fourteenth. Shorts in almost all collections – short shorts to knee-skimming bermudas – in male and female versions.
Emily Gyermek and Mary Alice Stephenson at Dennis Basso. Amy Fine Collins and Lizzie Tisch at Dennis Basso.
From Dennis Basso (l. to r.): Lovely Evening Gown in Orange (The Color of The Season) ... Day Dress and Coat in Muted Monochromatic Tones ... Evening Dress with Full Crinoline Skirt and Belted Waist (Note: At True Waist).
Fifteenth. Menswear comes to the fore – with a new, sometimes daring, inventiveness – on the runways, in the audience and on the streets.

Sixteenth. Dynamic sneakers and sneaker-like footwear – brilliantly comfy and amusingly designed (especially for Les Hommes) – offering a welcome alternative to the tedium of traditional men's footwear. Oxfords or loafers, guys?

Seventeenth. "Comfort-Wear"! The influence of Baby-Boomers – desiring comfy in an unstable world, easy on well-cared-for, but none-the-less, aging bodies.
1. & 2. Eye-catching necklaces, bracelets and rings from the Lia Sophia Collection; 3. Isabel Barnard-Biderman Trades in her Necklace for A Lia Sophia; 4. Fern Mallis with Lia Sophia's Creative Director, Elana Klam; 5. Lia Sophia Mannequin.
Eighteenth. For Hair, the upsweep – neat or "washer-woman" style – secured with bobby pins or clips!

Nineteenth. Cover it up! Bare semi-naked bodies are definitively OUT (Except for a few hunky young men)! Only an occasional transparency remains.

Perhaps not quite the trend, but equally fascinating, is the increasing "democratization" of the Tents and Fashion Week.
Dynamic backdrop for Tracy Reese runway show.
Tracy's Colorful Casual-Wear Collection (Note: Neon Greens and Oranges).
Interesting backdrop for Custo Barcelona's runway show.
The Custo Collection (Note: Creative Interplay of Textures and Materials).
The proliferation of off-site (away from the Tents) runway shows and presentations to recognizable, established venues, especially in Chelsea and the West Village (such as MILK Studios, Industria, Metropolitan Pavilion), has allowed for easier, and more diverse access.

In addition, the opening up of runway show tickets for purchase – not only through the high-end Gilt or American Express, but even through Duane Reade – allows for just about "anybody" to become a quasi-insider-spectator!

The mix has mixed results.
The ever-creatively-costumed Patrick McDonald begins Fashion Week with Duckie Brown. Fashion stylist, "personality" and consultant Robert Verdi also begins Fashion Week with Duckie Brown. Duckie Brown attracts a curious crowd.
The Duckie Brown Menswear Collection at Industria Studios. Some note the most innovation is now in Menswear. (Note: Mixed Patterns, Slim But Baggy Silhouette, Tousled "Boy" Hair, PJ Aesthetic).
Of course there are always those who object to any such democratization – as in the 1970s, when William Ylvsaker opened up the exclusive sport of Polo, at Palm Beach Polo, to the masses. I was there then, witnessing many frowns among the unhappy chic!

This "opening" is different!

It dilutes the intimacy and possible efficacy of the working fashion community ...
Designer Joy Cioci presents her collection at The Box. (Note: Capes and Shorts).
Watch out for this new designer, the super Arnaldo Ventura! In-Demand stylist Rebecca Weinberg (r.) with partner Debbie and dog.
At Hotel Americano, top left: Tyler Gwinn from Endeavor Global with party hostess Carmen D'Alessio of Studio 54 notoriety. 1-5: The Pointo Zero Project: Emerging designers from Sao Paulo, Brazil.
Forever fascinating is the unveiling of the hottest new fashion and lifestyle products revealed at the style lounges!

Always my "fav": Robert Verdi's Luxe Lab.

One has the opportunity to get up-close-and-personal with new inventions and alluring Fashion ditties. These Lounges gratefully also provide a restful interlude for exhausted Fashion-people.

If working, one has a love-hate relationship with Fashion Week.
REACH by design showcases easy-grip toothbrushes (and additional products).
POP Phones by Native Technology transform your Smart Phone into the comfort of an old-fashioned telephone.
At Robert Verdi's LUXE Laboratory, one is introduced to fab new products: Bamboopink's "charming" jewelry line centers around coupling charms with chains. My MUST-Have for Fashion Week and everyday: Jill Stuart's "Vanilla Lust" eau de parfum. I adore Jill Stuart's fashion sensibility BUT more people should know about her wonderful scents.
In fact, Fashion Week actually occupies three to four weeks, between the prep and the shows.

The very volume of information, invitations, and eye-candy can be overwhelming.

I received over 300-plus evites and emailed tidbits, in addition to dozens by snail mail,

Fashion Week is, at best, an invitation to beauty, excitement, friends and fun!

It is also addictive!
The "PINK Collection" by Douglas Hannant. (Note: Knee-Hi-Sock Trend).
Emerging designer Whitney Pozgay (center) presents her colorful feminine WHIT fashion collection at the New YOTEL.
One turns on, becoming enlivened by the thunderous beginning beats of a shows music, mesmerized by the parade of impeccable beauties and handsome humans, wowed by the creativity, and transfixed by the hierarchy of the crowded attendees, all striving to be "Front Row."

As night draws nigh, the "heat" increases! Fashionistas appear in cleverly calculated dress-up ensembles – sparkling for the eve's occasion.

I would also like to salute the sensitive, patient and wonderful security men beneath the Tents. We appreciate those who have returned for years making us safer and thus, happier.

Zelda Kaplan (June 20, 1916– February 15, 2012).
Their professionalism was demonstrated most recently when dear 95-year-old Zelda Kaplan, a fixture in the New York Art scene, passed out and died, while seated in the front row at the Joanna Mastroianni show. Quietly and unobtrusively, security removed her, respectfully placing her within a curtained area.

Zelda did great work with the women of Africa, generously contributing to their economic well-being. We will miss her colorful ensembles with high hats, fabricated from brilliantly-patterned textiles made by those women.

So strange that this fashion season began and concluded with the deaths of two exceptional women.

RIP Dear "Sisters."

To conclude with the beginning ...

One month ago I was invited to the theater to see Fern Mallis "star" in the amusingly insightful Nora Ephron's, Love, Loss and What I Wore.

The motif, the communal experience of "fashion" in the journey of all women – sometimes hysterical and at others, painful.

The play whimsically illuminates, how within a sociological context, fashion unites us all.

Today, Fern hosts a series of talks with Fashion Icons at the 92nd Street Y, a program on "Fashion Insiders" on Sirius Radio, has launched her own jewelry line, "Fern Finds" on QVC, and owns her personal consultant firm.

The acclaimed designer Stan Herman, past President of the CFDA, and Founding President of 7th on Sixth, continues to be a vital force in shaping the fashion industry. He recently launched his own QVC line of loungewear and sleepwear.
Photographs by Jill Lynne. Visit her here.