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Bernadine Morris Picks Ten Best Looks for New York Fall 2005

Oscar 2005 Report by Diane Clehane

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Review of Gilles Bensimon's new book: "Photography: No Particular Order"
Exhibition: Fleur on Flair
Review: Photography Exhibition at MoMa CFDA 2004 Awards
Feature: CFDA 2003 Fashion Awards
Feature: Goddess Opening at Met
Feature: 2004 Oscars: The Last Word
Feature: 2003 Oscars: The Last Word
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Roundtable: 3 top black fashion journalists
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Interview: industry legend paul cavaco
Profile: photographer dan lecca
Profile: model maggie rizer
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Survey: ny restaurants for fashionistas
Editorial: 2002 oscars "the last word"
Editorial: 10 best looks for ny fall 2003
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Gallery Review: roberto dutesco
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Welcome to The Daily Fashion Report:

Friday, June 24, 2005
It’s the First Week of Summer, So Here are Some ‘Hot’ Tips:

Backwoods, located at 315 west 57 street (212 459 2975) is a 41/2 year old shop owned by John Ruesch and Darren Wernick, which has developed a loyal following and clientele due to its location and great selection of inexpensive and summer perfect cotton skirts, kurtas, shawls, scarves (many with an ethnic feeling- especially the beaded and tie dyed items), not to mention accessories, jewelry, bags, and home furnishings, all priced under $30 (the bulk is between $10 and $ 20). Almost everything is made expressly for the shop and carries the label, Backwoods.

John told me that his most popular and best selling items are the lightweight, Indian made cotton gauze skirts with just enough fullness to make them breezy (some have horizontally layered panels on top which give the torso a very trim look), which are available in a wide assortment of colors and color combinations, lengths, and silhouettes, and almost all are priced at $20 (except for those that are beaded).

And if you are a fan of the popular and practical Longchamps folding nylon bags (which are perfect for summer travel and toting to the beach), but don’t want to spend upwards of $110, you might think of making a phone call to the West Coast. On a recent trip to the beautiful beach resort tof Half Moon Bay, right outside of San Francisco, I stopped into a charming gift shop called, appropriately, The Charmed Rose (650- 712 1622) owned by Irene Contreras. The one item that really caught my eye was the group of gigantic, sturdy, folding nylon bags with the familiar brown handles and trim, in a large selection of colors and patterns, that I initially mistook for Longchamps…until I saw the price tag ($19.99).

They are available in about 20 colors (some of which change seasonally), including great neutrals like brown, and black, and bright orange. They also come in bold awning stripes, over scaled florals, a black and white zebra pattern, and my favorite- the brown toned ‘safari’ print (comprised of little monkeys, giraffes, elephants). With safari styles always being a perennial favorite (not to mention all the safari and bush jackets), this would be a perfect addition to one's wardrobe. And at this price, you don't have to decide on just one- yo

+ 6/24/2005 08:14:00 AM; Ernest and Permalink | 0 comments

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

It 'Works' for Me:

Housing Works is arguably one of the best thrift shops in Manhattan, boasting 4 very convenient locations (306 Columbus Avenue between 74th and 75th Streets; 202 East 77th Street between 2nd and 3rd avenues; 143 West 17th Street, between 6th and 7th avenues; and 157 East 23rd Street, between third and lexington avenues).

And with yesterday being the first day of summer (though it's felt like summer many times before), they are taking advantage of the calendar date and celebrating its official arrival with a shopping event worth checking out. Called 'The Summer Solstice Preview Event', everyone is invited to "put on your clam diggers and your flipflops, grab a shovel and a bucket, come hunt for buried treasures at any of our four Housing Works Thrift Shop locations. In celebration of the summer solstice, we are filling each store with enticing summer loot, worthy of a pirate or a prince."

If, like me, are always looking for that summer perfect (or anytime of the year for that matter) little black dress, floral sundress, wedge espadrille or sandal, straw bag, etc.) instead of hitting 5th or Madison, THESE are the addresses for you!

- Marilyn Kirschner

+ 6/21/2005 07:13:00 AM; Ernest and Permalink | 1 comments

Friday, June 10, 2005

'Vanity' Fair

Extra...Extra...Extra....Cathy Horyn is not 'above' obsessing and stressing about the superficial, yearns to fit into many of the clothes she dishes about, wants to be chicly slim, AND has a vain side after all. Who knew?

What was most ironic about the confession-like article written by Cathy Horyn in yesterday's ‘Style’ section of The New York Times,(“Fashion, The Mirror, And Me”), was that her obvious weight loss was the VERY FIRST thing I noticed when I saw her at Monday evening’s CFDA Awards. In fact, it was so noticeable, (particuarly since she was wearing a body skimming brown jersey gown) that I mentioned it in my day after article about the event ("In the Heat of the Night"). But because I didn’t want to ask her about how she lost the weight, or even talk about her weight (because I thought that would seem so, well, shallow,and she always seemed more intellectual in her approach to the fashion business and somewhat ‘above that’), I didn’t approach her. In addition, I didn’t want to insinuate that I thought she was heavy before.

But my gosh, what a stark contrast to last year’s high profile event, where she showed up looking a bit 'puffy' in a somewhat simple black knee length dress wearing flat black shoes and not much makeup which spoke volumes. What it said was, "I'm above this and I don't want to - or have to- compete with all you skinny fashion victims who have spent hours on hair and make-up and on finding the perfect dress". This was very much in keeping with Cathy Horyn’s whole image and very ‘Cathy Horyn statement making’ since she was never one to go for all out obvious glamour, and seemed very content to distance herself from the visual and materialistic trappings that normally go hand in hand with important, front row fixtures.

Ah, but that was then- this is now- a whole new Cathy. I guess being in Paris and spending a lot of time with newly skinny Karl Lagerfeld has really rubbed off on her. Maybe the two will collaborate on a fashionable diet book together.

Speaking of which…..When I talked with the perenially trim and slim James Galanos at the dinner Christine Suppes hosted in San Francisco following the Academy of Art University’s graduation fashion show, and asked what he was reading these days, he said he had picked up Karl’s diet book ("The Karl Lagerfeld Diet", by Ingrid Sischy) not because he needs to lose weight but out of sheer curiosity. He was interested in exactly how he managed to lose that amazing amount of weight so quickly.

There continues to be a wide gap in the way people view weight and body image. The fashion world continues to idolize and worship the skinny and malnourished and many of those who are held in high esteem (because of their mannequin like frames) can arguably be considered sickly, anorexic, and unattractive to the rest of the population. Ms. Horyn’s article, with her down to earth and human admissions, (“Losing weight changed the way I look at clothes, and life”, and “I now understood why women skirmish like the dawn patrol on sale days”) points to why eating disorders are so prevalent and why men and women of all ages are literally starving themselves to become ‘enviably’ thin.

By the way, speaking of weight and body image, for all of you who inquired about where to buy the NYDJ Tummy Tuck Jeans, you can do so on

-Marilyn Kirschner

+ 6/10/2005 06:58:00 AM; Ernest and Permalink | 1 comments

Thursday, June 09, 2005

F.I.T. Museum Presents: Fabulous! Fashions of the 1940's Exhibition

The fashions of the 1940s, as much as its dance, music and theater, represented the determination and hopes of the American people during the war years, the subsequent economic expansion, and the beginnings of new social movements that marked the decade. The Center and the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York City will present "Fashions of the 1940s from The Museum at FIT," in the Center's Terrace Gallery, March 18-April 15, 2005. Included in this stunning exhibition will be a selection of more than 30 fashions and accessories from some of the top designers of the decade, including Adrian, Claire McCardell, and Norman Norell. "Fashions of the 1940s" is curated by Ellen Shanley, curator of costume at The Museum at FIT. A New America: The 1940s and the Arts, sponosred by The Catherine B. Reynolds Foundation Series for Artistic Excellence.

Tuesday June 14th at 10:30AM: Press Preview for "Fabulous Fashions of the 1940's" Rsvp contact: 212-217-3293.

+ 6/09/2005 09:24:00 AM; Ernest and Permalink | 1 comments

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

‘In the Heat of the Night’
(The Red Carpet ‘Blues’)

Lookonline Editor-in-Chief Marilyn Kirschner at the CFDA cocktail party last night wearing a design by Zang Toi
(click on image for enlarged view)

What to wear when the invitation says ‘black tie’ is always a dilemma (particularly when there is going to be a red carpet), and perhaps more so when it involves the world of fashion - a group who obviously takes these things very seriously indeed. Yesterday’s featured a column (and suggested you, “read this BEFORE you attend the CFDA’s”): ‘CFDA Gala Advice: How to behave on the red carpet’, listing suggestions from industry insiders on how to act, what to wear, etc. (Closest to my heart was Vogue’s Sally Singer: “My #1 rule right now is to break all the conventional rules.”)

Kate Moss with Diane Von Furstenburg
(click on image for enlarged view)

However, the one thing nobody talked about was how to dress for black tie and red carpet in the sweltering heat, with thunderstorms thrown in for good measure. (Hmmm, do you suppose ‘someone upstairs’ is trying to tell us something?)? Is it my imagination or are the CFDA Awards (which take place on the first Monday in June), always held on what seems to be the hottest day, and night, of the year? Last night was no exception, in fact, it was the hottest one in memory, as Astor Hall slowly filled up with guests and quickly turned into a sauna. I was not the only woman escaping to the cool and calm of the empty ladies room in order to revive myself. The cover of WWD today says it all with their caption, ‘Heat Wave’ featuring a picture of honoree and icon Kate Moss wearing a lingerie inspired nude illusion Dior couture short dress. Leave it to Kate, who was there to receive her Award for Fashion Influence, to dress perfectly for the occasion. I guess you can say that wearing something that makes you look as though you have nothing on is one fashionable way to get around the problem.

Donna Karan
(click on image for enlarged view)

In The New York Times, Eric Wilson also brought up the subject, (“Through a Glass, Lightly, At Fashion Awards Event”) quoting Vera Wang as having observed, “I am surprised by how many long dresses there are in a room that is 102 degrees without air-conditioning.” Of course, who could have possibly anticipated that it would be so hot? Normally, rooms where events are held are so overly air conditioned one wishes they brought that little cover-up or little fur shrug. Well, luckily for the fur loving fashion folks (who never need an excuse to wear their pelts), there were no guests clad in fur last evening. In fact, the one trend is that fur is now being replaced by lightweight feathers (I guess you can call them, the ‘summer fur’) which are a current fashion craze thanks to Miuccia Prada and her endorsement of peacock feathers and other fine feathered friends.

Anna Wintour in Ralph Lauren with daughter Bee Shaffer
(click on image for enlarged view)

As they say, ‘Birds of a feather flock together’. I wore Zang Toi’s beautiful hand worked peacock feathered and beaded top, and I was not alone in my choice of feathers. I spotted another guest wearing Ralph Lauren’s long white gown trimmed with white feathers at the hem. And Anna Wintour, who is known to love her little fur pieces, chose an abbreviated jacket lavishly trimmed with white feathers around her neck over a long satin bias cut gown. By the way, Anna’s newest favorite date (replacing beau Shelby Bryan) is her beautiful daughter Bee Shaffer who is beginning to look more like her sister than her daughter. The two seemingly and wisely coordinated their outfits and color scheme (black, silver, and white) as if to ensure their photo ops would be more effective.

Linda Evangelista wearing Alber Elbaz for Lanvin
(click on image for enlarged view)

Let’s put it this way, this was one evening where I truly felt sorry for the guys. Ralph Lauren, Alber Elbaz, Robert Burke, David Bowie, Gilles Bensimon, William Norwich, Joseph Abboud, Ralph Rucci, James Galanos,, looked dapper and festive but they could not have been happy all buttoned up in the sweltering heat. Having said that, what was interesting was the number of women in gender bending pantsuits featuring fitted and well tailored jackets. Carolina Herrera eschewed her traditional long gowns and balls skirts in favor of a chic and click white pantsuit; Candy Pratts Price went the all black route, as did Linda Evangelista (her black leather blazer and blouse were by Alber Elbaz for Lanvin and her skinny black jeans were from Notify).

Nadja Swarovkski in Alexander McQueen
(click on image for enlarged view)

As for the clothing on view, it was predictably schizophrenic and proved that ‘anything goes’. While many guests were in black, there was also lots of black AND white as well as color. There were solids and florals, short cocktail dresses and long gowns, voluminous and lean. Among those who selected black were Nadja Swarovkski (she was in a short Alexander McQueen dress accessorized by some large stones….and I mean ‘LARGE’); Janis Savitt also envlivened her v-neck long black dress with multiple strands of her own coral beads. Both women proved that black is the best way to show off jewelry.

Glenda Bailey in a dress by Alber Elbaz.
(click on image for enlarged view)

Neiman Marcus’s Joan Kaner, a longtime fan of Ralph Rucci, selected a sleek long black Ralph Rucci; Glenda Bailey, an avowed and longtime fan of Alber Elbaz, (who has been wearing a lot of his designs out and about lately), chose a knee length black chiffon dress edged in silver sequins that looked cool, comfortable, and chic. And one of the chicest women there - the legendary Catherine Deneuve, hit just the right note with her Jean Paul Gaultier age appropriate and timeless double breasted black coatdress featuring natty brass buttons. On her feet she wore gold platform sandals which gave the outfit a slightly nautical, ‘out to sea’ look.

Norma Kamali in her own design.
(click on image for enlarged view)

The ever popular romantic gypsy look was chosen by Norma Kamali (her date was Joseph Abboud), who made a statement in a black ruffled gypsy blouse and red tiered ruffled long skirt (both are currently available at her shop) accessorized with vintage Joseph of Hollywood gold chunky necklaces and bracelets. New mom Cynthia Rowley wore a form fitting pale aqua satin mermaid skirt which accentuated her enviably flat tummy and svelte figure, paired with a pale ivory short sleeved scoop neck peasant blouse and beads. Cynthia, who currently designs a children’s collection in Japan, said she may be doing one for the U.S. By the way, I couldn’t help but notice that moving to Paris is obviously agreeing with Cathy Horyn. The New York Times fashion scribe looked especially slimmed down, elegant, and chic in her long brown empire waist dress.

Amy Fine Collins wearing James Galanos.
(click on image for enlarged view)

But when all is said and done, perhaps the best quote of the evening was Ralph Rucci’s observation that the ivory sleeveless and narrow James Galanos gown worn by Amy Fine Collins was “the most modern dress of the evening.”

- Marilyn Kirschner and photos by Randy Brooke

+ 6/07/2005 10:41:00 AM; Ernest and Permalink | 0 comments

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+ 6/07/2005 07:51:00 AM; Ernest and Permalink | 0 comments

The Results of The CFDA Awards Are…

Womenswear Designer of the Year Vera Wang - Menswear Designer of the Year John Varvatos - Accessory Designer of the Year Marc Jacobs for Marc Jacobs - Swarovski’s Perry Ellis Award for Womenswear Derek Lam - Swarovski’s Perry Ellis Award for Menswear Alexandre Plokhov for Cloak - Swarovski’s Perry Ellis Award for Accessory Design Anthony Camargo and Nak Armstrong for Anthony Nak - Eugenia Sheppard Award Gilles Bensimon, publication director, Elle Magazine - International Award Alber Elbaz, artistic director, Lanvin - Lifetime Achievement Award Diane von Furstenberg - Award for Fashion Influence Kate Moss - Board of Directors’ Special Tribute Norma Kamali

Our report on the event will be up later today.

+ 6/07/2005 07:29:00 AM; Ernest and Permalink | 0 comments

It’s all in the ‘Jeans’

Father’s Day is soon approaching (Sunday, June 18th), AND the official start of summer (June 21st), the season where fitness really counts, so therefore it couldn’t be a more timely and perfect moment for the “Tummy Tuck Jean”, a collaboration of the father and daughter team, George Rudes and Lisa Rudes-Sandel (the duo behind NYDJ).

Two years in the making and following exhaustive and extensive testing, this revolutionary jean which is produced by their Los Angeles based company, NYDJ (Not Your Daughters Jeans), is the first of its kind (both patented and trademarked). Stylish, great fitting, comfortable (96%cotton, 4%spandex), and well priced ($88), what more can you ask for? By the way, it’s worth noting that George Rudes founded Saint Germain in the 70’s (a contemporary sportswear company known for their great fitting and stylish jeans).

As we all know, the health and fitness craze has reached its peak, and there has been increased interest and fixation on one’s ‘middle’ ground. It is well documented that the tummy tuck is the most popular procedure being done right now (having replaced ‘boob jobs’). Coincidentally, on this past Friday’s Today Show, there was a segment about a new procedure called the ‘tummy shrink lift’ that enables both men and women to get rid of their spare tires or extra weight. Just think: you can have the same effect without the cost and pain of undergoing a surgical procedure, by simply buying a pair of Tummy Tuck Jeans which are conveniently sold in over 300 specialty stores across the country, including Alaska. In fact Nordstrom has gone on record with their amazing success and high customer approval.

This item is geared for women of all ages but especially those of us over 30 who have grown tired of the skimpy ‘how low can you go’ low rise jean (think Paris Hilton) and yearn for a more sophisticated alternative. Of course, it doesn’t hurt that such influential fashion visionaries as Nicolas Guesquiere for Balenciaga and Stefano Pilati for YSL have been promoting the high- waisted pant for several seasons now.

On every hangtag, the jeans promise to “flatten your tummy”, “make you look slimmer”, “contour your hips”, “lift your buttocks”, “allow you to wear one size smaller”, AND “make you feel younger” through its exclusive criss cross feature and inside, the red label tells you it’s “made for real women with real curves”. Another sweet and personal touch is the clear sticker inside which chides, “NYDJ cannot be held responsible for any positive consequences due to your fabulous appearance when wearing the Tummy Tuck Jean with the added line, “You can thank me later”, Lisa Sandel. Ms. Sandel, President of NYDJ, even invites you to email your comments (

Just a note: while the Tummy Tuck Jeans are currently available in dark blue denim and black only, if you’re a white jean aficionado like me, you will be pleased to learn that white will be available in the future. Imagine this: a pair of white jeans that actually make you look thinner!

Marilyn Kirschner

+ 6/07/2005 07:16:00 AM; Ernest and Permalink | 0 comments

Tuesday, May 31, 2005

‘The Graduate(s)’

Designer Ralph Rucci & Editor-in-Chief Marilyn Kirschner at the dinner hosted by Christine Suppes

May is traditionally graduation month, and that includes fashion schools across the country where graduation fashion shows have taken on all the markings and proportions of true fashion ‘happenings’. Pratt Institute recently held its 106th annual show at the Hammerstein Ballroom on Tuesday, May 10th, which also honored the Council of Fashion Designers of America by presenting an award to designer Stan Herman, CFDA President. Sponsored by RadiciSpandex, WWD observed (“Pratt Institute’s Bright Future”, May 16th), the students were quite obviously “not afraid to stretch traditional design”.

Not to be outdone, “Cocktails by the river, an over-the-top fashion show and a huge turnout” (according to WWD, “Gala for the Graduates, May16) marked the Parsons School of Design benefit Monday, May 9th, held at the Chelsea Piers. The black tie event which boasted 750 in attendance included such luminaries as Donna Karan, Vera Wang, Carolina Herrera, Simon Doonan, Jack McCullough and Lazaro Hernandez (the duo better known as Proenza Shouler). Indeed, with so much worldwide interest in fashion, not to mention all the constant speculation about the future of fashion, these events are becoming more and more important, are highly watched, and typically draw an a list fashion crowd who hope to spot and identify the next big design stars. So highly anticipated was San Francisco’s Academy of Art University Graduation Show held on May 25th, the event made it to the pages of (“Too Tulle For School: Part 2”, May 11th.)

Indeed, the prestigious and well respected Academy, founded in 1929, is the largest private art and design school in America and fashion grads have been known to go on to work for the likes of Marc Jacobs, Oscar de la Renta, Calvin Klein, Alexander McQueen, Ralph Lauren, and Missoni.

From left to right: Carla Sozzani, Azzedine Alaia, and Glenda Bailey at the dinner.

This year, among those taking in the standing room only runway show from their front row seats (including myself) were fashion luminaries such as Ralph Rucci, James Galanos, Azzedine Alaïa, and legendary/iconic Milanese retailer Carla Sozzani. By the way, Alaia and Sozzani (both chicly clad in black...what else?) were presented with honorary doctorates by Dr. Elisa Stephens, President of the Academy, and were special guests of honor at a beautiful dinner for about 85 immediately following the show, hosted by Christine Suppes, publisher and editor-in-chief of, and her husband, Professor Patrick Suppes. The international worlds of retail, publishing, design, and academia literally collided as illustrated by those in attendance.

From left to right: Sylvia Rubin, San Francisco Chronicle, Marilyn Kirschner,, Suzy Menkes, International Herald Tribune, and Christine Suppes, publisher and host of the evening.

Enjoying the wonderful ambience, interesting conversation, champagne, and fabulous food at Farallon Restaurant were Denise Hale, Vanessa Getty, Tatiana Sorokko, Glenda Bailey (whom I was seated beside and is always a wonderful conversationalist), Ralph Rucci, James Galanos, Suzy Menkes, Gladys Perint Palmer, and Wilkes Bashford (yes, THE Wilkes Bashford, the renown retailer).

In addition, May 25th was declared “Azzedine Alaia and Carla Sozzani Day” by San Francisco Mayor, Gavin Newsome, and earlier in the day, Alaïa (about whom famed illustrator Gladys Perint Palmer - the Academy’s Executive Director - remarked before the packed audience at Morgan Auditorium, “He’s the reason women exercise”) and Sozzani, the mastermind behind the Milanese shop, 10 Corso Como, hosted a symposium for graduates and press with a panel that included International fashion director of Condé Nast Gene Krell, and International Herald Tribune fashion editor Suzy Menkes.

Even jaded fashion insiders predicted I would be “blown away” by what I would see on the catwalk and as one veteran runway photographer put it, “It’s usually better than many shows I’ve sat through in Europe or New York.” The knitwear and textiles were particularly outstanding (it was noted that “the knitwear design and textile design graduates have created all fabrics in the knitwear studio and print room”), and while there was much talent on display, many stars in the making, some stars just seem to shine more brightly than others, as is always the case.

Design from Sangmin Yoo Collection

Coincidentally, or perhaps not, the ones that caught my eye also caught the eye of the other fashion pros, including the two honorees who were asked to chose a graduate to take as an apprentice in their respective cities (Paris and Milan) for the coming year. Azzedine Alaia picked Sangmin Yoo (my personal favorite by the way), a young man who cited “Jacqueline Kennedy, Audrey Hepburn, and equestrian looks from the Fifties and Sixties in a modern setting” as his inspiration.

Design from Jamie Mihlrad Collection

Carla Sozzani selected not one but two: Jamie Mihlrad, a New Yorker who has already nabbed an internship with Marc Jacobs, and who is unapologetically inspired by Art Deco, vintage, late thirties party dresses, and the works of Phoebe Philo for Chloe in Paris with its ultra feminine aesthetic. The second is Kia Faulkenberry-Lewis, who is already known for her floral engineered prints and is inspired by Art Deco, Art Noveau, and the Thirties.

Design from Kia Faulkenberry-Lewis Collection

Of course, top retailers are getting into the picture as well. It was announced right after the show that Neiman Marcus will be showcasing the work of Jeehyun Shim, Amy Fink, and the design and textiles collaboration of Staci Snider and Tomoko Hatayama-Khassa, in their downtown San Francisco windows. Macy’s West Chairman and CEO, Robert Mettler, has invited eight graduates to take part in Passport, an annual Aids Fundraiser.

Marilyn Kirschner & photos by Randy Brooke

+ 5/31/2005 08:59:00 AM; Ernest and Permalink | 1 comments

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Basso Gets ‘Stoned’:

Dennis Basso has seemingly abandoned (if only temporarily) the inspiration of New York’s well manicured 5th and Madison Avenues (where his well heeled customers live and shop, and where HE has set up shop) in favor of a far more eclectic, global, locale, judging by his fall/winter 2005 collection. Shown yesterday afternoon at The New York Public Library’s Astor Hall, the cross cultural collection of furs and ready to wear was unabashedly colorful, embroidered, mirrored, studded, beaded, bejeweled, embellished, and marked a true departure for a designer who originally put himself on the map with rather traditional, if not somewhat predictable, ‘uptown/glam’ furs, fur trims, and fur accessories.

There was absolutely nothing slick or aggressive in this line-up. Even his choice of venue (the ‘bookish’ and learned New York Public Library, which represents the crossroads of the world) spoke volumes about his breaking with tradition. In the past, he had shown at the very tony and sociable Pierre Hotel, and then more recently, Cipriani 42nd street.

I spotted Jack Cohen, Managing Director of the Dennis Basso Fur Salon, (765 Madison Avenue, 212 794-4500), clad in black tunic and beads, prior to the show (which can only be described as a true fashion spectacle and one that becomes more so each year). He was happily meeting and greeting the guests (which included Neil Sedaka, Patti Raynes, Marty Richards, Pamela Fiori, Jamee Gregory, Nina Griscom, Susan Fales- Hill, Somers Farkas, Hal Rubenstein, Anne McNally) and asked why there were no printed run of shows on the seats. Without hesitation, he pronounced, “Because, it’s SO over the top. We killed ourselves. You’ve never seen this kind of collection and I’ve been in this business 30 years!”

And when I asked if he could try to describe or sum up the line, he quickly said, “Rich girl who lives in the mountains of Tibet.” “Oh, like Lizzie Grubman?” I jokingly asked (I had just spotted the infamous publicist taking her seat). “Perhaps”, Jack smiled.

It was hard not to notice that the rich bohemian, globally eccentric look parading down the runway (which evoked the moods of Dries Van Noten, Romeo Gigli, Matthew Williamson, and Miuccia Prada all at once) was in sharp contrast to many of the middle aged (and older) Chanel suited and coiffed-to-the-nines guests who looked as though they had just come- by limo- from lunch at Daniel or The Four Seasons. Although, there were many in the audience wearing versions of the ethnic gypsy circle skirts that Dennis seemed to favor, pairing them with his narrow shouldered, high arm-holed, intricately designed, and beautifully worked fur coats and jackets.

Tasseled belts, long scarves, sable tail trimmed and embroidered slouchy shoulder bags, and flat shoes accessorized all the outfits nary a stiletto or high heel in sight. In fact, flat colorful and jeweled Tibetan style slippers (the type that are being hawked by street vendors all over town), brown knee high suede flat boots, and furry Mukluks, NOT Manolos, were the order of the day. Long, voluminous, tulle skirts, (many of which were tiered and seemingly petti coated), were shown alongside skinny jeans. Dramatic floor length coats were offered in addition to tiny, shrunken, abbreviated jackets.

Did Dennis ‘reinvent’ the wheel? No, but it was highly visual, had lots of energy, and looked great. Was it ‘new’? Well, no of course, this look has been done, but certainly not by Dennis, whose ‘muse’ had long been Joan Collins (this was not a very ‘Joan Collins’ collection). It’s obvious that Mr. Basso is intent on reinventing himself, keeping up with the times, and going after a more youthful, hip, plugged in clientele.

Oh and by the way, Dennis has long been known to favor dramatic finales featuring diva songstresses like Liza Minnelli and Patti LaBelle. Not this time. There wasn’t even that traditional disco-friendly musical tape accompanying the show. In its place was a somewhat ethnic, global musical soundtrack, which perfectly ‘mirrored’ the mood on the runway.

- Marilyn Kirschner

+ 5/17/2005 09:55:00 AM; Ernest and Permalink | 0 comments