Bridget Foley’s Diary: Wes Gordon’s Early Impact at Herrera

A vibrant installation greeted visitors to the Carolina Herrera showroom, where last week Wes Gordon showed his resort collection for the brand. The clothes and potted flowering plants were bright and pretty, in keeping with the vision Gordon saw for the house when he first signed on as a consultant working under “Mrs. Herrera,” and with which he forged ahead upon taking full creative control after her retirement.
That Gordon has swiftly infused the collections with a younger, lighter aura is readily apparent, and we set a date to talk about his vision in greater detail. But when I arrive two days later for that chat, there are other topics to discuss first, like farming. Gordon and his husband Paul Arnhold, two citified guys hailing from Atlanta and Manhattan, respectively, own a place in Roxbury, Conn., “the gayest farm in the world.” (That’s Gordon’s distinction, as I am consummately unqualified to judge farming on any criteria.) He makes that statement after namechecking the farm’s two bunnies, Kate and Pippa. The dog, Birdie, thinks they’re her puppies. (Understandable confusion; all three are black and white.)
Gordon and Arnhold spend as many weekends at Thistledown Farm as possible, but not all weekends, and not

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Bridget Foley’s Diary: Marc Jacobs on THE Retail Launch, THE Collaborations, THE Future

It has been teased since December, most recently on Tuesday night when Marc Jacobs posted three new photographs to Instagram. Today, the designer’s new collection, THE Marc Jacobs, makes its debut at retail.
The launch marks a major milestone for the Jacobs brand. The timing seems perfect, Jacobs having put together a string of strong runway collections, including fall’s masterful outing, along with an interlude that fascinated across generations, in the form of resort 2019’s look-for-look redux of the seminal grunge collection he designed for Perry Ellis for spring 1993. That collection got the wheels turning for THE Marc Jacobs, which, for those familiar with the history of the designer and his brand, registers as something of a redux itself. Not in line-for-line reissues (although there is an archival component), but in its positioning both within the greater market, and within the Marc Jacobs brand itself.
“I want either a beautifully made version of a very simple thing or I want something very out there. That’s it, that’s what I like,” Jacobs said during a phone chat on Tuesday afternoon, describing his consumer approach to fashion.
The dichotomy applies as well to his long-standing vision of his work. He and his, longtime business

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Bridget Foley’s Diary: Met Musing

Three-plus hours of witty banter are a lot to take. Three-plus hours of un-witty banter are interminable. That reality made watching the Met Gala red carpet on E! tough going. There was just too much space between major arrivals, and the four off-site commentators — Giuliana Rancic, Brad Goreski, Zanna Roberts and Elaine Welteroth — could only give so many rounds of applause for this or that person’s contribution to the culture before the applause rang hollow.
But of course, the red-carpet viewing experience is about more than killing time between arrivals. At some point, the annual Met Gala crossed over from the dressed-up, elite-party opening of a major museum exhibit to the head-spinning, elite costume-party opening of a major museum exhibit. There’s a significant difference between the two. The former was a genuine celebration of fashion, the only high-profile place where the best, purest fashion — the most dramatic, flamboyant, outré — could have a moment of glorious exposure, where designers and fashion-loving, A-list celebrities could flaunt it without fear of the Monday-morning reprisal that greets Oscar ladies deemed by mass public opinion to have gone too far.
Back then, the Met Ball was a fashion crowd dressing in real fashion

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Bridget Foley’s Diary: Leggings Aren’t the Problem

Dear ND Mom Maryann White,
I admire your guts. If, when my daughter was in college, I’d written and signed a letter along the lines of the one you wrote this week, “The Legging Problem,” only her pragmatic consideration of the next semester’s tuition would have prevented our permanent estrangement. I admire you setting the example for your sons of having the courage of your convictions, and being unafraid to publicly voice an opinion that you surely knew would result in a hashtag heyday of negative response and mockery.
I agree with you that clothing sends messages. After decades of working in fashion, I believe in the power of clothes as a conduit of self-expression in general and at a given moment. Look at the two women here. Each wears an outfit that sends a specific, non-accidental message. To pretend otherwise is ridiculous.
Yet to state that sometimes people, both women and men, choose a particular look because it’s sexy is a dicey enterprise in our modern world, particularly when talking about women’s fashion choices in the #MeToo era. Such acknowledgment is often twisted by critics to suggest that the person stating the obvious is trumpeting the old, warped viewpoint that inappropriate male

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Bridget Foley’s Diary: To Paris We Must Go

Taking to the runway for fall isn’t necessary. Taking the collection to Paris to sell absolutely is.
That’s the current mind-set at Monse, as for the second consecutive fall season the brand will forego a formal show. Instead, designers Laura Kim and Fernando Garcia have enlisted Kristian Schuller to shoot their look book, which will feature Amanda Murphy, and the brand will hold showroom appointments in New York and Paris.
While the designers remain undecided about whether to opt off the runway for spring as well, in something of a paradigm shift they will definitely stage a formal show for resort 2020.
At a time when brands increasingly opt to go their own way when it comes to presenting their collections, the Monse designers and chief executive officer Renee Prince Fillip thought long and hard about the traditional schedule vis-à-vis the realities of their business. Their no-show decision for fall took into consideration the complications of staging two shows in a single season, as Kim and Garcia have done most seasons since taking over the creative helm at Oscar de la Renta. An even bigger consideration: the frustrating reality of fall markdowns. They determined that the scale of the fall business doesn’t justify the

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Bridget Foley’s Diary: Michael and Bella on the Campaign Trail

Bella Hadid grimaces in disbelief under her hair curlers. “I think there’s a lot of things that are more important than Instagram in the world,” she says.
She so proclaims from a makeup chair in a Pier 59 photo studio in Manhattan, in response to an anecdote that Michael Kors has just told. He recalled that for some project or other, he had asked Gigi Hadid what she considered the greatest invention of all time, and she answered, “Instagram.”
In deference to Bella’s incredulity, Kors quickly amends his recollection. “OK, it wasn’t the greatest invention of all time. It was the greatest [tech] gadget or something like that.”
Bella exhales with faux relief. “I almost lost a little faith in my sister,” she says. “I was like, out of all things?”
Such is how a chat with Kors typically swerves, even when the pre-set topic is a current project. He is a nonlinear conversationalist, likely to wend through topics as far-flung as his latest vacation, politics and a favorite “Bewitched” episode.
As booked, this interview was to focus on the spring Michael Michael Kors campaign and the related two-day immersive experience at the Dolby SoHo space in New York on Feb. 5 for an industry event, and on Feb. 6, when

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Bridget Foley’s Diary: Can Fashion Save the Oscars?

Lady Gaga’s periwinkle presence at the Golden Globes was as memorable as her meat dress, only beautiful instead of bovine. It made for a brilliant expression of how a star of whom much is expected in the getting-dressed arena can live up to expectations while still exhibiting her maturation from audacious, wacky post-adolescent to audacious, uniquely elegant (when she feels like it) young woman. In a roomful of stars, Gaga proved the starriest.

The Globes’ news cycle may be several days in the rear-view mirror, but Gaga’s Periwinkle Power merits revisiting in light of the drama emanating from the upcoming Academy Awards, sprung from the Kevin Hart hosting debacle. According to a piece by Matt Donnelly in Variety on Wednesday, it looks likely that the Feb. 24 Oscars will go hostless for only the second time in its history. Given that huge vacancy and the furor surrounding it, the event is in apparent disarray.
Hollywood awards shows are a strange bird. The supposed point is to honor excellence, a hybrid of professional nobility and commercial savvy. Yet in the years since the first Oscars ceremony in 1929, a brief affair at which 12 were awarded, that initial dual intent has swung toward

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Bridget Foley’s Diary: Nothing Was Lost on Her

If you’re looking for a last-minute gift, or for something to hunker down with during holiday travels, consider “Nothing Is Lost,” the compelling anthology of essays by Ingrid Sischy, published last month by Alfred A. Knopf.
The title comes from Henry James — “Try to be one of the people on whom nothing is lost” — and was chosen by Ingrid’s wife and longtime career partner in editorial brilliance, Sandy Brant, who is also the book’s editor.
Nothing was lost on Ingrid. Everyone who knew her knows that. Ingrid was a keen cultural participant, observer, critic. Her writing is as she was as a person — learned, deeply insightful but laced with humor, her strong opinions tinged with tolerance for the human condition. Ingrid really got to know her subjects. In the collection of 35 pieces, her intelligence, breadth of knowledge and lack of pomposity are on full display. The essays were published beginning in 1989 and through to 2015, the year of her death, many in The New Yorker, Vanity Fair and The New York Times, although there are pieces from other sources as well, such as an introduction of her dear friend Karl Lagerfeld when he was honored at the

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Bridget Foley’s Diary: Salon Style

It seems there’s barely a topic in American life that can’t wend in short order toward Donald Trump. But the presence of glass exhibitors at The Salon: Art + Design, which opened Thursday night at the Park Avenue Armory? Yes, even that.
Jill Bokor is the executive director of the show, which typically opens on the Thursday after Election Day. (Thursday’s opening benefited the Dia Art Foundation.) Over a recent coffee at the Americano, Bokor recounted what she calls “the misery of two years ago,” when the shock of Trump’s presidential win was still very new and, for many, very raw.
On that opening evening, attendees found their focus diverted from shopping. “They wanted to look, they wanted to see each other and they wanted to sob,” Bokor recalled, though she added a quick inclusivity caveat: “I mean, there were probably people there who’d voted for Trump.”
The following Saturday, typically the event’s biggest day, traffic woes generated by anti-Trump demonstrations caused a dip in show traffic, which caused a dip in sales, and crappy sales led some vendors to drop out. That left Bokor challenged “to make lemonade out of lemons.” Or at least to procure highfalutin vessels for lemonade, because at that

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Bridget Foley’s Diary: Grunge Again

“I felt like it was coming at me. Of course I loved the music, but what I was really interested in was the style.” — Marc Jacobs on grunge, June 2018
Get ready for Grunge Redux.
Twenty-five years ago, Marc Jacobs rocked fashion with his grunge collection for Perry Ellis. It shocked, it awed, it outraged. It also charmed, inspired and, with clothes and an underlying approach that were the antithesis of fashion-intellectual (Jacobs prefers the virtues of instinct and whim) it got people thinking. A quarter-century later, we still are. What is fashion? Where does it start? How does it reflect and inform the culture? Why the enduring appeal of “off-beat” and “undone?”
This month, we can ruminate on those questions while examining — and shopping for — some major original-source material. Sort of. As reported, for his brand’s November delivery (he refuses to call it “resort”), Jacobs has re-created line-for-line copies of 26 looks from that seminal grunge collection. It will be available online on Nov. 15, and in physical stores beginning on the Nov. 19, with the opening of a major pop-up concept on Madison Avenue in the old DKNY space. Anyone who loves or is remotely curious about fashion

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Bridget Foley’s Diary: And the Oscar Woes To…

Hollywood can’t get out of its own way.
This week’s news that the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences will add a most popular movie Oscar not only sent civilian social media into conniptions, but also the Hollywood press and Oscar voters. Reaction was immediate and one-sided, mostly variations on, “what the heck were they thinking?”
Getting less attention, but as important, is the decision that, in the interest of keeping the broadcast to a viewer-friendly three hours, some awards will be presented during commercials, with winners getting their few seconds of fame via edited snippets as at the Tony Awards. That move speaks to an identity dilemma: Is the Oscars’ primary function the acknowledgment of achievement or entertainment? In a perfect world, the two would beautifully coexist, but the world is far from perfect, and Hollywood is hardly a nonprofit enterprise.

An Oscar statue. 
Michael Nelson/EPA/REX/Shutterstock

Still, it takes a village to make a movie. It’s sad that the organizers of this mega event, supposedly creative thinkers, can’t conjure a better way to reverse the ratings bleed (down 19 percent last year), than to de-emphasize the essential contributions of off-the-radar types. Before the new Popular Oscar gets added, there are 24 awards, which sound

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Bridget Foley’s Diary: Sunday, a Day of Dress

Remember the 40-hour work week? Even if you don’t, you’ve probably heard of it. Much of the employed world has left it far behind, and much of the world’s employed now take an approach somewhere between philosophical and pragmatic — whatever it takes to get the job done; constant connectivity has won; lucky to have a job.
All of the above duly considered and acknowledged as legitimate, fashion nevertheless seems extreme in its can-do/will-do gusto. Case in point: this Sunday’s official lineup of CFDA-sanctioned presentations and shows. The Fashion Calendar lists three: Lorod, from 2 to 3 p.m.; Victor Glemaud, from 4 to 6 p.m., and Alexander Wang, at 8 p.m.
In the big picture of a world in turmoil, a random working Sunday may seem a small matter, and as a societal class, show-going fashion employees make poor victims. But given the reality of this industry — the 24/7 relentlessness of the primary show schedule; the parameters of this endless, whatever-it-is-we’re-in-now season that began in early May and will carry on at least through July couture week, encompassing clothes characterized as fall, resort/cruise and spring — was it essential for the CFDA to add a summer Sunday to the schedule? A perusal

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Bridget Foley’s Diary: Marc Jacobs, Master Instructor

“Sometimes something will get on my nerves.”
If that sounds like an unusual observation within an instructional context, that’s exactly the point: The creative spark can come from countless sources, irritation included.
It’s one of the numerous points Marc Jacobs makes during his 18-lesson MasterClass fashion tutorial that launched last week. (The pique referred to here resulted in Jacobs’ spectacular Victorian surfer collection for spring 2014, a reaction to the truism that spring collections should be light and airy.) “I just said what I felt,” Jacobs said last week in a conversation about his approach to the class.
At MasterClass, Jacobs joins a high-gloss, high-profile faculty roster assembled from diverse, if mostly creative, disciplines, all-stars of their fields — among them are Annie Leibovitz, Ron Howard, Shonda Rhimes, James Patterson, Martin Scorsese, Thomas Keller, Alice Waters, Steve Martin, and even Stephen Curry on how to shoot like a dream. (Creative? The guy’s an artiste.) And, as of this week, Diane von Furstenberg, with a course on Fashion Branding. (In the ongoing cultural comeuppance category, classes by Dustin Hoffman and Kevin Spacey have been removed from the site.)
In its first week, Jacobs’ class has attracted a diverse student body, from young, aspiring designers to

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Bridget Foley’s Diary: When Should Ivanka Cry Uncle Over Dad?

Before the presidential campaign and election, Ivanka Trump self-identified and was perceived as a businesswoman passionate about women’s empowerment. You’d have been hard-pressed to hear someone speak negatively about her, with words such as lovely, hard-working, self-directed and genuine typical descriptives.

 
And then, Dad ran for president and won.
 
Throughout and after the election, and especially since her role in the Trump administration shifted from merely “daughter,” as she said she initially intended, to G-20 Summit-attending formal adviser, Ivanka has taken her hits, critics questioning not only her qualifications but also her motives and her silence in light of various presidential outbursts. Following President Trump’s shocking equal assignation last weekend of “blame on both sides” when white supremacists, many brandishing swastikas, stormed Charlottesville, Va., to protest the planned removal of a statue of Robert E. Lee, the criticism escalated exponentially, with many wondering, how could Ivanka not speak out? 
 
Whether or not she knew just what she was getting into in accepting her White House role, surely Ivanka knows her father, and she is accustomed to life in shared spotlights, his and her own. Though thrust into the former as a child when her parents’ public marital woes made for tabloid grist, she chose the latter early on. An adolescent flirtation with modeling crossed over to television; at 15,

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Bridget Foley’s Diary: What’s Next for Lanvin?

Can Lanvin make a comeback? That is front-and-center among the many questions swirling around what should prove a fascinating spring 2018 season. While fashion’s current revolving-door mode has set up numerous designer debuts, including those of Clare Waight Keller at Givenchy and Natacha Ramsay-Levi at Chloé, curiosity surrounding the house founded by Jeanne Lanvin in 1889 is unique for two reasons: First, its current fashion identity as perceived by the majority of the fashion-buying population is defined by the work of Alber Elbaz rather than by any concept of its founder; and second, what, from the outside looking in, appears to be a business-side philosophy and infrastructure not intrinsically supportive of the creative process and perhaps lacking a baseline pragmatism.
Given those two issues, is it possible for Lanvin to regain its not-so-long-ago luster? It is, but it won’t be easy. To the first point, exchanges with several retailers revealed a unanimous thought: There remains a customer who still craves the work of Alber Elbaz, and is currently underserved by luxury market alternatives.
Incoming creative director Olivier Lapidus arrived with high hopes and enthusiasm for his new role. In a conversation with my colleague Joelle Diderich, he professed no knowledge of the

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Bridget Foley’s Diary: At Balenciaga, the Who’s Next Watch Begins

Designer departs from storied house. Hasn’t Kering been there and done that recently, when it replaced Gucci’s Frida Giannini with Alessandro Michele? Yet here we go again, with Alexander Wang leaving Balenciaga after what seems like a truncated stay, despite completion of his three-year contract.
Whatever the reasons behind the split, it’s safe to assume that if both sides had been delighted with the relationship, they’d have found a way to continue on despite Wang’s understandable interest in building his own brand and seeking the revenue with which to do so. (WWD reported this week that he’s close to signing a deal with General Atlantic, the growth equity firm headed by William Ford.)
Wang is now on to the rest of his life and career, an extremely talented and still-young designer. He got a bit of a raw deal from the moment the ink was dry on his Balenciaga contract, not from Kering but from the legions of onlookers who opined about the gravitas of the house codes and whether a guy with a youth-oriented, street-centric aesthetic could rise to the occasion. Suddenly, Wang wasn’t a gifted, savvy designer who’d launched his brand within a strata that made sense for his audience,

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Bridget Foley’s Diary: CFDA, NYFW and the B-word

Blink and it will be August. That means that New York Fashion Week is right around the corner.
In anticipation, earlier this month the Council of Fashion Designers of America unveiled its new fashion week logo, the result, Steven Kolb told my colleague Lisa Lockwood, “of the process of creating New York Fashion Week as a brand.”
The B-word. Is there no fashion entity immune to its lure? What does it mean, to create NYFW as a brand? Is it necessary? Should the organizers of NYFW have, as a stated goal, even a secondary one, to promote the week as an entity?
If yes, might such promotion trump promotion of most of the 350 or so brands showing under its umbrella?
Launched as a trade organization for the purpose of advancing the interests of its members individually and American fashion as a whole, the CFDA retains that purpose, as articulated in its mission statement: “To strengthen the influence and success of American fashion designers in the global economy.” Along the way the CFDA itself became a brand, not accidentally but with systematic and voracious attention to promoting itself as an organization. That’s fine; most trade organizations promote themselves as entities separate and apart from

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Bridget Foley’s Diary: Lady Ambassadors

My daughter moved from her native New York to Los Angeles not knowing how to drive. The intelligence therein aside, driving didn’t come easily. Fearful of having to ditch the comedy-writing dream and move home, defeated by driving (she failed the road test twice) she happened upon the now (sadly) defunct Mercedes-Benz Driving Academy and passed the test soon thereafter. During one early-morning lesson, Grainne marveled to her instructor Russ about his professionalism compared with that of her previous instructor. “We have to be professional,” said Russ. “We’re brand ambassadors.”
Brand ambassador. I first heard the handle, or at least it first resonated, years ago when W ran a story on a band of Italian socialites recruited by Giorgio Armani. I found it hilarious — the silliest, best nonjob in the world. A decade-plus later the term resides firmly within the professional lexicon as legitimately as any job title, particularly at the luxury sector, as the response from the Mercedes instructor suggests.
Official brand ambassadors are all around us, utilized nowhere with greater resonance than at Dior, which recently welcomed a newcomer into its fold. With the launch of her “Secret Garden” video, Rihanna joins Marion Cotillard and Jennifer Lawrence touting Dior

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Bridget Foley’s Diary: Parting Company

The tennis club on Fire Island matched opponents according to skill. One day many years ago, after most pairings were set, two women remained on the bleachers. They introduced themselves one to the other as Donna and Patti, clueless at the time that their names would, among a limited circle, become linked as indelibly as any great pair — Lewis and Clark, Abbott and Costello, Bert and Ernie. After years of friendship, Patti Cohen would go to work for Donna on May 16, 1983, and (save for a four-month hiatus midway through), leave exactly 32 years later, her last official day Friday, May 15, 2015.
The tennis ladies talked a bit before hitting the court. Later, Patti discussed her day with houseguests, including her woeful tennis loss to a long-armed woman named Donna Karan. “Don’t you know who that is?” exclaimed a friend whose mother had a fashion store in Baldwin. “She designs Anne Klein!” Patti didn’t. The next week Donna was a tennis no-show, but returned the following week with an explanation. She and her partner Louis Dell’Olio had gone to Bloomingdale’s to meet the Queen. Yes, that Queen. They took the subway — doubly pragmatic: it stops at Bloomie’s,

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Bridget Foley’s Diary: Red-Carpet Fashion. Yawn.

Jennifer Lawrence in Dior Haute Couture

Outside of Hollywood, where the awards shows have serious business implications, awards season is about fashion, and that fashion has become a bore.

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