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FE Friend Sofia Bak Reports From The Trenches at LONDON Fashion Week: Day 1 of LFW

19 Feb

Text, Sofia Bak
Images Sourced by Vivian Kelly. from
Up like bullet at 7, throw on Lako Bukia, Onna Ehrlich-Bell and mom’s black vintage Zorro hat. Running late for the 9am show…as always…lovely new assistant Anna Komolova saves a seat…Antoni & Alison wake everyone up with loud crazy music and a concept to switch your brain into gear…loved 1 dress…out on the street to shoot for Vogue Italia…street style photographers outnumber possible models…I finally find 1…10 more want to shoot her…mostly ended up shooting other street stylers all day…but felt like I got shot more than I shot them…it’s the blue dip dyed hair. Speaking of which…the only street style trend I’m seeing so far is coloured hair…seemed like practically everyone had a splash of colour this season. Took a break with tea & cake at Orla Kiely presentation where models were showing off outfits at a 50’s style dance…did they book the ones who could dance or teach them? Beautiful, romantic…oooh macaroons! Run in at the last minute for (friend) Francesca Marotta debut show, stunned by the Italian widows, bloody tears, great acting skills on the models and lace…lace…lace. Turned away with a seated ticket for Bora Aksu show. Weird. How did they manage to organise that?! Brilliant casting at Felder Felder, lovely to see my girl from Kiev Fashion Days – Alla Kostromichova opening...great prints and new knits. Love. Watched another brilliant fashion film by Ada Zanditon. Found incredible footwear architect Julian Hakes at the exhibitions…shot man in a Another photo by Diamondo Christofilatex woman: Pandemonia…dying by the time Jena Theo show rolled in…but loved every piece. Would buy 99% of it…it’s like they thought…what does Sofia like to wear…baggy black tops and skinny jeans it is.
Photographed by Diamando Christofi, Contributing Editor, London, at
Now hating my life because all I want to do is pass out but I have 468 photos and 98 e-mails to go through (99 by the time I finished this…damn now it’s 101). And you always ask me if I’m LOOKING FORWARD to fashion week and if I’m going to any PARTIES. This is just day 1…in a NUTSHELL!

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

Bowery Hotel + Dominic Louis = Modern Medieval Luxe

11 Feb

Text, Vivian Kelly and Laura Wood

This was the last show of the evening and we almost didn’t go but thanks to the ridiculous self-created chaos at Milk Studio we scrapped our plans to stay for Erickson Beamon, M. Patmos, and John Bartlett. Lucky for us, we’d gotten our interview with John early on – [thanks Ross from the Deborah Hughes team!].

Chaos Outside Milk Studio, Thursday Night, 9:20p.m. - No one's getting in at this point!

We heard later from Tracy E. Hopkins of that the only way she and her friends were able to stay inside until the 9:00p.m. doors open time was by convincing the security guys who were manning the Libertine show was to let them stay in the building thus avoiding the Studio54-esque lines that extended way past Jeffrey’s.

A cab ride later we entered one of our favorite venues, the ski lodge like atmosphere of the Bowery Hotel’s private party space complete with roaring fire, medieval tapestries, and moroccan tiled floor. The only fly in the ointment was that it was a cash bar but that was offset by the complimentary bobble water bottles.We even posed for them and the bobble is in our bags now at all times.

This Versus the Line At Milk - Where Would YOU rather be?

As far as the clothes – a pleasant surprise; the more we looked the more we liked.  The first impression is how wonderfully the clothes fit with the atmosphere of the venue ie: a perfect presentation. On the way back to the Club, we reflected how these wonderfully constructed clothes would not have have fared as well on a traditional runway. These clothes needed to be examined close-up in order to fully appreciate the detail.

The "everything dress" at Dominic Louis

My Contributor, Laura Wood, and Ellen Sears, AAU Online Director of the Fashion School all loved and agreed we would wear the black knit sweater dress. This dress takes into account the idea of season-less dressing which is particularly relevant these days as the weather is so unpredictable. Paired with a a long sleeve top and with a coat, its good to go for a cold 30F day like today. It works just as well in 40-60 degree weather worn on its own with little ballet flats or high sandals.

There were several pieces with hoods for men and women that had were reminiscent of the hooded cloaks worn in Medieval times. A cloak seems like a fresh alternative to a coat. The most spectacular piece was two piece ensemble combined hard and soft. The breast plate-like shell top was intricately worked leather. The more you looked the more of the design you noticed, just as you would a finely carved sword handle. It may be highly “editorial” [translation – not for everyday] but we wanted it anyhow.

Last but not least, we stopped on the way out to admire the art house photogpraphs, especially the one of the fierce guy wearing a ball-gown skirt.

Note to Designers for next season – we’ll go to see anyone who shows here!

A Night Out – Holiday Cheer W/ Shiseido at Town & Country’s Visionnaire 5th Avenue Apartment

20 Dec

Text, Vivian Kelly

Last week, I was the “plus one” for a swank event co-sponsored by Town & Country and Shiseido. Contributor Laura Wood and I were there for a veritable laundry list of reasons:

– to chat with her friend, Connor Raus, a digital strategist ad the Creative Director of Digitature and to watch him in action, filming host and stylist, Luciene Salomone

– to check out the decorated apartment

– to watch the Shiseido presentation of the Future Solution LX line, of which I was already a fan. [ Kaplow PR had gifted me Bio- Performance Advanced Super Revitalizing Cream which feels insanely rich and luxurious, even at 6:30 in the morning when I’ve only got one eye lid open. A few colleagues have told me how “rested” I looked recently.]

The event invite promised ” a lip touch-up” which sealed the deal as I can’t ever pass up an opportunity to find a new shade of lipstick, never mind the 30+ tubes of lipsticks and glosses piled behind me on the FE home office shelf.

An added bonus to the affair was to wander about the lovely apartment and to peruse the gorgeous Rizzoli coffee table books. I’ve got MM Personal: From the Private Archive of Marilyn Monroe on its way to me for some much anticipated holiday reading.

Below, a video of host, Luciene Salome discussing the events of the evening.

100 Unforgettable Dresses by Hal Rubenstein + Joe’s Jeans = Newfound Holiday Spirit

11 Dec

Text, Vivian Kelly

Yesterday, I finally edged my way into “the Holiday Spirit”.

The event that got me into the spirit was  InStyle Fashion Director Hal Rubenstein’s Book Signing  at Joe’s 77 Mercer Street, orchestrated by Paul Wilmot Communications.

Hal Rubenstein, Author of 100 Dresses, fashion guru-personality

I’ve blogged about Joe’s Jeans before because I was entranced by Paz de la Huerta in the recent campaign that was more art than commerce [love that].  The most recent campaign – colored jeans – grabbed me too, but in a different way. The last time I wore colored jeans was in the Eighties. It was Christmas Break at Duke, and I had some money to spend and found myself at Macy’s, in the Ralph Lauren Department. I was inextricably drawn to a pair of Tiffany blue jeans. What would I wear with them? I didn’t know, or care. I wanted them, they were on sale and they were “something else”.

Years later, [last night] when I had a look at what Hal wrote in my copy of 100 Unforgettable Dresses, I was reminded of those jeans.

His signature in my copy reads, “ To Vivian, Wear Something Unforgettable, Be Someone Unforgettable”. H.R.

Every time I wore those jeans, I got compliments from fraternity guy friends, and was thrilled that “stepping out of the box” could reap ego boosting benefits.

Every since then, I’ve gone with my gut – something Hal recommends. If you love it, GET it, you WILL wear it. Last night, I luxuriated in a pedicure and gobbled up as many entries in the book as I got the opportunity to read some of the entries. A few favorites:

Slip for Butterfield 8 [Elizabeth Taylor in Helen Rose

Green Evening GownFor Atonement [Keira Knightlley in Jacquelyn Durran]

Revenge Dress [Diana Princess of Wales in Christina Stambolian]

Elizabeth Hurley launches her career thanks to Gianni Versace's "safety pin dress"


Many of these dresses are about one of my favorite themes, “The right time and the right place”. Take Elizabeth Hurley’s career making Versace safety pin dress. Prior to her 1994 appearance to then boyfriend Hugh Grant’s Three Weddings and a Funeral, she was “the girlfriend” aka arm candy. After that  came a those lucrative Estee Lauder contracts.

There’s so much more than this, consider this as an aperitif on a book that’s the perfect gift for anyone on your Holiday list who’s interested in any or all of the following: fashion, fashion icons, fashion history.

As far as the jeans, there are 55 colors to consider, but for now, the parakeet colored ones are in first place. Hey Santa, are you listening?

#1 on the list - Parakeet colored Joe's Jeans

Haiku for the Single Girl, The Book Signing Party at the Aldrich Contemporary Museum

15 Nov

Text, Vivian Kelly

My friend, art historian, John Tiffany, sends out invitations to his Eleanor Lambert themed events with the closing, “It will be a wonderful evening”. It’s the “wonderful evening” part that gets my attention. The word “wonderful” connotes a certain decorum, swankness and a hint of exclusivity. Having a perfect martini at the Oak Bar in the Plaza Hotel and then stepping a few yards away to peruse the coffee table books at the Plaza’s Assouline Shop qualifies as “wonderful”.

CT gal-pal, Cynthia Vehslage Meyers’ book signing party at the Aldrich Contemporary Museum last Saturday night, promised to be “a wonderful night”. Earlier this year, over coffee at Ross’ Bread, Cynthia told me about the all-nighters she was pulling to get the illustrations for Haiku For the Single Girl done by deadline. It was of course, completely worth it and the fete to launch the little red and white book was one of the best attended events I’ve been at in months.

The buffet was impressive as was the bar set up and after accepting a martini, I made up two horrible haikus for the contest, in hopes of winning one of the posters – blow-ups of writer Beth Griffenhagen’s hilarious haikus.

A few of my favorites

“Construction workers

Unfairly stereotyped?

I hear no catcalls.”


“Solitude causes

Loneliness, yes, but also

Fits of ecstasy”

I’d only planned on dropping in, giving Cynthia a hug and buying a copy to support her. After reading the posters, I bought three books, hugged C. , got her to sign it, and left reflecting fondly on my single girl days and mentally composing a list of friends I would gift this little treasure to this Christmas Season.

Where to Buy:

Haiku and the Single Girl is sold at Books on the Common, and available on

Haiku for the Single Girl is a collaboration between Cynthia, a brilliant illustrator whose work has appeared in The New York Times, and Beth Griffenhagen, the author, who has a master’s in psychology, works for Murray’s Cheese shop and lives in New York City.

Eric Daman for DKNY Hosiery

3 Nov

Text, Vivian Kelly & Laura Wood

Reported by Laura Wood, Contributing Writer

I went to the 4 month old Dream Hotel’s Electric Room to report on Eric Daman’s new hosiery collection for DKNY.  As soon as walked in, I was immediately impressed by this hotel. It had a great vibe, like stepping into a hidden oasis.Out of all the events I’ve been to this fall in New York, the Dream Hotel was spot on with their cool comfort food. I loved picking up the teensy grilled cheese sandwich in tomato soup dipping sauce.

Inside the cozy venue, there were models perched on the edge of the sofas instead of posed stiffly on podiums. They seemed as if they were part of the party, but all of them happened to be  unusually tall and good looking. I was immediately attracted to the hosiery and went over and found Eric to compliment him on his designs. I found out later, that Eric Daman is the stylist for the hit TV Show, Gossip Girls. We talked about how the inspiration for his designs is New York. Some of his most winning designs were inspired by menswear fabrics. The  floral lace was a nod to the flowers at the delis you find on every street in Manhattan’s  residential neighborhoods. The florals were interesting, but the main story is  his use of pattern and texture. After chatting with Eric, the atmosphere was so great that I decided to stick around and met Cathleen Moxham, from the Hanes Brands. We had a drink at the bar and an entertaining conversation about how tights have gone in-and-out of style since the Eighties, when we all wore solid black tights to no tights – ever – in the Nineties. It seems that tights are now back.

Eric Daman for DKNY textured hoseEric Daman for DKNY Over the Knee Hights

And, there’s more…

As the temperature continues to drop, we can transition into DKNY  Super Opaque hose, a thicker, completely opaque black tight. Donna Karan has also launched the Luxe Layers which are completely fleece lined and incredibly comfortable and warm.

Note to Self: Pick up a few pair of the Luxe Layers and Eric’s Over the Knee Highs – ASAP!

The Dream Downtown is located at 355 West 16th Street (between 8th & 9th Avenues)