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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.


The Tibi Spring/Summer 2012 Collection Show at Lincoln Center

16 Sep

Text, Carey Reed Zamarriego

Images of Front Row and two Runway Looks, CRZ

Individual Runway Looks, from Vogue UK

“I think women should dress in a way that’s effortless but never lazy,” Amy Smilovic, the American designer behind the Tibi label has said. Naming the ladies of Charlie’s Angels as the epitome of chic style, Tibi strives to provide pieces that take the effort out of creating laidback, modern looks. A feat that’s easier said, than done. I know I toiled away in front of the mirror the morning of the show agonizing over my outfit and trying to piece together an effortless, yet contemporary. In the end, I settled on a billowy red and white striped tank, navy boyfriend cardigan, gray skinny jeans and black booties. However, when placed under the bright lights of the runway show, my cool, collected appearance quickly began to melt.

Diagonally across from me though, were three ladies who seemed to beam in the heat of the show lights and represented the crisp, effortless modern style of Tibi to a T.

Socialite and part-time reality TV star, Olivia Palermo sat flanked by a male companion on one side and TV actress Sophia Bush (One Tree Hill). On the other side of Bush was Emma Roberts, tween actress (Nancy Drew) Julia Roberts’ niece. Olivia looked fresh and classic in an oversized gauzy cream blouse, a skirt so short it disappeared when she was seated, and animal-print pumps. Sofia opted for a strapless rouge leather dress, paired with a python clutch and Emma was decked out in a deep shade of plum.

The show began with a series of shorts, pants and tops in cream and pale hues of pink, green and blue, exuding Tibi’s effortless chicness. Next, there were pops of color with mustard and outfits pairing royal blue and black. Different textiles played off one another, some more successful than others. I didn’t really care for the short-sleeved leather tops, which awkwardly flared out at the models’ waists. There were several textured pieces: an eyelet black ‘nude-illusions’ dress and shorts, and several dresses that looked like they had been pressed with prints. Well-constructed, wide legged trousers and long cargo skirts were paired with sleek, feminine tops and represented Smilovic’s desire that “a woman should dress in contradictions – youthful and sophisticated, masculine and feminine, bold and muted colors.”

The show closed with a series of tops, shorts; and my personal favorite, a strapless, pocketed genie jumpsuit, which all had the same delicate white Asian flower print atop an emerald green and black background. The look was possibly inspired by Smilovic’s time spent living in Hong Kong. My other favorites included a strapless dress in mustard and Tibi’s gauzy halter neck dresses in baby blue and cream, all of which would easily roll up and travel nicely in a bag to the island for a day on the beach and transition, with heels, for an evening out.

Trends for spring/summer:

Return to long, cargo-style skirts

Wide-legged trousers

Royal blue and black; mustard and cream; slate blue and blush

Trends for fall (as seen in the crowd):

60’s styles a-la Mad Men

70’s boho chic: large, floppy velvety hats, oversized clutches, bellbottoms and hair left long, wavy and parted in the center.

80’s preppie style a-la any John Hughes film from the time

To view the collection and for more information on the Tibi brand, visit

If you’re in NYC, drop into their  SoHo Location, at  120 Wooster Street, to browse.

Carey is the Editorial Director for (W)anderlust Writing. To see more of her work and current project, visit:



The Rachel Zoe Spring 2012 Collection

12 Sep

Text, Vivian Kelly

In line in the lobby in the Garment Center, we predicted that the Rachel Zoe spring 2012 collection would be heavy on smoke and mirrors and light on content.

When the elevator finally swooshed us up to her studio, it felt as if we were on set for “The Rachel Zoe Project”, complete with a white Diptyque candles and white calla lilies everywhere.

No sooner had we entered, than we were approached by a USA Today videographer doing a behind-the-scenes about the collection.

“So, what do you think?”

I tried to be tactful, it’s not a lot of stylists who can transition from advisor to creator. Victoria Bartlett does a good job over at VPL, but still it’s not a major brand and strictly for the Downtown girl.

“Well, I haven’t seen a lot but she’s done a nice job in that it’s age appropriate  and a lot of the looks resemble those she dresses her clients in. There’s the boho chic look [pointing to ruby forest devore t-shirt and maxi skirt] and I could see a young girls wearing the “black textured canvas petit tailleur” ie: a short skirt suit that a 17 year old with good legs can pull off. The 30 looks featured Zoe’s signature style – the floaty seventies chic, the one shoulder short party dress and skinny cigarette pantsuits here young Hollywood clientele go to her for. Hers is a head to toe styling proposition which includes big structured handbags that could pass for the Hermes Birkin she carries [at a distance] and her own famous face [black lined eyes, tan skin, center parted long blonde hair and high gloss nude lips].

Reflecting on it over some ice coffee at Starbucks, we concluded that it was imitation but not inspiration. That is not necessarily a bad thing as this collection is akin to Garanimals for the twenty year old set who want to look au courant but may not know just how to get that  look on an assistant’s salary. Hopefully, the collection will remain in their price range and be available on QVC.

Early March – Things of Note, Fashion Patchwork Pictorial

21 Mar

Text, Vivian Kelly

In case you’re wondering, just what in the bleep is a “fashion patchwork pictorial?”, here’s my attempt at an explanation.

I think of it as a colorful brainstorming bazaar.

Dannijo's great collage of gypset style- inspiring!

By the end of the week, I’m a bit overwhelmed with all of the fashion, and style I’ve seen and experienced and need to begin the editing process for the following week.

NYFW is over and I’ve not even gotten close to giving all of the things I attended and the videos I shot the 100% attention they deserve, but fashion never stops, and there’s always something and someone new to report on. One of my BFFs, Theadora Brack, Paris Editor of
Eurocheapo suggested I  put up end of week fashion patchwork pictorials to give you readers an idea of what’s out there that’s stylish and noteworthy. Not everything on the pictorial will eventually make it into a full-blown post, but each picture is precious to me because it “sparked something” – as another BFF, Interiors Decorator, Demi Schimenti, likes to say.

Christian Louboutin's Festive Windows in Meatpacking, NYCLimited dress on Paul Wilmot PR staffer

*IN THIS WEEK’S PICTORIAL: THE LIMITED, CHRISTIAN LOUBOUTIN, ANOTHER MAN’S TREASURE, BONNIE YOUNG, CALLULA LILLIBELLE, the perfect red lip by makeup artist JENNI SHAW, the “Spectacular Spec Styling Event” at VISION EXPO, and my first-ever  INTRAceuticals Oxygen Facial with Tarin Graham. She’s only 23, but she’s got her Mother, Michelle Peck’s magic fingers. Ms. Peck is INTRAceuticals’ spokesperson. She and Tarin both give the REAL Oxygen Facial at the Mzia Shiman Spa on Fifth Ave. A-list celebs such as Naomi Campbell, Rachel Zoe, Katy Perry, and Fergie, have glowing testimonials on the INTRAceutical site and are fans of the Mother-Daughter team. That’s just the beginning though, some of the biggest celebs aren’t on the official list, but I’m sworn to secrecy on that one. The oxygen, by the way, felt fantastic, and the plumped-out effect lasted through the weekend. Below, a pic BEFORE Tarin when to work on me, showing-off Jenni’s custom red lip for spring.

Last but not least, was the jaunt to Hoboken, NJ last Sunday to pick-up some canollis from CARLOS’ BAKERY and a visit TO nearby Jersey City with FE friend and contributor Liza Mulvenna who introduced me to Another Man’s Treasure Vintage Store in Jersey City. It was there that I fell madly in love with the window display – a long plaid Burberry skirt I’m mentally recovering a Queen Anne chair I picked-up at McGeorgie’s Antiques a few years ago. If I do get the skirt [I’m second in line for it], I’ll be calling Kostas, from Kostas Upholstery to make it a reality.

Kostas' Gorgeous Leather Chair and Ottoman

Vintage Burberry skirt, from Everyman's Treasure

Going back to two weeks ago, Friday, Deborah Hughes’s team got me a one-to-one with chidren’s wear designer, Bonnie Young, whose show I had missed during NYFW. Children’s wear at NYFW? Really? YES, as this is not poncy pretentious stuff, like the former Mrs. Hilfigger used to design for her store, Best&Co. The former Greenwich Avenue shop catered to hedge funders who wanted to look as if their children had grown up on Long Island’s North Shore, and their “Mum” was C.Z. Guest. While the pristine white shirts were gorgeous, having had two children, it seemed absurd to spend 3 $ digits on a white peter pan collared shirt for a toddler who will invevitably soil it with carrot mush on the first or second wearing. Let kids be kids. What’s wrong with tee shirts, jeans and sneakers? If you want to dress them, then go full throttle and have a look at what Bonnie is designing.

Bonnie Young does not design those kinds of items. She designs children’s couture, which is a completely different proposition.

After an invigorating conversation with Bonnie who kindly gave me lots of time even though she was on her way to the country, I met back with Deborah Hughes’ gang at their beautiful new showroom in an historic building on the West Side. There, I fell in love with couturier, William Calvert’s Calulla Lilibelle’s “desk to dinner” line. Deb and I had some fun trying on the clothes, including an Edwardian style tomato red coat I didn’t want to take off.

Designs from William Calvert's Callula Lillibelle fall2011 Presentation at Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week NYTrying-on Calulla Lillibelle at Deborah Hughes' Office

last Thursday, a visit on a very rainy afternoon to Industria Superstudio in Meatpacking reminded me how great “mass market” fashion can be if it’s done right. Designer Elliot Staples, the congenial Sr. VP of Design of The Limited talked to me about how he and his team and powerhouse Paul Wilmot Communications, are slowly but steadily turning what used to be a very average brand into clothes the Corporate working woman and the suburban soccer mom would be happy to wear. His last collection was good, [the green sheath dress was the #1 item] but this one knocks it out of the box. My favorite item was the camel outfit, such as you’d see the chicly understated women in Milan wearing. Fancy? No. Impeccable? Yes. What drew me to this was that this outfit had STAYING POWER. No embarrassment whatsoever in wearing this a year from now. The solution to “updating it” is simply to change-up the accessories. With luck, Elliot and his team will be giving us some options in the all-important shoe category soon.One of Elliott Staples

Sofia Bak’s London Fashion Week fall2011 Picks: Burberry and More

17 Mar Burberry Look 41- all wrapped-up, like a present

London Fashion Week Coverage, courtesy of Sofia Bak, Founder, of Frolic72.

Edited by Vivian Kelly,with a few comment in pink itals

Sofia Bak and a Fashionable Friend

Thank God for friends. A girl can’t be everywhere and I’m thrilled to have fellow journo, the gorgeous Sofia Bak to rely on for some great London Fashion Week Coverage. We met years ago, at LA Fashion Week, before she moved to the U.K. back when she was doing PR. These days, she’s a journalist/fashion photoshoot producer whose work has been published in international media like Harper’s BAZAAR Russia,  Beverly Hills People, London-INFO, 944,, Beauty Handbook, Item, Glitterati, The Fashion Examiner, etc.

I can always count on her to spot any celebrity in the room [and there were seemingly MORE of them at LFW than at NYFW!]. Just goes to show that New York has been deemed “too commercial” for many of them to bother with NYFW, with the exception of the Marc Jacobs evening show.

I agree 100% with her “. R.I.P. Trends” statement, below. Don’t you?

“We know trends are only there to make the consumer feel the need for certain “must-have” items. But they’re also there to inspire. London fashion however is there to inspire unconformity. Between New York, Paris and Milan, London is a city that represents edge and produces designers that march to the beat of their own drum. This fashion week the designers seemed to say “enough” to the marketing industry and showed us the way to take risks and have fun with our outfits. And by the sour faces front row, I’d say we need a bit of fun. Isn’t it why we’re in the fashion industry in the first place? Because we chose to do what we love? Even though for years we’re forced to work with no pay, live on an occasional canapé, shove our blistered feet in high heels and forget sleep, rest or relationships.”

Keep on reading! Below, a few of the highlights, as reported by Sofia.

On the list, some names you may not yet be familiar with  [Kinder Aggugini, Corrie Nielsen] and some that are fashion legend [Burberry, Vivienne Westwood].

Kinder Surprise at the Kinder Aggugini Show

Speaking of flowers, Kinder Aggugini charmed the front row by placing kinder orchids with care instructions on our seats. Some didn’t want theirs so I saved the poor flowers by pinning them to my coat and took them home. Since the hair does have a very distinct trend in a shape of a ponytail this season, Kinder’s models were cone-headed and had their tresses pinned into orchid-like ponytails. The atmosphere was beautiful until the show started and the photographers started yelling at the models to walk away faster so they can shoot the next girl (due to the shape of the runway). This made me laugh at first but then I felt sorry for the models and angry at the photographers. I know it’s their job to do anything to get the picture taken, but there’s no need to be so rude

Newcomer Corrie Nielsen

Corrie Nielsen was someone we saw for the first time and fell in love with at the finale. The models did an incredible job at creating an illusion of a gothic scene, moving like ghosts down the runway to captivating choir music, reminding us of Queen Elizabeth I and her powerful presence.

I’d like to add that although I can only see the back of this gown, it would make a h—l of a wedding dress for Kate Middleton’s April wedding.

Vivienne Westwood

Vivienne Westwood continued with some of the gender swap theme and was appropriately attended by Boy George. Westwood is a trustee of Liberty and continues to use the medium of her shows to talk about culture and politics, more specifically about the urgent need to act against climate change, which makes me love and respect the lady even more. Her rag-doll/scarecrow make-up excited the media, which pictured gold paper-faced model for days to come. As distorted as her models were on the catwalk, Vivienne herself came out as elegant as I’ve ever seen her. Her hair was pinned back in an elegant sea-shell and she wore a stunning blue dress which made her dameness appear very blue blooded indeed.


Burberry – Oy Vey…Oh Yay!

Burberry Prorsum fall 2011, image from

Linn almost had a breakdown on the way to Burberry. Fashion Bus (the press bus) was stuck in traffic and we were reading tweets saying the show was about to start. When we were finally there we ran for the doors and were the last one’s in, some of the other journos from the bus didn’t make it. Running (late) for once paid off for me because I ended up getting a better seat right opposite Kate Bosworth, Rachel Bilson, Ellie Goulding and Mario Testino. But I was a bit disappointed with the show at first. After Bailey’s S/S10 work he can’t seem to exceed my expectations. However, I did enjoy the second leg of the show. Elegant white coats and jackets tied up like presents with black string-belts were very chic.

Burberry Look 41- all wrapped-up, like a present

*I later got the scoop from my BFM agent at Burberry and found out that the clear rain protectors that were used to save the designs from the fake snow at the end are selling like hot cakes. I also have some inside info on Burberry Bespoke…but will not reveal it just yet.

I for one, can’t wait to see what Sofia’s got re: Burberry Bespoke!

To read the full report, go to frolic72.

Kate and Naomi Rock the Louis Vuitton fall2011 “Night Porter” Show

11 Mar

Naomi's Bag at the fall2011 Louis Vuitton Show - the bag of the season

Text, Vivian Kelly & Anthony Palermo

Kate Moss Walks the Louis Vuitton fall2011 Show

I went to see my friend, Anthony Palermo, to vamp up my hair. There’s nothing wrong with it but it needed a strong creative eye and if he said, “go silver” I’d do it in a flash. Why? Not because I’m wishy-washy, but because Anthony is blessed with an editorial eye. I’ve been privvy to sneak peaks for wigs he’s created that run in Vogue Italia and V Magazine.

He did not tell me to do anything radical. We decided  on a high impact gloss to make my hair look super shiny and healthy.

Most importantly, we talked about the latest Louis Vuitton show. There we were, in MidTown Manhattan, at the Anthony Leonard Salon, gazing at what had just transpired in Paris at the Louis Vuitton show . Anthony whipped out his ipad and showed me the money shots – Kate [Moss] insolently walking down the runway, holding a cigarette in miniscule black hotpants and Naomi [Campbell] in a riding outfit, complete with a jumbo  bag that’s sure to blast-off at the counters – if it doesn’t sell out before it hits the LV stores.

Naomi Campbell Walks the fall2011 Louis Vuitton Show

These two supers looked fabulous – for their age, no strike that – for any age.

Harper’s Bazaar dedicates a monthly column to “fabulous at every age” and I love them for it. A highly placed staffer once told me that she dreaded them because it was hard to find someone fabulous who was over 50. Really? ?

The problem is our perception of what “fabulous” means.

At what point did we decide that women had to be frozen in time at an age in which they looked not a day over 25 to look beautiful?

Looking back at my vintage Life Magazine covers, I beg to disagree with this assessment. Jackie O was at least 40 on her cover and her teeth weren’t bleached to Regis Philbin white. Isabella Rosellini’s hair was “too long for her age” and she had wrinkles.  No matter.

Maybe Marc Jacobs had similar thoughts running through his head when he decided to have Kate and Naomi walk the end of the Louis Vuitton show – arguably the most important one of the Paris show season.

Says Anthony, gesturing at Kate and Naomi on his Ipad –

“Kate and Naomi at Vuitton, it’s genius, it’s amazing. I love the idea of bringing a woman of that age to the runway because those are the women who are actually wearing the clothes and they can afford them. They’re showing everyone that they’re still relevant,  and recognizable. By doing this show, they’re simultaneously elevating themselves and the brand they’re walking for – Louis Vuitton.”

This was Kate’s 1st appearance on the catwalk in years; she’s too busy designing for TopShop and Longchamps and becoming a mogul in her own right. Naomi’s a celebrity, not a mere faceless model.

Kate channeled Charlotte Rampling in “The Night Porter”, complete withthe ciggy in her hand. We loved the “I can do whatever I want” expression on her face.

Charlotte Rampling in "The Night Porter"

Continued Anthony, “Bringing them back as a surprise element was great, it was back to KNOWING  WHO the model on the runway is.

Kate is recognizable, she’s 40, and she can still rock the hotpants and it makes world news. Putting those two models in the LV show is the ultimate publicity stunt – and they only  got 1 look each.”

We talked about going to the Paris shows together in the future. Sure, I religiously attend NYFW, but like Anthony, I’m in serious need of a high-octane injection of undiluted glamour, like what went down at Louis Vuitton.

Only in Paris.

Walking to his next appointment, Anthony said, “New York needs to step it up. There’s no element of surprise or glamour;it’s very commercial. Why not just do it at Jacob Javitz? Why put up tents? NYFW is now a trade show in New York.”

The next Paris Fashion Week is in just under 6 months. Time to start planning!

>EXCLUSIVE! Coffee and Tea With the Duckies, and a Very Big Surprise – Meet… Mrs. Brown

9 Nov


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The highlight of the week of November first was a late afternoon visit to the Duckie Brown studio, on West 13th Street. I had been invited for a studio visit, and looked forward to revisiting the Fashion V Clothes argument, now that the dust from NY Fashion Wk s/s2011 had settled. Not only did I get to spend some quality time, but I also got an exclusive.

The minute I walked into the studio/apartment [they lived there for years before moving to Brooklyn], I felt the Downtown meets Brit vibe, that air of “cool”
that umpteen stylists and designers strive to create. Few get it right and their efforts to be “original” [“Preppie with a Twist”] usually fail. The Duckies however, fall into the category of fashion iconoclasts. They’re in a league with Grace Coddington, Alber Elbaz, Kate Moss and Stella Tennant. All of them constantly surprise you because you never know just how they’ll style themselves or their collections. One thing they all share- whatever they come up with is always interesting.

Over the years, sitting in the audience, watching Duckie Brown shows, I’d find myself wondering how that really slim fitted coat would look on me. I usually have trouble paying 100% attention at a men’s show, as I won’t ever be wearing those clothes. Duckie though is different. I could actually envision donning the dropped crotch trousers, little caps and sharply tailored coats. I was happy when they started the Florsheim collaboration, especially when they announced they’d be doing women’s shoes and I looked forward to treating myself to a pair. I’d always envied the sharp oxfords Wall Streeters such as the mythical “Gordon Gekko” wore on “Wall Street”.
Clothes, though, really? Going into women’s usually signals a stab at going for “the world of”. Daniel and Steven just don’t strike me as the sort to crave world domination, so I never really seriously entertained the hope that one day, there would be Duckie for us women.

Daniel casually threw-out the bomb in the first few minutes of our chat and said that The Duckies are going to break into women’s wear. What?? Yes, that’s right. Women’s. The line is called “Mrs. Brown”.
Thinking more about it, going over to women’s makes a lot of sense. Everyone knows that the big money is in women’s wear and there have been some designers who have successfully bridged the gap and made the transition from menswear to women’s’ wear.
Ralph Lauren, the undisputed king of branding, whom we discussed later in our chat, created a “world of” that though redundant, [some old stand-bys: “Safari”, “Prairie]continues to strike a chord with consumers world-wide. Ralph made a humble start, when he managed to sell a few of his ties to Bloomingdales’ and later opened a necktie store using his “Polo” label in 1967. He started women’s three years later and really got in the public’s radar screen when he was hired to make the costumes for “The Great Gatsby” in 1974.
The late great Alexander McQueen, began his career apprenticing on Savile Row, for Anderson and Shepherd and then Gieves and Hawkes. While there, he learned the art of tailoring which would become a key part of the celebrated McQueen design DNA.

Pretty little dresses such as the ones Rebecca Taylor and Nanette Lepore make are a staple of the New York runways, and yes they sell to the cute twenty-something crowd. A McQueen suit though, is in a whole different league; it’s a masterpiece of tailoring and technical skills. Most women’s wear designers just don’t possess that level of talent. The McQueens of the world are few and far between. I felt privileged to be sitting on a leather sofa with two guys in his league when it comes to tailoring, and imagination.
Steven, like Lee McQueen, is a crack tailor in addition to be being a visionary designer. His problem, he supposes, is that he is not “a show-off” like the suavely handsome Tom Ford. In typical British self-effacing style, Steven recounted how devastated he was after attending a pattern making class at FIT.

Steven: It’s about feeling that you’re good enough. Years ago, I went to FIT and came back to the studio and cried and told Daniel, “They were so good”.
I didn’t think I could do anything as good as I thought they would. When I went back with my thing, it was amazing to see how good mine was and how shit theirs was.

Steven held up the blazer for us to inspect.
It was a reproduction of the one he’d whipped up for that long ago class.

Why do this arduous tailoring exercise again?
“Because I needed to know that I could,” Steven said, holding up the piece, smiling.

From there, we dove into the subject of “putting yourself out there” and “show-offs”.
Tom Ford, Steven declared, “is a huge show-off”. Steven and I are obsessed with Ford, his public persona and his stab at trying to make fashion exclusive again and his jump-back into women’s.

After leaving Gucci, Tom started over, founding Tom Ford International in 2005 with longtime collaborator, Domenico De Sole. The latter runs the business end of the brand as he did while he and Tom were at Gucci. In the preface written by W/WWD Editor, Bridget Foley, in the 2004 coffee table book, Tom Ford: Ten Years, Tom stated that he did not want to do women’s again, was burnt out, wanted to go into film. Of course, no one really believed him, and everyone was certain there would be another women’s collection. When he started his Tom Ford label by launching with menswear, I was…disappointed. Maybe, he really had had his fill with all of those Gucci collections, and that was really it.
In retrospect, it was yet another brilliant marketing move by Tom and De Sole.
When he finally did debut Tom Ford women during s/s2011 NY Fashion Week, the show people generated a hailstorm of controversy. His decision to do an old-fashioned fifties-style salon show, in which he narrated the looks to a select audience of 70 caused many fashionistas angst, miffed as they were at not even getting to see an image [forget seeing the actual clothes] of this VIP room show.

Steven, in an oracle-like fashion, had said only two days earlier, that he wished that fashion would go back to being more exclusive.
He’d argued animatedly with Daniel, who feels that fashion should be democratic and stated, “I disagree, call me a snob, but fashion should be aspirational. There’s sportswear, and there’s fashion. Think back to those shows at Dior, in the fifties. Entry was limited only to the select few, and there was a sense of ceremony to the whole thing, versus what we have now – which is this.
Although they applauded Tom for his risky show, Steven feels that it was just going back in time, not moving things forward. “How though,” Daniel mused out loud, “do you make a fashion show new and interesting? What hasn’t been done and is unexpected?”
Daniel shouldn’t worry about this as he manages to surprise us every season, whether it’s by putting on the infamous “back to silence” show that kicked-off with a cacophony of sound and abruptly cut into utter silence, or the latest show that used a full half of the space intended for seating to the models rather than to fill them with show goers.

Daniel says that they do ham it up a bit while taking their victory lap post show, they do it “because it’s expected”.
“How strange it would be” says Steven, if we just stood at the foot of the runway and didn’t smile? That’s not us, we have a sense of humor and that’s just taking yourself too seriously.”
Unlike Tom Ford, [at least his public persona], the Duckies are not big show-offs, haven’t even written a press release about Mrs. Brown. “ I guess we should do a press release to WWD about Mrs. Brown” laughed Steven.

The decision to do women’s started when Milwaukee-based Florsheims offered the Duckies a deal to design men’s shoes for them. It was a marriage between David and Goliath. Florsheim’s is a giant brand that’s been around since the late nineteenth century. After some financial difficulties, the Weyco Group acquired it in 2002, with the idea of putting it back on track. Weyco’s Chairman and CEO Thomas W. Florsheim, happens to be the grandson of Florsheim’s founder. Weyco is upscaling the brand’s profile, thanks in part to its collaboration with the Duckies. This deal has given “the Budweiser of men’s shoes” designer edge. On the flip side, it’s put money in the Duckies’ pockets so they can keep doing what they love – designing cutting edge fashion in limited quantities.
The Duckie-Florsheim deal continues to expand. Women’s shoes and socks are coming soon. Socks will retail for around $25 and the shoes top out in the $300’s. All of this was the result of Daniel’s knack for recognizing the right product placement.

TheFE: You do your own PR, that’s one of Daniel’s big roles, right?

Steven: Daniel is as good as KCD.
KCD did not get us a cartoon of me pinning a kid’s trousers in the New Yorker that ran in the “Talk” section of the April 6, 2007 issue.

Daniel: It was the most advantageous piece because Lizzie Widdicombe, who wrote the article, mentioned the Florsheims Robert William Asch wore with our suit to the prom. They saw it, and they called. That was one of the top five editorials we’ve ever had.

Ms. Widdicombe’s piece features a sketch of Steven tailoring a high school boy in Duckie Brown for his prom. The teen, Robert William Asch,
had written the Duckies an email titled, “A Not So Ridiculous Proposition”, asking them to dress him for his prom. When it was all over, Steven decided to gift Asch the $3,800 outfit and happened to accessorize it with a pair of black Florsheims.

TheFE: Now that things are growing, with Mrs. Brown and Florsheim women’s will you be taking on a power PR firm?

Steven: If we had a very specific goal in mind, but Daniel really does it all.
He produces the show. He’s got a background in television and a flair for production and the drama of presentation.

Daniel: I like to do it. We say “no” More often than not. We lend out to stylists we know or like. You have to make the effort. I love it when Deborah Watson comes in. She’s highly edited, she picks four pieces, and you get four fantastic pages.
There are less than 5 images in 10 years that I love, that Florsheim cartoon was one of them.
I’ll do it [the PR] for as long as I can. I can still answer my own phone so I just do. We show at the tent because that press pit is jamming.
All press is good press. If you believe the good stuff you have to believe the bad stuff.

Steven: Tim [Blanks] said to us after our last show, “Now you’ve hit the ceiling, you have to go to Paris”, but we’re New York designers, this is where we live.

TheFE: So your end-goal for Duckie Brown is…

Steven: We want to go forward, to work with new shapes, and see how they break the rules. We question why things are the way they are.

Daniel: You have to pay attention, look for good collaborations; we like to do collaborations that enrich us. At the end of the day it’s about the work. I’d rather have someone do a diffusion line – let’s call it “Just Duckie”. They set up all of the infrastructure and we design it. We’re different than many designers in that we don’t have that sense that ‘it’s not enough’.

Duckie Brown is the sun, and everything emanates from there. We just want to sustain what we have, to see what happens to the body when you make a shift. It’s about doing something that is interesting and indulging our curiosity. It’s not intellectual, as in Hussein Chalaian intellectual. I like being conclusive, not exclusive. What we do is fashion that’s from our gut.