Monday, December 22, 2008

I knew it wasn't a good idea, but what's a girl to do when she hasn't quite crossed everyone off her holiday gift list the last weekend before the Christmas holidays? Despite the snow, which turned into rain, and the mind-numbing cold, I ventured out in the New York city streets to finish up some shopping.

So, I realize we're in the worst economy since the 30s, but I didn't expect to browse with ease through nearly every major and luxury department store in the upper east side. It almost made shopping somewhat enjoyable, if it hadn't been quite so eery. They say the bad winter weather put a damper on the shopping weekend, but when did bad weather ever stop shoppers before?

I realize not everyone can afford to shop along Madison Avenue, not that I even can, unless I'm enticed by some decent sales. But you don't have to be able to afford it to enjoy what I think is the best part of the whole shopping experience, the windows. Bergdorf's generally tops the list for me, and they did not disappoint this year. If you can't brave the weather or afford to splurge any more than you already have, I hope you can enjoy these photos.

Friday, December 19, 2008

While the casualty count grows larger and larger for Fashion Weeks around the globe, one that I'll be sure to watch is Phoebe Philo's highly anticipated 1st show for Celine.

If you don't already know about the talented team that she'll be working with, perhaps you should. Simone Shailes has already garnered a lot of buzz on her own, despite having just recently graduated from the prestigious MA program at Central St. Martins. Her graduate show was so stunning, Topshop swiftly offered to produce the line as is in an exclusive collaboration, rather than seek her design services for a simple capsule collection.

Even if her job at Celine will keep her busy for a while, Shailes is sure to shine in years to come.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Even though it was coming, it's still kind of a shocker to read it in the Times. Bill Blass is finally shuttering its doors, literally, and liquidating all its archives in a quick fire sale in order to recoup some cash. I wonder if their public health mandated Exit signs will find themselves on ebay next to the ones Alessandro dell'Acqua's Madison Avenue retail store hawked just a couple of weeks ago.

Its all kind of sad, isn't it? So what to do for a little picker-upper? Listen to some of David Bowie, of course. Better yet, watch the coolest singer of all time in a video taped during his lithesome youth, not that the guy still doesn't rock my world today.

And check out those dance moves....if he raised his arms at just a slight angle, I'd say he gives Michael Jackson a run for his money with his Thriller zombie walk.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

I am totally gaga in crush, and even though the object of my fascination is as forever unattainable as an Hermes Birkin, at least I have my own little pint size version of him.

Yes, my very own Karl Lagerfelt arrived in the mail yesterday, thanks to a very generous friend who happened to read my blog and purchase a little Lagerfeld to go with little ole' me.

While the finger felt version doesn't churn out entertaining one liners like the real Karl, he is portable. And I am so completely head-over-heels for him, that I've decided to tote the diminutive Deutsch doppelganger around so that we are never far apart.

He's already made one outing to dinner in Williamsburg. There he is reunited with my generous gift giver, so expect to see more of Lagerfelt around town in the weeks to come.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Over the weekend, I happened to catch this documentary on Showtime. It was probably the most riveting 83 minutes I've spent in front of my television screen for a long time.

Did you know that the average age of girls who are sexually exploited and forced into prostitution here in the US is just 13? I still shake my head as I write that figure, and more so as I write that there is only one non-profit center in the entire state of New York helping sexually exploited and trafficked girls.

That center is known as Girls Educational and Mentoring Services, or GEMS, and was started out of an apartment and just $30 by Rachel Lloyd, herself a victim of sexual exploitation. Lloyd counsels some 200 girls every year, helping them to overcome lives of prostitution. These are largely girls who have been arrested for solicitation and are required to attend GEMS as part of their sentencing. The sad part about this all, and let me tell you, there's a lot to be sad about here, that these are just the girls who have been caught in the net of law enforcement. There are countless more out there who go undetected and live out entire lives of unspeakable submission and exploitation.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Icons come in all shapes and sizes, and not just the prerequisite size 0 standard that we hold them to today. Even as a pinup queen, who was molested as a child and later in life became a bible wielding counselor for the Billy Graham Crusade, Bettie Page is, by anyone's standards, an icon of our times.

She died last week at the age of 85. And while news of her death came as quietly as she chose to live the later years of her life--reported by her agent on her website--she sure did cause a stir in her earlier years. I can't help but to laugh at the irony, that a woman who was photographed more often without clothes than in them could have so influenced the way that we see women in pictures. But sure enough, her looks alone were enough to get her there.

There was something about the cut of her hair, the way she wore her red lipstick, or maybe just the way that she smiled at the camera that made her so endearing. When she was clothed, in bikinis that appear demure to us nowadays, there was something still so sweet in all that seduction. If you haven't seen the biopic of Bettie Page starring an absolutely bewitching Gretchen Mol go out today and rent it as a little homage to the Queen of Pinups.

Friday, December 12, 2008

I never used to look at Dolce & Gabbana, unless of course some foreigner (generally from an oil-rich country of eastern European provenance) would literally blind me with the bling from his highly studded D&G belt, or the rhinestoned derriere of his companion. No, the line was never really for me.

Until a couple of seasons ago, when the designing duo marched out a couple of girls at the end of their collection, wearing dresses that looked like living canvases. They were hand-painted creations, with nipped-in waists that flowed out into expansive tulle skirts and in a word they were, well, just gorge.

Who is this new D&G girl, because Dolce & Gabbana have since chased this girl down a most refined path of sophistication. For a label that was once equated to in-your-face sex, they've transformed their muse into a woman who knows that sexy can be conveyed with more than just vavavoom.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Alber Elbaz's collaboration with denim line Acne couldn't be better timed. With the economy tanking, diffusion (if you can call this diffusion) seems to be on every designer's mind with Zac Posen and Doo.ri both announcing plans to do more affordable collections. But with prices ranging from $550 to $1,500, with accessories priced north of even $1,500, this cute little collaboration will still be steep.

Due to hit stores next week, I wonder if I'll have any Christmas money left over from all my gift shopping to pop in to Barney's or Bergdorf's for at least a little peek and maybe even a try-on and see?

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

The Sozzani sisters are stateside, and I wonder what events they have planned for New York, if any, after their jaunt to Miami for Art Basel. Being so far ahead of her time, Franca, who was the visionary behind the all black Vogue Italia, has a Miami themed L'Uomo Vogue already on newsstands. Some stylish sun in these bleak times.

While Franca seems to have garnered all the news lately, her sister Carla is no wall flower. Though sightings of her seem to be less frequent, unless she's chicly shot by The Sartorialist in Comme des Garcons strolling next to her sister in The Tuileries, I'd bet most people would be surprised to learn of her own credentials. Muse to Romeo Gigli, founder of Milanese luxury gallery Corso Como, and even one-time editor of Italian Elle. A paltry three editions were published with Carla at the helm, and even now, people look back on them for their revolutionary vision.

I've often wondered if taste and style is in the blood, and these sisters seem to prove that theory right.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Now that I'm kicking myself about forgoing last week's Sergio Rossi blowout sale after learning the haute cobbler is closing shop here in the US, I know I should be blogging about how Madison Avenue will be feeling like Woodbury Commons on Black Friday, just a desolate and barren wasteland of emptied storefronts.

So learning that Roisin Murphy will be walking the runways of Paris couture next month seems a little indulgent. But heck, she is pretty rocking. I mean, I know I list all my all time favs all the time, so much so that you're probably started to question the sincerity of my devotion, but really, Roisin is up there. So you can imagine how bummed I was when I couldn't make it to her New York City concert a couple weeks back.

What did she wear then, I wonder? Something as fabulous as the avant-garde costume she's sporting in this video? Which, by they way, she has no compunction to keep on while eating fish and chips, or brushing her teeth and simultaneously going to the loo. Even in times like these, you gotta' love a girl who can bring it down a notch in avant-garde, especially while she's belting out a pretty groovy tune.

Monday, December 8, 2008

I've never been a huge fan of Katie Holmes. I think that's mostly because I was living outside the country during her ascent to stardom when she was on that television show I can never remember the name of. There's no denying the girl is gorgeous, and people I know who have seen her in person swear she's one of the most naturally beautiful celebrities in person. And apart from some of those red carpet missteps when she's gone out and had her own designs so very badly custom made, well, she does show quite a lot of personal style.

Having said all that, I haven't quite understood the craze over her. Okay, granted being Mrs. Cruise must still carry some weight, and she must have one of the cutest kids on the entire continent. And then I pick up the special Holiday edition of the T Magazine, and I have to admit she is stunning. If this is just a teaser for the Prada campaign, I can just imagine her inking a cosmetics deal some time down the line.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Alessandro Dell'Acqua is closing its Madison Avenue storefront and pitifully liquidating all their store furnishings down to its public health mandated Exit signs in a quickfire sale in situ this Saturday, right on the heels of Te Casan's shuttering, right on the heels of Linda Dresner sadly closing shop. So what's a girl to do?

Pine for the 80s, I suppose, 1989 to be precise, when the world had recovered from the historic Black Monday 2 years prior, and when it apparently wasn't beneath supermodels to do their own makeup backstage. Imagine that, and check out Linda who, if I had to peg a favorite model of all time, would hold that title second to none.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Someone once asked me why I seem to be so outrageously obsessed with Karl Lagerfeld. If I had to answer succinctly: his wicked sense of humor. Sometimes his comments literally slay me, so much so that I find myself nearly falling out of my chair from laughing so hard. But beyond that, Karl is probably the one figure in fashion today who is acutely aware of the public persona of a designer, of an iconic designer, really.

Everything he does seems to be to support his art, which has become indistinguishable from his own life. But if I had to speak the truth--his designs? Well, I get them, but even if I had the thousands of euros, or hundreds of thousands of euros to join that elite coterie of women who can afford to don his couture, I don't think I would. Big gasp, I know. Not that we don't need the Karls of this world to keep what few ateliers there are left to churn out such stunning handicraft. It's just a very certain taste and lifestyle, is all.

His latest little pre-fall collection, however, was absolutely stunning. In bleak moments like these, Karl shows just what a gem of a designer he really is, showing luxury to such heights, while tastefully straddling louche. I want every single piece of his Russian themed collection, right down to the astrakhan muffs and crazy headdresses.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Stefano Pilati must have a thing for older women, and I say older with a loud 'ahem'. Right on Naomi's stilettoed heels, he's perched Claudia in the hills of Hollywood, in front of the actual sign, in fact, for the next YSL ad campaign set to launch early next year.

I'm loving this supermodel comeback, and while I was never a huge Claudia fan before, I'm a big contender for that title now. The woman is as lithe and lynx-like as she was 15 years ago, and I swear I've never seen her in a bad outfit.

Little known fact: Claudia Schiffer holds the record for gracing the most magazine covers, something like 500+. And at the rate that she's going, landing recent contracts with Dolce & Gabbana, Ferragamo, and Chanel, it looks like she'll hold that record for a while.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

I know that with all these sales going on, and me back in New York where the assortment won't let me down, my holiday gift list should be growing ever smaller.

But truth be told, I'm just not into it (small gasp). This, coming from a girl who prides herself in always gifting the right size and right color, and has the longest track record of buying presents that are actually worn.

So what will I be buying instead? Music. And it seems like, lately, everything I've been listening to this year is a tune belted out by some fabulous singing diva hailing from the UK: Beth Ditto, Estelle, Lilly Allen, Kate Nash, and of course, Roisin Murphy.

The best thing about all these girls? They all have great style (and most of them, the curves to flaunt it.)

Monday, December 1, 2008

This Thanksgiving holiday was a retail downer for me. (No wonder, then, that I made up for all the disappointment by indulging non-stop in some great home cooking.) Even though I deplore the crowds of Black Friday and generally hate to venture out, I do usually make a light recon mission on the following Saturday in order to make a dent on the obligatory gift list for the upcoming holidays.

So, I wasn't in New York, which may account for the bulk of my disillusionment. But still, Philadelphia does boast one of the largest luxury malls on the east coast (King of Prussia which, by the way, is where our new vice president elect was spotted shopping at Thomas Pink the day before his nomination).

So what did I do? Watch old movies, of course, and consume as much digital entertainment as possible. One of the movies I happened to watch (and not for the first time, or the second, or even the third) was An American in Paris. The music! The dancing! The color! And of course, the clothes! It's all so breathtaking and romantic, which is just the remedy to one of the greatest disappointments a fashion designer can face...bad shopping, that is.

Today is World Aids Day, which kind of hits home for me since I have known and still know people who are HIV+. One of those people is Jack Mackenroth, whom many of you may recognize.

Jack must be one of just a handful of personalities who is open about being HIV+. And I have to say, all personal bias aside, that that must be one of the most courageous things a person in the public eye can possibly do. Jack's been active in recent months working with a big drug company, trying to promote as much awareness about HIV/AIDS as possible, so I thought I'd give him a blog-out today.

Being a designer, of course he's designed a cute little tee shirt. Click on the below for more info, if only to see more of his handsome mug, and learn what he's been up to yourself.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Last night as I started pondering the weekend shopping extravaganza ahead for the holidays (I'm an early shopper and like to have everyone crossed off my list come the first week of December), I came across this amazing stocking stuffer.

When I first saw it, my eyes literally bulged out of my head and I was stunned into an ecstatic state of speechlessness (and trust me, that's hard to do.) A Karl puppet finger! I had to have it...immediately...and my goodness, just one simply would not do! I needed ten, lest one deprived finger become jealous of the other!

My, my my, the series of questions that raced through my head when I divined further details. What is this etsy website that's hawking this most coveted of items? And who is mullish muse, the alleged hawker? Then the disappointment hit (formed into yet another question). Why, oh, why, is this item sold out?

The morning after, I still haven't figured out this etsy thing, other than that it seems to be some sort of ebay for crafters. And as for mullish muse? Well he, or she, is importing these little Karls from Mexico! My disappointment dissipated immediately. Without saying, this is a faux Karl and not a genuine thing by any stretch of the imagination since a real Herr Lagerfeld could never be hecho en Mexico.

Mullish muse did get one thing right, though. His size. Apparently felted Karl will only fit "very thin modelesque type fingers, pencils, or pipe cleaners". But the dead giveaway? Little Karl for the digits is wearing a hand-sewn suit with a stylish tie and starched collar, but only "Italian-like". Italian-like? Karl would shudder at the thought in his made to measure tailleur!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Some things are just a little far fetched to ignore. Not that I'm not dying to write about news that H&M will next be teaming up with Matthew Williamson for their next designer collaboration (which makes perfect sense since Williamson will no longer be making extra cash at the helm of Pucci since he's decided to focus on his own label...though I was disappointed it wasn't Westwood).

But at yesterday's Luxury Briefing Conference in London, a former Morgan Stanley analyst predicts that we'll be seeing a big shift towards African influenced fashion. Why, do you ask? Well, as if it weren't obvious, because of our new US president-elect Barack Obama, of course!

There's a highly technical journalistic expression called silly season. It usually occurs in a lull of news, and is marked by an upsurge of, well, silly stories. And it's not that there isn't a wealth of stories to read now in fashion, but because of the economy, most of them tend to be quite awful and depressing.

Does that explain the seeming craziness of Claire Kent's remark? No. I mean, generally analysts tend to well-informed gatherers of information. And it's not that Obama hasn't already influenced the likes of Franca Sozzani in her pivotal all-black Italian Vogue. But to take it all the way to Africa, well, just because the man happens to born to an African national (forget that his mother was white or that he was born and bred on American territory and has hardly even traveled to Africa) that is just absolute silliness.

Which is not to say that we might just see some African influences in fashion cropping up here and there. Look at how beautifully YSL was influenced by it. And as we all know, fashion, like the economy is cyclical. It's been a while since we've seen many tribal prints, which are great for summer. And if my fashion calendar is on target, we're due to see some summer collections in January. But believe you me, I won't be straining to look for any African influences, or wondering whether I should match my blue to the color of Obama's inaugural suit.

Monday, November 24, 2008

I have to admit my list of favorite people is as varied as the ocean is deep. If you've read this blog before, you must have divined by now that Herr Lagerfeld ranks right up there on the list. His style is impeccable, his intellect sharp, but it really is his sense of humor that makes my heart go pitter-patter every time I read a new one-liner he's uttered.

Maybe that's why I'm such an admirer, no, an outright adorer, of Rosie O'Donnell. When Rosie was on that-daytime-show-that-can-not-be-named, I used to DVR the darn thing religiously, and fast forward to all the parts where she was talking so I could filter out all the other, ahem, "bits" I was loathe to watch.

Why do I love Rosie so? Okay, she's no style maven, that's for sure. But dare I say it, fashion isn't everything. Rosie, to me, has always seemed to possess a sound moral compass, despite protocol or so-called social norms. She's a girl who follows her heart, and that, for me, is a girl after my own heart.

So when I saw the previews for her new variety show, well, my heart did another pitter patter. My Rosie dose won't be daily, but it'll be enough. And you can bet I'll have the popcorn, generously buttered, ready to go this Wednesday at 8.

Friday, November 21, 2008

So while my list of designers going out of business grows ever longer, it's nice to hear of a comeback or resurrection now and then. Once mammoth retailer Steve & Barry's is finally liquidating (no surprise there), Bill Blass is closing house, (not there either), but veterans Jean de Castelbajac and Romeo Gigli are seeing a revival.

De Castelbajac may not be a name that most would recognize, though Katy Perry brought him some hot press when she wore a dress by the designer bearing the sequined visage of our new president elect at the MTV Awards. Having fallen victim to the financial crises months ago, Swedish firm Atlas Design Group has given de Castelbajac a second lifeline, so we'll be seeing more pop-art inspired designs from the Frenchman for at least another season.

Now on to the more interesting news of Gigli's new line: Io Ipse Idem. Since having lost the rights to his name following a dispute with his former backers, Gigli is teaming up with new investors and a former exec of Pucci and will show next season in Paris.

In his heyday, Gigli was often regarded as the soft and romantic counterpoint to Armani's hard shouldered power suits, which ultimately seemed to have won out. It'll be interesting to see if Gigli's woman has been able to change with the times, a progression I often wonder whether Armani's client has been able to make.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Oh, Saks is bleeding money, Lucky Magazine is throwing a couple of editors to the curb, and Allegra Hicks is filing for bankruptcy in England. But not all of us are hurting in these trying times. Trust Karl (and Prada, if you´ve read about the new Miu Miu store opening here in the city and rumors of Katie Holmes gracing the co´s next ad campaign) to come through for us and offer a shimmer of light at the end of this bleak and seemingly never-ending tunnel.

Since his recent sojourn here in the US, all us Karl fans (of which you can count me numero uno) learned of his love of ipods (along with Pennsylvania Dutch wheat bread and I Can´t Believe It´s Not butter). But how´s a man like Karl to store his digital devices? Not just in style, but in luxury.

According to the Luxist, Karl doesn´t just stuff his mp3 players into his pockets like all us mere mortals, however bespoke his may be. No, he has Louis Vuitton custom make a trunk, crafted of black Taiga leather, brass fittings, and a sleek microfiber interior. The Karlcase not only carries 20 ipods, it also holds a compartment for speakers and a subwoofer. To top it off, KL´s initials are embossed on top, less some knuckle head think that this valise could possibly belong to someone else.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Last night was a late night out for me celebrating a little someone's birthday. So before going to bed, in order to wind down, we turned on the tube to watch a little Letterman, a big treat for me, since he's on way past my normal bed time.

And what a treat it was. Who did he have on as a guest? Well, none other than the first lady of France, the inimitable Carla Bruni.

Okay, okay, so I have to admit, when she first stepped out on stage, I asked myself, was she traveling without someone to do her hair because I have seen her tresses looking better. But as soon as she opened her mouth and I heard that voice, that voice, I could easily see why the elected leader of la Republique de la France, as well as ther rest of the world, is completely smitten with her.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Last night's news that Alexander Wang swept the CFDA/ Vogue Fashion Fund and its $200,000 prize was so expected, it was hardly newsworthy, at least in my blogging book. His career trajectory since launching his eponymous line has only known one direction, and that's been a very fast and vertiginous up.

What's more interesting to me this morning, is news that Pierre Bergé has been keeping himself busy following the loss of his partner, Yves Saint Laurent, some months back. Bergé is planning a ginormous retrospective of the late couturier in Paris, which is slated to take place in none other than the beautiful Petit Palais.

Some 5,000 couture garments will be shown, among a dazzling number of 15,000 accessories, sketches, and sundry objects showcasing YSL's work over the span of his forty-some odd years designing.

Unfortunately, the exhibit won't take place until 2010, which has me wondering if I can even organize my travel plans that far out ahead. Since the euro has been so strong against the dollar these past couple of years, my trips abroad have been cautious anyway. But since economies and forex markets are cyclical, I'm hoping that in two years time, business will be booming, and the dollar will be holding its own, which means a trip to Paris to me, along with some good shopping.

Monday, November 17, 2008

In case you missed this last week, Cathy Horyn had a shot of Lagerfeld on her blog, from before he had discovered thumb rings and pony tails, and eons before his favorite drink, Pepsi Max, had even been invented.

It's hard to tell by the shot, but apparently mini Karl is wearing lederhosen. If you know your German, that's leather trousers, literally translated, or leather knee britches typically worn by little boys in Germany and Austria.

At that age, Karl was still probably thought to take over the family condensed milk empire. What I can't get over is how simultaneously happy and mischievous he looks.

Friday, November 14, 2008

I heard this song again yesterday, the first time in a long time since it was released last year. And despite the grey, wet weather outside, it had me tapping my toe as I sat sipping my tea in my old man's tatty sweater.

When I was in college, especially during my first year, to beat the winter blues of Chicago, I used to lock myself up in my room, turn up the tunes, and dance around by myself as if there were no tomorrow. Sorry, no air guitar for me. (Not to offend any air guitar aficionados, but the only people I used to see who pretended like they knew the riffs of a song were always the geeks who stood around at concerts, nodding their heads maniacally to the beat, when they couldn't tell their C chords from their E flats to save their lives.)

Back to the Mitchell Brothers who, incidentally, aren't actually bros but cousins. They're a product of this genre bending new generation of rap, hip-hop and pop, ranking right up their with one of my favorites, the more soulful Unklejam. Which brings me to ponder, since both these groups hail from England, whether or not that little island below the North Sea is a ripe ole petri dish for this kind of stuff.

Is it coincidental that these two guys of African descent are singing about another black guy named Michael Jackson? No, I think not. But race aside, I think it's a pretty universal given that Michael, back in the day, had some pretty rockin' moves. And that his red leather pants and sequined gloves changed the course of fashion for millions of prepubescent kids like myself, and apparently, for The Mitchell Brothers, too.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

With Madge in LVMH, & Daisy Lowe rumored to have scored both Marc by Marc and DKNY, the latest leaked pair-up has got me in a bit of a tizzy...Pamela Anderson in none other than the Queen of Punk, Vivienne Westwood.

I have to admit that since Pammy's cameo appearance as the object of desire in funny film Borat several years back, I had gained a newfound appreciation for the buxom babe. But whereas before, I had had none at all, my new 'tude about her wasn't a ground-moving moment of epiphany by any stretch of the imagination.

The more I think about it, though, she would look gorge in some funky Vivienne Westwood (then again, who wouldn't?). When you scroll through the galleys of Getty and Wire Images, you do see there are quite a few pairings of the odd couple.

As Comme des Garcons hits H&M stores today, the question that keeps popping in my mind is, when, oh when, is Miss Westwood announcing her own deal with the mass retailer?

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Okay, I guess I could write up all the news about Madonna starring in the next Louis Vuitton campaign, ponder about whether Madge and Marc's shared obsession with workouts brought the two of them together, ruminate on whether they dished on each other's highly publicized love lives and break-ups. But no. I came across this Q&A of Jussara Lee in New York Magazine, one of the few publications I actually have a chance to read nowadays, usually on the train, as my New Yorkers pile up shamefully atop a stack of books I bought last Christmas in the corner of my office. It struck a chord with me, maybe because the woman makes all her own clothes, or because of her singular admiration of the fitted shirt (with no darts!), or simply because she's eked out a livelihood in fashion. So to do the woman justice, I've lifted the entirety of the interview, word for word, for you to read.

Brazilian-born designer Jussara Lee is a fashion veteran, having worked in the business for nearly twenty years. The Fashion Institute of Technology graduate launched her first ready-to-wear collection in 1991, participating in the Bryant Park/Seventh Avenue/wholesale scene for ten years (and twenty seasons) before chucking it all in 2001 in favor of a made-to-measure boutique in the meatpacking district that's become a go-to spot for hard-to-find, well-crafted labels like shoes from Sue London, hats from Worth & Worth and Magar Hatworks, Brelli umbrellas, and Eairth jeans. We caught up with Jussara to talk about how fashion has changed, why Sex and the City fashion needs to go away, and more.

You call your look understated elegance. Why?

People have a tendency to infringe their taste on others. It's understated because that is just my opinion: that elegance is desirable and that the clothes I make are the most well balanced.

If you could describe the woman who you want to wear your clothes, what would she be like?
Guilt-free women who can't stand looking like anything but the best.

You've been in the business almost twenty years. How have you seen fashion change?
It has lost its integrity in a way because everyone is into it but they all follow the same path, so that's why the trends — I don't respond to them. Fashion is my profession; it's not entertainment to me. I'm constantly thinking, what's going to make someone look good. I'm not very into the celebrity scene. The whole Sex and the City thing was a huge influence on ordinary people. It looks too done up to me. It's too much hair. Everyone looks like they've spent too much time, too much money, and then in the end everyone looks the same. It's curious that people would go the whole extent to look so the same.

How do you respond to challenging moments in fashion?

I had a moment after September 11 where I thought it was so hard, and I didn't want to do it anymore. But that's when I was celebrating ten years of the Seventh Avenue thing. It was the perfect moment to say "I'm bailing out" — downsizing, forget about wholesale, just do something that I think is good. And if it works, good. And if it doesn't, I'll figure out how. It was a very difficult moment. But if you're passionate about it, it's worth it.

Do you think the economy is affecting your business?
I'm oblivious to what goes on. I haven't really felt it yet. I think it's because the people that come and order clothes, they buy it knowing it's not an excess, it's long-lasting. Who can't use a great black jacket? That's what we convey. They don't think they're splurging if it can last a long time. You just need to be able to afford it, which is a bummer.

What's the first designer item you ever bought? Probably Jean Paul Gaultier. I was attending FIT and he was the shit – just so much fun and very revolutionary to me. It was a jacket, tailored and black. And it had a fun lining. It was over $1,000.

What designers or labels do you actually wear the most?
I'm cheap. I make my own clothes.

Where do you shop?

I only shop for groceries: Yoga Center on 13th Street is the best and any farmer's market.

What's one thing you really want to buy right now?

A snowsuit for my goddaughter.

What's something that every woman should have in her closet?
Fitted shirts but please no darts! Shirts are very pure piece of clothing, an ancient part of wardrobe. If you put darts in it, you are suffocating the whole purity of it, when you can achieve that fitted look without darts if you just cut it right.

What's something you can't leave the house without?

My hairpins — it's all about hairpins.

Jussara Lee, 11 Little W. 12th St., nr. Ninth Ave. (212-242-4128); daily (11–7).

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Business is not precisely booming, so if I were minding my p's and q's, I'd do my virtual window shopping with more than a modicum of restraint. Plus, since I'm waiting for the CdG collection to hit H&M (3 days and counting), my shopping budget for the week is close to its limit right now.

But is it just me, or is there an abundance of things on offer? Window shopping on net-a-porter this morning, there are so many things I would love to!

Then again, maybe the economic woes are hitting more people than just those (like me) whose livelihood is based on the perilous ups and downs of the retail industry. People are shopping less, leaving more goods on the shelves, or web pages, of heretofore recession-proof luxury havens. (Oh yes, times are desperate enough where I'm whipping out my heretofores...hey! watch out....I see an irregardless coming this way!)

Just jiving! Call this an early Christmas list, but here is a visual list of things I'd buy if I had a couple of easy grand lying around the house that didn't have to go towards our mortgage or my production orders.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Its hard for me to believe that its been 10 years since I first started seeing the Smart Car whipping around Europe, but so it has. And how does the feisty little 4 wheeler decide to celebrate? Well, in style of course, by launching a limited edition designed by none other than luxury maker of all luxury goods, Hermes.

While the car hasn't quite caught on stateside (apparently some man in Texas bought only the 20,000th since the micro car starting selling here), they have become somewhat of a fixture to urban life in Europe. What other car can be parked perpendicularly to the street with ease, a godsend in the winding streets of major European capitals? And while even I have wondered about the safety of such little contraptions in the event of an accident, they are feat of German and Swiss engineering, having been built by the pooled resources of none other than Mercedes Benz and Swatch.

Okay, so the Hermes edition comes with a hefty price tag: 38,000 euros. But considering most of us will never be able to even get on the wait list for a Birkin bag, the car does come equipped with enough Hermes interior leather to make up for that great disappointment in life. Imagine the joys of zipping around the city with thousands of dollars worth of Hermes hide beneath our bums?

Friday, November 7, 2008

Catching up on Rossellini Porn

Back when I first wrote up this series, I couldn't find Green Porn on my DVR to record, and so only just found it again last night on The Sundance Channel. But since then, a whole slew of episodes have been shown, so we're playing a bit of catch-up time.

To borrow some words made popular again by ALT, my favorite fashion editor of all time, Rossellini really is all that...and a bag of chips.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Call me lazy, or off my game. But when I saw Michelle Obama in that stunning red & black number late Tuesday night, I couldn't for the life of me figure out who she was wearing. (And trust me, I can usually call them 9 out of 10.) So patiently, I waited, and late yesterday, the credits started leaking. Narciso Rodriguez Spring 2009.

And then the inferences started shooting off in my head like a circuit board gone haywire. Well, of course, she had to wear designer on one of the most historical occasions this country will see for many generations to come. I mean, considering all the rallying & fundraising spearheaded by Anna Wintour, no big surprise that the dress came from a designer from 7th Avenue. Pretty soon, I'm sure, Narciso will come out with the story of just precisely when and where he met Michelle, and how he & she collaboratively decided she would wear that dress.

The timing couldn't be better for Narciso, who just recently dissolved his partnership with Liz Claiborne. I'm sure it couldn't have been easy for Narciso to part with all that cash, but when you're working with a company whose target clients' tastes run more mass and comfort, than chic and designer, well, I can certainly understand.

As for Michelle color-coordinating the entire family? Normally I'm not a gal that needs to color coordinate anything. In fact, it looks a little cheesy to me and I, more often than not, go to great depths to make sure my shoes never match my bag, or my belt (much less my husband). Maybe I was swept up by the fact that I was witnessing what will perhaps be the single most historic moment of my generation (unless, of course, Hilary can sweat it out a term or so, get back on that campaign trail, and on the party's nomination ticket). But gee, I thought the whole Obama clan looked stunning.

And Michelle? She's no Carla Bruni, but she'll give the French supermodel a pretty good run for her money. I just can't wait for the first official state visit from the Sarkozys to see what the gals will be wearing.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Oh, happy day. Target confirms the rumors that have been swirling since early this year that Brit bad boy designer Alexander McQueen will launch a capsule collection come next March.

It was only time before McQueen caved in, especially since designer of all designers Rei Kawakubo has let open the floodgates with Comme des Garcons' collaboration with mass retailer H&M.

Okay, so the new project won't draw from McQueen's designer line, but McQ, his diffusion label aimed at a younger, hipper customer. But who cares, really? And his inspiration for the collection? Muse Leila Moss, lead singer of The Duke Spirit, a Brit rock and grunge band that first came to prominence in the late Eighties.

Moss reminds me of a cross between Debbie Harry and Chrissie Hynde. Now, if I could only figure out how H&M will top this once Comme des Garcons flies off the shelves next week. Galliano? Gaultier? Marc?

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

I have to say that I've been a big fan of the return of the supermodel. Remember when those girls wouldn't get up in the morning for less than $10,000, and then had the gumption to brag about it? They partied all night, and still looked great. And they were real women. Not that I have anything against some of the girls modeling today, but most of them are prepubescent waifs compared to the supermodels of yesteryear.

So when I turn the pages of a magazine and see Claudia in Chanel, Naomi in YSL, and Linda in Prada, I can't help but to ogle at how divine these women still look. Which makes me all the more puzzled about Cindy's spread in French Vogue. Is it just me, or doesn't it look like her body's been Photoshopped to a disproportionate Barbie size?

This wouldn't be the first time that Vogue and other fashion rags have gone a little crazy with its digital retouching. Or maybe I'm wrong, and Cindy's been working overtime with the Pilates. But the great thing that I remember about her, and the women who put first "super" into model, was that they were real women, with real bodies.

Cindy was never the malnourished waif, she had curves. And at 40 with two kids, you'd expect that after having established a career as a real woman inspiring other women, she finally would have resisted caving into the unrealistic ideals that a fashion editors hold women to today.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Having traveled to Asia and back in the span of 3 days, perhaps my brain is still in somewhat of a spin. But despite news finally confirming Marco Zanini's move to Rochas, there's still so much I don't understand.

Okay, so my powers of deduction would lead me to believe that there's a lot more going on at Halston than meets the eye. But in my limited experience, that's no anomaly in fashion, where craziness is the norm in most houses. Though Zanini didn't win over the critics with his first two collections there, they sold reasonably well, especially overseas. And in these tough economic times, that has me wondering again about the decision to cut him loose at Halston.

No worries, since he's landed rather quickly at Rochas. But there's another house I wonder about. Perhaps I should be relieved that the brand is under new management, since Gibo Co. SpA inked a global licensing agreement to take over the collection from Proctor & Gamble. P&G, if you remember, shuttered the house in 2006 when wunderkind Olivier Theyskens was designing. Though Theyskens' work won universal critical acclaim, and every young starlet wanted to don his high ticket gowns on the red carpet, you can imagine that sales for such high end goods would be limited. What I've never understood, though, is why the suits at P&G didn't try a bit harder to curb Theyskens' creative energies into a more commercial product, because letting such a talent go must have been the single-most erroneous decision made in this decade.

But then Theyskens landed at Nina Ricci, another house he's turned into creative gold, and Zanini at Rochas. Life goes on, designers come and go, and the boards of such companies will always be at odds with creative.

Friday, October 31, 2008

If you haven't had a chance yet to go see this exhibit in Central Park, then go before it's whisked off to London November 9th.

Friends of ours from Europe waited in the cold for an hour and a half in line, and then were shocked to learn that their 12 year old daughter was discouraged from entering, due to graphic nudity in some of the installations. They were warned that they needed to take full reponsability of their child, until one of the docents realized that they were European.

"You're from Europe! You'll be just fine, go on through!" she exclaimed.

As our friends were walking away from the admission desk with tickets in hand, they could hear the elderly docent explain to her colleagues, "The girl will be just fine...They're Europeans you know!"

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Second-hand is usually a great option for girls on a budget, and especially now with the grim economic outlook. But I've never really found that to be the case here in the city, where thrift isn't always rewarded when the dress is considered more vintage archival than just second hand.

So don't expect bargains at Chrystie's special auction this week in London, which will sell off some of the most iconic pieces of fashion in the last fifty years. Curated by owners of pioneer vintage shop Resurrection, some 250 pieces will go under the hammer, and will fetch some pretty steep bids, I'm sure.

Among those items up for sale will be a space-age wedding dress by Paco Rabanne, said to have been commissioned by a Middle Eastern bride, but never worn, the Gianni Versace bondage dress made infamous by Elizabeth Hurley, and even pieces of Marc Jacobs grunge collection.

Now, I wonder, come next auction will we see a dress from Kate Moss' Top Shop collection, or maybe an H&M by Comme des Garcons coat? Perhaps not at Chrystie's, but you can be sure we'll see some pretty fierce bids on ebay for them.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Last night we went out to dinner to one of my favorite joints in the city. We had friends in town, and we decided, rather at last minute, to make an evening of it with some good food, wine, and of course conversation. While I'm a girl that couldn't be happier with a old movie & a slice of pizza, this place isn't quite like that. The service is impeccable, the decor sublime, and the wait staff leave you alone at the table for as long as you like, rather than push you out to usher in the next set of diners. Of course, you pay for it all, and rather steeply.

And so I shouldn't have been so surprised that I was able to reserve a table for five with such short notice. But I was. It's not that the place wasn't packed to the nines come dinner hour. But in these tough economic times, I guess steep restaurant bills are probably the first thing to get cut out of peoples' budgets.

Shopping at Top Shop, however, still seems to be priority for girls minding their p's and q's, especially considering the frenzy that took place in London yesterday with the launch of Kate's holiday collection. Okay, so the Kate effect is a big factor in the formula for success here, or for any brand that has her plastered all over their campaign ads.

But while most of the stuff is as cute and trendy as Top Shop normally is, I can't say that's true for all of it. The leopard "claw" dress she wore to Vivienne Westwood sold out in minutes, both in the stores and online, which leads me to ask, really?

While retailers are cutting orders by as much as 15%, if not more, I can't help but to question why girls would spend a solid £100 on a knit dress with a cat paw. Or maybe it's jealousy speaking here. If it were that easy, come next spring, you'd see my line chock full of badly printed dresses.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Remember when Marion Cotillard won the Oscar for "La Vie en Rose" in that gorgeous white Gaultier dress? I remember thinking back then, as I was charmed out of my stilettos by the humor and girlishness of her acceptance speech, how that dress would be talked about for seasons to come.

And now that the French actress has been tapped for a Dior campaign, Cotillard will be stepping out of that dress, and into her own as a style maker. What a coup, especially when you look at the illustrious heels she'll be following: Monica Bellucci, Diane Kruger and Carla Bruni, who right now, is probably the most famous trend setter, not to mention first lady, in all of France.

The best part about the gig? Not just being decked out in head to toe Christian Dior, but spending a day with none other than John Galliano, of course!

Monday, October 27, 2008

When I first heard about Poster Boy, something about his work struck a chord, though I'm not sure if it hit all the keys. There's something admirable about the obvious social consciousness of his work and the fact that he does it under a mask of anonymity. But just like English grafitti artist Banksy before him, whose work is now fetching some steep British pounds, I guess I find it a bit ironic that it is precisely Poster Boy's desire for anonymity that is garnering him so much attention.

If you've ever ridden in the subway here in New York, perhaps you've seen his work, if you're lucky that is, to have caught sight of it before the MTA cops have. New York Magazine recently did a quick, but thorough profile of the ad mauler, who by all accounts lived the typical life of an underprivileged inner city kid: single parent home, tough breaks & a criminal record that had him headed down all the wrong roads. Except that Poster Boy, who is all of 25 years old, had enough smarts and creativity to clean himself up and enroll in community college, then art school, from which he perfunctorily dropped out.

Apparently, he has some lofty, socially ambitious goals for his work, which has me raising an eyebrow. He wants to inspire others to do the same and start a decentralized art movement, where anyone can pick up an Exacto knife and assume the role of Poster Boy. It's not that his art isn't already doing what so many artists fail to achieve, to promote dialogue and awareness of serious social issues. I mean, here I am blogging about him, and I admit wholeheartedly to being a big fan of his art.

But I guess by the time Poster Boy does become a movement, I wonder if we'll see his work hanging in a gallery. But then it won't be for free and for a few stolen moments. It'll be at a steep price, with a lot of zeroes behind it, you can be sure.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Last night amid the first cold spell of autumn, I hightailed it over to the far west side of the garment district for the preview of H&M's collaboration with Comme des Garcons. That area used to be too seedy to walk through alone, particularly because of certain overpasses which were used as a spots where working girls could still conduct business with their johns. Now, it's as gentrified as any neighborhood in New York and pretty soon, we'll all be calling it Wogard (west of the garment district) to christian it's new coolness.

But enough of my lamentings of a changing New York, I was there to see Rei Kawakubo's genius up close and personal. Not even the presence of some starlets from Gossip Girls could distract me from my mission, though I have to admit I turned my head when Maggie Gyllenhaal walked in the room.

I know I've blogged about this before, but what a coup for H&M. Apparently, true to artistic form, Rei K insisted on complete creative control over the project. So resultingly, some of the pieces are on the high end of the retail ticket for H&M, but still a fraction of the CdG's normal prices. Recession or no, you can bet I'll be one of those crazed shoppers who will be lining up outside a store come November 13, so I can snatch up as many pieces as I possibly can.

What I kept wondering was, how will they ever top this? And will we have to wait a full year for them to unveil their next designer collaboration? On the one hand, Rei K has such a limited audience, but then on the other, she's the ultimate designer's designer, which should open wide the flood gates for even the biggest names. I think next time, though, to balance things out, H&M will have to go commercial. Alexander McQueen? Prada? YSL? Or dare I imagine...Marc Jacobs?

Thursday, October 23, 2008

If you weren't one of the lucky few who were able to snatch up one of Herr Lagerfeld's limited edition teddy bear at $1500 a pop, replete with sunglasses and mini dominator gloves, then his new cologne, Kapsule, might be more within your reach.

Though the scent seems to be more widely available overseas, it'll be another retail exclusive for Neiman Marcus stateside. But even the launch here is not without Karl's signature humor, with an accompanying press release that explains, "He decides on the weather, then gently blows the trend”.

Here are some more gems I've translated from an interview the Karlmeister granted to French daily L'Express earlier this month, talking about the launch of his first scent in decades:

You're launching a collection of three unisex perfumes, but the first scent with your name was a men's fragance.
KL: That was 30 years ago, in 1978, when I came out with Classic. During the 2 or 3 years that followed, the masculine version sold the most. But by the end of it, because I wore the same perfume myself, I was tired of smelling my own scent on everybody. In any case, you need to constantly change perfume, otherwise, your odor becomes lazy.

What scent are you wearing nowadays?
KL: I alternate between Iris Nobile, d'Acqua di Parma, and my own mixture, which I make from Shalimar and one of the perfumes of Comme des Garçons.

Do you perfume your hair?
KL: Are you joking? I powder it every day with an entire bottle of dry shampoo by Klorane. I am already a walking meringue, so I don't submit my hair to more torture.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

I have to admit, I'm actually a fan of the Olsen, though if you asked me to identify each twin by name, I'd have a pretty rough go of it. Despite going a bit over the top at times with their boho chic--I mean, really, does anyone actually dress like that going into a Starbucks here in NY?--they are style mavens in their own 20-something right.

Besides having what must be a normal, stable family who nurtured the girls into becoming the gazillionaires they now are, their two fashion labels, The Row and Elizabeth & James, are actually pretty tasteful...though I'd be willing to bet my prized pair of Jimmy Choos I that the girls don't really sit behind a drafting table and design.

And as if they weren't already set for life, the girls are taking a manicured stab at interviewing fashion movers and shakers around the globe and have compiled it into a coffee table book that has New York Magazine raving. The best part about this? They've scored a tete-a-tete with none other than the Karlmeister. Here are selected portions of that conversation, which I've conveniently lifted straight from New York Magazine. Thanks NY Mag!

Where we see cupcakes, Karl sees plastic.
AO: What do you do now to stay in shape?
KL: Nothing … I have a doctor who I made a book with that sold five million copies all over the world. Every country bought one, I think, in Russia and Italy and everywhere. But I don't get it — I don't know what Japan is going to do with a European diet book … Since I started my diet, which was like eight years ago, I haven't touched what I'm not supposed to: sugar, cheese, nothing! I don't even look at it. It looks to me like plastic.

He hates tall, chatty models.
KL: [N]owadays you start to model because you're young. Now the girls are sixteen, seventeen, fifteen, and Russian. They are like from another planet
AO: They can look very bizarre!
KL: I hate all these tall women. They are all giants!
MKO: If only I were a little taller — that would make me happy!
KL: You are one meter fifty-one. You are taller than that?
AO: We're five feet and one inch.
KL: Oh, I thought my office told me that you were four-foot eight or something. Not that it matters. What you need is a face. If you have a face you don't need height or a voice. Models know this; that's why the good ones don't need to talk much.

And he hates working with male models.
KL: I like to work with models for a long time. Sometimes the girls change, but some girls I work with for years and years. With male models it is different. I hate working with male models.
AO: Ah, well boys come and go!
KL: And I hate doing castings and things like this. "oh no you're not right" — that's horrible to say to someone. I never do castings. Other people do them, and then I see the result of the casting. It's humiliating for the models.

Nor does he like to hear a man's opinion.
KL: I don't have people I don't like around me ever.
MKO: You don't have to.
KL: …I don't work with many men. I don't want to ask the men about the fashion. Their opinion doesn't interest me.

He gives the girls family-planning advice!
KL: I like more classic [shapes] now. Best thing to do for skinny people to wear tight dresses. Although jeans are becoming too tight.
AO: Ah! Yes, it's becoming a problem. It's the worst.
KL: You can kill yourself in these jeans.
MKO: Ha, I'd rather stay inside with my friends than limp out in tight trousers.
KL: Maybe you'll stay inside with a baby. Do you want to get married? Children? Two perfect mums, yes?
[Mary-Kate and Ashley look at each other]
KL: Ah! Don't worry, you have time. You're young. Don't you want to get married?
MKO: I don't feel the need to get married. But Ashley wants children. I'll be a great aunt or godmother.
AO: To my child.
KL: [To Ashley] Are you planning?
AO: No. I don't even have a boyfriend. You have to plan that first, right? Figure that out first?
KL: If you get a boyfriend it doesn't mean that! Today you can have a baby first. If you want. I never liked the idea of a family at all. If it's a woman — it's more fun for a woman.

Karl sheds light on why he's the face of that road-safety ad in France.
MKO: It can be dangerous when you're driving [in L.A.] particularly, because they follow you in cars and scooters. That's bad. That's not easy.
KL: I had two accidents where I fell asleep — after that I thought it was better that I don't drive. I'll get a driver. I'm a bad driver because I want to look there, there, and up there. I get bored easily — so twice I fall asleep and twice the car is destroyed … I had nothing [wrong] with me — but both cars were destroyed.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Remember when Kate Moss was caught in that video tape snorting drugs some years back? And then we saw her in just about every single important print ad campaign for every European house imaginable? Except for Burberry, that is. Well, seems like Burberry has dropped new face Rosie Huntington-Whiteley after just one season when shots surfaced in the Daily Mail this summer of the rising mannequin deftly handling a drug pipe.

Okay, not that I'm ragging on Kate. I mean, she is one of the most successful supermodels of all time and a living fashion icon. The girl knows how to put on an outfit in the morning, hangover or no. And I don't mean to question her moral fiber, I mean, what's that saying about casting the first stone, right? So I can completely understand that her friends would gather round her and support her in a time of need. Like Alexander McQueen, who wore a tee-shirt emblazoned with "We love you Kate" following one of his major runway shows.

But I have to admit that I was a little puzzled when the Kate brand seemed to explode tenfold after all that nonsense. I mean, heck, if we calculated how much money she made off that little scandal, I'm sure it would have tallied into the millions of pounds, so times two in greenbacks.

So Rosie being caught with a drug pipe. The girl is all of what, nineteen? What kid doesn't do a bit of experimenting? Then again, this is her first big campaign and she did kind of blow it, didn't she? But why does Burberry seem to be the only label in the vast sea of fashion houses that possesses a semblance of a moral conscience? It's a complex question, I guess, and a complex world.

I mean, when socialites can launch successful careers on the slip of a sex tape, it's a world that is just beyond my depth of comprehension.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Fashion in Korea

So, I'm back, happily, I must admit. Though I have to say that our trip to Korea exceeded our expectations, it's always nice to come home to New York.

Now, how could I ever condense the experience into a single blog? That'd be tough. What I can say is that Seoul is a city where you could never go hungry. There are so many restaurants and food stalls, where the food is just as much a delicacy as any top end restaurant, that I could write volumes on the cuisine alone.

And how western the country is. If you took a girl from Seoul and placed her in any major city in the world, she would fit right in. I saw lots of short shorts and minis-- the stylistas there seem to love wearing them with tights. Cargo jackets, blazers, eighties style tees and sweaters.

During the conference I attended, there was a bit of fashion as well. Andre Kim, who is undeniably Korea's most famous designer, gave a fashion show during the finale dinner. And what a show it was. While I'm not a huge fan of his particular design aesthetic, he certainly does know how to put on a show. It was seamless, and must have lasted some 40 minutes, twice the duration of the longest of shows.

And the man seems to be a bit of a Korean Karl Lagerfeld. Always dressed in head to toe white, he knows how important it is to maintain a certain image for his brand, and and his role as the country's most revered living Korean designer.

Thursday, October 9, 2008


Apparently Mercury is in retrograde right now. I´m no astrology expert, but I´m told that that often means you go back to a place you´ve known before. Sometimes that can be good, sometimes bad.

Well, it couldn´t be any more true for me now, as I am traveling to Korea this week. I´ve been lucky enough to be invited to speak at the World Knowledge Forum, hosted by the country´s largest economic daily, Maeil Shimbum.

When I saw the list of former and current speakers, I couldn´t quite understand why I would ever be asked to attend, much less speak. Heads of state, CEO´s, established artists, even the venerable former secretary of state Colin Powell, who´s right up there in my book. What´s that saying? Don´t look a gift horse in the mouth?

While I'm there, I'll actually be meeting with some buyers, and hopefully my frocks will be available in Asia in the not so distant future. Not to mention all the shopping and eating I plan on doing. If I weren't traveling for work, this whole trip would be one culinary and commercial binge, restaurant and boutique after restaurant and boutique.

So why am I writing about this? Well, even my insomniac multi-tasking self couldn't get around to writing up on all my blogs to make up for while I am away. I've been just a tad bit busier than usual lately, so if I don't post from abroad, it's just to let you know that I'll be back stateside in 10 days.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

I'm not sure what to think of it, news that Marco Zanini is in talks to take over the reins at a newly revived house of Rochas. That's right, just as the economy seems to be tanking at every corner of the globe, Proctor and Gamble is still set on reviving a luxury brand it so astutely shuttered some years ago. At that time, if you remember, Olivier Theyskens had magically turned it into a much buzzed about label, with every starlet on the red carpet wanting to don a Rochas frock, right before P&G pulled the plug.

Or, does the brevity of Zanini's unemployment signal the potential of his enormous design talent, one recognized only by those in the know? Zanini did helm Versace for many years before his unfortunately brief stint at Halston. And as we all know, fashion is a crazy, crazy business which often flies in the face of logic and sanity. So, being fired from a post almost never reflects a designer's talents.

With Theyskens designing Rochas, critics often explained that the Belgian's focus on ultra-luxe high priced demi-couture put the brand out of reach, narrowing the financial net. But in Theyskens if that had been his fault, honestly? Isn't that why companies have CEOs and employees with business degrees, to mind the business side of things so that designers can design?

At least Zanini's track record shows that he can pull off the business side of things. Versace must be one of the most commercial brands out there. And admittedly, while I myself tend to shy away from big and bling, just about everyone else from St. Petersburg to Florence is happy to wear the infamous head of Medusa on the back of their bum.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Looking at the stills from Hannah MacGibbon's first show for Chloe, I couldn't help but to think of that off-beat William Klein film from the 60s, Qui êtes-vous, Polly Maggoo?

Have you ever seen it? The film follows Polly, an American It model and her life in Paris by way of a tv film crew. You learn of her dreams of Prince Charming and the relentless battery of lascivious assaults she must fend off on a daily basis as the coolest girl in France. Everyone wants a piece of her. It makes me wonder: Did Klein know that he was foretelling reality tv as we know it today? Or, was it a just frank portrayal of how elusive yet familiar that cool It girl is to all of us?

We all know who that It girl is. But ironically enough, she's the most difficult girl to design for. And since Phoebe Philo successfully defined the Chloe girl as precisely that, no wonder every designer since has had such a rough time of capturing her again.

While I thought MacGibbon's palette was nearly spot on, with its quirky off-beat colors, there were some major stumbles. Really now, what girl is going to wear a coat with scallops framing the shoulders so that she looks like a crocodile? Fits were unflattering and will undoubtedly be tough sells on real-world girls, but the vibe of Chloe was back. Paolo Melim Andersson, MacGibbon's predecessor had it all wrong when he tried to finesse the Chloe girl into someone who was just a bit too polished.

Seeing the collection, I felt like I heard a collective sigh of fashionistas from around the world who have been waiting for the Chloe girl to return from hiatus. She's back, but now we just have to see if MacGibbon will put her in the right clothes.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Alber Elbaz sure knows a thing or two about how to cut clothing. Even though his Spring 2009 collection didn't knock me out of my socks, there were still a couple of pieces that just made me salivate, where I almost felt like I had to push my tongue back into my mouth they were that gorgeous.

Not that they were over-the-top show pieces, because I don't think that that's the type of designer he is. But they were all about luxury and craft. I think that's really what defines Elbaz from other designers for me. He really knows how to craft fabric on the form, down to the last pinch of silk and stitch of thread. Nothing is out of place.

And wait, is that a print I see on Sessilee Lopez? Leopard print no less? And a sequined version of it too? If lady-at-lunch isn't your thing, which Lanvin tends to be, then Elbaz seems to be extending an invitation to the hot mama vixen set too. Smart move in such a tight economy, which makes me think I can only end my blog in one way today: Raaaaaawwwwr!