August 2014

Stars Shine at the Muse Awards

By: Melissa Meyers

music-muse-awardsLast week, New York Women in Film & Television’s 29th Annual Muse Awards honored several high-achieving women in entertainment whose innovation and creativity inspire others. The event’s MC, Kaplan Thaler Group CEO and advertising executive Linda Kaplan Thaler, stressed the need to celebrate female movers-and-shakers in the entertainment world, pointing out that only 25 percent of executive producers, directors, writers and editors working in primetime television are women.

This year’s honorees included actresses Julianna Margulies and America Ferrera, Lifetime Network President and CEO Andrea Wong and comedy writer and producer Allison Silverman. Party-crasher Stephen Colbert—paying tribute to former colleague Silverman—told attendees he wasn’t at all surprised that NYWIFT had chosen to recognize his friend: “She [Silverman] fits your criteria to a ‘T.’ She lives in New York…she is a woman…and she has written and produced late night television, five days a week, twelve months a year, for the last ten years. So she’s had plenty of time to see films! She enjoyed both of them.”

Night of Stars

By Melissa Meyers

night-of-stars-social_vibeA Star-Studded Night of Fashion

It was wall-to-wall celebs at Fashion Group International’s “Night of Stars” benefit. Held at Cipriani Wall Street, the event drew A-listers from the worlds of fashion, beauty and entertainment to honor their peers. The plumage was on full display, starting with event emcee and Barneys’ Creative Director, Simon Doonan, sporting one of Sammy Davis, Jr.’s old shirts and a fabulous oversized Victoire de Castellane for Dior ring.

Giving Mr. Doonan a sartorial run for his money was the lovely Dita Von Teese in a vintage dress and a Stephen Jones head-piece. Von Teese also stood out among Cointreau’s expert mixologists, collaborating with them on a delicious new cocktail.

I asked the always-radiant Iman her secret to staying so gorgeous. She credited old-fashioned shut-eye, but admitted she doesn’t get nearly enough. Actress Emmy Rossum, dazzling in Donna Karan, shared her own beauty secrets: Bikram yoga and satisfying her sweet tooth with sugar-free Jello topped with fat-free Cool Whip.

Vogue‘s Creative Director, Grace Coddington—elegant in an Oscar de la Renta gown—described him as “an amazing designer” of gorgeous, intricate and versatile clothes. No wonder he received the evening’s highest honor.

The highlight of my evening was speaking with de la Renta himself. The elusive designer talked of the thrill of designing for the modern woman: “I feel privileged to be working at this particular time. . . . There has never been a woman as in control of her destiny as a woman today. And I think that . . . trying to fulfill that woman’s aspirations and dreams, that’s what the job of a designer should be.”

Also spotted:
• Gwen Stefani
• Kenneth Cole
• Jon Bon Jovi
• Tommy Hilfiger
• Mary J. Blige
• Evan Rachel Wood
• Eva Mendes
• Aerin Lauder

Parties and More . . .
By Jennifer Wright

night-of-stars-social_vibe• The vibe was Moulin Rouge meets Studio 54 at the National Arts Club as guests capered about in sequins and tutus. The occasion? Betsey Johnson received the National Arts Club’s Lifetime Achievement Award. She was adorable in a bright purple tutu and neon yellow jacket and seemed positively giddy with pride, as did the rest of her family. The fabulously flamboyant Johnson revealed that some of her designs stem from her cheerleader days.
Rah, rah!

• If only the preview of Simon Hammerstein’s Purgatorio could have been half as exciting. The latest club by The Box impresario is part haunted house, part nightclub. Guests pass through a haunted house and a cheesy lounge act (Hell) and move on to Purgatory (as far as I can tell the world’s most unexciting strip club) before finally entering Heaven (a rooftop dance space adorned with twinkling lights). Maybe, given that Raven O, The Box’s scandalous MC, has left for greener pastures at Quo, Hammerstein’s magic has evaporated? Everyone seemed to agree that their preview of Purgatorio was just that.

• The launch party of Oceana, on the other hand, was downright heavenly. It all felt so decadent—models in mermaid outfits, mountains of truffles and Patrick McMullan snapping candids—that it prompted some guests to recall those golden pre-Recession days. No wonder the evening lured Tommy Hilfiger, Sam Waterston and Jeff Goldblum.

Uma Thurman seemed to be taking the notion of Motherhood seriously at the movie’s after party at The Gates (doesn’t everything seem to be there lately?). With her mother as her guest, they lingered by the fireplace well past midnight.

Geralyn Lucas, breast cancer survivor and author of Why I Wore Lipstick to My Mastectomy, opted to forego her signature shade of red for “Nancy,” the new lip gloss shade from Purple Lab’s Sealed With A Cure (SWAC) line. Each gloss in the new line will be named for a breast cancer victim, and a portion of the proceeds goes to fighting the disease. PurpleLab’s Karen Rabinowitz hosted the launch party at Norwood.

Fashion Frenzy

By Jennifer Wright

5 boroughs + 700 retailers = 1 huge party!

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Over 700 fashion retailers across New York City recently stayed open late hosting one chic shindig—Fashion’s Night Out—hoping to drum up business. I heard someone liken the evening to devouring an entire box of chocolates all at once. Delightful and dizzying. A few tasty morsels: One member of the Vogue brain trust, Creative Director Grace Coddington, was literally fending off wolves at Prada. And she was mobbed by autograph hounds as she patiently signed Fashion’s Night Out memorabilia. (Presumably Anna Wintour was still in Queens!)

Designer Elie Tahari, who hosted a performance by Alexa Ray Joel at his Soho store, was a tad dubious about the impact of Fashion’s Night Out: “Well, even a kick in the backside is a good thing if you’re facing the right direction.” -Jennifer Wright.

During the recent Fashion’s Night Out—the undisputed kick-off to Fashion Week—I heard someone describe the evening as akin to eating an entire box of delicious chocolates all at once. Delightful, absolutely, but also overwhelming, heart-pounding and dizzying. For this Global Celebration of Fashion, event hosts Vogue, the Council of Fashion Designers of America and the City of New York encouraged every fashion retailer in the five boroughs to open their doors to anyone and everyone. Over 700 organizations responded with a kaleidoscope of offerings.

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If you, sadly, could not attend, allow AskMelissa to offer some of the juiciest morsels for your consideration:

Like many who can be swayed by dessert, Bergdorf’s CEO Jim Gold was looking for the free cupcakes. (Here is a man who could capture my heart.) At his store, he was excited to welcome Top Chef’s Padma Lakshmi, who was judging a celebrity cook-off. He noted that Lakshmi’s was, by far, the event he was most looking forward to. André Leon Talley and the Olsen Twins were also appearing at Bergdorf’s to ramp up the fashion excitement – hopefully Gold was at least somewhat excited about their presence, too.

Then in walked Victoria Beckham. She was not only loving Fashion’s Night Out and Bergdorf’s participation, but she was incredibly excited about the premiere of Gossip Girl‘s (the best show ever!) third season, which she’s “obsessed with.” Us, too!

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Harper’s Bazaar editor Glenda Bailey was supportive of Bergdorf and the event, stating, “We do recognize how important the shows are, and we want to be out helping designers.” That said, she noted that every member of Harper’s editorial team would be going her own way during the evening. Perhaps this event is simply Vogue’s brainchild after all, not the darling of the whole fashion magazine community.

However, one member of the Vogue brain trust, Grace Coddington, was literally fending off the wolves at Prada.

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A mob of people surrounded her as she patiently signed Fashion’s Night Out memorabilia – everything from T-shirts to flyers. (Presumably Anna Wintour was still in Queens!) Obviously, we’re not the only ones who fell in love with the creative director from The September Issue documentary.

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Designer Elie Tahari, who hosted a performance by Alexa Ray Joel at his Soho store, was a tad dubious about the impact of Fashion’s Night Out, remarking somewhat bluntly, “Well, even a kick in the backside is a good thing if you’re facing the right direction.” Perhaps he was just distracted and exhausted after preparing for his safari-themed show earlier that day?

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We tried to snap pictures of the new shoe designs at Louboutin’s (the collection will be released to the general public in the next few weeks) but were thwarted by a zealous security guard, who may have thought we were trying to copy the looks rather than just fondle the shoes, as any enthusiast would!  We can tell you, however, that there are a lot of studs in Louboutin’s immediate future. For now, you will have to make do with this picture of the store’s live action window display.

Perhaps the highlight of our evening was Vogue‘s European editor-at-large Hamish Bowles belting out Noel Coward tunes at the Juicy Couture flagship store on Fifth Avenue, claiming that his jazz-hands-inspired performance was an “anti-Susan Boyle movement.” No one could ever accuse him of singing while frumpy. The throng surrounding him made it impossible to take a good picture, but we did catch some other appropriately garbed attendees at the store.

Has this put you in the mood for more Fashion Week sightings? We expect so! Diane Von Furstenberg is optimistic that the night’s festivities will become an annual tradition, adding interest to all the designer shows. Let’s hope that next year is just as scrumptious.

The Catwalk, Yeah
AskMelissa hit the highlights of Fashion Week.

social_vibe_fashion_week_Custo Barcelona rocked an amazing show—great music, high-energy and packed! Society darling Tinsley Mortimer (could she be anything else with a name like that?!) was mobbed by photographers and reporters.

Zang Toi‘s was an intimate presentation. Ivana Trump, Miss Universe Stefania Fernandez and composer Lucia Hwong Gordon adorned the front row. As the exquisite fabrics, beads, sequins and tassels flounced by, we hummed, “What a girl wants, what a girl needs . . .”

• At Alice + Olivia, Jill Zarin confided her disappointment at missing Zang—busy filming the Real Housewives. She joined Kelly Bensimon at Alice + Olivia’s celebrity-studded West Village location. Shenae Grimes, Lindsay Lohan, Kristin Cavallari, Jared Leto and Heather Graham showed up, while French girl band The Plastiscines performed.

Jill Stuart was a scene—literally, as Real Housewives was filming there. The dresses were micro mini’s and fun, as was Bensimon’s ensemble—a leather mini with suede over-the-knee flat boots and a gorgeous bracelet from her new jewelry collection.

Tory Burch was the collection to see. Anna Wintour showed up and stopped traffic. She then had Burch take her through the collection—more solids than we’ve seen her do before, but her signature fun prints made it into this very wearable collection.

The Good, the Bad and the Bizarre
Fashion Week had something for everyone.

social_vibe_fashion_week_img3Betsey Johnson remains incomparable. I loved her show at the Plaza, where she performed her customary cartwheels while models milled about in cotton-candy-pink dresses and guests guzzled pink champagne. Johnson garnered more than one comparison to Kay Thompson’s Eloise. Then, there was Thom Brown. The man in the shiny silver suit with the tutu and the headband. Why, Thom Brown? Why? Some oddities, however, are strangely delightful—like the Snuggie fashion show held at the Park Avenue Hotel. This object-of-fashion-derision blanket-with-sleeves (though, as one of their organizers sternly pointed out, Snuggies are So. Much. More.) previewed tie-dye and leopard prints for spring. Also, Snuggies for dogs. So ridiculous as to be irresistible. But, whether good or bad (and we will never say ugly), Fashion Week is always thrilling! —J.W.

The Good:

Carmen Marc Valvo broadcast his show for all to see. While Betsey Johnson may not have succeeded in staging her fantasy “open to the public” runway in Madison Square Garden (next year, Betsey?), Valvo came close, televising his show on three jumbo-trons above Times Square. The glitter-and-gold-clad models were preening at the cocktail party inside the NASDAQ, as Valvo explained his look as modern armor for the urban jungle.

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Betsey Johnson remains incomparable. I loved her show at the Plaza, where she performed her customary cartwheels for the guests while models milled about in cotton-candy-pink dresses and guests guzzled pink champagne. Johnson garnered more than one comparison to Kay Thompson’s Eloise.

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Phillip Lim, Donna Karan and Milly, among others, donated items to a charity auction for MyGoodDeed, a 9/11 service organization. Especially timely given that our fun-filled Fashion Week kicked off on September 11th.

The Odd:

I understood when Axe deodorant established an Axe Lounge in Southhampton for the summer, where frat boys could hit on scantily clad women—it seemed to cater perfectly to their target market. But what prompted them to give out samples of their “rare leather” scent in lieu of gift-bags at the Duckie Brown show? One of the stylish gay men in attendance pondered aloud why he’d want to smell like his sofa, while another fashionista declared that she only wears Chanel No. 5.

Some oddities are strangely delightful though—like the Snuggie fashion show! Held at the Park Avenue Hotel, this object of fashion derision blanket-with-sleeves (though, as one of their organizers sternly pointed out, Snuggies are So. Much. More.) displayed new tie-dye and leopard prints for spring. Also snuggies for dogs. So ridiculous as to be irresistible.

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MC Hammer pants are back? Yigal Azrouel seems to think so. I’ll believe it when I see Katie Lee Joel sporting a pair.

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The Bad:

The skirts at the otherwise delightful Michael Angel show were so short that more than one spectator was mooned by the models. If girls with bodies that perfect can’t keep the skirts down, how are normal women expected to?

Thom Brown. The man in the shiny silver suit with the tutu and the headband. Why, Thom Brown? Why?

fashion-week-Thom-Brown

But, whether good or bad (and we will never say ugly), Fashion Week is always one of the most thrilling reasons to be in New York. Now it is six long months until March—we can barely wait!

Gossip at The Gates

By Jennifer Wright

Over the summer, the West Side lounge, The Gates, has become quite the center of the late-night social scene. Management has been smart. They cultivate a group of young, trendy “Ambassadors” and their PR group scored a coup with a very complimentary article in a recent New York Times Sunday Styles section (http://www.nytimes.com/2009/08/23/fashion/23boite.html?_r=) I’m not sure if I love (or hate) the décor (plucked from the Biltmore Hotel), but I know that for many of the parties and fundraisers I attend, this place has made a mark on New York’s nightclub scene.

And now Gossip Girl (the best show ever!) has awarded its stamp of approval. A few days ago, the cast was filming in all their flapper-attire glory—and The Gates threw a 1920s-inspired party to celebrate. It was roaring!

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I was downright in love with Leighton Meester’s white fringed flapper dress, although I was surprised to see her without a headband in this scene. Perhaps her college-bound character is truly giving up her trademark accessory. That would be a shame, not only for the fashion industry, but because the 1920s lends itself to some great feathered hairpieces.

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I was also excited to see Hilary Duff. She has never been on Gossip Girl before, but is rumored to have a major role this season. Some sources report that she’s supposed to have a romance with one of the characters, but they decline to out the lucky fellow. (I’m betting it’s Penn Badgley, but, then again, I thought the same about him and Michelle Trachtenberg.) In any event, Duff looked adorable in a short, blue sequined dress. She was sporting a headband, so they can’t be gone from the show altogether.

How did all this action fit the story line? Rumor has it, The Gates is the setting for the character Chuck Bass’ nightclub. It marks a shift from the Box, which has, until now, doubled for his fictional club, Victrola. Perhaps, this move means that the Box is officially over? It would hardly be a surprise. Raven O, the famous—or infamous?—MC has departed, and lately, the acts seem more seedy strip club than old fashioned burlesque. Well, it had a great run while it lasted.

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The Gates may not be as decadent as the Box in its heyday, (none of those curtained, private boxes for dark deeds) but maybe that’s more desirable in this economic climate. I’ll miss the free wheeling, devil-may-care attitude the Box always evoked. After all, when burlesque performers were dancing onstage to 80’s hits in a way that put Moulin Rouge performers to shame, you had the feeling that anything could happen. At The Gates, you settle down and realize that you can enjoy an excellently crafted cocktail among a very carefully selected group of members.

It’s probably a more mature approach to party going. The characters in Gossip Girl are heading to college this season. Perhaps, they, like many other New Yorkers, now have a slightly more grown-up, less wild and crazy, approach to nightlife.

Pictures via Getty and Flikr