Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Que Syrah, Sirah, Shiraz!: Whatever Will Be Will Be

The big, luscious, dark Syrah grape. Photo from Chrisada Sookdhis.

BY TAMARA FISH

SHIRAZ,
Sirah, Syrah and Petite Syrah.

It’s enough to drive a budding wine aficionado mad! Which is the right one, what is the right one and where do I get some? Rest easy. Here at GRAPE: Wine Talk, we excel at demystifying wine while still leaving its magic in the air.

Long story short: Shiraz/Sirah/Syrah are different spellings of the same grape (varietal). Australians, New Zealanders and South Africans somehow prefer the Shiraz spelling, while the French prefer Syrah. Sirah turns up every now and then like a bad penny. But it’s all the same thing.

What is Syrah?
A luscious red wine, Syrah is also a versatile grape. Imagine squeezing the juice of a blueberry into a glass of wine – not too much, but just a bit to change the flavor. Now, imagine sipping this wine after eating something with a little bit of black pepper in it. That’s Syrah: a rich wine that’s known for both berry and hint of a pepper tastes. (Contrast this with Pinot Noir: take out the plum and the hint of sweetness and leave the pepper.)

Syrahs can be made in a variety of styles, from those that emphasize a sweet fruitiness (jamminess) to those that favor a less sweet (drier) and spicier edge. How to know the difference? Read the back label. If it says “black fruits” (blueberries, plums, currants, etc.), then the style will probably be on the jammy side (fruit forward). If, however, “spices” or “toasty” dot the description, then the wine will tend to be less sweet and fruity (drier). If both appear, well, good luck! (Just kidding). The wine will try to strike a balance between the two extremes. But that’s not all.

De Grendel Shiraz 2007 is rich, deep and complex. Photo courtesy of Show Cook.

Aged Syrah adds a layer of intrigue. Syrah’s dark grapes contain a high amount of tannins, the component that can produce a pucker on people’s faces. These tannins both preserve a wine and change its flavor. Throughout the years, the tannins’ astringent qualities diminish (soften, mellow), creating a smoother taste. Imagine savoring that last sip in a wineglass after coffee has been served, or washing down a bit of a slightly charred mushroom pizza with a glass of red. That earthy, sometimes smoky, sometimes coffee-like taste is typical of many a well-aged Syrah. Oh, the complexity!

But Syrah does have its shortcoming, which a skilled winemaker can turn into an advantage. Despite its rather strong flavor (intensity), the taste doesn’t tend to linger. It dissipates relatively quickly (short, not a long finish). Adding Syrah to varietals with longer finishes, such as Cabernet Sauvignon or Grenache, imparts fullness or heft (structure). The resultant wine is richer overall both in color and taste. That’s why many blended wines feature Syrah in the mix.

From a basic $8 pizza wine to a truly fine bottle, Syrahs compliment a wide range of cuisines.

Petite Syrah Ain’t
However, Petite Syrah is a different beastie altogether.

Yellow Tail Reserve Shiraz 2010 complements barbecue, pizza and burgers. Photo courtesy of We Speak Wine.

Back in the late 1800s, Francois Durif, a French botanist who taught at the Université de Montpellier, decided that two good tastes should go together. Saving the Reese’s invention of chocolate-with-peanut butter for a later generation, he opted to fertilize Syrah grapes with the pollen of the flowers that Peloursin grapes produce.

Peloursin grapes are smaller, tightly clustered, and darker than Syrah grapes. The juice tends to be deeper and more intense in flavor. More important, Syrah grapes are particularly prone to mildew, but Peloursins are not. So, splice one with the other and voilá! Quelle surprise – or was it quelle horreur! The answer depends on geography.

As it turned out, the French did not cotton to Petite Syrah. In fact, the Peloursin varietal for all intents and purposes is extinct in France. Oh well. Turns out the French didn’t like the Impressionists much when they burst onto the scene, either. Much in the same way that Americans saw talent (and value) in the Impressionists, resurrecting a maligned form, they also fell in love with Petite Syrah varietal, which they also called Durif.

The Rosenblum Cellars Petite Syrah 2007 has a short finish but intense flavors. Photo courtesy of Rosenblum Cellars.

The Petite Syrah/Durif craze began in California, and then others caught on: Australia, South Africa, etc. The varietal even has its own fan club: Petite Syrah I Love You, http://www.psiloveyou.org/.

Not to be confused with Syrah, Petit Syrah is anything but a little wine. Deeply purple, almost an inky-black, Petite Syrah packs a whollop. Makes me wonder where the Petite in the name comes from. (It comes from the fact that the Petite Syrah grapes are smaller – plus petite – than the Syrah grapes).

To Syrah’s intensity, add an even darker color, richer taste, and imagine a drop of two of freshly squeezed plum, but leave out the sugar. A hearty wine, inky black, Petite Syrah is a carnivore’s best friend. Don’t even think of drinking this wine by itself. It will dwarf all but the savoriest dishes. Take care to have a hearty dinner nearby. Vegans, pass this one up. Really.

Yellow Tail Reserve Shiraz 2010
Australia
$10, on sale online $8, We Speak Wine (http://www.bit.ly/xn6GUx)
Looking for a casual wine, one to suck down with barbecue, burgers or pizza? Yellow Tail Reserve Shiraz will do the trick. Nothing complicated. Just a basic glass of everyday red. Sip by itself or serve at a low-key get-together. Available in 1.5 L size, too.

De Grendel Shiraz 2007
South Africa
$17-$22
True to a Shiraz that’s been around for a while, De Grendels 2007 seems smoky. The bite of the grape skins (tannins) has mellowed, leaving a full, deep, spicy-yet-fruity mouthful. Complex? Absolutely! Worth the wait to have the wine shipped from South Africa. Bug your favorite wine store or distributor today.

Razor’s Edge Shiraz-Grenache 2008
McClaren Vale, Australia
$10, online at Mad Wine (http://www.bit.ly/xuIwb0)

Razor's Edge Shiraz-Grenache 2008 boasts both fullness and fruitiness. Photo courtesy of Razor's Edge.

A perfect example of what Shiraz can do for another grape, Razor’s Edge winemakers balance the ever-lingering taste of Grenache (long finish) with the intensity and heft of Syrah / Shiraz (structure). If red wines with both fullness and fruit appeal to you, this bottle is it!

Rosenblum Cellars Petite Syrah 2007
California
$17, on sale for $15 from Hops & Grapes online (http://www.bit.ly/wGK57N)
A fine example of the Petite Syrah/Durif varietal, Rosenblum Cellars’ version is a beauty. An inky purple that would make Prince blush, this wine lacks a lingering aftertaste (short finish), but more than makes up for it with full and rich flavors. An intense red wine with a touch a plum thrown in, a cloud of smoke, and a little bit of coffee to wake you up, Rosenblum’s Petite Syrah compliments any red meat or varied feast. Just be prepared to have your teeth and tongue temporarily tattooed: a purple one for the road.

Next up: Grand Tastings

Friday, February 17, 2012

Final Day MBFW: Much Like Good Ole and New 'Strut'



HEAD’S UP: Can you believe it's Fashion Week already? That respite between September and February seems very short, especially since press registration notices started arriving during the crush of the holiday shopping season. In any case, Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week New York has returned for the Fall 2012 edition. At VEVLYN'S PEN, we are going to do things slightly different this season. I still endeavor to provide a roundup of the best, worst and most interesting Yours Truly witnesses, from trends to sightings to the rather unusual/bizarre.

The change will be most apparent in show coverage. Where before I was doing a sort of "best of," I will tweak that this season and focus on what truly inspires me. Why the change? Simply put, I have grown weary of watching far too many collections that lack imagination because too much attention has been paid to the bottomline. If nothing inspires me, I will tell you so and tell you why. Let the games begin ...


Final Day
(SOME of the players, none at the tents): Adrienne Landau, Adrienne Vittadini, Bill Blass, Calvin Klein Collection, L'Wren Scott, Ralph Lauren, Saint Wobil, Stephen Burrows, Strut: The Fashionable Mom Show

IN
a seemingly endless and disturbing cultural moment during which U.S. fashion has largely gone corporate, one can grow nostalgic for the good ole days.

The march of minimalism continues at Calvin Klein Collection for fall 2012. Photo by Peter Michael Dills/Getty Images.

Those were the days before the tents, New Media, Livestream, YouTube et al.; before everybody was a fashion journalist; before gift bags had the power to provoke stealing, stampeding and hording.

Virtually all designers invited press, buyers and other vested interests to their showrooms to present their fabulous collections and fabulous models. It was a celebratory atmosphere. It was all very civilized; hospitable. One was welcomed with a smile, given a run-of-show and offered refreshments. At breakfast there might be orange juice, coffee and muffins or croissants. From afternoon through the balance of the day Champagne (very little nonChampagne sparkling wine was on offer back then) flowed. It was all very civilized; hospitable. Did I say that already? I did? It bears repeating.

It took only two showroom visits yesterday to remind me of those days and the feeling lasted until the last show. It all started at Adrienne Vittadini where creative director Alicia Galitzin has been keeping the spirit of the brand alive since she assumed the helm in September … More shortly, including comments on "Strut," which is featured in the video above.

Visit http://http://www.mbfashionweek.com/ to learn more about Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week, including show information and video.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Day 7 MBFW: Fashion Loses a True Icon



HEAD’S UP: Can you believe it's Fashion Week already? That respite between September and February seems very short, especially since press registration notices started arriving during the crush of the holiday shopping season. In any case, Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week New York has returned for the Fall 2012 edition. At VEVLYN'S PEN, we are going to do things slightly different this season. I still endeavor to provide a roundup of the best, worst and most interesting Yours Truly witnesses, from trends to sightings to the rather unusual/bizarre.

The change will be most apparent in show coverage. Where before I was doing a sort of "best of," I will tweak that this season and focus on what truly inspires me. Why the change? Simply put, I have grown weary of watching far too many collections that lack imagination because too much attention has been paid to the bottomline. If nothing inspires me, I will tell you so and tell you why. Let the games begin ...



Day 7
(SOME of the players at the tents and elsewhere): Anna Sui, B Michael America, Elie Tahari, Jeremy Scott, J.Mendel, Michael Kors, Joanna Mastroianni, Levi's, Marchesa, Milly by Michelle Smith, Nanette Lepore, Nomia, Philosophy, Ports 1961, Proenza Schouler, Reed Krakoff, Rochambeau, Suzanne Rae, Vivienne Tam, Whitney Eve

ZELDA Kaplan
took the hands of Yours Truly and placed them in hers. She looked at me with great compassion and informed me that I am too young to be so worried.

Zelda Kaplan dressed in her trademark African-print garb before the start of the Joanna Mastroianni show. Photo by Jason Kempin/Getty Images.

We were at a New Year's Eve party a few years ago. Instead of enjoying myself as she was, I was on a tear about this, that and the other. She gave me to know in no uncertain terms that I should not spend my precious moments in this life fretting about things over which I had no control. Of course, I am aware of this. At the time, though, I rarely acted as if I did. I have since tried to heed this advice with more vigor.

I am thinking of the fashion maven, nightlife veteran, cultural ambassador and women’s rights activist because she died yesterday at the ripe young age of 95.

Zelda was sitting front row at the Joanna Mastroianni show. According to a guard, right as the show was starting, she complained of not feeling well, fainted and was taken away by guards. An ambulance would eventually arrive to take her to hospital where she was later pronounced dead. Most in the audience did not realize what had happened. It is shocking because Zelda was so vital. She is also the type who would not prattle on about her various ailments. In the words of Mame Dennis, Zelda lived! lived! lived! She’s a sterling example for us all.

For Fall 2012, Milly by Michelle Smith does a lot of experimentation with fabric. Photo by Mike Coppola.

At the risk of sounding crass, it was a good way to go, participating in something she loved. Like in the theater, the show went on. Zelda would not have had it any other way.

More on Day 7 of Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week New York later, including comments about the JM show (see video above), Vivienne Tam, Milly by Michelle Smith and others.

On Deck today, Final Day: Adrienne Landau, Adrienne Vittadini, Bill Blass, Calvin Klein Collection, L'Wren Scott, Ralph Lauren, Saint Wobil, Stephen Burrows, Strut: The Fashionable Mom Show.

Visit http://http://www.mbfashionweek.com/ to learn more about Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week, including show information and videos.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Day 6 MBFW: A Lot to Be Happy About



HEAD’S UP: Can you believe it's Fashion Week already? That respite between September and February seems very short, especially since press registration notices started arriving during the crush of the holiday shopping season. In any case, Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week New York has returned for the Fall 2012 edition. At VEVLYN'S PEN, we are going to do things slightly different this season. I still endeavor to provide a roundup of the best, worst and most interesting Yours Truly witnesses, from trends to sightings to the rather unusual/bizarre.

The change will be most apparent in show coverage. Where before I was doing a sort of "best of," I will tweak that this season and focus on what truly inspires me. Why the change? Simply put, I have grown weary of watching far too many collections that lack imagination because too much attention has been paid to the bottomline. If nothing inspires me, I will tell you so and tell you why. Let the games begin ...


Day 6
(SOME of the players at the tents and elsewhere): Alexandre Herchcovitch, Ankar Sweden, Carmelita Couture, Badgley Mischka, Dennis Basso, Diesel Black Gold, Emerson, Fotini, Yazbeck Ghassan, Haus Alkire, J. Crew, Josie Natori, Malan Breton, Marc by Marc Jacobs, Naeem Khan, Narciso Rodriguez, Norisol Ferrari, Oscar de La Renta, Pamella Roland, Rodarte, Sophie Theallet, Tory Burch, Vera Wang

OF
course one does not have to have a Wow! factor every day. That would exhaust the superlative very quickly would it, not?

A look from the Fall 2012 Ghassan Yazbeck collection. Photo courtesy of Ghassan Yazbeck.

There was no Wow! on yesterday, Day 6 of Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week New York. Yet it was a pretty good day. On runways, stairs and other presentation surfaces were collections, both engaging and captivating.

MOST INVENTIVE COLLECTIONGhassan Yazbeck makes his fashion week debut under the auspices of the iFashion Network emerging designer showcase. He offers a Fall 2012 collection that is bold, jaunty, feminine and utterly wearable. The recent Parsons grad, a middle-aged man who also has a chemical engineering degree from McGill University, is not content with a simple jacket, skirt, dress or shorts.

From the Naeem Khan fall 2012 collection. Photo by Frazer Harrison.

When you’ve already had one career and are embarking on a new one – your passion, no less – and you’re a clothing designer why create ordinary frocks? Exactly. A black jacket with a stand-up collar is separated into panels. The bottom half is also separated into overlapping panels in various lengths that resemble the blinds on sliding doors. It is not gimmicky. In fact, it’s clever and visually interesting as are most of the pieces in a small collection that favors red, black and red.

The lapels of a white jacket extend over the shoulder. A black blouse is held together by slim gold bars whose natural setting may be a bookcase or other piece furniture. The pleated flounce shorts in red are simply irresistible. A rather fetching combination is a black chiffon top with splits on either side that reveal the flounce asymmetrical teal shorts. While GY may not have the fabric budget of an Oscar de la Renta or Badgley Mischka, he makes up for it with craft. The results are frocks that look like upwards of a million bucks that were made in New York’s garment district on a few shoestrings. Necessity and passion are the mother of invention.

J. Crew for Fall 2012. Photo by Dario Cantatore.

OTHER MENTIONABLESJosie Natori looks once again to Asia for inspiration. “I am fascinated by Mongolian nomads, Kublai Khan, Marco Polo, and the traders on the Silk Road – and how their dramatic and colorful lives were shaped by this vast frontier," she said.

Elegant aptly describes the collection of wool and silks. Jackets and shirts have give but are not bulky and pair well with A-line skirts and pants. Folds on dresses are well situated, suggesting the formless frocks of the region's women. Fur comes not on hats or great coats but as scarves and cropped jackets. Silk is represented by wide belts with ties and a few Kimono-style blouses. An especially lovely silk blouse is the gray w/side sash and gold flower print.

For Fall 2012, Pamella Roland is younger, fresher and has more pep in her step. (See video above). More shortly on her, the aforementioned Oscar, Jad Ghandour, Malan Breton and others.

On Deck today, Day 7: Anna Sui, B Michael America, Elie Tahari, Jeremy Scott, J.Mendel, Michael Kors, Joanna Mastroianni, Levi's, Marchesa, Milly by Michelle Smith, Nanette Lepore, Nomia, Philosophy, Ports 1961, Proenza Schouler, Reed Krakoff, Rochambeau, Suzanne Rae, Vivienne Tam, Whitney Eve

Visit http://http://www.mbfashionweek.com/ to learn more about Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week, including show information and videos; visit http://www.iFashionNetwork.com/ to learn more about iFashion Network.
.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Day 5 MBFW: Marc Jacobs Knows What He's About



HEAD’S UP: Can you believe it's Fashion Week already? That respite between September and February seems very short, especially since press registration notices started arriving during the crush of the holiday shopping season. In any case, Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week New York has returned for the Fall 2012 edition. At VEVLYN'S PEN, we are going to do things slightly different this season. I still endeavor to provide a roundup of the best, worst and most interesting Yours Truly witnesses, from trends to sightings to the rather unusual/bizarre.

The change will be most apparent in show coverage. Where before I was doing a sort of "best of," I will tweak that this season and focus on what truly inspires me. Why the change? Simply put, I have grown weary of watching far too many collections that lack imagination because too much attention has been paid to the bottomline. If nothing inspires me, I will tell you so and tell you why. Let the games begin ...


Day 5
(SOME of the players at the tents and elsewhere): : 3.1 Phillip Lim, Alice + Olivia, Betsey Johnson, Bibhu Mohapatra, Carlos Miele, Carolina Herrera, Chris Benz, Donna Karan, Emilio Cavallini, Irina Shabayeva, Jenny Packham, Karen Walker, Leather Japan 2012, Marc Jacobs, Negarin, Preen, Prete & Bruno, Reem Acra, Theyskens' Theory, Titel1, Thom Browne, Viktor Luna, Yeohlee, Zang Toi, Zero+Maria Cornejo

THE
Wow! came in more ways than one last night, just as Day 5 of Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week New York was shuttering. Thank you, Marc Jacobs.

BEST PRESENTATION FORMAT and MOST INTRIGUING SHOW – MJ is like God in this respect: His thoughts are not our thoughts. For instance, to show his Fall 2012 collection he chooses a fantasy set out of some unknown dystopian world; indeed, it is a place that is gray and moody, the last of its best gone to the dust. It is also magnificent. (See video above).

Meanwhile, as the first strains of “Who Will Buy?” are piping out of the sound system, the first model descends a staircase. At first, all one can see is the sloppy fur (mink? chinchilla?) hat that would do proud musketeers Athos, Porthos and Aramis. As more of her is revealed so the mystery intensifies. She is also wearing a heavy black/gold scarf, gold metallic dress, black cropped pants, black wool shrug and purple coat. On her feet, black socks and black/gold pilgrim shoes. The second look is similar. So is the third, as is the fourth and many others that appear along the winding runway.

For fall, MJ likes layers that simultaneously channel a bag lady, dowager fallen on hard times and a grunge goddess with a gargantuan budget. His muse is also a little hippy, that is, she is not built like a 13-year-old boy. All are got up in lush fabrics: brocade, paisley, velvet, silk, glorious prints. Where is MJ going with this? Only he knows. Cheeky fellow that he is, he politely asks in tempos from somber to sanguine via that lone tune playing throughout the show, “Who will buy?” (There must be someone who will buy.) This is an enigmatic collection layered in a conundrum. Bets are MJ devotees will be circumspect in their choices.

OTHER MENTIONABLES – Betsey Johnson is growing up. Off to the Oscars for Zang Toi. As elegant as ever is Carolina Herrera. Welcome to la grande mela Prete& Bruno. More shortly, meanwhile enjoy the pictures and the MJ video.

Jenny Packham & Zang Toi
Photos by Mike Coppola and Frazer Harrison/Getty Images.


Bibhu Mohapatra & Yeohlee
Photos by Frazer Harrison and Andy Kropa/Getty Images.


Betsey Johnson (work & play)
Photos by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images.


On Deck today, Day 6: Alexandre Herchcovitch, Ankar Sweden, Carmelita Couture, Badgley Mischka, Dennis Basso, Diesel Black Gold, Emerson, Fotini, Ghassan Yazbeck, Haus Alkire, J. Crew, Josie Natori, Malan Breton, Marc by Marc Jacobs, Naeem Khan, Narciso Rodriguez, Norisol Ferrari, Oscar de La Renta, Pamella Roland, Rodarte, Sophie Theallet, Tory Burch, Vera Wang

Visit http://http://www.mbfashionweek.com/ to learn more about Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week, including show information and videos.

'Rx' Isn't a Placebo. It'll Result in Genuine Laughter.

Meena (Marin Hinkle) and Paul(Stephen Kunken) are in search of the right prescription for happiness in "Rx." Photos by James Leynse.

BY TAMARA BECK

HATE
your job? There’s a pill for that.

In Kate Fodor’s new comedy, “Rx,” it appears that Big Pharma has a prescription for all of life’s tribulations. The Primary Stages production is at 59E59 Theaters through 3 March.

Meena Pierotti (Marin Hinkle), a published poet, is miserable being Managing Editor at “Piggeries, American Cattle & Swine Magazine.” She is the perfect candidate for a clinical trial of a drug being developed by the pharmaceutical company, Schmidt Pharma. The drug is designed to relieve work-related depression.

Just ask Meena's boyfriend, Dr. Phil Gray (Stephen Kunken), who doubles as the drug’s target consumer and a Schmidt researcher. He earns upward of $65,000 and has health coverage, he informs her.

Phil’s boss, Allison (Elizabeth Rich), is thrilled with her job and the rich market potential job dissatisfaction presents. Could Frances (Marylouise Burke), a cheerful widow Meena meets in the old ladies’ underwear section of a department store be a part of the clinical trial? To Meena’s surprise, Frances discloses that she really missed her menial factory job when she got married.

Frances (Marylouise Burke) shares her worldview with Meena (Marin Hinkle) in "Rx."

The cast under Ethan McSweeny’s excellent direction gives KF’s witty and entertaining script its due. To help keep up the comic pace, Lee Savage cleverly uses modular variations on the Murphy bed in the fluid set design.

Giving the satire in “Rx” a little extra bite are MH and SK, both Tony nominated for “Enron.” They give affecting naturalistic performances as the romantic leads. In one of two roles, Paul Niebanck, gives a broad, almost slapstick turn as Morgan, a bumbling research doctor in Schmidt’s lab.

In “Rx,” KF writes a prescription for entertaining and earnest humor.

Visit http://www.primarystages.org/ for more information about “Rx.”

Monday, February 13, 2012

Day 4 MBFW: Custo Barcelona Brings It. Wow!



HEAD’S UP: Can you believe it's Fashion Week already? That respite between September and February seems very short, especially since press registration notices started arriving during the crush of the holiday shopping season. In any case, Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week New York has returned for the Fall 2012 edition. At VEVLYN'S PEN, we are going to do things slightly different this season. I still endeavor to provide a roundup of the best, worst and most interesting Yours Truly witnesses, from trends to sightings to the rather unusual/bizarre.

The change will be most apparent in show coverage. Where before I was doing a sort of "best of," I will tweak that this season and focus on what truly inspires me. Why the change? Simply put, I have grown weary of watching far too many collections that lack imagination because too much attention has been paid to the bottomline. If nothing inspires me, I will tell you so and tell you why. Let the games begin ...


Day 4
(SOME of the players at the tents and elsewhere): Anna Francesca, Carmen Marc Valvo, Custo Barcelona, Danielle Kallmeyer, Designer's Premier, Diane von Furstenberg, Derek Lam, DKNY, Edun, Eighteenth, Falguni & Shane Peacock, Geoffrey Mac, Imitation, Jeremy Laing, Joy Cioci, Kevork Kiledjian, Lela Rose, Lorena Sarbu, Mathieu Mirano, Simon Spurr, Thakoon, Tracy Reese, Zac Posen, Timo Weiland, Tommy Hilfiger, Y-3

ONCE
the Wow! started it would not stop until the last. It took Custo Barcelona to get the word out of my mouth.

Custo Barcelona pays tribute to visionaries and other artistic types. Photo courtesy of Custo Barcelona.

BEST OVERALL SHOW – One knows what to expect from Custo Barcelona: a panoply of prints. Always, however, is the question of how will designer Custo Dalmau merge them. A disclaimer: Custo Barcelona is not for the faint. These are not materials for the masses, and thank God for that. For fall 2012, homage is paid to visionaries and the pioneers of creativity. The result is a brilliant patchwork of wool both, geometric-shaped and graphic boiled, as well as leather, metallic patterns, technical finished fabrics and some others. The men are dressed a tad more demurely than normal; a few suits are so accessible that JCPenney might reach out. As usual the ladies have as much on as they can carry.

Visionary colors include red, black green, taupe, wine, purple, brown, copper. Under the pattern rubric are houndstooth, plaid, paisley and whatnot. As usual, it is a lot for the eye to take in, yet it does and the effort doesn’t show. (Study closely the ensem pictured at right). By the by, don’t be mislead by the word “patchwork,” craft is woven into every piece, from the most rococo to the most restained. Either CD is a good editor or he seeks counsel from one, for his myriad moving parts flirt inexorably with the danger of overkill without ever quite going there. (Enjoy the video above).

OTHER MENTIONABLES – Turn the attention away from Tracy Reese for a few seasons and return to find that the coquettish schoolgirl that she references has developed some harder edges. Since moving from the heartland to city center our darlingl has replaced her bookish reading glasses with mannish sunglasses. The over-the-knee socks and floral dresses have been moved to the back of the closet. Within easy reach are metallic patterns with cut velvet and bare legs. She’s wearing pants these days, too. In case the parents visit, though, she can dig up the orange/purple dress with black-scalloped sleeves. Mommy and daddy’s little girl is growing up.

From the look of things DKNY is rebelling against slouchiness. Photo by Michael Dills/Getty Images.

Diane von Furstenburg and her partner in design, Yvan Mispelaere, imagine their DVF woman stepping out for a rendez-vous. That is, “a meeting with suspense and expectation,” DVF explains. She is dressed for the occasion in a confident brown off-the-shoulder wool jersey layered dress. Because a shroud of mystery hangs over the proceedings, she might choose the sleeveless black crepe satin dress w/folds and dropped-waist leather belt. On her arms opera gloves, which she likes with any number of rendez-vous rags. Depending on her mood or that of the weather, she could summon a bright color like citrus (halter top), gold (tapered pants). DVF offers a well-crafted, accessible collection. While not strenuously creative, it is clever.

Ladies, in a black mood for fall? Then set the GPS for DKNY. In these times of revolution, the designer is feeling a little poetic rebellion, beat style. Yet no woman of Jack Kerouac’s or Amiri Baraka’s showed at a slam got up in any threads as city slicker sleek&chic as the black turtleneck and high-waisted croc flared skirt or either one of the furry ensems in the wine group. They are emblematic of a collection that skews heavily toward self-possession and sophistication.

Mathieu Mirano & Joy Cioci
Photos by Astrid Stawiarz and Craig Barritt/Getty Images.


Carmen Marc Valvo & Derek Lam
Photos by Craig Barritt and Fernanda Calfat/Getty Images.


Lorena Sarbu & Lela Rose
Photos by Craig Barritt and Mike Coppola/Getty Images.


DKNY & Falguni & Shane Peacock
Photos by Michael Dills and Frazer Harrison/Getty Images.


Diane von Furstenberg & Tommy Hilfiger
Photos by Frazer Harrison and Michael Dills/Getty Images.


Tracy Reese & Custo Barcelona
Photos by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images and Courtesy of Custo Barcelona.


On Deck today, Day 5: 3.1 Phillip Lim, Alice + Olivia, Betsey Johnson, Bibhu Mohapatra, Carlos Miele, Carolina Herrera, Chris Benz, Donna Karan, Emilio Cavallini, Irina Shabayeva, Jenny Packham, Karen Walker, Leather Japan 2012, Marc Jacobs, Negarin, Preen, Prete & Bruno, Reem Acra, Theyskens' Theory, Titel1, Thom Browne, Viktor Luna, Yeohlee, Zang Toi, Zero+Maria Cornejo

Visit http://http://www.mbfashionweek.com/ to learn more about Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week, including show information and videos.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Day 3 MBFW: Still No Wow!, But No Yuck! Either



HEAD’S UP: Can you believe it's Fashion Week already? That respite between September and February seems very short, especially since press registration notices started arriving during the crush of the holiday shopping season. In any case, Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week New York has returned for the Fall 2012 edition. At VEVLYN'S PEN, we are going to do things slightly different this season. I still endeavor to provide a roundup of the best, worst and most interesting Yours Truly witnesses, from trends to sightings to the rather unusual/bizarre.

The change will be most apparent in show coverage. Where before I was doing a sort of "best of," I will tweak that this season and focus on what truly inspires me. Why the change? Simply put, I have grown weary of watching far too many collections that lack imagination because too much attention has been paid to the bottomline. If nothing inspires me, I will tell you so and tell you why. Let the games begin ...



Day 3
(SOME of the players at the tents and elsewhere): Alexander Wang, Altuzarra, Christian Cota, Christian Siriano, Band of Outsiders, Herve Leger by Max Azria, Jill Stuart, Lacoste, L.A.M.B., Mara Hoffman, Monique Lhuillier, Porter Grey, Prabal Gurung, Robert Geller, Rafael Cennamo, Ruffian, Son Jung Wan, Tibi, Vantan Tokyo, Venexiana, Wes Gordon

NO
superlatives yet.

Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week New York Fall 2012 marches on and seems to have not lost themomentum set by Day 2. Aside from disclosing that she is feeling a bit out of sorts because the Venexiana show wasn’t the transportive affair of past seasons, your humble tour guide will reserve further comment about Day 3 for later. Meanwhile, take a look at the Venexiana video and enjoy the photos below.

Monique Lhuillier & Tibi
Photos by Frazer Harrision/Getty Images.


Mara Hoffman & Jill Stuart

Photos by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images.


Son Jung Wan & Ruffian
Photos by Frazer Harrison and Mike Coppola/Getty Images.


Mara Hoffman & L.A.M.B.
Photos by Frazer Harrison and Chelsea Lauren/Getty Images.


Lacoste & Herve Leger by Max Azria
Photos by Mike Coppola and Frazer Harrison/Getty Images.


On Deck today, Day 4: Anna Francesca, Carmen Marc Valvo, Custo Barcelona, Danielle Kallmeyer, Designer's Premier, Diane von Furstenberg, Derek Lam, DKNY, Edun, Eighteenth, Falguni & Shane Peacock, Geoffrey Mac, Imitation, Jeremy Laing, Joy Cioci, Kevork Kiledjian, Lela Rose, Lorena Sarbu, Mathieu Mirano, Simon Spurr, Thakoon, Tracy Reese, Zac Posen, Timo Weiland, Tommy Hilfiger, Y-3

Visit http://http://www.mbfashionweek.com/ to learn more about Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week, including show information and videos.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Day 2 MBFW: Looks Like Brighter Days Ahead



HEAD’S UP: Can you believe it's Fashion Week already? That respite between September and February seems very short, especially since press registration notices started arriving during the crush of the holiday shopping season. In any case, Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week New York has returned for the Fall 2012 edition. At VEVLYN'S PEN, we are going to do things slightly different this season. I still endeavor to provide a roundup of the best, worst and most interesting Yours Truly witnesses, from trends to sightings to the rather unusual/bizarre.

The change will be most apparent in show coverage. Where before I was doing a sort of "best of," I will tweak that this season and focus on what truly inspires me. Why the change? Simply put, I have grown weary of watching far too many collections that lack imagination because too much attention has been paid to the bottomline. If nothing inspires me, I will tell you so and tell you why. Let the games begin ...


Charlotte Ronson is more refined for Fall 2012. Photos courtesy of Charlotte Ronson.

Day 2
(SOME of the players at the tents and elsewhere): Academy of Art University, Ann Yee, Anne Bowen, Billy Reid, Brandon Son, Charlotte Ronson, Cushnie et Ochs, Doo.Ri, Emilio Sosa, The Greenshows - Collection Previews, General Idea, Gregory Parkinson, Helmut Lang, Jason Wu, Jen Kao, Katya Leonovich, NAHM, Nautica, Nicole Miller, Parkchoonmoo, Peter Som, Rag & Bone, Rebecca Minkoff, Rebecca Taylor, Rubin&Chapelle, St. John, Suno, Tess Giberson, Tommy Hilfiger Men's, Yigal Azrouel

NO
Wow! moments dawned on Day 2 of Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week New York Fall 2012. Still, it was not a bad day. The forecast is two parts sun, one part clouds.

BEST INTERPRETAION OF A VISION – Designers Carly Cushnie and Michelle Ochs at
Cushnie et Ochs pay homage to Pedro Almodóvar's “The Skin I Live In.” The film starts Antonio Banderas as a plastic surgeon with Frankensteinian designs on an unsuspecting patient (Elena Anaya). The sexy, vixenish , sometimes dominatrix-ish pencil dresses and gowns bare nips, tucks, darts, cutouts, cording and coverups here, there and nearly everywhere. Is there really any difference between designers’ scissors and a surgeon’s scalpel? (See the video above.)

OTHER MENTIONABLES – For Fall 2012 Charlotte Ronson is not only dressing her grunge goddess, but also the uptown girl and the downtown bohemian. This collection for the confident woman, with emphasis on cableknit sweaters, floral, Aztec & graphic prints, wool&leather, as well as a smattering of chiffon, becomes fresh and relevant when the designer mixes the various components. The black leather/taupe wool pinstripe dress w/florals at the waist and bodice is an example. A few combinations, such as the belted chiffon dress in lilac with a graphic design and a wool hoodie in taupe with graphic design, show the kind of facility that Custo Barcelona owns when it comes to print mixing.

Nicole Miller has a lot in mind for Fall 2012. Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images.

CR is most successful when she hues toward such alliances. After all, prints are the rows she hoes best. The gray series of knits and the leather-heavy red series toward the end are dominated by solids. While they are proof positive that CR is serious about adding a bit of polish to her finish, they have an ordinariness about them, slowing the momentum firmly set by the pert prints

Doo-Ri Chung hangs nice drapes. For Fall 2012 at Doo.Ri, the designer seems at her most confident in her draping, embodying the notion that practice makes perfect. She has not yet arrived but her hand is surer than ever in the form of the gray-multi sweater/bone squirt combo. Promise is shown elsewhere, too. The lattice work, namely on two dresses in teal and black, is eye-catching.

At Helmut Lang for Fall 2012, things are vibing. Designers Michael and Nicole Colovos are steady at the helm, the result a collection that goes futuristic. Yet it does not go too far where no man has gone before to take on true extraterrestrial dimensions. These are thoughtful, well-made garments for the urban cool as in the Klingon-like black belted and ruthlessly gathered jacket and black pajama pants.

What’s her point? Nicole Miller is harder to read for Fall 2012. On the one hand she’s flirting outrageously with the ‘60s. Could, she like so many others, be influenced by the Occupy Wall Street civil/economic/human rights movement? Then she seems to leapfrog into the ‘70s, next afield to the ‘90s, stopping in present-day. The result is a enigmatic kaleidoscope. Exhibit A: Purple hat (‘60s), chiffon print jacket with flared tale (‘70s/present-day computer print), chiffon blouse (timeless), leather miniskirt (circa ‘90s ). The effect? Somehow it works.

MOST DISAPPOINTING – Near legends have been awaiting the first collection of Season 7 “Project Runway” runner-up Emilio Sosa. It debuted last night at the Alvin Ailey Dance Studios with notables in attendance, including Artistic Emerita Judith Jamison. While thoroughly wearable, the collection lacks the excitement of what the five-time challenge winner produced on Project Runway. Perhaps, one should not reference that show too much. On the other hand, it is the vehicle that brought the uber-talented costume designer to the notice of the masses.

Academy of Art University grad Jeanette Au is a metal head. Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Imges.

The lone standout here is the marine blue parka with Asian-type graphic. The rest is not terribly exciting. Another bright spot, though, is the color scheme: red, yellow, marine blue. Balancing the whole act are black strappy sandals and white socks. Looking forward to ES’ next.

UP AND COMERS – Since 2005, the San Francisco-based Academy of Art University has premiered the collections of recent graduates at Fashion Week New York. It is always a popular show. It also provides an opportunity to see what the future holds.

The future looks bright for Wu Di. The designer took a simple print, reminiscent of a church graphic and put it on the bodice of an ivory cashmere tweed top. The result elevated the top and skirt combo to the level of catchy. Clever is the cut-out effect that is created by the zipper involved in the ivory/charcoal wool gabardine top and stone heather double-face-wool vest pairing … Coco Chanel once said something to the effect that one should take one thing off before going out the door. This advice does not apply to menswear designer Donghyuk Dan Kin’s first vest. It has bells, whistles, zippers, this, that, the other – what a stew! – and it works … You know what mohair needs to bring it up higher? Mobejeweling, by jove! Jeanette Au received the memo in time to put a touch of metallic on her mohair series of dresses, coats, jackets, tops and skirts. Excepting the garnet mohair dress, coat and cape, it is a bright idea.

Popluxe & Parkchoonmoo
Photos by Frazer Harrison and Mike Coppola/Getty Images.



General Idea & Concept Korea
Photos by Mike Coppola/Getty Images.


Brandon Son & AAU (Wu Di)
Photos by Frazer Harrison and Dario Cantatore/Getty Images.


On Deck today, Day 3: Alexander Wang, Altuzarra, Band of Outsiders, Herve Leger by Max Azria, Jill Stuart, Lacoste, L.A.M.B., Mara Hoffman, Monique Lhuillier, Porter Grey, Prabal Gurung, Robert Geller, Rafael Cennamo, Ruffian, Son Jung Wan, Tibi, Vantan Tokyo, Venexiana, Wes Gordon

Visit http://http://www.mbfashionweek.com/ to learn more about Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week, including show information and videos.
 
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