Eye on NYC

Barbara Tfank

The New York Post calls her “the most important designer you’ve never heard of”. She is Barbara Tfank, who launched her eponymous label in 2001, and has since been worn by the likes of Michelle Obama and Adele.

Tfank’s styles are very retro and glamorous, dresses you’d see on Mad Men, or could totally picture being worn by Jackie O.  From slim waist cocktail dresses to cropped jackets and capris, the collection stands out as a unique throwback to the days of pure elegance, in both casual and formal settings.

 I approached Tfank’s building, between Park and Madison Avenues. I was greeted in the lobby and took the elevator up to the penthouse, an amazing space that seemed to never end. Although crowded, the space was impeccable, and the collection was presented on models milling about the space and on the terrace, as perhaps a real wearer of the line would do.

 The fabrics are also reminiscent of the golden age, with organza, chiffon, and silk being used most prominently. The cuts range from a-line to full flowing, and the colors and patterns ran the spectrum from subtle pinks to neon floral prints.

As I walked around taking in both the collection and the setting, I noticed a small crowd gathered at the doorway of the main bedroom. I peeked in and saw it was a photo shoot for Vogue, and the models were entering in sets of three to participate. Directing the shoot was Andre Leon Talley, wearing one of his signature lush robes.

Tfank says her inspiration for the Spring/Summer 2013 collection was drawn from photographer Slim Aarons, who was famous for photographing celebrities and socialites in the 1950s and 60s. His photos captured some of the most beautiful, elegant, sophisticated moments of celebrities. Tfank wanted to combine the timeless elegance with comfortable luxury, making her collection appropriate for a formal dinner, or hosting a party. As Vogue puts it: “the perfect attire for afternoon tea, cocktails, and candlelit dinners”.

 

Kevork Kiledjian Fall Collection for 2012

During fashion week last fall I had the pleasure of meeting a fantastically talented designer named Kevork Kiledjian. A somewhat reserved and introverted personality, you’d never know it by his collections. They are daring, provocative, and uber sexy.  And stunning.

Kiledjian has quickly become one of my favorite designers, because his clothes are unique and risky. He has no problem combining blue and black leather in a skin tight dress, or slits and sheer spots in all the right places- and beyond. Previously one half of the French label Guilty Brotherhood, Kiledjian chose to start his own label when his partner became ill and passed away. He brought the sleek, European flare of Guilty Brotherhood into his own, edgy designs.

Now its only mid-July, so clearly its time to discuss fall/winter collections. I had the pleasure of attending his fall show back in February during NY fashion week, and it was by far my favorite show of all I saw. Tight leather, sheer backs, side slits, dark colors…the hotness just kept coming down the runway. Jackets, pants, dresses – it was all well, fierce. And I NEVER use that word (mostly because its overused to describe reality stars who are anything but).

So many fashion shows can bore you to death. You wouldn’t think so, but when you’ve sat through show after show of various combinations of grays, boring furs, and knits, a totally daring and unique show will make you want to stand up and cheer. Kiledjian’s fall line made me do just that. Of course I stop cheering when I remember that I can’t afford or fit into his clothes. But a girl can cheer and dream, can’t she?

Although Kiledjian’s eponymous label has only been around for a few seasons, he is already gaining prominence in the US, selling in Bloomingdale’s, Fred Segal, and online at Shopbop.

Summer Lovin’

One of the best things about summer is buying cute items to accompany you on vacation, day trips, or sunny Sunday brunches outside. And the thing I love about summer outfits is that they often work for the office, dinner, brunch, or travel. Don’t we all love when fashion also becomes multipurpose?

And with that in mind, I have discovered an adorable summer collection that is colorful, fun, and best of all, affordable. Two fashion geniuses, Courtney Moss (who has worked for YSL, Armani, and Dior), and Gigi Mortimer (who has worked for Ralph Lauren, Very Wang, and Tory Burch), came together and created Glamourpuss, an amazing line of both winter and summer accessories. The winter line is gorgeous, but we’ll come back to that in the fall. The summer wear is an array of ponchos in bright pinks, yellows, blues, and whites. They are loose, free flowing, and make the perfect swim suit cover up, or top to go with your white jeans and wedges. They also have an internal draw string on the side, so you can tighten it at the waist.

 The collection also has jewelry, with tassels, turquoise, beads, and real summer charm. I especially love the scarf necklace, an adorable combination. The necklaces compliment the beach wear perfectly, and simply scream “vacation in the tropics”.  But my favorite Glamourpuss accessory is the Petal Power Bag, an adorable purse made from an actual bathing cap. The floral designs come in solid or multi color, and are the perfect summer clutch. Its totally waterproof, and is perfect for the beach during the day, or the relaxed, outdoor restaurant at night.  I love this bag because its cute and summery, but also totally creative and unique. Who else will have an adorable, waterproof clutch that they can use during both the day and evening?

 Glamourpuss items are available on their website and also retail at Saks.

Diamonds in the rough

When we think high end jewelry, we tend to think of the bigs- Cartier, Tiffany, Bulgari- and most never realize that there are hundreds of designers out there, who create amazing, gorgeous baubles. The prices are still in the high end luxury range, but aren’t anywhere near as expensive as Cartier- but just as beautiful.

Donald Huber is a fantastic up and coming NY jewelry designer, who has created collections inspired by Asian culture, nature, and the staple pieces worn by women everywhere.

Huber’s Siam collection is inspired by a recent trip to Asia. It incorporates traditional stones, like jade, onyx, and pearl. The jade just looks so rich and beautiful, it really is an amazing stone. He also has a Buddha collection, in several different colors. Some pendants are dainty, others a big larger. All are elegantly carved. Buddhas are HUGE right now, so if you’re into weighty pendants definitely go for a Buddha.

 

Huber’s nature collections are inspired by water and wind. The swirling designs almost appear in motion, and the bright colors are eye catching and gorgeous. Oh so sparkly, to use a technical term. In this collection there are lots of blues, purples, and deep colors that reflect the beauty and movement of water.

There are also staple jewelry items, like adorable stackable rings, gorgeous diamond lattice cuff, and long, elegant, white and yellow gold necklaces. The shapes are unique and special, like the pieces were made for an individual.

 

It is easy to tell that Huber loves what he does. When he showed me his collections I couldn’t help but notice how enthusiastic he was while showing me the intricate designs and sharing his inspiration. “Creating one-of-a-kind jewelry has been my passion for as long as I can remember,” he told me. “Designing a new piece of jewelry acts as my outlet from the busy world as I recall and am inspired by my worldly travels and the joys of nature.”

Ladies, if you ever have the means, visit Donald Huber’s website (turn the volume down if you’re at work) and treat yourself to a piece of  jewelry. EVERYONE will ask you where you got it.

 

 

Wool of the World

Ever wonder how the finest merino wool is made? Me neither, but last night I found out anyway, and it turns out that its pretty interesting.

Loro Piana, one of if not the finest wool distributor in the world, rewards the farmers who produce the finest bale of wool each year. It is called the Record Bale Cup- and in the world of wool its a pretty prestigious honor.

The best wool in the world is produced in Australia and New Zealand. Don’t ask me why, it just is. Farmers produce millions of bales each year, and out of those millions one from each country is chosen as the best. Then from those two, one is given the ultimate prize, the Record Bale Cup (although it looked more like a plate to me).

The quality of wool is measured by the fineness of the fibers. Wool fibers are so fine they are measured in microns.  A micron is 1/1000 of a millimeter.  So wicked tiny, if you want to get technical. To give you an idea of how small, one strand of hair is approximately 60 microns. The finest wool this year measured at 11.1 microns. Like I said, wicked tiny.

And to give you an idea of how the breeders and farmers have improved their wool over the years, the first record bale measured at 13.1 microns in 1997. And at the time that was considered extremely fine.

The breeders consistently pair the strongest rams and ewes together to improve the wool each year. And clearly its worked, since the fibers get finer and finer.

Loro Piana rewards the farmers to not only give them industry recognition, but to incentivize continued improvement. And he never uses the record bale until a finer one is produced. Meaning you’ll never get to wear the current champion.

Loro Piana hosted a gala a couple of weeks ago at the Metropolitan Club in New York to honor the bale winners. The finest wool year by year was displayed around the cocktail reception, so I walked around feeling each one. They were soft, silky smooth. I usually think of scratchiness when I think of wool, but clearly I’ve been wearing cheap wool. Which I already knew.

The night began with the award presentations in a small library, and then a dinner, where we feasted on spinach ravioli, salmon, and veal medallions. (I suppose lamb would have been in poor taste).

Along with dinner was a band that played hybrid jazz/dinner music, and an Italian opera singer. An added flair that in my mind will set this dinner apart from the others I begrudgingly attend on random Tuesday and Thursday nights when I should be home watching delightfully awful television.

I should also mention that Loro Piana is one of the most gracious people I’ve ever met. He loves what he does, so when he talks about it there’s genuine passion is his voice and expression. If you ever have the means, (and most of you won’t), get your hands on some Loro Piana wool. And then also wear it.