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New York Fashion Week:
Day #1

John Bartlett
Designer's Showroom

john bartlett spring 2010Fashion Week once again began in earnest with John Bartlett, but not his eponymous collection, but rather his latest incarnation as Creative Director for the Claiborne Collection, the men’s division of the currently rejuvenating Liz Claiborne mega-brand.  Set in the corporate show rooms on 41st Street & Broadway, under the label “Claiborne by John Bartlett” the collection was one that I doubt will be topped in overall freshness & honest wearability by any other offering to be shown this week under any other label.  What John does best is make menswear just fresh enough to be new, but never so far from the center to be thought fringe.  Spring 2010 is yet another successful manifestation of his deft touch.

While very little was offered in the way of new on the silhouette front, this collection was crystal clear in vision with solids being set off by just the right amount of yarn-dyed options in shirts, all worn over tonal textural solids as bottoms.  Colors were Grass Green, Caribbean Sky Blue, Grape, Indigo Blue & icy cool Khaki & Gray as the neutrals used as anchors.

This collection is precisely the type of razor sharp albeit accessible vision Claiborne needs to claim the retail prominence it once had.  The most shocking revelation came when we were giving our parting congratulatory goodbyes to John.  He said, “Did you know that everything retails for under a $100.00?  Only the blazers are more, at $149.00.”  This is incredible.

-Scott French
norman ambrose spring 2010

Norman Ambrose
St. Regis Hotel

Held in an a grand suite high atop the St. Regis Hotel, Norman Ambrose presented a small and elegant collection that was inspired by none other than the legendary Grace Kelly. Ambrose described the line as being "something you buy now, and in five to ten years won't be out of style", classics & classy were on Ambrose's storyboard agenda. Vintage elegance could be used to describe the silhouettes observed at the presentation, however a better comparison would be classic attire referencing the items that are stocked on the ready-to-wear racks of Chanel or St. John. "Ladies who lunch", Ambrose proclaimed while taking the time to show the hand detailed beading & seams, elements that are normally lost on the average shopper but is rather appreciated by the fashionably informed - his customer.       

There is no doubt that the high-end clients at Neiman Marcus or Saks will eat up Ambrose's designs, & in the case of the former, already do; as wil the ones with routine outings to tea parties, & those with nightly purchased tables at benefits. Yet, Ambrose produced a line that is approachable enough to meet the need of any special lady looking for a lovely outfit to complement a memorable evening of note.      

-Kai Baukol

Jillian Lewis
Audi Forum

jillian lewis spring 2010Bringing back the 80’s may not be everyone’s dream but Jillian Lewis didn’t have a problem making it come true. From the make-up to the last stitch in each pair of tights & the long crimped hair, this was definitely an appearance to remember.  Patchwork tights are sure to be a huge hit that Jillian paired anything with them from a silk hooded blouse to a crochet puffed sleeved dress.  Large lapels on leather blazers & shear dresses also complimented the collection by adding a darker palette versus the famous nude color that brought everything together.   Not only was the spring 2010 collection a huge hit, but the make-up also had a natural appeal.  When I sat down to speak with head make-up artist Christopher Drummond, he informed me he was going for an all natural look.  “I wanted something the models could wear for the presentation and something they were going to feel comfortable leaving in”, says Drummond.  He is reaching out to the everyday woman and letting her beauty shine through au natural.  The models had a very soft lip color as well as a cheek radiance booster.  He went for more of the oranges and pink berry versus the smokey, black eyes that have seemed to be popular in the past. With Jillian Lewis’ designs and Christopher Drummond’s beauty expertise, a presentation could not have been more flawless.

-Jena Clem

lyn devon spring 2010

Lyn Devon
Bryant Park Hotel

It is always refreshing to see young designers who combine a sense of style with a head for business.  Lyn Devon is one of those.  Her collection is strong, colorful with an emphasis on cut, details and fabric.  She tends towards the presentation format instead of a show and it is always a treat to spend time with walking through the collection.  She works leather beautifully, something I had noticed last season in her Fall collection, and for Spring it shows up as a sleeveless, sexy yet classic second-skin dress in either white or navy.  She knows her customer and her easy to adapt styles in various lengths allow her to dress women in their twenties or their sixties. She may very well be the best kept secret in the industry!

- Miriam Driot

Gilded Age
The Yard, Soho Grand Hotel

A vintage picnic was the inspiration for Gilded Age's Spring 2010 collection. Models were appropriatley scattered lounging throughout the trendy patio of The Soho Grand downtown. The line consisted of an acclectic mix of separates, with a full wardrobe of options that were effortlessly cohesive. Gilded Age turned to some classical notes that were reminiscent of 1937 West Coast beach party, yet modernized that take to better match with the country side looks that have been seen in previous collections.

The color pallet was soft and mostly earth toned, with the occasional green or red plaid-ed shirt and short. A favorite was the washed out blue cotton trench that was teamed with a slim khaki sear sucker slack. Of course, with this type of clothing a heavy emphasis must be placed on the styling of the garments: cuffed unconstructed suits, gauzy layers, and disheveled button-downs.

Gilded age described this season as being one of the "rare moments of relaxing contemplation, refreshing fun and excitement of being in a circle of friends, embracing beneficial aspects of nature". Whether one were to wear these clothes next Spring to the stony beach, the downtown bar, or a rooftop in Brooklyn-- you would be doing it with a rare style that is so easily executed, and that reads classic yet tamed and un-fussed. Pair the clothes with your own fresh faced tan and beach tousled hair, and you will have the farah angsana spring 2010perfect barbecue moment.

-Kai Baukol

Farah Angsana

The Royalton Hotel

Overcome the notion of elegance and class as you walked into The Royalton Hotel for Farah Agsans’s collection.  From lit fireplaces throughout the venue to hors d'oeuvres and champagne every corner turned, this scene was fit for the Balinese goddess.  Embellished sophistication is the perfect description for this collection featuring mirrored embroideries, intricate beadwork, and gold metal threadwork.  The different silks used this season were saturated in ivory, stainless, greys, turquoise, blue, coral & tangerine.  The mix of warm and cool hues gave variety as well as feather additions & large stoned broaches both worn at the front of the shoulder.  Although, the collection had much assortment, it was all brought together by the decadent embroideries and jewels hand sewn into each dress.

-Jena Clem

Mikhael Kale
Audi Forum

Miniskirts, snake skin & fringe – Oh My!  With upbeat music- futuristic & retro designs, no one could turn their head from the rotating carrousel of models at the Mikhael Kale’s Spring 2010 presentation.   Let your wild side show next year with this must have collection. The girls each wore mini’s that had a touch of snake skin, embroidered chains, &/or fringe to add a little something extra to the top of the dress.  All complimented with bubble gum, electric blue or turquoise snake skin shoes. Start shedding the pounds now ladies because this collection hides little to nothing. 

-Jena Clemiodice spring 2010

Morgans Hotel

Brazilian Valdemar Iodice brought his Latin passion stateside with a collection entitled “Created for the most beautiful bodies in the world.” Now while this is a rather bold statement & the average woman doesn’t necessarily have the best body in the world (although Brazilians are known for their better than average form) the collection was not overbearingly sexy, rather quite wearable & lovely for day & night.  Natural colors of draped casual dresses, pants & separates worked perfectly in tune for the smart woman who is ready to travel the world by day.  At night the palette of bold red & rich navy reflect her feminine & sexy side.  The paring of the collection is perfection for the jet setter ready for her next adventure.    

-Meredith Garcia

erro spring 2010
Ohio Theater

Hello heroin chic… Erro by Anna Larson’s debut collection was reminiscent of the Kate Moss & Nirvana days of yore- styled perfectly with messy hair, thick eyeliner & comfortable classic Doc Martins.  The effortlessly cool style looks lived in, yet luxurious enough with details that give the collection an IT factor.  Working with a myriad of fabrications to create her desired effect of shadows- inspired by evanescent moments of capturing light in motion was reiterated in the palette of gray, indigo, faded black & white.   While the pairing of oversized loose pieces with more structured & form flattering ones- embodied the careless sex appeal that is so common in the downtown fashion scene.  The collection in its entirety was well edited & defined.  The debut collection has set the tone for Larson’s style while providing enough diversity to create a strong story- that has many more shadows to cast. 

-Meredith Garcia

Alexander Michael Snyder
RedBull Space

In his freshman effort on the runway, recent college graduate Alex Snyder showed his first collection in the Red Bull Space in lower SoHo/Upper Tribeca today under the moniker “Alexander Michael Snyder”.  Inspired by Frida Kahlo, the collection of 24 looks had a few high moments –  a navy dress with a blouson bodice emerging from a well placed empire seam & a sheer black number held in place by a gold bustier as underpinning with self fabric gold belt were the standouts – it also had its low moments.  The lows mostly came from poor fit & alexander michael snyder spring 2010questionable fabric choices.  There were also a few instances of mismatched threads being used on hems as well as the ever present opaque tights that succeeded in adding a festive splash of color, but also succeeded inrooting the collection firmly in a season that can best be described as… well… Fall to be honest.

New designers who lack real world experience must understand that when they put their visions on the runways for the world to see, even the minutest of details must be tended to, as New York Fashion Week is the playing field in fashion akin to the playoffs in the major leagues of any sport.

What Alex does possess in spades is charm, determination & humility, all qualities that are sorely lacking in many designers of his age & all key ingredients of the formula of youthful success.  One cannot help but be drawn into his spell & wish him success.  We are looking forward to his sophomore effort as he showed us enough today to warrant a second look & this experience no doubt gave him a training that can only be likened to a graduate course in fashion.

-Scott French

Haleh Nematzadeh

Morrison Hotel Galleryhalah nematzadeh spring 2010

Persian born designer Haleh Nematzadeh looked to the streets of Chelsea in the 80’s, West21st Street between 5th & 6th Avenues… the holy land of clubdom due to Danceteria being on the block… for her inspiration.  Having personally lived the scene 1st hand all too often during this era, I was awash in retro good feelings, while never once feeling as if I were having a vintage moment.  Sure, there were obvious “tribute” themes – to Thierry Mugler & even to the obscure work Marc Jacobs did for the Sketchbook label – but never so much so as to be considered copies. In other words, Ms. Nematzadeh’s vision succeeded.  While her timing was a serious distraction as the show went WAY off the run of show at look #12, forcing her live Deejay to mix a segue as cover, the collection of flirty dresses & skirts combined with extreme proportion boyfriend blazers & vests, replete with beaded fringe hems (think the boardwalk @ the Jersey Shore) paired with what can only be described as “hooker boots” overall provided enough moments of imaginative fun to give the collection a raison d’être & gave us cause to overlook the obvious bad planning & yelling coming from backstage.  The 2nd half the show threw a twist into the mix when the house lights went down, the black lights came on & the fluorescent fashions paraded.  The lighting gimmick eventually ended in a fully dark room with glow in the dark garments.  Sounds like a mess, but it really wasn’t.  It was just Haleh Nematzadeh doing what she does best — having fun.

-Scott French

Rachel Antonoff
Henry Street Playhouse 

Rachel Antonoff’s spring/summer 2010 presentation, Magic to Do, at the Henry Street Playhouse was all about rachel antonoff spring 2010theatrics. Guests were invited onstage to explore the collection, which was set in an enchanted forest, a powder room, and an acrobat’s swing.  Antonoff presented a very feminine & playful collection that could easily transport any woman into a world of fantasy. The predominantly black & white collection consisted of daywear, cocktail dresses, rompers and various separates. Many of the pieces would transition beautifully from day to night thanks to careful detailing and clever styling.  

The garments were greatly inspired by ballet as seen with the layered lace and tulle skirts on cocktail dresses to the low scoop back tops with simple bow detailing. Full mini skirts and floral patterned shorts added an air of youth and playfulness. The model was turned actress in this animated presentation and guests enjoyed every aspect.   

-Alexandra Perron 

Gaspar Gloves
West 19th Street 

Gloves for spring? Believe it. Gaspar Gloves designer Dorothy Gaspar presented awonderful collection of fanciful& feminine gloves with a bit of edge for spring. From polka-dotted lace gloves with ruffles at the wrist to studded & fingerless, the Gaspar Gloves collection really had it all. The presentation was very reminiscent of a scene from Alice and Wonderland, with gloved hands popping up against tea cups and amongst a scattered deck of cards. The gloves were bright & playful- making them the perfect way to instantly update your gaspar gloves spring 2010wardrobe this spring.  

The presentation also included Gaspar’s Moonwalk collection- a tribute to the late king of pop, Michael Jackson. Gaspar had been working on his latest tour and had designed a variety of gloves for Jackson. The Moonwalk collection incorporates elements of rock & pop such as metallics, studs, zippers and lace. One standout was a fingerless black leather studded glove worn over a full paint-dotted lace glove. The two gloves as one effect is something that Gaspar is beginning to explore and is likely to be prominent in her fall collection.  Gloves featuring TouchTech Technology were also on display. The TouchTech gloves are thin leather that enables you to operate your iPhone while wearing them.  

-Alexandra Perron 

West 36th Street 

The play between masculine & feminine was strong at Saloni’s spring/summer presentation. Structured blazers and short-sleeved jackets were paired with chiffon pleated skirts and draped jersey tops to create this modern & sophisticated collection. Many of the pieces transition seamlessly from day to night making it perfect for building your spring wardrobe. The collection featured many fine details from woven jacquards to hand-drawn prints. The detailing of a jacket is echoed at the ankle of a cropped pant. Saloni cites the detailing of the garments as the brands signature & did not go unnoticed by guests of the presentation. No one was afraid of getting up close & personal with the garments in order to appreciate the design of knotted ribbons.  

A sequin boyfriend blazer echoed the fall trends while still appearing fresh and the monochromatic collection was supplemented by bursts of coral, blue and apple green. The attire of warriors in The Adventures of Hamza inspired the standout pair draped jersey pants with chiffon. Hamza, a Persian story that Saloni had fallen in love with,was the sole inspiration for her New York debut collection, saying that the subdued and beautiful illustrations resonated with her.  

-Alexandra Perron 

Anna Sui for Target Launch
54 Crosby Street at Spring Street 

It has finally arrived Gossipers- the much-hyped collection by Anna Sui inspired by the female cast of Gossip Girl debuted to a throng of excited shoppers & cast members on Wednesday. Guests enjoyed champagne and chocolate marshmallows while being the first to shop the exciting collection. Models showcased key looks while reading books on chaise lounges. 

Sui’s collection features looks inspired by Blair, Serena, Vanessa and Jenny. The key Blair pieces include an ivory lace dress with powder blue ribbon and a sleeveless jacquard dress. Serena’s looks include a plaid vest with matching knee-length pants and a gray herringbone dress with sequin and bead detailing. The looks for Vanessa are on the sporty side, with a down vest and track jacket. Jenny’s closet is filled with black and white print dresses and punk rock inspired plaid mini-skirts. The pop-up shop, which will be open September 10-12, is organized by character with Jenny and Vanessa on the lower level and Serena and Blair upstairs. The collection will also be available online and in select Target stores beginning September 13. 

-Alexandra Perron 

Robert Tonner
The Gallery, Metropolitan Pavilionrobert tonner spring 2010

Recent Bill Blass Design Director, Robert Tonner, debuted his first independent collection at the Metropolitan Pavilion. Tonner who began his career with a self-proclaimed "affinity for sportswear" showed a line that was without a doubt evening-wear with hand embroidered floral patterns, silk organza and sequined lace that were all over the runway. Tonner introduced 'Bollywood' to Mad Men for his inspiration; which is a pairing perhaps that should not have least not in a manner such as Tonner's execution. While many of the dresses were interesting- and at times very glamorous, Tonner's collection was all too reminiscent of a costume design room at one of Broadway's theaters.

Of course perhaps this should have been prefaced with one of the most interesting facts regarding Tonner: before his debut collection, Tonner had been making dolls post Bill Blass.  It may be far too easy of a connection (and not a stretch in the least) to state that these looks would have been a perfect fit for Barbie and her friends; or whatever Tonner's version was of that. There is no doubt that some ladies who prefer a very (VERY) glamorous dress or pant suit would eat up Tonner's clothes, but with the times as such, where on earth is a girl gonna wear such a thing? Scratch that- Hey Miss. Universe, Tonner would be the perfect atelier for your  'out and about' looks!

-Kai Baukol


5th Avenue Showroom

Faconnable continued to prove why it has such a presence in sportswear's broader market as national label with the presentation of its spring 2010 collection. Bright colors, light textures and layers were styled on mannequins with select looks donned on models circulating around the showroom. The event was well attended by editors and buyers alike on this night before the official start of Fashion Week.
As the Artistic Director at Faconnable, Eric Wright (alum from Chloe, Fendi and of course Karl Lagerfeld) returned to the brand's origins as a 'Cote d'Azur' label that also translates to everyday upscale lounge wear--"A town that holds within a cultural richness made of painters, writers, artists. A town where lights and colors enhance all their importance".

With Faconnable comes color and patterns, stripes, plaids..all to be paired with sleek khaki slacks and trenches. Gauzy scarfs and sweaters suited with the traditional button-down in shades of yellow, pale blue and lavender. Denim also was displayed thoughtfully throughout the collection to sustain the idea of this being a resort collection. No doubt this compliments the history of the company and it will fit right into its upscale and sophisticated customer's wardrobe.

-Kai Baukol

Keith Lissner

Picture Ray Studios

Recently seen on BRAVO’s  'The Fashion Show', Keith Lissner presented his latest collection to a large turn out & took some time to describe his collection while battling the loss of his voice. "This collection is about an Indian Ballerina" Lissner explained, "I had seen pictures of one my close friends who was married in India recently..I sorta took that and ran with it". Lissner had two separate lines presented together, his Keith by Keith Lissner collection (slightly more casual) and Keith Lissner as Demi-couture.

All in all the collection was very light and airy. Keith emphasized that it was important for the collection to seem effortless and easy. Girls were adorned in soft colors with an occasional use of primary green or blue. As the collection weaved in and out of the two labels, so did the color pallet from soft and light to earthy colors of gold and brown. Cohesively the two labels worked well as a single presentation, and if Lissner had not pointed out that there were two separate collections it might have not been so apparent, but there was a divide once detailed as such.

Lissner is on trend with a loose, yet body conscious silhouette that was light and ethereal; what was more on par was his execution of a cultural reference in fashion (hello India) as modern evening-wear. Could this be a trend seen for Spring-- Indian layering with western pallets? Stay tuned.

-Kai Baukol


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