Wednesday, September 16, 2015

First on the calendar

The crowd gathering outside the Prince George Hotel on 28th and Fifth yesterday afternoon at 6:15 pm as guests are arriving for the Spring Collection of Oscar de la Renta designed by Peter Coppins. Photo: DPC.
Wednesday, September 16, 2015. We’ve had beautiful weather here in New York for the past few days. With temps in the low 80s in the day and the low 60s at night with only a week to go before Autumn sets in the calendar.

First on the calendar. Tonight between 6 and 8 at Henri Bendel Food Bank for New York City is joining forces with Bendel for the 10th Annual Go Orange to End Hunger Campaign. 1.4 million New Yorkers rely on soup kitchens and food pantries for food. Tonight, 10% of the proceeds from sales will go to the Food Bank. Besides shopping, guests will enjoy little treats provided by Sprinkles Cupcakes, jcoco chocolate, and Lavazza.

It’s New York Fashion Week and that, along with the Jewish holidays (Rosh Hashanah). The city has been a bit quieter because of the holiday and yet busier for the fashion crowd – meaning the industry, the media, the social ladies, the retailers, etc. They were at the shows.
The tents at Bryant Park: In 2007, Mercedes-Benz became the title sponsor of Fashion Week New York, when it officially became MB Fashion Week New York.
Before Mercedes-Benz there was Olympus.
For years when I was first paying attention to it, the important designer shows were almost all in the Tents at Bryant Park. For observers such as myself, it was like going to theatre. Because it is high New York theatre -- reflecting the energy of the town at its quintessence. Then, several years ago, they moved it all to Lincoln Center which was a bit “uptown” for the industry, but it was okay. It seems that within a couple of years, however, a lot of designers were moving away from the “Tents” and showing in their own chosen venues.

I don’t know if it was a matter of economics but I do know it created a great inconvenience for the people who go to the shows for a reason, i.e. business. As much as they are theatre to me, they are all about what can they sell? And to whom? And for how much? That is the essence of the fashion business.

Chosen venues are now the name of the game. There are exceptions showing in a less aesthetically desirable version of Tents. I haven’t been there but the talk is not favorable.
The short-lived Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week in Lincoln Center's Damrosch Park.
There was a time – decades ago – when fashion designers and manufacturers held their runway shows in their working quarters in the garment district, which is mainly Seventh Avenue south of 42nd, and running down to the high 20s. The idea of the Tents at Bryant Park gave the industry a real boost in terms of public interest.

It probably spawned a lot of dreams among the young being exposed to the idea of Fashion. I’ll bet there are any number of people in the industry today who were drawn to it, young and starry-eyed, when they first saw the activity and arrivals outside those tents. The view, even from the street, was magic. And for people watching, it was the best.
The Garment District in 1955.
I don’t know the reasons why it changed but it did and now it’s all over the lot. I don’t attend fashion shows anymore because we’ve had wonderful contributors such as Ellin Saltzman and Jamee Gregory and Jill Lynne contributing their own well-informed and educated take on what is being shown. They can speak to a customer in a language I don’t have.

I did go last night, however, to the Oscar de la Renta show. Their venue was the ballroom of the Prince George Hotel on East 28th Street. The Prince George was built in 1903 when that area of  town was bustling with social and commercial activity. It was uptown for many New Yorkers. As the city began moving farther north, the area in the 20s even around Fifth Avenue itself, became more commercial and less traveled by the hoi polloi. The  hotel is now back in town as the whole area south of 42nd Street has flourished.
One of the runways, preparing for show. The lady nearest left is Vanessa Friedman of the New York Times. 6:25 p.m.
Marcia Mishaan and her mother-in-law Mme. Mishaan. Vanessa Friedman close up.
So it was not a surprise to see the venue for the Oscar show.  There was a specially built entrance with Oscar de la Renta written across the entry. There was a crowd waiting to get in and a crowd waiting to see, spread out even into the street. On entering, the ballroom had been transformed into a double runway. The walls and the floor were covered in a soft pearl-ish ivory fabric and carpeting. It was a very good looking room and it reflected the taste and image of the late designer – a kind of sophisticated cool, but centered.
Two young and serious women from the Oscar staff. This very beautiful young woman being followed around by the guy in the camera is Carla Bruni, the wife of former French president Nicolas Sarkozy.
I was first invited to this show by Boaz Mazor, who has long been the fashion ambassador and director of Sales for Oscar. He and I met about 25 years ago at reception at the house of a mutual friend, Billy McCarty-Cooper, in Los Angeles. We’ve been friends ever since. Boaz is highly popular, a man-about-town whatever town that might be when he’s traveling the world with the collections). He has a bon vivant’s personality and an enormous capacity for work. Boaz also has the personality to bring out the ladies. They all love him. And for good reason.
The crowd is gathering. The woman mid-photo with the blue jacket and white blouse is Oscar's stepdaughter Eliza Bolen. Her husband, Alex Bolen, CEO of Oscar de la Renta, is the man in the grey suit to the left of the photo. The man in the blue jacket is Bill Cunningham, also of the New York Times.
As the world knows, Oscar died last October after a spectacular career that spanned six decades. He left a deep imprint in terms of taste and style. He left his business to his family whom he trained to continue the legacy and the style that he created. Now with international designer Peter Copping has joined them as the designer for Oscar de la Renta.

There was a big crowd, seated comfortably so everyone could really see  the clothes.
Ellin Saltzman. Jamee Gregory and Boaz Mazor.
Linda Fargo. The hair. The signature. She's Senior VP of fashion at Bergdorf Goodman and she's as nice and as smart as she looks.
Linda talking to Boaz. I took this shot because of the pants. They're kind of cool. At first you think: what? And then you think: yeah, nice. kinda cool.
Robin Gerstner, Emilia Saint-Amand, and Susan Braddock, all three long-time Oscar clients. While they were sitting there, another woman wearing the same dress as Emilia came by and exchanged greetings.
Helen O'Hagan. She's holding the red carnation that was on everyone's seat. Vanity Fair's Jim Reginato and Amy Fine Collins.
Aerin Lauder. Great legs. Great shoes.
It was difficult because I was seated near the entrance so I could catch what was passing by looking specifically for shots of shoes. But these shoes are made for walkin' ... and they were walkin.'
More shoes.
I don't know who was seated next to Ms. Lauder but I couldn't resist the Roman sandals.
See what I mean?
Six pieces from Peter Copping Spring Collection for Oscar de la Renta. We'll show you much more on Ellin Saltzman's wrap-up on Friday.

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