MONGOL FALL/WINTER 2015

BEAUTIFUL, EXOTIC, COLORFUL AND KIND

MongolWhen I think of the places in the world I would like most to see, Mongolia has to be in the top five. I envision exotic landscapes, mysterious natives and color everywhere. Seeing Bayarmaa Bayarkuu’s premier Mongol collection seriously fed that desire, giving me a small sample of everything I conjured in my imagination, in one, brief runway show.

MongolIt began with the stirring sounds of the morin khuur, a Mongolian stringed instrument, and a singer performing a kind of hip-hop tune. But it was the collection, itself, that showed Bayarkuu’s great love for her homeland, a respect for her culture and a design aesthetic that was just spot on.

MongolBright ruby reds, emerald greens, shining golds, turquoise, amethyst and hot, hot pinks lit up the runway in bold patterns and Asian-influenced prints. The cuts were clearly inspired by traditional Mongolian costumes, with long, warm coats over simple, silky dresses. But they were made wearable for the modern woman.

Mongol Bayarmaa wasn’t always a designer. She holds a degree in business and finance, and ran her father’s company for several years. When she jumped into fashion, she did it with a conviction and an ethos that makes Mongol special.

Mongol When I spoke to her, post-show, she told me how exciting it was, making her New York debut, and talked about her interesting mix of textiles. “I used a lot of cashmere,” she said. “I’d say 42 pieces are 100% cashmere, and I used a very thick silk.” She also used Mongolian lamb’s fur, harvested with a twist. “They are not farmed,” she explained. “They are not slaughtered. They are fed in open range. We don’t kill them. When they pass away, that’s when we get the fur.” There’s a use of fur I can actually accept. It is a truly beautiful, exotic, compelling debut for Mongol, not quite a trip to Mongolia, but a great teaser. I hope, come September, she’ll bring us a taste of Spring in Ulaanbaatar.

© Red Stiletto Media 2015                                                               Photography: Anton Brookes

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LEANNE MARSHALL FALL/WINTER 2015

SWEET, FEMININE FASHION FOR FALL

Leanne MarshallEthereal. That is the perfect word, I think, to describe Leanne Marshall’s Fall/Winter 2015 collection. Yes, it is basically black, but the light and airy fabrics and easy shapes give it a sweet, dreamy and feminine feel.

Leanne MarshallLeanne MarshallProject Runway fans will remember Leanne as the Season 5 winner. She has come a long way since then, designing for celebs, creating patterns for Simplicity (yes, there are people who still make their own clothes), and, finally, launching her own bridal line for BHLDN, the brand carried by Anthropology.

Leanne MarshallLeanne MarshallHer current collection featured mostly cocktail dresses and evening wear. It was sexy, fun, young and effortless, one standout was a gown with a black sleeveless top and a white, sort of reverse ombre skirt. But, be warned, most of the looks were sheer, see-through, actually, so prepare accordingly if you’re thinking of buying one for your next special occasion.

Leanne MarshallLeanne MarshallThere were beautiful splashes of gold and bronze in the sheerest of fabrics and the minimal accessories. But it was when color became predominant that this collection really shined. The blacks gave way to creams, which gave way to gold, then deep, deep red and a rich rust, reminiscent of something out of a Pre-Raphaelite painting.

Leanne MarshallThe interesting thing about Project Runway is, there is life after the show, with the winners usually showing up, eventually, with their own successful lines, maintaining their aesthetic. I’m pleased to say Leanne Marshall is among them, a young designer, creating lovely, feminine looks for her young clients.

© Red Stiletto Media 2015                                                               Photography: Anton Brookes

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NOVIS FALL/WINTER 2015

COLORFUL, WEARABLE FASHION FOR WORKING GIRLS WHO JUST WANT TO HAVE FUN

 NovisWhen I receive my invitation from Novis, it feels like I’m going to meet an old friend, someone I’ve seen twice a year, every year, for, I don’t know how long, to have a look in her closet at what she’ll be wearing next season. So I was surprised to discover this is only the fifth season designer Jordana Warmflash has shown at New York’s Fashion Week.

NovisI guess I’ve come to look forward to what her eye for color, pattern, texture will bring to the runway or, rather, the presentation space, every time. There is something unique, I think, about the way she constructs a serious dress, top, skirt or coat, then turns each piece into something fun and magical, the first thing I’d reach for to brighten every morning.

NovisFor Fall 2015, it started (for me, anyway) with fabrics. Silk, cashmere and crepe jacquard, leather, herringbone and satin gave this collection a solid feel and mix of textures that made me want to touch every piece.

 NovisA-line skirts and dresses, super-slim and wide-legged pants and comfy sweaters are all beautifully tailored, practical, ready for the office. Then comes the twist that makes this uniquely Novis: bold patterns and bright colors that turn the work-a-day into joyful ready-to-wear.

NovisShe told me the inspiration for the collection was a series of cutouts, and the use of color, shape and texture. “I just carried that into the collection,” she said. It’s perfect for the Novis girl, whom she described as “someone who’s playful and young and sophisticated, but who also appreciates tailored silhouettes.”

 NovisThat describes the Novis style perfectly. It’s a kind of a modern mod, colorful, beautiful and happy. Outerwear looked equally easy to wear, with one big, cozy wrap a particular favorite.

 NovisAnd, yes, there is eveningwear in this collection. One fitted cream silk beaded gown was ethereal in its beauty. But if heavenly isn’t your thing, you can keep with the fun theme, as in a strapless, aubergine “squiggle” gown that will make you the talk of any party.

Once again, Warmflash has proven to be a designer who knows her line and knows her customer so well, and she delivers, season after season.

Photography: Anton Brookes

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JOSIE NATORI FALL/WINTER 2015

EASTERN INTRIGUE MEETS WESTERN GLAMOUR ON THE RUNWAY

Josie NatoriIt was my first show of Fall/Winter 2015, and in the middle of that cold, mean season, Josie Natori took a room full of people, and transported us to far away Istanbul. And for the brief moments of a runway show, I truly felt I was there.

 Josie NatoriNatori, who is probably best known for her elegant, sexy lingerie, has created a collection that is not only beautiful, it is, as fashion should be, aspirational. There was hardly a piece that I didn’t crave. Cozy and warm, sophisticated and glamorous, every look evoked the mystery and drama that is Istanbul.

 Josie NatoriThe shining jewel tones in her dresses, suits and wide pants were reminiscent of the city’s bright, colorful bazaar. Big wrap coats and oversized scarves were perfect for making one’s way through the narrow, old streets in the winter time. Hats and beautifully embroidered vests were reminiscent of the whirling dervishes, the holy men who spin in a raptured dance in Istanbul clubs and halls.

 Josie NatoriThe perfect mix of fabrics and textures added to the romance, as wools mixed with crepes, jacquards with silks, velvet with cashmere. Along with deep blacks and bright reds, colors and prints made this one of the most exciting collections I’ve seen in a while.

 Josie NatoriThere were so many standouts: an oversized sage coat, as was a black gown with feather trim. All of the outerwear was amazing. And the big jewelry, chandelier earrings, belts and bracelets in metallics and turquoise, completed the dream she was inspired to create.

 Josie NatoriHow disappointing it was to leave the DiMenna center and discover that I was not, after all in Istanbul, but back in frigid New York.

Photography: Anton Brookes

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DESIGUAL FALL/WINTER 2015

SO MANY CULTURES, SO MUCH BEAUTY, ONE HAPPY, HAPPY SEASON

DesigualI say it every season, round about the time I walk out of the Desigual runway show at New York Fashion Week: what good is fashion if it doesn’t make you happy? And, above all else, Desigual is the happiest line on earth. It helps, of course, that the clothes are beautiful, wearable and lots and lots of fun.

Desigual

DesigualThe inspiration for Fall/Winter 2015 came from many, many places, pretty much all around the world and from the company’s collaboration with Christian Lacroix. According to Desigual’s notes, “an abstract painting, a swatch of upholstery, a photographer in a book about Africa, a historic trip through Renaissance Northern Europe and a flush landscape of flowers” were the jumping off points for this colorful, joyous collection.

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It started with a big, embroidered folk-print overcoat, then moved to what the design company’s most noted for, dresses, skirts, pants and tops in tribal-inspired prints and Nordic-inspired geometrics. Bold florals and patterns, as always, bring a touch of summer color to the Fall, all in comfortable, wearable designs.

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There are plenty of their classic shift dresses, the perfect go-to in any season when you want to feel bright, cheery and pretty. They’re joined by long-sleeved, turtle-neck knits, cozy sweaters, big, comfy pants and a fantastic collection of outerwear. Of course what makes it special are Desigual’s designers and their collective eye for pattern and texture.

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I have never hidden my love for Desigual, the pure joy I feel when I wear it or the excitement, every season, of being invited to its runway show. And it never hurts to pull out the brights in the darkest part of winter. La Vida es chula, every day with Desigual.

Photography: Anton Brookes

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LET’S BULLY THE SKINNY GIRL

DOES FRANCE’S NEW ANTI-THIN MODEL LAW PROTECT THESE YOUNG WOMEN OR CREATE A NEW BULLYING CLASS?

By Debora Fougere


Let's BullyOn April 14th, the French Parliament’s upper house will vote on a new bill, already approved by the lower house, to ban models who are “too thin” from the runway. Women who want to walk the catwalk would have to maintain a Body Mass Index of 18, and be certified by a physician that they are healthy enough to walk the 90 or so feet to the photographers’ pit, then back again.

Let's BullyOn April 14th, the French Parliament’s upper house will vote on a new bill, already approved by the lower house, to ban models who are “too thin” from the runway. Women who want to walk the catwalk would have to maintain a Body Mass Index of 18, and be certified by a physician that they are healthy enough to walk the 90 or so feet to the photographers’ pit, then back again.

Israel, Spain and New York (apparently, finally, its own country) have, to a far lesser degree, enacted rules or laws designed to keep models out who are deemed too thin, but the French law would be far stricter, assign big fines and possibly jail time to agencies or designers who violate the new rules.

In the interest of full disclosure, I will say that I am far from being in danger of falling below the 18.5 BMI deemed healthy by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. I have, for about as long as I can remember, been at war with my weight. I win some battles, I lose some battles, but I know the war will never end. So, I’m not a skinny chick saying, “stop picking on me”. What I am is a journalist-turned-fashion-writer who has covered enough Fashion Weeks to understand that, a) there’s a reason why designers want thin, young girls walking their runways and, b) there are some young women who are, just, naturally thin.

Let's BullyI have spent enough time backstage interviewing these young women to know that they are, overwhelmingly, healthy. They eat. I’ve seen them. And there’s no time to throw it all back up before the show. Have I seen some who looked a bit sickly? Yes, not many, but yes. And the best answer I have for that is, not everyone was born to model. If you’re not naturally thin, think of a new career. If you have to push yourself to be thin enough, consider another line of work, or, since so many are so young, tell your mom this isn’t for you, stay in school and find something else to do.

For me, this is part of a bigger conundrum. Health professionals bleat on and on about obesity, particularly childhood obesity, and the death grip it has on the U.S. You don’t need them to tell you that, just pop on Honey Boo Boo reruns or any number of “reality” shows, or, simply, take your eyes off your iPhone and look around as you walk the streets. Every day, it seems, I hear someone who has just given up saying they’re embracing their weight, they’re loving their “curves”, they’re proud of who they are. Never mind that extra weight can cause a plethora of illnesses, from diabetes and heart disease to strokes and joint pains. They battle to have thin models, actresses, whatever, taken out of the magazines and off the screen, not wanting their chubby children to feel somehow less than women and girls who watch their weight or were born thin. Rather than battling to be healthy, they want the women who remind them they are not to be removed from sight.

Let's BullyFor as long as I can remember, “fat” girls have been bullied, the butt of jokes of those not challenged by extra weight. There is no question that is wrong. But isn’t turning the tables and bullying women who carefully control their weight equally wrong?

There is something they can do that those of us who’d rather have a burger and fries than a kale salad can’t: they can walk the runway and grace the pages of fashion magazines. So why not just let them do it. If you’re overweight and happy, then stay that way. But shouting that the women who are thin and happy shouldn’t be allowed to do work they love and are qualified for because it makes the rest of us feel bad doesn’t benefit anyone.

Models are young, many very young. They have parents and friends who can keep an eye and let them know if they’re getting a bit too thin. If girls need to purge or shoot heroin to stay model-thin, someone should intervene. But saying girls who are thin and work to stay that way for their careers should be the new vilified class, bullied because they have the thin bodies and glamorous careers most of us wish we could have, just smacks of envy.

Remember, fashion is aspirational. Designers depend on our looking at their clothes presented in the most flattering way possible, and believing we can look that way with a purchase. As long as there is fashion, there will be models, thin models, to show them off. We don’t need to make them feel bad, to let the rest of us off the hook.

Photography: Anton Brookes

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IBS NEW YORK: SO MUCH BEAUTY, ALL IN ONE PLACE

IBSIt is where all the great beauty companies gather to show off their wares. The International Beauty Show came to the Javits Center in New York this month, a collection of hair, skin and a few makeup companies in a bazaar-like setting, some putting on loud, raucous shows, cutting hair, using the latest in scissors, curling irons, blow dryers, driving the crowds into a constant, evangelical frenzy. Others took a more subtle approach, drawing clients and potential clients, mostly technicians or salon or spa owners, in with in-booth demonstrations, talks about their latest innovations and the odd free sample.

Because we at Red Stiletto Media are suckers for a lovely-smelling skin or bath products, and because I am on a personal journey to find the miracle product that will finally give me that gorgeous hair I know I was born to achieve, we’re going to feature just a couple of the brands that were new, or new to us, featured at IBS New York.

AGADIR

AgadirIt’s all the rage for sleek, shiny, healthy hair: Argan Oil. Pressed from the Argan nut, a kind of cross between a walnut and an almond, grown only in Morocco, this elixir most closely imitates the actual oils our hair produces. It’s high in antioxidants and Omega-9 and Omega-7 fatty acids, as good for your hair as it is for your health. You’ve seen hair products that feature Argan Oil in both high and low end products.

 AgadirI don’t think there’s a hair care company that doesn’t make an Argan Oil line now. So what makes Agadir special? According to Jack Bogosian, Executive V.P. at Agadir, it starts with the quality of the oil itself. “We have a deal with the growers in Morocco, who certify ours is one of the highest cosmetic grades you can get,” he said. “Just like with olive oil you get extra virgin, virgin, this is the top press of the oil.”

 AgadirThey also have a special seal from the Moroccan government, a gold stamp on every bottle, guaranteeing this is genuine, Moroccan Argan Oil. And it’s not just quality, it’s quantity, and, Jack says, Agadir uses a higher content of actual oil than many other products.

 AgadirBecause you can’t just dump thick oil on your hair, all of these products are mixed with something, and at Agadir that mix includes a signature fragrance that is addictive. Every time I passed their booth, I went back, just to sniff one of the jars. “It’s a crossover fragrance,” Jack says. “Men love it, women love it, it works for everybody.”

AgadirAgadir is a family business in the truest sense of the word. Many of the people behind the counter are members, and the others just seem like family. So much attention went into each detail, like the safe, eco-friendly packaging that doesn’t break and prevents cross-contamination, and the bright, exotic labeling.

Right now, Agadir is sold only in salons, so find a salon near you and try it. I still haven’t perfected the hair thing, but Agadir’s luxurious Argan Oil has brought me a good bit closer. www.agadirint.com

NABILA K

Nabila KDie hard news junkies will remember the name Khashoggi from the days of the Reagan administration. Adnan Khashoggi was a world famous, at times infamous, businessman. His daughter, Nabila, is about to become world famous for a far different reason: face, bath and body creams. The beautiful, U.K.-educated Nabila’s empire started with bubble bath. “My father had it made, just for the family,” she told me. “We loved it, and, as the years went by, everyone was asking for more. When we saw how much went into having it made, we said, ‘we’re not giving it away anymore.’” And, so, Nabila K was born.

 Nabila KIt is a massive line, with a collection of, of course, bubble baths and bath salts, matched with body lotions, lip care, scrubs, gels, soaps, powders, diffusers and candles, inspired, in part, by Nabila’s world travels. There’s even a kids’ line, developed with input from her five year old son.

Nabila KNabila K is a family business, as well, with inspiration coming from her 21-year old surfer son as well as her younger son and his friends. They also inspire her dedication to making the products as natural and organic as skin care can possibly be. She said, “I live on an organic, biodynamic farm, so there’s hell to pay if I bring home something a little bit, well, naughty. We all know what the bad chemicals are.”

Nabila KEverything in her line smells clean, delicious and natural, like Ginger Green Tea, Organic Honey Shea and, even, Wine. A new bath line is called “Safari at Dusk”, and smells of citrus, spice and musk. While she’s launching her existing line, Nabila is busy building new ones. Coming soon: a new line of hair products and a makeup line.

 Nabila KNabila K is sold in some boutique shops and spas, but you can have a look at the whole line and learn more about Nabila’s dedication to natural ingredients on the website, http://www.nabilak.com.

© Red Stiletto Media 2015  |  Photography: Anton Brookes

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MARK AND ESTEL FALL/WINTER 2015

TURNING EVERYONE INTO A FASHION ROCKSTAR

Mark and EstelMark and Estel could have called their Fall/Winter 2015 collection “50 Shades of Black and Red and Rock ‘n’ Roll”. Instead, they went with the much better thought out “Stairway to the Stars”.

Mark and EstelMark and EstelMark and EstelMark and Estel

To understand the collection, you first have to understand their inspiration which is, well, them. Designer Estel Day told me before the show, “our design inspiration comes from our music, that’s why we combine both on the runway.” It goes much farther than just a chance to rock out on the runway. Their looks completely mirror their music: edgy, dramatic, and just a little bit chaotic.

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I have been to every Mark and Estel runway show from the first time they showed in New York, and I’ve mapped their growth as designers from collection to collection. Each season, there is more attention to detail, more complicated design, a little something extra. This season, the duo designed their own fabrics, wools, silks and knits in herringbone, gingham and, especially, tartan prints.

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Designer Mark Tango told me, “everyone asks us who our girl is. This season, our girl is everyone. Everyone can wear this collection.” He’s right. The red and black tartan was just right to give dresses, incredibly well-tailored pants and even a sexy trench a bit of edge, making them modern but not so young that it takes them out of the running for anyone over 25. Don’t worry, there was plenty for the very young fashionista, like a black lace bodysuit and see-through tartan onesie.

Mark and EstelMark and EstelMark and EstelMark and Estel

The prints were supported by black and rich reds (and whites, which I won’t harp on about too much. Even Mark and Estel can’t make me feel rebellious enough to accept white after Labor Day.). With everything from flowing tops to leggings, maxi dresses to capes, this collection lived up to its name, and its inspiration. I left the show feeling like I’d climbed Mark and Estel’s stairway to the stars, and emerged a fashion rockstar.

Mark and Estel© Red Stiletto Media 2015

Photography: Anton Brookes | Video and Edit: Scott Fetterman

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LIE SANGBONG SPRING/SUMMER 2015

TURNING THE CATWALK INTO A FASHION DREAM ROAD

IMG_2596.JPG 2aThere is no mistaking a true couture designer. When you walk into the Salon, it truly is like walking into an artistically serene dream. Nearly 1200 tiles line the runway, over the prints that will light up the collection. It’s a perfect precursor to the beauty that’s to come.

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Mr. Lie began, in his native Korea, by creating couture looks for some of his country’s most high fashion women. He showed his ready-to-wear collection in Paris, then New York. It’s hard to see his looks and think “ready-to-wear”. Each piece is perfectly constructed, the architectural base, clean lines and mix of fabrics forming mini works of art.

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He called his collection “Dream Road” designed to “evoke optimism and celebrate life.” His prints feature butterflies, florals and clouds, the palate is white, turquoise, cobalt and purple. But beneath the joyful designs and colors is the most amazing structure and tailoring. Pleats, asymmetrical skirts, jackets and tops, digital printing and laser cutouts bring his luxurious fabrics, like silk jacquards, linens, organzas, chiffons and just plain cotton, to life.

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This is such as summer collection: the dresses flowed, pants were pin straight, and jackets, perfectly fitted. There were so many standouts in this collection, it’s hard to focus on any one. A rich, purple gown with a printed belt practically glowed, a chiffon skirt with an armor-like bodice, a perfect mix of softness and strength. Every print was breathtaking, the whites so clean and crisp. In his notes, he called the collection “ethereal”, and I can think of no better word.

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This was my first time seeing a Lie Sangbong collection. He was right, it lifted my spirits and made me want to see more. I can’t wait to see what he’ll bring for fall, when fashion always needs a lift.

© Red Stiletto Media 2014 | Photography: Anton Brookes

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KATYA LEONOVICH SPRING/SUMMER 2015

BRINGING FASHION INTO THE FUTURE

 Katya LeonovichYou can’t walk into a tech-type store without seeing 3-D printer. You think, “Cool. But what would I do with it?” Katya Leonovich has found the answer. The designer, who seems never to stop creating, innovating, trying to figure out what fashion will look like in the future, used 3-D printing to create textiles and embellishments for her Spring/Summer 2015 line. And it was pretty amazing.

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The crowds crammed Pier 59 to see her mix of hard and soft. More common textiles mixed with the hard, harsh printed materials. She made her statement with the very first piece, a laser-cut black leather dress with 3-D around the neckline was beautiful and remarkably soft. A blue mesh top matched with mesh shorts and a 3-D design was a remarkable technological feat.

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Her choice of fabrics made the collection even more interesting: cream silks, sheer, gauzy cottons and leather. Swimsuits, too, took on a futuristic bent, especially a grey one piece with a series of cutouts, and another sexy lilac one-piece.

Katya LeonovichKatya LeonovichKatya LeonovichKatya LeonovichKatya LeonovichIt’s not always easy, thinking ahead, creating post-modern looks that can be worn just six months from when they’re shown. It can look gimmicky, almost comical. But not in the hands of Katya Leonovich. This is fashion for the future, but ready to wear today.

© Red Stiletto Media 2014 | Photography: Anton Brookes

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