Thursday, February 26, 2009

Cheryl Shops on vacation
Between the weather, my 9-to-5 job, and Fashion Week, I've decided it's time for a break, so I'm heading down to the Caribbean for a week of relaxation (and to celebrate my birthday). I plan on getting a tan and having an umbrella drink in my hand at all times. I will be back with more sales and awesome things on which to spend your hard-earned money on Monday, March 9th--so please check back then!

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

New York Fashion Week in Review: Final Thoughts

OMG, the recession! Part I While some designers played it safe with black and gray and various other neutrals, others went nuts with fur, brocade, exotic skins, and all manner of frippery. Yes, there are recession-proof shoppers out there who will continue to spend a ridiculous amount of money on clothes. Those affected by layoffs and hits to their investments most likely will not. As for the rest of us, only time will tell. But it looks like the winners in this game--at least at this point--are contemporary labels, who offer great design at prices that aren't too out of reach; shows like Tibi and Ports 1961 were totally mobbed.

OMG, the recession! Part II Yes, a lot of designers traded presentations for runway shows, or held off-site shows instead of the tents. The more time I spend in the three-ring circus that is the tents, the more I am okay with this. But only 3 of the shows I attended were presentations, and only one show was a joint venture (Nicholas K, Sergio Davila, and Mara Hoffman). Because fashion shows--and parties, which also showed no sign of letting up--are so pivotal in terms of publicity and branding, I think designers will continue to have them, at whatever cost. What they're skimping on, however, are extras--there was far less swag this season, from gift bags at shows to giveaways in the tents. It's probably a good thing there were no more cookies, but if they get rid of the coffee or booze, I'm done.

What they're wearing
This post from SheFinds is the best one I've read on how to dress like a fashion editor (albeit on a budget). Basically, the leggy skinny pants or opaque black tights look is still in, and ankle boots are definitely the footwear of choice. Fur jackets were big too. But the most surprising thing is that there were far fewer It Bags than in seasons past--the most prevalent bag I saw this season was the classic quilted Chanel bag. Granted, this is not necessarily a thrifty buy (they tend to start in the low four figures), but it's not as flashy, and it's, as they say, an investment piece.

C'mon, everyone's doing it! I started Twittering this season, as did everyone else, it seems. And it was awesome--there's nothing like getting real-time updates on all the shows that are happening all over town. Who said you can't be in two places at once?

Lessons learned.
The more Fashion Weeks I experience, the less I freak out about them and the more I enjoy them. It also helps that as time goes on, the PR firms become more accepting of bloggers as legitimate members of the press. I'm still not getting as many seating assignments as I'd like, but, well, all in due time. And thus I'd like to give some special shout-outs to the lovely, accommodating, and very organized people at LaForce + Stevens, as well as those at Harrison & Shriftman. KCD, one day I will climb your ivory tower. Just you wait.
New York Fashion Week in Review: Trends to Watch

Rock star
Think leather pants, studs, fringe, and anything else Bret Michaels would've worn in his 1980s heyday (William Rast, below).


Fur
Sorry, PETA--fur came in all shapes and forms on the runways, from Russian-style hats to shearling jackets. The trendiest shapes were shaggy goat vests, as seen at TSE (below).


Depression chic

Black and gray were definitely the most dominant "colors" on the runway, but I thought the most witty way of addressing the situation was with menswear-style pieces, such as tailored jackets and wide-leg trousers (Tuleh, below).


Neon

The antidote to all that depressing black? Neon! In brights we haven't seen in 20-odd years, chartreuse and especially hot pink added a shot of color to the runways (Tibi, below).


Strong shoulders
Paris designers have been playing around with shoulder pads and peak sleeves for several seasons now, but thanks to the 80s revival, New York designers are getting the bold shoulder for fall (Chocheng, below).



Leggings
Silhouettes were all over the place--long skirts, miniskirts, wide-leg pants, skinny high-waist pants--but one item that kept popping up was leggings. Not that they ever went anywhere the past few seasons, but at least for fall, leggings are here to stay (TSE, below).
New York Fashion Week in Review: Favorite Shows
In no particular order...

Tuleh
Depression-era chic that was anything but depressing.


Nicholas K/Sergio Davila/Mara Hoffman
The cool clothes that Downtown Girls will actually wear.


Lela Rose
An enchanted forest of color, in very wearable shapes and textures.


Morgane Le Fay
Ethereal chiffon dresses and sharply tailored outerwear: dreamlike clothes for grown-up Goths.


Ports 1961
A trip to India, tastefully rendered in soft colors and gorgeous textures.


Tibi
Great prints, great shapes: A palatable way to do the '80s revival.


Toni Maticevski
A gorgeous couture fantasy, for customers who don't care about price tags.


Twinkle by Wenlan
Retro-meets-modern clothes for cool girls.
New York Fashion Week in Review: By the Numbers
Shows attended: 19
Shows I didn't get into due to overcrowding: 1 (Christian Siriano)
Shows I didn't quite make it to: 9
Shows from which I was disinvited: 1
Parties attended: 1
Parties I was invited to: 11
Tent shows: 11
Off-site shows: 8
Percentage increase in off-site shows from last season: 9% (from 33% to 42%)
Ideal percentage of off-site shows: 75%
"Presentations": 3
Shows where I received swag: 5
Official Fashion Week press bags received: 0
Approximate number of said bags available on last day, in spite of "running out" of vouchers on the first day: 200
Alcoholic beverages consumed in the tents: 2
McDonald's coffees consumed in the tents: approximately 12
Actual food consumed in the tents: 0
Minutes I waited in line at the Havianias booth before I realized they weren't actually giving away free flip-flops anymore: 3
Pounds gained/lost: 0
Twitter posts ("tweets") I tagged with #NYFW: 38

Monday, February 23, 2009

Oscar fashion recap
Because after Fashion Week I'm still in a critiquing mood, here's what I thought of last night's looks.

Best

She's probably landing on every other worst-dressed list, but because Tilda Swinton took a risk--that worked--in this gorgeously draped Lanvin, she's tops in my book. Then again, I liked the hefty-bag-like Lanvin she wore last year as well. In my eyes, you can't go wrong with Albert Elbaz.


I tend to either love or hate what Marisa Tomei wears; and while I'm sure a lot of people hated her Versace gown--and I am generally not one to go for Versace--I thought it was stunning, with all the architectural pleating and the long, long train.


I think we can safely guess that Olivier Theyskens is on his way out at Nina Ricci, because Reese Witherspoon is incredibly loyal to him, and this time she instead went with Rodarte, which shocked (and pleased) many a fashionista. I heard this dress compared to a David's Bridal creation on another blog, but I thought it was fierce.


Yes, I am just as stunned as you are, but my absolute favorite dress of the night was Alicia Keys' Armani. I love everything about it--the cut, the color, and how incredibly flattering it looked on Ms. Keys.


Honorable Mention

Also in Armani, I thought Anne Hathaway looked totally stunning. However, considering this dress was covered entirely in pailettes, the thing must've weighed a ton. Also, when she turned to the side, it was a bit ill-fitting in the bust. Close, but not quite.


I actually liked Jessica Biel's strapless white Prada gown; unlike other critics, I didn't think she looked like she had toilet paper or a burp cloth hanging from the front. However, the thing was too damn long. Stylists are supposed to hem too, not just help you pick the right gown.


There was definitely a strong princess-dress effect happening on the red carpet; while it's generally not a look I can get behind, I thought Penelope Cruz's vintage Balmain was the best of the bunch. However, I would've preferred to see her in something a bit more modern.


I really liked Natalie Portman's strapless Rodarte gown, and she would've been under "best" had Alicia Keys not worn a similar--and slightly better--version from Armani. Again, props for wearing a super-indie designer like Rodarte.

Dishonorable Mention

This is just too much dress for too young a girl (Miley Cyrus, in this case). Also, it's a copy of a vintage Dior, which I think is a little on the tacky side.


Freida Pinto takes risks, which I admire, but this one just didn't work for me, even though it's Galliano. There's just something about the one illusion sleeve that rubs me the wrong way. (Everyone has their pet peeves; mine happens to be mesh.)


Amy Adams' Carolina Herrera dress puzzles me--it looks like the front flyway panel has somehow caused a chasm in the bodice. However, I loved her stone-collar necklace, which saved the day.


Maybe it's the fact that she has 6 kids and thus no time to think about gowns, or maybe when you have Brad Pitt on your arm, you can't go for anything too flashy lest everyone in the crowd be blinded by your beauty. However, with this nondescript strapless black gown (I don't even care who the designer is), Angelina Jolie looks like she's stopped trying. And, hello, she's a movie star. Team Aniston!

Worst

I think Amanda Seyfried is adorable on Big Love, but, really, I think any kind of dress with a big red bow on it is just a bad idea all around. Even if it's Valentino.


Really, I have a hard time believing Armani designed something so ugly as Sophia Loren's overly ruffled gown.


I don't know how Heidi Klum managed to make this RM by Roland Mouret dress look like a hot tranny mess, but she did. The gown looks wrinkled and disheveled; Klum's hair looks like she hasn't washed it since Project Runway was last on the air. Where's Christian Siriano when you need him?


While I applaud Beyonce for leaving her jewelry at home, that's about the only nice thing I have to say about this dress, which looks like the curtains in a whore's bedroom. Her usual glitzy, glamazon fare would be a vast improvement over this abomination.
The week in shopping
Find everything from high end (Stella McCartney, Givenchy) to T-shirts and jeans for up to 70% off at the Intermix warehouse sale. 2/26-3/1; 11-8 Thurs., 9-8 Fri. & Sat., 10-6 Sun.; Metropolitan Pavilion, 125 W. 18th St. (6th & 7th Aves.).

West Village favorite Hable Construction is closing up shop, but you can find their colorful home items and accessories for 50% -80% off, plus fabric for $15-$25 a yard. 2/26-2/28; 10-8 Thurs., 10-6 Fri., 9-6 Sat.; 117 Perry St. (Hudson & Greenwich Sts.).

French Connection is closing its Midtown store; head over there for 75%-80% off everything. Ongoing; 9-9 weekdays, 10-8 Sat., 11-7 Sun.; 1270 6th Ave. (at 51st St.).

Ferragamo shoes, clothes, and accessories for women & men are up to 80% off. Leave children under 12 and strollers at home. 2/28-3/4; 9-6:30, 9-5 Wed.; 317 W. 33rd St. (8th & 9th Aves.).

Clothingline is getting rid of stuff from Milly, Gustto, Repetto, Free People and more at rock-bottom prices. Through 2/24; 10-6; 261 W. 36th St. (7th & 8th Aves.), 2nd fl.

J. Mendel gowns, dresses, sportswear, and, yes, furs are up to 85% off. 2/24-2/25; 9-7 Tues., 9-6 Wed.; 124 E. 58th St. (Park & Lex).

Get 70% off Sergio Davila's winter collection. Ongoing; noon-8, noon-6 Sun.; 67 8th Ave. (13th & 14th Sts.).

The Lower East Side's Pear and Plum have flats and sandals for $25, heels for $35, and boots for $50. Ongoing; 1-8, 1-7 Sun.; 124 Ludlow St. (at Rivington St.).

Sterling and semiprecious jewelry is $20-$100 (that's 60%-80% off) at Exhibitionist. Through 3/2; noon-8; 177 Orchard St. (at Stanton St.).

Get fitted for a new bra at Intimacy; select bras, undies, and pajamas from La Perla, Chantelle, and more are 40%-60% off. Through 3/8; 10-7, noon-5 Sun.; 1252 Madison Ave. (at 90th St.).

Opening Ceremony has fall-winter collections for 60%-75% off and holiday and resort collections for 30% off, all from the hippest selection of downtown designers. Ongoing; 11-8, noon-7 Sun.; 35 Howard St. (at Crosby St.).

Couture wedding gowns are $499-$749, regular wedding gowns are $249-$499, and dresses for everyone else in the wedding party are $49-$99 at the Demetrios Bridal sample sale. Through 2/28; 9-7; 222 W. 37th St. (7th & 8th Aves.).

Send the man in your life to Isaia, where all manner of suiting, shirts, ties and outerwear are wholesale prices. Through 2/24; 10-6; 730 5th Ave. (at 57th St.), ste. 1004.

Find a new or vintage handbag from Chanel, Fendi, Louis Vuitton, Hermes, Prada, Dior, and all the usual suspects at Sample Sale Productions. Prices are up to 70% off retail. 2/26-2/28; 10-7 Thurs. & Fri., 10-5 Sat.; 135 W. 52nd St. (6th & 7th Aves.), 5th fl. Sample Sale Productions -

Save up to 80% on celeb fave Nikka New York before they relocate their showroom. Tops are $30-$80, jackets are $90, and dresses are $40-$125. 2/25-2/28; 11-7; 214 W. 39th St. (7th & 8th Aves.), ste. 907.

Hit Owl’s Lab for a Carlos Falchi trunk show this Saturday. 2/28; noon-5; 20 E. 12th St. (5th Ave. & University Pl.).

Bellino linens are fancy and Italian, and now they're up to 85% off. Sheet sets start at $150; towels are $20 and up. 3/1-3/3; 10-6; 230 5th Ave. (at 27th St.).

Tracy Matthews Designs jewelry is $28-$150 (that's 70% off) at TheSavvy.com's online sample sale, 3/1 at noon through 3/4 at noon.

Spend $100 on beauty and fragrance and get a sample-filled tote through 3/9 at Neiman Marcus.

Use code MUSE for 20% off and free shipping at Hayden-Harnett through 3/1.

WHotelstheStore.com is having a white sale--save 30% and get free shipping with code W2H4Z at checkout through 3/15.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Because a picture speaks a thousand words...
This is the back of Anna Wintour's head. Yes, that is a real fur coat. Note that I was directly two rows behind her. Also note her personal security guard--he stands in front of her until the show starts, then whisks her out of the venue as soon as the designer takes his/her bow.

New York Fashion Week: the end!
As inevitably happens every season, I get shut out of a show or two, in spite of having a confirmed invitation. This year, it happened tonight at the show I was perhaps looking forward to the most, Project Runway winner Christian Siriano. (Sadly, after Twittering about receiving the invite, and thus jinxing myself, I had a feeling this might happen.) I showed up 30 minutes early, but even though I was near the front of the line, none of the standing-room invitees made it in, so all for naught. I ended up watching the show on the monitors, and I can firmly say that it was a hot tranny mess (and I mean that in the best possible way). It was ferosh. So cheers to Christian (who has a line for Payless shoes coming out soon), and next time, please give me a seat.

I was also planning on going to the Rad Hourani show tomorrow afternoon, but after receiving an invitation--and RSVPing promptly--I received an email yesterday from his PR company informing me that they could not "honor my request" this season. Um, I did not request a invitation; they sent me one, and I find rescinding it to be in incredibly poor form. So, Company Agenda, may I suggest reading Emily Post's The Etiquette Advantage in Business?

I technically have one more presentation tomorrow night at 7, but at this point, I doubt I'll make it. So I think this is the semi-official end of Fashion Week for me, and my feet are happy about it. I am taking the weekend off to sleep, eat carbs, and sleep some more, but I will be back with sales on Monday (you've missed them, haven't you?), as well as my closing thoughts, favorite shows, trends to watch, and other general Fashion Week roundup-type stuff. So please come back then!
Ports 1961 Fall 2009
Where & When: Thursday, February 19th at 3 p.m., the Promenade, Bryant Park
Runway Recap: The travel-themed Ports 1961 line always journeys to a different country for its shows; this season, it was to India, for the rich culture and creativity of the Mughai Dynasty. Instead of the Bollywood explosion of color and embellishment that you'd imagine, however, designer Tia Cibani used a light hand, starting with a beige palette accented with metallics before delving into gray, black, and finally bright red and magenta. She also played with transparent fabrics like organdy and heavier ones like brocade and burnout velvet. It was gorgeous and yet extremely wearable, with fitted sheath dresses, flattering peplum jackets, and asymmetrical evening dresses delicately draped like saris. After seeing so many shows that played it safe with dark colors, and, to the other extreme, some totally out-there creations, Ports 1961 struck a perfect balance with clothes that looked new and inspiring.
Standout Look: This was a gorgeous asymmetrical pleated mousseline coat, over a dress of the same fabric. I am normally not one for metallic fabrics, but this was light and delicate and sparkly, and I couldn't take my eyes off of it.
Bonus Points: The Bhangra band Red Baraat played live during the show, with relaxing music that made me feel like I was at my yoga class. Also, a special thank-you to the lovely people at Atelier PR, who gave me a seat for this show (which was definitely welcome after last season's debacle). A seat that was, I kid you not, two rows directly behind Anna Wintour!
Where to Buy: The just-opened Ports 1961 Boutique at 3 9th Avenue in the Meatpacking District. Shop online or find more stores at Ports 1961's website.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

1909 Victorinox Fall 2009
Where & When: Wednesday, February 18th at 2 p.m., New York Public Library
Runway Recap: Being on the bottom of the Fashion Week totem pole can have its advantages--no, really--one being that I often get last-minute invites to shows that need to fill up their audience. I was a bit perplexed when I got invited to Victorinox--a menswear show--last night, but as MW put it, "Why not go? You might get a Swiss Army knife!" So I went. 1909 is a new higher-end line from Victorinox, and for his first collection, designer Pierre Henri Mattout sent out a series of sporty-meets-dorky looks inspired by Amish teenagers in the big city. This being Victorinox, everything looked very utilitarian--lots of pockets and zippers--but the silhouette was much slimmer than their primary line (which my 73-year-old father is a fan of). The Amish motif came across primarily in the unfortunate bowl-like hairdos on the models, all of whom sped up and down the runway like, well, my dad when he has somewhere important to be.
Standout Look: The entire collection was very wearable, which is more than you can say for a lot of men's fashion shows, when you get crazy things like kimono jackets and pink fishnet tops. My favorite pieces, however, were the shiny parkas, like this one--perfect for skiing, or for the city.
Bonus Points: I was really glad I braved the weather to come to this show when I spotted--I kid you not--Marc Jacobs in the flesh, in the front row. Recession be damned, he was wearing a gray astrakhan coat and very large diamond studs in his ears, and he looked a bit tired but otherwise good (and fit and tan). After the show, I overheard him telling a reporter that Mattout is a good friend of his. Now that I've come within two feet of one of my idols, I don't know what to do with myself. What's next, Karl Lagerfeld? And, oh yeah, I got a free Swiss Army knife.
Where to Buy: Swiss Army store at 136 Prince Street in Soho, or go here to find a store near you.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Tibi Fall 2009
Where & When: Tuesday, February 17th at 7 p.m., the Promenade, Bryant Park
Runway Recap: Fashion has a longstanding love affair with Russia--Fur! Embroidery! Velvet! Tzarinas!--and while it can often devolve into cliché, leave it to Tibi's Amy Smilovic to find a fresh interpretation of the theme. With bright, bold colors, a light hand, and her signature silhouettes (the A-line minidress, the peasant maxi-dress), Smilovic melded the Russian inspiration with the '80s influence that's been all over the runways this week--jumpsuits, strong shoulders, Hammer pants. It may sound like a bit much, but it wasn't--Tibi is routinely one of my favorite shows because the looks are totally wearable and often show up in stores almost exactly as presented on the runway (and at prices I can afford); I will definitely keep an eye out for several of the looks from tonight's show.
Standout Look: While I always love Tibi's prints (and there were many great ones in this show, including one that instantly made me think of Chekhov's play The Cherry Orchard), I thought this long dress was a lovely interpretation of the Russian theme, with just enough metallic embroidery to convey the point.
Bonus Points: Tibi always draws some of the top models, and I was happy to see Behati, Tanya D., Lakshmi, and Suri all walking in the show.
Where to Buy: Tibi boutique at 120 Wooster St. in Soho, and many more locations at Tibi.com.
Chocheng Fall 2009
Where & When: Tuesday, February 17th at 5 p.m., the Salon, Bryant Park
Runway Recap: A strong '80s influence has been prevalent throughout the shows this Fashion Week, and even Cho Cheng, who designs decidedly uptown suits for Ladies Who Lunch, is getting in on the revival. His brightly colored tweed jackets were impeccably tailored and recalled early-Lagerfeld Chanel, but pairing them with tragically dumpy culottes or comically short miniskirts was a move in the wrong direction. A series of second-skin sequined gowns and vampy strapless gowns appeared appeared sexy at first glance, but, up close, were ill-fitting, especially in the bust. But perhaps the most disturbing aspect of the show was the hair and makeup--all of the models wore blond bobbed wigs, which I'm assuming was intended to give them a youthful appearance, but instead reminded me a bit too much of "Whatever Happened to Baby Jane"--and maybe hit a bit too close to home for Cheng's aging-socialite clients.
Standout Look: One of the few looks that was neither a suit nor an evening gown, this bright-pink sheath dress stood out for both its dramatic bow collar and for its cheerful color.
Bonus Points: I was seated directly across from Vogue's Meredith Melling Burke, who was wearing the glorious studded Burberry shoes I was lusting after last year. Also, I was seated next to a fellow who smelled so wonderful, I had to ask him what fragrance he was wearing (he couldn't remember the name, but he said it was one of the Bond No. 9 scents; I'm guessing it was Wall Street, but I will definitely investigate this). An hour later, I could still smell it.
Where to Buy: Chocheng's atelier, at 51 E. 63rd Street.

Monday, February 16, 2009

William Rast Fall 2009
Where & When: Monday, February 16th at 7 p.m., the Tent, Bryant Park
Runway Recap: In a world where celebrity clothing lines are a dime a dozen, Justin Timberlake wants to be Taken Seriously, so three seasons ago, he and partner Trace Ayala joined forces with industry veterans Marcella and Johan Lindeberg (of J. Lindeberg fame); last season was William Rast's New York debut, and tonight was the label's first show in the Bryant Park tents. As you can imagine from a denim-based line, the show was more spectacle than substance, but with its "New America" theme, it should help to distinguish William Rast among the crowded designer-denim market. Yes, there were lots of jeans (mostly skinny, in case you were wondering), with dusty, dirty washes and, I am sorry to say, acid wash making an appearance or two. There were also some nice-looking plaid shirts and fringed leather jackets, but the true showmanship came from studs--they decorated chambray shirts, denim skirts, jackets, you name it. Drawing from both the designers' Tennessee roots and current place of residence (i.e. Hollywood), the collection was--you guessed it--a little bit country, a little bit rock-and-roll. I'm not sure how much of it will actually see the light of day at retail, but word on the street is that William Rast jeans actually fit quite well. Just stay away from the acid wash. Please.
Standout Look: I don't know if I could personally pull off this studded leather jacket, but it was pretty damn cool. And as far as colored jeans go, I found the purplish-gray tone of these skinny jeans actually appealing. (My apologies for the tiny, tiny photo--I was in the very back row of the 1,000-plus capacity tent.)
Bonus Points: Harrison & Shriftman deserve props for managing this beast of a show. There were no check-in lines, they let standing in before I even came out of Terexov (normally standing doesn't get let in until half past the hour), and they managed to start the show by 7:15, ensuring that everyone (well, everyone who was invited, at least) could make it to the Marc Jacobs show at 8. Oh, and should I mention the celebrities? Sure, why not: Paris & Nicky Hilton, Jessica Biel, Emile Hirsch, Coco Rocha, Tyson, Gerard Butler, Becki Newton (Amanda on Ugly Betty), and Miss USA, plus fashion heavyweights Anna Wintour, Carine Roitfeld, and Elle's Joe Zee, Robbie Myers, and Kate Lanphear. And, yes, Timberlake took a bow at the end of the show, so now that I've seen Mr. Sexyback in the flesh, I can die a happy girl.
Where to Buy: Bloomingdale's, Nordstrom, Neiman Marcus, and online at williamrast.com.
Terexov Fall 2009
Where & When: Monday, February 16th at 6 p.m., the Promenade, Bryant Park
Runway Recap: Remember two or so years ago when a bunch of boxy, ubiquitous, totally unremarkable condos started hitting the real-estate market, and even though they were $800k for a one-bedroom, people would buy them sight-unseen just because they wanted a piece of the real estate market, which was oh-so-hot at the time? I feel like Alexadr Terekhov's clothing is the fashion equivalent of the aforementioned unremarkable condo. Sure, it's tasteful and cut well and made of luxurious fabric, but is it unique and inspiring enough to be really worth the price? In these difficult economic times, when consumers are pinching pennies left and right, and fashionistas are more fickle than ever, designers need to distinguish themselves. And I don't know about you, but I don't want to be wearing an $800k 1-bedroom condo.
Standout Look: Amidst all the mink-trim cashmere coats and prim dresses, the pieces that truly made me sit up and take notice were those that featured an art-deco cityscape print, such as this flowing sleeveless dress.
Bonus Points: I am giving bonus points to myself this time, because, after leaving Maticevski at 6:05 in Chelsea, I managed to get uptown to the tents by 6:20, just as they were letting in the standing room. I pretended I had an assigned seat right at the end of the runway, so I could make a break for the William Rast show at 7. I think I was the first person out of the Promenade, and for all of that, I was quite pleased with myself.
Where to Buy: Visit Terexov.com for more information.
Toni Maticevski Fall 2009
Where & When: Monday, February 16th at 5 p.m., the Altman Building
Runway Recap: While waiting for Australia-based Maticevski's show to start, I read his program notes, which said, basically, that he can't pinpoint the collection's inspiration; he creates with the intent to stir emotion. Not only is that a refreshingly frank notion, but it reflects the purity with which he designs--Maticevski is a couture designer, and while, yes, he still has a business to run, he must truly inspire his clients to buy his designs. And after seeing his show today, I can't imagine how you could not be inspired. At times ladylike, at times tarty, Maticevski played with sequined lace, silk fringe, hand-painted silk organza, and some of the most gorgeous beading I've ever seen. It wasn't about silhouette or color or what will sell; it was a fashion fantasy of epic proportions.
Standout Look: The ethereal silk organza dresses at the beginning of the show were like a dream and the sequined, beaded dresses were truly attention-getting, but my true favorite was this dress, which came as part of the tribal portion toward the end. The fluttery bodice was silk lace with sequins and beading, and the skirt was feathers, and it was truly, truly stunning.
Bonus Points: Patricia Field and Carson Kressley were in the audience, as was Solange Knowles and It Girl Poppy Delvigne.
Where to Buy: Vivienn.com, or email info@tonimaticevski.com for special orders.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Tuleh Fall 2009
Where & When: Sunday, February 15th at 7 p.m., New York Design Center
Runway Recap: It takes a strong designer to laugh in the face of a recession, and, well, I have a feeling Bryan Bradley of Tuleh will be laughing all the way to the bank. In a collection that recalled 1930s glamour--not coincidentally, the same time period of the nation's last great depression--he sent out one breathtaking look after another, in a mixture of gorgeously ornate fabrics. Sandwiched by tailored looks at the beginning and end, the middle featured dresses of every kind, from crisp coatdresses for day to gorgeous column gowns for evening. Everything looked expensive (and I could tell--I ended up in the front row, which afforded me a super-up-close view of everything), and I'm sure it will be, but then again, these clothes are for those who don't have to look at price tags.
Standout Look: Definitely one of the more youthful looks of the show--although I think Tuleh can work for a wide age range--this printed jersey was my favorite; it had interesting seam details and flirty little sequined godets peeking out at the hem.
Bonus Points: This was quite possibly the fanciest fashion show I've ever been to--it was in a showroom at the New York Design Center (where wealthy people's interior designers shop), and the audience was heavy on Upper East Side socialite types, including everyone's favorite fictional version of such, the very pregnant Kelly Rutherford, who plays Lily Bass on Gossip Girl.
Where to Buy: Bergdorf Goodman, Neiman Marcus.
Twinkle by Wenlan Fall 2009
Where & When: Sunday, February 15th at 5 p.m., Classic Car Club of Manhattan
Runway Recap: For her Twinkle line, designer Wenlan Chia was inspired by a 1950s Audrey Hepburn for her fall show, and while the pre-Mad Men vibe was obvious with rich jewel tones, whimsical prints, and pleated skirts, I didn't quite see the gamine Hepburn effect. Not to worry--the collection meshed a retro influence with modern-day cool; Chia makes sweet clothes that tastefully straddle the line between girlish charm and womanly chic.
Standout Look: Chia is well-known among the knitting community for her patterns and yarns, so I was happy to find some chunky-knit sweaters in the collection. You don't normally see a slouchy, oversized sweater such as this with a prim pleated skirt, but the unexpected pairing works.
Bonus Points: I'm not going to go into the particulars of this show, which was a bit late to start and not the best in terms of organization. However, the free champagne and fancy chocolates made the wait much more tolerable.
Where to Buy: Visit Twinkle's website for locations worldwide.
Thuy Fall 2009
Where & When: Sunday, February 15th at 3 p.m., the Salon, Bryant Park
Runway Recap: Thuy Diep's show started with several chic black and gray looks, but just when I started to think, "Uh-oh, here we go again with the monochromatics," out came cobalt blue, bright yellow, greenish prints, and, finally, white and silver. From work-friendly blazers, blouses, and pants to loose-fitting cocktail dresses (a girl after my own heart!), Diep has clearly thought about her customer and what she needs to wear for day and for night. I particularly liked the fun metallic-fringe skirts and curving zipper detailing on the skirts.
Standout Look: The dresses were among the strongest pieces in the show, and those with nipped-in waists, such as this printed one with a flattering crisscross effect in the bodice, have a silhouette that stands the test of time (and thus is worthy of an investment).
Bonus Points: After seeing so many shows where only the front row gets the swag, it was nice to see everyone with a seat got a gift bag. Also, music included one of my new favorite songs, "Rich Girls," by the Virgins.
Where to Buy: Thuy's website.
Nicholas K, Sergio Davila, and Mara Hoffman Fall 2009


Where & When: Sunday, February 15th at 11 a.m., the Promenade, Bryant Park
Runway Recap: People's Revolution clients Nicholas K, Sergio Davila, and Mara Hoffman all combined forces for a joint show, which sounded great in theory--killing three birds with one stone, etc.--but ended up being on the long side (funny how after so many 10-minute runway shows, 40 minutes feels like an eternity, even if it's three different designers). Nicholas K started things off with a definite return to grunge: faded flannel shirts, cropped leather jackets, and dusty khaki pieces, all with a cool, slouchy silhouette that's sure to delight the downtown folks (I, for one, was starting a mental shopping list for myself). Airy, fluttery silk dresses provided a feminine counterpoint for when the hipster-tomboy feels like a dressed-up night on the town. Sergio Davila followed with mostly menswear, consisting of some nicely tailored suits with the pants inexplicably tucked into the models' socks. The handful of women's looks were primarily knit dresses--cute, but they seemed like an afterthought. Finally, Mara Hoffman started out quietly with understated brown-and-green foresty prints, fringed sweaters, and matching tunic-and-leggings sets, but after a series of badass studded coats, hit her stride with colorful maxi dresses in prints inspired by Native American motifs.
Standout Looks: From Nicholas K, this look is dusty, Mad Max grunge perfection: a cropped jacket, draped silk top, and slouchy yet slim pants. From Mara Hoffman, there were so many great dresses and the studded pieces had me salivating, but this print was definitely my favorite, and I like the cozy look achieved by layering with a long fringed cardigan--it shows the versatility of the maxi dress.
Bonus Points: I sat three rows behind Jennifer Love Hewitt (this was my third show to date with her), and considering how blind I was from all the flashbulbs snapping at her, it's a miracle the woman can see anything. Props to you, J-Love.
Where to Buy: See NicholasK.com for stores worldwide; Sergio Davila boutique at 67 8th Ave. (at 13th Street); visit MaraHoffman.com for locations.
Lela Rose Fall 2009
Where & When: Sunday, February 15th at 10 a.m., the Salon, Bryant Park
Runway Recap: Very few things get me out of bed before noon on a Sunday, but Lela Rose's lovely fall collection was definitely worth the few hours of missed sleep. Inspired by an enchanted forest, Rose interpreted the theme with petal-like tiered dresses in rich purples, gorgeous ombré pailettes that sparkled like waterfalls, and greenish prints that recalled a forest canopy. After so many shows where black, gray, and cream dominated, seeing so many gorgeous colors was completely refreshing. Feminine, but not precious, the collection is sure to win Rose some new fans.
Standout Look: With so many breathtaking dresses, it was hard to pick a favorite, but I loved how Rose took a simple, strapless column dress and transformed it into pure beauty with flatteringly placed pleats.
Bonus Points: Yay for corporate sponsors! The swag bag contained Ted Gibson hairspray, Arcona eye serum, and a Stila smoky-eye palette, all courtesy of Beauty.com.
Where to Buy: Bloomingdale's, Bergdorf's, Nordstrom, and more locations at LelaRose.com.
Monarchy Collection Fall 2009
Where & When: Saturday, February 14th at 7 p.m., the Promenade, Bryant Park
Runway Recap: Considering what little I knew about Monarchy going into their show on Saturday night--which was that the line was denim-focused and based in Los Angeles--I was expecting the worst: distressed jeans and tattoo tees. However, I was pleasantly surprised by what designer Eric Kim sent down the runway: cool, draped jersey dresses, shrunken washed leather jackets, and lots of good-looking coats, from trench coats to puffer jackets. True, he played it safe with a pretty neutral palette, but then again, that's the route that a lot of designers are taking this season, and the jackets were just so damn cool, I'm willing to overlook it.
Standout Look: An object of desire if I've ever seen one, this is a leather biker-jacket dress. It's so edgy-genius, I'm surprised no one has thought of it before. (My apologies for using a stock photo--my last-row seat did not provide the best angle from which to take my own photos--they're all blurry and the models are tiny.)
Bonus Points: In true West Coast style, the front row featured Jennifer Love Hewitt (who is skinny!), Rex Lee (a.k.a. Lloyd from Entourage), AnnaLynne McCord (a.k.a. Naomi from the new 90210), and Miss J. Alexander, who entertainingly gave the models a once-over as they strutted by him.
Where to Buy: Saks, Bloomingdale's, Nordstrom, and more locations at Monarchy's website.
Five things I liked about Saturday's Barbie 50th Anniversary Runway Show, from what I could see, which was not much*

1. The short film that opened the show, set to a remix of Hole's "Doll Parts", featured a montage of Barbie mantras ("plastic is fantastic") and old Barbie commercials--and the audience kept yelling out "I had that one!"--and I was pleased they featured my all-time favorite, Peaches n' Cream Barbie.

2. The runway was pink and glittery.

3. I saw Simon Doonan with Jonathan Adler, Diane von Furstenburg, Heidi Klum, Kimora Lee, Peter Som, Robert Verdi, and Fran Leibowitz. Yes, Fran Leibowitz.

4. The models completely vamped it up for the cameras. After seeing them be so somber and serious at most of the shows, this was quite entertaining.

5. The makeup got progressively more drag queeny as the show went on, starting with cherry-red lips and high fake ponytails (à la Madonna's Blond Ambition tour), through '60s Valley of the Dolls bouffants to, finally, feathered eyelashes and headdresses.

*If you read other fashion blogs or are following the #NYFW Twitter feed, chances are you know the Barbie show was a complete and utter shitstorm. The going theory is that every invitee could bring a guest--ideally, a little girl who could sit on your lap, but in reality, everything from your three-year-old niece to your 16-year-old cousin to your roommate to Bob from accounting. Therefore, there were way too many people at the show, hundreds of whom, despite being confirmed, didn't even make it in. Reportedly, there were lots of crying little girls and lots of pissed-off journalists.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Venexiana Fall 2009
Where & When: Friday February 13th at 9 p.m., the Salon, Bryant Park
Runway Recap: Recession? What recession? Designer Kati Stern, who apparently has never met an exotic material she hasn't liked, sent mink, fox and python (yes, python) down her runway, and that was just the first three looks. But then came the party dresses, and that's what Stern does best. Inspired by the city of Venice (the designer resides there part time), came gowns in heavy velvet, brocade, and metallic wool, as well as an interlude of pretty pastel gowns in Fortuny pleats. I can't even begin to imagine who wears this stuff, but my guess is that Stern's clients are those mystical recession-proof people we keep hearing about--and they must've liked what they saw, because the audience gave Stern a standing ovation as she did her runway bow.
Standout Look: Stern sent several soft, pastel and relatively understated gowns down the runway, and while they were kind of a detour from the opulence of the rest of the show, I thought they were among the most accessible pieces. My favorite was this plissé empire-waist gown, a sweet and youthful piece.
Bonus Points: Ahead of me in line was a well-behaved "class" of what looked to be college-age (or maybe high school) girls, and the security guards made sure they were allowed in first of all the standing room. I thought that was sweet.
Where to Buy: Visit katisternvenexiana.com.
Graey Fall 2009
Where & When: Friday, February 13th at 6 p.m., Morgan Court
Runway Recap: After starting out with a line of tanks and tees, designer Janet Kim presented her first line of dresses, a welcome burst of color after all the neutrals I'd been seeing thus far. The contemporary-minded dresses featured colorblocking, curved seams, and sheer insets--Kim herself told me that she was inspired by painting and wanted to play with transparent and opaque fabrics. Silhouettes ranged from slinky and fitted to breezy and trapezey--a something-for-everyone approach---and one could definitely picture them hanging on the racks at a Scoop, Big Drop, or Intermix near you.
Standout Look: The purple dress was my favorite--I am all for a shift dress, but sheer insets at the upper chest kept things interesting.
Bonus Points: The cocktail-party-like presentation provided the perfect setting for showing the party-friendly dresses. Funny how that works.
Where to Buy: Visit Graeyny.com for locations (and adorable webisodes).
Morgane Le Fay Fall 2009
Where & When: Friday, February 13th at 11 a.m., Morgane Le Fay boutique
Runway Recap: You know that quiet girl you went to high school with, the one who listened to Belle & Sebastian and devoured Thomas Hardy novels? She's grown up now, she has money, and she shops at Morgane Le Fay. Designed by Liliana Casbal, the collection featured ethereal chiffon dresses, bustled skirts with cascades of ruffles, and sharp hunting jackets, while feathered accents and a few Mongolian lamb pieces added a dreamy dose of texture. While you could probably lump Casbal's designs in with Alexander McQueen and Vivienne Westwood--the romantic, neo-Goth school, if you will--Morgane Le Fay is not as dark and macabre as the former, and not as fussy as the latter. In other words: It's just right.
Standout Look: The wispy, almost deshabillé chiffon dresses were so gorgeous, my eyes nearly started tearing, but I found the birdcage dresses even more intriguing. Expect to see them in the editorial pages of your favorite foreign fashion magazines this fall.
Bonus Points: Props to the models for navigating the complicated circular runway--seriously, it was like something out of an America's Next Top Model challenge--with minimal collisions.
Where to Buy: Morgane Le Fay boutiques at 67 Wooster and 746 Madison Avenue, and more locations here.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Loris Diran Fall 2009
Where & When: February 12th at 2 p.m., the Altman Building
Runway Recap: Diran used his theme of armor in both a literal and figurative sense; for the former, there was a tiered coat that recalled the appendages of a knight's suit, and for the latter, he sent multiple sharply tailored suits--urban armor, so to speak--down the runway. The armor theme also came across in the sooty gray, black, and metallic colors. Diran's business is demi-couture (meaning his pieces are made-to-measure), and while the evening gowns toward the end were lovely, I suspect his clientele will tend more toward the work-friendly tailored suits and casual-Friday sweaters.
Standout Look: My apologies for the bad angle of this photo, but this look was a genius play of textures: a tonal-stripe wool blazer over an airy ruffled chiffon blouse, paired with strong silk faille pleated trousers.
Bonus Points: The Altman Building has added POM iced coffee to its beverage selection (there's still FIJI water, the old standby), and, well, seven hours later, I think my caffeine buzz has yet to wear off. With drinks this strong, who needs cocaine?
Where to Buy: The new Loris Diran boutique at 3 E. 1st Street in the East Village.