THE BLUFF: New Yorkers are known to call a bluff, but now they are wearing one. Thanks to the New York Road Runners’ Club, the Bluff, a neckwarmer that can be worn seven ways, has been spotted on runners trying to fight the frigid air.
Popular in Europe, the accessory can be worn as a neckerchief, a headband, a scarf, a cap, a hair band, pirate style or as a balaclava. Instead of giving the 2,500 runners in this month’s Frostbite 10-mile race in Central Park a T-shirt, the NYRRC opted for the Bluff. With the temperature hovering at 7 degrees at the start, many of the participants showed their creativity.
They had the NYRRC’s production manager Liz Seward to thank for the extra layer. Three years ago, she first saw the item and bought one in a bike shop in Belgium to use for cycling, running and speedskating.
For the race, she bought the Spanish- made item from Bluff USA, an Oakland, Calif.-based company. “We hope to use them again,” Seward said. “People don’t usually like anything but a T-shirt. This seems to be a useful alternative. Someone e-mailed to say they’d used it as an eye mask on an airplane last week.”
MILLY’S POOL PARTY: Contemporary designer Michelle Smith is taking the plunge into swimwear with her Milly collection. Known for her whimsical style and Audrey Hepburn-inspired dresses and coats, Smith is even more playful with her latest venture. Hawaiian vacations, the TV show “Laugh In” and Japanese go-go movies provided the inspiration for the Tiki and psychedelic swirl prints.
“It complements my collection, which has kind of a Palm Beach resort flair,” she said. “Most of this is what I wear on vacation. There’s a great bikini for the beach and a cute pull-on skirt for lunch at the beachside restaurant.”
In addition to the string bikini, Smith has designed an apron wrap skirt, mini-shorts and washed linen pants with a drawstring waistband for her customer “with a young attitude that likes pretty clothes.” Items will wholesale from $60 to $150. The line is targeted at specialty stores.
Smith is already seeing the upside to designing swimwear. She did her share of wear-testing in the Caribbean island of Anguilla over Christmas. “It’s a good excuse to get to the beach,” she laughed.
IN THE FAST LANE: Thrill seekers who can’t afford to spring for the new $675,000 Enzo Ferrari might be able to swing a $100,000 Enzo Ferrari watch designed by Girard-Perregaux. Through their co-branding deal, the timepiece will be unveiled in Geneva in April and will be sold on a limited basis.
Ferrari is making 400 Enzo Ferrari cars, 60 of which will be sold in the U.S. Each can go zero to 60 mph in 3 1/2 seconds and can reach a speed of 217 mph.
Ron Jackson, president and chief operating officer of Girard-Perragaux’s U.S. division, said, just as the Enzo “has the most sophisticated engine ever put on the road,” the watch will have tourbillion movement with the balance wheel mounted in an orbiting cage to ensure accurate timekeeping regardless of the wrist’s movements.
This month Girard-Perregaux shipped its Ferrari 375 Mille Miglia watch. The $23,000 timekeeper borrows from the one-of-a-kind car by the same name that the film director Roberto Rossellini had designed for Ingrid Bergman in 1954. There are 375 rose gold or white gold watches being sold worldwide, including 50 in the U.S.
JOHNSON DIVES IN: Canadian swimwear designer and artist Virginia Johnson now has a representative in the U.S. The Aubrey Co. at 80 West 40th Street is now representing her line. A former accessories designer for Helmut Lang, she launched her signature collection last summer.
“I do a lot of drawing and illustration and my prints are an extension of that,” she said. “I get ideas from nature, from old books, turn-of-the-century fashion illustration and my travels.”
This summer’s cheerful bikinis, wraps, caftans, tunics, tote bags and sun hats were inspired by a sojourn to the south of France. She and her sister rented a car to take day trips to check out local flea markets and swim in Menton, Antibes, Juan-Les-Pins and Saint-Tropez. Aimed at women between the ages of 20 and 40, the collection is currently offered in 26 stores.
IT ALL ADDS UP: From kayakers in a Jeep ad to Michelle Kwan in a Chevy spot, more nonapparel advertisers are using active women to pitch their wares. For their annual New Year’s mailer, two European resorts, Villa La Massa and Villa D’Este, used four full-length shots of women in bathing suits. Even Pamprin is using an image of a woman riding a bicycle in a pair of shorts and a bikini top.
But there’s more to it than dressing comfortably, according to Richard Sardouk, managing director of Promostyl’s New York office. All the experiential branding is an extension of women’s involvement in sports.
“Sport is no longer about suffering and competition,” he said. “There is a great quest for pleasure that has replaced the aggressiveness and heroism.”
Just as women are more comfortable in what used to be considered macho cars like Jeeps and trucks, they are also more at ease wearing men’s clothing, he said. Women like Sarah Jessica Parker are wearing Hedi Slimane men’s wear, he noted.
IN THE CENTER RING: Cirque du Soleil acrobats have found another calling. Hardware versions of their chiseled frames are now featured on belts now available at the White Showroom in Manhattan. The 20 styles wholesale from $35 to $225, and are not offered at the circus itself.