Rebecca Minkoff knows her way around a handbag. Take, for instance, her now-iconic Morning After Bag, a roomy satchel designed to hold your everyday—and all night—essentials, meaning that morning after Walk of Shame is a thing of the past. Realizing that not every day begins with a morning after, Minkoff cleverly shrunk the MAB to clutch proportions. Still roomy enough to tote your everyday essentials, plus Kindle or paperback (I tried, they fit!), this beauty comes in a range of colors—which change each season—and boasts a gold tone cross body chain for hands-free style. I have the lipstick red version shown here (thanks, Rebecca!) and right now you can find it in a washed-out navy, pinky lavender or metallic honey.
Didn't snag an invite to the party celebrating the debut of Camilla Staerk's spring 2012 fashion film, Vanitas, directed by her auteur hubby, Barnaby Roper? Not to worry. I did, and you can read all about it on Rue La La.
This year marks the tenth anniversary of Behnaz Sarafpour's namesake collection. The Parsons grad had done her time in the fashion trenches—at Anne Klein, Richard Tyler, Narciso Rodriguez, Isaac Mizrahi and Barney's New York—before launching her own label in 2001. Known for marrying feminine tailoring with unusual materials, the Behnaz Sarafpour brand quickly became a favorite among fashionable celebs such as Alexis Biedel, Katie Cassidy, Michelle Williams, Emmy Rossum, Michelle Trachtenberg, Chloe Sevigny, Anne Hathaway, Claire Danes, Ashley Olsen and Selma Blair.
"I've wanted to be a fashion designer since I was a child but I didn't know that I really could until I moved to New York," the Iranian-born, Philadelphia-bred designer told us. "I liked the social aspect, in the sense that it interacts so intimately with peoples lives."
Sarafpour was nominated for the CFDA Swarovski Award (then called the Perry Ellis Award) in 2002, 2003 and 2005, was a CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund finalist in 2004, designed the first-ever Target Go International collaboration in 2006, and also created denim for Ernest Sewn and a limited-edition lipstick for Lancome. For the last few years, Sarafpour has quietly been using sustainable and environmentally friendly materials (cherry pit buttons and embellished rattan textiles, anyone?), and in 2010 she was named one of the fashion design finalists for the Cooper-Hewitt National Design Award and honored at the White House.
"I hate pollution in general and I just want to do my part to show people a side of luxury fashion that promotes a clean way of living and celebrates natural resources," Sarafpour says of her under-the-radar eco-chic mission, which recently included designing a stylish raffia bracelet that was featured on Fashion Me Green.
The Fashion Informer's Lauren David Peden chatted with the gracious brunette recently about The Great Gatsby, Charlotte Gainsbourg and gardening (to name just a few of her favorite things).
What's your favorite getaway spot?
Our farmhouse in New Jersey.
Ocean or mountains?
What's usually on your nightstand?
A very colorful photo by Craig McDean and my phone.
What's your favorite book of all time?
The Great Gatsby. As a designer I think I especially pick up on the part fashion plays in establishing the people's character.
Who would play you in the movie of your life?
Charlotte Gainsbourg would be flattering.
Tell me about your pet(s).
I'm a gardener, my plants are my pets.
What was your nickname when you were a kid, and what's your nickname now?
My parents have always called me Naz and now people just call me B.
Do you have any hidden or unusual talents?
I speak Farsi.
What's your favorite store in the world?
The Astier de Villatte store in Paris; I can't go to Paris without buying something there.
What's the one beauty/grooming product you can't live without?
Pure rose water.
Tell me about your favorite piece of jewelry/clothing and why it's so special to you.
A diamond and emerald necklace that has been passed down to me from my great grandmother. It is made in a very primitive way and every woman who owned it before me made a change to it.
How often do you get back to Philadelphia and how has it changed since you lived there?
Not too often. I think the city is much nicer now.
What part of your job do you like the best—and least?
Best: Working with textiles. Least: Working on budgets.
What never fails to make you cry?
When are you happiest?
When I realize I've just had a good idea!
Designer Camilla Staerk teamed up with her filmmaker husband, Barnaby Roper, on a short film to herald the early arrival of her spring 2012 collection. Dubbed Vanitas (which loosely refers to the meaninglessness of earthly life and the transient nature of vanity), the film, which was screened at the Tribeca Grand last night, stars members of The Royal Danish Ballet dancing to an original score by Sune Rose Wagner of The Raveonettes, who was on hand at the screening (as were Shelly Steffee, Lynn Yaeger, Keegan Singh, Jamie Rosenthal and Emilie Simon). You can see the whole thing over on Nowness, but I wanted to share some stills from this beautiful collaboration.
images courtesy Camilla Staerk and Barnaby Roper/Nowness
Filmmaker Lina Plioplyte teamed up with Duckie Brown's Daniel Silver and Steven Cox to bring us The Guts of Duckie Brown, a short film that follows the designing duo through the making of their fall 2011 menswear collection.
We recently attended a private screening at Norwood and absolutely loved the film, which captures the ups and downs of the creative process and the relationship between these two terrific men, who are partners in work and life.
"[Duckie Brown] is the perfect combination of absolute eccentricity and idiosyncrasy with a strong technical base," crows Style.com's Tim Blanks backstage after their Lincoln Center show in February. "They're redefining elegance." At which point Steven pops into the frame and says, "Oh, shut the fuck up" with a cheeky roll of the eyes.
But it's Daniel who has the last word during a post-show interview at Abington Square Park. "I think every day is a milestone," he tells the viewer. "Forget about the shows. Getting up and getting on with it—being in the moment and doing the best you can do every day—that's a fucking milestone."
The Guts of Duckie Brown is currently doing the festival circuit and will premiere following New York Fashion Week.
images courtesy Lina Plioplyte/The Guts of Duckie Brown
Rickie Lee Jones is a true American original. This can be said of her music—she burst onto the scene with a self-titled debut thirty years ago and never looked back. And it can be said of her style—an idiosyncratic mash-up of vintage dresses, hipster hats, lace gloves and funky platforms.
Since her auspicious debut—which nabbed her five Grammy nominations and the Best New Artist prize in 1979—Jones has released 14 albums (four of them in the Billboard Top 10), was nominated for additional Grammys in 1988, 1989 and 2000, twice appeared on the cover of Rolling Stone, and is ranked #30 in VH1's Greatest Women of Rock n Roll.
"I grew up encouraged to act, sing, write, draw—all things creative," Jones said of her artistic inclinations. "My father sang and wrote, my uncle played guitar quite well, and they would look at the scrapbooks of my grandfather, Peg Leg Jones, on the Vaudeville stages. Singing was something I could do all by myself, and I loved singing. My voice was unusual, so that was a challenge. But it was natural for me to sing. Still is."
In celebration of her 30th anniversary, the California-born troubadour just released a new DVD, Rickie Lee Jones, Live in Stockholm, and is touring through the end of the year, playing only songs from her first two albums, Rickie Lee Jones and Pirates.
"So many people cite Pirates as being important to them—Pirates and Flying Cowboys—and the first record was a big record culturally," explained Jones. "I decided to perform them as written. Just this year, I think."
Jones also recorded a song called The Weight for an upcoming CD to benefit Victoria Williams' MS charity, Sweet Relief, and is working on music for a children's book. "I haven't told anyone about [it]; I'm just writing the music," she said. "And I recently did an interview for a film about women leading us to a better world. I am most interested in discussing the role of women in creating a better world. Or, if you want to go to the negative side of it, of talking to women about the role of men in our lives, from dictating our appearance, our sexuality, our beauty, what we can and can't wear, where we can and can't go, and…you get the picture."
Indeed we do. When we caught her show at City Winery last week, we were treated to the picture of Jones at her finest, regaling the audience with hilarious anecdotes and handily dispatching a heckler with a few well-chosen words. (Note to self: Do not annoy Rickie Lee Jones.) Decked out floral velvet pants and layered t-shirts accessorized with rainbow striped arm warmers and a jaunty checkerboard fedora, Jones was, as always, the picture of eclectic chic.
So, Rickie Lee…
What did you have for breakfast this morning?
I was in a hurry to take my dog to the vet so I missed breakfast.
What are you currently reading?
I am reading The Farthest Shore by Ursula Le Guin. I have read it a few times; it's a lovely book, the last in a trilogy about a wizard who must chase some terrible shadows to the wall of death and back again. She is an eloquent writer. The Earthsea trilogy seems to be the impetus for all the Harry Potter stories... but that's another story.
What's your favorite getaway spot?
The stable where my horse is. But if you are talking vacation, I think I love Kona Village best. I have been going there for 25 years. I love to hear the birds wake up in the morning, and the staff has grown older with me, so it's quite wonderful.
What did you do last weekend and what are your plans for this weekend?
I don't measure my week that way. I don't work five days and then rest, so a weekend is much the same as a week. Except I tend to go work with my horse every weekend. Last weekend I had just returned from Israel, so I rested a lot, played guitar and started to use Twitter. This weekend I am going to stay and take care of my dog, she just had some surgery. I may go swimming, because it's going to be hot.
Tell me about your pet(s).
Juliette is my dog, she has lived with me since 2001 when my daughter brought her home on New Year's Eve. She is a blond pit bull and looks like she's part Lab. She loves me a lot and wants to go everywhere with me. She loves the studio, the microphone I sing at, she senses this energy and just gets very excited. And the stage; I let her come onstage once. That was too much for her. She likes to be with the horses. She is very kind and friendly, though some people are afraid of her because her head is a little big. (I mean that literally.) My horse is Ella. Cinder Ella. So named because when she arrived she was named Wicked Stepchild. So I had to fix that right away. I call her Ella, and I have had her now for six or seven years. She is a Rocky Mountain Saddle Horse, a gaited horse, very nice to ride. She came to me very skittish and pregnant, and it has been a long time gaining her trust. We have been making real progress lately. She is not too tall, and since I was hurt by a horse when I was a young cowgirl, she is quite extraordinary for bringing me back to a place of confidence and absolute trust myself. I guess we are healing each other.
This being a fashion-related site, please describe one of your favorite outfits, circle 1975 and a current favorite outfit.
I could tell you a favorite outfit circa 1979 when I came out. 1975 sucked as far as I am concerned. So in '79 I wore a dress I had made out of vintage material in a style more or less from the Forties, with a beret and gloves. I had three dresses made that year, and one of them I can still get into. Well, when I am six or seven pounds lighter. But we will just pretend like I am! I changed that by summer and wore a Spandex catsuit with long lace gloves, a sheer full length coat—could have been a dress, even—so that the light shined through it to Spandex beneath. I thought that was pretty sexy. I wore red high heels and red beret. And sometimes a red scarf, and that was the bomb.
What is your most treasured item of clothing/jewelry that you own?
I still have the little red jacket I wore on the Tom Waits cover of his CD, Blue Valentine.
What's the first concert you ever attended and the last concert you attended?
The first concert was either Simon and Garfunkel or Peter & Gordon. I think Simon and Garfunkel were the second concert. So Peter & Gordon. I threw my hat up on the stage and one of them put it on and then threw it back. Some surfers took it and wouldn't give it back to me. Surfers wore striped shirts. Mean teens. I was 12, maybe. Almost 13? The last concert I went to see was Matisyahu the day after my show in Tel Aviv. About 10 days ago, I think. He played at a little club there. They gave me a chair and table to sit at and I shared my table with a girl who asked if she could sit down and then spent the entire show talking on her cell phone to her boyfriend who was standing in front of her. The entire show. Not even talking about the music. It was a good concert. Well, he's charismatic and wonderful. Twelve and now I am 56. Where does the time go?
For what will you be arrested (hypothetically speaking)?
Locking the DA into the courtroom and making him listen to my side.
What is your favorite work of art of all time?
Toulouse-Lautrec. It is a drawing on brown paper of two loves. Might be called Lovers. And the girl is kind of talking or fixing her hair and the boy is just ... looking. It's a beautiful picture. Stunning; it says so much. I love them. I love the boy especially. I wonder what did he see? Was he the boy? The love and sweetness, it's all there. He is infatuated, you can feel it.
If you found $15,000 in a brown paper bag, how would you spend it?
I would try to triple it. Then i would triple that. Then I would pay my tax bill.
What's the one beauty/grooming product you can't live without?
I buy a very expensive cream from Epione in Beverly Hills, and I think it really helps. I use the body creme and the night creme, and I think my face is looking pretty good. For my age, yes, but in general, too. I just can't believe how much it costs. If I were to say one I buy at the store, I would say Perricone makes some great cremes for wrinkles.
How do you relax/recharge when you're on the road?
I watch a movie. I zone out utterly and watch a movie. After a show, before a show, if I need to not think, if I am nervous. Otherwise, to relax, I swim. I love to swim.
Tell me about your favorite pair of shoes.
Ah! Shoes! I love shoes! I bought some boots in Buenos Airies and they are my favorite shoes. Leather boots, chunky, but groovy. I have weathered them well, at the stable and on the stage. But right now, I am digging these platforms. I can't wear heels, they hurt my feet, but I can wear a gentler slope and I like the height. So I bought a few pair this spring and the ones I bought at Anthropology I like a lot. They lace up my feet to my ankle, navy blue—and I like navy blue this year. The weight of them is perfect, they don't hurt my feet after hours at the airport.
What one thing would improve your life?
I would have people in and out of my house who keep me on track writing and working. OK, I would write and work on ideas more.
What keeps you awake at night?
Worry about my child, or something I should not have drunk so late, like coffee.
What's your earliest memory?
I believe it is the sound of water, a river going by. It must have sounded like being in my mother. I still love that sound most of all. Airplanes, rivers, vacuums, they have this same droning sound I love.
What never fails to make you cry?
Great triumph. It breaks my heart. When athletes succeed. When someone tried and makes it. I just break down.
When are you happiest?
When on my way somewhere…to a city to do a show. After the show. Sometimes when I have a good book and a cup of tea I feel kind of happy. It's a thing that happens on different wavelengths, and different times. Seeing a hawk or a hummingbird. Looking in my horse's eye.
The Label: Alex & Eli
Based In: New York
Designed By: Aja Singer, a Toronto native, and Anna Zeman, who hails from Seattle. The duo met at Parsons but, interestingly, both had pursued science degrees—anatomy and cell biology (Aja) and biochemistry (Anna)—before moving to New York to study fashion. Both did high-profile intern- and apprenticeships (Aja at Carolina Herrera, Zac Posen and Marc by Marc Jacobs, Anna at Rodarte and Chado Ralph Rucci) before joining forces in 2009 to launch their collection, which is aimed at reinventing the suit for modern career women. "There was Jil Sander and there was Theory," said Zeman. "But there was nothing that was special, with a real attention to detail, in the middle range." Enter Alex & Eli (which is a masculinized version of their middle names, Alexandra and Elizabeth). "We wanted to make clothes that would [allow you to] express your individuality at work and still look polished," Singer told The Fashion Informer when we stopped by their midtown showroom. The collection is made entirely in New York's Garment District using the finest Italian wools, original silk prints and technical stretch fabrics finished with custom-made buttons from Waterbury Button Company, the oldest button manufacturer in the United States. And did we mention that every Alex & Eli blazer has working buttonholes on the sleeve?
Looks Like: This is not your mother's power suit. Approaching fabric, cut and print the way a scientist approaches a lab challenge, Singer and Zeman have refined the traditional suit by melding classic menswear fabrics (houndstooth, glen plaid, pinstripes) and details (contrasting collar linings, the aforementioned working buttonholes) with feminized silhouettes. Their double-breasted blazer, for instance, is tailored to highlight a woman's curves—in a stylish yet tasteful way—and features a rounded scoop neck that looks as terrific hanging open as it does buttoned up. Likewise, their trousers are cut long and lean, and nip in at that sweet (and oh-so-flattering) spot just below the waist. Drapey silk blouses boast covered buttons and contrasting collars and cuffs, while skirts range from asymmetrical pinstripe mini-wraps to plaid knee-length pencil shapes—and one beautifully tailored blazer features 80 pattern pieces. "We think of our aesthetic as being slick and sophisticated, with great attention to detail," said Zeman. Their aesthetic also hews proudly toward Geek Chic. For spring, they were inspired by Jacques Cousteau (watery prints, leather-trim trousers and gill-like details) and for fall, it was all about original-flavor Star Trek, as witnessed by the Vulcan and Kirk blazers and the Trekkie tank. Thankfully, the Star Trek details come through as a whisper, rather than a shout (an elongated Spock-like pocket here, a Space Charm or Cosmos print there, and several pieces in the deep red of Lieutenant Uhuru's uniform—including a pair of red suede culottes with a matching jacket that tweaks the idea of a modern suit even further). Alex & Eli fan Susie Lau (of Style Bubble fame) was so impressed that she offered to do a look book video to help promote the collection (they did a similar video with Britt Maren for fall 2010). "The modern working wardrobe isn't what it was twenty years ago," said Anna. Well, not if Alex & Eli has anything to do with it.
Sold At: Alex & Eli, which retails in the $180-$500 range, is available at specialty boutiques nationwide, including Maryam Nassir Zadeh, Inven.tory, Minx, 11th Moon, TenOverSix, Rhinoceros, Lileo (in Canada) and Les Nouvelles online. Starting this fall, the label will also be carried at Intermix and on Saks.com.
photos courtesy Alex & Eli (designer portraits and stills ©Lucy Carr-Ellison, spring 2011 ©Tina Tyrell, fall 2011 ©Tom Hines)
I recently swung by Cynthia Rowley's Montauk outpost for the party celebrating the "Tip to Toe Treats" beauty box she curated for Birchbox, which you can read about on Rue La La.
Designer Tara Subkoff eschewed the typical presentation format to showcase the Resort 2012 collection of her label, Imitation, and instead directed a short film, which she screened at the Jane Hotel to a crowd that included (deep breath) Bliss Lau, Chrissie Miller, Cory Kennedy, Darren Aronofsky, Jen Brill, Jessica Craig Martin, Kai Kuhn, Mark Ruffalo, Sky Ferreira, Karen Elson, Natasha Lyonne, Sarah Sophie Flicker, Waris Ahluwalia, Sunrise Coigney, Will Cotton, Mia Morretti, Liev Schrieber and more.
The film itself featured some of NYC's hottest It girls (Becka Diamond, Lissy Trullie) and starred model Nicole Trunfio, who spent her onscreen time wandering around the city on the day of her 21st birthday, bummed out because her friends were nowhere to be found. She looked seriously fabulous, though, in her Imitation Resort wear (of course), and after meandering down lonely streets, getting shunned at a Chinese restaurant because of her solo status and playing dress-up in her sunlit room (cue Imitation Resort montage), our heroine heads out for a drink and stumbles upon all her friends—and the party they've been planning for her all day (Surprise!).
The film ends with the birthday girl's female partner getting down on bended knee to propose (awww), and the two welcome her 21st with a heartfelt kiss. The sentiment, like the Imitation styles showcased, is sweet, romantic and very celebratory.
As it should be. Subkoff's film aired just days after New York State (finally) enacted the Marriage Equality Act, so the film—and the cheerful goodwill at the designer/director's premiere party—felt very timely, indeed.
images courtesy Tara Subkoff/Imitation
Hello, my name is The Fashion Informer and I'm a handbag addict. Sure, sure, shoes are awesome. But when it comes to accessories, nothing gets my heart racing faster than a beautifully designed bag. Take this elegant little number from Be Inthavong, who recently launched his eponymous solo label (he also co-founded Be & D back in the day). Part of the Heritage Weave Collection, this modified doctor's bag is made of strips of fine platinum leather handwoven on a customized silk loom—a patent-pending technique Inthavong invented at his family's generations-old silk mill in Laos. The woven textiles are then shipped to New York where the bag is constructed, lined with custom hand embossed corn silk lambskin (the type traditionally used for luxury furniture and private jets), and finished with black python handles and trim. Yu-um! But the real selling feature, in addition to its sheer beauty and capacious interior, is the fact that while this bag looks substantial, it is virtually weightless thanks to a fine, built-in frame. Available at Elizabeth Charles.
Designer Bob Mackie—you know, the guy who dressed Cher, Carol Burnett, Barbra Streisand and other leading ladies in some of the most outrageous ensembles of the Seventies—is taking a page from the book of Erté and selling his vintage fashion sketches. This being the 21st century, Mackie is shilling them on his website rather than in the back of glossy magazines, like Erté used to do. For a mere $69, you can own a piece of OTT fashion history. There are 10 categories to choose from—including Pink Showgirls, Cocktail Hour, Belle of the Ball, Putting on the Ritz—and all the illustrations come framed. Mackie is also selling his sketches of cats and clowns, but the less said about those, the better.
illustrations courtesy Bob Mackie