Thursday, September 16, 2010

Suitable Uniforms in an Uptown World

An ensemble, left, from the Spring 2011 collection of Milly by Michelle Smith. Models on the runway, middle, after Zang Toi's Westerns-inspired show. Below, Richard Thomas as John-Boy in "The Waltons." Top photo from Getty Images. Bottom photo from

Just like last time, the plan each day of Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week is to give a roundup of the best (and worse where applicable) and most interesting Yours Truly witnesses, from shows to trends to sightings to the rather unusual/bizarre. Mind, this won’t be a comprehensive list simply because I can’t be everywhere. But depend on it, I’ll do my best. Drum roll, please …

Day 7
(SOME of the players at the tents and elsewhere): Milly by Michelle Smith, Reed Krakoff, Eva Minge, Odd Molly, Anna Sui, Stanley Adams, Proenza Schouler, Zang Toi, Bill Blass, Adrienne Vittadini, Marchesa, Loris Diran, Gant by Michael Bastian, J. Sabatino, Mackage

BEST COLLECTION FOR UPTOWN GIRL TYPES- If Vera Wang designs for the sophisticated downtown gallerist/dweller, then Michelle Smith with her Milly by Michelle Smith line provides the same service for her uptown sister.

MS takes as her inspiration for Spring 2011 Peggy Guggenheim (of the Guggenheims), a gallerist and Uptown girl with a downtown, bohemian sensibility informed by living in Paris and Venice. It is an energetic collection of headturning florals, prints, geometrics and solids. Colors and shapes contrast/compare like the ebb and flow of the surf, but always complement. The luxuriousness of the fabrics is palpable from the third row. No doubt, MS takes her training in Paris to heart – one does not submit fabrics to rigid cost-benefit analyses

What is most apparent from this collection – shown with MS’s fanciful new handbag and jewelry line, however – is that these are pieces for Uptown girls around the world and the whole of Middle America that has fashion-forward pretensions. Here’s an opportunity to have fun with colors and shapes that one does not always associate with each other without coming off as weird in a conservative milieu.

The tomato silk herringbone jacquard wrap dress will play in Peoria whereas VW’s obi or just about anything from, say, the uber talented Rodarte, duo would be utterly lost in translation. Both the executive woman and the executive housewife will be admired for stepping out in the linen Masai print (brown/orange/white/gray) coat over the olive cotton grasscloth Ikat print (green/brown/white) sundress.

MS is not reinventing any wheels, but it is wholly unnecessary when one adds little adornments to the spokes such as the Kelly green tropical wool coat w/a black/green/white lining. Underneath are a silk ladybug print (white background w/black ladybugs) and Kelly green cotton Tate check (black/green/white)pencil skirt. Completing the ensemble is a tiki wood (black or dark, dark brown) tortoise teardrop necklace orange/sky blue/yellow) tie blouse.

The runt of the litter is the bland and dowdy navy cotton Biella crosshatch peplum pencil dress and ecru silk porcelain disc beaded top. It’s lost in translation. Obviously something Peoria thought the height of fashion before the intervention of myriad makeoverists, from Oprah show experts to “What Not to Wear.”

Most of the bunch, though, tend toward the self-possessed geranium cotton embroidered Barcelona plainweave coat. It’s terrific with a dress that has a silk twill chevron print (purple/navy) top w/sash and navy bottom. Accessories include a sunflower Costa Brava resin wool necklace and navy/geranium chevron print handbag.

One did not have to catch an episode of “Law and Order” or watch the local news to see a perp walk in New York City. It happened in the lobby tent a little after 8 p.m.

I have just returned from the Stone Rose Lounge in the Time Warner Building after the Tamara Pogosian show in which colleague, Tia Walker, was one of the ... er ... walkers. (More on that show later). In any case, the first thing I clap eyes on is a passel of New York’s finest outside one of the men’s rooms inside the lobby.

What is going on, I ask the detective. He is a little coy but I keep pressing.

DETECTIVE: (Answering my question, while not answering my question). It’s nothing to disrupt Fashion Week; go on and have a good time.

YOURS TRULY: But I want to know why all of those cops are in the men’s room.

DETECTIVE: (Cheshire cat grin) There are doughnuts in there.

YOURS TRULY: What’s really going on. If you want me to make something up, I will.

DETECTIVE: Someone tried to steal an I-Pad.

YOURS TRULY: (Rumor has it that a few days earlier someone successfully made off with one from the Maybelline lounge) Was he caught in the act?

DETECTIVE: No, but he was observed and it was brought to the attention of one of the guards.

YOURS TRULY: (Interesting, I am thinking. They were on higher alert after the first one went missing). Did he run into the men’s room with the I-Pad?
DETECTIVE: No, he was taken in there.

YOURS TRULY: So, you’ve turned it into an interrogation room?

He doesn't say yes or no, but there is an almost imperceptible movement of his head that I interpret as a nod. Most people in the lobby do not know what is going on right under their noses. It is all very low-key, unlike on TV.

One of the officers tries to politely wave me away, encouraging me to go on with the enjoyment of my evening.

I do not budge. This, I gotta see.

A few minutes later several policeman emerge from the men’s room with a young man whose hands are handcuffed in front. Alas, I am unable to get the camera on my phone working fast enough to capture the image.

He resembles a marionette. His head is hung low and his shoulders are slumped for obvious reasons. He is being taken toward the exit away from the crowd on the south side of the tent. The cops are almost carrying him, forcing him to literally shuffle to keep up. They are moving briskly. He's got up in a b&w loose-fitting pinstripe suit ... How interesting to be wearing stripes when one is on the way to the big house.

YOURS TRULY: They’re taking him to jail?

DETECTIVE: He’s in trouble.

– “Did you say hi to Richard Thomas,” a colleague asks.

I have just walked into Zang Toi’s show and am in search of my seat before the guards roll back the plastic off of the runway – a cue that the show is about to start in seconds. Somehow, I have overlooked RT aka John-Boy Walton. I require no further directions after he is pointed out to me.

I am actually gushing, and I am not a woman who gushes. Who didn’t love John-Boy? He was just the sort of boy all of us girls wanted to marry when we grew up. He is so gracious when I introduce myself. He is smiling that John-Boy smile at me, and introduces me to his son, Montana, one of his seven children. “Montana is a designer,” I am given to know by a very proud papa who is explaining what in the Dickens he is doing at a fashion show.

“But I design women’s clothing,” Montana explains, though no explanation is necessary.

He’d attended the Odyn Vovk show Tuesday night. “It was kind of confusing ... He showed a lot of pants with dresses. I liked the jackets, though. There were a lot of jackets.”

Meanwhile, RT, who was born and raised in Manhattan and now lives in Midtown West, is just having some downtime after a critically acclaimed turn in David Mamet's “Race” on Broadway. “I’m just taking it easy now. It was a year and a good experience and a great cast.”

To Montana, I explain that before he was born and when I was a child I watched a certain show and was in love with a certain character on said show.

He smirks. “Turner Classic Movies is my favorite channel.”

It is one of my favorites, too, I say. But my most favorite favorite, I tell father and son is the Westerns channel on the premium cable channel, Encore.

“Really,” RT asks, trying to understand how this can be.

I explain that after I outgrew cartoons – when I was a little younger than 14-year-old Montana – I started watching old westerns i.e., Roy Rogers/Dale Evans, “The Lone Ranger.”

RT must find this amusing because he laughs, or perhaps he is a fan of Westerns, too. “What channel is that on,” he asks, clearly making a mental note to either call Time Warner Cable himself or get one of his people to do it.

Now, I feel that I really must take my seat so I say goodbye. I shake hands with Montana but I ask RT for a hug. He gladly grants it.

Though I am on Cloud 10, I resist the urge to say, “Good Night … "

A Legendary Lensman, Clothier and Store

WHILE one may not know the name Douglas Kirkland, one very likely knows his work: Marilyn Monroe for Look’s 25th anniversary issue, Stephen Hawking, Morgan Freeman, Jacques Henri Lartigue, Mick Jagger, Andy Warhol and on and on and on …

Some of these famous faces may be amongst the photos in an exhibit of his work this evening at Bloomingdale’s. The man himself will be there, too, signing books to celebrate the 180th anniversary of the outdoor lifestyle clothier, Woolrich John Rich & Bros. Is this a book of photographs featuring Woolrich ad campaigns over the years? Or a photo book Woolrich has sponsored of the Canadian's works over the years, including film work as diverse as “The Sound of Music” and “Titanic?”

That’s not quite clear, but all confusion will be settled soon enough.

Invitees can see the exhibit and leave with signed books from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. today at Bloomingdale's (59th street between Lexington and 3rd avenues).

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