illustration by Lana Frankel
This year marked the 15th anniversary of Rebecca Taylor's signature collection, which she launched back in 1996 after studying fashion design at Wellington Polytechnic and relocating from New Zealand to New York, where she spent six years working for Cynthia Rowley before establishing her own line.
Today, Taylor's label is carried in more than 500 stores in over 40 countries, and in her recently opened flagships in California and NYC's Meatpacking District. Her designs have appeared in Gossip Girl and Sex and the City and are worn by celebs such as Jessica Alba, Rashida Jones, Selena Gomez, Kristen Bell, Reese Witherspoon, Sarah Jessica Parker, Vanessa Hudgens, Sarah Michelle Gellar, Katherine Heigl, Nicole Richie, Cameron Diaz, Liv Tyler and Rachel Bilson, all of whom appreciate the designer's fresh, feminine perspective, playful way with color and figure-flattering silhouettes. For spring 2012, Taylor went in a modern-meets-ethereal direction with an abundance of sparkle, collage effects and pretty floral prints.
In addition to helming her line, Taylor is also mom to three young children, and works with charities including Dress for Success, the North Shore Animal League, the Triple Negative Breast Cancer Foundation, the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, CFDA's Fashion for Action and the Children's Dream Foundation, along with being co-chair of the NYC Shop for Opera benefit.
In short, she makes the rest of us look like slackers. (Knock it off, Rebecca!) The Fashion Informer's Lauren David Peden grabbed a few minutes with the multi-tasking designer just before the holidays to talk the three Cs: Christmas, Champagne and Chanel.
What's your favorite holiday memory?
My Christmas in Norway in 1979. My auntie was a sugar plum fairy in The Nutcracker and we went on a horse drawn sled. Magic!
What is one thing I will always find in your fridge, and one thing I will never find there?
Champagne for sure. You will never find meat in my fridge.
What's the last book you read?
Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese.
What is your computer/desktop screensaver image?
A picture of my three children.
What would you like to be doing if you weren't a designer?
A make-up artist, I absolutely love beauty products!
What's your favorite street in Manhattan? In Brooklyn?
Probably a small street in South Street Seaport; I love history. Also, 5th Ave in Brooklyn, where I live; all you need is at your finger tips.
Tell me about your favorite item of clothing/jewelry and why it's so special to you.
My heart shaped diamond necklace, it is special to me because my sister Tory (a jewelry designer) made it for me.
What one beauty/grooming product would you never leave home without?
Diorshow Mascara, Chanel lipgloss.
Who would play you in the movie of your life?
Naomi Watts (I'm flattering myself).
What's your favorite restaurant in the world, and what's your favorite dish there?
Mercer Kitchen, they have the most amazing shrimp salad with champagne vinaigrette.
Biggest difference between life in New Zealand and life in New York?
Everything in New York is at warp speed! And in New Zealand, not so much.
What's your favorite vintage store or flea market and what's your all-time favorite flea market find?
Clignancourt in Paris. An old window that my husband and I turned into a mirror.
What makes you nervous?
Flying, I hate to fly.
When are you happiest?
On the beach with my family on a beautiful day.
In round deux of our stylish roundup for Rue La La, fashion insiders Lela Rose, George Esquivel, Vena Cava, Diane Pernet, Costello Tagliapietra, Tess Giberson, Cynthia Rowley, Anna Sheffield and Olivia Chantecaille share their favorite festive memories and upcoming holiday plans. "String" gifts, peppermint whipped cream and Rob Pruitt paintings, anyone?
Designer Ralph Rucci just celebrated the 30th anniversary of his namesake collection with the publication of Autobiography of a Fashion Designer: Ralph Rucci (Bauer and Dean Publishers), which was itself celebrated with a cocktail party at the Paul Rudolph house in New York, attended by Martha Stewart, Deeda Blair and other longtime Chado Ralph Rucci fans. Yours truly was on hand as well, covering for Rue La La.
images courtesy Bauer and Dean Publishers
Come along with Nanette Lepore on her ideal weekend, as she makes chocolate chip pancakes with her daughter, Violet, goes skating at The Standard Hotel ice rink and explores some hidden gems in the West Village.
Nothing says "Happy Holidays" like the festive, over-the-top windows at Bergdorf Goodman. Don't believe me? See for yourself...
photo © The Fashion Informer/Lauren David Peden
Fashion insiders Rachel Roy, Lorenzo Martone, Doo-ri Chung, Daniel Vosovic, Jules Kim, Anndra Neen, Duckie Brown and Camilla Staerk shared their favorite holiday memories and upcoming holiday plans with me for Rue La La, from a beloved first bicycle to a snowy Skid-Doo ride to a sunny getaway with the kids.
The Label: Gabriela Cadena
Based In: New York
Designed By: Gabriela Cadena, a native of Guayaquil, Equador who studied fashion at Accademia Italiana, Arte Moda Design in Florence before relocating to New York and launching her line in 2010. "The glamour of the fashion industry has always had an allure for me and it was always my dream to have my own collection and to be able to present my idea of beauty to the world," Cadena told The Fashion Informer. "I just love all aspects of the fashion industry and the process of design. I find it amazing being able to design for the future; what I design now won’t be on the market until almost a year later, and people would still love it."
Looks Like: Uber-feminine, intricately detailed dresses and gowns aimed at the red carpet set (Shakira, Hillary Scott, Nikki Reed, Haylie Duff, Kelly Osbourne, Brooke Burke and Lo Bosworth have all worn Gabriela Cadena creations). The designer's spring 2012 collection was inspired by medieval body armor and couture techniques, which Cadena juxtaposed beautifully by way of a sexy draped cocktail frock with one-shoulder beaded epaulet, geometric patterned day dresses (some with cut-out shoulders), and a strapless sheath covered in shimmery pastel paillettes arranged in a floral watercolor pattern. The one thing you won't find in the collection: pants. "The women who wear my designs are elegant, modern, confident, sexy and a bit edgy, which I love!," said Cadena of her clients. "There is nothing like the feeling you've being able to make someone feel as though she is the most beautiful woman in the world by dressing her."
Sold At: Gabriela Cadena's collection retails from $1,385 - $5,300 and is carried at specialty stores around the world, including Esti's, Miss Jackon's, Designers' Lounge and Modern Home.
Swarovski hosted a party in Chelsea to celebrate the publication of Hal Rubenstein's terrific new book, 100 Unforgettable Dresses (HarperCollins) which showcases some of the world's most fabulous frocks, both cinematic and otherwise. It's a great read full of really compelling stories. And the party at the Pace Gallery, which drew the likes of Narciso Rodriguez, Peter Som, Monique Pean and Gilles Mendel, was pretty swell, too.
Designers Timo Weiland and Alan Eckstein were brought together by a rather unlikely muse: the ascot. Both had developed an affection for the old-school accessory, so when they first met and each was sporting the aforementioned cravat, it was love at first sight (professionally speaking, that is). Faster than you can say "Beau Brummell," the two had joined forces to launch a line of classic neckwear that graced the…errr…necks of various Gossip Girl characters, both male and female.
"We love bow ties, but also ties in general," said Eckstein (pictured, above left). "When my grandfather passed away, I inherited his ties, bow ties, ascots, etc. They all looked so beautiful when my grandmother passed them on to me. I think it was in that moment when I fell in love with ties. Timo was wearing one when I met him. It's definitely a common interest."
"Neck accessories became a staple in my life after being forced to wear a period costume for a play at a young age (third grade, perhaps?)," said Weiland (above right). "Things like that always stick with me, but are constantly evolving."
Soon, the Vanderbilt University-educated Nebraska native (Weiland) and the FIT-educated Great Neck native (Eckstein) added his-and-hers ready-to-wear to the mix and—voila!—the Timo Weiland brand was complete. Fast forward four years, and the label is now carried in Barneys New York, Opening Ceremony, Saks Fifth Avenue, Harvey Nichols and designer boutiques worldwide.
For spring 2012 (which marked the duo's first New York runway show), they unveiled a capsule shoe collaboration with Tsubo, and teamed up with Strokes' bass player, Nikolai Fraiture, on several classics-with-a-twist menswear pieces, with nary a bowtie in sight. (In seasons' past, the designers have done Fashion Week collaborations with Anna Sheffield, George Esquivel and Albertus Swanepoel.)
The Fashion Informer's Lauren David Peden tracked them down shortly before the holidays to talk brunch, road trips and finding inspiration in unlikely places.
So, Timo and Alan…
What did you do last weekend and what are your plans for this weekend?
Timo Weiland: Last weekend I was cleansing, exercising and surfing after a long Thanksgiving holiday and several weeks in China/Hong Kong. Tried to regain my sense of center and self after being spread so thin over a hectic few weeks.
Alan Eckstein: I went to Orient Point. It's one of the most eastern points in Long Island. It was so beautiful, so quiet, just like a little village. This weekend I plan to be with my girlfriend Haley, and Timo and Donna in the office.
Brunch: pro or con?
TW: Pro: fun with friends, gorgeous scenery (usually). Con: drunk during the day.
AE: Brunch is a special time. I love it. It gets the mind going on a Sunday.
Who would play you in the movie of your life?
TW: Justin Timberlake or Shia LaBeouf. I have heard that I look a lot like both these guys and I like them both, so I'm cool with either!
AE: Hmm..not sure. A very handsome man, I'm sure. HA!
Is there a print or particular item of clothing we'll never see in a Timo Weiland collection?
TW: Nothing comes to mind that could possibly be completely excluded from our repertoire forever. Anything is possible.
AE: The future for us is endless. When we first started we said we disliked the color orange. Last season we used orange heavily. I think we shouldn't limited ourselves to anything. We're bound to love ideas in the future that we might not fancy today.
What's your favorite and least favorite thing about New York Fashion Week?
TW: Favorite: reuniting with people, showcasing our long hours of hard work, the energy and adrenaline. Least favorite: the lack of sleep, the hectic environment.
AE: My least favorite thing might be the amount of sleep we don't receive or the time crunch pre-show. But the most amazing feeling is during the actual show, and you see your work come alive. It's a wonderful moment.
What's your favorite autumn activity?
TW: Road trips, observing the change of the colors of the leaves in New England. Row boating in Central Park with my boyfriend.
AE: Driving around the Hudson River Valley with my girl listening to "fall music" as we like to say. It's best in the early morning; the sun is so bright and the fall colors are out.
What would I be surprised to learn about your co-designer?
TW: He loves sports, but is not an athlete per se.
AE: He's quite funny and surprising. He's also very knowledgeable about many little things.
What's the most you've ever spent on a purchase, other than a house or car?
TW: $2,000 for a Margiela coat.
AE: I've never bought a house or car. I bought a pair of Marc Jacobs boots for quite a lot of money, but I think my month to month rent is higher than anything I've ever paid for.
What's your dream job?
AE: Music Supervisor for films.
Tell me about your favorite/most meaningful item of clothing/jewelry?
TW: My Timo Weiland trench because it is one of our first pieces we ever made, and it embodies the Timo Weiland man—tailored, smart, colorful.
AE: My "Suck on it Babe, it's Clogged" t-shirt. I bought it at an Army Navy store when I was 15. It's black with big bold white lettering and it's falling apart. I always feel pretty special in it.
What's in current rotation on your iPod and in the studio?
TW: The Strokes, Rolling Stones, Kisses, Beyoncé, Jay-Z, Ace of Base, Orbital Be-Bop…
AE: The Smiths, The Kinks, jazz, and Christmas music now actually. I've also been listening to The Strokes, Oregon Bike Trails, Tennis, and I love this new band The Guards.
What's the most unlikely place you've ever found inspiration?
TW: The Jersey shore (not the show).
AE: Father's closet.
Tell me about your pet(s).
TW: About to purchase a Welsh Corgi in the next year or so, so let's revisit this question next year!
AE: Don't have one yet. I would love a dachshund, soon!
What makes you nervous?
TW: Time-management obstacles.
AE: Time going by.
When are you happiest?
TW: When I am in love (which I am very much right now in love with my boyfriend of two years). Also, when we reach new, higher levels of performance with the Timo Weiland business. Each stage/step is very exciting and fulfilling.
AE: Surrounded by my favorites. There's nothing better.
When I was a kid, I used to love those colorful Russian nesting dolls (you know, where each brightly painted doll opens to reveal an even smaller doll tucked inside). Jewelry designer Wendy Brandes may well have shared my obsession with whimsical surprises, judging from her Chicken in Egg necklace. Inspired by a hen-in-egg objet d'art in the queen's collection at Rosenborg Castle in Denmark, Brandes' spare, diamond-trimmed 18k gold egg opens to reveal a small silver chicken with diamond eyes, which itself opens to reveal three tiny golden eggs. Of course, the $16,000 price tag is worlds away from what you'd pay for a set of Matryoshka dolls. But such is the price of harboring such a stylish secret - and as Brandes' only makes one Chicken in Egg pendant at a time, owning one of these beauties is a very rarified experience.
The debate on overly-thin models continues with artist Jane Gennaro's Feed the Models exhibit of scissor drawings at the Fashion Institute of Technology, which I covered for Rue La La's The (Style) Guide.
If you haven't seen "Hats: An Anthology by Stephen Jones," the terrific, far-ranging exhibit currently on view at the Bard Graduate Center in New York, you have have til April. It's definitely worth a trip as I discovered when covering it for Rue La La.
The Label: Ecubyan
Based In: New York City
Designed By: FIT grad Diana Valhuerdi and painter-turned-textile designer Katie McKay, who've joined forces with Ecubyan, a print-heavy collection of casual, easy to wear pieces. "We are fun and transformative," said the Brooklyn-based duo of their aesthetic. "We are exciting and accessible—never boring. We don’t take ourselves too seriously. We are Bette Midler’s ecstatic makeover at the end of Ruthless People, Parker Posey’s rebellious Party Girl, and a defiant Denise Huxtable all transported via chiffon magic carpet to 2012." The name Ecubyan is derived from a song title by Seventies glam rocker Jobriath (who lived in a pyramid atop the Chelsea Hotel). "The song is about a mystical golden bird lady who visits him to taunt him and drink tea with him," said Valhuerdi. Hmm, sounds like Anna Dello Russo.
Looks Like: Full of painterly prints, youthful shapes and playful colors, this is girls-just-wanna-have-fun fashion at its feel-good best. Think: flirty overalls, a shredded chiffon vest hand-embroidered in Mumbai, and layered silk dresses, along with eclectic-chic shorts, blazers, leggings and cocktail frocks. For their spring 2012 debut, Valhuerdi and McKay were feeling the influence of ancient Egyptian ruins and the Ouroboros. Their ideal customer is a woman "looking to embrace her inner Rihanna." So it's no surprise, then, that the duo dresses local musicians such as Brooklyn's dance pop band, Avan Lava. The collection will also be featured in a special fashion episode of Beverly Hills, 90210 airing later this month.
Sold At: Ecubyan retails from $250-$500 and is sold at Eponymy in Brooklyn and American Rag in LA.
Chances are you've heard of Max Azria, the eponymous womenswear collection designed by Max and Lubov Azria. And chances are even greater that you own a piece of Max Azria. Or BCBG. Or Hervé Leger, both of which the Azria's also helm. Together, the husband and wife team have created a triple threat company with labels that appeal to women of all ages who are enamored of the designers' eclectically urbane point of view (Max Azria), fashionable work wear (BCBG), and sexy bandage dresses (Hervé Leger).
"Max was inspired to start the company by his daughters," says Lubov of the namesake line they launched in 2006. Adds her husband, "After eleven years of designing women’s wear in Paris and owning women’s boutiques in the United States, I felt it was a natural next step to launch a design house that spoke to modern women. The goal was to create a brand that offered European sophistication while still embodying the true American spirit." Done and done.
"Fashion is a practical application of the creative arts," explained Max. "It’s not enough to just design beautiful pieces—you also have to understand the marketplace and know your customer." To this end, they recently launched their first fragrance, BCBGMAXAZRIA, and are in the process of expanding their product offerings and exploring new categories, including the reintroduction of BCBGeneration denim after a three-year hiatus.
Says Lubov: "What I love most about fashion design is the seeing a woman feeling confident, beautiful and empowered in something we’ve made."
So Max and Lubov...
What did you have for breakfast this morning?
Max: Two espressos.
Lubov: Toast and coffee.
What's in current rotation on your iPod?
Max: Lubov’s music!
Lubov: Eighties music.
Ocean or mountains?
When you were 9, what did you want to be when you grew up?
Max: An actor.
Lubov: An artist.
What's your favorite winter sport to play? To watch?
Max: Since I live in Los Angeles, I don’t really have a favorite winter sport, but poker is definitely my favorite year round sport to play and watch.
Lubov: Ice skating.
What's your favorite store in the world?
Max: Barneys New York.
Lubov: Barneys New York in Manhattan.
How often do you get back to Tunisia (Max) and Kiev (Lubov) and how has it changed since you lived there?
Max: I try to go back every two years. I remain very attached to this country. Tunisia has changed since I lived there in many aspects, but every time I go back there is a particular smell that brings back my childhood memories.
Lubov: I last visited Kiev eight years ago. It has changed so, so much!
What is your favorite holiday memory?
Max: Being with Lubov.
Lubov: All of them! I love when the whole family is together.
What's the best holiday gift you've ever given? Received?
Max: A good wine.
What would people be surprised to learn about your partner?
Lubov: Max is very shy.
You have six children. What's life like at Chez Azria on a day to day basis?
Lubov: I don’t know…I’m at work!
Who wears the pants in the family?
Lubov: The nanny.
What's your favorite ballet?
Lubov: Swan Lake, because I danced it.
I know you're big fans of social media. What's your current favorite form of social media?
Lubov: Refinery 29 and BCBGMAXAZRIA Facebook.
What's your all-time favorite Youtube discovery?
Lubov: My daughter singing. She’s got over 30,000 hits so far.
What blogs or websites do you read daily?
Lubov: Style.com and WGSN.
What makes you nervous?
Lubov: My husband’s driving.
When are you happiest?
Max: When I’m with my family.
Lubov: When I am creating.
Sure, there are plenty of cool, well-designed headphones out there, from Apple's signature earbuds to Dr. Dre's colorful Beats collection. But truly chic, sophisticated headphones that deliver amazing sound? Not so much. That just changed with the launch of Molami. Created by Swedish industrial designer Maria von Euler, Molami offers three different styles—traditional headphones (dubbed Pleat), a soft ruched headpiece with built-in speakers (Twine), and, my fave, delicate little earbuds (called Bight)—for fashion-loving music heads. Made from black or white leather, silk, chiffon and stingray with pretty braided cords, silver and 18k gold accents, Molami headphones are thoughtfully designed to enhance the features of the female face (sorry, boys) in materials that are oh-so-luxe. And, being manufactured by legendary headphone specialist Zound Industries, they sound as good as they look. Dear Santa…