Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Buy it: liquid leggings
Back when Kate Moss was with Pete Doherty (it was only last year but seems like ages ago, doesn't it?), she showed up at the Glastonbury Festival in what appeared to be latex leggings. Of all the Kate Moss looks I've knocked off, I filed this one under Do Not Attempt. However, in the last few months, so-called liquid leggings have been popping up all over the place, from the celeb favorite Kova & T to American Apparel. The finish is less shiny and more leather-like than Kate's pants, but the fit is even tighter (leave it to Kate Moss to make latex--a substance most people need baby powder to get into--look baggy), and until my friend ES bought a pair of Kensie's Liquid Leggings at Dillard's over Labor Day weekend, I was skeptical. They looked so amazing on her, I was finally inspired to give them a whirl.

I ordered these Aqua latex leggings (which are not, it should be noted, actually latex, but a poly/spandex blend) last week during Bloomingdale's private sale; I tried them on today, and wow. They are surprisingly flattering, albeit a little warm, and totally sexy, and in spite of the 5 or so extra pounds I'm currently carrying, my legs do not at all look like sausage casings. In fact, they make me feel like a total rock star. I plan on wearing them with an oxford shirt or a boyfriend cardigan, for a smart-meets-sexy look. And, of course, heels are in order. High heels.
Cheryl Shops...Colette x Gap
Its month-long run is coming to a close on Sunday, but today I finally made it to the Colette x Gap pop-up shop on 5th Avenue (I know, I know--but I had Fashion Week, followed by an incredibly hellish two weeks at my day job, and this was really my first chance to go, and excuses, excuses, excuses). What's left is pretty sparse--the $400 trench coat and $350 denim jacket are still there, plus some T-shirts, candles, books, and jewelry (you can see everything on the website). The two items I had really wanted--the gray Longchamp tote and the gray Repetto ballet flats--are long gone, and, according to the workers, there are no more shipments, so what's there is all that's left. Much like the real Colette in Paris, nothing has a price tag, but you can assume it's ridiculously expensive (Colette being the key word in Colette x Gap); the workers, imported from the Paris store, are standoffish at first but attentive once engaged. I left empty-handed, but on my way out, I absentmindedly sprayed some Le Labo Vanille 44 on my wrist. I then spent all afternoon sniffing said wrist. Oh my god, does this stuff smell amazing! Like most of Le Labo's fragrances, it doesn't necessarily take after its name; according to the website, it's "a subtle ambery incensey woodsy sexy note." Vanille 44 is also normally available only at the Colette store in Paris (in other words, not at the Le Labo store on Elizabeth or at Barneys), and since I'm not planning on a trip to Paris anytime soon, this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and I should probably splurge on a bottle, right? (Splurge indeed; the full-size bottle at the Paris store is reportedly $500, factoring in the bad exchange rate.) Looks like I'll be taking a return trip tomorrow to investigate...

UPDATE: Oof. The wee little 50 ml bottle of Vanille 44 is $260. That's right, $260. In spite of the salesgirl's hard sell, I just could not bring myself to spend that much on a 50 ml bottle of perfume, albeit one that, after Sunday, will only be available in a store 3,500 miles away. Looks like I'll have to settle for a decant from the Perfumed Court.

Monday, September 29, 2008

The week in shopping
Mary-Kate Olsen is a fan of Slane & Slane’s gold and silver jewelry, and with prices 50%-60% off, you can be too. 10/1-10/2; 11-6; Warwick Hotel, 65 W. 65th St. (at 6th Ave.), Oxford Suite, 2nd fl.

Prive' Designer Sales has Vince, J Brand, James Perse, and other contemporary labels for 35%-80% off. 10/1-10/5; 10:30-7; Chelsea Market, 75 9th Ave. (15th & 16th Sts.).

Escada clothing, handbags, and accessories are 85% off retail. Leave the strollers at home. 10/2-10/5; 10-8, 10-6 weekend; the Altman Building, 135 W. 18th St. (6th & 7th Aves.).

Catherine Angiel's pretty semiprecious jewelry is up to 50% off. Through 10/13; noon-7; 43 Greenwich Ave. (Perry & Charles Sts.).

Soho's Helen Wang is closing; score party dresses for $200-$450 (that's 50%-80% off). Through 9/30; 11-7; 69 Mercer St. (at Broome St.).

Mika Inatome's bridal gowns are up to 90% off (think mid three figures); shoes are 30% off. Through 9/30; call 212-966-7777 to make an appointment; 93 Reade St. (at Church St.), 2nd fl.

Save up to 70% at Pink Mascara's sale. (Plus, free shipping when you spend $150!)

Use promo code 15sale for 15% off fancy lingerie (think Huit, Chantelle, Aubade) at Cheryl Shops friend Gigi's Closet.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Worth the splurge? Fiorentini + Baker boots
For several years now, I've wanted a pair of Fiorentini + Baker 704 boots. Whenever I'm at a Barneys Co-Op store, I pick up the floor model, smell the leather, and caress it. I have stood idly by as the price has risen (they used to cost somewhere in the mid $400s; they're now $525). Last weekend was a double-points weekend at Barneys, and I was really tempted to buy them then, but a little voice in my head said, "Do you really need to spend $500 on a pair of boots?" Fiorentini + Baker shoes are are handcrafted in Italy by real cobblers; not only would I be supporting a dying trade, but I'm sure the boots would last me years and years. Then again, I have a five-year-old pair of Steven boots that appear to be holding up quite well, and I paid $60 for them at Loehmann's.

The thing is, these boots are being knocked off left and right, at varying prices. Some of these knockoffs are better than others: Some have inner zippers (the F+B style is a pull-on), some have too many or too few straps (three is the magic number), some have buckles only on the sides. But here are the two best facsimiles I've found:

First, Faryl Robin's Lucky boots have the proper pull-on design and the height is within a half inch of the original (this is a midcalf boot, not a knee-high). At $299, they're a bit more than half the price of the original, but for the budget-conscious in these times of recession, that might still be a bit on the high side.

The true bargain, then, is the Steve Madden Buck boot, a mere $160. They're an almost perfect knockoff; the only thing that's missing is the cross-shaped buckle holes. I was so intrigued, I went down to the Steve Madden store to inspect them myself, and while the leather is not nearly as luxuriously broken-in as the F+B version, it's soft enough, and much nicer than you'd expect for the price. I think we have a winner...
Recommended reading: new on the internets
I have a confession to make: I love Gwyneth Paltrow. She is so incredibly stylish, but that's not all. I love her entire snooty, privileged, Upper East Side, macrobiotic-eating, Madonna-BFFing, weird-naming-of-children demeanor. I feel like the harder she tries to seem normal, the snobbier she sounds. But she is a Movie Star, and she just can't help herself. Case in point: She accompanied Mario Batali on his tour of Spain for PBS (the show, Spain...On the Road Again, begins airing this week on PBS); in nearly every story I read, Paltrow makes it seem like no big deal, like she just decided to tag along with, you know, one of the most famous chefs in the country. And, to top it off, today she launched her new lifestyle website, the questionably-named GOOP. Yes, GOOP. So far, all that's posted is a manifesto (an excerpt to follow below), but if you sign up for the mailing list--and you can bet your bippy I did--you can get a little bit of Gwyneth delivered straight to your inbox. What can we expect from this endeavor?

Make your life good. Invest in what's real. Cook a meal for someone you love. Pause before reacting. Clean out your space. Read something beautiful. Treat yourself to something. Go to a city you've never been to. Learn something new. Don't be lazy. Workout and stick with it. GOOP. Make it great.


Got that? GOOP.

For a less, um, holistic experience, check out the new Shopbop blog, shoptalk. It's written by four gals--Amie, Suzanne, Tonya, and Maureen--whom I'm assuming are Shopbop's copywriters. The posts are much more personal than you'd expect from a corporate blog, but, as you can imagine, the focus is pretty much all Shopbop, all the time. Then again, if you like shopping at Shopbop as much as I do, this is probably not going to be a problem.

Monday, September 22, 2008

The week in shopping
Were I not working under the looming threat of a big deadline at work, I would totally ditch it for the Hermes sample sale. Expect scarves, shoes, ties, ready-to-wear, and, yes, bags at still-expensive prices. But, hey, it's Hermes. 9/24-9/28; 10-6, 10-6 Thurs., 1-6 Sun.; Metropolitan Pavilion, 125 W. 18th St. (6th & 7th Aves.), 4th fl.

When I lived in the West Village, the only salon allowed to wax my lady bits was Eve; forced out by rent hikes, they're moving to W. 8th Street next week, but through the end of this week, they're offering 1983 prices on their services--that means Brazilians for $20 and regular bikini waxes for a mere $7. Through 9/28; call 212-807-8054 for an appointment; 400 Bleecker St. (W. 11th & Perry Sts.).

Cheryl Shops–approved jeans from Earnest Sewn are $75 at their seasonal sample sale. Through 9/28; 8-8; 831 Washington St. (Gansevoort & 13th Sts.).

Just in time for the beginning of fall, White + Warren is hosting a one-day-only sample sale, with their cashmere sweaters and accessories at wholesale and below (cashmere sweater coats are $150). 9/26; 8-5; 80 W. 40th St. (5th & 6th Aves.), 3rd fl.

Winter will be here before you know it; if you're in the market for a fur, Giuiliana Teso is having a sample sale. 9/23-9/25; 10-5; 584 Broadway (Houston & Prince Sts.), ste. 504.

Well-dressed dogs (and their owners) shop at Trixie & Peanut; at their sample sale this weekend, clothing, collars, and pet carriers are 50% off and more. 9/26-9/28; 23 E. 20th St. (Broadway & Park).

Or, if you prefer, New York Dog's sample sale features bags, clothing, collars, leashes, and toys for up to 80% off (think $10 and up). 9/24-9/26; 9-8; 133 W. 25th St. (6th & 7th Aves.), ste. 9 east.

Lower East Side neighbors Narnia and Honey in the Rough are teaming up for a joint sale, where new and vintage clothes are 50%-75% off. 9/26-9/27; 11-8; 157 Rivington St. (Suffolk & Clinton Sts.).

Christopher Fischer's cashmere sweaters and accessories are on sale this weekend. 9/26-9/28; 10-7, 11-6 Sun.; 80 Wooster St. (Prince & Spring Sts.).

V Is for Vintage and E is for Expensive: vintage YSL, Chanel, and various other designers are on sale. 9/26-9/28; 11-8; 129 Prince St. (Wooster & W. Broadway).

Covet Jewellery is on sale; prices are up to 40% off. Through 10/15; 233 W. 10th St. (Bleecker & Hudson Sts.).

There's lots of awesome stuff at the Brooklyn Flea, but of particular note is St. Kilda Jewelry, offering gold, silver, and semiprecious jewelry for up to 80% off. 9/28; 10-5; 357 Clermont Ave. (Lafayette & Greene Aves.).

Baccarat crystal jewelry is up to 70% off. 9/24-9/25; 10-6; 625 Madison Ave. (58th & 59th Sts.).

Stock up on fall jewelry and accessories for a mere $5-$20 at Alexia Crawford's sample sale. Through 9/26; 9-7; 35 W. 36th St. (5th & 6th Aves.), 6th fl.

Score Cavalli, Lacroix, Ungaro, and more for up to 75% off at Patti Rose's sale. Sizes 2-14, plus bags and accessories, are available. Through 9/24; 9-7 Tue., 9-6 Wed.; 124 E. 58th St. (Park & Lex), ground fl.

Enter code STELLA75 for 75% off the spring/summer Stella McCartney for LeSportsac collection.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Buy It: Saks Fifth Avenue Polished Face Kit
If you're anything like me, your makeup collection is a bit of a mishmash. I use about five or six products on a daily basis--ones that I've actually purchased here and there--but in the rest of my bag, it's a hodgepodge of Fashion Week freebies, gift-with-purchase remnants, Sephora impulse buys, and stuff I read about in Allure. I've always wanted to go to a makeup counter, get a makeover, and then buy some products; my mom did this with me when she deemed me ready to wear makeup, sometime in middle school. Nowadays, however, I'm kind of afraid of a lot of the makeup-counter workers, both for their aggressive manner and potentially inappropriate suggestions. I want to look like a better version of me, not someone--or something--else.

Which is where this ingenious polished face kit, available exclusively at Saks Fifth Avenue, comes in. It combines the best of Saks' makeup counters--shadow from Dior, blush from YSL, highlighter from Nars, lip gloss from Armani, mascara from Guerlain, plus moisturizer from Chanel--creating one universally flattering, yet minimal, easy to apply palette. The best part is that it comes in a leather Marc Jacobs pouch that, in a pinch, could double as a chic clutch. Considering all that you get (every product is full-sized), $198 seems like a good deal to me. And, really, a simplified makeup routine that makes you feel glamorous whilst applying it is priceless, no?

See more here.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Recommended reading: shameless plug
Do you ever find yourself reading Cheryl Shops and wishing you knew more about the gal behind the blog? You're in luck: I was recently interviewed by the website arm of the Emmy-award-winning TV show Cool in Your Code (you can watch it Tuesdays at 9 p.m. on NYC TV, channel 25 on TWC). You won't find too many juicy personal details, but you can read about my favorite places to shop and why I love NYC so damn much. Enjoy!
The week in shopping
Bags and clothes are a nice 50%-85% off at Foley + Corinna's sample sale (City Totes are $220). 9/19-9/21; 11-8, 11-7 Sun.; 114 Stanton St. (Ludlow & Essex Sts.).

Decisions, decisions: Roberto Cavalli for 70%-85% off, or Rachel Roy for 70% off? Why not both? 9/16-9/18; 10-6; Park Lane Hotel, 36 Central Park South (at 58th St.).

Downtown mini-chain Min-K has select dresses, blouses, and jackets for 30%-50% off. Through 9/19; 11-7; 334 E. 11th St. (1st & 2nd Aves.), 219 Mott St. (Prince & Spring Sts.).

The Warehouse Sale has denim, dresses, and tops from contemporary brands for up to 80% off. RSVP at thewarehousesale.com and save the $5 admission fee. 9/18-9/20; 11-8; Metropolitan Pavilion, 123 W. 18th St. (6th & 7th Aves.), 4th fl.

Treat the man in your life to shirts and shorts for 25%-50% off at Freemans Sporting Club. Through 9/19; noon-8, noon-6 Sun.; 7 Rivington St. (Bowery & Chrystie).

LF is clearing out spring merch; select denim is a mere $48 and knit tops are $14. Through 9/21; 11-8, noon-6 Sun.; 149 Spring St. (W. Broadway & Wooster Sts.).

Gettin' hitched? Wedding gowns from Angel Sanchez, Ulla Maija, and more are up to 80% off at Mark Ingram. 9/18; call 212-319-6778 to make an appointment; 110 E. 55th St. (Park & Lex), 8th fl.

Got a kid? Stock up on clothes from Kule, Jacadi, Marie Chantal, and other fancy labels for cheapity-cheap at Clothingline. 9/16-9/18; 10-7, 10-6 Wed.; 261 W. 36th St. (7th & 8th Aves.), 2nd fl.

Get a head start on the gift season--Lalique, Judith Leiber, and more are 50%-75% off. Through 9/17; 9-6:30 Tue., 9-5 Wed.; 317 W. 33rd St. (8th & 9th Aves.).

Designer BLITZ has both avant-garde designers (Comme des Garcons, Junya Watanabe) and denim (True Religion, Miss Sixty), as well as everything in between (Miu Miu, Etro). Men's and women's available. Through 9/21; 11-7; 129 Prince St. (Wooster & W. Broadway).

Echo Of The Dreamer's bohemian-chic jewelry and accessories are at closeout prices; jewelry is about $15-$320 (originally $100-$1200). 9/16-9/26; 10-6, 11-4 Sat. (closed Sun. & Mon.); 242 W. 30th St. (7th & 8th Aves.), 14th fl.

Take $10 off orders of $50 or more at C&C California; use promo code LS930 through 9/30.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

New York Fashion Week Recap, part 4: Spring Trends
I had a conversation yesterday at my friend's birthday party about trends and how they get started. Do designers sit around and talk about it? Do they have spies planted in each other's ateliers? Are they shopping at the same trade shows and fabric mills? It's a fun thing to ponder. To get you started, here are the trends I saw on the spring runways.

Sheer
Marc Jacobs started it last spring, so now everyone's hopping on the bandwagon. Think chiffon, organza, and mesh; the most practical ways to wear it are as a sheer layer on top of a solid, or with multiple layers of sheerness to create opacity. (Photo below from Monique Lhuillier)


Cobalt blue
For spring, cobalt blue is the new yellow. And this is a good thing, because this rich, deep tone is much more universally flattering (although for the yellow lovers out there, I still saw enough of it to keep you going for another season). (Photo below from Geren Ford)


Beige
Truly tricky, beige--or nude--unlike blue, is not a color that everyone can wear. Stay away if you're blonde and/or fair-skinned, as it will wash you out. Dark-haired ladies, this one's for you. (Photo below from Tracy Reese)


One-shoulder
Back to trends that work for everyone, there's no denying the power of an asymmetrical neckline: The diagonal line cuts across your body to create a narrowing effect. This trend popped up everywhere from one-strap goddess gowns to one-sleeved tops. (Photo below from Tadashi Shoji)


Hammer pants

Call them harem pants, drop-crotch pants, Hammer pants...they were everywhere. The most flattering version I saw was at Willow. Proceed with caution. (Photo below from Willow)


Bondage
There was a definite kinkiness running through a lot of the spring collections: harness vests, cutouts, bandage dresses. It's a harder, tougher look with a hint of '80s to it, but it's perfect for the anti-girly girl. (Photo below from Harlan Bel)


Bohemian
Yep, it's still here. And I am not complaining--to me, nothing is more perfect for summer than a flowy, printed dress. And I was particularly pleased by the number of caftans I saw on the runway--a staple of the '70s fabulous, caftans have yet to catch on with women of my generation (but they just might this time). (Photo below from Milly by Michelle Smith)


The waist

I saw very few low-waisted garments on the runways (the exception being drop-waist dresses, which were still few and far between). Everything--skirts, pants, dresses--placed emphasis on the natural waist. So put all of your low-waisted clothes in storage, ladies. (Photo below from Twinkle by Wenlan)
New York Fashion Week Recap, part 3: My Favorites
Of the 21 shows I attended, I'm glad to say that while some were a little disappointing or just plain crazy, none were truly awful. But here are my favorites, in no particular order.

Carlos Miele
Sexy pieced chiffon dresses, great layered sheer pieces for day, and live entertainment from Seu Jorge.


Karen Walker
Great prints, a perfectly slouchy boyfriend silhouette, and a cool downtown vibe.


DKNY

A true master of American sportswear, Donna Karan gave a nod to the past while looking to the future.


Sabyasachi
Mixed prints, colors galore, and embroidered to the hilt, a collection unlike any other I'd seen.


Milly by Michelle Smith

Brightly colored, totally wearable pieces for your summer of love.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Coming soon: more Fashion Week recaps
My favorite shows, trends, and final thoughts--check back soon!
New York Fashion Week Recap, part 2: I <3 Swag
This is my queen-size bed, covered in Fashion Week swag. I must say, I was quite pleased by the amount of free stuff I scored this year. Onto the best and worst.

Best single piece of swag: $200 laser-hair removal gift certificate to Completely Bare (from Gen Art)
Second-best single piece of swag: A brand-new Nintendo DS and game (from Julie Haus)
Most useful swag: DHL flash drive (from Mercedes Benz press bag)
Most useless swag: The 7 mini mirrors I received. I know fashion people do a lot of coke, but, seriously, how many tiny mirrors does one need? (In my case, none.)
Best alternate-use swag: Office Max's rubber-band ball, which, as another journalist pointed out, can be used to massage sore feet
Swag I had no idea I needed: Crushing stick, for use in caipirinhas (from Carlos Miele)
Most luxe swag: Elemis skincare, wool tights, and a cute tote bag at Karen Walker
Most tempting swag: $50 Te Casan gift certificate (from Malan Breton)
Cutest tote bag: Twinkle by Wenlan
Swag request for next season: More food, please!
Best all-around swag bag: Geren Ford, whose pouch contained Smashbox makeup, Earl grey tea, perfume samples, sugar-free gum, a Vosges chocolate bar, and a pretty long silk scarf, as seen on the runway.
New York Fashion Week Recap, part 1: By the Numbers
Shows attended: 21
Parties attended: 0
Parties to which I was invited: 12
Shows I didn't get into due to overcrowding: 2
Shows I was invited to but missed: 15
Shows in the tents: 14
Off-site shows: 7
Shows at Bumble + Bumble: 0 (boo hoo!)
Swag bags received: 11
Pairs of custom Havianias received: 0
Ridiculously bitchy PR girls encountered: 2
Days I wore high heels: 4
Blistered toes: 3
Asprin consumed: 50 (approximately)
LU biscuits consumed: 800 (approximately)
Alcoholic beverages consumed in the tent: 2
Iced coffees from Le Pan Quotidien consumed: 6
Amount spent on extravagant pick-me-up sushi dinner Tuesday at BondST: $150
Meals consumed at Subway: 4
Average hours of sleep per night: 5.5
Pounds gained: 1.5 (see LU biscuits, above)
New ailments: 0 (yay!)
Sabyasachi Spring 2009
Where & When: Friday, September 12th at 1 p.m., the Salon, Bryant Park
Runway Recap: Sabyasachi Mukherjee is a big star in his native India, and while he might be under the radar in the U.S. for now, expect that to change soon. His whirlwind collection mixed multiple patterns, beautiful embroidery, and leather scalloped to look like fish scales--sometimes all in one look--with a distinct arts-and-crafts influence, but styled with high buns and heavy glasses, for an intellectual-librarian bent. At first the darker colors and heavier fabrics seemed too autumn-like, but it turns out that India's fall takes place during our spring (thanks, person in front of me whom I overheard saying that). With all the talk about designers expanding their businesses to India, it's nice to see what India can offer us (besides, you know, outsourced customer service representatives and computer programmers).
Standout Look: It's hard to see from the photo, but toward the hem of this dress, round mirrored pailettes and beads begin to accent the circular pattern. I also loved the whimsical outer shoulder pads. It was truly stunning and a definite statement-maker.
Bonus Points: People's Revolution handles Sabyasachi's PR, so whilst waiting for the show to start, I got to see everyone's favorite "power bitch" Kelly Cutrone pace the runway, telling people to move their bags and ordering her employees around. I now totally have a girl crush on her.
Where to Buy: Good question; try contacting People's Revolution.
Tadashi Shoji Spring 2009
Where & When: Friday, September 12th at noon, the Promenade, Bryant Park
Runway Recap: This was a a spring collection, but it appears designer Tadashi Shoji was inspired by cracked ice, as refracted patterns and an icy-cool palette of white and dove gray dominated his show. Shoji played with sheer layers of silk organza, origami-like pleating, and pretty cascades of ruffles; metallic fringed numbers suggested icicles. But this wasn't merely all artiness; trend-right sporty anoraks, paperbag waists, and a series of one-shouldered looks kept the collection current.
Standout Look: I love the play of textures here--the sheer anorak and the metallic fringed skirt--and pairing with a simple white tank top keeps the look young and fresh.
Bonus Points: The cracked-ice pattern seen throughout the collection was projected onto the ceiling and walls of the tent as we walked in, immediately setting the tone for the beautiful designs to follow.
Where to Buy: Saks, Bloomindale's, Neiman Marcus, Nordstrom

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Reem Acra Spring 2009
Where & When: Thursday, September 11th at 3 p.m., the Promenade, Bryant Park
Runway Recap: There has been much speculation this week about how designers would address the mediocre state of the U.S. economy--whether they'd restrain themselves with more conservative, less showy pieces or go all out with investment-worthy statement-makers. Reem Acra definitely went for the latter with her collection today, a series of incredibly bright and embellished dresses and separates, almost to the point that she seemed to be trolling for Middle-East clients, who tend toward the more outré. Shades of nude were interspersed throughout, offering a respite from all the bold shocks of color. From the conservative cut of most garments, I'd venture that Acra appeals to an older customer; but if it's Russia she's after, a closer fit is in order.
Standout Look: Awkward fit aside, this mini-caftan was one of the more calm looks to come down the runway, but the embroidery along the neckline still had that elegant detail that Reem Acra is known for.
Bonus Points: Mr. and Ms. Jay from America's Next Top Model, both tall drinks of water, were in the front row, happily granting interviews until the plastic came up.
Where to Buy: Reem Acra boutique, 14 E. 60th St.
Willow Spring 2009
Where & When: Thursday, September 11th at 1:30 p.m., the Altman Building
Runway Recap: There are inspirations that pop up again and again for designers; they tend to be, in no particular order, Edie Sedgwick, Talitha Getty, the Swans (any of the 1960s NYC socialites à la Truman Capote novels), and the Ballets Russes. For spring, Australian designer Kit Willow was inspired by the last of those, but this is not a complaint--she showed out a small but focused collection of loose, light chiffon pieces with Art Deco beading and a color palette of orange, black, white, and gray. Willow experimented with sheer fabrics, draped in a way to flatter a range of body types and layered to create an artsy, rich-bohemian vibe.
Standout Look: I'm cheating by picking two looks here, but my camera was about to die, so I couldn't take any individual photos. The dress at the left had a gorgeous, goddess-like draped look, with intricate gold beading at the top, making it look fresh and innovative. The look on the right is seriously the first pair of flattering hammer pants I've seen all week--and I have seen a lot of hammer pants. Love the slouchy silhouette, and the long beaded scarf too.
Bonus Points: This was a presentation, ensuring I was in and out in less than half an hour, a wonderful alternative to the hour-plus commitment required of the more traditional "shows".
Where to Buy: Elizabeth Charles
Malan Breton Spring 2009
When & Where: Thursday, September 11th at 9 a.m., the Salon, Bryant Park
Runway Recap: I know I say this every season, but I am still kind of shocked that, of all the talented Project Runway alumni, Malan Breton is the only one still (still!) showing in Bryant Park. There is a pattern to a Malan Breton show: He was inspired by a classic movie (in this case, Star, starring Julie Andrews); he sends well-coiffed, made-up models down the runway to torch songs in somewhat extravagant but well-constructed garments; he does a full lap down the runway himself, with a model on each arm. It's a formula, yes, but one that he keeps refining and perfecting each season; in other words, Malan does what he does best, and he continues to do it even better as each season passes.
Standout Look: This is a strapless lace wide-leg jumpsuit. (Say that ten times fast.) The fact that Malan can, in the immortal words of Tim Gunn, make it work this well is a testament to his skill.
Bonus Points: No Silver Fox spotting, but The Real Housewives of New York was representing for Bravo with Alex and Simon Van Kempen in the front row. Also from the world of reality: Sara from Cycle 6 of America's Next Top Model!
Where to Buy: Email Malan.
Milly by Michelle Smith Spring 2009
Where & When: Wednesday, September 10th at 6 p.m., the Promenade, Bryant Park
Runway Recap: The contemporary Milly line generally has a retro '50s vibe, but for spring, designer Michelle Smith took a trip to 1970s Marrakesh for a fun collection of hippie-chic clothes in bright colors. Vivid psychedelic prints and embellished trim like tassels and sequins accented long caftans and groovy minidresses; crocheted lace decorated separates; and everything was accessorized with either knit skullcaps, macramé belts, or tasseled necklaces. Every once in awhile, a more typical Milly piece like a boxy cropped jacket or bow-neck blouse popped up; however, these did not detract from the easygoing, bohemian vibe.
Standout Look: This dress was one of the first few looks down the runway, and I immediately knew it was going to be my favorite. It has a versatile look--you can wear it whether you're a true bohemian chick or a girly-girl--and it's the perfect kind of summer sundress that you start looking for at the beginning of the season and yet never find. Until now, that is.
Bonus Points: The audience (myself included) was rocking out to the classic-rock music, which included the Rolling Stones' "She's a Rainbow" and George Harrison's "My Sweet Lord."
Where to Buy: Saks, Neiman Marcus, Bloomingdale's, Nordstrom

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Famous fashion people I saw exiting the 3.1 Phillip Lim show today
In no particular order:

Anna Wintour
Rachel Zoe
Leigh Lezark
Kelly Bensimon
Nina Garcia
Grace Coddington
Hamish Bowles
Virginia Smith
Kate Lanphear
Anne Slowey
Suzy Menkes
Simon Doonan
Lynn Yaeger

According to the Fug Girls, Juliette Lewis, Leighton Meester, Joy Bryant, Emmy Rossum, and Roisin Murphy (!) were all there too. Guess winning a CFDA award has it benefits, no?
Carlos Miele Spring 2009
Where & When: Wednesday, September 10th at 3 p.m., the Promenade, Bryant Park
Runway Recap: I always love a Carlos Miele show--he always has sexy Brazilian models walking down his runway in sophisticated, urbane looks. Miele often takes inspiration from architecture and nature; this time, it was his vacation house, located in a Brazilian rain forest. Nature was represented in the tropical-leaf, abstract floral, and cloudlike prints on the wispy chiffon dresses that are a Miele signature. Even more interesting to me were the tiered, pleated gowns representing the architecture aspect; seams wrapped diagonally around the body as if slashed by a knife, and pieced panels were placed just so to accent and flatter a woman's body. This is a kind of sexiness that's always sensual, never slutty.
Standout Look: This gown had an incredibly rich royal blue color, and the overlapping chevron pattern of the panels creates an almost universally flattering shape. It's a master study of textures and contrast.
Bonus Points: In an unexpected--and entertaining--twist, live music was provided by Seu Jorge, perhaps best known as the deckhand who sings David Bowie songs in Portuguese in the Wes Anderson movie The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou.
Where to Buy: The Carlos Miele store at 408 W. 14th Street in the Meatpacking District
Cho Cheng Spring 2009
When & Where: Wednesday, September 10th at 9 a.m., Astor Hall, New York Public Library
Runway Recap: The graceful marble hallways provided an elegant backdrop for Chinese designer Cho Cheng's impeccably tailored suits and princess-like ballgowns. While the skirts will obviously need to be lengthened to suit the society types sitting in the front row, this shouldn't be a problem--Cho is trained in couture techniques, and it shows. With so many suits, however, the show got to be a bit repetitive; I would've preferred a bit more variety, especially with only 24 looks.
Standout Look: This was my favorite suit, and the shape of the jacket is certainly one you don't see every day. It was gorgeously made--and with my front-row seat (that's right, my front row seat), I was certainly close enough to inspect the sewing.
Bonus Points: Cho either has friends in high places or already has a devoted following--model Maggie Rizer opened the show, and the iconic Carmen Dell'Orefice closed it (and received applause as she walked the runway). Also, for the reality TV fans in the house, I sat directly across from Simon Van Kempen and spotted Countess de Lesseps, both from The Real Housewives of New York.
Where to Buy: It appears Cho will run his business as a couture house; see his website for details.
Gottex Spring 2009
Where & When: Monday, September 8th at 8 p.m., the Tent, Bryant Park
Runway Recap: Whenever I go to a fashion show, I like to think, "Who buys this stuff?" Is the client a career woman? A lady who lunches? A downtown party girl? But sitting through the Gottex show, I was at a loss. The collection was inspired by the Mediterranean, and the way in which the swimsuits were styled would lead me to believe that they're targeting the St. Tropez yacht crowd, but, as anyone who's been to a European beach can tell you, bikini tops are beside the point there, much less one-piece suits. So, again, who buys this stuff? The first series of looks were black with metallic gold anchor accents, accessorized with ridiculously oversized hats. Then came graphic prints, followed by bright neon suits, and then some not-so-bad Asian-inspired prints. Then came a series that were adorned with what I can only call chopsticks; all of a sudden, I had a craving for sushi. At the end were what I suppose were bridal swimsuits, since they were all white; one involved a belted bikini bottom with a hooded, draped top. That's right--a hooded bikini. I have a feeling that one is not going to make it to the stores in quite the same way; as for the others, well, there must be some yacht-hopping ladies out there who actually wear this stuff. Right?
Standout Look: This bandeau bikini was the the youngest and, to me, the most wearable look that came down the runway. And, let's face it--bikinis should be the provenance of the young.
Bonus Points: I had a seat that was close enough to the runway to see that 110-pound models have thighs that jiggle when they walk. Models--they're just like us!
Where to buy: Nordstrom, Neiman Marcus, Everything but Water
Sergio Davila Spring 2009
Where & When: Monday, September 8th at 1 p.m., the Salon, Bryant Park
Runway Recap: Peruvian native Sergio Davila has been creating menswear for several years now, but this season marks the debut of his womenswear line. Alas, only five of the 31 looks were for the ladies, but for my few and far between male readers, the collection is definitely worth checking out. I'm used to seeing menswear shows where totally weird and unmanly things like hot pink man-skirts come down the runway, but nearly every look here was dapper and completely wearable, with an almost nautical bent. For the ladies, it was a knit jumpsuit and dresses, with spiderwebby accents. Let's hope next season that the women's portion of the show is as fleshed out as the men's.
Standout Look: I am all for knitwear for evening, and this dress had a sexy but laid-back look, with kind of rock-and-roll chain fringe at the neckline. It's the sort of slinky thing you want to wear to a summer roof party.
Bonus Points: After staring at gorgeous 110-lb. women all day long, sometimes a change is good. Thankfully, my second-row seat allowed me to ogle all the male models at very close range.
Where to Buy: Email for info.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Monique Lhuillier Spring 2009
Where & When: Tuesday, September 9th at 11 a.m., the Promenade, Bryant Park
Runway Recap: Monique Lhuillier owns the distinction of having designed Britney Spears' wedding dress, but she, along with Vera Wang, are arguably two of the most famous bridal designers around. Like Wang, Lhuillier also can crank out a mean red carpet dress. But unlike Wang, who seems hell-bent on proving that she doesn't just do pretty, Lhuillier seems perfectly content--and, in fact, excels--at exploring new and unusual ways to make women appear, well, pretty. This collection was inspired by a tropical-island vacation, and while that might conjure visions of tacky-bright colors and caftans, Lhuillier explored the theme in beautifully abstract ways, like wheat-stalk and wicker prints; denim for night, adorned with Aztec embroidery; and organza embroidered to look like lace. Also strong were gowns with layers of sheer tulle and chiffon, creating volume without bulk. Sure, there was an occasional shot of azure blue, but mixed in with the otherwise soft color palette, it looked as fresh as a dip in the ocean. Any of the front-row starlets present--Malin Ackerman, Perrey Reeves, Elizabeth Banks, and Zoe Saldana--would be lucky to wear one of Lhuillier's gowns on the red carpet.
Standout Look: This is one of the aforementioned wicker prints (doesn't look like wicker, does it?), with Aztec embroidery at the neckline--two completely unexpected elements that meet in a classical goddess silhouette to create an absolutely beautiful gown.
Bonus Points: I loved the wicker runway. Also, thanks to the cameraman who, in spite of hovering mere inches above my head for most of the show, managed not to hit my head with his scary big camera on a mechanical arm.
Where to Buy: Saks, Bergdorf Goodman
Dear Ports 1961...
Please book a bigger venue for your show. Last season I was one of about 10 standing people who made it in; this time no standing invitees made it. Watching your kooky shows on a TV screen doesn't quite have the same effect. kthanxbye.

And, coming tomorrow: reviews of Sergio Davila, Gottex, and whatever shows I make it to tomorrow (I am dragging serious ass--time for a good night's sleep). Four days down, four days to go!
Twinkle by Wenlan Spring 2009
Where & When: Monday, September 8th at 9 a.m., the Salon, Bryant Park
Runway Recap: In the notes for her spring collection, Twinkle designer Wenlan Chia had me at "Jean Seberg" (seriously, if you've never seen it, add Breathless to your Netflix queue now). Instead of the obvious reference to the famed French actress--striped tees, capri pants--Wenlan created a tightly focused collection of high-waisted skirts, sexy camisoles, and printed dresses. I was expecting more knits (Chia is well known in the knitting community), and I could've done without the Hammer pants, but the show had a strong early-1960s Paris vibe, and anything Parisian is good in my book.
Standout Look: Some of my favorite looks in the show featured Wenlan's "etoile" print, including this asymmetrical dress (again, trend alert!), and I have a feeling it was her favorite print as well—-it decorated all of the reversible tote bags the audience received as gifts.
Bonus Points: Nine a.m. shows are always a hard sell, so I wasn't expecting any celebrities. But, right across from me sat...the kid who plays America Ferrera's nephew on Ugly Betty, by far my most random celebrity sighting of the week!
Where to Buy: shopbop.com, Nordstrom, and more locations here.

Monday, September 08, 2008

Harlan Bel Spring 2009
Where & When: Sunday, September 7th at 6 p.m., the Altman Building
Runway Recap: While there will always be a place in the world for young female designers who create pretty, flirty frocks, hopefully the ones who make more structured, tougher looks stick around as well. Harlan Bel, designed by Brandy Lunsford, clearly falls into the latter category. Sticking to a mostly black-and-white palette, the structured, geometric looks featured cool cutouts, harness vests, and interesting pleats. Think Helmut Lang, but even further downtown.
Standout Look: My apologies for the blurriness of this photo, but these pants were really amazing, with a super-flattering flared leg and a cool cutout detail in front. The top takes the hard work out of layering--it's all one piece.
Bonus Points: One of my favorite models, the redhead Cintia Dicker, opened the show. Also, let me just say how much I adore the people at MAO PR. If only all fashion publicists were so lovely.
Where to Buy: Nikki Laura, at 4 Prince Street, and online at buydefinition.com.
Terexov Spring 2009
Where & When: Sunday, September 7th at 2 p.m., the Salon, Bryant Park
Runway Recap: Word on the street is that the buyers are looking to stock their stores with vibrant color next spring; I hope they all went to Alexander Terekhov's show, as he sent out dress after dress in green, pink, purple, yellow, and sometimes prints combining all of the above. Some looks were a bit too fussy (and reminded me of the recently auffed Keith from Project Runway!), like the fringed, Muppet-like skirts and puffy, ruffled vests, but the flowing, disco-goddess caftan gowns toward the end more than made up for it.
Standout Look: Asymmetrical looks are definitely an emerging trend for spring, and I thought this lemon-yellow dress was a graceful way to interpret it.
Bonus Points: In a world where many designers send out models to, say, the sound of drilling, or anonymous techno beats, Terexov had Goldfrapp and Muse. Thank you.
Where to Buy: Terexov has two stores in Moscow, but as for the U.S., you can try your luck on his website.
Tracy Reese Spring 2009
Where & When: Sunday, September 7th at noon, the Promenade, Bryant Park
Runway Recap: When it comes to pretty, no one does it better than Tracy Reese. She set the tone with delicate strands of lights dangling from the ceiling and dreamy music (Keren Ann, Coldplay), then started her garden party with rosettes, winding vine-like embroidery, and impressionistic floral prints that would bring a tear to Monet's eye. Less obvious--but equally beautiful--interpretations of the theme included tulip skirts with draped, petal-like panels and peplum jackets that flared over the hips like blossoms. It all made me wish that we could skip fall and winter and just go straight to spring. The audience agreed--they gave Reese a standing ovation.
Standout Look: The structured shape of this bateau-neck sleeveless dress perfectly balances the romantic, pointillist print. Can you think of a more perfect frock for a summer wedding?
Bonus Points: With a number of Asian and black models, this was one of the most diverse runways I've seen. Also, Brandy was in the front row!
Where to Buy: The Tracy Reese store at 641 Hudson in the West Village, or go here to find a store near you.
DKNY Spring 2009
Where & When: Sunday, September 7th at 11 a.m., the Tent, Bryant Park
Runway Recap: First of all, let me say that I have no idea how I got invited to this show, but I'm glad I did, because it's been one of my favorites so far. In celebration of DKNY's 20th anniversary, Donna Karan sent out a fresh, youthful collection of boldly colored dresses that both gave a nod to the line's iconic pieces--the jumpsuit, the boyfriend jacket, the anorak--and looked forward to the future with renewed energy. Dresses ranged from bloused with a tube skirt to bustier-type tops with tulip skirts, and all were short and in bright, almost day-glo colors. It was all very hopeful--and god knows this country could use a little hope at the moment.
Standout Look: Of all the great dresses that came down the runway, this one was my favorite. Leave it to Donna Karan to make acid-bright colors totally wearable, in a super-flattering silhouette.
Bonus Points: Donna Karan knows how to put on a show. The in-house PR girls used super high-tech handheld scanners on everyone's invitations; Nicole Richie, Christina Ricci, and Winona Ryder, plus '90s DKNY faces (and exes) Esther Canadas and Mark Vanderloo were in the front row; the show opened with a short film; all the big-name models--Stam, Coco Rocha, Jordan Dunn, Sasha P.--walked; during the finale, Karan was bombarded by the ultimate in free publicity, fur protesters; and those lucky enough to have a seat (I was not one of them) received a special bottle of DKNY Moet champagne.
Where to Buy: The DKNY store at 60th and Madison, and at a department store near you.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Karen Walker Spring 2009
Where & When: Saturday, September 6th at 3 p.m., the Altman Building
Runway Recap: Fashionistas' spirits—and Louboutins—were dampened by the tropical storm happening outside, but New Zealand designer Karen Walker's awesome show made me forget it was even raining. Slouchy, borrowed-from-your-boyfriend shirts and trousers opened the show, but the tissue-thin T-shirts, lacy dresses, and tulip skirts will work better on non-model bodies.
Standout Look: While there were many great prints in the show, my favorite were the incredibly wearable, not-at-all tacky series of abstract leopard patterns. Can't you picture an Olsen twin wearing this loose jacket, tissue tee, and well-cut pencil skirt?
Bonus Points: This show drew a serious downtown fashion crowd--I spotted Mr. Mickey from Paper, Lynn Yaeger from the Village Voice, and Elle's Kate Lamphear, who seemed a bit put off by the fact that she had to wait in line to check in with the rest of us hoi polloi.
Where to Buy: Barneys, Elizabeth Charles, Bird, and many other stores listed at her website.
Venexiana Spring 2009
Where & When: Friday, September 5th at 9 p.m., the Salon, Bryant Park
Runway Recap: Rosettes and peplums and Marilyn collars--oh my! While a large percentage of Kati Stern's eveningwear collection suffered from too-much-fabric syndrome, her bias-cut gowns in pastel colors and prints were sure to delight anyone's inner girly-girl. Or at least one's bridesmaids.
Standout Look: This crystal-encrusted drop-waist dress looked completely different than pretty much every other dress in the show, due to its youthful, pretty-bohemian look. Love the braid-crown 'do too.
Bonus Points: Somehow I got let in early with some of the show's sponsors, thereby avoiding a wait with all of the drunks in the cattle pen. Sometimes it's the little things that really count.
Where to Buy: See website for details.
Julie Haus Spring 2009
Where & When: Friday, September 5th at 2 p.m., 28 W. 36th St. Penthouse
Runway Recap: Haus' collection, entitled "Not a Wallflower," had a pretty-meets-punky vibe, mixing feminine heart and floral prints with studded accessories and acid-bright colors. Origami-inspired pleats and tucks gave shape to skirts and dresses, for a hint of Japanese chic. And, emerging trend alert--this was already the second show where every look was styled with socks and high-heeled sandals. (Who knew that my high school French teacher was so far ahead of the trends?)
Standout Look: There's so much going on here--a Chanel-inspired jacket, a brightly colored top, a fun floral-print skirt, and a contrasting patterned belt--but it has that effortlessly thrown-together look that only the truly stylish can achieve. If only I could always look this cool.
Bonus Points: I didn't know what to be more excited about: Molly Sims, Leighton Meester (!), and Jamie-Lynn Sigler in the front row or the Nintendo DS included in the gift bag.
Where to Buy: Bloomie's, Barneys, Bendel's, Saks, and a ton of other retailers listed here.
Gen Art Fresh Faces in Fashion Spring 2009
Where & When: Thursday, September 4th at 8 p.m., Manhattan Center
Runway Recap: Eight emerging designers hit the runway in this showcase of a show, where, once upon a time, designers like Phillip Lim and Zac Posen were first discovered. Downtown types will flock to Ideen, which showed an edgy mix of Hammer pants, bandage dresses and macramé accents. Sariah was decidedly more feminine, with pretty prints in silky fabrics; Richard Ruiz, probably the most accessible designer, favored bias cuts and a Japanese influence, although I could've done without the parasols and rice-field hats. The one to watch, however, is JF & SON, who presented a neutral collection with an innovative mix of textures, like organza and sequins.
Standout Look: Asymmetrical, colorblocked construction and a relaxed but flattering silhouette make this sequined JF & SON dress a winner in my book.
Bonus Points: The Bravo reality stars were out in full force--Kevin and Jack from last season's Project Runway, Bethenny from The Real Housewives of New York, and Ronnie from Make Me a Supermodel walked in Philip Sparks' menswear show. But, really, the highlight for me was seeing host Brenda Walsh, a.k.a. Shannen Doherty, in the flesh.
Where to Buy: Select JF & SON looks are available now at Yoox.com.

Saturday, September 06, 2008

Coming tomorrow...
Reviews of Gen Art Fresh Faces in Fashion, Julie Haus, Venexiana, and Karen Walker. (And now I'm off to a wedding!)

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Geren Ford Spring 2009
Where & When: Wednesday, September 3rd at 6 p.m., Bowery Hotel
Runway Recap: West Coast designer Geren Ford wisely headed East to show her latest feminine silk tops and dresses to a downtown crowd. With a colorful palette, the collection, inspired by world travels, featured layered looks and a wispy, loose, relaxed silhouette. It wasn't reinventing the wheel, but from the silk maxi-dresses to the deconstructed suits, it was all very wearable. This being a presentation--not, technically, a "show"--the designer gave a nod to artist Vanessa Beecroft by having the models stand on big white blocks; the audience, in turn, ogled them like Greek statues in a museum.
Standout Look: A mix of neutrals and unexpected color combinations makes this layered look a winner. And I am all for loose, silky shorts.
Bonus Points: From the free drinks to the designer herself, Geren Lockhart, circulating amongst the guests, this presentation had an incredibly relaxed vibe, which was the perfect way to ease into Fashion Week.
Where to Buy: shopbop.com, Singer22.com, and Hawks, her lower-priced line, at Urban Outfitters

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Cheryl Shops at Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week
I am pleased to announce that I'll be covering the Spring 2009 New York shows (is this not the dorkiest logo you've ever seen?). Fashion Week technically kicks off Friday, but I have shows starting tomorrow (!) so for the next week and a half, it's all Fashion Week, all the time (except for Saturday--I have a wedding). New this season: I am going to attempt to take my own photos, especially for the non-tent shows. (Yes, I am as scared about that as you are.) This time, I am also pledging not to run around like a crazy person, as I did back in February, ultimately ending up with a nasty flu. Wish me luck with that.

My coverage starts tomorrow; please make Cheryl Shops a daily Fashion Week read!
The week in shopping
Get a head start on fall with Mai Cashmere; all pieces are $40 each. Ballet flats and beach bags are $10. Through 9/5; 11-6; 48 W. 39th St. (5th & 6th Sts.).

The West Village's excellent Castor & Pollux has Sonia Rykiel, Acne, Built by Wendy, and more for 70% off. Through 9/12; noon-7, 1-6 Sun.; 238 W. 10th St. (at Bleecker).

Showroom Seven's sample sale has indie fashion and accessories from Tony Cohen, Orla Kiely, and Bloch London. Through 9/17; 10-7; 263 11th Ave. (27th & 28th Sts.).

Floor models and overstocks are 10%-70% off at Ligne Roset Soho. 9/4-9/7; 10-6, noon-5 Sun.; 155 Wooster St. (Prince & Houston)

Shop is celebrating the opening of its new location with champagne and cupcakes, plus prizes and giveaways. 9/4; 5-8 p.m.; 94 Orchard St. (Broome & Delancey Sts.).

If you're a groovy downtown girl, head over to Honey in the Rough for sale items by United Bamboo, Tsumori Chisato, and more, all for an extra 50% off. Through 9/7; noon-8, noon-7 Sun.; 161 Rivington St. (at Clinton St.).

Bblessing's sprng and summer merchandise for the guys--Raf Simons, Rag & Bone, and the like--is up to 60% off. Through 9/14; 1-9 weekdays, noon-8 weekends; 181 Orchard St. (at Stanton St.).

Score Shane & Shawn's comfy shoes at sample-sale prices. 9/4-9/5; 11-8; 238 Mulberry St. (Prince & Spring Sts.).

Spend $100 on beauty products and get a faux-croc tote stuffed with samples at Neiman Marcus through 9/14.

Use your Visa card and take 30% off your purchases at the Rockefeller Center Banana Republic (and other select BR's across the country), in honor of the chain's 30th anniversary. You must RSVP to BR30thAnniversary.com, and you must use your Visa card.