Thursday, September 17, 2009

MSL Enters the Big Tent

Earlier this week I lost my fashion virginity to Bryant Park. The dream of entering a tent reserved for the fashion privileged – bestowed either by their editorial cred, buyer status, trade association, or fame – was realized with anticipated breath. As a member of Fashion Group International, I was able to obtain a coveted “Standing” ticket for the Carolina Herrera Spring/Summer 2010 show. If time and space allowed, a weeks worth of shows may have led to an internal combustion. In hindsight, I don’t think my constitution could have handled such fashion overdose – I was content with the one show and who better to see than one of the most respected designers in the industry.

While waiting to enter, I was aroused by the sighting of fashion’s elite. To my left, I viewed Anna Wintour breeze pass security with such force that her hair flew in the wind only to quickly land gently in its place. A few minutes later, celebrity stylist Rachel Zoe tried to pull a Wintour but was recalled to the check-in table. She may have forgotten her ticket but she kept true to her fashion sense donning a light moss jumpsuit that draped beautifully over her lithe frame. Fellow celebrity stylist Robert Verdi marched in with his signature sunglasses planted firmly on his forehead. Socialites and other industry insiders careened by until finally the “seatless” could make their entrance.

We filed into “the tent” reserved for larger productions, blinded by the photographers trigger-happy flashes, walked up a series of steps with heads perked up to catch a glimpse of the front row. I stationed myself in the middle giving me full view of the runway (sans stage). Before the show even started, my heart began racing at the sight of my fashion icons seated in the front row – a who’s who of the publishing world: Vogue (Anna Wintour, Grace Goddington, and Thomas Florio), Vanity Fair (Graydon Carter), Elle (Joe Zee and Anne Slowey), and Marie Claire (Nina Garcia) mixed in with Carolina Herrera’s husband and daughter, celebrity stylists, and department store buyers.

The lights dimmed, music cued (a mix of bossa nova tempos), and the first of 38 models initiates the story of a woman holidaying in Monaco or Rio, perhaps. She resists a tank and shorts for a sophisticated summer suit (jacquard linen shorts, bustier, and woven vest or cropped jacket). For an evening at the casino or theater, she wears a chiffon or quartz striped organza dress. A natural color palate of amber, rose, and caramel mimic a setting sun. I was truly enamored by the rich fabrics, intricate detailing and belts (woven or leather rope) combined to create a clean silhouette. The gowns flawlessly depicted Carolina’s inspiration from Japanese baskets and a warm summer day.

Carolina presented a strong yet graceful collection for the woman who knows she has arrived.

Photos by InStyle Magazine

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Peace, Love, and Harmony, Baby

Last month, Woodstock turned 40. After seeing Taking Woodstock, director Ang Lee’s interpretation of how 500,000 peace-loving Americans descended on a field in upstate New York, I am compelled to revisit my “hippie” phase (sans obligatory doobies). I outed my inner-hippie with a pair of brown Birkenstocks I bought with my first paycheck from Cinnamon Sam’s at 16. The shoes, which lasted well into college albeit smelly and frayed, accompanied a wardrobe of long flowing skirts, peasant tops, handmade hemp bracelets, and macabre belts.

The desire to be “free”, as what Woodstock signified to many, continues to linger in my closet. You will not find a skirt or pant suit, rather a deconstructed suit to ensure versatility and ownership. I’ve upgraded from Birkenstocks to several gladiator sandals positioned alongside Converse All-Stars and Coach loafers on my shoe rack. While I still favor a vintage maxi dress in flower-power prints, I pair it with a black blazer or leather jacket just to be rebellious. One of my five signature looks is Modern Bohemian, a sophisticated tribute to a movement that encouraged creativity, free-thinking, and social responsibility.

Now a second generation of designers is continuing the legacy. John Patrick uses organic materials and production methods to create beautiful ready-to-wear. Matthew Williamson has brought his ethereal collection to affordable chain-store H&M. Alice Temperley oozes avant-garde but her nature treads lightly in reverence to our planet. Their perspective builds on where Woodstock left off – it’s what freedom looks like in 2009.

We don’t need another Woodstock. But we do need a forum for self-expression and in words, we embellish with the clothes, accessories, and shoes that illustrate a world-view – a personal point of view – conscious of our impact on the environment, the economy, and on others.

John Patrick


Anna Sui

Martin Margiela