Milan Fashion Week Dispatch #2 — Bottega, Dolce, Jil, and Ferragamo

Thomas Maier sent down the runway for Bottega Veneta (above) a collection devoted to clean, unfussy, easy-to-wear, graphic dresses. No attention was spared in the way of cut and pattern and no attention was paid to any sort of pant, as there were none, not a single trouser in sight. For the women who can’t be bothered, each and every one of his dresses lent it’s wearer a sense of power by dint of extreme craftsmanship (see: the charcoal flannel skirt with the trompe l’oeil-style beading) married with comfort and restraint.  This collection proved that even the munificent styles of Italian designers are not resistant to the minimalist trend percolating through the fashion industry.

This season’s Jil Sander collection could have been last season’s, could have been a collection from 2000, maybe 2004. This collection preserved the continuity of the brand at the expense of personality and creativity. But who could blame the design team who’ve been left abruptly at the helm of the eponymous brand for the third time? They continued writing the story of clean architectural lines, muted colors and androgynous suits that the label has been writing for years, with the same happy but predicable ending (with the exception of one plot twist, the introduction of the python flatform– a charter a girl could really rally behind.)

Jil Sander


Dolce & Gabbana gave us the key to a secret garden that was home to owls, foxes, frogs, fauna and fairies alike.  The fairytale was rendered in comely naïve appliques on an array of dresses and coats. However, I found myself most enchanted by the pieces that seemed to live right outside of the fantastical gates, the pieces that bridged the world of the real and the sublime. A hunter green pantsuit, a black lace below-the-knee skirt and a tweed cape kept the collection grounded and wearable. And for that grand finale? An army of glittering fairies whose fairy-dust-infused garments we’re sure to be seeing at parties all over the world next season — but only if you clap your hands along with the equally stunning front row (I see you David Gandy and Monica Belluci.) Do you believe?



Comfort doesn’t mean casual, well at least at the Salvatore Ferragamo show yesterday. Pulling in the reigns on last year’s experiment with deconstruction, Massimiliano Giornetti dressed a modern woman with a taste for the classics. Updating plaid coats with leather trim and standup collars and giving little black dresses a gold leaf Midas touch, he gave his classically luxurious brand a modern edge. Comfort reigned king with a #trending robe coat and an array of ribbed knit dresses.  Should, god forbid, the vortex return next fall, I know exactly who I’ll turn to for swaddling.


Gucci Gucci, Fendi Fendi, Prada: Milan Fashion Week Dispatch #1

Posing not only a contrast to the over the top, boisterous fun that was London Fashion week but also to the brand’s most recent collections, Gucci was wildly tame. Gleaning inspiration from the brands ‘60s collections, full on glamour was replaced with clean silhouettes and smart, simple tailoring. The fits were kept shrunken, with body hugging blazers and above the knee mini dresses and the colors kept to a pastel palette of dusty rose, baby blue and mustard yellow.  Highlights from the collection? Sumptuous leather tops, chunky python boots and drop crotch denim — yes, Gucci did denim.  Though the looks appeared simpler than what we’ve come to expect from the brand, crystal embellished necklines and panels of pleated skirt reminded us that Gucci was still in fact Gucci, bling and all.


While androgyny was a trend embraced by many designers this season, Alessandro Dell’Acqua illustrated how striking the juxtaposition of feminine and masculine dressing can be. In layering a heavy gray menswear inspired jacket over a sequin and feather dress he showed exactly what Pat Benatar meant when she sang,  “Love is a Battlefield” during the closing song of the show. Many of the looks suggested a morning after ensemble, last night’s party dress topped with a flannel coat or camel cardigan stolen from a paramour’s closet.  A No.21 girl is simultaneously a tomboy and a socialite who tosses a floral holographic sequin coat over a pair of gray flannel trousers. (Pictured at top.)

Karl Lagerfeld’s Fendi was a variety show that shifted between four distinct themes but still managed to feel united. There were ladylike hourglass silhouettes and coats pinned with orchid. There were sporty urban looks with mesh inserts and fur-cum-Mohawk details. There were military inspired bomber jackets and furs patched together to resemble camo. And lastly there were strong Nordic connotations with an emphasis on luxurious layers and furs draped around shoulders belted together with leather straps. Despite a deluge of must have pieces and accessories, a certain Karl Lagerfeld Bag Boy three-fur-purse overshadowed them all  (sure to become a cult favorite especially after Cara Delavigne danced it around Lagerfeld during his closing bow.)



Roberto Cavallli kept it close to home for Just Cavalli this season despite a tendency to pull his inspiration from more foreign affairs. This season he celebrated his hometown of Florence with an earnest tribute to Medici statuary and the arches of Santa Maria Novella, which were printed on dresses and trousers alike. Abstracting the prints with neon colors and overlaying brushstrokes kept the prints inline with the rock and roll vibe synonymous with the label. It is impossible to talk about the show without commenting on the copious amounts of fringe, which migrated from bags and heels to the cuffs of coats and the legs of jeans. Floral brocade jackets and motto inspired details help to ground the more outrageous pieces, such as one space cowboy gold leather jacket that felt more fit for a rave than a Renaissance.



It is with little hesitation and even less surprise that I call Prada the best show so far. Funneled in through a black felted tunnel, the stage or sound-proof “recording studio” equipped with sunken orchestra pits, housed the musical soundings of Kurt Weill sung live by Rainer Werner Fassbinder’s “Lola” a la Barbara Sukowa. The show began with minimal sleek menswear tailoring then quickly escalated into a brightly colored phantasmagoria of sheer shift dresses, highly saturated shearlings and bold art-deco prints. Looks began with silk scarves tied around the neck and ended with wedged heels and boots. The vibe was sensual without ever faltering toward sexual; Miuccia Prada exercising her uncanny ability to make even the dowdiest shapes feel feminine and seductive. The best example of this an oversized sporty V-neck thrown over a modest high-neck silk dress. The outerwear was some of the best we’ve seen this season with dark overcoats that boasted contrasting piping in metallic leather and shearling: practical, wearable yet still dramatic.  Likewise can be said for the entire collection, great potential for commercial successful with out losing anything in the way of artfulness and drama.


Attending Church With Father Glenn O’Brien: Last Night’s ‘Penance’ Celebration

The candlelit storefront at the Chelsea hotel couldn’t have been a more perfect venue for Glenn O’Brien’s Penance book signing. More than vaguely resembling the inside of an old church with its massive pillars and its decrepit, exposed ceiling, the pews, confessional, and candles only drove home the already apparent theme. Guests including the likes of Olivier Zahm, Nemo and Kacey Librizzi, and Natalie Joos gathered at the “church” so as to have “Father” Glenn O’Brien resolve their sins by way of a signature on a copy of their books.

Bread and wine were served as customary of mass. Patrons lounged on pews, kneeled on a Prie-dieu placed before “Father” Glenn (who was seated in an overstuffed leather chair) and chatted about in small groups all toting freshly bought copies of Penance.

O’Brien conceived the idea of hosting a modern-day confessional back in 2012, a place where he would offer penance and absolve sinners within the sacred walls of the Chelsea Hotel. However, unlike a traditional confessional, artworks by Richard Prince were on display within the booth and swimsuit model Michelle Vawer was dressed as a nun acting as his assistant.

Penance is a collection of transcripts of the confessions as collected by O’Brien. The book is wrapped in a full-size Richard Prince poster and includes a baseball card featuring O’Brien in full priest regalia.

The crowd gravitated around O’Brien all evening, each individual waiting their turn to have their book signed and to offer their words of admiration to The Style Guy. The wine flowed freely all night, which helped to combat the freezing weather that awaited patrons outside of the cozy storefront. And can I get a hallelujah for that?

GLENN O'BRIEN Penance Book Signing  GLENN O'BRIEN Penance Book Signing

Images courtesy of BFA

The Row, Karen Walker, Phillip Lim, & Band of Outsiders: Tara’s NYFW Round Up Part II

Running from show to show and seeing approximately 500 per day, the runways begin to blur together. But some shows have that magic quality about them that jolt you out of your coffee-downing-traffic-dodging-air-kissing trance and remind you why you look forward to this week months in advance. These four shows do just that.

Scott Sternberg crossed his classic prep-school aesthetic with that of an eccentric old cat lady and the outcome was gorgeous.  Heavy knits, furs and wools were counterbalanced by wispy silk, mesh and mohair. Looks began with dark round glasses and ended with Band of Outsider’s debut shoe, the perfect mannish oxford. In-between, patterns ran ramped with dizzying florals and painted polka dots.Band of


Simultaneously feminine and tough Karen Walker’s collection paid homage to the suffrage movements of past. The most obvious nod to the theme, a placard-cum-bag embossed with “Liberal, Miserable & Cynical.” Highlights from the collection included cropped balloon pants and a red patterned velvet maxi dress, both fit for a modern day man-repelling feminist.Karen

Paradigmatic of The Row the silhouettes were kept simple, though enlarged, and done in the world’s most luxurious fabrics. We’re talking 900 gram double-face cashmere that could double as fur. Models were swallowed by cowl-neck sweaters and draped in fringed blanket wraps. Each look was funneled into a pair of slouchy ankle socks and lace-up derby oxfords. The season’s signature bag? A sure to be five figure crocodile bucket bag.The


Right when we were about to give up on winter for good 3.1 Phillip Lim gave us something to love about it —Soleil— his imaginarily muse. His winter is a cheery happy place made up of bright colors, peppy pastels and funky florals. Customary of Lim’s collection, there were more than a handful of must-have items in it: a shearling coat cut similar to that of a denim jacket and a pair of the lace up booties that look more than capable of taking on snow-ridden sidewalks, to name a few.Philip

Tara’s Fashion Week Round Up: What’s Up at BCBG, Zimmermann, CotW, & Richard Chai

New York Fashion week is finally here, and no slush, sleet nor snow could stop us.

Day one was opened with BCBG Max Azria’s twenty-fifth anniversary show (featured above). The show offered up the staples that have defined the “bon chic, bon genre” brand in new and fresh ways. Color blocking found itself in the form of gray, black, pink and turquoise graphic stripes.  Asymmetrical hemlines were lengthened to cover the tops of knee high boots in a very apparent nod toward the ‘70’s.  And fur was the mixed material of choice, adorning everything from outerwear to accessories (the fur clutch cum hand warmer was particularly clever.)

Richard Chai

Jumping from the ‘70s to the ‘90s Richard Chai LOVE gave us a cleaned up version of grunge. The ‘90s influence was best epitomized by the effortlessness of layering t-shirts over thermals.  Interesting textures helped update everything from a plaid mohair coat to a pair of sequin-adorned trousers.  Hemlines were kept long on the few skirts found within in the sea of floral and striped patterned trousers. Clean-cut leather and shearling Andrew Marc jackets were a highlight of the show in an array of black, brown and bordeaux hues. The menswear was chockfull of slouchy trousers, striped suits and black boots. The pieces were made infinitely more interesting with some clever styling, a blouse tied around the waist to resemble a skirt for example.

Creatures of the Wind

Creatures of the Wind juxtaposed Eastern-inspired dress with Western tailoring and the outcome was gorgeous.  The pieces that were most successful hung in balance between the two sides. The cuts were clean and the layering was kept simple. There was an effortlessness and elegance in the apparent restraint exercised (this best illustrated by the pairing of a black sparkly top with an otherwise prosaic mint green wool skirt.) The sure to be most coveted piece from the collection, an ankle length coat cinched at the waist in a blurred black and white pattern. The Creature of the show? Butterflies, seemingly blown in by the wind, landing on the lapels and buttons of a few different jackets.


Zimmermann’s show gave us the understanding of an Australian beatnik as inspired by her mother. Models were sent down the runway wearing metal  “teddy” bow chokers, chunky patent brogues and sported slicked back hair, dark brows and even darker lips. Prints ranged from florals to collages of motorcycle parts but were all kept dark and moody in monochrome black and white.  Floral printed dresses, skirts and tops were toughened up with cut outs that were lined in leather trim and then tied together with large, pearl metallic buttons. Contrasting to the tougher, stiffer pieces were cozy knits in the form of a sea foam green mohair vest and an oversized pink sweater with rows of knit balls. As with Creatures of the Wind the pieces that have us most excited are the coats, oversized and menswear inspired.

Catching Up with Emerging Designer Karolyn Pho

When we met with Karolyn Pho this past October she had only just shown her first collection designed in New York and now, not even four months later, she’s preparing to present her debut collection at New York Fashion Week. Despite the usual chaos associated with Fashion Week, Pho is calm, cool and collected.  The obvious dissemination of this confidence into her clothing is probably what we love most about the eponymous label.

We stopped by to catch a quick glimpse of her mood board and discuss her inspirations, her design process and her plans for the future.

What’s changed since we talked in October? I am going to guess a lot.

A lot has changed since then. Spring/Summer was my first collection in New York. So that transition from LA to New York really affected that collection. This new collection is me being more comfortable here and having received a lot of feedback from this community, really trying to add it in and be mindful of it. Which helped me grow a lot as a designer and as a person in general. This whole transition phase has been a great leaning experience. And now I am here and I can’t believe it.

On the fashion calendar!

If you told me this a couple months ago I wouldn’t have believed you. It’s absolutely surreal.  I feel blessed and so thankful.

That must have been quite a change going from first collection in New York to showing at Fashion Week?

It’s so surreal. From last season, where I was just getting my feet wet and receiving feedback, to this.  And taking all of that feedback and infusing it in this collection but still keeping my concepts and aesthetics. That was the main evolution.  I took the community’s response and really tried to focus it and push it toward the collection. If the editors and buyers can see their notes from the last collection and compare them to the new collection and be happy, then I am stoked, because that’s exactly what I was trying to do. And that’s out of respect. Yes, you should have your own voice but at the same time you need to respect your community. These are the people supporting you.

How did that cross-country move from L.A. to New York affect your collection?

If anything it gave me more confidence in the collection. I was doing something similar in L.A. and I just don’t think the community there was as receptive to it. When I brought it to New York people were really feeling it. When the community says, yes, we’re into it, that’s everything, especially when you’re in New York. It really validated for me that I am doing what I should be doing.  New York really pushed me to my limit, pushed me to my edge. And I think New York does that for everyone, in whatever occupation. There’s a really fun energy here.

KPho FW14 Inspo board

What was your inspiration for this collection?

Well here’s my mood board (see above.) The way my mind works is kind of like a Venn diagram. I have two circles overlapping with two different ideas and whatever meets in the middle is what I take as the backbone for the collection. The left side is darker while the right is lighter with much more vibrant colors. These are clippings that I’ve gathered over the past couple of months and none of it really made sense until I printed it all out, laid them out and saw what my mind was trying to get to. And it all plays well together.

I am calling this collection “Self-Preservation”, as in the idea of protecting oneself for the purpose of moving forward; that ability to move to another life if you will, to whatever your heaven or your afterlife is. My collections always have some sort of religious undertone. I take a general interest in it. I don’t really know yet what I believe except that I believe in a higher power and all my collections have this feeling of what is purgatory, what is afterlife? My last collection was called “Unknown”.

Do you have any daily routines?

My daily routine is that I don’t have a daily routine. I don’t know what you call it because it’s not ADD or OCD. But like I have to be working on at least five different projects. And I like that. I don’t have to feel like I have to do any one of them right now because creatively I can’t force myself to do something it just comes. I just let it go when it happens, when I am feeling in. And that sounds super hippie-dippie but I don’t know how else to explain it.  My routine is that I have no routine.

What about if you’re in a creative rut?

I go for a really long walk and this is going to sound insane but I play the same song over and over. I walk seven miles listening to the same song and I don’t know what it is but the monotony of it all gets me thinking, Walking helps, music always helps. Movies sometimes too, I am by no means a cinefile but I do appreciate a really cinematic film.

Does your background styling for film still affect your design process?

I can’t say that what I was doing then is so much different than what I am doing now when I’m conceptualizing. You’re trying to tell a story and create a character and show how that character lives in the story.

If you had to pick a film for this collection, what type of film would it be? Who are the characters?

I can’t help but think of that movie I Am Love with Tilda Swinton. It’s the characters, the time, the movement, the space, the pace and the music in the film.

Favorite piece from the collection so far?

I can’t pick a favorite. Okay, that’s a lie I do have a favorite. It’s this rabbit fur tank top. It’s really the look in general. I am pairing it with a pair of slouchy, baggy tuxedo pants and it’s so formal but so andro and so masculine. I love that. I don’t think there’s a sexier, harder look.

We loved your exploration of textiles in your last collection. Has that carried into this collection as well?

I love experimenting with textiles. Every collection that I do has a similar silhouette. That keeps the consistency in the brand. Where I have room to play is in the color, fabrications and textures and I am really heavy on that. I love finding weird quirky things and adding it as trim, just a little touch of this and little touch of that. Everyone wants to wear something that they are comfortable in but at the same time they still want to be different and unique and those little touches really help with that.

Did you have a goal for this collection?

Industry approval sounds bad. But from the last collection I got so much feedback from the community that I really tried to keep that in mind and push that into the new collection and make it stronger and build it. That was my main goal. The concept is always there but as a designer I am still growing and that feedback helps so much.

What is the biggest different between this collection and collections past? 

I think silhouettes. There are certain silhouettes that I think are beautiful and conceptual but from a market standpoint maybe you can’t sell it. So I still have my conceptual pieces and I get to show them but they’re not the backbone of the collection rather they strengthen it and are building blocks for it. I feel where I’ve grown the most is in creating tangible relatable pieces that have the concept and idea but are so much easier to wear. I really played with different materials and different color ways. That was my main goal, making it more tangible to the people.

Do you have any advice for young artists?

Be true to yourself. This is so lame but I was drinking tea this morning and the tag on the tea said “know that you are the truth” and I was like wow, this is the perfect day to have this little tea bag. And I think what I want to say to young designers is you’re the truth. You are your voice and you are your concept.  Stay strong to that. Don’t waver. At the end of the day it’s you, and it’s your name and it’s your brand.

Do you have a strategy going into Fashion Week?

I am a control freak so I’ve always had a game plan but to be honest this time, I don’t. I’ve done as much as I can. And everyone I am working with is so on top of it and that helps so much. I am not worried, I am nervous but I am not worried. It’s all there.

What do you hope comes from this experience?

It sounds terrible but this whole act is totally selfish. This collection is for me. I obviously want people to enjoy it and there’s sales and yada yada yada but really at the end of the day I just want to see a beautiful show and I want to know that I can do it. It’s so rewarding even just to see the collection done and then presenting it is, I am lost for words. I may cry! I don’t know.

I can understand crying.

Yeah, there are heavy emotions. But I have to be honest after it’s all done, the designing that is, I immediately detach myself from it. Because when I start working with a stylist for instance who’s saying do this, do that, I can’t get my feelings hurt. And especially with a collection being shown on a runway, other people have opinions, and once it goes to sales buyers have opinions. And that’s something I have to be okay with listening to on the business side. I have to be receptive without getting defensive.

How do you do that?

I start thinking about the next collection. It’s like a bad break up. You just have to move on to something else and not think about. That way it doesn’t hurt so badly.

When we talked in October you described the girl who you imagined wearing your collection, is she the same girl for this collection or different? 

It’s always going to be the same girl and the same silhouettes. I don’t want to veer too far from off from that. That’s the consistency in the brand. I want people to be able to come and find that certain something. However, the colors and fabrications will be forever changing.

What’s that certain thing?

I want them to shop Karolyn Pho when they want something that will make them feel confident, comfortable, professional, classic and elegant on a day-to-day basis.  You should dress how you feel!

What are your future plans for your line?

I just want to continue doing what I love. And I want to be able show again next season!

Watch our film on Karolyn Pho here.

Story Time with Joyce Carol Oates and Amy Hempel at Neuehouse

The ground floor or “The Gallery” area of Neuehouse was spotted with people seated at desks or lounging on couches, hovered over laptops and sipping drinks from the café-cum-bar. Members seemed hard at work despite it being past seven on a Thursday night. But downstairs in the facilities’ library voices could be heard engaging in bright, thoughtful conversation, for a small slice of New York was gathered to hear the works of Joyce Carol Oates and Amy Hempel brought to life by actors reading aloud a story by each.

Guests sat on overstuffed leather couches and chairs, clinking glasses of wine that when paired with the fireplace helped fight the bitter cold outside. The moment the actors began their readings the room went silent, rapt in attention. Reminiscent of the primal joys of being read to as a child, there was a palpable admiration for the power of language that filled the room with an electric energy. Carla Guigino’s rendition of “Mastiff” by Joyce Carol Oates and Samantha Mathis’s performance of “A Full-Service Shelter” held the room enthralled for over an hour. Readings aside, the only audible noises from the audience were an occasional sigh, gasp or laugh in accordance with the tale.

After the short story readings took place the authors were invited to come on stage and participate in a discussion moderated by Bill Henderson, the founder of The Pushcart Prize.  The theme for the night was the dog — both stories involved a character’s relationship, one positive and one negative, with a canine. Though the conversation began with talk of the actual furry animals it quickly veered toward a much deeper discussion of the symbolism imbued upon the dogs in each of the stories.

Cedering Fox, the founder of WordTheatre NY, which presented the event, prodded the authors to discuss their use of language to create intimacy or the lack there of, citing that similarity between the stories as the reason she chose the two to be read together. Joyce Carol Oates’ painfully honest analysis of her protagonist brought to light her extraordinary grasp on the human condition. Both of the authors’ insights bolstered the experience of the previous readings.

The night ended with an exuberant Ms. Fox thanking the group for their support and directing them in the way of books for sale, all proceeds helping to keep WordTheatre and The Pushcart Prize alive. The audience, still captivated by the communal experience of sharing stories, lingered in groups around Oates and Hempel. They too had something to share.

2.P.C. Ben Rosser 4.P.C.Ben Rosser P.C. Ben RosserPhoto Credit: Ben Rosser 


Womanize It: Grab His Pants Off the Floor and Make Like the Men’s Collections

Although a loyal fan of menswear-inspired looks I find that while a man looks effortless and cool in a suit I look contrived and uncomfortable. So rather than committing to the full suit, what about menswear-inspired details? And if the weather today is any tell of what February is going to look like I imagine these masculine details will lend themselves well to the upcoming fashion week that send editors trekking from Lincoln Center all the way over to the Brooklyn Navy Yards (thanks Wang) in possible inches of snow.

I turn toward the fall 2014 menswear shows for inspiration on how exactly to get in touch with my masculine side — all sans suit and even sans brogues.


Mixed Media

From Saint Laurent to Lanvin men walked the runways sporting mixed prints, patterns and materials. A leopard sports coat thrown over a zebra print shirt competed with polka dots paired with pinstripes for boldest mash ups. Menswear in general seems to be taking a turn toward patterns with almost every show featuring a torrent of checks and stripes. Patterns covered everything from shoes to jean jackets.

Womanize it: Try mixing prints of a similar color for a fresh tonal look that isn’t too overwhelming.


Slouchy Trousers

A complete 360 from the stovepipe pants of menswear past, many designers sent their models down in relaxed-fit (pleated even!) pants. Though less tailored than their slim fitting counterparts the slouchy trouser requires impeccable cutting. The seemingly casual and comfortable look can quickly transition to formal wear with the addition of a short cut jacket and dress shirt. Marc Jacobs showed us slouchy suits while Givenchy opted for sportswear-inspired variations reminiscent of basketball warm-up pants.

Womanize it: Try oversized boyfriend jeans with a polished blouse and heels or go for slouchy, silky pajama inspired bottoms paired with a cashmere sweater and a leather bomber.


Oversized Sweaters

The oversized crew neck sweater has become a staple for menswear silhouettes, having long surpassed the v-neck, having been embraced by the minimalists in classic cable knits as well as the more forward designers who reinterpreted them with sweatshirt inspired details and graphic prints. The hemlines went north for most all of them giving the classic shape a fresh new feel.  Dolce and Gabbana gave their sweaters a medieval makeover that beg the question of Game of Thrones’ scope of influence and Valentino kept it classic with cozy fair isle prints.

Womanize it: Try dressing a chunky knit sweater up by pairing it with a sequin mini skirt or dress it down with leather leggings and your favorite kicks.


Fur Trimmings

This trend steered away from full-on-fur and rather used fur to create accent points and details on other pieces. Lanvin used a panel of pony hair to create the illusion of punk-inspired spikes across the shoulder of a jacket.  Fendi accented sweaters, hats and jackets with fur toying with the duality between the wild and the tame, the natural and the urban. And Givenchy saw fur used as stoles and as collars on jackets.

Womanize it: Try throwing a fur stole over the collar of a sportier jacket or add a shearling front cardigan to your go-to t-shirt and jeans combo.