IMG_1060 Son Jung WanSeason after season, Son Jung Wan brings something extra to the runways of New York Fashion Week. I think it’s the sense of gentleness that emanates from her and from her designs. I’m not saying her looks aren’t bold, because they are, but bold in a kind of quiet way.

IMG_0780_editImage2Case in point: her Spring/Summer 2016 collection, inspired by the seascape of Korea’s Jeju Island. Backstage before the show, she told me, “I was inspired by the beauty of the island and the beautiful oceans around it. I tried to express that beauty, of nature and the calm oceans with the colors of the sea.”

Image3Image4Those pale colors beautifully represent elements of the sea, grey for the storm clouds, blue for “a breath on an early morning by the seaside”, champagne for the misty sunshine, along with mint, ivory and the palest pink. Pops came in the form of metallic blue and shining silver that reflects the light in bright rainbow shades, or a vibrant metallic turquoise that surely came from the bottom of the ocean.

Image5Image6Her textures, as ever, add to the story, combining form with fluidity, leather with sheer silk, structure with shine. All elements of the seaside were represented: shiny, seashell-like dresses, more matte shifts, reminiscent of sand, joyous stripes for the tropical fish.

Image7Image8Dresses were formed from the most buttery leather, flowing silks or structures, gleaming fabrics, and her mastery of the asymmetrical was present in nearly every look. Menswear, too, carried the theme, with classic shorts and light sweaters decorated with sequins or seashells.

Image9Image10Mostly what shows through is her grasp of femininity, looks designed for women who are strong, but never forget they are women.

Image11IMG_1259 Son Jung WanThese are pieces that are classic Son Jung Wan, but, as ever, provide a new twist, a tiny surprise that keeps her collections modern, elegant and beautiful.

© Red Stiletto Media 2016                                                                 Photography: Anton Brookes

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Johnson Hartig is, in my opinion, one of the most creative designers and the most fun designer populating the runway today. For his perfectly-named line, Libertine, he takes what conventional wisdom would call “vintage” looks, adds baubles, bangles and beads (along with glitter, sequins, paint and anything else that comes into his hands) and turns them into fashion that’s high-end enough to sell at Bergdorfs.

Image1Image2For his Spring/Summer 2016, the fates threw him a big, big curve. 30 of his looks, set for the runway, were, instead, lost in some DHL abyss. While it caused more than a few moments of panic, the show went on, and if you didn’t know something was missing, well, you wouldn’t have known.

Image3This was Johnson Hartig’s Libertine at its best. Led, as they are every great season, by Johnson’s muse Michelle, the models strutted in styles that were impossible to define: a basic black overcoat decorated with two sparkly puppies, sexy purple mesh slacks and top embellished with wild graphics, cocktail dresses that shined and white suits with bright splashes of color. There were a couple of flapper looks that really stood out.

Image6Image7His menswear consisted of relaxed tops and trousers decorated with the same bright abandon. Warning: these looks are not for the faint of heart. But if you’re a man in touch with your glittery, animal-printed wild side, look no further than Libertine.

Image4The only requisite for the Libertine woman is a spirit that is joyous enough to rock big, long rows of colorful beads and a genuine flair for the dramatic. When the models came dancing down the catwalk for their finale, if you felt like skipping along with them, then you were meant for Libertine.

Image5The line has become a real staple at New York Fashion Week. Johnson Hartig’s wild imaginations and over-the-top talent makes this show one of the don’t miss moments. Long may Libertine reign.

© Red Stiletto Media 2015

Runway Photography: Anton Brookes       Video/Edit: Scott Fetterman Aditional video: Chad Cooper, Philip Henken, Crystal Arnett.

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Berenik 2.JPG 72Pier 59 has long been the runway home for the, let’s say, less mainstream designers. So, Veronika Brusa’s Berenik line fit right in. It was just the right space for these super-modern designs.

Image1Image2The Swiss designer was a graphic artist before turning her talents towards fashion, and it shows. Inspired by friend, studio-mate and artist Steve Voll, Brusa’s mission was clear: “a wild mix of art objects developed into various prints.”

Image3Image4The cuts are beyond relaxed. You can’t imagine being stressed in these oversized jackets, wide pants, slouchy jumpsuits and hoodies. Then she took the most comfy fabrics, cotton, stone-washed denim, linen, leather, mesh and various polys, worked some kind of magic, and printed them with patterns, some blatantly graphic, some softer, and turned out a line that accomplished her goal: blending elegance and comfort to create looks that are contemporary, sporty and chic.

Image5Image6Even the leather sandals, which could have looked a bit hippie-throwback, added a certain sense of style. I must admit that, at the start of the show, I believed I wasn’t going to be a fan. By the finale, I could see what a bold and creative collection this is, young, modern, wearable and artistic.

© Red Stiletto Media                                        Photography: Anton Brookes

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IMG_2233Wang Tao is one of China’s most successful and accomplished designers. But, season after season, she conquers New York Fashion Week with the elegance and sophistication of her line, Taoray Wang.

Image2Image3For Spring/Summer 2016, her inspiration was the film “Out of Africa”. And you can see her inspiration in every design. “When that movie came out, I was sort of shocked”, she said, backstage before the show. “The style was so simple, so minimal and so elegant. I could never get rid of those images.”

Image4Image5Elegance is the thread that runs through every Taoray Wang collection, and this is no exception. The clean lines and perfect tailoring give these very feminine looks a slightly masculine edge. Suits and blazers are pin straight, but topped with easy, looser tops. Maxi skirts and dresses have long side slits. Seemingly simple summer dresses have sharp, asymmetrical hems. Then there’s the very sleek and sexy off-the-shoulder dress with a sculpture pattern that could have come off as gimmicky, but, instead looked perfectly elegant.

Image7Image6The colors, cream, khaki, navy, black, fit right in with the “Out of Africa” theme, but could have been a bit dense for spring/summer. Instead, Wang’s fabric choices, silk and cotton, made them cool and easy-to-wear.

IMG_2289 Taoray WangImage1She says she stuck so close to her inspiration, because the film’s main character drove the collection. “She was so great”, she said. “She always carried herself very elegantly and with grace. I think the Taoray Wang woman is that kind of character.”

© Red Stiletto Media 2015                                Photography: Anton Brookes

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DSC_0841It’s only her second showing at New York Fashion Week, but Stella Nolasco upped the glamour quotient exponentially

Image1Image2The Puerto Rican designer was inspired by her favorite poet, Jose de Diego for this collection, which she called “Pomarosa”. And to understand Nolasco’s collection fully, you should know a bit about de Diego. His most famous poem, “A Laura”, was inspired by a broken love affair. He was a powerful poet, but also a statesman, who fought for independence for Puerto Rico, first from Spain, then from the U.S. This collection pays tribute to both sides of de Diego, a romantic who loved freedom.

Image3Image4The show itself was poetry in motion. “You can see the colors in all the pieces”, she told me. “But you can also see the poetry. You can see that by the movement of the models on the catwalk, it’s soft and slow. It’s poetry.”

Image5Image6It’s much more than that. Nolasco’s looks are glamorous, elegant and so sexy. The colors were soft, blush, yellow and, of course, plum rose (or, pomarosa), with some black. And the fabrics added to the ethereal feel of the pieces, with soft tulle and intricate lace taking center stage. But the real wow-factor came from the embroidery, some sparkly, some swirly. One gown with a floral-embroidered top was so magnificent, girly and sexy at the same time.

Image7Image8Nolasco’s constant source of inspiration is her island, Puerto Rico, and you can see that in every one of her looks, beautiful, sexy and elegant.

© Red Stiletto Media 2015                                                          Photography: Theano Nikitas

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KhanOh. My. God. This was the last show I saw at Skylight Moynihan this season, and what a magical end to the Spring/Summer 2016 journey.

KahnIt started the moment you walked into the room. At the top of the runway, a white doorway and a wall covered in flowers. I’m going to guess Bougainvillea, since that was part of Khan’s inspiration for the season, “sun drenched gardens of the South of France, Bougainvillea-strewn white washed walls of the Mediterranean.” That, and “azure blue waters of Capri and the soft palette of the French Impressionists”, with “iconic muses of the ‘50s and ‘60s, Sophia Loren, Grace Kelly, Brigitte Bardot and Jackie Kennedy.” It’s a lot to take in.

KahnLuckily, I was transported the moment I entered the room. Where to begin? The color: bougainvillea and azure blue, of course, mixed with lemon, celadon, anthracite, silver, lilac and rose. The cut: some perfectly molded to the body, others billowing below the waist, perfect for picking up the warm sea breeze. No, what really brought the drama to this collection was the embroidery, the beading, the embellishments.

KahnThis is one runway where only the pictures truly tell the story. It started with a bougainvillea and white paisley embroidered coat over a romper. That embroidery was breathtaking, intricate and magnificent. It showed up again in a strapless sweetheart gown, and over a black background in a cape.

KahnEvery piece that passed on the catwalk was more beautiful than the last: a floral embroidered gown in bougainvillea with caviar beading, a shimmering opalescent crystal cocktail dress, a raffia lace cocktail dress covered in scarlet flowers, a shining striped ombre beaded jumpsuit.

KahnAn almost playful striped ballgown contained all the colors of the Mediterranean. There were caftans and jumpsuits, cocktail dresses (one anthracite beaded dress combined playful with glamorous) and the most elegant gowns.

KahnIt’s no surprise that Naeem Khan elevates evening wear to levels no one comes near. This season, every number was a showstopper, each one eliciting gasps and applause from the grateful crowd. It was the perfect end to this season’s New York Fashion Week. Nothing could top this.

© Red Stiletto Media 2015                                     Photography: Anton Brookes

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 Pamella RolandWhen Pamella Roland is inspired, she, apparently, does nothing in half measures. For Spring/Summer 2016, Roland found her inspiration in the work of 1950’s artist Frank Stella. His “unique vocabulary of line and color made an immediate impact when it was first shown”, according to the designer. But how to turn something that resonated in the ‘50s into something relevant for today?

Pamella RolandRoland took those lines and colors and turned them into wearable art. And she gave her own nod to the future by using unorthodox materials: plexiglass, PVC Nebula lace, reflective taffeta and LED fibers. In the hands of a lesser designer, it could have turned out more than a bit gimmicky. In Roland’s hands, it’s beautiful, feminine and perfectly contemporary.

Pamella RolandThe collection was the first shown in the Whitney Museum’s new Meatpacking digs, exactly the right show to open the space to fashion. From the start, it was clear this would be something extra special, while still keeping to Roland’s feminine and glamorous ethos.

Pamella RolandHer combination of fabrics and materials was magical from the first look, with an ivory silk georgette strapless gown topped with a shrug made of ivory liquid organza. That organza made its way into an embellished coat, combined with a jacquard.

Pamella RolandIvory gave way to blush, in the most beautiful gown in liquid organza that looked like it was melted and poured and another in faille topped with a nebula lace bodice, covered in pearls.

Pamella RolandThat palette deepened, with poppy and sherbet, citron, mint and, finally, black, in incredibly textured dresses and gowns in elegant fabrics, subtle designs, gentle beading. They shimmered, shined and sparkled. You could almost see the artist mixing her colors and carefully choosing just the right canvases. It was classic Pamella Roland with new and fascinating twists.

Pamella RolandPamella RolandWhen the final look came down the catwalk, more liquid silk organza, this time with an asymmetrical cape, I was almost teary-eyed from the beauty of this nearly mystical collection, an artist’s dream brought to life on the runway.

Pamella Roland© Red Stiletto Media                                                                        Photography: Anton Brookes

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 Lela RoseThe first thing you notice when you walk into the room is the flowers, on the seats, hanging from the ceiling, flowers everywhere, and a bright, pink glow. Yes, flowers are the international symbol for Spring, but for Lela Rose, they are also “a stage for the exploration of infinite color variations”.

RoseShe is, for me, the designer most closely associated with romance, and Spring is her season. Flowers could become an easy go-to for the season, but in the hands of Lela Rose, flowers were more of a jumping off point for an exploration of the beauty in a natural landscape.

RoseHer color palette certainly supported this: coral, shell, citrine, posy and rose gold giving way to the brightest fluorescent yellow, poppy-on-white and the occasional metallic. Fabrics helped create the feel, with gazar, corded lace and tweed, organza and cotton, as did the soft and flowing textures (including a lighter-than-air fringe and an almost 3-D polka dot effect) and whimsical embellishments.

RoseRoseThere were so many memorable pieces in this collection. Sparkling flowers decorated a little black dress, a simple shift and a very dressy banded top over a pink jacquard skirt, a beautifully crocheted shell skirt and top, a black eyelet lace short and top, a silver metallic stamped voile gown, a fluorescent orange striped tweed v-neck dress.

RoseRoseBut my favorites were the softly embellished pieces, like an organza jumper with hand cut flowers, a citrine gown with the same floral design, and the final piece, a shell halter gown, again with those hand-cut flowers.

RoseRoseLela Rose clearly has a vision. She knows who she is, she knows who her customer is, a woman who’s serious about her clothes, but never forgets her feminine side. And there’s nothing wrong with dressing with a little romance in mind.

© Red Stiletto Media 2015                                                           Photography: Anton Brookes

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DesigualWhen you go to work every day on the Barcelona beaches, you are, eventually, going to notice the savvy style of the women you see every day. That’s what the designers at Desigual did for Spring/Summer 2016, took their inspiration from the women of Barcelona. They spotted three different types of women, actually: the carefree eccentric, the eclectic sensualist and the sophisticated intellectual.

Image1Image2Right from the start, you’re hit with everything that Desigual is all about, bold, crazy colors, wild geometric prints, giant flowers. This is Bohemia, Barcelona style. Big, embroidered sweaters topped more modern print tops, flowers paired with stripes and, somehow, it all works when it’s Desigual.

Image3Image4You knew when the eccentrics passed and the sensualists took the stage, because things got just a bit more tailored. Oversized shirts and slid over mini-dresses, skirts. Shorts were replaced by skirts and jackets got just a bit more tailored. The prints were just as big and bright, the looks just as comfy and everything screamed, summer at the beach!

Image5Image6The sophisticates? Yeah, just as bright and sunny. But, see, this is what makes Desigual the must-see show every season. The bright colors and bold prints just make you smile, you can’t help it. The patterns are designed to make you happy, and they do. But this is no gimmicky line, easily distracting you with bright, shiny things. The dresses, skirts, tops and jeans are beautifully made, well-tailored and, even better, they look good on nearly every woman.

Image7Image8The bad news is, we’ll have to wait six months to see this collection in Desigual’s shops. The good news? The looks I loved so much at their last show are in the shops right now. La Vida es Chula, indeed!

© Red Stiletto Media 2015                                                              Photography: Anton Brookes

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Angel SanchezThere are collections that you like to see, season after season. Then, there are collections you simply cannot miss, like Angel Sanchez. Beautiful, ethereal, feminine, stunning, his looks always create the perfect fashion fantasy, and this season is no different.

Image10Image11For Spring/Summer 2016, Sanchez added a bonus: color, big, bright, bold color. Backstage before the show he told me, “I tried to represent a tropical garden with lots of references to my culture. So it has many reference to a Latin American point of view.”

Image9The Venezuelan-born designer worked in his mother’s atelier, and that’s apparent in his uncanny understanding of a woman’s body. But his training in architecture comes through in the structure of every piece, each perfectly tailored line, each incredible, feminine drape.

Image8Then there’s that garden, bursting with color, created from fabrics as soft as petals: jacquard, organza, a little lace and a lot of gazar.

Image7There are so many standouts in this collection it’s impossible to pick a favorite. There’s a bright white mid-length dotted cocktail dress that’s dripping with glamour, a soft brilliant orange strapless jumpsuit, and summer dresses in a gorgeous lime green, the hottest pink and an orange and white floral print that is just unbelievably beautiful.

Image5Image4Of course, where Sanchez, best-known for his magnificent bridal gowns, excels is evening wear. It’s not just elegant, it’s different, shimmering crop tops with flowing skirts, seemingly simple gowns with subtle touches, a jewel here, a gathering of flowers there.
One more thing that makes Angel Sanchez special: his clothes are all manufactured right here in New York, something that’s becoming more important to the city and the industry with every season.

Image3Image2If there is one fault with this collection, it’s this: it’s coming out in September, as Fall begins, and two whole seasons have to pass before we can find it in stores.

IMG_3183 Angel Sanchez© Red Stiletto Media 2015                                                               Photography: Anton Brookes

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