Monday, February 18, 2013

Mercedes Benz Fashion Week Fall 2013, Part 1: Fun, Fabric 'N Frolic!

By: Anne M. Raso and Finance Foodie

Mercedes Benz Fashion Week in New York City --which is as exhausting as it is fun --was something that we truly found to be a mix of crazy and conservative (with a touch of Blizzard Nemo dashed in). The catwalk craziness was fortunately balanced out with some lovely events given by celebs in town for the shows but promoting their own projects. Here’s a look at some of our favorite shows during these few days (we’ll get to the parties in part 2 of our report later this week).
Finance Foodie Outside Lincoln Center 

Anne’s Favorites
One of my favorite presentations was by Brooks Brothers--both for their traditional line and Black Fleece by superstar designer Thom Browne. The exciting news was that the traditional line had all the classics and then some including 1920's-inspired nightwear that singlehandledly invents the little black dress and at a reasonable price point. On the more conservative side of things, we discovered as we toured the BB showroom in their midtown offices that they are indeed the ones that Scottish and Scottish-Americans get their kilts made from (they have access to tartans of all Scottish family names, which is impressive) and they also have collegiate logo comfy slip-on slippers--so if you want to impress a date with Yale logo slippers, go right ahead! The Black Fleece collection included many suits done in the Thom Brown signature style--jackets and pants and inch or two shorter than the norm and very fitted. He mixed and matched famous Brooks Brothers plaids from the vaults--as many as four in one ensemble--but in the same collection, his trademark medium grays were used on more than a third of the collection. Browne also used high-end double ply cashmere on as many pieces as he could, and there were plenty of lacy details actually done in cashmere on the women's cocktail attire, especially around the necklines.
Brooks Brothers 
A great runway show (possibly my all time favorite) is Heart Truth—alternately known as The Red Dress Show. The show is star studded with stars of all ages wearing red dresses by numerous American designers The models included Wendy Williams and Toni Braxton, who walked the runway as dramatically as possible. Many members of the audience are breast cancer survivors themselves asked to wear red cocktail wear to identify themselves in the crowd (there were more than three hundred of these lovely ladies up in the balcony at the Manhattan Center where the show took place). The whole show includes cocktails and nibbles thanks to the help of generous corporate sponsors like Diet Coke and Subway, and designer sponsors like Calvin Klein and Carolina Herrera.
Heart Truth
Nautica Black Sail which showed in the tents at Lincoln Center showed rugged yet hip clothing that could take everything the great outdoors could dish out. It's no secret that ladies flock to this show not only to see the duds, but to see the dudes. This line has become famous for using the most classically handsome models, so if you like matinee idol good looks, there's a heartthob in here for you [EIC Note: Finance Foodie also attended and was seated right behind the hunky Winklevoss twins!]. The big news in the line was mixing bright colors and textures on classic outdoor wear.
B Michael puts on the glam bigger and better than any other American designer with the possible exception of the legendary Oscar De La Renta who still shows at Fashion Weeks after being in the business 60 plus years (he shows no signs of slowing down, either). B Michael does dresses that are classy and have just the right touch of embellishments without going over the top. There were surprise touches like elbow length two-tone leather gloves to go with sleeveless gowns, textured black fabrics and trapeze hemlines. Michael is proving himself to be the "Sultan Of Sheath" as well as "Boss Of The Ball Gown" and his show really proves that there is a princess dress for every female form out there. While a few of the dresses had deep backs, most of them did not show a lot of skin making them a viable choice for real American women who aren't comfortable with most of the formal and cocktail wear choices out there now that are sleeveless or strapless.
B Michael
Finance Foodie’s Favorites
Ok so I have to admit, I love fashion week for all the glitzy and glam clothes but my main reason for attending is to scope out all the celebs who sit front row. One show that never disappoints in terms of star power is Dennis Basso. Also known as the King of Fabulous Frocks and Furs, Mr. Basso celebrated the 30th anniversary of his company by producing a collection inspired by the socialites of yester year (think Babe Paley, C.Z.Guest, etc.). However, it was actually his front row that was the most alluring for me. The collection of alligator leather and chinchilla furs was lovely but I really spent 80% of show watching frozen faced Joan Rivers (LOVE her and yes I am a Joan Ranger!), makeup faced Joan Collins (who was in town to promote her new book – more on that later this week), still skinny Star Jones and former jail bird Martha Stewart (who is pushing 70 years old but still is as classy as the fox on her coat).
Front Row at Dennis Basso
Speaking of celebs and front rows, guess who was in one? Me! After Blizzard Nemo took Fashion Week by storm (literally), it seemed like everyone just wanted to get the heck out of the tents and back home. Which meant this lucky Finance Foodie scored a front row seat at Nicole Miller – a seat just 7 seats down from starlets Ashlee Simpson and Eve. I admit I felt kind of cool (as in rad, not in like the weather outside), even if only for 20 minutes, as I watched Ms. Miller’s dark and bold boyfriend inspired looks sashay down the runway. So to my friend Mr. Big Shot Fashion Editor - whom I hope made it home to CT before the snow got bad – thank you for my first front row seat!
Nicole Miller
One thing I noticed this season was the large number of Asian models being casted for shows (at Herve Leger there were at least 5 Asian models on the runway) as well as Asian designers presenting collections. One that falls in the latter category is Monika Chiang. Ms. Chiang’s namesake collection, launched in 2011 and backed by boyfriend Chris Burch (aka the ex-Mr. Tory Burch), showcased a lot of sexy body hugging leggings and sheer tops that are quite the juxtaposition to the Westchester mom set that favor.
Monika Chiang
I spent most of my time at the Lincoln Center shows while Anne went around town, but one off-site show I managed to catch was LA based Kimberly Ovitz. Before the show started, I was invited backstage to watch the models get ready. The Aveda team was doing the hair -  slick hair accented with asymmetrical corseted ponytails - which was inspired by Ms. Ovitz's collection of space agey pieces that "explores the human psyche and innate defenses found in animals and insects". This was one of the darker and moodier shows of this season (even the venue it was held in was industrial) - but made a bit brighter when I spotted Anna Wintour and CAA founder Michael Ovitz (the designer's father) in the front row. 
Backstage at Kimberly Ovitz
Check back for part 2 in a few days where we highlight the parties and VIP lounges (aka the good and juicy stuff!)
Photos: Anne M. Raso / Finance Foodie

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