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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


Shanghai Express – Douglas Hannant’s Shanghai Fantasy

22 Jan

Text, Vivian Kelly

Sometimes a show is more than just a show. I reminded myself of this as I sat down [finally] to register for Mercedes-Benz NYFW, and to go over the list of shows on The Fashion List. The task is easier as I’ve already got a list of GO-TO shows – the ones Deborah Hughes Inc. and Paul Wilmot Communications are producing.

One of my favorites last season was Douglas Hannant’s Shanghai inspired collection, which gave me the opportunity to indulge in a historical fantasy – being present at one of those members-only soirees in the American Consulate in the 1930’s.

There’s a book in the works that will be published by another favorite – Assouline Publishing as well. Douglas got the inspiration for the collection by viewing the black and white photographs the author shared with him a few months before the show. The images of the author’s grandparents daily lives in the upper echelons of 1930’s Shanghai society got Douglas’s creative juices flowing and the resulting collection was nothing short of inspired.

Enjoy the video of  my interview backstage with Douglas.

The Historic Glen Cove Mansion – Roaring Twenties Splendor

28 Dec

Text & Images, Vivian Kelly

I’ve always wanted to check-out Long Island’s North Shore. It’s where some iconic “right time/right place” moments: F Scott Fitzgerald’s “East Egg V. West Egg” in The Great Gatsby in the Roaring Twenties when Gatsby had a party to end all parties at least once a week. I was able to blast back to this period in the past when I stayed at the Glen Cove Mansion in Glen Cove, L.I.

Maybe Fitzgerald was inspired by big business personalities such as John Pratt who was an attorney and executive with Standard Oil, the behemoth oil company founded by robber baron John D. Rockefeller in 1870.

John and his wife, Ruth Pratt [quite the career woman herself] maintained the 55 acre estate to the glamorous standards that were “an integral part of the many glamorous estates which comprised Long Island’s Gold Coast.” *

The front of the mansion is truly magnificent as is the entrance – huge double staircases, rich paneling and antique fixtures which put it on Country Life Magazine’s “best twelve country houses in America”. If you do nothing else, take the time to rent a bike from their fitness center on the second floor and tour the neighboring streets. You won’t be able to go down the long driveways – impossible to miss the forbidding “absolutely no trespassing” signs or the older white iron poles with black block letters spelling “”private”.

Once back at the Glen Cove Mansion, I day dreamed back to the Roaring Twenties as I biked around the former Pratt mansion’s circular drive. I imagined I could see the bejeweled guests arriving in flapper dresses and tuxedos, eager to attend yet another Gatsby-esque party to end all parties staged at the pool in the back of the property’s 55 acres.




Purple house in Glen Cove, on the IslandA Pratt Family Gathering at the Mansion

*From the Glen Cove Mansion’s in-house guest information kit

Booking Information: I found the Mansion thanks to Living

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.

Fashion Iconoclasts Have Their Day: Libertine and Custo Barcelona

13 Sep

Text, Vivian Kelly

“Just do your own thing”. How often have you heard this phrase? How often do you actually follow that advice?

Too risky, right? Yes and no. Two designers continue to do just that and THIS is a great season for them. They are [drumroll] – Johnson Hartig for Libertine and Custo Dalmau for Custo Barcelona.

Just for fun, I BING’d the definition for “libertine”.

According to wikipedia, “A libertine is one devoid of most moral restraints, which are seen as unnecessary or undesirable, especially one who ignores or even spurns accepted morals and forms of behavior sanctified by the larger society. Libertines, also known as rakes, placed value on physical pleasures, meaning those experienced through the five senses.”

In other words, don’t worry about what society thinks. Johnson has it right, and the young trustafarians who wear his clothes to go clubbing probably get a kick our of wearing a tee-shirt or skirt that says “Tax the Rich More” [ie themselves, or Mom and Dad]. As far as trends go, Johnson always does wonderful fitted coats which could be interpreted as “ladylike” and his bold navy, black and white stripes hit the “obvious print” trend going on this week at the New York shows.

Custo Dalau did what he always did – wild prints, mixing and matching unlikely textures for both his men’s and women’s designs. Sometimes it does get a bit excessive [as in a too bulky- too many furs and tweeds] but not this time. The 3-D effect he achieved was interesting and innovative, but we had to wait until the end of the show to have  look. Normally, a collection this lengthy might be a bit of a yawn but that was definitely not the case here. The Fashion List’s R. Scott French and I loved the clothes and the music. His Iphone4 enabled him to immediately download two of the songs we loved, “Filthy Love” and “Icons of Summer”. I had to wait until I got back to the room to do it on my MacBook Pro. No matter, the clothes more than made up for that.

Group 1 was called “DUAL” and covered the casual look, and was primarily about graphics. My favorite from this set was the men’s black and white lambskin leather sweater jacket in a harlequin print. This is the sort of piece a woman would “borrow” from her boyfriend or husband and “forget” to give him back.

Group #2 was called “Kaleidoscopio” and as you can guess, was a composite of geometrics stitched together from a variety of fabrics based on raffia, cotton and silk. As at Christian Siriano, there were muted colors [beige, brown and ochre] contrasted with vibrant ones [coral pink and acid green].

The most interesting grouping though, came at the end. “Mirame” featured those special occasion pieces for guys and girls who don’t have a problem with making an impression when they walk into the room. After some  discussion, Fashion Tribes’ mens’ editor, Mark Behnke and I agreed that these looks would play well in Rome, where it’s one’s duty to stand out and more, scratch that – MOST –  is better. Mark was obsessed with a bronze men’s look which I’ll search-out once all of the show images are available. I’m sure it’s great, but when I attend a Custo show, I prefer to sit back and enjoy the experience; the details come later.

The only drawback to the  3-D fabrics is that they are tough to photograph, [I gave-up after a few fails]. Nonetheless, I’m sure that these colorful pieces made a sufficient impression for editors and buyers to carve-out time in their busy schedule to take another look and to order them for fashion editorials and stores, respectively.

A big “bravo!” to Custo Dalmau this season.