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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!!


Thursday, November 26, 2009

Accessories Lust: FINSK shoes at the Ports 1961 S/S 2010 Show


We've been Ports 1961 fans since the beginning, when Tia Cibanni showed in the loft where she'd end up having her showroom at 601 West 26th Street.
What keeps drawing us in are of course, the beautiful clothes that appeal to our boho spirit and the off the charts accessories that are the result of that season's particular collaboration.

For spring, all anyone's talking about, it seems, are shoes. Many of the shoes in question were not meant for walking but rather for talking [about].
Squarely in this category - JULIA LUNDSTEN's FINSK label shoes that had heads swiveling back & forth to have a better look when they teetered down the Ports runway.
For starters, Manolo [as in Blahnik] is a fan, so much so that he didn't stop at calling Ms. Lundsten's creations, "exquisite, divine, & perfect". He awarded her the Manolo Blahnik Award 2 years running. On her trophy shelf also sits the Young Designer of the Year Award from Finland.

Awards aside, the genius of her design finds its inspiration from nature and structures found in natural architecture. Most interesting are the HEELS, many made from sustainable exotic hardwood.
Whether you want them as objets d'art or are brave enough to wear them, you'll be wanting a pair this spring.

Photo Credits
Images of shoes,from FINSK at FINSK
Image of Julia Lundsten, from
To view additional images, visit FINSK on Facebook.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Menswear Designer, MIGUEL ANTOINE on the Branding Game: “figuring out cost effective ways to show to the industry and to the consumer”


WHEN & WHERE: After NY Fashion Week, at Miguel’s Showroom, the Garment Center, NYC

Designer MIGUEL ANTOINE’s story is the story of David and Goliath, set in the world of fashion.
The Goliaths are the LVMH’s of the world and the Davids are the little designers who are trying to get retailers to give them a chance.
Until recently, it was pretty dismal being a David. Not any more. Thanks to social marketing tools such as Facebook and Twitter and to very high-end qualified websites such as GILT GROUPE, all of a sudden, David’s got a chance.

We sat with Miguel after the flurry of Fashion Week was over and we’d all had time to digest what we’d seen and to reflect on the designers’ performances.

THE FASHION EXAMINER: What was the biggest statement you made this season?

MIGUEL ANTOINE: I showed 32 looks.
I’m not the kind of designer who cuts my own fabric. My strength is marrying casual and tailored.

FE: What are you wearing?

M.ANTOINE: I’m wearing a button down shirt and casual slacks. Fabric is so important to what I do, I import all my fabrics from Japan and Italian.
I like working with 120s light wools and goat and lamb leather. Goat has the rugged finesse to it; it withstands a lot of treatment. For instance, you can [even] give it a pebbled treatment.

FE: What do you look for in leather?

M. ANTOINE: The visual, the hand and that it’s not heavy. I try to be conscious of what’s endangered and what’s not.

FE: How many years have you been in this game?

M. ANTOINE: I went to FIT and was a buyer at Bloomingdales – sweaters and knits and then tailored clothing – an assistant. at both, suits and sport coats, and fine china where I had Mark Selig – a wonderful boss who really teaches a profitability model. I really took a liking to it and I check out the china now wherever I go out at restaurants! [laughs]

FE: You’re young and new. Any advice for newbies?

M. ANTOINE: Now people are more apt to do business with you as a little guy. I do my homework; I’m not a designer who wants a handout. I try to think like a buyer – “This guy may be talented, but there’s no brand equity, I can’t even sell my Varvatos unless I knock it down 60%.”

FE: A lot of you have the dream of going to work with Bernard Arnaud.

M. ANTOINE: Yeah, a lot of my friends and I had that dream. What’s happening now is that PEOPLE ARE ASKING FOR IT which is the result of the e-commerce site. My 1st 2 orders came from London. I’m going to focus my energies on getting things to the consumer. I can tell my story on the ecommerce site

FE: How did you do it? How hard is it to do?

M. ANTOINE: I built the bare bones and invested in some backend functionality so I can change things instantaneously with click and point. I’m the designer playing tech junkie!

FE: any partnering?

M.ANTOINE: We’re talking to some affiliate sites to do some partnering. We have 2 collections a year. We’re also exploring the Asian market place. 80% of the inquiries at the Project NY Trade Show were from the Asians. The trip this summer was such an eye opening experience in Tokyo and Hong Kong.
There’s a huge investment in menswear. Style for them is just that – style.

FE: What else do you want to do?

M.ANTOINE: Down the road I’d like to do shoes.
My favorite shoes are Dolce & Gabanna.

FE: What’s your strategy for getting through this rough patch we’re in now?

M. ANTOINE: When you start a new business you expect it to be rough for 3-5 years. I’ve had to revise plans I have for year 3. I’m going to keep designing and I won’t skip a collection.

In a nutshell - It’s about figuring out cost effective ways to show to the industry and to the consumer.

FE: Tell us about your spring/summer 2010 show and how you think it went.

M. ANTOINE: it’ couldn’t have gone better. There’s a layer of sophistication that came through that I had imagined being there. But I ‘m a businessperson first and you’re constantly thinking, “Who’s in the front row”. That’s when the pressure comes down.

FE: How are you financing yourself?

M. ANTOINE: I have investors, it took me years to secure them and I have to answer them, they’re my bosses. They stay out of the day-to-day opportunities.

FE: What’s your balance?
M. ANTOINE: I’m always creative, it’s intuitive, but I balance a great deal of strategy – how was what we did effective or not? The magazine business is folding but that’s exciting, the consumers themselves are dictating that to a point.

FE: Who’s done it right? Who knows how to brand effectively in today’s environment?

M. ANTOINE: I’d go back to Gilt Groupe, the way they quality people. It’s invitation only; they qualify people. By going that route, you’re not just exhausting your efforts to the masses. It saves them substantially a lot of money and gives them better control over analyzing their efforts.

Another one’s YOOX Group – a huge online luxury site. He [Yoox Founder, Federico Marchetti], grew it with $1,000 and a home page. It’s grown into a mega empire, again qualifying their prospects and reaching out to them. The investment is far less than with brick and mortar.

Images of the YOOX GROUP can be seen on, “the virtual space showcasing a selection of artisans and cutting-edge brands for men and women. Each brand has its own mini-store where the value of image and DNA is raised through its new collections, editorials and exclusive video content”.

For additional information on the YOOX GROUP, YOOX Group Press Office Headquarters 
Via Villoresi, 19/8
20143 Milano 
T. +39 02 83112811 
F. +39 02 83112821

Images of Miguel Antoine from New York Social Diary and

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Aspinal of London Ltd.

Gift With Purchase - Women 125 x125 Live 11/16/09 - 11/30/09

Here are two of our favorites we're hoping Santa will drop under our tree this season!
The Aspinal Brit Clutch Zip Wallet - a declaration of pure British patriotism.
This limited edition has been handmade in deep-shine Italian patent leather in Navy, with the union jack flag hand stitched with contrast stitching on the front. It is both extremely practical and a treat to own and use. If you are looking for a purse wallet to practically contain 'your life'... well here it is!

This is an eye-catching and versatile tote that is both handily size and guaranteed to grab attention, injecting life into a classic outfit. Why not team it with a classic trench or boyfriend blazer for that ultimate London style? The Brit Tote will arrive in an Aspinal protective felt dust bag.

Handmade in deep-shine Italian patent leather in Navy with the Union Jack flag boldly hand-stitched on the front, the light gold chain fittings link to flat comfortable handles allowing the bag to be held in the hand or worn over the shoulder. Tastefully lined in Aspinal signature fine grosgrain, the roomy interior features a pocket for your mobile, one further pocket and one large zipped compartment for all your other daily essentials.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Ginnifer Goodwin Wears 10AK dress by Academy of Art U. Students to 20th Anniversary Environmental Media Awards

Image of Ginnifer Goodwin, AP Photo/Matt Sayles, courtesy of Ian MacIntosh, Academy of Art University

Eco –anything was hot hot hot two years ago, culminating in IMG/LOS ANGELES FASHION WEEK AT SMASHBOX STUDIOS when they dedicated their entire fashion week to the green theme in October 2006.
Since then, it’s predictably leveled-off and achieved a limited success. Some companies are adding eco components to their lines, and that’s good, but hardly news making information at this stage.

The excitement seemed to have vaporized until just recently, when Actress Ginnifer Goodwin wore a dress made of recycled hospital scrubs.
We all know that actors only wear what they think is the latest and the greatest. Academy of Art University fashion design students got theirs when Ginnifer
wore their 10AK Collection dress
to the 20th Anniversary Environmental Media Association Awards.
Students Priscilla Guimarais, Kumiko Haruyama, Nui Tanapornwattana, Audrey Wang and Tramaine Tillman watched the actress walk the “green carpet” at Sunday night’s EMA Awards in their 1OAK (One Of A Kind) design.

The students use practices that ensure sustainability from inception to completion when creating their sustainable dresses.
The pleated strapless dress is made from hospital scrubs that would have normally been discarded. The students repurposed the scrubs using environmentally sensitive treatments and dyeing, before pleating the recycled fabric and creating a collection of dresses.

1OAK is available at Vie Bungalow’s showroom in Los Angeles:

Academy of Art University’s Website is

Visit their blog at fashionschooldaily

Saturday, November 14, 2009


The Tagline on the front cover of Crowe and De Rosen’s book says it all, “A glamorous story of power, profits, and the pursuit of the perfect shoe”.

LAUREN GOLDSTEIN CROWE and SAGRA MACEIRA De ROSEN really delivered the goods with this page turning tale, only it’s not a fairy tale – but a real life cautionary tale that should be required reading for any designer, new and old.


Jimmy Choo [a real person] was a graduate of the prestigious Cordwainers school, who toiled in obscurity in a tiny workshop in London’s East End. All that changed when then-Voguette, Tamara Yeardye [later, Mellon] discovered him and made him a star. The book digs and paints a sometimes less than flattering portrait of the principal players. “By 1995, the partying was getting to be too much for her. Tamara was more often than not walking into Vogue House with a hangover. In May 1995 she resigned her position at Vogue and packed herself off to a rehab facility. … Six weeks later Tamara was back in London committed to a new business idea sh had devised. One of the first calls she made when she returned was to her favorite shoemaker – Jimmy Choo.” [p. 11].

The authors hold you captive – they did their research and no one is safe from their scrutiny – including Jimmy who is not the victim he tried to convey he was to the press. Neither is Tamara the wicked witch of the West. If nothing else, The Towering World of Jimmy Choo is a lesson in the old adage, “business is business”.

Knowing the background of this brand will give you a whole different outlook when you’re shopping the new H&M – Jimmy Choo Collection that opens Saturday, November 14th. There’s a whole lot more to this brand than knowing that “Carrie” from Sex & the City likes to wear Jimmies.

The Towering World of Jimmy Choo is a Bloomsbury Press Publication, hardcover $26, is available on

Monday, November 9, 2009

CFDA’s FASHION’S NIGHT OUT & Amy Smilovic’s TIBI spring 2010 Collection

Images courtesy of Getty Images

WE were recently reflecting on the success of Fashion’s Night Out way back on September 10th. The big question, akin to the proverbial “elephant in the room” is, WHAT ARE THE NUMBERS? It’s the question that many industry insiders are wanting an answer to. On the one hand, it was a good public relations initiative/stunt on Anna Wintour’s part. When ELSE would you find fashion’s longtime queen in Queens, at a Macy’s no less?
We’re eagerly waiting for Vogue Publisher, Thomas A. Florio, to trumpet out the amazing numbers the event chalked up in the cities around the USA and the rest of the world. Stay tuned.

This brings us to TIBI. We’ve loved Amy and her Lilly meets cool downtown girl line since a former employee of Laforce & Stevens introduced us to the then capsule collection @ 10 years ago. We’ve watched it grow and have enjoyed her successful entry into the swim market. Because of Tibi, we’ve fallen in love with caftans all over again as have many other women, from size 2-12 that snap them up as soon as they’re available.
Nonetheless, we didn’t brave the melee on Madison Avenue after getting a taste of the goings-on downtown. On our way back uptown to get some R&R after a long day on our feet, we noted that “the girls” were out in force – that is they were dressed-up and hitting the events but we saw very few bags ie: evidence of actual purchases.

While it would have been fun to see Charlize Theron in person over at Dior Uptown, it was more of a thrill to sit and watch the TIBI show 5 days later, Tuesday, September 15 at 7pm.

Mid-way through, by outfit #14 of 3, we concurred with our seatmates that thus was the strongest TIBI RTW collection we’d seen yet.
We were initially thrown by the “Linda, Naomi, Christy” reference in the program notes. Once the “Naomi” one shoulder beaded dress came-out, we got it.
Pre-show, backstage, Amy said, “What’ I’m excited about is that I decided not to merchandise it [s/s’10 collection]. No black dresses, we need to feel good.”
The colorful collection captured the fun loving spirit of the eighties, when it was just fine to wear bright splashes of color and beading was considered de rigueur rather than tacky. As far as the early nineties reference – we haven’t seen this many slip dresses – long and short, since the days of Minimalism. As Grace Mirabella used to say, it looked “just great!”

Thursday, November 5, 2009


Images, courtesy of Rebecca Taylor/LaForce & Stevens

So, retail is in the dumps? So what? This just serves to separate the winners from the losers. When the pressure’s on – as it most definitely has been this bumpy year – the best push to the front of the pack.

Rebecca Taylor’s not a newbie, no longer “a young designer”. This New Zealand native went on her own over 10 years ago, in 1994, after cutting her teeth at Cynthia Rowley. In the past 15 years, she’s definitely earned her stripes and picked up celeb fans including Sarah Jessica Parker and Cate Blanchett. She’s consistently maintained the youthful playful quality that put her on the map – and consistency – especially now – is the name of the game.

For SPRING, there were updated versions of her signature looks, like the Liberty [of London] blazer with pink stitching and zippers.
She was on trend with the jumpers she showed that are the perfect fix for “fat days”.
NEON was there to – our favorite piece – the Schiaparelli pink sweater we’re craving.
Prices at retail are in the $195 - $425 range and these pieces go a long way to adding some punch to your wardrobe without leaving you minus the rent.
The “splurge” piece is actually an investment piece. The thick battleship gray button less cardigan subs-in for a blazer very nicely. The chain mail detail gives you just enough of that eighties reference. Everyone from MiuMiu to Jimmy Choo to Zara leapt on the studs and chains bandwagon, and a little of it really goes a long, long way.

If in New York, drop into the REBECCCA TAYLOR BOUTIQUE in NoLita
260 Mott Street New York, NY 10012
Call 212-966-0406 For Boutique Sales information

If you can’t make it into the City, Rebecca Taylor is also available at

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

BARBARA TFANK – The “Come out and play” spring 2010 collection

Images, Richard Spiegel

TIME & PLACE: 4:30p.m.
New York Fashion Week
Milk Studios, 8th Floor

Barbara’s work has always had a sixties elegance and aesthetic to it. This season, Barbara told us she has a moment of self-discovery which came when she opened the pages of AVEDON Fashion: The Definitive Collection. Says Barbara, “I had not realized how profoundly my approach to design had been influenced by working with Richard Avedon when I was a very young designer.”
She was lucky – Mr. Avedon let her pore over his private archive of fashion stills. The sixties elements were all there: the Kevin style bouffants, the music, and the cat eyes and of course, the clothes. There were timeless silhouettes present – blousons, A-line skirts that evoke that pretty primness we all loved when Jackie Kennedy wore it during her White House years.
While the clothes had us briefly fantasizing of leading this languorous early sixties lifestyle, this is one designer who’s got her feet firmly on the ground.
“I want to give real things of real value from day to evening to my customer, something they want to keep in their closets for many seasons.”

Monday, November 2, 2009

MARCO BICEGO – Jewelry in Which “Old World Artisanship Meets Modern Day Luxury”


Images, courtesy of Laforce & Stevens

For the past year, we’ve been shopping our closets, rediscovering that beautiful brown suede Escada belt, the black Max Mara pants, the Michael Kors satin sheath dress, the Diane Von pop pink dress. All of these items were new again, as we’d completely forgotten they were even in our closet.
That’s not to say we haven’t bought ANYTHING, haven’t added ANYTHING new to freshen up our wardrobe.
The things we did find ourselves adding were ACCESSORIES, in many different price points. There are the brown Italian leather driving gloves, the Simply Vera [Wang] black fingerless gloves, the vintage Longines watch, the black Prada Sport toggle shoes and black Prada nylon bag. What do all of these items have in common?
Easy, they’re classics and we’re not getting rid of any of them anytime soon, and they’re part of our daily wardrobe.

Then there’s the “non-essentials”, the things that give you pleasure for years to come and let’s face it, don’t fall in the category of “practical classics”.
We happily wear the gold and diamond chain HELEN FICALORA treated us to – it goes with everything, as does our gold, diamond and ruby wedding band.

This article is the first in a series of stand-out accessories we love on a year-round basis.
FIRST UP is Italian jewelry designer, MARCO BICEGO.
His motto, “ It’s about the perfectly imperfect”.

If you’re the yellow-gold type, this is a collection you need to have a look at; 70% of the collection is 18K yellow gold. MARCO is famous for his coil technique, in which gold strands are hand-twisted so that each piece looks similar but just a little bit different. This unique twist is what differentiates his pieces – from chunky gold rings to the twisted bracelets and necklaces from looking dully cookie-cutter and bourgeois.
While we’re fans of big outrageous jewels like those at VERDURA and GRAFF, the pieces in the collections he produces are ones you can wear with just about anything to the point that they earn a permanent place in your wardrobe.

All designers have them; Marco’s are based on his travels.
Here, a few of his latest:
THE MADAGASCAR COLLECTION - tangles of gold “guitar strings” and the Marrakech assortment, with distinctive twisted coils sprinkled with diamonds, reflect Africa’s rich heritage.
ACAPULCO - features hand-engraved gold beads and ‘briolette” cut semi-precious stones reflect the luminosity of the Pacific.

ARUBA - pieces crafted from18 karat gold with diamonds and semi-precious stones capture the sensuality of the Caribbean

Marco Bicego, is a powerful hybrid, a designer, an entrepreneur and a skilled marketer, and an “artisan”, whose father taught him the art of jewelry-making.
The company has grown quickly in the United States, thanks to Bicego’s designs and marketing savvy and to Moise Cohen, President of Marco Bicego USA’s contributions. Under Cohen’s watch, the company has grown in the US, Canada, and they’ve recently added a NY showroom and a headquarters in San Francisco.

From $650, with a median range of $3,000
One of a kind piece, up to $150,000
Available at Neiman Marcus and Saks Fifth Avenue