Monday, September 28, 2009

Alber Elbaz Speaks at UNESCO

“Do you know anyone who wants to be a seamstress? Do you know anyone who wants to be a tailor? I don’t, either. But I do know many people who want to be models, and not only models, but supermodels. This is the game today: Be famous, and do it really, really fast.”

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Friday, September 25, 2009

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Preview Dolce & Gabbana Spring/Summer 2010


The D&G Women's collection for Summer 2010, inspired by the British woman, elaborates the classic cowboy wardrobe in order to dress urban cowgirls. Suede and perforated leather was used with romantic white lace, chiffon and Mickey or Minnie Mouse printed

Runway Now or Later?

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Best of the Rest: Top London Shows Of the Week

By Erin Donnelly for

Time to bust out the aspirin and throw on our "I Survived Fashion Week" T-shirt. As London Fashion Week comes to an end, we reflect on a memorable season that gave us a bridal Dree Hemingway at Henry Holland, a Flintstones acid trip at Jeremy Scott, and enough Geldof sister sightings to last us a century. We've already recapped the best shows from the weekend, but the following shows from Monday and Tuesday also provided plenty of lusting—and here's the cream of the crumpet.

Burberry Prorsum


The classic Brit label's much-anticipated return to the motherland didn't disappoint, and neither did the front row lineup consisting of Gwyneth Paltrow, Victoria Beckham, and Mary-Kate Olsen. Sticking to spring's popular neutrals with shots of pistachio, lilac, lemongrass, butter yellow, icy blue, and baby pink, Christopher Bailey delivered gorgeously draped skirts and dresses mixed with belted cardigans and glimmering tops. The iconic Burberry trench, meanwhile, got a more youthful and feminine revamping thanks to a slimmer and sleeker cut and ultra-glam ruched and metallic details. Please, sir, can we have some more?

Images from

Peter Pilotto


The explosive prints we've come to associate with Peter Pilotto seemed more sublime and sophisticated this season. Our hearts yearned for the fitted orange- and blue-flecked snakeskin trench that kicked off the show, along with graphic print tops and frocks generated by images of fireworks (how's that for explosive?). A moody palette of silvery grays and blues blended seamlessly with more intense hues, once again providing the perfect antidote to the standard little black dress. If we can get our hands on some snakeskin pants, we'll be happy campers come spring.

Images from

Christopher Kane


Move over, Dorothy. Gingham (yes, gingham) got its fashion groove back thanks to a series of easy day-to-night dresses featuring pleats, well-placed slits and cutouts, sheer panels, and sexy bustier-style details. Kane's palette of navy, white, chocolate brown, robin's egg blue, and pale pink felt just right for spring, especially when paired with an antiquey rose print. Though as a whole the collection felt sweet and dainty, gals can find street-smart and sophisticated looks to chew on, too.

Images from

Josh Goot


Goot's autumn/winter 2009 collection was one of our favorites from last season, and it's reassuring to see that the Australian designer hasn't lost his momentum. One of the most vibrant collections of the season, Goot's spring line showcased an '80s-esque, beachy kaleidoscope of scarlet, orange, turquoise, candy pink, lime green, and peach mixed in with black and white polka dots. Think Pucci, but younger and juicier.

Images from

Jonathan Saunders


The little white dress is a perennial spring staple, and one with endless opportunities for reinterpretation. That's just what Saunders did for his spring 2010 collection, showcasing airy but edgy pale frocks bisected by sheer cutouts and smeared with screen-printed streaks of color. Saunders' knack for color blocking also reared its head, resulting in a perfectly lovely one-shoulder minidress split into taupe, pale blue, cream, and the petal-pink panels.

Images from

Five minutes with Max Osterweis (another Mrs. Obama fave)

By Sarah Haight from "W Editor's Blog"

Portrait: Sarah Elliott
Count Max Osterweis among the handful of young designers whose careers have been kick-started by Michelle Obama. The San Francisco native and former screenwriter, 34, started his clothing line, Suno, last year, a culmination of many years of travel to Kenya's Lamu Island, where his mother has a retreat ("she went on a safari and didn't come home," says Osterweis, who named the line after his mom). Using traditional Kenyan textiles and local seamstresses, Osterweis has created an ethnic and entirely modern collection. The basis of the line is the fabric—the bolts of printed cloth called kangas—which African women buy in pairs to wear, for instance, as a dress and baby-sling, or a skirt and headscarf, even as pajamas that they share with their partners. One of those kangas, made into a blouse, turned up on the First Lady at an event in his hometown last spring.

You worked in film up until about two years ago—how did you make the leap to designer?

The first time I went to Kenya I just started collecting them. I was thinking about making some skirts and dresses for my girlfriend, who had seen the kangas. I said, "Oh, yeah I'll make you something," but never got around to it. And then I was thinking about doing something in Kenya and the post- election violence in 2007. I think that at a certain point when I thought about making 50 or 60 dresses for friends, it turned out that it was going to cost me a lot of money. So I thought maybe I should make 150 of them and sell half of them. And then, it still didn't make any sort of financial sense, so I thought, I should actually take a leap and try and start a business. I'd just finished working on a script, and had some time on my hands.

A Look from Suno fall 2009.
What has been the biggest challenge?

There are lots. Initially we used two little workshops [in Kenya]... and [one] didn't have a generator, there were regular power outages. So made the decision to turn that workshop into a cutting factory. The other workshop was started by an Irishwoman who had been a costumer for the Royal Opera in London. She married a man in Kenya and moved there and started training tailors the day she got there. Since we started with her, she's now built a second workshop on her grounds to accommodate us and has more than doubled her workforce.

These kangas have sayings written on them, correct?

An aphorism—usually about social or sexual politics. And women will buy them based on the aphorism, rather than the print. Like... "There's a new hen in town, watch your roosters." And one I chose for Spring 2010 is, "A ripe mango is best eaten slowly." So they're usually messages from women to men, or from women to other women, and in Swahili.

Who are the people behind these aphorisms?

I think they're mostly men. Because I have yet to meet a female factory owner for kangas.

Michelle Obama wore one of your shirts this spring—was that a surprise?

Well, we brought the collection to Paris during the shows in February, and Ikram [Goldman of Chicago's Ikram] happened to be a friend of a very good friend of mine, so she came over to dinner. And we happened to have the collection sitting on my front couch. Ikram bought a bunch of stuff, right then and there.

So Michelle has a couple of your designs?

At this point, as far as I know, she's worn one piece. But I know [Michelle] bought 5 pieces [from Ikram], and I didn't know that until she'd actually worn something. It was kind of wonderful.

Kimberly White/GettyImages

Burberry Prorsum

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Friday, September 18, 2009

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

In N.Y., Cheesecloth And A Scaled-Back Fashion Week

Charlotte Ronson S/S '10


Sally Singer, the fashion news and features editor of Vogue, has been taking in the scene at New York's Fashion Week, and while she tells Renee Montagne that she hasn't seen a direct manifestation of our current economic climate, she has noticed a few key differences on the runway this year.
"Designers are trying to figure out what will motivate their customers and new customers to shop," she says. For some designers, this means playing to their core strengths by creating basic, "reassuring clothes that look like real clothes." Other designers, meanwhile, take the opposite approach, creating clothes that seek to "do something fabulous" and "have the shock of the new." Singer notes that designers have also been scaling back by turning to "humble fabrics," including linens, T-shirt jersey and even cheesecloth, which, she explains, "used to be used in a lot of Hollywood costuming."

She adds that the designs on display in New York tend to mix style and utility. Case in point: She's seeing fewer "skyscraper" heels and more shoes that will allow their wearers to move efficiently though the city.

Cynthia Rowley S/S'10 (PHOTO: LOUIS LAZANO)

"I'm always looking to see where our lifestyles are going, and how fashion is going to go there first and get us there. ... Right now, a kind of efficient approach to dressing with some humor to it and with ... a shoe that doesn't kill you to walk in is a very, very good thing," she says.

Overall, Singer says she's noticed a "slight contraction" on the scope of the media circus that is New York's Fashion Week: "I don't know if that's because in this economy it's expensive and ill-advised for designers to mount the shows of the kind of scale that they used to do, or if they've realized that it doesn't get them that much.

"The question of whether the runway shows are worth the effort, the time and, more importantly, the money is something that designers are openly talking about," she says.

Narciso Rodriguez, Split From Liz Claiborne, Delivers Delightful Collection


Divorce suits Narciso Rodriguez.

Split from the corporate demands of his former partner Liz Claiborne Inc, the designer delivered a delightful collection of summery linen and silk that looked both elegant and comfortable - sometimes a rare combination. The colors were mostly neutrals or black, with silhouettes that seemed aimed at flattering a host of corporal flaws. For instance, deceptively simple dresses billowed with volume after tapering slightly just above the waist. That leaves the actual waist and tummy to the imagination. Tricky.

Those dresses recalled the simplicity of the bias-cut silk wedding gown he created for Carolyn Bissette Kennedy. Yet the collection covered everything from the office to a garden party and the symphony, including several well-tailored jackets.

Silk prints - an important trend for the spring season - were intriguing. Some looked like close-ups of veiny leaves, either covered with transparent film, or interspersed with transparent panels.

It’s hard to find anything to criticize in this lovely collection. Except the guest list. Among the invited stars -Jessica Alba, Isabel Toledo - was Courtney Love. The onetime rock star , her dress partly unzipped in back and her eyes shiny, talked animatedly, waving her arms and ruffling her hair, during the entire show from her front row seat. . .

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

A Movie Reveals a Lot by Eliminating the Fashion

Published: September 14, 2009

Circus nerves, double-dealing, lies, roiling emotions, risible politics and backstage murder are all in a fashion day’s work. (Well, maybe not the murder part.) And part of the appeal of “Rage,” a new film by the British director Sally Potter, best known for the 1992 film “Orlando,” is the way it manages to convey the tense minimalist theater of a fashion show without ever depicting one.

Made on a shoestring budget and starring an array of above-the-title actors, “Rage” (the title truncates “all the rage,” a phrase no one in fashion is likely to have uttered since the 1920s) may ultimately be less interesting for its cast than for its formal conceits and its distribution plan.

Ms. Potter shot “Rage” herself, as if on a cellphone, framing the actors against a green screen in a series of monologues featuring Jude Law (in drag as a female model named Minx); Judi Dench (as a fashion critic who smokes a spliff: as if!); Eddie Izzard; John Leguizamo; Steve Buscemi; and the real-life catwalk star Lily Cole (in a turn as a fictitious model called, of all things, Lettuce Leaf).

The movie’s release comes just after the close of New York Fashion Week, as the fashion carnival moves on to London, Milan and Paris. It will be released first on mobile applications, via the Web video service Babelgum, beginning on Sept. 21, before arriving in theaters soon after.

“I don’t believe Sally conceived of this film as something that would be seen on a mobile phone or online,” said Karol Martesko-Fenster, who oversees film content for Babelgum (which has a business agreement with The New York Times Company to run Times video content on Babelgum’s site). It just happened, he added, that she made a film adapted perfectly to the changing ways that “people are consuming narrative.”

Shot as if backstage at a fashion show, over a week of interviews, “Rage” centers on the death of two models under mysterious circumstances and renders a critique of fashion neatly synopsized in the Variety review: “The point seems to be that fashion wrecks lives, if not by actually killing anyone, then by inducing body dysmorphia, exploiting textile workers and turning everyone else in the biz into twisted, shallow idiots.”

The most curious thing about “Rage” and, for that matter, most movies with fashion as their subject, is its reflexive distaste for the industry. Plenty of filmmakers have taken a whack at parodying fashion. Some have scored humorous points off its silliness. (The more often one watches the comedy “Zoolander,” the more it seems like documentary.)

Fashion has no corner on the market in twisted, shallow idiots, as the banking crisis made clear. But with the possible exception of Matt Tyrnauer’s fine documentary, “Valentino: The Last Emperor,” few films have managed to penetrate its surface, preferring to “expose” the superficiality of fashion with a superior sneer.

The article continues at

Marc Jacob Trades 80's Glamazon for Frilly Geishas

Sophie Theallet’s Un-Trendy Fashion

By Christina Binkley for Heard on the Runway,

If you haven’t heard of Sophie Theallet, don’t blame yourself. She produces a finely sewn line of clothes – all in New York, although she is French. Her samples are created in her New York apartment, with the help of her husband and one seamstress. That’s leaner than Jason Wu’s team.

Yet Ms. Theallet is worth watching because her designs go their own flattering, feminine way, rather than the way of the latest modes. “It’s not trend. My fashion is not trendy, I’m sorry,” Ms. Theallet said shyly before her show on Monday afternoon.

Hers was a collection of summery dresses inspired by Moroccan mosaics and kilims. There was a stunning off-shoulder blouse with silk chiffon over one shoulder and a burnt-orange ink blot, which I believe was actually a baobab tree, in the center.

Two simply chic shirt dresses, one in cream, the other in mauve, were office ready and would travel well.

Ms. Theallet has worked to bring her prices down by about 30% this season (one store owner I spoke with said she had dropped the designer in the past because of high prices, and is now considering placing orders) by choosing fabrics carefully. One black dress was made with the silk that is often used as lining.

Backstage at Sophie Theallet

Monday, September 14, 2009


A Varied Skyline Enlivens the View

By Cathy Horyn
Published: September 13, 2009 in The New York Times

The soaring tensile designs of architecture increasingly find an expression in fashion, especially by young designers. There are the street aesthetes like Alexander Wang, whose game is to manipulate classics. But others see grids and transparent openings, as if trying to match the form of a new skyscraper.
Alexander Wang S/S'10 (Marcio Madeira)

Designers like Alexa Adams and Flora Gill of the label Ohne Titel may be limited to silk, leather and knitted wool, yet their modernist collages suggested they weren’t constrained and that they wanted to create a feeling of suspension and void. They did this very well, with multicolor knit dresses, textured leggings and leather sandals that seemed to have tension wires for lacing. The curving lines continued in the tailoring and in evening dresses with overlapping pieces and hems barnacled with silk knots and feathers. At the moment, round, rather than sharp-cut, looks right — perhaps because it follows the body.

At Preen, a British label designed by Justin Thornton and Thea Bregazzi, ribs of fabric randomly intersected French lace or frilly patches inspired by Victorian trim. The same densely packed frills (imagine topiary) also gave a different dimension to the shoulders of chiffon tops. Grainy black prints were based on vintage tulle.

Preen S/S'10 (IMAXTREE)

You may be wondering how the designers managed to use so many historical references (punk, too) without producing a doughy lump. And the answer is a modern-looking structure. To stand out today, fashion “needs to have craft,” Mr. Thornton said.

“But it needs to work in a clean way,” Ms. Bregazzi added.

Mr. Wang’s reworking of classics, like the polo shirt and anorak, often recalls the cutting techniques of Rei Kawakubo and Vivienne Westwood, without their magical lightness. There was much to like in the attitude of Mr. Wang’s collection, especially metallic Fair Isle sweaters and the funny references to football padding. His new trousers are worn low on the hips and show off a top of underwear.

But too many of the styles, notably army-green cape jackets and asymmetrical skirts, seem cadged from other designers. It is Mr. Wang’s unpadded view of dressing that people want to see.

Joseph Altuzarra’s collection seemed to jolt those who expected the young designer to stick with the course he established over the last two seasons: delicately ruched dresses and smart tailoring. Yet, jolt or not, it was a fascinating show, with slim-fitting bib-front dresses done in a seemingly random mixture of brown suede and girlish white or pink Swiss dot. The collection, which included ivory capes, had a fresh feeling of nostalgia and a do-it-yourself quality that has been lurking at fashion’s edges. It also seems a concerted effort to move away from the rigidity of branded looks.

“When you start a collection,” Mr. Altuzarra said, “you have to push yourself to limits that may make you uncomfortable but that are also challenging.” He added that the new clothes use all the same techniques as before.

Richard Chai calls his new moderate-priced line Love, perhaps so people can say the look of Love. Well, fussy consumers need something. Mr. Chai nicely balanced urban hipness with feel-good merchandising, offering breezy cropped jackets in ivory windowpane-check cotton or leather, pleated bucket shorts and berry-colored prints.

“Carnal and a little bit tawdry” is how Derek Lam described the mood of his collection. That sounds like a teaser for a romance novel. The high-waist skirts, draped blouses and saucy crepe de Chine prints definitely had a boardwalk glow about them. Round-edge wrap skirts in double crepe looked modern, though. The prints were luscious and different, and a halter dress done in a patchwork of black and white poplin and sashed with a black leather belt shouldn’t be served to minors.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Alexander Wang

A Time to Sell Green, Not Greed

Published: September 13, 2009 in The New York Times

NEW YORK — “Fashion’s Night Out” — an evening of open-house shopping last week in New York and other major cities around the world — was designed to brace up nervous customers and convince them that consumption is joyous.

But it also proved that there is more to e-commerce than buying online.

The key “e” words were “emotion” and “energy” during this Vogue-sponsored fight against retail gloom. After a long period of credit-happy consumers and easy sales, stores and designers are having to work much harder to engage customers and make them feel that their purchase is worthwhile.

“There has to be an emotional connection — we can’t live without it,” says Humberto Leon, co-owner of Opening Ceremony, with stores in New York, Los Angeles and, now, Tokyo.

Mr. Leon says the fashion world has changed dramatically since designers and retailers were in control of image and sales. “Fashion used to be for insiders — now everyone sees everything,” he says. “That is the importance of the runway shows. It is the first look the customer sees and then the same emotional connection has to deliver when it gets into the store.”

For Julie Gilhart, senior vice president and fashion director at Barneys New York, engaging customers is about far more than producing desirable clothes.

“The customers need to be emotionally allied to what they buy — as with a car, with food or architecture,” Ms. Gilhart says. “They want to know the worth in value, craftsmanship and unique partnerships. This is something that is brand new, and there has to be a constant stream of communication.”

The story is told in Barneys windows, where the focus is on sensitive, ethical issues transformed into desirable clothes. So a “Made in America” window, filled with U.S. flags, focuses on labels like Alabama Chanin, where organic pieces are handmade and embellished by local artisans in the Deep South. Or a window devoted to the Loomstate brand offers what Ms. Gilhart calls a “sexy, stylish and eco-friendly collection” that includes T-shirts patterned with endangered species as seen in National Geographic magazine.

An ad for Barneys t-shirt recycling collaboration with Loomstate (from

The idea was developed two years ago as part of Barneys’ “green” projects. They include giving new fashion life to made-over vintage clothes, charm necklaces made from 22-karat recycled gold and Bolivian knitwear created as a nonprofit government project to help maladjusted teenagers.

Ms. Gilhart’s commitment to the store, where she has worked since 1992, is passionate and absolute, a “feeling of doing something better as a retailer.”

“Everything is changing — you have to keep moving forward,” the fashion director says. “People no longer just buy a blouse for $3,000. They want to know why it costs so much and why it is extraordinary and beautiful. Our projects are vehicles for education. But the bigger picture is about looking at something with different eyes.”

Not One to Mince Words

It's got to be a publicity stunt! Or a crack-smoking board of directors?

Tim Gunn on Emanuel Ungaro hiring Lindsay Lohan artistic director

African Promise Collective Spring 2010

Jason Wu Joins the Big Leagues

From the Mac cosmetics (lip shades: Media, Cyber, Classic Dame and Burgundy) to the towering Guiseppe Zanotti heels on top-flight models like Karlie Kloss, it is completely apparent that Jason Wu has joined the big leagues of fashion. His show today was jammed with fashion executives-elite, from Saks’ Ron Frasch to Bergdorf’s Jim Gold.

Elaine Wynn, soon-to-be-former wife of casino magnate Steve Wynn, was seated front row beside Todd Hanshaw, top buyer for the super-tony Wynn Las Vegas boutiques. Mrs. Wynn is a very Oscar de la Renta sort of woman, which says something about Mr. Wu’s appeal.

Given all that, Mr. Wu’s choice of the slightly fusty but deeply elegant St. Regis Hotel to show off his latest collection was as canny as it was unusual: a tip of the hat to the sorts of ladies who can afford his creations, and a nod suggesting that he’s not one of the crowd who assemble at Bryant Park or Milk Studios. . .

BCBG's Definition of Fast Fashion

Max Azaria's BCBG line kicked off New York Fashion Week's Spring 2010 shows Thursday morning with more than just a new Spring collection: two of the looks from the show, bright graphic dresses, were available for purchase on the BCBG website even before the models walked the runway.

Last season, designer brands like Michael Kors and Halston experimented with online fashion shows; Kors streamed his show live from Bryant Park on and Halston produced a short video presentation for its Fall 2009 collection in lieu of a runway show. It seems that now designers are taking the next steps to evaluate and re-structure strategies for online selling, and also looking at how to better engage customers.
The issue of how to better target customers was the central theme at the CFDA's forum on the state of the New York fashion industry in July, during which designers said that it would be easier to excite shoppers about collections if there was not a six month gap between runway presentations and deliveries to stores. As Roland Mouret recently pointed out when speaking at the Apple store in London on the future of fashion and technology with Natalie Massenet, "What I'm interested now in my way to work is to arrive to a certain point to deliver the collection straight away after the show, because I think we're not in a time any more where you want to wait six months for a collection arrive. You see it online, you want it now." It seems as though the race to instantly satisfy fashion consumers is on and so far, Max Azaria is in the lead.

Christian Siriano Romances the Crowd

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Phillip Lim Presents First Menswear Collection

Phillip Lim staged his first menswear presentation at a gorgeous art space in Chelsea yesterday afternoon. This is his first season showing menswear separately from womenswear. He wanted to give the men's line extra emphasis this season because he frankly feels like men get the shaft at New York Fashion Week. "I was just talking to my friends today, I’m like, 'You know, I’m a guy, I wear men’s clothes and it’s so stagnant and suffocating — it’s just disappearing. And so I’ve got to fight for my line," he told us. "Less and less people are paying attention to it."
Lim's spring 2010 men's collection included ankle pants in grays and blues and even black leather. He also showed a camel leather T-shirt tucked into matching camel leather shorts. As a fashion-forward man himself, how does he feel about the latest in seemingly silly man fashions, such as meggings? "If it keeps you warm, why not?" But what about man purses? "What are man purses?" We gestured to our own shoulder bag. "You know, I think over the shoulder is meant for function, so if it can help hold a bag, why not?" he decided. But what about man skirts? "You know, for certain people who have great legs, it works. But for me, no." Does he see them proliferating en masse? "I hope not. I think it’s reserved for the special few." But he won't rule out designing one. "Never say never."

- Amy Odell for New York Magazine's "The Cut" blog

Friday, September 11, 2009

High Fashion Faces a Redefining Moment

Thakoon Panichgul in his SoHo studio during a fitting. Though successful in his career, he is pessimistic about larger trends. (Hiroko Masuike for The New York Times)

by Cathy Horyn

The fabric in the hands of Thakoon Panichgul, one of Michelle Obama’s favorite designers, is exquisite. An Italian jacquard, woven from yarns of eight different colors, it costs $100 a yard. A dress that Mr. Panichgul plans to make from the cloth for his runway show next week will cost $2,000.

He lets it fall away. It troubles Mr. Panichgul that as much as people love beautiful clothes, they do not understand why they cost so much. “It’s becoming a losing battle,” he said.

Designer fashion — the creative wellspring of the American apparel industry, the engine of style magazines, the stuff of plain old dreams — is experiencing a serious case of the blues. As another show season rolls out across the city, against the chilliest retail climate in years, many believe this is not merely a difficult moment for high-end fashion but a defining one as well.

Here is the reality: More and more people shop at H & M and other purveyors of cheap chic. Factories offering fine craftsmanship in Italy and New York are closing as business moves to China. Consumers do not see longevity in the clothes they buy. “I think the true designer business is in trouble, no question about it,” said a senior buying executive at Macy’s, declining to speak on the record because of the company’s policies.

With shoppers afraid to spend, department stores cut orders for fall goods by 30 percent. For next spring — the collections being shown during New York Fashion Week through Sept. 17 — little improvement is seen.

“In my 40 years in fashion, I’ve never seen women scared to shop — at all price levels,” said Vera Wang, who sells $1,000 dresses at stores like Bergdorf Goodman and also has a low-priced line at Kohl’s.

Retailers have pressured designers like Ms. Wang to lower their prices. Anyone walking through an empty store in recent months could see why this was necessary. On Tuesday, Neiman Marcus reported a $668 million loss for the year. The luxury chain said the latest quarterly sales at stores open at least a year fell 23 percent from the period a year ago. Saks posted a 16 percent drop. On Thursday, the industry tried to excite people with after-hours shopping at stores around the city, called Fashion’s Night Out.

Makers of high-end fashion wonder how far they can drop prices without diminishing their prestige, or cutting corners that might compromise their creativity.

Ms. Wang said she cut prices for her resort collection this year by 40 percent, but was told by some stores that those $600 to $800 dresses were maybe too low for a designer brand.

“I don’t know what’s going to happen,” Ms. Wang said, referring to the future of prestigious labels. “It’s going to be a world of crepe de Chine.”

Although designer fashion accounts for only a small portion of the $191 billion apparel industry in the United States, and many consumers would not mourn the disappearance of $2,000 dresses from the racks, the creativity of runway collections inspires looks in the mass market and sets trends that entice shoppers back into stores season after season, fueling a vast segment of the economy.

In the 40 years since modern ready-to-wear came into existence in Europe and America, and made household names of Ralph, Calvin and Donna, designers have enjoyed enormous respect and prosperity. However, in the past few years, they have lost some face with consumers. Their clothes became exotically pricey as they courted celebrities and did quick-and-dirty deals with makers of fast fashion.

This week the situation reached a nadir of sorts when the Paris house Emanuel Ungaro — once the pride and joy of the Upper East Side — announced that it had hired Lindsay Lohan as its artistic adviser.

Another impact of recession-driven designing is a retreat to more predictable styles, a repetition of the safe looks that sold well in previous seasons. The designer Elie Tahari, whose labels generate about $500 million in sales, is focusing on dresses, animal prints and leggings and slim pants worn with tunics.

“Fashion has to be new and wearable and there has to be a need to it,” he said. Mr. Tahari has cut prices by 30 percent and closed a handbag factory he had in Italy to move that production to China.

Even Oscar de la Renta, the very emblem of high-end New York design, known for $4,000 and $5,000 dresses and suits, plans to offer a $1,500 dress in his spring line to meet retailers’ demands.

And although he recently bought a local garment factory that had planned to close, to help maintain his label’s craft standards, he has also sought out less expensive suppliers in Asia and Eastern Europe.

In his Seventh Avenue studio, Mr. de la Renta pointed to a sleeveless black dress with two knitted, frilly panels. The panels, done in Romania and combined with an Italian wool, will help keep the price of the dress down to $2,500. And Mr. de la Renta likes a silk faille that he gets from a mill in South Korea. Aside from the price — it costs a third of what Italian faille does — he likes the look.

“Listen, Prada has been using it for years,” he said.(...)

Read the rest of the story at A version of this article appeared in print on September 11, 2009, on page A1 of the New York edition.

BCBG Max Azria Spring 2010

Max and Lubov Azria are clearly courting two customers: the first, a young trendhound looking for easy-to-wear party dresses — in draped jersey, sometimes with bursts of bold, Pollock-esque prints or trapunto embroideries. The second, a decidedly sexier girl who craves Azria’s pricy Hervé Léger looks, but might make do with a similarly libidinous minidress that doesn’t break the bank. The sensibility tipped toward the latter, with itty body-conscious numbers — featuring bandagelike ruching, mesh insets or artsy colorblocking — the most appealing in the lineup. The company is also unveiling an evening fragrance (“sensuality and seduction in a perfume,” promises Lubov) called Within. - WWD staff

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Dries Van Noten

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Fashion's Night Out NYC- What To Do

There are so many events taking place in New York tomorrow for Fashion's Night Out that you might not be able to decide which ones to skip and which ones to make time for. Here's a suggested itinerary from Style Gourmand that includes a little bit of everything:

You'll need some energy if you want to make it to as many events as possible, so stop by the cupcake truck which will be parked outside Club Monaco on Prince Street (2-11PM).

Down the block (Greene between Prince & Spring), Kirna Zabete will be celebrating its tenth anniversary. Pop-in and have a drink with Sarah and Beth, as they hang with their favorite New York designers: Narciso Rodriguez, Jack McCollough and Lazaro Hernandez of Proenza Schouler, Thakoon Panichgul, Jason Wu, and Peter Som. Also, check out Peter Som limited-edition aprons, Proenza Schouler print tote bags, Thakoon one-of-a-kind dresses, Narciso Rodriguez photo collages, and Jason Wu fall 2009 fashion sketches.

Have a free manicure at the Chanel store (139 Spring Street @ Wooster) before seeing what kind of treats Rebecca Taylor's Nolita store has in it's candy bar. Don't miss your chance to win two tickets to her Spring 2010 fashion show while you're there.

When you start getting hungry for something more than cotton candy and cocktails, see what's being served at the vegetarian food truck outside the Stella McCartney store on 14th street. There will also be street performances and eco-fashion tips fromVogue’s Fashion Director, Tonne Goodman.

Next head uptown to the Gucci store to score a free "Fashion's Night Out" t-shirt. (725 Fifth Avenue @ 56th St). Go to Alice + Olivia (80 W. 40th b/w Fifth & Sixth Ave) and get ready for your close-up with a full makeover and wardrobe styling. Now that you're camera- ready, get photographed with Donna Karan and Justin Timberlake, at Saks Fifth Avenue (611 Fifth Avenue b/w 49th & 50th Sts). Barneys will also have heaps of personal appearances from fashion celebrities like Manolo Blahnik, Alexander Wang and Rodarte's Kate and Laura Mulleavy to name a few.

Across the street, Matisyahu will be performing live in front of the Kenneth Cole store at 8PM. If ballads are more your style, then listen to Oscar de la Renta sing some of his favorite songs at his Upper East side store (772 Madison Avenue @ East 66th St).

End the evening with some jazz and champagne as Anne Fontaine presents her latest jazz-inspired collection, Black Pearl (677 Madison Avenue (b/w 61st & 62nd Sts).

For more information on Fashion's Night Out events in New York and around the world, check out

Monday, September 7, 2009

Fashion Camp NYC

Summer might well be over, judging by the drop in temperatures in New York City this week, but that doesn't mean it's too late for camp! FashionCampNY is an innovative open-conference that seeks to connect fashion-lovers to discuss the role of technology in fashion, and the future of the fashion industry. The conference takes place this weekend, September 12th and 13th, and is free. Attendees must however either lead or assist with a workshop.

For more information visit

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Norma Kamali's New Outlook on Fashion

“Between new technology and the economy, the fashion industry will never be the same. If I continue doing what I’m doing, I may not stay in business. It’s time to rethink and look at what’s working and what’s not.”
Norma Kamali

See Norma Kamali's presentation en
titled "The Democratization of Fashion" Sept. 17 at the Soho Apple store.