CHANGE IS GOOD: It’s pretty much a given that celebs attending a designer’s show will be sporting his or her clothes in the front row. But Friday morning, Sarah Michelle Gellar took this sign of respect to new levels. After taking in the 9 a.m. Ports 1961 collection at the tents, the actress quickly changed into a black Vera Wang dress for the designer’s 10 a.m. show. Just how did she pull off such a switcheroo feat? “I’m like Superman,” she smiled. “And, yes, I have a phone booth.” What happened to Buffy the Vampire Slayer?
CYNTHIA ROWLEY’S BOOK CLUB: After releasing her “fantasy memoir” earlier this year, Cynthia Rowley counted herself among literary friends at her Friday show at Gotham Hall. Friends James Frey and Candace Bushnell, who are both working on their next books, filled the front row. Bushnell, wearing Alexander McQueen, said she is penning yet another book “on New York women,” as the shooting for “Lipstick Jungle” — for which “fashion will be a big part of the show” — commences this fall. “I’m trying to gather up all the look books now,” Bushnell said, adding she particularly liked Balenciaga.
A DAY AT THE LIBRARY: Jill Stuart is expecting a host of semi-bold names at its Monday show at the New York Public Library, including Carmen Electra, Tori Spelling, Bijou Phillips, Amy Ryan, Brittny Gastineau, Lisa Gastineau, Chad Michael Murray, Beth Ostrosky, Jaslene Gonzalez, Anna Anisimova, Kelly Bensimon, JC Chasez (who also attended last season), Tinsley Mortimer and The Misshapes. The one noticeable absentee is likely to be the brand’s face of the season: Lindsay Lohan — for obvious reasons.
IMITATION OF FASHION WEEK: “I’m so relaxed — I feel like fashion week is going in slow motion,” said Tara Subkoff, whose Imitation of Christ line is not showing this season. “I’ve never been a tourist for New York Fashion Week before.” The designer had not planned to attend fashion week at all, but decided at the last minute to come back from a month in Bali to attend friends’ shows such as Cynthia Rowley and MaxMara. She said she is attending shows this week “since I am trend forecasting,” (though she carefully avoided saying for whom). Subkoff added she also will unveil a design collaboration soon.
MASCULIN-FEMININ: In addition to the expected blow-dried lineup of ladies gracing its front row, J.Mendel managed to wrangle a, shall we say, eclectic mix of celebrities. As Carrie Underwood and Jamie Lynn Sigler posed for the flashbulbs, Mary J. Blige, with husband Kendu Isaacs by her side, was swarmed my video cameras. Luckily, Isaacs is used to the attention. “I’ve been going to fashion shows since 2001,” he bragged.
Blige sported, of course, a J.Mendel jacket and dress, but it was her fierce footwear that really stood out. “They’re L.A.M.B.,” she said of her perforated leather stiletto booties. And, while the pretty frocks cruising down the runway may have issued oohs from the rest of the crowd, don’t expect to see Blige in a chiffon concoction any time soon. “I’m never too feminine,” she explained of her personal style. “I always have to have a masculine edge.”
That edge doesn’t come cheap: Though Isaacs wasn’t familiar with J.Mendel’s designs, he was well acquainted with their financial value. “I only know the credit card bills I get!” he joked.
SHOE BOOK: Footwear fanatics have a fantastical new tome to whet their appetites, courtesy of photographer Michel Tcherevkoff. Called “Shoe Fleur” (Random House), it shows all manner of flora contorted to resemble every imaginable style of stiletto, boot and slipper. Fans Feruccio Ferragamo and Diane von Furstenberg were fascinated enough to write the preface and introduction, while Manolo Blahnik and Christian Louboutin requested advance copies. Tcherevkoff toasted his publication with a party at the Museum of Art and Design Thursday night.
CAMERA SHY: Friday’s MaxAzria show at Bryant Park certainly drew a camera-shy crowd: A Theory-clad Ivanka Trump and her beau, Jared Kushner, refused tandem photo-ops. “She’s the one you really want anyway,” Kushner told the paparazzi. Taking her cue from the lovebirds, an expectant Nicole Richie took her seat only after the runway had been cleared. There were, however, some noncomformists who hammed it up for the lens, namely Molly Sims and Carrie Underwood, who arrived on the arm of Glamour editor in chief Cindi Leive (could a covershoot be in the works?). “It’s so nice to have someone you can always count on,” Underwood cooed of Azria’s designs.
FAMILY BUSINESS: Ivana Trump is making the rounds this week even though she has 10-plus commercial and residential projects in the works in Qatar, China and Dubai. But it’s not just the financial booms that has lured her afar.
“They have a lot of money, but they let architects do what they want. They don’t have zoning laws,” she said before Nicole Miller’s show. “Here, buildings have to be 10 stories high and the neighbor has to have natural light. You really have your vision created there.”
The businesswoman said she is proud of her daughter, Ivanka, and not just due to her budding jewelry line. As for offering any business advice, Trump said: “I had her trademark her name 20 years ago. I gave it to her, so I wanted to make sure it was protected.”
Meanwhile, William Ivey Long was delighted to see Jane Krakowski of “30 Rock,” whom he affectionately referred to as “one of his children.” But they weren’t the only members of the Broadway brigade pulling for Miller. Christine Ebersole watched from the wings.
BLASS BLAST: Robert D’Loren, chief executive officer of NexCen Brands Inc., which owns the Bill Blass brand, said at the Blass presentation event Thursday that he’s been busy logging miles from store to store talking to everyone and anyone regarding Blass. On the agenda are new Blass licensees for handbags and accessories, as well as a Blass men’s line, all of which are expected to come to fruition in 90 days, D’Loren said. Arnold Simon, who has the Blass denim license, also is keeping a hectic schedule: He’s gearing up to launch his Members Only label, which is set to hit high-end specialty stores such as Fred Segal and Scoop in fall 2008. According to Simon, the label will feature both men’s and women’s offerings, with outerwear starting at $300.
OHHHMMMM: Fashion week is far from relaxing for most retail buyers. Not so for the folks from Saks Fifth Avenue. Midday Wednesday, the entire accessories team began a pilgrimage from the tents to the Shambhala Meditation Center of New York. A three-hour session, called The Power of the Positive Question, provided a reflective calm, but, according to fashion director of accessories Beth Kante, the biggest question on everybody’s mind was what outfit could take the crew from runway to relaxation and back again.