BLAST FROM THE PAST: Harvey Weinstein had a surprise up his sleeve for Halston’s relaunch on Monday. The part owner of the brand arrived on the arm of Liza Minnelli, the original Halston muse, who wore a vintage red-and-black ensemble from the label.
“I was in a car with her, and she is everything you imagine her to be,” said Georgina Chapman, whose front-row seat was reserved for a certain Georgina Weinstein (she married the movie mogul in December). “I didn’t change my name, they did it for me,” she said. “I am still a Chapman — or maybe a Chapstein.”
She certainly seems to share the same interests with her hubby — the two were overheard discussing Sunday’s Giants win. “Did you all watch the game?” Weinstein shouted to the front row across from him, prompting Vogue editor in chief Anna Wintour to roll her eyes.
Tamara Mellon, meanwhile, brought along Christian Slater, her beau for the past five months. Slater wasn’t opposed to the idea of playing Halston in a feature film. “Sure, why not?” he said. He’d certainly have Mellon’s vote. “You’d be perfect,” she said.
As for Minnelli, she seemed to like creative director Marco Zanini’s first Halston outing. “It was wonderful,” she said after the show. “He really honored the memory.”
IN ABSENTIA: But while Halston’s front row was filled with the famous, there was one noticeable absentee: Rachel Zoe. The stylist, who was much-touted as a member of Halston’s creative advisory team, was nowhere to be found, leading some to speculate her involvement was less than initially thought — or that she’d been fired. Not so, according to Halston. “Rachel Zoe has not been fired,” a company spokesman said. “The only reason she wasn’t at the Halston show was a scheduling conflict.”
TIMING IS EVERYTHING: Regrets, Laura Bush has had more than a few. That is, in relation to the Feb. 11 White House reception she will host for designers involved with the Heart Truth Red Dress initiative. If designers are trying to make a political statement, they’re not saying. Nicole Miller already has an out-of-town commitment, Donna Karan is due for some down time, Carmen Marc Valvo will be meeting with buyers and Tracy Reese has a trade show for which to prepare. Marchesa’s Georgina Chapman and Keren Craig also will be missing the D.C. festivities. The CFDA’s Steven Kolb and IMG’s Fern Mallis plan to make the trip to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, though. Right off the bat, Mallis clued in organizers to the anticipated light designer turnout: “I let organizers know that next week would not be the best time. Many will be out of town or meeting with buyers.”
WALK THIS WAY: This morning’s ticker-tape parade for the New York Giants winds down with a 1 p.m. ceremony outside City Hall, but heavy congestion is expected throughout the day and the police department is urging motorists to steer clear of lower Manhattan. Street closings are planned around Battery Park and City Hall. Football fans also are being advised to avoid the 4, 5 and 6 subway lines. Downtown voters needn’t take any self-imposed detours. Police officers will be on hand to help get them to polling stations. Showgoers en route to Tse’s event on West 15th Street, however, might be wise to lace up their walking shoes. No word yet if any of the Super Bowl champs will drop by a show, but IMG reps Eli Manning and Tom Coughlin.
MUSICAL CHAIRS: You think editors are picky about where they sit in fashion shows? They’ve got nothing on so-called celeb wattage. At the MaxAzria show Monday evening, an entire segment of the front row was roped off — literally — for stars like Rihanna, Joss Stone and Natasha Henstridge to prevent any journalists from snagging a word with them (isn’t that why they show up in the first place?). But Fergie and Rose McGowan took seating requests to new lengths. The latter’s handlers were overheard relaying her fervent request to be seated next to Fergie. Meanwhile, Fergie, who was chilling out backstage in the W lounge (and refusing all interview requests) had her people claiming she did not want to sit next to Nylon [the magazine].
Luckily some guests understood their roles and were more than happy to pose for the endless shots and field the requisite questions. “They’re a very nice family, with great morals, very grounded,” said Brittany Murphy of the Azrias. “Plus, they’ll even invite you over for Shabbat dinner. Who would turn that down?”
Jaime King was feeling familial, too. “Ever since I moved to Los Angeles, the style is so different. It’s a lot more free and flowy, whereas in New York, it’s more structured,” explained King of her affinity for the label. “Max’s clothes are great for Los Angeles: very breezy.”
MODEL MOMENT: Caroline Trentini has been modeling for a few seasons, and in September, walked in over 20 shows in New York alone. This fashion week, the Brazil native has made charity a prime objective. Trentini will be donating a portion of her earnings for shows in New York, Paris and Milan to the Center of Support of Underprivileged Children with Cancer in her homeland. “I feel that I have reached a point in my career where I finally have the opportunity to help make a difference,” Trentini said. The model said she would evaluate the percentage of her contribution at the end of the season. “I do not just want to donate money, I want to bring awareness to the organization as well as take active part myself,” she said.
A DIFFERENT HILARY: Hilary Swank swept into the Jill Stuart show just before the lights went down, raising questions as to whether she’s the face of the brand’s next ad campaign. And she clearly had her eyes glued to the collection: She was wearing a top and skirt from the fall line that was supposed to be on the runway instead.
FLORIDA KEY: Karl Lagerfeld surely will never adopt a pastel wardrobe as a Miami vice, but he is definitely heading to that Florida city, home to a large port, to unveil Chanel’s next cruise collection. The show is slated for mid-May, but other details have yet to be confirmed, according to a Chanel spokeswoman. Lagerfeld traveled to Los Angeles last year to stage Chanel’s cruise show in an airport, and he often riffs on a transportation theme, having staged cruise shows on a riverboat and a fleet of buses.
SUPER TUESDAY: With primaries in 22 states, politics is clearly on order for the day — even in fashion. Expect to see Silda Wall Spitzer at Behnaz Sarafpour today. Governor Eliot Spitzer’s wife is a client of the designer, and will make her first fashion week appearance at the show.
NOT-SO-SUPER TUESDAY: Nicky Hilton was sitting pretty at the Charlotte Ronson show Monday and, according to the socialite-turned-handbag designer, taking in fashion shows is all she’s doing this week. “I’m not registered here,” said Hilton, when asked if she’d be taking part in today’s “Super Tuesday” election. The Los Angeles-based debutante also will be missing from today’s Super Bowl parade for the New York Giants, even though she admitted she was happy they won.
RED ALERT: Katie Grand even makes copies look good. The stylist and editor in chief of Pop magazine partnered with British leather goods label Mulberry and Gap to create a new version of Mulberry’s iconic Roxanne bag. The limited edition bag with signature patch pockets is done in red sweatshirt jersey under the Gap (Product) Red collection, which aims to fight AIDS in Africa. The bag was first released in London and Paris in December and will hit Gap’s U.S. flagship at 680 Fifth Avenue on Wednesday.
GIANT WIN: Former New York Giants cornerback Jason Sehorn and his TV-actress wife, Angie Harmon, didn’t spend Super Bowl Sunday together cheering on their team in front of the tube. Instead, Harmon was on a plane en route to New York for the shows (during which she’ll be corresponding for both In Style and Entertainment Tonight) while her husband played Mr. Mom at home with the couple’s two daughters. The Giants’ win, she said at Carolina Herrera’s show Monday morning, “was bittersweet. I know my husband would have liked to play in the Super Bowl.” The sweet part of that equation, though, was seeing the pair’s pal, Michael Strahan, win the championship. “Michael introduced us,” Harmon said. “He was a big fan of mine from ‘Law & Order.'”
Nor was Carolina Herrera the only show stop Harmon made Monday. A few hours later, she set off flashbulbs again at Oscar de la Renta. And being a fashion girl, Harmon knew the rules: She changed from her black Herrera outfit to a de la Renta ensemble.
LOULOU’S LIST: Oscar de la Renta doesn’t need stars to make his front-row buzz. French fashion doyenne Loulou de la Falaise made an appearance at his show on Monday afternoon, after also hitting Carolina Herrera. De la Falaise is collaborating with de la Renta on a jewelry line, which she says was partially inspired by Catherine the Great. “It’s very deep in color, very Russian-y,” she said as she went backstage to greet her friend. It’s not the last chance to catch her: Next on her list for New York Fashion Week is the Calvin Klein Collection show.
GEORGE SHARP EXIT INTERVIEW: Monday morning’s presentation of the fall 2008 Ellen Tracy collection was bittersweet for George Sharp, who recently quit as vice president of design for the bridge line to become executive vice president of design for St. John. Sharp’s resignation last month came after the brand had been on sale for six months from parent company Liz Claiborne Inc., who is said to have set a mid-February deadline for the deal with the sole remaining bidder, a consortium led by Windsong Brands and the Radius Group. Despite the one-two blow of Sharp’s departure and the prolonged public sale, Sharp called morale on his team good. “This process has been going on for a long time, so we couldn’t focus on it,” Sharp said. “I just totally focused on who the customer is.” As for his replacement, Sharp said: “I’d just like someone who loves this brand and this customer.” Fall 2008 will be his last full collection, as his Friday departure doesn’t leave time to finish holiday, and Sharp said he hopes this collection will live as the legacy of his three-year stint at Ellen Tracy.
ANYA’S GARDEN: British handbag designer Anya Hindmarch was in town showing her wares last week, but had to skip out on New York Fashion Week — for political reasons. No, it had nothing to do with Hillary or Barack, but instead with David Cameron, the leader of Britain’s Conservative Party and the Tories’ annual Black and White Ball. Hindmarch agreed to help decorate the gala and, in typical fashion, went all out. The event Wednesday night in Battersea Park will include eight intimate gardens, all decorated differently — including a maze, a formal English garden, a vegetable garden, a “green” garden (she is, after all, the designer of the Not a Plastic Bag bag) and one complete with a caravan. Hindmarch compared the undertaking with London’s famed Chelsea Flower Show, and said more than 300 trees will be brought in for the night alone. “I think everyone is going to think we’re mad, totally mad,” she said.
Of course, that didn’t mean Hindmarch skipped out entirely on commerce. She celebrated her new Meatpacking District showroom twice last week with intimate affairs. The first was with a low-key cocktail party that drew the likes of Lily Cole, Gillian Hearst-Shaw and Jessica Joffe, while the next night the designer hosted a dinner that drew guests such as Tory Burch, Lucy Sykes, Thom Browne, Eva Jeanbart-Lorenzotti and Deborah Needleman.
MCM TAKES MANHATTAN: MCM, the Munich-based accessories brand that relaunched in the U.S. in the fall, plans to open its first U.S. store at The Plaza Hotel in New York. The 1,000-square-foot unit is to open in April and will be in the company of Kenneth Jay Lane, Montblanc and Rachel Roy, which are also opening stores in the hotel.
DESIGNER LOYALTY: Young designers, pay attention! Bribing celebrities is not the only way to get them to sit through your fashion show. Case in point: Piper Perabo, who turned up at Peter Som Monday morning simply as a fan and who will hit Behnaz Sarafpour’s show tomorrow. How did Sarafpour win Perabo’s loyalty? The ever-conscientious designer was there at her showroom to help Perabo pick out a dress to wear last season. As for the actress’ new short do, she said: “It’s not for a role. It’s just for me! I’ve never cut my hair for myself before. My agent was like, what?”
O-TUNES: Music and fashion are famously intertwined, but perhaps no more so than at Oscar de la Renta’s recent shows, where the designer has taken to spotlighting acts that wouldn’t be out of place on the muddy fields of the Glastonbury Festival.
Following last season’s performance by the Polyphonic Spree, de la Renta asked chanteuse Regina Spektor to perform her wistful, alt-folk songs at his show Monday. “One of my design assistants recommended Regina, and after I listened to a recording of her live concert at Lollapalooza on YouTube, I thought she was really fantastic,” said de la Renta. “So then I met with Regina and found her personality to be as sweet and beautiful as her voice.”
Spektor was equally enchanted by the designer, but found that performing for a fashion show brought its own unique set of challenges, including a bank of runway photographers clicking away nonstop. “It was definitely scary,” said the singer, who had prepped by doing two run-throughs with stand-in models. “I was so nervous because I didn’t want to let Oscar down. I didn’t want any dead air and I was scared that my mouth would go dry.”
Her four songs — “Us,” “Après Moi,” “Fidelity” and “Hotel Song” — came off without a hitch, and Spektor had her fashion baptism, performing in a full Oscar look. “They took me to the actual shop on the Upper East Side and let me try on their stuff,” she said. “After the show, I changed and I tried to give it all back, but Oscar said I should have it.”