Madison Avenue Watch Week

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Ever watch reality TV shows like “Naked and Afraid” or “Alaskan Bush People” ? Our modern lives are so disconnected from the natural world that it’s fascinating to drop all traces of our technology laden cushy lives to see how a butt-naked couple survives 2 weeks on bugs and berries. Granted there is the safety net of the film crew who no-doubt  swoop in with doctors should a naked life be in danger. “Alaskan Bush People” explore the lives of the Brown family —blase’ when face to face with the producer’s iPhone for the first time. They meet daily challenges of bears tearing up their house, broken boat motors, getting stuck on a desolate road with a flat tire and cutting down trees for lumber to make their house. They love every minute of their daily strife and despite their difficulties. But I digress…

Our lost connection to the natural world parallel another world— that of mechanical watches. Watches are no longer a necessity— they are a luxury. I’ve been told over and over that cell phones have replaced the need for a wrist watch. However I take exception to that point and find a flick of the wrist reveals the time of day faster than pulling out that other machine. But watch aficionados are in love with the intricate workings of these tiny machines and appreciate it on many levels. It’s so much more than a watch. It signifies slowing down, the love of handmade objects, and getting back to basics.

In Switzerland, white-coated craftsmen labor at their workbench with tweezers looking through a magnifying glass and placing minuscule gears and pins in sequential order to create movements and assembling the end product—the watch itself.  The lengthy process takes weeks sometimes months to complete and is what makes the piece an object of desire. The admiration is based on time-honored methods passed down through the generations. It sits on a wrist as a sign of defiance to modern age—signaling a return to things that matter, and a respect for the past.

But it is a business—watches need to be sold and the Horlogerie world has minions of marketers who are never at a loss for platforms and ideas to drum up sales. To that end  the marketers conjured up Madison Avenue Watch Week for NYC and this is it’s sixth year.  The find time starts on April 13th—sponsored by the most prestigious  brand names that span the Swiss generations.  They will show Basel’s latest releases to the well-heeled enthusiasts, sometimes partnering with a former astronaut as with Breitling’s Emergency Watch or a wildlife  photographer as with Jaeger LeCoultre whom express their admiration for the timely world.

Interested?  The elegant fun is happening up down the pristine streets of Madison Avenue. The champagne will be flowing and the stories too.

Last night Hublot kicked off the celebrations with a cocktail party at their boutique. Hublot does things in a big way just like their watches, so they timed the release of Aaron Sigmond’s DRIVE TIME: Watches Inspired by Automobiles, Motorcycles, and Racing with the event. Aaron was on hand to sign copies of the book ( see event photos below). Scheduled events are throughout the week so check in with the main website below.

To request an invitation:
http://madisonavenuewatchweek.com/

 

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To request an invitation and see listing of watch brands:
http://madisonavenuewatchweek.com/

 

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Catwalk Comics

The Milan fashion runway is off to a wacky start with antics to cut through the noise and create brand buzz.  Fashion designers work intensely at making their show a fashion happening.  Below are highlights from the catwalk commotions with a wink to whimsy.

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Crystal Light (Moschino designed by Jeremy Scott)

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Fire Sale Chic (Moschino for Jeremy Scott)

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“The Revenant”— trophy cape. (Prada)

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Where’s Waldo? (Fendi)

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The Cat in the Hat Comes Back— in fox fur that is (Fendi)

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“Captain Kirk, my sensors indicate I’ve seen this before” (Diesel)

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“Are friends electric?” Gary Neuman gear. (Diesel)

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A cardboard box and a subway grate completes this look (Prada)

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Big Bird goes blue ( Byblos)

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Moth eaten Momma ( Etro)

 

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“Dizaind” Let’s You Create Your Own HandBag

dizaind julia bagDIY is where it’s at and face it— You Tube instructs everyone from a plumber to a rocket scientist  to be a fine artist or fashion designer.  No longer do we have to stay in our lanes.   Style conscious people—practically the entire universe—want a personalized approach to almost everything they purchase. Individuality is key.  It’s that inner fashion designer and fashion critic in all of us that is driving the trend. So it makes perfect sense to give consumers  the power to create and fine tune an item into a one-of-a-kind “designed by Mimi” (insert name), bespoke—thing.

Dizaind is the latest to bring design into the hands of the consumer. On Dizaind’s web site you, the purchaser, decide on leathers, colors,  handles, and metals creating a one-of-a- kind piece that you won’t see everyone sporting on the subway. Mix and match with their easy on-line tool with the 30 colors and two types of leathers. They’ve got 7 shapes of bags—drawstring bucket, top handle, tote, zipper clutch, double handle satchel. All the basic shapes for a respectable handbag. The prices of bags start at $300.

http://www.dizaindbags.com

 

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Lagerfeld Does it Again for Chanel’s Latest Fashion Show

 

It’s not an overstatement to say that Karl Lagerfeld is a prolific designer, filmmaker and photographer, and December’s pre-fall fashion show (officially called Metiers d’ Art), held in the iconic Cinecitta studio in Rome, is proof that creativity improves with age.

Screen Shot 2015-12-02 at 5.50.48 PMSeason after season Chanel’s fashion shows explore a particular theme with an all-out extravagance in terms of the set and the setting. It’s become Chanel’s norm for shows to take place all over the globe in their mission to spread the gospel of Chanel—not that they need to scream at all—devotees already pray at their altar. Chanel is one of the top selling brands for luxury emporiums and retailers— the reason they can indulge in lavish presentations.

The theme of this Roman happening was French and Italian cinemas, set in the studio that Federico Fellini created many of his films. The stage was set on well-worn streets of Rome with authentic shops on corners with the fashion crowd viewing from cafe tables. Details like pools of curb water from a recent rain, added to the reality of the production as models strolled through hidden back roads of the ancient city with 1960’s hair.

There were 86 looks—an incredibly prolific display of creative prowess for the designer (most fashion shows have 40 to 50 passages).The clothing was not overshadowed by the spectacular sets or the gorgeous models and was some of Lagerfeld’s best. There were Chanel classics like tweedy suits made sexy and modern with lacy hosiery. Patent leather pencil skirts, pared with simple silk shells and heeled mules. Handbags were fashioned into a film cameras and the use of intricate French lace were stand-outs. Sorry but you’ll have to wait until June to buy anything—so hang in there.

Guests enjoyed a cocktail party prior to the start of the show with a viewing of Karl Lagerfeld’s new short film starring Kristen Stewart and Geraldine Chaplin. After the show, the shops and cafes bustled to life with cocktails and canapes for all to enjoy. Performances from DJ Paolo di Nola and Pachanga Boys concluded the evening’s festivities

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Karen Elston Dances in Diamonds for Cartier

courtesy of Cartier

courtesy of Cartier

_NGO3192Not only is Cartier known for exceptional jewerly but they are also known for exceptional parties.Today’s morning press breakfast at the recently opened Baccarat Hotel was another. The excuse for this gathering was the release of a film which showcases incredible diamond jewels from the mason staring, model and songstress, Karen Elston.

The dreamlike film showcases the the fierily red head dressed in a cherry dress dancing with a group of dapper men in a retro rendition of Diamonds are a Girl’s Best Friend sung by Ms. Elston. Cartier really turned on the sparkle for this film with exaggerated effects on the diamonds with a stunning result.

Out of respect for the victims of the terrorist attacks in Paris the event was postponed from its Monday evening original date.The film highlights some of Paris’s iconic sights  like the Eiffel Tower and the carousel and Cartier found it distasteful to premiere the film the Monday following the deadly attack.

The event was held at the Baccarat’s bar with its mix of traditional and contemporary art on the walls and a modern French decor. The film played on as press enjoyed cappuccinos and was dazzled by the showcases of actual diamonds from there high jewelry collections which was also on display. The intricate pieces were all in platinum with white diamonds and one of a kind.

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The Baccarat Hotel Opens In New York

The crystal company with 250 years of history in France is making history on New York’s tony West 53 Street with the opening of the Baccarat Hotel and Residences.

This is the brand’s foray into the lifestyle arena: The midtown glass tower with 114 guest rooms designed by French husband and wife team, Gilles and Boissier, is a paradigm of modern luxury with a prismatic glass facade and an array of opulent crystal chandeliers placed throughout the hotel to a dramatic effect.

The chocolate brown and beige decor extends throughout, and the Grand Salon is accented with velvety crimson rose floral arrangements, and inviting coyote chairs that guests can sink into as they sip tea. The bar is an ode to the past and present, with art spanning centuries gracing the walls above the bar and the white settees.

The restaurant, Chevalier, is named after longtime Baccarat creative director Georges Chevalier, and can be accessed via a dedicated entrance. Michelin-star awarded chef, Shea Gallante’s, goal in creating the menu is a “brasserie deluxe in a modern setting.” Gallante also lent his culinary talents to the Grand Salon where small bites can be ordered.

The rooms are similar to private Parisian residence, decorated with a similar beige and chocolate brown color scheme than the public rooms. No detail was spared to make the sleeping space feel like a home away from home.

The spa will be run by the the prestigious La Mer, and will be the first full-service spa opened by the company.

The service is top notch if not impeccable with friendly but able hospitality agents eager to serve.
Room rates start at $899 and you can access the hotel website here.IMG_1731 IMG_1732 IMG_1735 IMG_1737 IMG_1738 IMG_1725 IMG_1726 IMG_1728

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Etienne Aigner Spring 15

Etienne Aigner's spring 15 collection

Etienne Aigner’s spring 15 collection

Etienne Aigner may not be a familiar name in the fashion world but I recall the hard to pronounce moniker from my days as a sales clerk at a department store in the 80’s. In high school I worked in “Designer Shoes” and was very proud to be among the latest in chic footwear that I could only dream about owning. I learned the difference between the “cobbie cuddlers” comfort shoes to the beautiful French ones from Charles Jordan with stiletto heels which by today’s standards were probably mild. Shoe obsessions are not recent development- women have always wanted their feet to be encased in lovely coverings. Aigner shoes and leather bags had a distinctive cranberry color that women loved. My teenage self felt they were too conservative, but the Aigner lady was fiercely loyal to the burgundy reds with the “A” logo.

When I was asked to preview the spring ‘15 collection it brought back memories. The first thing I noticed is the lack of “antic red” (as it was called). It was replaced with soft tones of creams, and beiges, along with burnt orange and electric blue. There were hobos in butter suede, totes in mixed-materials of leather and faux python, and a surprise of chartreuse green fur vest. Shoes shapes ranged from chunky wedges, to sandals with ribbon detailing and a particularly distinctive pointy flat with the backs scrunched down like they were well-worn slippers.

The Creative Director, Daniela Anastasia Bardazzi’s resume includes stints at Isaac Mizrahi and Michael Kors and so she may have picked up some tips to success. What she so deftly achieved with the relaunch of Aigner is clothing that you want to own for a reasonable price. There are no bold prints or overtly trendy pieces, just easy breezy collection with a twist, like a dropped waist dress with an interesting ruffle at the waist.

The name brand has a heritage that extends well over 50 years. Mr. Etienne Aigner was a Hungarian man who started as a bookbinder in Germany in 1904, states Wikipedia. His German name is pronounced, (et-tee-an /on-yay). Aigner’s history runs from bespoke high-end leather good in Paris to its 1959 foray into the American market when that year a New York showroom was opened and remained until the year 2000.

For Sprig 2015, Ms. Anastasia’s takes her inspiration from the 20th century American painter, Andrew Wyeth. Looking at his serine paintings with naturalistic palette I can see the connection. The designer’s spring look book sets the models against a window looking out onto a grassy landscape and the models in the look book images are reminiscent of Greta, a longtime subject in the paintings.

The relaunch of Etienne Aigner started in 2012 as a slow simmer. In Oct of this year they opened a shop opened at 65 Greene Street in Soho, New York City. It will be followed by a pop-up in Columbus Circle center. The brand is set to become affordable option for stylish clothing with a twist and regain part of its former glory.

Etienne Aigner spring 15 collection

Etienne Aigner spring 15 collection

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