Dutch Supermodel Lara Stone Stars in the New Mercedes-Benz Key Visual

Now that the fall/winter 2012 season of Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week is nearly a month away (seriously, where does the time go?), Mercedes-Benz has revealed their latest "Icon of Style" campaign, shot by photographer Alex Prager. The key visual will debut during MBFW, and stars two very attractive subjects: Dutch supermodel Lara Stone, and the luxury vehicle manufacturer’s new SL Roadster.

Known for her thought-provoking cinematic imagery, Prager created a 21st century version of a classic film noir scene by having Stone pose as a Hitchcock blonde that overcomes fear as she outpaces a tornado. Stone dons a dress designed by Francisco Costa for Calvin Klein Collection that is meant to reflect the same timeless elegance as the subject’s getaway vehicle. See more images and bonus behind-the-scenes footage from the shoot here.

Carine Roitfeld, Opening Ceremony: NYFWeekend Party Recap

Thank (or blame) the unpredictable weather, but there’s something in the air this season that has triggered a delicious wickedness on the fashion week scene. The last 72 hours have been filled with both innovative fashion and late-night debauchery, which is always a welcomed mix in my book. From Maison Martin Margiela’s spacey sportswear presentation to Carine Roitfeld’s ultra elite magazine bash attended by fashion influencers like Karlie Kloss, Derek Blasberg and Karen Elson (pictured), read on for the weekend’s highlights.

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Friday belonged to the It girls, and kicked off with Rebecca Minkoff‘s bash at Gramercy Park Hotel’s Rose Bar. Rowdy partygoers packed in like sardines to sip on custom Belvedere Vodka libations and sway to the sounds of celebrity mix master DJ Cassidy. Nasty Gal‘s fête at The Westway was equally electric, as notables like Theophilus London popped by to watch Blood Orange perform and to congratulate the e-tailer on the launch of their shiny new magazine, Super Nasty.

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Saturday started with a next-level presentation by MM6 Maison Martin Margiela, chock-full of inventive (and, at times, intergalactic) garments with athletic influence. Speaking of space, 2011 Dorchester Collection Fashion Prize winners Anndra Neen delivered an out-of-this-world collection of sleek geometric jewelry that paired well with the chic TOME pantsuits worn by the models (pictured). Watch a trippy Viddy I created for the show here.

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While there were tons of parties on Saturday night, the party to be seen at was former French Vogue editor Carine Roitfeld’s CR Fashion Book bash presented by Mercedes-Benz. Held at the super swank The Frick Collection art museum, Ms. Roitfeld danced into her party with a hot male model in tow. To kick the exclusivity up a notch, a fleet of Mercedes Benz G-Class vehicles monogrammed with the CR initials transported guests to the event and were showcased in front of the venue. Advanced copies of the magazine, which will not be out until this Thursday, were available inside the cars for guests like Anna Dello Russo (pictured) to preview.

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After the CR hangover subsided (the Roitfeld really family knows how to party), I stopped by the Illesteva presentation at Milk Studios, which included a lively jazz dance performance paired with the eyewear label’s covetable offerings. Then it was off to Asher Levine‘s show at Pier 81 to witness a range of exquisitely experimental looks with utilitarian appeal (pictured). Guests like Jared Leto and Dr. Lisa Airan enjoyed an on-runway performance by up-and-coming rapper, LE1F with Don Jones featuring Mess Kid. Designer-turned-pioneering unisex couturist Rad Hourani also showed that day, offering more of his signature transformative pieces with the cleanest of lines.

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To cap an exceptionally wild weekend, Opening Ceremony threw a massive four-story rager at Webster Hall to celebrate their 10-year anniversary. Everyone from Erin Wasson to Paris Hilton partied down until the wee hours, taking full advantage of the SVEDKA Vodka flowing, as well as the retro club bangers and ghetto gothic beats booming on multiple dance floors. Monday never hurt so good.

A Chat with Lara Stone & Alex Prager at the Mercedes-Benz Star Lounge

Yesterday, Dutch supermodel Lara Stone (pictured) and visionary photographer Alex Prager graced the Mercedes-Benz Star Lounge to toast the launch of their Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week key visual. The striking image features a Calvin Klein Collection-clad Stone posing alongside the brand’s new SL Roadster amidst a surrealist setting akin to an Alfred Hitchcock film. Given that this is one of our favorite MBFW key visual’s yet, we sat down with Stone and Prager to learn more about the collab.

BLACKBOOK: Lara, were you familiar with Alex’s work prior to this project?
LARA STONE: Coincidentally, right when we started talking about this job, I received a catalog in the post about a photography auction and Alex’s photos happened to be in it. I was like, "Oh my god, that’s the same person!" It made me even more excited to work with her.

It was meant to be! Alex, what inspired the Alfred Hitchcock theme?
ALEX PRAGER: I feel like the ideas came together organicially. When I found out that Lara was going to be the model, my mind instantly went to Hitchcock because Lara has a strong presence and beauty that embodies the classic lead woman."

Did you have any involvement in selecting the Calvin Klein Collection looks?
AP: We had alot of people involved in selecting the clothing, but I definitely got in there to express my opinion. I thought certain shapes were really important to incorporate and tie into the story we were going for. I wanted dresses that would look beautiful when lifted up and blown into the air, so thankfully Calvin Klein has lots of different shapes to choose from." 

Lara, did anything crazy happen to you on set?
LS: Actually, during the ending bit I got quite sick from being spun in the air too much. I was saying "Oww stop!" but nobody could hear because the wind machine was so loud. [Laughs] So yes, I got spun around a bit too long, but in the end it was worth it because the images turned out really great.

Timo Weiland & Lady Grey Go Post-Punk for Fall 2012

Timo Weiland recently revealed his latest cool-kid collection at Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week, which was heavily inspired by New York’s ’90s grunge and post punk movement. heavy metal adornments by Sabine Le Guyader and Jill Martinelli of cult-favorite jewelry label, Lady Grey.

Guyader and Martinelli’s designs for the show paired perfectly with Weiland’s edgy looks and featured badass pieces like mesh chokers layered with thick chains, knuckle rings, watchband-style bracelets in oxidized silver, and cage-style earrings that hug the earlobe. Totally ’90s.

Timo Weiland & Lady Grey Go Post-Punk for Fall 2012

Timo Weiland recently revealed his latest cool-kid collection at Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week, which was heavily inspired by New York’s ’90s grunge and post punk movement. heavy metal adornments by Sabine Le Guyader and Jill Martinelli of cult-favorite jewelry label, Lady Grey.

Guyader and Martinelli’s designs for the show paired perfectly with Weiland’s edgy looks and featured badass pieces like mesh chokers layered with thick chains, knuckle rings, watchband-style bracelets in oxidized silver, and cage-style earrings that hug the earlobe. Totally ’90s.

Timo Weiland & Lady Grey Go Post-Punk for Fall 2012

Timo Weiland recently revealed his latest cool-kid collection at Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week, which was heavily inspired by New York’s ’90s grunge and post punk movement. heavy metal adornments by Sabine Le Guyader and Jill Martinelli of cult-favorite jewelry label, Lady Grey

Guyader and Martinelli’s designs for the show paired perfectly with Weiland’s edgy looks and featured badass pieces like mesh chokers layered with thick chains, knuckle rings, watchband-style bracelets in oxidized silver, and cage-style earrings that hug the earlobe. Totally ’90s. 

Fine Art, Beer Flights, and Farm Food in Roanoke, Virginia

It was July 4 weekend and I craved a proper American road trip. Mercedes-Benz gave me the use of a 2013 ML550 SUV–the ultimate road trip machine–and my wife, Jenn, and I decided to take a scenic drive to test it out properly. And so we left New York in the rear-view mirror and pointed the GPS to Roanoke, Virginia. 

Why Roanoke?

"Why Roanoke?" was a question we’d hear frequently during our trip, particularly from people in Roanoke after they found out we’d driven there from New York, and that we weren’t on our way to somewhere else. "What are you doing here?" they’d say. Having fun, man. Lots of fun. We’d heard good things about Roanoke’s pretty location in the Blue Ridge Mountains, as well as its great museums, innovative restaurants, and delicious beer. What else does anybody need? Also, it used to be called Big Lick, because there was a big outcropping of salt nearby that used to draw animals. 

Roanoke Car

Chill Car

The word for the ML550 is chill. Chill, as in the wonderful chill of an air conditioner that welcomes you with a blast of cold on a sweltering 97-degree day in Brooklyn. Chill like the relaxing, well-appointed interior, with leather seats, intuitive controls, and an all-around firmness that silences outside noise with a satisfying slam of the door. Chill like the Chill channel on Sirius-XM radio, which was playing when I first climbed into the drivers seat, pumping out that laidback, downtempo techno reminiscent of Washington, D.C.’s Thievery Corporation, Cafe del Mar in Ibiza, and the Fendi Casa at Biras Creek on Virgin Gorda. Rich people techno. High design music. 

It drives chill too, smooth as silk for an SUV that can handle all manner of off-road scenarios, with nice directions from the woman inside the navigation system, who not only guided us to our destinations, but alerted me to traffic jams and suggested alternate routes. Oh yeah: the powered seat that helped me stay comfy in stop-and-go traffic: super chill. The remote-operated lift gate door that both opened and closed with a touch of the key fob: chilly chill. 

I can’t really use the word chill for the car’s handling, though. It was quick, agile, and responsive. It zoomed up highway on-ramps without a problem, and the brakes grabbed quickly when someone stopped short in front of me. When we noticed the driver of a Toyota next to us writing out a shopping list with a pen and paper while cruising at 75 mph on the New Jersey Turnpike and drifting dangerously toward us–yes this really happened–that beautiful Mercedes got us the hell out of the way, fast. I loved the car, and can’t imagine a nicer SUV. What else could you add, besides gold and diamonds?

Chill Hotel Room

Okay, the other reason we went to Roanoke is because I had some Starpoints on my SPG American Express Card that I wanted to cash in for a hotel room. So I searched for Starwood hotels in Virginia, came upon the Sheraton Roanoke, and made a phone call.  The drive to Roanoke was great: sunny, clear, and marked by Civil War battlefields, farms, and cows. At 4pm we cheerfully checked into our room on the club floor of the Sheraton Roanoke. The A/C was cranked up pretty high–it was a sweltering weekend–and all the furnishings were in mellow earth tones–a perfect spot to chill out. We needed it.

I turned on the TV and the surprisingly-good-for-being-a-nonstop-commercial Starwood Preferred Guest channel greeted us with information about golf outings in Scotland, desert treks in the Middle East, and chef tours with Jose Andres. And it had that music: more of that chilled-out, downbeat techno that all the cool rich people seem to listen to when they wear sunglasses and don’t smile. I love rock ‘n’ roll, but there’s nothing like the chill channel when you’re trying to beat the heat. 

And so we began our mini-vacation. 

The Hotel

The Sheraton Roanoke is clean, efficient, and well-appointed. It’s not the coolest hotel in the Starwood portfolio (look to the W brand for that), but it’s not entirely dorky either. We popped into Shula’s restaurant for appetizers and drinks, and were impressed by the beer menu. Starwood hotels seem to understand the importance of good beer to travelers like us. We ordered Dominion Oak Barrel Stout, which is rated 99 by the brothers of Beer Advocate.

Roanoke Jack Browne's

The Town

We weren’t sure what to make of Roanoke at first. Downtown seemed kind of dead for the 4th of July, and lots of places were closed, but we parked the car and walked around and found ourselves bending elbows in Jack Browne’s Beer & Burger Joint and watching Joey Chestnut crush the competition at the Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest back in New York. (He downed 69 dogs.) We drank weird beers (Fraoch Heather Ale, among others) and ate a well-made burger with sweet potato fries. The place was tight, the music was pumping, the crowd was laid back, friendly, and cool, and we made ourselves comfortable for a while. It’s the kind of place where the decor consists mostly of license plates, bumper stickers, and bras, and we liked it.

We could see fireworks on our drive back to the hotel (I was sober) and caught the rest of them from our balcony. 

The Star

Friday morning we drove up Mill Mountain to The Star, the largest freestanding illuminated man-made star in the world. The Roanoke Star is one of the city’s claims to fame, and it’s fun and easy to visit. There are nature trails and picnic tables and two viewing platforms. The view of the city and its surrounding mountains is impressive. It’s a good place to appreciate those lower, older east coast mountains, if you’re used to jagged western peaks. Yes, our mountains are shorter, but they have wisdom.

The Flight

The Flight

After a grueling quarter-mile hike, we had a flight of beers and some salads at Fork in the Market in town, which was exactly what we were hoping for. Friendly waitress, good food, great beer, and awesome air conditioning. I wrote down the names of the beers we sampled: Starr Hill The Love, Breckenridge Avalanche, Breckenridge Summer Bright, and Devil’s BackBone Vienna Lager. When you have an opportunity to order a flight of beers, you should always do it. Everything should come in flight form. 

Roanoke Taubman

The Culture

Culturally, Roanoke rocks. There are a bunch of museums in town, with many exhibits dedicated to the railroad industry, since locomotives and rail cars were once built here. It was a visit to the Taubman Museum of Art, though, that made me realize that Roanoke punches well above its weight in culture. The Taubman occupies a $66 million building that looks like the Guggenheim Bilbao, which makes sense because its architect, Randall Stout, worked for Frank. O. Gehry and Associates. So it’s a really funky-looking place, and it’s filled with world class art.

Its focus is on American art, particularly artists from Western Virginia and the Appalachian region, and has works by Thomas Eakins and Winslow Homer on display. Even the most critical art snob will love it. It felt like we were visiting the MoMA, but with far fewer people bumping into us. And admission is free, courtesy of Advance Auto Parts (everything in Roanoke is sponsored by somebody). If you want to drop some money in one of the donation boxes, use the one near the entrance so the staff can appreciate your benevolence and you can bask in their admiring glow. 

The Market

We bought some granola cookies from a dude at the outdoor farmers market. We don’t know if he was actually a farmer, but the cookies were good.

Roanoke Market and Museum

The Center

We went to Center in the Square, a multi-use cultural center in the middle of town, complete with theater, museums, and aquarium. A docent there asked us where we were from, and what we were doing there. We chatted for a while, and he told us to go up to the roof, so we did. The roof was awesome, with benches, a garden, a koi pond with a waterfall, and 360-degree views of the mountains, railroad, town, and massive Wells Fargo building. If it was in New York it would be a $15 million roof. Nicely done, Roanoke roof renovators.

The Pool

That afternoon I kicked around in the hotel swimming pool as Jenn sat in the sun and read Time Out New York‘s Chinatown issue. There were lots of kids in the pool. I made sure to shower before dinner.

Roanoke Local Roots

SOLE Food

We didn’t eat at every restaurant in town, but I’m still confident in saying Local Roots is one of the best. It serves S.O.L.E. food: Sustainable, Organic, Local, Ethical, and it’s big on the farm-to-table concept. It was so good that I’m surprised some New York Times reporter hasn’t already swooped in and made it the next big thing, like the Catbird Seat in Nashville. The atmosphere at Local Roots is rustic and nice, with lots of wood and plenty of local art, but the food’s just amazing. Jenn and I agreed that you could really taste the farm freshness, especially in the chilled pea soup I ordered. The peas just popped, like POW, in my mouth. The "textures of beats" appetizer was sublime, and looked nothing like we expected–it was stacked like a Big Mac. For mains, Jenn ordered farm-raised Virginia Pompano, while I got the Samnana Farm St. Croix Lamb Pasta. And so, road tripping foodies from New York and beyond, set your GPS for 1314 Grandin Rd. SW, Roanoke. You’ll totally dig it. Great beers too. 

The Lowdown

We had a great time in Roanoke, and while it’s probably not on every New Yorker’s road trip fantasy list, it should be. It’s easy to get to, and there are plenty of cushy amenities for those who can’t live without high-threadcount sheets and good coffee. It would be worth it just for the trifecta of Jack Browne’s, the Taubman Museum, and Local Roots. But even just for wandering, the downtown area has a great mix of historical and modern, and the people are awfully friendly.  If I didn’t have to return the car we might have stayed longer, but it’s healthy to push away from the table while you’re still a little hungry. We’ll be back again someday, Roanoke.

[More by Victor Ozols; Follow me on Twitter

Super Stylist Danielle Nachmani on Joining ‘House of Mercedes-Benz’ Fashion Week

It’s about that time again. To kick off the fall/winter 2013 season of Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week, the luxury vehicle manufacturer has announced an exciting new feature in the lobby of Lincoln Center. Celebrating the relationship between cars and clothes, "House of Mercedes-Benz" Fashion Week will feature a showcase of two new rides—the ready-to-wear-inspired CLA-Class and the haute couture-like SLS AMG Black Series—complemented by two corresponding mannequins styled celebrity stylist Danielle Nachmani. Here, Nachmani shares more about the new gig, advice to future stylists and her "incredibly intimidating" experience working with Mary-Kate Olsen.

How did your collaboration with Mercedes-Benz come about?
"When Mercedes-Benz reached out to me to style looks within the House of Mercedes-Benz display, I was immediately intrigued due to the strong tie Mercedes-Benz has with the fashion world. I’m excited to lend my styling expertise to create looks that speak to both of the beautiful vehicles on display."
 
What is your earliest fashion memory and when did you know that you wanted to be a stylist?
"Fashion has always been in my life, my parents were incredibly influential for me in regards to style. 
However a moment that made me realize this was my career was my High Schools Fashion Show I insisted that there needed to be a stylist and a day before the show when all the looks were complete I was called into the principles office for the first time ever and was scolded for my styling choices and told "this isn’t manhattan miss nachmani" It was then I realized that my styling choices evoked a reaction and it was definitely a sign to move forward in pursuing a career of styling. Not that the principle of my high school was remotely a barometer of taste."
 
Who was the first celeb you ever styled and what was that experience like? 
"I had the opportunity for my first job as a stylist to work with Mary-Kate Olsen for her 2009 appearance at the Met Ball.  It was incredibly intimidating but ultimately very rewarding since I valued and respected her opinion so much. To date its one of my most favorite red carpet moments."
 
What’s your top advice for anyone looking to break into the industry?
"Intern, intern, intern! Obviously the industry has changed drastically as anyone with a computer and internet can become a "Stylist" but what I always loved about the industry was the process of working your way up and knowing your superiors had been through the same. Obviously that has changed but at the end of the day kindness and hard work no matter how menial the task will get you very far , you never know whose watching you."

Things You Should Include in a Super Bowl Ad To Make It Not Terrible

Super Bowl 47 is behind us, Ray Lewis will take the field nevermore, Beyoncé and Destiny’s Child (briefly) awed, wings were consumed and the field of multimillion-dollar commercials sported a whole lot of mediocre offerings. At their best, the ads will be memes maybe through the rest of the week, at their worst; they were sexist or overly pandering. Taco Bell went with the cliché old-people-gone-wild approach. Dodge will probably get a lot of people talking about the “God Made A Farmer” spot, which, though beautifully done, making a very important point and featuring the beautiful, clear ringing voice of Paul Harvey, felt cheap and pandering at the end when it became about the truck. Also, it’s been done, and not as a car commercial.

And then there was the usual glut of gross, objectifying ads, which it’s sad that I even have to say “usual glut of gross, objectifying ads” in 2013 or at all, including Audi calling assaulting a woman “brave,” Axe Body Spray continuing to corner the douche market and GoDaddy surprising no one. Why do you actively want to pay lots of money to continue to be the absolute worst in front of millions of people, GoDaddy? Why?  It is 2013, there have been 47 Super Bowls, ads objectifying women and excusing sexual assault are a part of our collective largest cultural event and an expectation, and advertisers should know better than that. We can do better.

That said, not every Super Bowl commercial was completely terrible. Here are some things people put in their commercials that made them entertaining or effective without being sexist or cheapening an important point. See you next year.

I. Staged fights in unlikely places.

Not much to say about this one other than the Oreo library brawl commercial was the first ad of the whole night that I didn’t flat-out hate. There’s still a place for slapstick, and it’s a pretty typical device for Super Bowl spots, but it worked here.

II. Stars from recently departed or on-their-way-out NBC comedies.

Nothing like watching the soul-crushing circle-jerk of CBS touting their “most watched” status during the breaks thanks to awful, unfunny sitcoms like Two-and-a-Half Men and 2 Broke Girls to make you want to watch the programming of pretty much any other network.  Appropriately enough, two of the funniest ads of the night came from stars from NBC’s Thursday night lineup, the first in which National Treasure Amy Poehler made jokes about the word “dongle” for Best Buy and Twitter went crazy because Amy Poehler.

And then, for Americans still mourning the loss of 30 Rock, Tracy Morgan essentially reprised Tracy Jordan / played himself in a brief tribute to American ingenuity for Mio Fit sports drinks. “We didn’t like the shape of our chickens so we made them into nuggets!”

III. Baby pandas in spacesuits. 

This Kia Sorrento commercial that responded to “where do babies come from?” was a bit bizarre, but it did have smiling baby pandas in spacesuits, which is certainly an upgrade from those weird E-Trade talking baby commercials that dominated the space for a while. We’re moving up, people.

IV. “Landslide.”

The Budweiser Clydesdales have become as synonymous with the Super Bowl as the Lombardi trophy and Buffalo wings, so expectations (at least among people who pay attention to advertising things) are pretty high. Like many hyperemotional Super Bowl ads, this one was cheesy and using our emotions to sell us stuff, but it included two of the most wonderful and effective tug-at-the-heartstrings devices: interspecies friendships and “Landslide.” Mostly “Landslide.” For real, you could set one of those terrible Axe body spray commercials to “Landslide” and it would seem like there was actually a soul present in it.

V. Leon Sandcastle.

A lot of the ads about football during a football game were hokey or overdone, but Deion Sanders’ goofy “Leon Sandcastle” spot, wherein the NFL Network lampooned the hype machine it creates, was fun.

VI. Willem Dafoe as Satan.

Like most car commercials throughout the evening, the “Soul” spot for Mercedes-Benz was kind of dumb, but “Sympathy for the Devil” and a smirking Dafoe redeemed it. Someone needs to make a movie wherein Willem Dafoe plays the Devil. He’s already played Jesus. It only makes sense.