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As a nearly 20 year Fashion Industry Vet, I've made TheFE my place to cover and discuss everything fashionable from books, to designer ready-to-wear to couture. All aspects of a fashionable lifestyle are included. BIG NEWS: I'VE MOVED TheFE TO WORDPRESS to take advantage of their superior publishing platform. See you there!!


Monday, March 30, 2009


Text & Images, Special Correspondent, Claudine Gumbel
Edited by Vivian G. Kelly

On Wednesday, March 18th, I had the opportunity to work on the launch of the Los Angeles store for What Comes Around Goes Around at a really cool venue – Space 15 Twenty. WCAGA is the brainchild of Seth Weisser and Gerard Maione. The space is amazing and serves as an arena for expression with stores that include a cool new Urban Outfitters, a bookstore, a gallery, and more. It is also across the way from Amoeba music. There are certain nights they show films in the courtyard. It is a must see - they have everything you need from cool clothes from emerging designers, vintage clothing, books, films, art, music and even cinnamon popcorn.

Some outstanding fashion people served on the host committee for this event: Erin Wasson, Rose Apodaca, Lawren Howell, Katherine Power, Hillary Kerr, Estee Stanley, Nicole Chavez and Nicole Richie. The crowd was filled with so many stylish people including one of my favorite guys, Arlo Weiner. He’s the most stylish guy around in his cool hat, a bowtie, and vintage monocle. He made my night! Another guy that was part of the event was my friend, Josh, who wore this Princeton jacket - not too many guys can rock something like that but he does. Everything was thought out from the entrance to the space – guests started their night when they received a vintage key on a chain. The bar sponsors served old school cocktails from Rose’s Cocktails Infusions [KARMA, and Boddingtons]. The goodie bag was filled with my favorite new band’s cds – EDWARD SHARPE and the Magnetic Zeros and blue q goodies from “shut the hell up gum” to glow in the dark tattoos. There is a lot of buzz about this event, as you can seem from my photos.

I got to travel there with one of my buddies who’s a music buff and turns me on to all my new favorite bands. We got in and checked out the coolest band, Bishop Allen. Their new album is amazing. From there we went to see one of my most favorite new bands EDWARD SHARPE AND THE MAGNETIC ZEROS. Their music makes you want to dance and just throw your hands in the air. I also had the opportunity to see Peter, Bjorn and John. The following day we prepared for our CULTURE JAM & HOUSE OF CASSETTE PARTY. We were very lucky to have a private acoustic performance from THE KIN. A big “thank you” to our awesome sponsors – Amstel Light, Fiji Water, Pop Chips and Mischieve Hornitos and THEME magazine.

That night I met the guys from Crystal Method who are so nice and learned about these cool watches from TOKYO FLASH that are super rad. The next day, I had the opportunity to rock out to THE NEW YORK DOLLS at the Rachael Ray event. And then that night we went to Perez Hilton’s showcase, where the surprises kept coming from Indigo Girls, Rye Rye, a special performance from Kid Cudi to a very big surprise KANYE WEST. It was awesome – he did about six songs. I love ‘FLASHING LIGHTS’ – such a great runway show. I made a few other stops and ended the night with a glorious performance from Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros. Check them out; you will thank me! They are musically stimulating and super fashionable from their clothing to their instruments. The girl that rocks the accordion has the coolest pearlescent find and there is a drum with an Indian Chief - love the sound of the beat.

To read more about what Claudine is up to, visit and at twitter @claudinegumbel

Saturday, March 28, 2009

The LORIS DIRAN fall 2009 Show

Text, Vivian G. Kelly
Images from the following sources:

Time & Place:
New York Fashion Week -
Thursday, February 12, 2009

The Chaos at the door fell into calm once everyone was allowed into the venue. The show was about 80% full. This designer has an impressive resume under his belt. He’s worked for Chanel and Versace and dressed such celebs as Sarah Jessica Parker and Beyonce. For his fall showing, he was wise to stick to a wearable chocolate brown and gray palette that could be mixed and matched a myriad of different ways.
He started right with a well fitting skinny men’s tweed suit accessorized with a fun brown leather aviator hat. For a more casual day there’s the cream cardigan with cable knit detail and the chunky brown chocolate brown hoodie bathrobe coat.

For the women, there was a sleek vented chocolate pantsuit with skinny legs chic enough to be worn for dinner out. Mr. Diran veered off course a bit with his smoke chiffon and satin pieces – the bustier worn over a white shirt looked too retro, as did the short Judi Jetson skirt.
Strongest were the simple shapes such as a sheath were punched up with interesting pleating detail at the collar..
While we liked the black and white cashmere dress, it would have been even better done in reverse, with the accent in black, resulting in slimmer looking hip.
BEST WOMEN’S PIECES: The high waisted pinstripe pant with flowing legs and a notched belt
BEST ACCESSORIES: tough motorcycle boots that were both sturdy and sleek.
To read more about Loris Diran’s work, visit the official website,

Thursday, March 26, 2009

PROTÉGÉ - affordable sneakers by the Knicks’ Al Harrington

“You don’t need money to play this game, you need shoes.” -Al Harrington.
Text, Vivian G. Kelly
Image of subway billboards and black patent sneaker, VGK
Image of black/white sneaker from
Image of Al Harrington, from

The Knicks’ Al Harrington vowed that if and when he made it, he would come up with basketball sneaks that young boys with not a lot of money could afford. It’s a well-known fact that big sneaker companies present impressionable kids with sneaks they frankly can’t afford, without having to resort to running errands for the local drug lord. Just go watch Notorious, and you’ll get our drift.

Mr. Harrington has come-through, and is currently promoting affordable, weather resistant, high-performance basketball shoes that look like they should cost considerably more than the $34.99 they’re retailing for at Kmart.

According to MSNBC, he actually WEARS them – are you listening, you other celebrity designers out there who don’t wear your own designs while on tour and posing on the Red Carpet?

Protégé’s pulling out all the stops in promotion, which is what you need to do if you’re going to get a product off the ground these days.
SOME of the places you’ll see Protégé: TV, online, and inserted in-game ads on “Guitar Hero” and billboards, and on subway trains, as we did while riding the #6 Downtown during New York Fashion Week.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009


Text, Vivian G. Kelly
Contributions by Hans Van Zutphen

Images of the products, from the companies’ respective websites
Images of the Grand Mayan grounds, from the Grand Mayan website
Images of Vivian G. Kelly and Hans Van Zutphen, the staff from the Mayan Palace

The week of March 16th, the Mayan Palace/Grand Mayan Compound, @ 40 miles away from Cancun, Mexico

We hit the beaches and pools of the five-star/picture postcard perfect compound with a tote bag full of products to road test. The resort boasts 4, maybe it was more, pools – we lost count and a beautiful beach with fine-grained white sand. With 2,500 employees tending to the grounds and the guests, no wonder it looked immaculate.
WE were both ghostly white after a long snowy winter and hit the pools and beach loaded with a bag of products to road test.

As I’m typically close to a TWILIGHT-shade of white, I pull out all the stops when it comes to protecting my skin in the sun, and am happy to leave with a light tan – St. Tropez bronze seems to be out of reach for me, in this lifetime.
On the FACE – I swear by Neutrogena’s SPF 70 - remembering Dr. Frederic Brandt’s admonition that he “never leaves the house with less than 30 SPF block on, and neither should you”.
On the BODY – I stuck with Menscience SPF 30, which effectively stopped any and all reddening and resulted in a light tan.
Once back in the room 3 applications of DEX bodyglow mist delivered a medium tan that’s normally beyond my reach.

For Days 1 – 3, good old-fashioned sweat, which he claims, “acts as a natural sunscreen” and HAWAIIAN TROPIC’s SPF 4. Sweat seems to work to a point, but in climate where the sun isn’t nearly as potent as in Mexico. By the end of day 3, Hans relented and covered himself up with Menscience SPF 30 and went from the color of a raw steak to the color of a milk chocolate Easter Bunny by day 6, when we packed up our bags to head home.
Menscience ALSO applied as an after sun body lotion, offered him relief as it’s got soothing ALOE in the formulation.
To fill in squint lines, STRIXADERM-MD did an admirable job, acting as line filler and plumper, as the literature promised it would.



4 oz., $31
• The ideal unisex sunscreen, no smell, stayed on and offered lots of moisture.

NEUTROGENA Ultra Sheer Dry-Touch Sun block SPF70 with helioplex=broad spectrum uva-uvb
*Think this high an SPF is over-doing it? No way, we left minus the ugly red nose we usually wind-up with due to a too-low SPF.

HAWAIIAN TROPIC Dark Tanning Lotion with Sunscreen – SPF 4 – Waterproof
*Tip: only use this as an extra, if used alone, you’ll burn, guaranteed.

PAUL MITCHELL Color Protect Locking Spray – sunscreen for your hair
*Made our hair shiny and soft, great results for the price.

8.5 fl. Oz., $10

STRIXADERM-MD Ultimate Lifting Correcting Facial Treatment, New Active Formula, Repairing & Anti-Wrinkle
*Actually delivered, so few “anti-wrinkle” formulations actually do. Delivers a much-needed wallop of moisture after a day out in the sun.

4.4oz, $29
*Felt wonderful to get rid of dry dead skin and exfoliating is a must if you hope to get an even tan.

DEX body glow Sunless Tanner
6fl.oz. $34
*The best of the lot, no streaking, as promised, really.
We’ve converted to mist tans now. It’s not unlike the spray tan you can get at Hollywood Tans but it’s in the privacy of your own home.

For more information about the Mayan Palace Resort, visit the official website,

Monday, March 23, 2009


Text, Vivian G. Kelly
Images of Nail colors from
Runway images from
Image of Halsotn and models, from


CND’s [Creative Nail Design] Ruby showed us the 3 custom colors that CND Creative Director, Jan Arnold whipped together for Costello’s latest showing. The cotton candy pink had a slightly dirty tinge that gave it some guts. So did the Barbie-lavender and faded blue jean colors. The heavy eyeliner looked like something Barbie might don if she was feeling tough that day.

The line sheet promised a show heavy on Ultra suede, which made us hopeful for some Halston like outfits. We were not disappointed.
The thumping rock beat and the models’ aggressive stride combined with no-nonsense grays and creams spoke of a strong confident woman. This woman’s strong and she’s also a sophisticated vixen who likes to wear stilleto heels [provided by Giuseppi Zanotti] a lot of Ultra suede and statement Swarovski crystal necklaces. When she does wear color, she’s bold about it and wears vivid sienna orange. She’s not much of one for prints, a mini toffee colored houndstooth print is as complicated as it gets. These designs show that you can produce a great dress with some artful draping in a way that’s immensely flattering to a woman’s curves.

To read more about this design duo and to view past collections, visit the official website,

Sunday, March 22, 2009

The BINETTI Fall 2009 Collection Showing

Text, Vivian G. Kelly
Backstage images of the models and CND nails, Richard Spiegel
Image of Diego Binetti from
Image of Jan Arnold, from
TIME & PLACE: Sunday, Feb. 15th, 2009
Focus Studio [45th Street], 599 Eleventh Avenue, the Forbidden Zone
This was by far the most interesting backstage, make-up and nail-wise. The gold and silver eyebrows, and magenta lips reminded us of something we’d see at a Dior show in Paris, rather than in New York, where the look tends to be more toned-down. CREATIVE NAIL DESIGN Co-Founder, and fashion maven, JAN ARNOLD outdid herself with these silver and gold nails that look like something the ancient Egyptians or Mayans would have loved, given their obsession with gold and ornamentation.

PR Deborah Hughes got us a time slot with the genial designer, pre-show, in-between last minute adjustments he made to the models’ outfits.

THE FASHION EXAMINER: How did you approach this collection? Has the recession affected your take on fashion this season?

DIEGO BINETTI: The retailer is demanding, “Give me something that will sell” or “give me something that is very high-end.

The show that followed was interesting too, a mini art installation of sorts, in which black spandex clad dancers pushed the models on round stands across the show space. We could see what Mr. Binetti meant when he said that he was “moving into making the designs very high end.” He used luxurious fabrics, ranging from basic black to a hammered gold lame print to royal purple. Although there was plenty of fantasy in the clothing, there was also a strong undercurrent of reality running throughout. Mr. Binetti edited himself “very, very tightly”, and showed only 17 looks. The show was a ride in the time machine, there was an Edwardian riding suit in white, a twenties fringed flapper dress, and a thirties cream pleated dress and marabou fur capelet a heroine in an Agatha Christie novel would have worn to dinner while riding The Orient Express.

FAVORITE: the deep purple silk chiffon dress with shaved wool trim and bronze chains accessorized with a wide bronze belt that gave it some heft.

CND Products are available on the official website:

Friday, March 20, 2009


Text, Vivian G. Kelly
Images of the Collection, Richard Spiegel
Image of Fred Astaire, from
DATE & TIME: Thursday, February 12, 2009
The Soho Penthouse, @ the Regency Hotel, Park & 61st Street.

Mr. Antoine kicked off his presentation with an explanation of his design inspiration for fall 2009.
“This 49-piece collection was inspired by the gentleman of the thirties, who had an affection for tailored clothing.”

THE INSPIRATION: the debonair gentlemen of the Silver Screen, Fred Astaire, perhaps?

WHAT THAT MEANT: - Well-tailored shirts, trousers, and a nice narrow-cut gray sharkskin suit.

The designer added some eccentric touches such as making one [yes, only one] of the legs of a pair of trousers a black legging. Experimentation is well and fine, but it’s doubtful that this look will catch on with the majority of the designer’s target market.

GROOMING TIPS: A look like this requires hair that's slicked-back. The Aveda Pro Team's slicked back hair added to the natty gentleman look that can be achieved with either MEN’S GROOMING CLAY or CONTROL PASTE.

All Aveda product, available on

Thursday, March 19, 2009

VIVIENNE TAM – pandemonium outside the Mercer Street Store

Text, Vivian G. Kelly
Images of the Vivienne Tam Fall 2009 Collections, from
Image of Nicole Fischelis in gray suit, from
Image of Meredith Melling Burke, from
Image of designer, VGK

Soho, NYC on Mercer Street

Standing outside of the designer’s Soho store, we had an endless loop of the eighties hit running through our head of, "Waiting in the Rain” on Bobby Brown's hit CD from 1989, "Don't Be Cruel".

Taking shelter under the overhang, while watching a colorful Lilly Pulitzer Jeep zoom by, filled with Fashion Week VIP’s, we noticed another VIP entering the supposedly “not ready- yet” venue. VOGUE’S MEREDITH MELLING BURKE stepped out of a private car and like her boss, Anna, her face was enough to grant her instant admission – ready or not.
While Ms. Burke was merely only doing her job, her access to the venue caused a great deal of grumbling to the varied retailers and press waiting patiently outside, Legendary Fashion Director, NICOLE FISCHELIS [now at Macy’s & who’s giving the retailer a much-needed style over-haul] tried to no avail to enter. It’s quite possible the Junior PR’s manning the door simply didn’t realize that she too, was a VIP. Ms. Fischelis left followed by her staffers, saying she would go to the showroom, “later”. Hopefully, for Ms. Tam’s sake, she did.
Once inside, the scene was noticeably brighter. The cause for the delay it seemed was that Ms. Tam kept rearranging the display.
OVERHEARD: a member of the Bloomingdales’ team speaking enthusiastically with Tam’s VP of Sales, SUSAN EISENBERG, about the collection. The retailer was happy with the dressy separates, which she seemed to think would perform well on the floor.
Pushing through the throng, we caught up with Ms. Eisenberg to fill in some details, which proved very helpful, as we weren’t able to push our way to the front of the display.

THE FASHION EXAMINER: How many collections are there here?
SUSAN EISENBERG: There are two, the signature Collection, and the diffusion Vivienne Tam Red Label.

T.F.EXAMINER: Is there a theme this season? An inspiration?
S. EISENBERG: The RED label separates are based on mesh lingerie. At the moment, Vivienne is into slashing details and there are of course, the prints, which are one of her signatures.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009


Text, Vivian G. Kelly
Image of Vice Chairman & Chief Merchant of Saks Fifth Avenue, RON FRASCH, JOSIE NATORI, and Interior Designer, RANDALL RIDLESS, from

Josie Natori is a “name” in fashion, small wonder, she’s been designing for 31 years, and is best known for her sensuous lingerie. Like other design talents out there, Ms. Natori decided to branch out. Three seasons ago, she began a RTW collection. She wisely tested out the waters and began with just a few pieces – some silk tops. At this point, now it’s expanded into a knit program, tailored looks, the jewelry and overall it’s a very coordinated look that won’t send you further into debt..

The most expensive item maxes out at $595 for a black coat in doubleface jersey that you could really call, “an investment piece”. True, this is one of designers’ favorite terms for justifying your paying $3,000+ for a pantsuit, but in this case, Ms. Natori is justified in using the term. The coat’s a keeper and one you could potentially wear years from now.
Although Ms. Natori was not on hand when we hit the Bryant Park suite, her very adept sales and marketing reps were and answered a few questions we had about the budding line.
Ms. Natori started the line to fill in a void for “restaurant tops”, the part you can see from the waist up.

It’s about “a pick me up”, it could just be as simple as a top to freshen things up.
THE SHIFT: we’re going from outright embellishment to more refined details such as pleating that give a 3-dimensional detail.

It’s on the 4th floor at Saks which has tried to reinvent the word “bridge” but this time around, the concept is a MODERN Bridge customer. At Nordstrom, it’s in studio alongside M Missoni, Ellen Tracey, Tory Burch,and Ellie. Ms. Natori makes an excellent point; like us you may have been size 2 all your life, but your body will be different at different stages in your life, and she sizes her clothes accordingly.
Eco's not the red-hot topic it was a year ago, but the Company has integrated some Green elements into the collection. They now have the capability to make knits that are lighter in weight by mixing in a little soy and bamboo into some of the items in the collection.

Opening price point, @ $95
Average price point for tops $195- 395 for the embellished tops.
Our top pick - the classic double face coat for $595
For further information on the line, visit

Sunday, March 15, 2009

The JUAN CARLOS OBANDO fall 2009 Collection

Text, Vivian G. Kelly
Image of JCO backstage and of model's hair & makeup, VGK
Runway images from the official website, photos, Marcio Madeira

Eyebeam Studio, the Forbidden Zone, 11th Ave. & 21st Street.
New York Fashion Week,
WHAT a season can make, that is in terms of organization.

Sometimes, a star is born, fresh out of an AAU, Parson’s FIT, or FIDM. Sometimes however, stars find their talents a little later in life. Such is the case with Mr. Obando. By day, he’s helping to create digital-ad campaigns for the movie industry. When he’s not working for Sony Pictures etc., he’s busy creating pieces that have landed him a full page in Vogue Magazine.
We arrived somewhat apprehensive that there would be chaos and drama at the door as there was on our last foray to an Obando show, six months ago. It was almost a letdown at how smoothly the check in process was. An army of PRs in black were ready and waiting and we were promptly escorted to our second row seat. PR Director, Jamie Falkowski had things well under control at Eyebeam this season.

THE THEME, “Case Study No. 11, The Siren vs. Hannibal had us curious from the time we received the e-vite.
WHAT IT MEANT: As at many places this season, there was an “armour and protection theme The razor thin models were cocooned in pleated silk chiffon dresses accessorized with heavy braided diamond and aluminum chokers by GABRIELLA ANTIGAS and black silk faille “bondage” heels by MANOLO BLAHNIK. Remarkably, Ms. Antigas only started working on the show jewelry three weeks prior to the show. It took her one week to actually make it.
Once Obando worked his way out of the bondage and cocooning what emerged was a very elegantly classic group of clothes in silk + wool with a pleated scarf/shawl that gave an avant-garde edge to the clean lined silk and wool emirates suits – slim skirts, pencil trousers and shells.
The finale had a few standout gowns in white silk georgette ranging from racer backs to one-shoulder and a Marilyn gown. As compared to last season’s showing, this collection was definitely several steps in the right direction.

We listened in on an interview that Spanish PBS was conducting, immediately after the show. Said Mr. Obando, “It was in the details, a lot of technical details, such as knotting details in the back “.
We were able to sneak a moment to ask him a few questions.
THE FASHION EXAMINER: Who is your woman?
JUAN CARLOS OBANDO: What I create is for a woman who loves to dress herself, to get her hair done, the works.
TFEXAMINER: What of the recession?
JCO: Women still have occasions to go to and to get dressed for.

To view more of JCO’s designs, visit