Byline: Arthur Friedman
Sure, designers may claim they’re eating steamed organic vegetables and meditating during the rest of the year, but in those anxiety-filled weeks before the runway shows, the truth comes out as the trash cans outside design studios begin to resemble Coney Island on a busy weekend.
Here, the results of WWD’s informal poll of designers for their preferred pre-show snacks.
Donna Karan: “Years ago, it used to be terrible — our office looked like Halloween,” said Patti Cohen, senior vice president. “There were big white plastic bowls filled with M&Ms and peanuts. Now, we try to keep fresh vegetables like peppers and carrots around, and when it gets intense we eat those whole-wheat pretzels with sesame seeds — but crates of them.”
Isaac Mizrahi: “It used to be that I would eat nothing before the show, because nothing stayed down. I was so nervous. That’s gotten better over the last couple of years. Now I eat a giant breakfast the day of the show and maintain that during the day. Of course I eat anything that’s backstage, like candy, and I get a giant sugar rush.
“The best thing is that when I weigh myself after the show, I’ve lost five whole pounds. It’s so genius. Of course it all comes back the next day.”
Todd Oldham: “We go in the other direction,” away from junk food, said Tony Longoria, Todd Oldham’s business partner. “Most of the people here are already vegetarians, or at least don’t eat red meat. We try to make sure everyone is getting heavy doses of vitamins and herbs and eating really well, because the last thing we need is people getting sick. That’s not to say we don’t have a drawer full of brownies, but they’re fat-free.”
Cynthia Rowley: “We eat so much, it’s like we all have a tapeworm,” said Rowley. “We order huge lunches, and then inhale them. Lots of taco salads and burritos, and lots of Diet Coke — although I’m a Diet Pepsi gal myself. And then at about 7 p.m. we all kick back and have a Bud.”
Bill Blass: “I must admit, the great temptation for me is the McDonald’s that’s right downstairs from our offices,” he said.
While a Big Mac and french fries are his junk food of choice during crunch time before collections, Blass said on weekends he’s been known to snack on Ben & Jerry’s Rain Forest Crunch ice cream.
“It’s too bad there’s none around Seventh Avenue,” he grumbled.
Nicole Miller: Miller, usually careful to watch her calories, is also an “avid potato chip lover.”
Miller said as deadline approaches to get the collection together for another season, she’s been known to go on a search-and-destroy mission for a plain Lay’s potato chip. This usually blossoms into a “potato chip party,” with bags of crunchy chips invading Miller’s design studio.
Gemma Kahng: “My eating habits don’t really change, and I’m a big eater,” said Kahng. “What I do is smoke. It starts about a month before the collection, with half a pack a day. Then it gets to about a pack a day, and by the time of the show, I’m smoking two packs of Marlboro Lights a day.” — Janet Ozzard
Last summer, Calvin Klein, Bianca Jagger and David Geffen could be seen patiently lining up for their daily doses of veggie shakes, salads and sandwiches at Blanche’s Organic Market in East Hampton. Now, Blanche’s is trying to convert Manhattanites to a healthier way of eating.
The uptown cafe on 71st Street and Lexington Avenue caters to the take-out crowd. Donna Karan (well, actually her personal chef) nips in frequently with Tupperware in hand to fill the containers with Donna’s favorite — barley and lentil soup. Bill Cosby’s driver also stops by regularly to get shots of wheatgrass for his boss.
Further downtown, on 44th Street just off Madison Avenue, there’s seating for 18 in chairs designed by Arnie Jacobson in the 1950s and etched-glass square tables — a far cry from the fern-drenched, veggie restaurants of yore.
The fresh vegetable and fruit shakes, dubbed Blanche’s Beauty School, Toxic Avenger and Wake Up, among others, are the biggest crowd-pleasers. But whatever you do, don’t drink too much — there are no public bathrooms.
The menu offers grain and bean dishes, which vary from day to day. And check out the roasted seasonal vegetables and hummus sandwich.
In July, owner Ron Teitelbaum (who named the cafe after his mother) is opening a cafe in Bumble & Bumble, a first for a salon. Soon after, Blanche’s will be sprouting up in SoHo and the Village. Teitelbaum also hopes to stake out territory in California and Florida, a natural choice. — Dahlia Dean
THE WILD ONES
Dianne Joyce’s cool and collected exterior hides the heart of a Harley rider and the busy mind of an entrepreneur.
Joyce, a Miami interior designer with her own firm, started riding a Harley about three years ago, “as a way to see the country.” But while she loved being on the open road, she wasn’t quite as crazy about her fellow bikers’ uniforms.
“I’d look around and see everybody in that same basic black leather motorcycle jacket, which hasn’t changed in about 40 years,” she said.
About two years ago, Joyce and her partner Steven Miller, a former retail manager, started experimenting with a line of leather outerwear that would bear up to the tough demands of the chopper chicks and dudes but also have some style. They named the line C.C. Cody & Co.
“We wanted a name that was simple and memorable, and conveyed the idea of the West, but didn’t leave a bad aftertaste, like ‘Drifter’ or ‘Outlaw,”‘ said Joyce. She funded the line out of her own pocket. The line is selling to stores such as Billy Martin’s in New York and Los Angeles, Out of the West in Chicago and Jane Smith in Santa Fe.
One of the first designs was a heavy black buffalo leather jacket with hairpipe bone beads in the pattern of a Native American warrior breastplate, and sterling silver conch buckle.
“I really love the feeling of the West,” said Joyce. “I was inspired by the vocabulary of the American Indian, the cavalry, the cowboy. There are certain things that a jacket has to do — have extra-long sleeves, have a certain looseness across the shoulders, and so forth, but otherwise, it’s up to me.”
Joyce soon expanded the line to include lighter leathers and styles such as slipdresses, jeans, crop jackets and vests. The fall line uses buffalo, nubuk, chamois, lambsuede and Italian calf leather, with detailing in sterling silver, bone beads and rattlesnake vertebrae.
Wholesale prices on the line, which has showrooms in New York and Dallas, range from $150 for a vest to $450 for a jacket — although elaborate pieces, such as the bone, silver and buffalo jacket, run about $1,400. — Janet Ozzard
From vacant office buildings to Grand Central station, fall fashion shows are cropping up in some of the city’s least likely places.
Using the tents in Bryant Park might cause more fanfare, but it’s also beyond the financial reach of many designers.
The Council of Fashion Designers of America expects 49 designers to hold runway shows in the tents next week, and requests continue to come in, according to a spokeswoman.
But some say they’d simply rather show elsewhere.
“I get so frantic and freaked out as it is, the idea of having such a big venue is another headache I don’t need,” Marc Jacobs said. “It’s not necessary to do a show for 1,000 people….I don’t have the staff or the money to cover all the expenses.”
About 250 people will be on hand at the Plaza Hotel on April 3 when Jacobs shows his collection in the hotel’s Baroque room. There will be no theatrics, no special effects and no unusual lighting during the 15-minute show, but that’s just how the designer likes it, he said.
“I make one tape and let it run. When it stops, the show is over,” Jacobs said. “The girls go out as soon as they’re dressed. Sometimes a girl might go out of order, but that’s OK.”
With a guest list of 700, last season’s show at Tribeca Studios caused too much anxiety, he said.
On April 1, John Scher will show 50 pieces from his “mature couture” fall collection in Industria on West 12th Street. More than 400 people are expected to attend the afternoon show and reception, which is being sponsored by Absolut, Scher said.
By holding the show at an alternative site, Scher said he reduced his expenses by 50 percent. “Saturday is an easy day for most people. Everyone’s attention span is stronger in the beginning of the week,” he said. “Saturday is a downtown day anyway. A lot of people would be downtown even if they weren’t attending my show.”
Russell Bennett said holding his show in an old bank at 1133 Avenue of the Americas at 44th Street will cost at least $50,000, which is comparable to the cost of a tent show. His show is slated for April 4.
Set against individual backdrops, 25 mannequins — not models — will showcase Bennett’s fashions. Looking to stage “an exhibition, not an event,” Bennett said he wanted attendees to be able to see the intricate seaming and the other details of his work.
“The famous, the infamous and otherwise” will be in attendance at the Absolut Designers and Models Spring Ball, to be held March 29 at Webster Hall. All proceeds from the event will be donated to The Housing Works, a nonprofit organization here that supports homeless people with AIDS and HIV.
To control expenses, each designer will be responsible for providing their favorite model, according to Martin X, who initiated alternative fashion week last season.
Debbie Harry and Roshumba are a few of the celebrities who will be modeling during the two-hour fashion presentation. One hundred designers — including Jeanette Kastenberg, Cynthia Rowley and Living Doll — have donated one-of-a-kind creations for the show. Each outfit will be available for sale at the silent auction that will be ongoing throughout the night.
Nicknamed “The Devil’s Playhouse,” the event will be reminiscent of Webster Hall in the Twenties, he said. Following the fashion presentation, Jackie 60 will present “Port-O-Potty,” a drag queen satire of Robert Altman’s Pret-a-Porter (released as Ready-to-Wear here).
With Sandra Bernhard acting as emcee, the Ghost show will be held during a sit-down dinner at the Oyster Bar in Grand Central Station on April 6 at 9 p.m. Ghost had to cut its guest list in half — to 500 people — to accommodate the restaurant’s limited seating, according to a spokeswoman for Showroom Seven, which represents the Ghost line.
Ghost initially lobbied for that time slot in the tents, but it was awarded to Isaac Mizrahi, she said. As reported, this month Mizrahi announced he will bow out of the Gertrude Pavilion to show in the lobby of a building on Park Avenue and 47th Street.
Designer Debra Marquit, known for her neon-colored lingerie, will hold her first presentation on March 30 at 4 p.m. at Cami Hall, a recital theater across from Carnegie Hall at 165 West 57th St. In addition to featuring lingerie, Marquit will introduce her first sportswear collection.
Showroom Seven is producing a “Triple Treat Show,” with designers Kitty Boots, Nancy Severin and Cesar Galindo on March 31 at 6 p.m. in a hangar-like space — the site of a former metal foundry, now used to assemble opera sets — at 532 West 27th St. across from the Sound Factory Bar.
Young designer Neslihan picked Zitella, a happening Italian restaurant in the East Village at 131 Avenue A, for her show on March 30 at 6 p.m.
“It’s a hip, downtown place to be right now, so it’s a good setting for my clothes,” said Neslihan. “It’s also an affordable place that’s not too fancy, which gives the right impression because I want young people to wear my clothes.” Two of Zitella’s owners are friends of Neslihan, “so we get to use the place for free — a plus for a young designer.” — Rosemary Feitelberg with contributions from Alice Welsh
UNDER THE BIG TOP
Entering its fourth season under the tents in Bryant Park and at venues in the New York Public Library, the 7th on Sixth organization keeps focusing on making the shows — and the amenities that embellish them — more attractive to buyers and press.
Some 1,315 members of the media have preregistered for the shows, about 200 more than last season. Most of the new registrants are foreign press.
Most of the new amenities this season are at the 7th on Sixth Command Center and Press Lounge at 40 West 40th St., opposite the park.
Dean & Deluca is operating the cafe, serving beverages and light fare from 8:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. The Fashion Center Business Improvement District will handle the concierge desk, offering information and assistance to showgoers. The center will also have shiatsu treatments available, compliments of Clio Biz, the realtor that owns the landmark building.
Vogue magazine will host a complimentary coffee bar, supplied by New World Coffee, in front of the Gertrude Pavilion in the park, while those who registered for the press list will receive tote bags provided by Absolut Vodka. In observance of Earth Day on April 25, more recycling containers will be placed around the venues.
There will also be a video channel with daily schedules, and sponsor and designer videos running continuously, and sponsor lobbies will again feature product giveaways.
The 7th on Sixth shows run from Sunday, April 2, to Friday, April 7, with 49 shows slated. There are also special events such as the Council of Fashion Designers of America accessories designer party on Sunday at the command center, the Hetrick-Martin benefit on Sunday in the park’s Josephine Pavilion, and the CFDA press party Monday night at the library’s Astor Hall.
Byron Lars returns to 7th on Sixth after skipping a season, with a show at Josephine. Newcomers include Elizabeth Fillmore, Kokin, the House of Field and Maja, Van Buren and Jill Stuart in the library’s Trustees Room, Basco, Jussara Lee, Todd Carol, Marc Bouwer and Joop in the library’s Celeste Bartos Forum, and MarithA & Franiois Girbaud in Josephine.
The Trustees Room costs $4,600 and seats 180. Gertrude, which seats 1,165, costs either $19,500 or $25,000 depending on the day; Josephine, with a seating capacity of 800, costs $14,500, and Celeste Bartos seats 646 and costs $12,500. All prices are the same as they were last season and include rental, setup and production.
In addition, Robert Danes and Kenneth Richard are doing special still-life presentations in Astor Hall on opening day.