Byline: Dianne M. Pogoda / Janet Ozzard / Alexandra Bellak / Karen Robinovitz / Patricia Reynoso
EUROPE’S NEW FRONT
NEW YORK — Every season, it seems more Europeans plant their stakes in American soil.
This season, Gianfranco Ferre and Yohji Yamamoto join Gianni Versace Wolfgang Joop, Prada and other Europeans who find it beneficial to show here.
While the designers claim New York now equals Milan and Paris as an international fashion city, for some, it’s simply a matter of getting greater exposure to the lucrative and relatively untapped U.S. consumer market — particularly for secondary lines.
Gianfranco Ferre, who is introducing his Gieffeffe line here, said he chose New York because he wants to “establish a strong, incisive, well-defined presence on the U.S. market.” The designer said he wanted to distinguish Gieffeffe as much as possible from his other ready-to-wear lines, which are presented in Milan.
Gieffeffe has everything from suits to parkas and is being promoted mainly as a casual concept — which fits the increasingly casual lifestyle of American women.
“We wanted an international opening,” said Sergio Garretti, president of Marzotto USA, the U.S. arm of the Italian manufacturing giant that is making the line. “We can get great exposure here. Fashion is a global village now. Maybe one day, we’ll show in Asia.”
Yamamoto is returning to New York after an absence of more than 10 years. He showed here twice in the early Eighties.
“We’re here to help develop the American market,” a spokeswoman explained, noting Yamamoto counts Barneys New York and Bergdorf Goodman among his few U.S. clients. “Our show will demonstrate to our current customers that we are here to help them.”
Although Yamamoto is staging virtually the same show on March 27 that he did earlier in the month in Paris, the move is seen as preparation for an introduction of the designer’s secondary line, Y’s.
Miuccia Prada, whose Miu Miu line will show for the fourth season here, briefly considered bucking the secondary line trend. As reported, Prada and her husband, Patrizio Bertelli, debated secretly swapping the signature and secondary line show, to keep the fashion flock on its toes.
“Everybody seems to be taking their second lines to New York, so Bertelli said, ‘Why don’t we go there with our first line?”‘ a Prada spokeswoman said. The idea was scrapped, because it would be too difficult to do at the last moment.
GOODBYE, BRYANT PARK?
NEW YORK — The American fashion world goes camping in Bryant Park this week, and as the fall collections get under way, a big question looms about whether the tents will remain there for next season or be moved to another site in the city.
Two developments in the past 10 days have threatened the future of the Bryant Park setup, and of the centralization of fashion shows altogether — Donna Karan and Ralph Lauren took their collections out of the tents. Lauren cited late fabric deliveries and Karan said she’s had it with all the hype.
Despite the last-minute defections, the venues in and around Bryant Park and the New York Public Library still feature a full field of American designers, several foreign entrants, and 16 companies showing for the first time — a record, according to Ruth Finley, publisher of the Fashion Calendar, which schedules fashion events throughout the year.
Some of the neophytes — most notably the more commercial entrants — are causing a stir in the fashion community, however. Some observers are questioning whether there should be some criteria for showing, or if merely having enough money to produce a show entitles any apparel maker to a slot.
“There seems to be a healthy balance of companies,” said a spokeswoman for 7th on Sixth, which organizes the centralized shows. “One week we’re accused of being too elitist, and not giving young designers a chance, and the next week we’re accused of not being elitist enough.”
The Council of Fashion Designers of America, a separate organization related to 7th on Sixth, said neither group is in a position to judge a collection or determine whether it should or should not be shown.
“That’s not our role,” the spokeswoman said. “We are landlords renting space. That’s all. The retailers and press will decide whether or not they want to attend a show, or its validity.”
Legally, the CFDA is not permitted to restrict the opportunity to show.
“For us to jury the shows is just unconscionable,” she said.
“This is a democracy,” Finley concurred. “Everybody deserves a chance.”
The tent shows have won some designers and lost some this season. Besides Lauren and Karan, others who are leaving include Ghost, Badgley Mischka, Victor Alfaro, Todd Oldham, Joan Vass and Randy Kemper.
In spelling out his reason to postpone his presentation until April 3 in his showroom, Lauren said it had nothing to do with disenchantment with the tents, and reiterated his support for the concept.
But Karan bluntly stated there were many things she didn’t like about the tents, including the setup of the photographers’ pit, “how overblown runway shows have become” and “too much media coverage.” Karan, whose DKNY line will remain at the tents, will present her signature collection at her showroom, 550 Seventh Ave., in two shows, at 6 p.m. and 8 p.m. April 2.
Gianfranco Ferre will present his lower-priced Gieffeffe line at the Gertrude Pavilion in Bryant Park. Also showing for the first time are Bisou Bisou and Parallel, two contemporary firms. Yoji Yamamoto and Alexander McQueen joined the growing ranks of non-American designers to present lines in New York during collections, but they are not in the 7th on Sixth spaces.
“Every season, there are people who change their plans,” the 7th on Sixth spokeswoman said. “It’s the nature of a creative business. Isaac Mizrahi and Betsey Johnson came back after a season of showing elsewhere.”
As for the change of venue, several elements are causing the 7th on Sixth to consider options. Most notable is the space crunch — there just isn’t enough room in Bryant Park to accommodate the volume of people. There is also the recurring issue of the tents infringing on the space of The Bryant Park Grill, whose views of the park are blocked while the tents are up.
Besides another configuration in Bryant Park, 7th on Sixth is scouting several other sites around the city. Among them are a large open space along the Hudson River near 42nd Street, Central Park, the New York Coliseum and the Passenger Ship Terminals on the Hudson River.
New on the sponsor front are Samsung and American Express.
American Express is setting up a retailers’ lounge at the press center at 40 West 40th St., and Samsung is providing snacks as part of a tie-in with its current ad campaign.
Other sponsor highlights include:
* Evian, the lead corporate sponsor, will create a spa and sports center, in cooperation with Reebok. There will be aromatherapy, reflexology and stretching sessions at the spa, housed in the press center.
* Pantone will provide on-the-spot color trend analysis of each day’s shows.
* Vogue magazine will serve Starbucks coffee at the tents.
* General Motors will present a celebration of American designers with an exhibition and video presentations of the shows in its building, 767 Fifth Ave.
* Clairol will provide complimentary hair color touch-ups, also at the press center.
* Apple Computer will show off its own software, the applications of the Agfa digital camera, and it will also demonstrate such things as how to get on the Internet. Apple’s “Press World” center is also at 40 West 40th St.
* Moet et Chandon will host the opening-night party, the accessories- exhibition party, and provide champagne throughout the week’s festivities.
THE FASHION CARNEGIE
NEW YORK — Hattie Carnegie couldn’t draw or sew, yet she had a profound impact on American fashion and design, dressing celebrities and socialites for more than 40 years in the early part of this century.
The Fashion Institute of Technology is celebrating her career and style with an exhibition at its museum, on Seventh Avenue at 27th Street. It runs through April 27.
Although she did not put pen to paper or scissor to cloth, Carnegie, a retailer, had an eye for sophisticated style and a knack for hiring and nurturing young talent to carry out her design directions. Norman Norell, Claire McCardell and Jean Louis were among the designers who worked for her through the years.
Born Henrietta Kanengeiser, she changed her name to Carnegie to summon an image of tremendous wealth. She started with a millinery shop in 1909 and by the Twenties was selling clothing. Over the years, her business grew to include custom workrooms, ready-to-wear factories, jewelry and perfumes.
“Hattie Carnegie: American Style Defined” features more than 100 garments and complementing accessories.
HOW TO SURVIVE FASHION WEEK
NEW YORK — Ready or not, that fashion time of the year is upon us again. And with 80-plus shows on the roster — many scattered throughout the city — WWD has compiled helpful survival tips from a savvy group of fashion market editors:
On what to wear:
“Sensible shoes,” says Elizabeth Kiester, market editor at Marie Claire. “Some editors will need orthopedic surgery after the shows. This season it’ll be my worn-in vintage block heel shoes.”
“I have everything dry-cleaned ahead of time and plan what I’m going to wear according to which shows I’ll be attending on those days,” says Michelle Morgan, senior market editor at Elle. “And I only wear my sunglasses if it’s sunny outside.”
“Yes, it’s important to look up-to-the-minute, but it’s also important to dress in layers,” advises Laurie Bliss, market editor at Harper’s Bazaar. “And I have a black cashmere shawl that I throw over everything.”
On what bag to carry:
“You definitely need two bags. One bag, and your arm will break,” says Lynn Yaeger, style editor at The Village Voice.
“Rafe designed a white nylon bag for me, similar to a flight attendant’s, that’s very deep and very long. It’s filthy, but I don’t care; it’s perfect,” says Kiester.
On what to eat:
“Food is the essential. The McDonald’s on 42nd Street and Sixth Avenue is the place for a fast meal. I also carry french fries in my bag, and I always, always, always carry Diet Coke,” says Kiester.
“Food’s a nightmare — you don’t eat,” exclaims Morgan. “But last season I discovered that Bryant Park Grill actually has an express lunch menu. I had a lobster potato chip salad and was in and out in 30 minutes.”
“I grab a muffin for my carbo fix,” says Bliss. On how to pass the time before showtime:
“Make friends,” says Yaeger.
“I always either read a book or work on the New York Times crossword puzzle. It’s all about ‘Hurry up and wait,”‘ says Kiester.
“The celebrities don’t really interest me. You attend so many shows that it becomes much more interesting to take yourself away with a book,” says Dorrit Thomas, senior market editor at Allure.
Other crucial tips:
“A black Faber Castel micro point uniball marker for sketching is a must,” adds Kiester.
“Although it’s very tempting to take the free magazines, water and haircolor distributed at the shows, they’re really very heavy — so think about it,” says Yaeger.
FROM BRITTANY TO SOHO
NEW YORK — Gerard Maurice is hard at work. The chef-turned-restaurateur is greeting customers at the door of his new spot, Le Jardin Bistro, at 25 Cleveland Place, in between tending to the kitchen, consulting with his wife, Pamela, on managing the restaurant and inspecting his garden.
The cozy eatery allows for romantic dining in a dimly lit setting on the edge of Soho. The grape arbor and herb garden in the back are a rare find in New York.
“A garden was important to me,” says Maurice, with his French accent. “I am a man of the sea, of the earth, of nature, and this garden is an extension of me.” Maurice, a native of Brittany, moved to the States eight years ago. He decided to brave the New York restaurant scene after honing his culinary skills in restaurants and bistros in France. He taught cooking in Nantes and owned a restaurant there, Brasserie du Theatre.
“I wanted a comfortable place where neighborhood residents could sample good French food at affordable prices,” he says of his new venture.
The menu, created by Gerard, is basic French country cuisine with such dishes as country pate, salade nicoise, and steamed mussels in a white wine, garlic and parsley sauce. Popular fare includes the steak tartare, coq au vin, and cassoulet, a white bean stew with duck confit. All dishes are prepared with fresh herbs from the garden.
Soon, patrons may be able to sample Maurice’s homemade wine from the grapes growing in the garden. He plans to press the grapes the old-fashioned way — by stomping them with his feet. Prices range from $3.50 to $7 for appetizers and $10 to $18 for entrees. Neighborhood folk, including local artists, are already flocking in. Le Jardin is open for lunch and dinner, Monday through Sunday, and brunch is available on the weekends.
A PLACE FOR PICTURES
NEW YORK — The newest addition to the hip downtown scene is F Stop. The thing is, it’s not downtown.
While the upscale French bistro, at 28 West 20th St., has become a local haunt for food, drinks and photography exhibitions, it would fit in perfectly in SoHo.
Opened about two months ago by Max King, Mitch Silverberg, Greg Bello, Ron Pledge and Simply Red’s lead singer, Mick Hucknell, it’s “a place for the people who live in the city to come and relax and understand photography,” King said.
F Stop has two stories, each with a distinct flavor. Upstairs is cozier, with a fireplace, velvet sofas and a 30-foot bar. Downstairs is funkier, with Anthony Gill’s French baroque-style murals in metallic colors, Persian rugs and a smaller service bar. Photography is scattered throughout, and every three months, the theme will change. Currently, F Stop is exhibiting “Reflection of New York,” with original work by Annie Lebovitz, Alfred Eisenstadt and Michael Halsband. On April 8, the exhibit will change to “Covers,” a show featuring photos from covers of magazines, including Rolling Stone, George, Detour and other publications.
All photographs are for sale; the proceeds will go to Life Beat, a charity founded by musicians that raises money for AIDS.
As the photography changes, so does the menu. In the spring, F Stop plans to add an oyster bar. King said popular items include cornmeal-crusted oysters with black bean cilantro mayonnaise as an appetizer; spiced tuna mignon with tomato and basil, and oven-roasted swordfish as entrees; and the opera chocolate fondant — individual chocolate cakes filled with rich chocolate fudge pudding, served hot — for dessert.
F Stop is open Tuesday to Sunday, 11 a.m. to 2 a.m., and the rooms are always packed. Entrees are priced from $13.50 to $22. The next stops for F Stop are Los Angeles and London; openings are slated next year.