Insta-Critic: Donna Karan Goes Gold for Evening

Search #donnakaran on Instagram right now and you’re likely to encounter a slew of Kendall Jenner photos. This proves to be one unfortunate consequence of inviting social media-favorite models to runway shows. Scroll past these though, and you’ll catch glimpses of a very cool collection heavy on metallics. Karan showed gowns covered in gold leaf for evening, while day was a heady mix of fur-lined lapels, dark embellishments, buttoned-up dress shirts, and neatly belted waists. “I feel powerful,” one model told WWD backstage; and indeed, it seemed the city-inspired collection offered Karan’s distinct take on twenty-first century power dressing.

Donna Karan fashion show in NYC. Photo by @maximsap

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Donna Karan ups the glam with an Oscar-ready evening dress

The new power dressing at Donna Karan

@kendalljenner backstage bei @donnakaran #donnakaran #nyfw #backstage #fashionshow #models

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Kendall Jenner backstage

#DonnaKaran

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The finale makes its way to instagram

@suzymenkesvogue #donnakaran #nyfw #suzymenkes #fashionweek

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Fashion critic Suzy Menkes makes her entrance

Special guests at front row Donna Karan show. Photo by @maximsap

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The #frow at Donna Karan

Hats! Are You Ready?

Gigi Burris spring 2015 presentation at Gallow Green, courtesy of BFA

Three’s a trend, right? Then we’re all in for some chic headwear this spring.

Donna Karan did it her way (loftily aspirational, I’d say):

And Gigi Burris is doing it a few ways. How chic are these? So very, “come for light lunch at my country house’s east garden, darling.”
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And on a totally different note entirely, how cool are these pieces that same designer made for the Ohne Titel show? It’s called a horsehair underbun. These are my level. I can get down with some Gigi Burris x Ohne Titel.

These underbuns make a messy bun not just acceptable but lust-worthy. Can you deal?!

Are you ready for it?

Trends Out of Pre Fall: The Big Eight from Chanel, Alexander Wang, Belstaff, and More

Only a month and a half out – cue panic – from the new and improved New York fashion week, we can’t help but wonder what designers will bestow upon us this coming season. If the pre fall collections are any indication of what’s to come, we’ll be seeing an inundation of fringe, plenty of pleats and lots of lace. Plaids and floral will be prominent pattern stories, as will the black and white pairings that we saw this past spring. Big volume will remain a big player. And Bermuda shorts will make an impressive comeback.

(Above) Lace Resort

Seen at: Burberry, Jason Wu, Rag & Bone

Dark, dramatic lace could be found all throughout the pre fall collections.  This season’s lace felt romantic, sensual and not in the least bit girly.

BermudaTriangleBermuda Triangle 

Seen at: ALC, Rag & Bone, Thakoon, Band of Outsiders

Reminiscent of a schoolboy uniform from private schools past, Bermuda shorts came back in a more tailored way. Rather than being oversized and slouchy they were grown up – a crisp, formal approach to the menswear trend.

BlackWhiteCompare and Contrast

Seen at: DKNY, Donna Karan, Alice & Olivia, Narciso Rodriguez

The back and white pairings that dominated spring runways came back bolder and even more graphic. The contrasting colors felt distinctly harder, tougher, and seemed to harken back to the 1960s.

CowgirlsIndiansCowgirls and Indians

Seen at: Chanel, Derek Lam, Alexander Wang, Nicole Miller

Cowboy hats, boots, and fringe, oh my. Epitomized by Chanel’s show in Dallas, the cowboy trend was more apparent than ever. Fringe found itself on everything from bags to the backs of dresses and broad rimmed hats and over the knee boots.

InFullBloom In Full Bloom

Seen at: Badgley Mischka, Erdem, Alice & Olivia, Temperley London

A perennial trend, flowers bloomed bold and beautiful this fall. In pastel pink and brooding black, blooms were rendered in a dozen different ways. We loved the graphic interpretations as well as the retro inspired prints.

Plaiditude A Plaiditude

Seen at: Altuzarra, Belstaff, Rachel Comey, Thakoon

Cleaning up the grungy plaids of last fall, this season’s tartans are crisp and classic with a modern twist. Interpreted in new color combinations and shapes the plaid feels reinvigorated and new.

PleatsPleasePleats and Thanks

Seen at: ALC, Gucci, Tory Burch, Missoni

Pleated skirts in delicate swingy fabrics look simultaneously classic and fresh, especially when reinterpreted in silver metallic fabric or paired with sleek, minimal accessories.

sizemattersSize Matters

Seen at: Adam Lippes, Just Cavalli, Derek Lam, Proenza Schouler

Proving more is more. Jackets and pants in particular were given an extra dose of volume. Big, boxy structural shapes reigned supreme.

Ryan Bingham Looks to ‘Tomorrowland’

Even after Ryan Bingham won just about every award under the sun for his work with T. Bone Burnett on “Weary Kind” for Crazy Heart, he didn’t get comfortable atop his metaphorical mountain of success. It’s just not in his nature, musically or otherwise.

“It wasn’t like I suddenly had a mansion on the hill or a Cadillac,” Bingham tells me from his home in the wilds of Topanga Canyon, Northwest of Los Angeles, his light Southwestern twang dusting every word. “It was back to the backyard, building fires, BBQin’ and just fuckin’ off.”

Well, to be more specific, it was back on the road with The Dead Horses, touring on the coattails of his award-season sweeps in lieu of the late summer release of his third album Junky Star in 2010. And while Junky Star certainly was a very good album, it lacked the rugged rawness of Mescalito and Roadhouse Sun, his first two records which transported us to the beautiful and empty desert interstates, cozy and worn Western bars, ragged and stale motel rooms in the middle of nowhere. Or maybe everyone was suddenly expecting too much of Bingham, since he now had a mantel full of trophies to legitimize his talents, all before the age of 30. That sort of success can just flat wear a man down.

“Things were pretty crazy around that time. There are a lot of people after you, trying to get you to do different things,” he remembers. “Bars and clubs and whatnot were never really my scene, but I still had to fight for my time, to find a way to get back out on my own planet.”

This may be one of the reasons for Bingham’s move to his Topanga hideout.  While writing and composing his latest album Tomorrowland, out this week through his own label Axster Bingham Records, Bingham spent a lot of time in a tent in the Santa Monica Mountains, riding horses and, in his words, “keeping his head straight.” However, the coastal terrain of Southern California doesn’t necessarily reflect the arid high desert of New Mexico and Texas where Bingham spent most of his teens drifting around on the rodeo circuit, earning that hard living so viscerally audible in his voice. These rougher years of his youth were wrung out in those first two albums; Bingham seems to long for them, in a creative sense. I ask him if he misses the rugged, rough life he had trekking from town to town looking for gig, before he found so much success. Sometimes they’d be stuck in a town for three or four days before they had enough money to move onto the next one, playing in people’s backyards to pay for food and gas. Struggle births creativity, and Bingham acknowledges this.

“I miss the adventure of those times for sure, because you never knew what was going to happen next,” he says. “You were forced to go out and meet people and that would usually lead to some real interesting extremes. Sometimes you’re in the strangest, most awkward situations, and other times you end up in the coolest places on Earth.”

For example—the story flowing out of him like a giddy boy talking about meeting Batman—Bingham remembers leaving Del Rio, Texas at two in the morning after playing a New Year’s Eve party, en route to Park City, Utah, a solid twenty-hour drive with the wind behind him. Right around the Grand Canyon, the transmission on their Suburban dropped out and they found themselves stranded in the desert with the New Year’s sunrise, cold as hell and not a car in sight. After a lonely, freezing couple of hours of nodding on and off in the suburban, they got a call from some friends who were driving across the country in an RV on their honeymoon. The love birds happened to be in the area, so they cruised by, picked up Bingham and his band and drove them to Park City, Suburban in tow. Over the week it took to fix the Suburban’s transmission, he and his band played shows in and around Park City, partying down while they stayed at a hotel that was virtually empty due to the slow ski season. With their truck fixed and a little bit of money in their pockets, they set off to Los Angeles with no idea where they were going to stay or what they were going to do when they arrived.

That night, while playing a random house party, they met some women who were in the art world in New York City. One woman invited Bingham and the band to play her house party the following weekend in Manhattan, that she’d be in touch. Sure enough, she called a few days later with an offer of plane tickets, fifteen hundred bucks for the show and a hotel room for a week—considering the whole band of tumbleweeds had never made more than three hundred dollars for a gig and none of them had ever been to New York City, they were ecstatic. A day later, they flew to New York and told the cabbie where to go, glued to the windows the whole ride. They arrived at the party, being held in a lavish brownstone with limousines parked in a line along the curb, women in flowing gowns and men dressed in tuxedos—Donna Karan’s home, as it turned out. Bingham was wearing a cowboy hat, Wranglers, and a t-shirt with a mustard stain on it. When he and the band were finally let in, they set up in the corner of the packed party and told to play only one song, like they were an art exhibition. Bingham remembered sitting there on the makeshift stage amidst East Coast American elite thinking about shivering in a broken-down Suburban just two weeks before. Talk about one extreme to the next.

“I like the stability and the home life these days, because it gives me time,” Bingham says to close the story. He likes to do that, give some sort of conclusion to each charming spurt of thought. “When I have time, the songs come.”

Bingham spent more time crafting Tomorrowland then he ever had on an album and it shows. From the first hypnotic notes of “Beg for Broken Legs” to the elegant country minuet “Too Deep to Fill” that escorts listeners on to a hopeful future, there is an impressive variety of music on this record. Bingham flexes as many of his rock ’n’ roll talents as his country songwriting skills, with a few beautiful, politically tinged ballads to boot. “Western Shore” is a personal favorite, a country song that has been raided and ravaged by good old-fashioned hard rock and roll, like the sea slamming endlessly against the California coast—and winning.

“A lot of this record is about a new start or just starting over for me in a way,” Bingham explains. “I had all the awards and trophies I’d won scattered in different rooms of my house that first year and I finally realized I couldn’t just sit around and look at them all day anymore.”

Now they’re in a box in his attic.

Photo by Anna Axster

Tonight Fashion Eats and Drinks With You

Tis the season for clothes, style, and a whole lot of pomp, but just because the models aren’t downing cocktails and nibbling on the buffet spreads, it doesn’t mean you can’t indulge. Start out at Pizza Roma, where not only can you get gluten free pizza, but you can try their special pesche vino, a white wine with fresh peaches chopped up and served over ice. At the Gastro Bar at 35th in Macy’s Herald Square, ten dollars gets you the Donna Karan, a thyme-infused vodka drink with elderflower and cucumber, or you can get the NY Fashion, a bubbly mixture of cava, raspberry liqueur and orange juice. Nearby, you can also try the Pret-a-Martini, an apricot, lime, and tequila beverage made at The Americano.

We know fashion isn’t necessarily about food, unless you’re Lady Gaga, but for full on fashion-cocktail fusion events, check out: BedHead Pajamas for tasty margaritas, C. Wonder for sweet treats and lemonade, and Revlon plans to pump up their party with music, champagne, and various nibbles. At Diane von Furstenberg, they will host DJ Solange Knowles and pass out free cocktails. For more free drinks, hit up RARE by F.S. Charlie Salon. Michael Kors also offers Prosecco to shoppers, and at Madewell in Soho, they have desserts and tipples for customers who purchase $100 or more of their goods. Head over to Bergdorf Goodman for a little Alexander Wang-meets-Padma Lakshmi, as the model and Top Chef host and Cynthia Rowley throw a designer cook-off.  

If running around stores and boutiques isn’t your thing but you still want to celebrate the art of style, the Stone Rose Lounge has become the official spot of Mercedes-Benz, which means after-party after after-party. Tonight it starts at 5pm with DJ Lincoln Madley for the 2012 Supima Design Competition and their specialty drinks like the Fashion Fizz and Sweet Stiletto will be flowing. Of course, at the end of the night The Coffee Shop, the Union Square restaurant famous for model workers and clientele (yes, they make you give them a head shot if you apply to work there), will be hosting its weekly DJ party starting at 7pm and going until whenever. Which tonight, could be a long, stylish time.  

A Night of Fashion & Charity: The 33rd Annual American Image Awards

Last night, the 33rd Annual American Image Awards honored the marketing geniuses who help build companies like UGG and William Rast into the global brands they are today. All of the proceeds from the event went to the Prostate Cancer Foundation, a total that was said to reach around $1.1 million. The show was hosted by TV personality Robert Verdi, who I had a chance to chat with on the red carpet. Verdi, who was decked out in seriously shiny patent leather Sergio Rossi shoes and a Piaget diamond encrusted watch, bragged, “I’m really, really rich. I can afford sex and diamonds!”

But mention of his McQueen sunglasses caused the flamboyant style to get serious. “I wear them everyday to honor him,” Verdi said. “He was such a brilliant talent and it was such a devastating loss.”

Next, I spoke with Colin Dyne of William Rast, winner of Brand of the Year. William Rast is Justin Timberlake’s clothing company, and has become a major label since its birth six years ago. Dyne was sporting William Rast jeans and a shirt and jacket from J. Lindeberg, partner company to William Rast. He said he was “honored” to be awarded with Brand of the Year after such a short time. He also said he and Justin Timberlake hang out all the time and that he’s an “amazing partner” in the company. Great jeans and hanging out with Justin Timberlake all the time? Duh, winning!

After a couple near-misses I finally found Donna Karan, easily the busiest woman of the evening. (Her company’s CEO & Chairman, Mark Weber, was being awarded Man of the Year.) I gushed about how she’s my favorite designer, and she gushed about how I was her favorite reporter. Well, sort of. What she actually said was “I wish my daughter felt that way! She wore Donna Karan, so I started DKNY for her. But before that, she had to wear Donna Karan. She used to rob my closet!” Then she went on to say, “I just opened my spring collection from Urban Zen. It’s buy now, so it’s not ahead of season, it’s in season. And that’s something I feel really strongly about. For the customer to be able to buy in the current season.”

Presenters included Whoop Goldberg, Susan Plagemann of Vogue, and Mike Milken. Other Winners included Neiman Marcus for Retailer of the Year, UGG Australia for Footwear of the Year, and Ruben & Isabel Toledo for Fashion Maverick. See full details about the annual American Image Awards and The Apparel and Footwear Association here.

DKNY’s Short Films; Vogue’s Indie Rock Obsession

From Karl Lagerfeld for Chanel to David Lynch for Dior, there is no shortage of fashion brands making films these days. Now Donna Karan is following suit. Women’s Wear Daily says, Karan’s enlisted “the help of Kelly Cutrone and creative agency, All Day Everyday—[and] is launching a short film to promote the designer’s Eldridge bag.” The film is shot by Jake Sumner (scion of Sting and Trudie Styler) and stars Christina Ricci. And it won’t be the only film from Karan and Cutrone this year.

Karan chose director Kai Regan to film a spot featuring 14 models wearing DKNY’s Cozy sweater in different ways while marching around NYC to the sound of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs’ “Heads Will Roll.” In its upcoming January issue, Vogue appears to have caught the indie rock bug as well. Included in the Steven Meisel photographed feature are rockers like Vampire Weekend, Beirut, MGMT, Golden Silvers, the Horrors, and Adam Green. The only model in the mix is Sasha Pivarova. Given the fact that this is also the issue in which Vogue highlights seven different fashion bloggers, it’s interesting to see the magazine focusing on such young talents. Perhaps the rag that’s felt stale for months is finally looking to freshen up and revamp its image.

W2W2: What to Wear to Avenue, New York’s Newest Toast to the Good Life

The Spot: Avenue (Chelsea) – New lounge from Marquee mandarins and soon, your Friday night excuse to get dolled up in your most painful pumps and be seen.

Patron Saint of Style: Scarlett Johansson, with curves that are the epitome of glamor, she is now the official face of poppin’ bottles. Her newest advertising deal with Moët Chandon (pictured) means the mini Marilyn Monroe shall forever be synonymous with the luxe life.

Ambiance: We’re not sure, but from the looks of it, not a lot of dancing, which means a lot of posing and posturing from the bottle-buying set. The latest addition to the Chelsea club family, the usual preened and primped bottle models shall do their kin right, toss on their latest Bebe or Versace dress that daddy bought (sugar- or biological), slather up with their scented sparkly self-tanner, and help each other finish the booze. Strappy super-tall pumps to compete with the other models, platforms laced at the ankle to keep from teetering off the tabletop. Feet will hurt, and hurt bad, but that is the price to pay when you aren’t paying for drinks, ladies. Cut out mini-dresses, cleavage-baring tops. and shiny baubles should match your glass of champagne and get you in the front door.

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The Look: Scarlett only needs a bottle of Moët to look party-ready, and by the end of the night that’s probably all you’ll be wearing too. But before then, you’ll need clubland’s best. Body-conscious dresses in touchable fabrics take center stage, though not to upstage the real star of this event: skin, and lots of it. Mini-hems, strapless cuts, and off-the-shoulder straps that should keep slipping off the shoulder with every sip. Heels sturdy enough to dance drunkenly with the girls to the newest Kelly Clarkson remix, and fashionable enough to feel comfortable posing on the benches. Tiny clutches with intricate details will show off the logo and are small enough lug to the after-party. The color palette should complement your skin tone (since there will be so much of it) and match the club’s interior: burnished gold, bronze, and flecks of green, which also happens to be the colors of money.

Get the Avenue Look: Clockwise from left: ● Ring: Tiger Eye, House of Harlow 1960 (available at Kitson) – $48 ● Necklace: Long Snake Chain, Martin Grant (available at Saks 5th Avenue) – $795 ● Dress: Bow-front bustier, Moschino Cheap & Chic (available at Saks 5th Avenue) – $333 ● Dress: Cut Out Dress, Alexander Wang (available at Oak) – $565 ● Platforms: Studded strappy shoes Burberry ● Sandals: Platform Sandal Donna Karan – $589.95$ ● Clutch: Logo Clutch Tory Burch – $275 ● Ring: Green Headlight Ring Kenneth Jay Lane, (available at Macy’s) – $58