Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Models and Bottles: Mercedes Benz Fashion Week Fall/Winter 2012 Party and Show Highlights

By: Anne M. Raso and Finance Foodie

When one thinks about Mercedes Benz Fashion Week in New York City, one thinks of models, runways and the celebs in the first rows of shows. We find that the parties happening around Fashion Week to be as exciting as the shows, if not more so in some cases. Some parties we attended had nothing to do with fashion, although many of the guests or even the honorees made a point of taking in some shows.

The week (which is really ten days) kicked off with the opening of the very pink Georgetown Cupcake in Soho, where guests enjoyed Moet, endless cupcakes, a great deejay and a gift bag that included six cupcakes with candy New York City icons on them (including subway line numbers and little taxi drawings). Needless to say, this made it difficult to fit into any clothing put aside to wear to the New York Fashion Week shows.
One of our favorite stops during Fashion Week is always Lia Sophia's Social Fashion Suite, which included a Editors' Breakfast where journos could meet the designers of this privately-sold diverse line of jewelry. Obviously, we fell in love with many of the art deco inspired designs for their fall lines. Lia Sophia has one of the most popular Fashion Week suites--and not just because of their sweet looking bling, They have a PR team that is really on the ball and are always there to help you with samples for photo shoots or to answer questions about the myriad of jewelry they offer. Editors in the suite went nuts for the Natayla Necklace (clear cut crystals in faux antique gold) -- it was by far the favorite piece for Fashion Week.
Coming back for a second year is model/environmentalist/Lancome brand rep Elettra Wiedemann's Goodness Badness suite and popup restaurant, both in the Museum of Arts and Design. Elettra met with press on several occasions in the suite, and all guests got hand massages, cocktails and even a Lancome makeover.  On Saturday, we were lucky enough to interview both Elettra and Mario Batali, one of the daily guest chefs at her Goodness popup eatery. We later had some of Batali's food in the restaurant thanks to a small fashion editors luncheon celebrating the release of the new coffee table book Fast Forward Fashion (for more info, go to
Anne (center), with Mario (left) and Elettra (right)
It was hard to miss the amNewYork Fits Into Fashion Lounge, which was in the left storefront of the Empire Hotel and hosted by affable PR dude Jim Maninno of Jim Mannino PR. The diverse suite showcased Cece Toppings, Soleone, Maya J, Allibelle, Rica Swimwear, Voil Light Vodka, Rojas' Tango Brush set and more. We were treated to SOBE Hair Extensions by the Ricardo Rojas Salon Team, and if you were lucky enough to walk by at the right times, Ricardo himself was doing extensions on runway models sitting on chairs in the very front left window. In case you're curious, we got the "tape in" extensions that are supposed to only last a few days, but are still going strong after ten days!
One of the most elite and famous fashion week parties is the Robert Verdi Luxe Laboratory, which takes place in the Fashion District in a lush pre-war apartment that Verdi decorated himself. On hand for editors lucky enough to get appointments were Neutrogena Cosmetics makeovers, leather and sterling wristlets from Pink Bamboo Jewelry, DL1961 Jeans, hair straightening using T3 Irons by the Dan Sharp of Danka Panka in Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn (, Sensa tastant appetite control products (we are trying Phase 1 as we speak) and even phone retro handsets from pop Phone. You know we had to have the purple one and people do look at us funny when we walk down the street with it. They actually help decrease the amount of radiation you are picking up from putting your Blackberry, iPhone or other PDA directly up to your ears, though.
We were also lucky enough to attend Mob Wives star Karen Gravano's party at Greenhouse for the publication of her autobiography Mob Daughter, which she co-wrote with Lisa Pulitzer. Since the daughter of the legendary "Sammy The Bull" Gravano is used to always having cameras following her, she was unfazed that every movement she made at her party was being filmed, and all guests had to sign waivers that is was okay to televise any footage of them. The whole Mob Wives gang was there including Rene Graziano, Big Ang and Ramona Rizzo and they were accessible to all party attendees--they were not in the back in some roped-off VIP room, which we find admirable. We got the inside skinny on the fact that Karen's starting her own skincare line with the help of the same doctors who invented Hydroxatone, and she says that her Soho spa will be done being built in just a couple of weeks. No doubt there will be a grand opening for that which will also wind up as footage for Mob Wives.
Karen Gravano at Her Book Party
Last but not least, Spanx gave a wonderful 70's disco themed party for editors on Valentine's Day. There were red feathers and disco balls allover the penthouse of Glass Houses in Chelsea, and guests not only got to ogle models wearing the latest Spanx items (both male and female) but they left with the latest medium control Spanx classic brief of Spoil Me Cotton along with a gift card for!


As for the shows (which is why we all conjure together in the first place!), one of our favorites this season was Stephen Burrows, who did his show in the Audi showroom at 46th and Park again and who had several celebs including model/actor Tyson Beckford looking on and seemed to draw inspiration from Halston classics of the 70s (the music seemed to all be late 70s funk as well). The Red Dress Heart Truth which is the best all celeb show and this year included Chaka Khan, Gloria Estefan, Christie Brinkley, Patti Stanger and Linda Evans. Michael Phelps was on hand in the front row of the Hammerstein Ballroom to cheer his mom on, and it was refreshing that that show featured such a diversity of women, from country stars to supermodels of yesteryear.
 Anna Sui was her rock and roll self, and her line mixed Boho Chic with 60s chic--and she was nice enough to grace all audience members with a gift bag that included a small fragrance, a frosted pastel eyeshadow set and a pair of flowered socks, all from her own line. Spotted in the front row: the still dapper playboy Russell Simmons eying the leggy models from his prime seat.
Russell Simmons at Anna Sui
 The Strut Show for fashionable moms was one of the last ones of Fashion Week and hosted by supermodel Iman in the Lincoln Center Library For The Performing Arts and included several models that were a solid nine months pregnant--I was praying that their water was not going to break on the runway or backstage!
Brazilian designer Carlos Miele used the inspiration of his culture of Southern Brazil in his Fall / Winter 2012 collection. Gold embroidered boleros and natural toned evening gowns all were reminiscent of the landscape of Brazil (and made us want to book a trip there ASAP)! 
Uber luxe eveningwear designer Zang Toi's theme this season was "Glamour in Gstaad" and he did not disappoint. Set to the soundtrack of the oh-so-soulful Adele, Toi's use of rich velvets, cashmere and wools had the audience cheering at every few looks that came sashaying down the runway. Spotted in the front row: Real Housewives Cynthia Bailey, Alex McCord and Ramona Singer. Rolando Santana's show took place at Eyebeam Studios--this year there were no Baldwins on the premises, but he had about 600 guests and each ensemble was more glamorous than the next. He is building up to becoming the Givenchy of the 2010's!
The Kim Hicks Couture show in the Woolworth Mansion looked like a meeting of every Park Avenue lady who owns a Chanel suit, including most of the Real Housewives of New York City. Pomegranate-based drinks being served were promptly halted by the mansion's overseer in case any of them should spill on any of the ritzy furniture (we hear the mansion is up for sale for $72 million at the moment and is arguably Manhattan’s highest priced private residence at the moment). They should have been concerned more about any of the 10 million dollars worth of de Grisogono diamonds the models were sported being lost in a nubby carpet!


Whew and we are still tired from Fashion Week. The best thing about it is that you don't have to go to a gym because of all the running around that you do...and just looking at all those skinny models just sort of curtailed one’s appetite! So until next season, Team Finance Foodie is signing off!

[Photos: Anne M. Raso / Finance Foodie]

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