Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Jamee's Fashion Week musings

A brilliant brush-stroke silk organza ball gown from Zang Toi.
by Jamee Gregory
Illustrations by Bob Schulenberg

Monday, February 13

Carolina Herrera 10 AM
Fashion Week makes my heart race! The bright sun, Lincoln Center's lovely plaza, hordes of photographers, swarms of young fashionistas in sky-high platforms, friendly guards who greet me like family, and the thrill of seeing beautiful designs creates a heady cocktail. Once inside the social whirl starts, as friends turn up to check out next fall's looks. I see Sydie Lansing, whose son is married to Patricia Herrera, first. We walk in together, as guests take their seats.

I bump into adorable Anna Carter, who sits in the first row, beside her husband Graydon, with Lee Radziwill, Fran Lebowitz, and Reinaldo Herrera, whose two daughters flank Renée Zellweger. Pierre Durand, Peter Lyden, Sharon Hoge, Cece Cord, William Ivey Long, Princess Alexandra of Greece with her son, Darius, age 10, in a chic Tyrolean jacket, arrive.
Carolina Herrera. A giant red gown from Caroline Herrera, with black piping. "One would have to chair the opera to wear it!"   Carolina Herrera. "I am drawn to a slinky silver column with a cut out back that was truly a show-stopper."
My friend, Knopf's Shelley Wanger, saves the day by lending me her pen, as my favorite red-enameled Elsa Perreti Tiffany one goes dry as the lights go down. Projections cover the tent's backdrop, a series of squares featuring different designs, featuring this collection's sketches and textures, including feathers and furs. The first numbers out are navy and black, very sober, urban and sophisticated.

Cocktail dresses and enormous skirts in with strapless tops tempt, as does a giant red gown, with black piping, but one would have to chair the opera to wear it! I am drawn to a slinky silver column with a cut out back that was truly a show-stopper. A net-covered dress with black-and-white jet markings might work for the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Antique show, which I am chairing. I like the mulberry and lilac palette of many of the unusual prints.

Zang Toi. "I was quite taken with two long white turtlenecks that appeared under coats and over leggings."
Zang Toi 1PM
Being a big fan of Zang Toi, I rush to his presentation. Photographers are going bonkers over someone quite unfamiliar. I ask one and am told the object of their strobes is Cynthia Bailey, a Real Housewife of Atlanta! There are several Miss USA type in tutus, Ramona Singer, a very pretty Petra Nemcova, Julie and Billy Macklowe, as the former, an ardent admirer of Zang's, will produce his upcoming make-up line and offered samples in a goodie bag on each chair. Lucia Gordon, Jean Shafiroff, Robert Verdi, Peter Brant Jr. and a host of others, are all dolled up.

I was quite taken with two long white turtlenecks that appeared under coats and over leggings. One was covered with large white flowers and the other embroidered with white beads.

Several sweater-sets in white, with fox, look very modern and would be great fun for winter weekends in Southampton or Palm Beach. A tailored white pants suit with a long jacket is alluring, but I worry about all-white in Manhattan, not to mention what happens when you spill something.

The last piece, a brilliant brush-stroke silk organza ball gown looked amazing coming forward, but as the model receded, I saw that the skirt parted and a teeny-tiny mini-skirt was exposed! This daring creation is adorable, but would only work with leggings! Zang infused his crisp collection with shots of red and lots of black and white.

Tuesday February 14

Badgley Mischka 10 AM
Back to the races! First stop Badgley Mischka, a show which draws lots of Mark and James' Locust Valley and Palm Beach riding partners, like Cornelia Guest and Arianna Boardman. Jill Fairchild arrives, chicly clad in jodhpurs. Joan Rivers make a scene-stealing entrance, stalked by paparazzi, taking her seat beside Kelly Osbourne. The models sports poufy, frizzed-up platinum blond hair, and are dressed to the nines. Gold lame pants and shimmery gold boot-cut jeans look glam under sweaters and wraps.

An elegant, man-tailored gold blazer would be a jazzy addition to my winter wardrobe. I circle a gold sheath with a feathery trim around the collar that continues down the front of the dress. Lots of original ideas, like a gold leather pajama-like pants suit, look interesting, marching in front of a giant projection of a snowy park scene. Perhaps giant flakes, like those projected, will return next year?
Badgley Mischka. "Lots of original ideas, like a gold leather pajama-like pants suit, look interesting."   Badgley Mischka. "An elegant, man-tailored gold blazer would be a jazzy addition to my winter wardrobe."
Time Out! 12:30 PM
Valentine's Day always means a very special lunch at La Grenouille, with my husband, Peter. What better way to feel nurtured than a visit to this spectacular restaurant, where flowers and branches burst into February bloom? Forsythia spikes stretch to the ceiling, while pink Sweet Peas twine alongside roses. A glass of champagne, asparagus and cucumbers vinaigrette followed by grilled Dover sole with hot mustard sauce make my favorite meal. Green apple sorbet and delicious tuiles hit the spot. Fortified by Cappuccino, better than Starbucks, and a few praline nuts, I am ready to head back to Lincoln Center, fat and happy!

Naeem Khan. A ball gown with large dots on black organza with a huge bow on one shoulder.
Naeem Khan. A black and silver beaded gowns with ostrich feather skirts.
Naeem Khan 2 PM
Naeem Khan chose a giant chandelier for his backdrop, quite suitable for a parade of glamorous evening clothes. Real celebrities like Matt Damon, Kristin Chenoweth and Padma Lakshmi adorned his front row, while his elegant wife Ranjana (dressed in a splendid white coat with black embroideries) warmed up the audience, greeting friends. Men like Richard Mishaan, Peter Bacanovic, Carlos Souza and Jamie Creel lent their support.

Inspired by the dust and decadence of India and the concept of body art, Khan turns to Mughal paisley and Hindu Tilakas for his metallic embroideries, creating a vision for the 21st century. Stunning pieces include a black, silver and gold metallic-threadwork embroidered evening coat in silk faille, and black and silver beaded gowns with ostrich feather skirts.

I was intrigued by a black-topped ball gown with a large full skirt in a silk fabric covered with eyes, as well as a ball gown with large dots on black organza with a huge bow on one shoulder. Either one would work for opening night at the Philharmonic. A beautifully embroidered jacket and skirt in an abstract swirl print would be perfect for a late afternoon wedding or theatre benefit.

Dennis Basso 3 PM
Off to Dennis Basso, inspired this year by the mystery of the Orient Express and travel on grand ocean liners, when women packed large trunks, instead of carrying a week's supply of everything in a minute wheeling bag. I still pack a real suitcase, but Dennis' designs are far too beautiful and luxurious to squeeze by packing! His exuberant and delightful collection of furs and ready-to-wear was so glamorous. I fell for his Valentine's Day creations, especially the wildest ones, his Swarovski crystal beaded gowns and furs like lynx and sable in colors like cayenne and navy.

They would be as chic in Manhattan as they would be in Aspen. Light, airy and playful, they floated down the runway. Hoods, colorfully lined, would keep me warm. Tissue weight cashmere linings would feel cozy, like a sweater, just right for chilly days and freezing nights. Marcia Mishaan, Nina Griscom, Joanne de Guardiola, Star Black and I were all on our feet, appreciating Basso's bravura performance.

Oscar de la Renta 6:30 PM
It's Oscar de la Renta time, in his raw 11 W. 42nd space, filled to the brim with all the heavy hitting editors and major retailers, elbow to elbow. I see Architectural Digest's Margaret Russell, Allure's Linda Welles, Eric Wilson from the New York Times, Karen Katz, Jim Gold and Ken Downing from Neiman Marcus. No one wants to miss out on one of Oscar's stellar performances. His clothes are the ones that women love to wear, year after year. His elegant team, including engaging Erica Bearman and chic step-daughter Eliza Bolen, graciously make sure everyone is accounted for, carefully ushering in the eager audience. Fans were not disappointed.

Beautiful dresses for day and night, dazzling gowns for the season's balls, great trousers with chic vests and anoraks, appealing colors along with chic black and white, cardigans and jackets galore, all perfectly made in luxurious fabrics. Embroideries decorate simple shapes, everything done with great taste and flair.

My favorites include a black double-face cashgora coat with white-feathered Bijoux pendant embroidery and mink collar, great for a glamorous party in a cold space, like the Winter Antiques show at the Armory; a pink pendant printed silk chiffon pleated dress, a pink silk faille jewel neckline shift dress that skimmed the body and was covered with pendant embroideries that moved, just right for a dinner party on a dreary night when one hates to wear black; a skinny pink pant suit with a pink goat vest that would really make an entrance, a sleeveless printed and quilted nylon goose down vest with a fox collar in an abstract tweed worn over a dress, a red and black beaded cocktail dress and matching cardigan, perfect for a restaurant; a taffeta black printed dress with jewels, a black shift with a jeweled hem, a silver paillette-encrusted floral appliqué coat in ice blue, a gorgeous gold bullion and bead glitter gown with a mock-turtle neck, and a sweeping silk taffeta skirt that would make waves on opening night of the ballet.

Michael Kors. "I circled a plaid coat with patch pockets and a flattering collar. "
I may have to rob a bank or write a new book before heading straight to Oscar! It will be hard to choose from this magnificent and well-edited collection.

Wednesday, February 16

Michael Kors 10AM
Michael Kors is on a roll! After taking his company public, his stock is steadily on the rise. The energy in the tent is positive and electric as all the major players arrive. Michael lived up to the hype, presenting a winter collection using lots of red and black with fringed, blanket-like wraps that look cozy and enveloping.

Great red and black body suits that come down the runway sans pants, but one could easily imagine them tucked smoothly into black corduroy jeans or with classic trousers. They made a real impression on Kors' beautiful models with endless long legs. Michael mixes tweeds and mohair, bulky knits and fur with sleek leather, shiny satin and sensual lace, creating a tension between hard and soft.

Michael Kors. "A crimson-beaded dress with a scalloped hem seemed the perfect dress for holiday parties in LA and Manhattan, easy to pack, a real plus."
Dresses are long and lean, extending well below the knee, anchored by boots and oxfords. Models carry structured satchels and sport-blanket coats, ponchos, and glamorous furs wrapped at the waist. Ivory, ash, black and crimson along with saddle tones, like camel and chocolate, provided a lively classic American palette. Jessica Alba, Debra Messing, and Angelica Huston sat back to back with Renee Rockefeller, Bettina Zilkha, Lauren Dupont, Hilary Geary Ross and me.

I love the turtle-necked black and red body suit, snuggly and warm for wintery Southampton weekends, the beautiful black beaded blouse to pair with black pants. A beautiful red fur with a hood tops my Christmas wish list. It's not like anything in my closet. The blanket ponchos seemed perfect for fall strolls down Madison Avenue, promising to brighten bleak days.

A tweed sheath with a feathered skirt looked new, and a crimson-beaded dress with a scalloped hem seemed the perfect dress for holiday parties in LA and Manhattan, easy to pack, a real plus. I circled a plaid coat with patch pockets and a flattering collar. Michael's collection offers plenty of pieces to carry his customer from day through night in great style.

Douglas Hannant 11 AM
Crossing the rainy Josie Robertson Plaza, the fashion troops move from the large tents to Douglas Hannant's show in The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts at Lincoln Center. The damp day is responsible for frizzy hair, wet soles, and a desire to stay inside, but spirits rise as charming Frederick Anderson welcomes guests to a veritable forest. Black chairs and floor, strewn with pumpkin, orange and yellow leaves, studded with trees in the same colors, makes for an interesting backdrop and a bold change of pace. Stephanie Wolkoff and her mother Barbara Winston chats with Valesca Guerrand-Hermes and Sharon Bush.

As the show begins, Hannant's designs fit right in, sharply tailored in black and white, perfect for fall. I note a pair of tight black leather jodhpurs worn with a black and white tweed jacket and the charcoal grey and black boxy bags carried by the models. I love a graphic black jersey shift with panels of black and white houndstooth tweed on the top and bottom, perfect for lunches and meetings.
Douglas Hannant. "A tomato red silk print blouse with a giant pussy-cat bow, always flattering ..."   Douglas Hannant. "I note a pair of tight black leather jodhpurs worn with a black and white tweed jacket ..."
A tomato red silk print blouse with a giant pussy-cat bow, always flattering, would look great with grey flannels. Douglas always produces a feminine, tailored collection that works in real life as well as on the runway, more for his ladies than for fashion editors looking for an over-the-top statement.

Leaving Lincoln Center behind, visions of dresses dance in my head. Fashion Week is a heady buffet, full of color, fabric and fur, offering a wealth of shapes and styles. It takes time to digest and fully appreciate, but it educates one's eye, offering a taste of things to come. Sometimes styles like longer hemlines are an acquired taste and take time to percolate. Our ideas shift and adjust, modifying and morphing. Nothing stays the same. It's exciting to be a part of the first peek at the future.