CHECKING OUT THE COATS
Byline: Rosemary Feitelberg
NEW YORK — Like many names that have yet to be recognized, Carmen Carroll came here to pursue a modeling career and wound up paying the rent by checking coats at the “21” Club. What she didn’t bargain for was a crash course in coats.
Like many of the other coat-check girls sprinkled in some of the tonier spots around the city, Carroll knows how to discreetly watch a back and catch a label. Fashion magazines and department stores might trumpet trends with bold graphics or arresting models, but no one knows what women are actually wearing better than the coat-check girl.
On a good cold winter night, Carroll handles 250 coats, but once the thermometer creeps back by spring, the demand tapers off to 60. Given that, she and others who hold that job have developed a keen eye for outerwear labels. Here’s their take:
Carmen Carroll, “21” Club
Winter 2002 Trends: Adrienne Landau cashmere wraps with fur trim, Karl Lagerfeld’s dyed furs and Ralph Lauren, Armani and Burberry classic styles. As for where they came from, Bergdorf Goodman and Saks Fifth Avenue were the most frequently spotted labels.
Personal Favorites: Red sheared mink and Joan Collins’ chubby.
View on Color: Don’t stick to black and brown anymore.
Spring Things: Safari-inspired coats, cashmere wraps and capes in neutrals; Escada’s peacoat in orange and fuchsia; Max Mara’s lightweight camel spring coats, and Burberry trenchcoats.
Career Plans: Studied culinary arts, now more interested in child psychology, but is getting into modeling.
Self Analysis: “I’m like a socialite. I always talk to people. I will tell them, ‘I love this coat on you.”‘
Irina Volina, Bid
Winter 2002 Trends: Burberry is also the label of choice with many diners at this restaurant in Sotheby’s lobby. Burberry lined raincoats, cashmere and fine wool coats were popular, and 80 percent of the female diners wore its signature cashmere plaid scarf, she said.
View on Color: Definitely a lot of black, more camel.
The Way She Sees It: “This winter was so warm that a lot of people wore light-weight coats. It was about 50-50, short and long,” Volina said. “There were definitely a lot of black coats and camel was the second.”
Spring Things: Suit jackets instead of coats. Burberry raincoats.
Career Plans: Earned a medical degree in Russia and a master’s degree in international development at Seton Hall University.
Self Analysis: “I like clothes, but I’d like to do something for the international development of health issues.”
Aneesa Sheikh, Beppe
Winter 2002 Trends: Burberry laminated broadcloth coats; Ann Demeulemeester’s long black fitted coat; vintage, bulky wool coats in bold prints and colors, and J. Mendel’s fur-trimmed cashmere coats.
Personal Favorites: J. Mendel knee-length, tie-front mink made to look like corduroy, Schiaparelli leopard or ocelot waist-length coat with mink bateau neckline.
The Way She Sees It: “This winter was more about style than anything else because women didn’t have to worry about keeping warm. It wasn’t utilitarian.”
View on Color: Black and camel still trusty staples, also a lot of bright pinks and baby blue.
Spring Things: Burberry lightweight raincoats, wraps.
Career Plans: Has a master’s in costume studies at New York University, finishing a Woody Allen-inspired screenplay about a coat-check girl who sees the resident celebrity chef accidentally kill his lover, another big name chef, during James Beard Week.
Mary Louise Platt, Veruka
Winter 2002 Trends: Floor-length, fitted down coats, “very high-end coats” from Dolce & Gabbana, Prada and Gucci.
Personal Favorites: Lola Schnabel’s floor-length Fendi suede in camel and Patricia Herrera’s Marc Jacobs denim jacket with buttons on both sides.
The Way She Sees It: “This winter was so erratic that people needed something to be a blanket, or something they could open up a bit and take off easily. They were wearing a lot of material outside, but once they get inside, they might have just had a T-shirt and jeans on underneath. The downtown crowd goes hip-hop chic with a smooth edge.”
View on Color: Shying away from black.
Spring Things: Denim jackets layered with sweatshirts.
Career Plans: Aside from her role of director of promotions for Noel Ashman Enterprises, which in addition to Veruka includes the clubs Centrofly and Eugene, she plays the keyboards, bass, guitar and sings, among other things, in the band Spalding Rockwell. She noted that New York’s New Age music scene hasn’t reached the heights of Europe, where houses like Chanel play it at their shows. Next up is a gig at Luxx in Brooklyn, a music contract and hopefully more commercial work.
Maitre d’ George Barber, Milos
Winter 2002 Trends: Lots of leathers with fur trims, cashmere ponchos and other wraps, “Burberry is big, of course, and mink because we’re in midtown.”
Spring Things: Chanel tweeds and other two-piece suits instead of coats.
The Way He Sees It: “It’s more British looking.”