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True Fashion – The Legend of Lady White Snake, Starring Daphne Guinness

15 Feb

Text, Vivian Kelly

Reported by Vivian Kelly and Laura Wood

Photograph of Daphne Guinness by Markus Klinko & Indrani

WHAT: a Grade-A platinum fashion moment at 172 Norfolk Street, NYC

It’s taken me two days to fully digest the events of Sunday night. It’s not often I get a dose of pure undiluted high octane fashion.

Laura and I arrived at the Angel Orensanz Foundation for Contemporary Art at 10:00p.m. on the dot. THIS was NOT something either of us wanted to miss a second of. We had high hopes for this event, in part due to two days worth of experiencing the polished sterility of the Lincoln Center Venues and the accompanying jitters of sucking down one too many cans of  free Diet Pepsi. We were actually look forward to visiting Alphabet City as the Lower East Side is the only remaining vestige of “NYC Eighties cool” that still survives. Going down there is fun and makes me feel 25 again.

The Angel Orensanz venue is the artist’s creation and is a cross between a Russian Orthodox Church and a nightclub, in other words, Limelight, when it just started and was THE place to go and dance until 2:00a.m. before going off to Florent in MeatPacking to have something to eat before trying to score a taxi willing to take us back to Laura’s apartment in the Village.

It was obvious from the moment we entered that this was “a happening”. First, there were the photographs – giant sized ones of Daphne Guinness posing in her astounding McQueen Couture, which she wore in the film. Catwoman has nothing on Daphne who was dressed up as a high fashion villainess in a red catsuit and insanely high heels. I’ll need to win Powerball to scratch this itch as I mentally “bought” four of the photographs that would look amazing in  The Fashion Examiner office and  fireplace room. Total cost for four of Markus Klinko & Indrani’s fabulous photos of Daphne = $160,000. These photos really DO “combine story-telling with cutting-edge fashion”.

Next, we ambled over to the well-stocked bar – no yukky plastic glasses here – and sat down in a padded bamboo gilt chair just as Daphne made her entrance in an incredible chainmail gown and a head ornament loaded with what I’m assuming were probably actually diamonds rather than Swarovski Crystals.

The film itself was genius – a cross between a poetry reading and a couture fashion show. It may sound odd, but it was spectacular. On our way out, Laura stopped to chat with a young female editor to get her take. Like us, she was blown away and was going to Google the film and read Neil Gaiman’s poem. The point of the film though, was the EXPERIENCE and it got a 10/10 on that score. After this visual feast, we got an auditory one – a performance by the very talented Viva Girls, who were perched like a row of angels in blue ball gowns to the right of the massive screen.

The grand finale to the event was a capsule collection of gowns from the new Genghis Khan collection designed by GK Reid. We loved the hooded one and his concept of transformative styling and dressing – something we can totally get behind.

SO, which of Markus Klinko & Idrani’s photographs of Daphne Guinness would YOU like to take home with you?

Daphne in her Chain mail Couture


Mad Men Costume Designer Janie Bryant Reveals How To Use Carolee Jewelry to Get the Look

25 Oct

Text, Vivian Kelly

Are you a “Betty-Jackie” or a “Joan-Marilyn”? Mad Men Costume Designer, Janie Bryant shares a few key accessory styling tips to enhance your look.

Janie Bryant, recently had a public appearance, hosted by Carolee jewelry,  at Bloomingdale’s Century City in Los Angeles.  Style expert Janie met with customers and provided jewelry and fashion advice on “How to become your own leading lady!”

Not being on the West Coast at the time, I couldn’t go, but I got to correspond with her via email and I’m going to pick up a copy of her new book, which she recently released.  THE FASHION FILE Advice, Tips and Inspiration from the Costume Designer of MADMEN, provides tips based on Janie’s “Mad Men” style trends. In it, she teaches her readers how to create different moods and reveal a bit about their personality through accessories… “It’s the surest cure-all for wardrobe ennui.”

I’ve been a fan of Mad Men, since last summer, when checked into a motel at Rehobeth Beach, Delaware, just to score some much needed down time. A mild case of insomnia turned out to be a big plus when I stumbled onto the show, which I’d been intending to watch for months. I never left the room until check-out at 11a.m. the next day as I lay on the bed gobbling up episode after episode of Mad Men and a pot of hotel room coffee. After 4 episodes, I came to a few conclusions:

-“Joan” looks hottest in her most covered up dresses- no hiding those amazing curves

– “Betty” is my favorite in character and looks fresh and tailored and classically beautiful.

I started studying Betty’s look on hulu [no AMC at home], and fell back in love with camel cashmere and pearls.

My Mad Men “moment” came when Joan’s secretary pool were talking about whether they were “ a Jackie” or “ a Marilyn”. Although that was over 40 years ago, these 2 categories are still alive and very relevant today. In case you missed the episode, Betty is a Jackie, and Joan is a Marilyn.

I’ve always been “a Jackie”, even when I bleached my hair Marilyn white years ago, wanting to see if I could bust out of my “type”.

Not possible – it takes more than a hair color change.

The sort of jewelry, fragrance, and dress all contribute to your J or M category. I started studying the characters’ outfits and decided that they were too retro for my every day look, but maybe copying details such as hairstyle and jewelry would give me the effect I was after. When Gina DiDomenico’s of Paul Wilmot Communications emailed me about Janie explaining how to get the character’s style with a few accessories, it was the answer to this fashion prayer.

Follow this LINK to watch a video of Janie Bryant offering her unique fashion and styling tips

Thanks to Gina, I got my most pressing questions for Janie about “Mad Men Style” answered.

Below, the Q&A 1.     Which character did you first want to work on? Why?

JANIE BRYANT: From the moment I read the script, I loved all of the characters. They each have their own story and costume nuances—I’m lucky to be able to design for them all!

2.  **We’re fascinated with the past now, particularly the Sixties: Mad Men, The Real Stewardesses of Pan Am.  What do you think it is about this period that fascinates us so much?

J.B. People feel nostalgia for a time when they could dress for occasions.  They want to feel the everyday glamour that is so characteristic of the 1960s and incorporate this into their everyday lives.

3.     How can we incorporate aspects of “Mad Men” dressing into our wardrobes?  For women?

J.B. A classic shirtwaist dress or sheath dress are great silhouettes to incorporate into your wardrobe.  Match your shoes to your handbag and don’t forget to layer those pearls, ladies!  You could even add white leather wrist gloves for a fun little touch—any length will do!

4. P/s suggest a Carolee piece for the principle characters: Joan, and Betty, in particular. 

J.B. It is simply the best for Betty, so strands of ladylike pearls would be my choice for her.  For a little drama in Joan’s life, a broach makes such a statement!

Endnote: Today, I went to Lord & Taylor and purchased my first “Betty-Jackie” Carolee piece; a 16″ pearl necklace, which I’ll be wearing daily.As for my Joan-Mrailyn friends, this Art Deco crystal broach would be stunning on you!

Farah Angsana- When Less Really IS More

10 Oct

Text, Vivian Kelly

A few weeks ago, while in Town [NYC] to check-out Douglas Hannant’s new PINK collection, I had a number of interesting conversations. One of these was with an industry insider, M, whom I’ve known for 20 years, and whose opinions I respect. We had been rehashing a few of the recent NYFW Shows. Farah Angsana, an eveningwear designer came up.

I remarked that I’d been following her for 4 or so years ago, starting back when I attended the now defunct Mercedes Benz LA Fashion Weeks at Culver City, CA. She and Kevin Hall were consistently among the best shows there. Ms. Angsana knew how to shape a beautiful bodice – which reminded me of Nineties designer, Donald Deal – who may have missed his calling. HE should have been working with movie costume designer Edith Head. Together, they would have designed some utterly unforgettable gowns for Grace Kelly, similar to the stunning aqua one she wore in To Catch a Thief (1955).

Prior to seeing the butterscotch ruffled ball gown in this collection, I had associated the words, “beading” and “bling” with Ms. Angasana’s evening gown designs. This gown showed her ability to deliver design that is understated and elegant and that whispers rather than shouts. Designs such as these play better in the Box’s Art Gallery setting rather than on a runway with blaring music in the big tent’s stadium-like venue.

“Sometimes less is more, said my friend, M. It really worked better for her  showing in the Box than having a big runway show.”

She’s right. I admittedly only saw a few of the looks before rushing off to the next show, but was impressed by the elegant looks I did catch. In our short interview, Ms. Angsana said that she was inspired by a recent trip to Asia and numerous visits to art galleries and museums in which she was sparked by the gorgeous fabrics and embroidery treatment she admired there.

Watch the video below, to hear the details.

Assouline + Judith Ripka = 1 Great Combo and Contest You Need to Enter

4 Oct

Text, Vivian Kelly

Contests. Been there, done that. Right? Wrong. Walking out of CVS early last Friday morning on a milk run, I scanned my receipt as the register belched out a sheaf of coupons for stuff I don’t want or need: Pampers, box hair color, Doritos – ugh and a come-on of a contest:

“WIN $1,000 – CALL 1-800-998-4396”.

I tossed the receipt out on the way out.

Me, I’d rather pay attention to a contest that gives me a shot at something I care about – like the one posted here. This contest involves beautiful coffee table books that speak of my lifestyle and love for travel and culture [Assouline] and insanely beautiful fine jewelry [Judith Ripka].

A decade or so ago, I had the honor of interviewing Judith herself, on the phone, for a trade jewelry publication I was writing for. What impressed me was her passion for her craft and how sure she was that what she did was “right”, whether or not it happened to be [or not be] “in fashion”. Her jewelry is at once understated but spectacular with a tiny unexpected twist to it.

Since then, the Judith Ripka company has expanded and become a major player at Mercedes Benz Fashion Week, has a beautiful shop on 61st and Madison, another in Bal Harbour and at Saks Fifth Avenues nationwide. There’s even a nicer priced Judith Ripka for QVC line.


Who WOULDN’T want these delicious “Eclipse” earrings – candy to jewelry-holics such as myself.

There’s a consolation prize, if you don’t win, you can still pick up a copy of her new book, Judith Ripka by Judith, now available at  Assouline stores and online at

HERE, are the contest “deets”.

WHAT:  an exciting Social Media contest where we will be giving away a pair of Eclipse earrings ($625 value) and a signed edition of the new book.

ABOUT THE PRIZE: Ripka’s dazzling Eclipse earrings were featured on Oprah’s Ultimate Favorite Things episode in November 2010 and are the perfect gift for any special woman in your life, or for yourself.

WHEN: The contest will launch on Friday, September 30th (the same day that the book will be available on and run through Friday, October 7th.

WHERE: It will live on Assouline’s Facebook Page and Judith Ripka’s Facebook Page.

*Don’t forget to  ‘Like’ both pages to be qualified!

HOW [to win]: Contestants are asked to answer, “How do these earrings reflect your personal style?”

Submit  YOUR answer to The winner will be judged on creativity and originality and will be informed the week of October 9th by email.

Gwen Stefani’s s/s2012 L.A.M.B. Collection – When Fashion by a Celebrity is a Good Thing

29 Sep

Text, Vivian Kelly

Celebrities have a bad rap in the fashion business. I’d taken a skeptical stance on the idea of the notion of celebrity as fashion designer, since the days when Kathie Lee Gifford “designed” a line for Wal-Mart, followed by legions of demi celebs such as Paris Hilton who capitalized on their fame to produce shoddy garments they themselves would never actually wear. The fact that THEY themselves wore Versace, Dolce & Gabbana, Oscar de la Renta etc etc. said it all.

There are exceptions however, that show that celebrities CAN [in conjunction with the right team] produce a credible fashion line. The first time I witnessed this was while attending a Justin Timberlake concert at Mohegan Sun, soon after his “Future Sex/Love Sounds” tour hit. Joe Zee did an amazing job styling him and Justin carried that white suit as well as John Travolta did his in “Saturday Night Fever”.

IT wasn’t William Rast, but I recall being stupefied when mid-way through the show, he sang a ballad in a plaid William Rast shirt and jeans. That night, I began reconsidering the celebrity as fashion designer issue and resolved to actually READ the WWD articles about Celebrity X designing a fashion line to see if others besides Justin were getting it right.

Good news. In the ranks of the “getting it right” are Justin Timberlake/William Rast, the Olsen Twins/Elizabeth and James, and the subject of this post, Gwen Stefani/L.A.M.B. Until this NYFW, the closest I got to Gwen’s line was seeing pieces at Nordstrom’s on the floor. I liked what I saw and longed to see her next collection in its entirety to see if she continued to follow-through on her branding message ie: herself  = a fun yet sophisticated version of cool.

A key ingredient for a brand’s success is to create an identity and to stick with your DNA. Domenico Dolce & Stefano Gabbana hit gold early in their career with the severe look of elderly Italian women clad in black crossed with sexy corsets and animal print that showed their idealized woman; one who possesses an intriguing angel-devil personality.

Gwen Stefani has similarly created a believable personality for her L.A.M.B line. She is known as a pop star who mixes classic glamour with funky contemporary clothing resulting in a mix that is the modern equivalent of Eighties’ pop star, Cyndi Lauper. Although physically these two don’t resemble one another, they share that irresistible “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun” spirit that I’ve loved since Ms. Lauper debuted it in 1983 on MTV.

This season was my first L.A.M.B. show. I’m calling it a “show” even though technically, it was a presentation, set in the “Box” space – my favorite of the Lincoln Center Fashion Week venues as there’s usually little to no waiting, you can get as close as you want to the clothes and the models obligingly pose for shots.

The presentation was scheduled to start at 2:30p.m, but you wouldn’t have known that from the crowd assembled in the holding area when I arrived at 2:20. Normally tardy editors were in line waiting, snaked around the length of the tent to get what I guessed would be only a very quick glimpse of the latest L.A.M.B. collection and hopefully a look at the chanteuse cum fashion designer herself. [Ms. Stefani was not there, sigh.]

I  wiggled to the front of the 4-deep crowd huddled around the models posing on the white blocks, to scan the 23 looks. There was herringbone plaid, a leather moto jacket, some fun Ikat prints and quite a bit of Noir Jewelry; in short, no huge deviations from the brand’s DNA. Just an hour earlier at lunch with Scott French and Meredith Garcia of The Fashion List at Pain Quotidian, we all agreed that the best designers like writers find their voice and stick with it. Their customers appreciate this; can count on them to deliver the goods. Make no mistake – consistency is not boring, it is an asset.

A few months ago, a stroll on the floor at Nordstrom’s Westchester Mall verified this. Marc Jacobs Mark by Marc and L.A.M.B. stood out, because they didn’t need any store signage to identify them. That odd but adorable tweak like a teeny tiny print on a puff sleeve blouse- must be Marc. Black and white herringbone jackets and red accents? Must be L.A.M.B. – it was.

With all of this in the back of my mind, once finally, inside the Box, my first glimpse revealed black and white, this time as an Ikat print top worn with brown herringbone shorts accessorized with a skinny red belt, and towering platform sandals in black, red and cobalt – very Eighties!

The rock and roll portion of the brand was most apparent in the accessories, hair and makeup, namely a leather and gold shark tooth necklace heavily kohled eyes, straight black brows and a two- tone “Pebbles” from The Flintstones hairdo.

Many of the editors in the Tents were wearing this same up-do, minus the volume and two-tone.

Ms.Stefani hit the preppy trend square on with a v-front cream tennis sweater but unlike the one from your parents’ country club, this one is minus the unflattering bulk. The L.A.M.B sweater boasts fine knit gage stitching, which make it an ideal transition piece. These days, transition pieces are where it’s at. What could be better than playing a set of tennis, taking a shower, putting on the same sweater that you walked on the Courts with and getting-on with your day? There’s something for everyone here, and even one piece will up the fun quotient of your spring wardrobe.

Lisa Perry’s Modern Take on the Iconic Pan Am Stewie

22 Sep

Text, Vivian Kelly

The Right Time and the Right Place: “The Pan Am Era”, circa 1963

My NYFW mates, Mark Behnke, Men’s Editor for Fashion Tribes and “Video Vixen” Lisa Johnson, Editor in Chief of Lisa Johnson Fitness, couldn’t wait to meet the crew of “The Real Stewardesses of Pan Am”. Unfortunately, by the time we raced over from the Donna Karan store and the Marissa Berenson Book signing, our targets had flown the coop. We still got our Pan Am Stewie fix though, as there were models dressed in the blue retro uniform handing out airplane snacks and beverages. Once we fueled-up, we settled in and started exploring the all white store. I was transported back to the early Sixties, a period in time I’m utterly enamored with. I actually DID fly Pan Am in 1963, but as an 11 month old infant, sadly I don’t remember much. Ten years later, I caught the end of the “Pan Am Era” jetstream, when I flew Pan Am , New York to Paris, and had one of the best meals of my young life -on a plane! What I remember even more than the food was how utterly beautiful the stewardesses were, with their little hats, perfect figures and immaculate hair and makeup. Barbie couldn’t hold a candle to them. Years later, when the airlines changed their title to “flight attendant”, the glamour left the building. They may as well have called them “air waitresses”.

The Lisa Perry store is a like a very cool apartment you want to spend the day in so you can look at all the coffee table books, [such as Airline], study the Roy Lichtenstein prints on the wall and try on each and every one of the colorful Sixties’ style dresses hanging on the fixtures. For a fashionista who’s enamored of this era, it’s like being deposited into a wonderful penny candy store where you want to try everything on but don’t know where to start.

A Japanese businessman was holding the last Pan Am logoed bag Lisa had designed. He couldn’t decide if he should buy it. It wasn’t leather, but it was “a great design and a wonderful piece of retro. My wife will kill me if I buy this, but…”

I encouraged him, “If you don’t buy it tonight, you’re going to kick yourself later. There won’t be any more, and you know that once you see the show, you’ll want it even more. You can tell your wife you’ll share it with her.”

He bought it.

On our way out, my initial disappointed on missing the cast evaporated when we got to chat with Lisa Perry herself about the Limited Edition bags she’d designed for FNO and to commune about our shared love for this legendary time in history.

Ms. Perry told us her collaboration with the highly anticipated TV show, The Real Stewardesses of Pan Am was suggested to her by Vogue magazine. When I asked if she would design a Pan Am suit she laughed and said she could design a whole collection based on that but only after researching the original suits. Stay tuned for the upcoming show episodes and for Ms. Perry’s Pan Am inspired suits. If the limited edition bags she put out are any indication [most were snapped up on FNO] of the success of this future collection, then she’ll have a gang-busters hit on her hands, as will ABC.

‘JWOWW’ aka Jenni Farley – Why DO We Celebrate Bad Behavior?

23 Apr

Text, Vivian Kelly

I know, “style” and The Jersey Shore in the same sentence? I’m kidding right?

Yes and no.

Style does NOT always mean “in good taste” like the ladies in Assouline’s STYLE series. While that’s what I love, maybe I’m in the minority. This possibility smacked me upside the head as I sat watching an episode of CSI:Miami on a plane bound to Puerto Vallarta last weekend. The suspects, obnoxious partying kids on a hit TV show, were obviously based on The Jersey Shore. It was so  thinly disguised, I wondered why they bothered to change the names of the kids and the show.

Anyhow, as I sat back and watched, I went from wondering for the umpteenth time, ‘WHY would the public make these kids stars and God forbid, make stars of them?’

The most horrifying moment in the CSI episode was not when we found-out that [I think it was [Sammi] – ‘JWOWW’ – was the guilty party. She had killed her female costar by driving a piece of ice she pulled from the crown of the Statue of Liberty ice sculpture into her eye in a fit of rage because the latter was leaving the show and “ruining everything”.

Horrible yes, but worse was her pathetic back-story, which she explained to ‘Lieutenant Horatio Caine/David Caruso.

She was not REALLY ‘Sammi’, she of the sleazy spray tan, 11 inch skirts, big hair, and endless hook-ups and one night stands. The real shocker was that she was actually a nerdy Med Student who was sick of being a dateless MIT brainiac whose phone never rang on a Saturday night. The kicker – she killed a cast member whose departure from the show would have “ruined her life”.

Grossed-out, I kept researching, at 5a.m. Puerto Vallarta Time.

REALITY TV star Jenni ‘JWoww’ Farley has a murky past.

According to RadarOnline, the Jersey Shore babe’s ex-boyfriend required 37 stitches in his arm after she stabbed him!

“Jenni put a kitchen knife through my entire arm,” Tom Lippolis told Star magazine, which hits the stands nationally Friday. “I thought she was going to kill me.”


Here’s my big question – When the action’s not scripted, ie: on the show, what is REALLY there?

Why do we watch “the kids”?