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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!!


Sunday, February 27, 2011

TheFE's Bids for Academy Award Dressing, Makeup, Hair and Grooming

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Hi Fellow Fashionistas -

I'm in the midst of moving over to WordPress.
Today's post on what I'd like to see at today's Oscars,

See you there!

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

The Woolrich Black Label Debut by Paula Gerbase at fall2011 NYFW

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Text, Vivian Kelly
Hair and Makeup Commentary - Cassi Hurd

Hair and makeup play an important part in the overall look of a collection, as do the right accessories. With that in mind, I invited my friend, hair and makeup artist, Cassi Hurd to join me backstage to see Woolrich John Rich & Bros. ‘ launch of Black Label by Paula Gerbase.

In a somewhat comical blooper, [sorry – I deleted it from the video!] I asked Paula “where was the lingerie aspect” to her collection?” I’d hurriedly researched Paula that morning and came up with “British lingerie designer.” I couldn’t imagine how lingerie would play into a Woolrich Collection.
It does not.
It was no surprise that Paula seemed initially a bit taken aback before laughing and telling us, that her background is in Savile Row.
Aha. That explained the beautiful tailoring of the pieces the models posed in on the podiums outside in the shadowy Eyebeam Studio.

Until I got to Eyebeam Studio and met Paula, I’d thought of Woolrich as “in the country” plaid, red and black buffalo check, specifically.
Paula switched things up and delivered forest green and navy plaid – much more sophisticated. Green, one of the colors of the season, looked good. One of my favorite pieces was a  semi-sheer wool overdress.
Paula describes the Woorich Black Woman as a female urban warrior-ess. She’s not slopping around in Lakeville or Kent Connecticut in her Muck Boots and red buffalo coat.  Classic Woolrich will do just fine for those “in the country” weekends, but that is not what Black Label is about.
The Woolrich Black Label collection has a more sophisticated sensibility. Woolrich Black is for women who are concerned with braving the cold and wet streets of Gotham and the Windy City, London, Paris, or Milano in cozy layers on their way to work at their cool job at the Museum, Ad Agency, or Art Gallery.

The Black Label woman’s hair and makeup has that “done but not done” look that women from the above cities do so well. Paula told us that she chose to have the models’ hair up or down, depending on the neckline and proportion of the outfit she was wearing.  This is a refreshing departure from the formulaic [and dated] concept of having all the models hit the catwalk in precisely the same hairstyle, which reminds me too much of Gianni Versace and Calvin Klein shows in the early Nineties.

For the fun of it, I mentally gifted myself the navy and green tartan jacket and picked some accessories to wear with it. My vision – attending Paris Fashion Week this coming fall, in the jacket, Tom Ford  “Peter” or “Raquel” sunglasses and tuning out the noise around me with a matching pair of WeSc checked Bongo headphones in moss green.

These are just my suggestions on what to wear with these pieces. What would YOU accessorize them with? I'd like to know!

For more tips on how to work your hair and makeup, visit Cassi’s site,

Where To Buy:
Woolrich Black Label will be available at Barney’s NY this fall.
All accessories mentioned, available at

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

The Duckie Brown fall 2011 Show: Ruminating Backstage With the Duckies

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Text, Vivian Kelly

"Is this a 'men's collection" or a "women's collection?"
Like Steven Cox, 1/2 of the Duckie Brown label, I find the question rather, well... dated. Perhaps a better word would be, "anachronistic"".
Back in the early Eighties, we had Grace Jones and Brigitte Nielsen. They looked FAN-TAS-TIC. They made the point that you could be masculine AND feminine - all at once. Both sported looks such as white "wife beaters" and "men's" black tuxes in now-iconic photographs. They helped spout the notion of "androgyny" which photographic legend, Helmut Newton, helped to make fashionable.
Another famous example is Bianca Jagger, back in her Studio 54 Days. Her most famous outfit was a white PANTsuit. In the Seventies though, it was considered "daring" to wear pants to work.

Then-Vogue Editor, Grace Mirabella, was considered to be "daring" to propose this as "a work option". As I later learned, as one of her Assistants, in the early Nineties, Miss Mirabella meant what she said. I cannot recall a SINGLe day she did not walk into the office in slacks. Her favorites were: Geoffrey Beene, Calvin, and Bill Blass, not necessarily in that order.

Even in the mid-Eighties, when I was going on my first job interviews, I wore SKIRTS - no question. Pants, were not really an option.
The whole topic seems ridiculous in retrospect. Just a year earlier, I'd gone on a road-trip to UVA [The University of Virginia] for a weekend of party hopping. The scene I lived out that weekend was straight out of Tommy Hilfigger's tailgate glossy ads. What's interesting is that when you inspect it closely, "preppy style" can ALSO, like "East Village Punk", look quite uni-sexual. We college co-eds were from a dozen or so different colleges and universities but we all looked like the frat boys whose parties we attended.
The uniform: Lacoste shirt [untucked], Levi jeans [unwashed and stiff] and Sperry Top or Docksiders. Sounds limiting? Not really, when you consider how many different colors the Gator shirt was available in.
Okay, I made-up that word, "unisexual". At the end of the day though, most of us are looking for clothes that we, as people, can just wear.
-The "wife beater tank
-Converse "Chuck Taylors"
-A really WELL CUT pair of trousers - Duckie Brown! Oftentimes, they will be black.
- Levi's original 501's. You need to break them in, it just takes time. Be patient.
-A Woolrich red and black buffalo plaid jacket
-Docksiders, the originals.

So, why can’t a man wear women’s clothes and vice-versa? Duckie designers Steven Cox and Daniel Silver ponder the question in our pre-show interview, here.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Mark Indelicato aka “Justin Suarez” of Ugly Betty was backstage at Duckie Brown

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Text, Vivian Kelly

Mark Indelicato aka “Justin Suarez” of Ugly Betty was backstage at Duckie Brown, gamely posing for the photogs and video crews who pounced on him once they realized who the slight extravagantly dressed boy was.
Mr. Indelicato is a perfect example of someone [man or woman – does it even matter?] who “does his own thing”. He looked great, but what he was wearing would have looked just as good on a woman, the right woman, one who is secure in her own style.
This is pretty much the point. Why can’t a man wear women’s clothes and vice-versa? Duckie designers Steven Cox and Daniel Silver ponder the question in our pre-show interview, which will run next week.

In the meantime, here’s a short clip of Mark Indelicato talking about his personal style and his thoughts on Duckie Brown.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

The Nautica fall 2011 Presentation

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TEXT, Vivian Kelly
Interview with Menswear Editor, Mark Behnke of

When it comes to mens’ fashion, Fashion has always suffered with being labeled “elitist”, “not for the regular guy” or “too edgy”, and even “scary”.
Normally, during NYFW, I’m drawn to just such “directional” collections such as Duckie Brown’s [a big favorite], Andrew Buckler, and Siki Im.

This season, though, I decided it was time to be more “democratic” and see just what bigger consumer brands such as Nautica were proposing men wear in 2011.
As I walked the crowded show space with Mark at the Lincoln Center Library, I was reminded of a long-ago Christmas in the early nineties.
I’d just returned from Neiman Marcus and with a pair of Gucci horse bit loafers for my conservatively minded first husband.  While in the thrill of the luxe buy, I’d reasoned to myself that they were “traditional” and that he’d approve.

I Was Wrong. Sad, but not really understanding WHY he wasn’t thrilled to receive them, I returned them on Boxing Day.
His explanation: He loved his Top Siders, always would and did not want to be “fashionable”.

My EX is one of legions of affluent guys who “want to look nice” but are not interested in clothes that would make them “stick-out” on the golf range, on a sail, sporting events, or Friday night poker night with the boys.
Nautica is a great choice for men of this ilk.
#1: It's no hassle- just go to Macy’s and you’re out in less than 20 minutes and back pursuing your leisure time activities.
#2L  Fit – nothing skintight here that requires you to be a gym rat in order to fit into the more avant-garde brands. Asparagus silhouette not required.

3.     #3: Traditional designs and themes. As Mark points out in our video, there’s a nautical theme that appeals to the traditional guy, and “safe” neutral colors.

None of the above is true if you happen to be a liberated metro-sexual type such as  Mark, whose morning grooming lotions and potions rival the most “high-maintenance” woman’s. And that’s great! It’s probably “Queer Eye for the Straight Guy” that’s responsible for “regular guys” to start thinking in a more “directional” fashion and to consider fashion lines such as Duckie Brown, Buckler and Siki Im.

*The pre-show interview with the Duckies goes live here next week!

Friday, February 18, 2011

The Douglas Hannant De Robert Piguet Fragrance Launch at the Payne Whitney Mansion

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Ever since reading Tom Wolfe's  The Bonfire of the Vanities, I have secretly harbored a desire to meet "a social X-ray" and to attend the kind of posh parties that were part and parcel of New York's A-List Crowd in the 1980's.
My wish became a reality and was granted as the net sum of two specific occasions.
The first [Social X-Ray part] came true when friend, author and PR dynamo, John Tiffany, invited me to attend a round table at "The New Traditionalists" a to-die for design space in Soho during the Holiday Season. Fashion Icon, Iris Apfel was there, talking about her many collections but most importantly [to me] was that Carolyne Roehm [formerly Kravitz] was there, AND I got to meet her and have a conversation while she signed a copy of her latest book,  A Passion for Interiors.
I learned a few things that evening: she's reinvented herself into a well-regarded interiors author, she's an avid Francophile, she's collected some of the ill-fated Queen Marie Antoinette's letters, the item that launched her passion for collecting was a Verdura bracelet [actually two, she bought the pair] back when she was a design assistant for Oscar de la Renta. Add to that: she also lives in CT., and she loves her Terrier dogs to the point of distraction, just as I love our Cairn.

The second part of my wish was granted during this NYFW  when I stepped into the Payne Whitney Mansion at 972 Fifth Avenue with one of my BFF's, www.cafleurebon.comMark Behnke, their Managing Editor. He'd already sampled and written the review, which you can read about on his post which went live on February 9, 2011. I have always deferred to him in all matters fragrance and thus, went into the event with the intent of getting "the vibe" of the launch. Cafleurebon's Editor in Chief, Michelyn Camen

also wrote an article announcing the fragrance's debut on January 8th.
A fragrance launch is A HUGE deal for any designer. It is a seminal moment that either breaks or makes you. In New York Society, everyone is far too polished and polite to tell a designer the bare knuckled truth if something doesn't come up to snuff. 
In this case, no way. This was "a fashion moment" and the triumphant vibe was more intoxicating than the champagne that flowed on the second floor. If you succeed, everyone's more than happy to thump you on the back and party with you. By the tone at the Payne Whitney Mansion and the level of excitement, this launch was an "over the moon moment" for one of my favorite NY designers.

Douglas's partner, Frederick Anderson, pulled-away from the festivities to talk about how meaningful this collaboration is to the brand they've worked so hard to build for the past 15 years.

Score one for "the little guys" who are on their way to the big pond.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

The Toni Francesc Show and Backstage w/ Toni Francesc, Pre-Show

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Text, Carey Zamarriego, Contributing Writer
Edited by Vivian Kelly

Toni Francesc

*Cute anecdote: One of the security guards at the front mentioned that Toni Francesc tried to enter the show through the front entrance, saying “look, that’s me, there is my name” (pointing to ‘Toni Francesc’ written on the wall) and had to be told to go to the backstage area.*

Our general impression of Toni: very warm, friendly, playful and gracious.

The Backstage pre-Show Interview:

The Fashion Examiner: The inspiration for your collection was the mythical Phoenix (a bird which, every 500 years, rises from its ashes anew), where did this source of inspiration come from? A trip to India? A story? A photo

Toni Francesc: It can be said to be Indonesian. It does have its roots in Asia, but this is not an Asian collection. It is inspired by the idea of rebirth, of coming back from ashes, from fire.

TheFE:  Your collection is about renewal, is it also a commentary on the state of the world now after the crisis?

Toni Francesc: Exactly, mainly for me, because it is something I am living and experiencing. I refer to everything that surrounds me in my clothes. Spain is in a tough situation and all of us need to emerge and experience a rebirth, a renewal, from these moments of ash.

TheFE: At the time of creating your collection, do you think about trends and Pantone colors, or do you do whatever you want?

Toni Francesc: I believe that inspiration comes from other places. I don’t search out trends. If anything, I need to create them. Generally, I look at things outside of the world of fashion; that is where I am inspired more. Everything around me is reflected in my clothes. For Artificial Life, two collections ago (AW 2010), I met with a group of friends through Facebook, while we were having dinner, everyone wasn’t interacting with each other, but with others via technology, we didn’t experience the moment. It’s this; playing with simple moments and arriving at their complexity that I like to do.

TheFE: This is your fourth time showing at NYFW, how does it feel compared to the first time?

Toni Francesc: Ah, yes (giggles). I feel the same as the first time; really THIS is the first time. The nerves are always there, usually I appear to be very calm, but the nerves and my stomach are turning on the inside. But everything is under control and I hope it goes well.

TheFE:  You and Custo are two Catalan designers showing at NYFW. Do you find any similarities in your designs? And are you two friends?

Toni Francesc: Friends-friends, no, but we do know each other and I really admire the work Custo does, he has been working hard for a long time. But our styles are very different.

TheFE: Finish these sentences:

What I like most about NY is…(the city and the people).

What I miss most about Barcelona is…(my family, but I brought them to NY, that little boy who just ran up to us is my son).
*Toni also brought along his wife and mother.*

The Collection/Show- Highlights

Started with a striking redhead wearing a trench, skirt and animal print top.

Animal print cocktail dress with a wrap leather belt (my favorite!!)

Elaborate backless silk jumpsuits in gray and orange.

Mixing silk with wool and leather. (ie: silk orange top with gray pants)

Silk pieces that looked like watercolors with splashes of deep reds, maroon, oranges and gray.


  1. Wide leg pants (black with backless high neck silk top)
  2. Bright red lipstick on the models (also gave the crowd L.I/P Cream from Mehron in Big Apple red).
  3. Wool jacket, trenches and dresses with bottons to bring in a bit of a military feel.
  4. Gold leaf belts with gray wool dress and also skirts.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Happy Valentine's Day With Sarah Barton King and Darkly Audacious

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Text, Vivian Kelly
It's Valentine's Day and it's not too late to pick up something fabulous for yourself or someones special. I'm talking fragrance, not the tired overpriced red roses.

The topic here is DARKLY AUDACIOUS.
I'm here at the Lincoln Center Tents with my long-time friend, specialty perfumer, Sarah Barton-King talking about her latest fragrance, DARKLY AUDACIOUS, which got raves at the Elements and Sniffapalooza Fragrance Shows. D.A. had a soft launch at MIN NY in December in which Sarah regaled the audience with her brief which describes the fragrance as "dark, naughty and sensual".
To really get a good idea of what DARKLY AUDACIOUS is about you must read our friend, Mark Behnke's essay, on in late January.

The clock is ticking down so rush over to pick up a minaudiere or 50 ml. of pure perfume before they're gone because they are going fast.
It's at MIN New York, the Plaza Hotel Beauty Hall in New York City and Fred Segal in LA this spring and on as well as

Sunday, February 13, 2011

NYFW - fall 2011: Impressions, So Far...the Weekend Report

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It's Saturday night, and "I'm feeling alright" and prepping for round #2 which will kick-off Monday when I get to meet Woolrich's new designer.

So far, I've sat something like half a dozen shows, the incredible Douglas Hannant - Piguet launch party at  the impossibly elegant French Embassy Uptown, dropped in at a few presentations and have eaten more tuna wraps at the Moonstruck Diner than I want to for the next six months, usually at the ill-advised hour of 11p.m. or so. Lucky for me,  my metabolism wakes-up about that time.

Taking it back to NYFW, what wowed me was the quilted Chanel case for the Coco Chanel books at the Assouline Plaza boutique, Duckie Brown's shrunken white suit, a very interesting arty architectural jacket in gray and cream, an emerald green velvet skirt at Nicholas K, handsome models who could body double for Rob Pattinson, the much improved AOL Media Lounge in the Media Pitt spearheaded by the fabulous Tara Shashaty, in the Lincoln Center Tent.

Thanks to Tara (who was photographed and whom you'll see non-stop in any yellow cab you hop into], I got "a clue" about which eyebrow tool I should use. After the make-over, I bum-rushed the MAC Cosmetics store in Grand Central Station, and bought "brun", to fill-in my frankly icky, over-plucked brows.

 This enlightenment took place in the posh
trailer across the street from the Tents. A few hours later, I fell in love - with a black wool and duchesse satin long dress at the Academy of Art University Show.

The next day. I hauled everyone from TheFE team out of their Madison Ave. temporary home to go and see the Libertine Collection. I had "a feeling". Happily for me, the Libertine collection was A-mazing - no "ifs, and or buts".

Offering a bit of pop culture and comic relief was the UNbelievable madness ANTM's "Miss J's" presence at the AAU show caused. I wasn't around when the Beatles debuted, but honestly, the stampede of female tweens and teens who rushed Jay was...."beyond".

Jay's presence will certainly rank in the top three moments of paparazzi frenzy-dom for the fall2011 NYFW.
Enjoy the show!

Friday, February 11, 2011

An Interview With Assouline's Robert S. Mitchell, President & CEO at NYFW

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The Plaza-what a nice way to start NYFW! Assouline's pocket sized shop on the Mezzanine, is like a home away from home. It's a place I can find some serenity in NYC, most notably during NYFW and thumb through books on fashion, home, and interesting, stylish people.
Although I arrived at the very tail end of the Social Media Week Blogger Party, Assouline had organized, I got to interview the company's dynamic President/CEO, Robert S. Mitchell.
In the 18 months he's been at the helm, he's opened Assouline boutiques in key locations around the USA and now, the expansion is continuing abroad. It's heartening that people are still reading - not just on the Internet.
He made a point that is right-on: these types of books are not just books, they're a part of one's lifestyle and say something about who you are.
Watch the video of our chat to hear more about Assouline's continued roll-out and about some of the key books you'll surely want to have.

I left the Party with a copy of GYPSET STYLE, a smaller coffee book, by JULIA CHAPLIN
(HARDCOVER / 7.25 X 10.75"
180 PAGES, 150 IMAGES) 
WHAT IS A "GYPSET"?  "Gypsetters are artists, designers, and bon vivants who live and work around the globe. The New York Times journalist Julia Chaplin explores the unconventional lives of these high-low cultural nomads."
The Assouline PR team generously offered to have the authoress sign for me and then, ship it to my home in the country.  I can't think of a better way to end a great week of fashion. 
Look for the review - coming soon.

Item QuoteIn the meantime, here's a teaser:

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Casting Call! Duckie Brown Casts for their fall 2011 Show

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So what’s a real live model casting like? Like one for a big NYFW show such as Duckie Brown?
It’s been a while since I attended a big show casting, the last one was one I did somewhere around 2000 for Searle, when said brand was trying to become a player at NYFW.
I wondered if model casting would be tremendously different so many years later. I got to find out when Daniel and Steven invited me to sit –in on a day of their 2-day casting.
It’s not. The casting Director, Claire, took polaroids of the models who had been invited in [@ 80 on day 1 of 2 daysworth]. The model was asked to walk down and back as if they were on the runway. If that went well, they were asked to try on an oufit. It’s a process, yes, but a lot of it is intuitive.
I asked Daniel the “What are you looking for?” question.
In response, he  stated, “We’re looking to cast whomever makes the look look best.”

Simon made it to the point where he walked twice, was asked his shoe size and to try a few outfits on.

At the end out of day 1, the Duckies had around 15 candidates. Said Steven, “We’ve got about 15 we like so far, the trouble is to sew them in together so that they all work together for the show.”
Shortly after my post-lunch arrival, Grant Woolhead, the stylist walked in and conferred with the rest of the group. Grant is Fashion Director of Out Mag, and this is the sixth season he’s working with the Duckies, helping them to cast their show.

As Steven pointed-out, not only does the model have to “work” individually, he has to fit in with the group. There are levels upon levels of casting hurdles to jump before a model makes the final edit and is one of the lucky few to walk the show.
Then there’s the walk, Daniel – “You have to have a mission. You have to work on it. Walk like you’re going to go cash-in a 15 million dollar check.” Simon left, vowing to practice his walk all night.” Shaking his dark head of hair out of his face he said, “Yeah, this is for me. I’m doing it for me.”

Tuesday, February 8, 2011 gets A Whole New Look That's Definitely Worth a Look

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UNTIL VERY RECENTLY, I WAS NOT that much of a fan of Internet shopping. By "shopping", I mean shopping for clothing or jewelry. In the past, my excursions on the Internet have yielded mixed results.
There was the red tartan plaid vest I HAD TO HAVE from Lands' End which I saw at a preview event. I was in the midst of my tartan phase and ordered it as soon as it showed up as "available" on
I wore it once and back it went - it was too thin.
Sometime before that, there was the attempt to buy a "simple" one-piece swimsuit online through
I thought I had that one covered as I'd ordered several styles in size 2 and 4 - just to be sure. THAT ended up with a trip to the bricks and mortar store at which point, I gave up and returned everything. Happily, I discovered SWANKINI's mix and match bathingsuits at that low point.
[Swankini got a post a few months back on TheFE]
Maison Martin Margiela
Melly Suede Platform Ankle Boots
Recently, like everyone else, I'm fascinated by glam sites such as and and now most recently, with
I'm proud to have TOBI.COM as my advertiser. The other sites are great, but....
I'm not knocking them, and I've bought a few smaller things such as luxury candles and towels and been very happy but I didn't like the competitive aspect of having to preview GILT the night before and competing for items I liked when the clock strikes 12 noon and the auction goes off. I belong to both but the "Sale ends in 1 day" bugs me as I'm usually just too busy to schedule this kind of thing in. What got me TO SHOP on the Internet in the first place was the notion that I could do it whenever I wanted. Can't sleep at 2a.m? No prob - start window shopping on the laptop until you're feeling productive enough to actually do some work, or relaxed, just go back to bed.

tobi's new site is a shop WHEN YOU feel like it proposition. Yes, there are sales [love those!] but they're on for a while. The biggest draw of the newly redesigned site is that it's practically goof-proof. I fell in love with two items, really hard. The first is a red and white stripe "twist tie striped halter dress" from Maison Martin Margiela that's perfect for my trip to Mexico in April. By spending a minute checking it out, I can see how the dress looks from every conceivable angle and because they even tell you the model's measurements, I can imaging how it would look ON ME.
Leslie, the model, is wearing a size small, and they even provide her measurements. Like any good personal shopper [which this site comes close to being] Tobi tells you about the designer, and provides styling tips. Not sure which accessories would work? No problem. Tobi suggests Melly Suede Platform Ankle Boots in Grey by ROSEGOLD and a Leather Triangle Cocktail Ring by HOUSE OF HARLOW.
Leather Triangle Cocktail Ring

Guess what? I clicked on those links and found that I LOVE House of Harlow and had always intended to investigate Nicole Ritchie's brand, but never got around to it. Tobi made it really easy and convenient. As some woman's bumper sticker read, "The New Busy is not the Old Busy", and as such convenience is key, critical really, when it comes to deciding between your many options.
In the end, I didn't find the stylish PJ's I'd hoped to locate on Tobi, but I DID find a missing item in my wardrobe AND it's on sale. The Matt Bernson "Gitanes Parisian Smoking Shoes" reduced from $154 to $92 are EXACTLY what I need to go with the vintage Rena Lange smoking suit I snagged for $35 at Deja Vu Consignment before Xmas.
Matt Bernson Gitanes Parisian Smoking Shoes

My only fear - that I've waited too long and someone grabbed the last pair of size 8's when I was busy writing this post.
Every fashionista has a story about "the one that got away". What's yours? I'd love to know! Share your story in the "comments" section of TheFE.
**LAST, but not least, use my unique promo code "EXAM20" for 20% off orders to all you readers who order after reading this post!!