Kate Spade Dies at Age 55

By now you’ve surely read that Kate Spade died yesterday in NY at her Park Avenue home – and that apparently it was  a suicide. I think many of us, myself included, were stunned as everything we’ve ever intuited about her through her brand, Kate Spade, has been sunny and cheerful and, in one word: Perfect. Hers is one of the best NY success stories ever – a handbag line she began in her apartment with her soon-to-be-husband became a multi-billion dollar brand through her creativity and care.

The first thought that struck me when I read the news was: but WHY? It seemed inconceivable to me. And therein lies the one good thing that might come out of this situation: the chance to talk openly about mental health and the forms it takes and how no amount of success creates an escape when severe illness is left untreated or treated insufficiently. I’m so incredibly saddened by this news – for the fear and loneliness she must have been feeling, for the aftermath her family must endure – especially her 13 year old daughter, and for all of those suffering silently as she did. May she be at rest, may those who are restless and struggling be granted the strength to reach out and secure the help they need, and may the lot of us through education and openness become more keen observers and helpful hands any time we sense someone needs us.

The Royal Wedding: Never Too Much Commentary

In all of the vast coverage of the royal wedding my favorite observation was someone celebrating that the world has been given an opportunity to unite over LOVE.  Among the many reasons this stunning couple have to be proud, for me, this is foremost and I consider it a great gift.  Thank you, Royals, for elevating the human condition if even for a brief time.

Now for a few other observations beginning, obviously, with THE dress.  My money was down hard on Roland Mouret as the designer (British, an obvious front runner) and was shocked she chose Givenchy – until it donned on me that the (female!!) creative head, Clare Waight Keller, is British.  Stellar choice given the outcome.

If I had three words to describe Meghan they’d be: dignified, modern, and refined.  These attributes were brought to form in her gown.  Her style always puts her beauty at the very center and this design followed suit.  Meghan, the woman, shined most brightly.  But that tiara – GASP! We have all dreamed of that very tiara sitting atop our heads.

An overhead view perhaps?

Something else worth pointing out is that Kate Middleton paved the way for this paired-back look.  While her Alexander McQueen was definitely more embellished, it was still very spare compared to royal wedding looks of the past.  At the time I was on the fence about it because somehow I wanted MORE; but I think what Kate did was introduce us to the modern bride and how restraint can be so refined.  That being said, Meghan made her own mark as she so clearly is her own woman.  She is an amazing ambassador for the monarchy.

Look at the LIGHT on her in this photo:

And her after-ceremony Stella McCartney!!!:

Those shoulders!! This dress is exquisite and, again, very on brand for her. I’d be remiss not to mention that Harry looks like Bond here.  He’s a beautiful man.

It’s a damn shame I don’t have the time to discuss this ALL DAY LONG but alas, my kids don’t seem to be watching themselves.  Quickly, though, I need to shout out props to the Clooneys as they added to the beauty of the day:

Amal is absolute perfection.  I am sweating every detail of this outfit including her arm candy. These two didn’t hurt the landscape either:

And last but not least, Meghan’s super dignified mother, Doria Ragland, in Oscar de la Renta. She is gorgeous and glowing. A tip of the hat to her for dropping her daughter off onto the royal grounds, walking in alone, with pride, and quietly, quietly, letting her daughter shine:

Cannes You Believe I Haven’t Posted Yet

Tons can be said about the Cannes film festival but I would like to say, first and foremost, that it really does bring out the pun-ster in all of us. In my opinion, it benefits everyone if we get full mileage out of the Cannes/can (Also Can-can!) homonym situation. Secondly, this particular festival also seems to bring out the extreme glamour in all of us. It is such a romantic and fabled setting that women attending have historically been moved to don some of the most extraordinary gowns. This year’s representation has not disappointed thus far.  Shall we?

Cate Blanchett, AKA Madame President, has been turning up the fashion volume as evidenced by her Mary Katrantzou gown in the above photo – the print, the color, the asymmetry are all exquisite! Another favorite was her rainbow Givenchy:

 

What a glorious confection! Cate is clearly allergic to boring. More evidence in Iris Van Herpen:

 

Lest you think only Cate Blanchett is allowed to attend the festival, let’s review a few other stunning looks of which there were many.

Aishwarya Rai’s Michael Cinco butterfly gown is quite simply a masterpiece.  I read that it required 3,000 hours to make.  I feel this was time well spent. Let’s peek at the back:

Cannes also seems to inspire bold color choices which never fail to delight me!

This mossy green on Winnie Harlow is so stunning. And those strappy gold sandals are the perfect complement.

Polka dots anyone?

Bruna Marquezine looks lovely in this Philosophy Di Lorenzo Serafini gown. Polka dots are the salve for all that ails me.

One last look.  This from my fashion muse, Diane Kruger:

She appears so regal in this Armani and the color is ethereal and charming.  The fit is also sensational!

Can Cannes con someone into raging on for another week?? (I’m sorry but I’m sure you can see the necessity.)

 

Standing O or Hell No: Met Gala 2018

Last night was the Met Gala which everyone in the fashion community pretty much dies over and everyone outside the fashion community pretty much doesn’t give a hoot about. There are no awards. No one is even allowed to document what happens inside. But it is always one RAGER of a costume ball and even though I detest costumes, if Versace and Galliano are making them, I am here for it.

This year’s theme was Heavenly Bodies: Fashion and the Catholic Imagination. Whoever came up with this theme not only delighted Madonna beyond but was also brilliant because Catholic iconography has so much from which to draw. The church has always relied upon strong imagery to convey messages and to unite its constituents and this was all fodder for costume creation. I won’t lie, I feared some fairly blasphemous stuff but all in all I thought the interpretations were pretty tame. Speaking of Madonna, let’s review:

 

If there WERE awards and one was for Lifetime Achievement, Madonna clearly would’ve been exalted. This woman has been appropriating the imagery of Catholicism for her entire career.  Her Galliano is just another permutation of what she has always done and I feel it’s a success.  It is a nod to the nun’s habit and incorporates enough crosses to adorn every attendee.  Standing O.

In my opinion, Blake Lively (above) did a stellar job of embracing the theme and still looking gorgeous (vs overly costumey, ala Rhianna).  She drew on important symbolism in Catholicism – red (blood, tongues of fire), gold (Byzantium, feast colors), gilding (the Church and the Baroque), gems (often applied to holy vestments), and the crown (evocative of a halo and also the crown of Mary). Standing O.  Let’s get a side view:

I have two bones which require picking in regards to last night’s showing:

1) No one wore the thing I designed in my mind (how rude!) which was a white gown with train of enormous volume and proportion upon which a gorgeous Michelangelo fresco was painted.  Versace, I was counting on you!

2) The crown/halo idea was the crutch of the event.  Many attendees leaned on it and felt that it alone propped them up to meet the theme’s requirements. Kinda like when you work in a Business Casual environment and people feel anything goes as long as they do not wear denim or sneakers.  In both instances, this might be the letter of the law but not the spirit of the law.  The crown parade, to me, just looked like Coachella on speed (ok ok, Coachella is always on speed but you get what I mean) and it just wasn’t enough.  This group collectively receives a Hell No.

So, let’s review a few more folks who tried to do THE MOST.

 

Diane Kruger brought it as she always does: blue (the color for Mary), gilding, ethereal crown.  Standing O!

 

Lily Collins’s make-up game is always so strong. I love that she used the tear to evoke the Sacred Heart which weeps blood. Standing O.

 

Dear Versace, this was clearly YOUR EVENT fashion-wise. I know you dressed a ton of folks but in my fashion heart what I really wanted was more, bigger, and bolder of what you did here for The Migos who, by the way, get a Standing O.  For me, Donatella, you disappointed simply because you had a literal treasure trove of Catholic iconography at your fingertips and this is what you chose:

 

You should’ve OWNED this gala with your personal selection.  This was a missed opportunity and therefore a Hell No.

 

No one but no one can claim that Chadwick Boseman did not commit to the theme.  Standing O.

Excluding Zendaya as Saint Joan of Arc in Versace was an egregious oversight on my part.  I’m not sure how I missed this look on the first go-around (I honestly did not see it!) but due to an impassioned plea from my bestie, you may all behold this lovely image.  Standing O!

Discuss!

 

 

 

Brooks Brothers Brings It (Sort of)

Many moons ago I worked for Brooks Brothers at their flagship store on Madison Avenue. During my tenure I took it upon myself to seek and gain permission to throw a huge party (complete with a fashion show) in honor of the area concierges who we courted for referrals.  It was an enormous success in the end but hours before the event I:

1) passed out twice due to low blood sugar AND

2) was forced to forgo wearing the elegant Saint Laurent dress I had selected in lieu of something in the BB collection

While this request from headquarters was not unreasonable, I must remind you, dear reader, that these were days prior to Zac Posen grabbing the creative reins of Brooks Brothers Women’s collection.  Suffice it to say, there was nothing as crisp and tidy as the Carolina Herrera-inspired ensemble that Yara Shahidi is wearing in the above photo for the Brooks Brothers Bicentennial Party.  I ended up in a black gown that I was fairly certain I’d seen on Blanche from the Golden Girls.  Let’s put it this way – it looked better on Blanche since my physique resembles that of a 12 year old boy.

Years later I am pleased to see that the BB Bicentennial Party had a modicum of gravitas which I credit wholly to Zac Posen and his lady posse (Possen?!). Let’s look at how he dressed his pals.

While I’m not completely wow-ed by this dress, neither is it terrible nor sitting in Blanche’s closet:

If Zac knows nothing else, he does know fit. Katie’s form is perfect.

We are still dealing with a very classic and conservative brand so I should be thankful for the small things, such as this splash of red:

Ladies and gentleman, all this to say that these gowns feel current and reflect well on the two hundred year old brand.  May they never again match their styles to the age of their brand.

Hey Look Everyone: SHOES!

Fabrizio Viti makes you want to buy these for the name alone: Summer Fever Sexy Sandal

 

Dear God,

I need to be honest with you.  This weather isn’t doing much for your reputation.  I’ve been hearing your name a lot lately, but in unfriendly, and often aggressive, contexts.  Perhaps a few more degrees will increase your approval rating?  In the meantime, because I like you, I’ll attempt to distract them with images of pretty shoes.  In my experience, this technique rarely fails.  Feel free to use it when necessary.  Here goes…

Hey look everyone – SHOES!!!

 

Valentino Rock Stud Suede Multi Strap Sandals

 

Samuele Failli Lauren Suede Sandals

 

Gianvito Rossi Ankle Tie Sandals with Lucite Heel

 

Walter De Silva Rita Velvet Sandals

 

Saint Laurent Majorelle Leather Sandals

 

Gucci Bow Suede Pumps

Alaia Snakeskin Ankle Strap Sandals

Standing O or Hell No: Oscars 2018

ZENDAYA ON FIRE!!!!!!! (Pronounced Fi-Ya of course.)

Due to the fact that I was traveling I did not watch the Academy Awards red carpet last night.  Of course I was monitoring every arrival and refreshing the feed with such urgency that my phone felt like a burning ember; But still, to me, this was like waking up on December 26th and realizing that OOOOOPS I missed Christmas. I am less sad, however, about missing the actual show.  As Drew Magary hilariously points out in his Hater’s Guide to the Oscars, “…if you go by the analytics, sleeping through the Oscars is always the correct decision.  The data is ironclad.”  He observes that there was no way the Academy would allow anything akin to the amazing and amusing Best Picture snafu of last year and so it was far better to just hedge and snooze instead.  To his point, I was already caught up by 12:01 am.

An unintended yet joyful consequence of the all-black Golden Globes and BAFTAs is the collective feeling of Oh Yay The Color Hunger Strike is Over!  Let’s review what happened last night and let’s start with Zendaya (above) in her creamy brown Giambattista Valli. This look was a feast for my hungry eyes.  Brown is pretty unexpected for the red carpet (and reminds me of chocolate which is a bonus) and her execution was utterly flawless.  I have stared at her for far longer than I feel comfortable admitting.  Standing O!

I fainted when I saw Zendaya and then was revived and fainted again when I saw Nicole:

This entire look is: How To Dress for the Red Carpet When You Are a Movie Star.  I might not have selected that specific black shoe but as for the dress, Armani is displaying its best here. I love that this was styled simply with diamond chandelier earrings and Nicole’s lovliness was the center piece.  Standing O!

The banquet of beauty did not end there.  To mix metaphors, let’s march through the Standing O Hit Parade:

Dressing to match Oscar is typically a good formula as evidenced by Jennifer Lawrence in Dior. Standing O and please always wear your hair like that!

 

Returning to the wisdom of wearing gold to the AA, Lupita looks like royalty in Versace. Standing O, Queen!

 

Calvin Klein shows his mettle again with this super simple yet super elegant look for Laura Dern.  Plus her hair looks superior! Standing O!

 

Please, Helen, teach me your ways. Standing O! And I remain on my feet for you forevermore.

 

Another Armani Prive with A++ grades. Octavia Spencer is heavenly. Standing O!

(Sounds of clapping and shouts of STANDING O fade out.)  It never delights me to ding those who missed their fashion mark but these posts require a Hell No portion or I will have to re-title them.

 

One can admire Andra Day’s commitment to this look but one cannot transcend how awful it is. Hell No!

 

Following the old adage of if you don’t have anything nice to say then don’t say anything at all…(Sounds of crickets chirping something that sounds a lot like Hell No.)

 

Returning to the metaphor of the Oscars as a feast, Blanca Bianco seemed to skip the appetizer, have a meager main course, and only eat half of her dessert. Hell No.

 

This look smacks of the same desperation and intent as when Scarlett O’Hara rips down the drapes to create her famous green gown. Except that Scarlett’s gown was lovely. Hell No, Whoopi.

1 Part Punk, 3 Parts Perfect

In our minds, let’s just chop this photo off below the knee.

Who do I have to spar to get this S/S 2018 Alexander McQueen in house (insert evil laugh and wringing of hands).  Go ahead, take your time. I’ll just be over here sharpening my nails.

(While we wait, let’s admire a few other beauties from this same extraordinary collection which is a true homage to the man, eight years gone on 2/10.)

Say what you want about the greasy hair and mukluks – just look at the construction of that skirt. Hell – the fabric itself is reason enough for limitless champagne!

 

Nobody understands the alchemy inherent in the deconstructed quite as well as the House of McQueen.

Standing O or Hell No: Grammy Red Carpet 2018

With my actual Grammy (A National Treasure) in the hospital with the flu AND pneumonia, I found it very difficult to concentrate on the Grammy Awards hosted in NY last night.  I’m unashamed to admit I didn’t view them live and opted instead to catch up online.  So let’s just get right down to the nitty-gritty of who pleased us and who did not.

Common (above) is now and will always be in the WHO PLEASED category.  I found his red-velvet look last night exceptionally dashing.  Standing O!

As a duo and independently, Chrissy Tiegen and John Legend can be counted upon to give the viewer her money’s worth.  I would never accuse them of phoning it in.  Look at the drama and the coordination of these two superlative outfits!  Complimentary and one does not outshine the other. It seems their marriage follows this exact formula.  Standing O!

Likewise Janelle Monae will always exhibit something interesting for the crowd.  While I’m never a fan of trousers eating feet, nor am I a fan of things that look unpressed, this suit still manages to be both interesting and on point for the Grammy Awards (a show that practically begs its attendees to be a Hell No).  I am a sucker for embroidery and this Dolce & Gabbana employs it artfully.  Standing O!

 

Hailee Steinfeld’s Alexander Vauthier was the talk of the red carpet and, I concur, it was slamming; but I’m not 100% on board with those specific boots.  Yes to the purple but they leaned a little plastic-y for my eye. I am still giving a Standing O because it is the Grammys and she provided intrigue without being ridiculous.

 

Zayn Malik in a pink Richard James suit and Ralph Lauren shoes and patterned socks.  There’s not much else to add except Standing O!

 

Everyone was fainting down to the floor over Gaga’s dress.  Ok.  It’s pretty and dramatic and not meat! For that I give a tip of the hat to Gaga!  And, also, the dress converts to this:

This has an ACTUAL hat and no dress.  It’s a pretty good look overall for the Grammys even if the lace bodysuit skews a little Ice Capades for my liking.  Standing O!

If nitty-gritty is what we are going for then here it is:

I trust you have eyes.  Hell No, Pink!

 

Standing O or Hell No: SAG Red Carpet 2018

Uzo Aduba owning her princess moment.

The SAG red carpet last night made me feel as if the women had been forced to eat gruel for weeks on end and then out of nowhere someone offered them a huge bowl of ice cream.  Things felt happy, light, and easy as conveyed by the impressive amount of COLOR present; And chief among the colors was PINK.  The Globe’s all-black theme was important but definitely cast a dour mood on awards season which was balanced out by the levity of color last night.  Let’s take a closer peek.

One of my favorite looks of the night was Uzo Aduba (above).  She was transformed in her light pink Christian Riiano gown and Rita Hayworth hair.  Jaw-dropping: Standing O!

Tying Uzo in the light pink category was her Orange is the New Black cast-mate and Handmaid’s Tale star, Madeline Brewer, in Reem Acra:

I want to cut her head off this photo and insert my own.  My heart is pitter-pattering over this dress which possesses all of the elements I adore – it is PINK, it is uber feminine, it has a bustier top, it is flared, it is embellished, and it is exceedingly lovely.  (Confession: I wore this dress’s sister to a black tie wedding two weeks ago.)  The piece de resistance here, obviously, are those red Casadei shoes that reference her hair and lipstick.  Standing O!!!

Let’s inspect some other leading ladies who also opted to wear THEE color-of-the-night:

Laura Linney in J Mendel

 

Marissa Tomei

 

Dakota Fanning in Prada

Then the spin-offs of the light pink trend.  Here’s Vanessa Kirby in an embellished pink Valentino:

And Kristen Bell in a darker hue of pink:

 

Kristen Bell in a J Mendel bustier gown

Standing O to the Pinks above.  And then we are abruptly confronted with this ill-advised interpretation of a pink gown:

Note that I tried to soften the blow of Kate’s dress by providing a place to avert your eyes (Goldie).  Confoundingly this dress is Valentino. I would’ve said Moschino maybe but never would I dare soil the House of Valentino by suggesting they created this. Perhaps the designers at Maison Valentino were replete with food poisoning the day this was brought into existence?  In any case, I respect Kate for deviating from her usual body-baring formula but this was a (GIGANTIC) step too far in the wrong direction.  I don’t think even Stevie Nicks, she of the high-necked maxi dress with lace, could’ve pulled this off.  Hell No, Kate.

Speaking of dresses that were devastatingly wrong:

I can’t find a fashion credit (here’s me using “credit” loosely) for Kate Nash’s milk maiden gown. Perhaps it’s for the best that whoever created this lay low for awhile.  (Things are not bound to get better for you anytime soon, Sir or Madam.)  In a heart rending moment I witnessed an interview with Kate where she spoke of the triumphant instant at which she knew this was the right gown for her because it so accurately represented her personality.  In hindsight, that was maybe the wrong message to send to Hollywood.  Hell No.

I was startled and surprised to find that two of my favorite looks were a la The Globes all-black theme.  Felicity Huffman was a vision in Monsoori:

And Yara Shahidi in Ralph Lauren channeling Diana Ross was everything:

I’m not sure why the pants of this jumpsuit seem to be gobbling up her feet but Yara Shahidi was arguably the prettiest woman on the carpet last night.  Her outfit was nice and refreshing but I wish the pants were more tailored and shorter.  That aside, her hair was GLORIOUS and I will now and forever be present for that face.  It is perfection.  Standing O to both women in all black!

 

I remain confounded by whatever it is that has taken shape on Nicole’s shoulder – a serpent? A flower? Smeagol from The Lord of the Rings? I’m willing to get comfortable with whatever it is simply because the rest of her is flawless.  She reportedly has the flu and somehow brought this look to LIFE.  Her hair was especially good and often it is the element that diminishes.  The fit and color of this Armani are exquisite.  And her face is glowing which may be from Scarlet Fever but no matter!! Standing O!

 

Danielle Brooks in Marc Bouwer DELIVERED! Ombre! Sequins! Perfect decolletage! Standing O!

 

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