Celebrity Fashion Sightings: Week of March 27, 2017

This week’s Celebrity Fashion Sightings takes our readers from the red carpet of the 52nd Country Music Awards, the Actors on Actors event in Los Angeles, the premiere of “Smurfs,” and the GLAAD Rising Stars Luncheon. True to form, Fashion Reverie keeps its readers informed on all the style goings-on of viewers’ favorite celebs.

Images courtesy of D'Orazio and Associates

Images courtesy of D’Orazio and Associates

Celebrities at the 2017 CMAs have really stepped up their fashion sensibilities; case in point is Carrie Underwood. Carrie sparkled in a La Bourjoisie bejeweled gown that featured a tulle train and choker collar. Carrie was beautifully accessorized with Harry Kotlar diamond drop earrings, a Hearts on Fire diamond band and Djula diamond rings.

Images courtesy of D'Orazio and Associates

Images courtesy of D’Orazio and Associates

“The Voice” winner Cassadee Pope also made a dramatic statement at the 52nd Country Music Awards in sheer black dress with embroidered cherry blossom floral details. Cassadee set off her look with Borgioni black diamond studs.

Images courtesy of D'Orazio and Associates

Images courtesy of D’Orazio and Associates/REX/Shuttlestock

You wouldn’t normally think of a celebrity glamming it up at the premiere of “Smurfs”. But Demi Lovato always follows the beat of her own drum, looking perfectly lovely and glam in a Tadashi Shoji multi-colored gown with low décolletage. Demi is appropriately accessorized in Harry Kotlar canary diamond studs and a canary diamond ring.

Images courtesy of Preface PR

Images courtesy of Preface PR/Alo Ceballos/GC Images

Whatever Supermodel Gigi Hadid wears is big news. Gigi Hadid wore a navy oversized cardigan from the WINONAH fall 2016 collection. Now, who looked better in it, Gigi or the model?

Images courtesy of D'Orazio and Associates

Images courtesy of D’Orazio and Associates

Talk about pretty in pink, or should we say carnation. “The Outskirts” Victoria Justice wore a carnation pink custom Styland suit to the inaugural GLAAD Rising Stars Luncheon in Beverly Hills.

Images courtesy of D'Orazio and Associates

Images courtesy of D’Orazio and Associates

“Guerilla’s” Freida Pinto is fashionably chic in a Roland Mouret ensemble, accessorized in Doves by Doron Paloma earrings at the Variety Studios’ Actors for Actors private event.

Images courtesy of Preface PR

Images courtesy of Preface PR/REX/Shuttlestock

Not one of Fashion Reverie’s favorite looks of the week. But hey, you can’t knock it out of the ballpark every time. Coach of “The Voice Kids UK’s” Pixie Lott wore an Elisabetta Franchi spring 2017 light blue halter top with ruffle detail to the H&M Conscious Collection Dinner.

—Staff

 

 

 

Uniqlo Fall 2017: Celebrating Everyday Life

Collages1245No longer brand that is solidly in the category of affordable wardrobe staples that can be mixed and matched with what is already in consumer’s wardrobe, for the past few seasons Uniqlo has put a strong emphasis on updated classics that employs new technology and has a fashion-forward sensibility. And this season, Uniqlo pushes it revamped aesthetic even further by expanding into territory, lifewear.

That’s right, you were correct the first time, lifewear. Understanding that the modern consumer has an extremely busy lifestyle, juggling several things at one day with very little downtime throughout their day, Uniqlo for fall 2017 in incorporating clothing that casual and employ effortless ease of movement combined with sharp silhouettes and a fashion sensibility.

You may ask how these two polar opposites compliment each other? In the Uniqlo world, they do. From the brand’s downtown aesthetic to urban casual to updated classics to its sportswear aesthetic, Uniqlo is poised to reinvent the fashion industry’s take on modern dressing.

Uniqlo_Fall_2017Uniqlo’s downtown aesthetic is a mix of gritty sophistication with an updated monochrome palette of black, white and dark olive. These are pieces that break out of the niche and offer loose proportions with slim, sharp silhouettes. It’s a deeply considered, polished approach without being too stuffy. Here, size and scale is cropped or oversized—an unexpected sense of artistic playfulness. Utilizing advanced “3-D U Knit” technologies take on a sculptural quality that is comfortable. The assortment’s mix of synthetic and natural fabrics—faux leather and wool, nylon mixed with cottons and velvet—ormulate textures that feel classic, but look totally anew.

A more casual take on city-life dressing rooted in the benchmark of modern style: denim. Variations on classic denim jeans and relaxed denim button-down shirts are paired with other iconic wardrobe staples, including iconic khaki pants and cool hooded sweatshirts. Easy parka down jackets are meant to be slung over reimagined fleece zip-ups and buttery flannels. In keeping with the infectious energy of the city, this assortment includes recurring collaborations with Keith Haring and Mickey Mouse.

Collages1244Uniqlo’s updated classis is a worldly blend of luxury and function. Think an earth-based palette of camels, whites and rich creams paired with high-end fabrics like faux sheepskin, corduroy, and a darker more-structured unwashed denim. Wardrobe classics with bold risks: elegant trenches, blended wool chester overcoats, and structured denim pants are given a fresh spin without losing their timeless appeal.

Uniqlo’s sportswear this season is a seamless blend of advanced technical capabilities and sleek sports styles. A mix-and-match multi-functional sense of dressing that is effortless and practical. Go on an evening run or to the office in the new ultra light-down seamless jacket paired with new warm easy skirts or block tech warm-lined pants.

Images courtesy of Uniqlo

Images courtesy of Uniqlo

For those consumers who have loved Ines de la Fressange’s collaboration with Uniqlo, Fressange is back with an expanded collaboration with the brand that includes menswear. “Fressange’s aesthetic downtown chic meets Parisian sophistication works well for the direction that Uniqlo is heading. Her fabric choices also work well for the brand, and now her branch off into creating menswear and other androgynous points of view fits into the model of Uniqlo’s take on life wear collections, explained Natalie Harewood, Market Manager, Uniqlo USA. “Uniqlo has a strong menswear base and for Ines a lot of her looks are quite androgynous in a positive way, so why not expand that into menswear.”

For more information, go to uniqlo.com.

—Staff

Editors’ Pick: RAYMOND WEIL’s Etoile

Image courtesy of RAYMOND WEIL

Image courtesy of RAYMOND WEIL

The spring ballet season is upon us. When trees start to bud, morning birds began than mellifluous chirping and mild temperatures become the norm, you know that the world of tutus, pointe shoes and fantasy is just around the corner.

Just in time for the spring ballet season and in celebration of the world of fantasy, precision and brilliance, RAYMOND WEIL has collaborated with French shoemaker Repetto to create the elegant timepiece, Etoile. A symbol of strength, elegance and movement, the shine “Etoile” watch is a versatile performer. Featuring two interchangeable straps crafted in Repetto leather, this timepiece is able to reinvent itself as the hours go by, making it the perfect companion for the modern woman.

Images of Paris Opera Ballet etoiles clockwise: Sylvie Guillem, Amelie Dupont,

Images of Paris Opera Ballet etoiles clockwise: Sylvie Guillem, Amelie Dupont, Ghislaine Thesmar, Monique Loudieres, and Noella Pontois

Daintily framed by a 32mm round steel case, the galvanized silver dial is enhanced with a guilloche pattern suggesting the texture of tulle.Thanks to a unique patented system of removable lugs developed by RAYMOND WEIL, the shine “Etoile” watch changes straps and style with graceful ease. Alongside its classic metal bracelet, the timepiece may be paired with straps crafted from Repetto leather for a beautiful pas de deux. Two star shades—iconic blush pink, the emblematic color of ballet shoes, and crystal carbon black—express elegance, glamour, and lightness. This multifaceted timepiece is inspired by the world’s most gifted ballerinas, Paris’ famed Etoile dancers, and other stellar, feminine figures we encounter every day. (At the Paris Opera Ballet, etoile is the highest rank a ballet dancer can achieve. Several French ballerinas have had this unique title bestowed upon them; Rosella Hightower, Yvette Chauvire, Claude Bessy, Ghislaine Thesmar, Noella Pontois, Monique Loudieres, Sylvie Guillem, Elizabeth Platel, Isabelle Guerin, Amelie Dupont, and many others.)

Images courtesy of RAYMOND WEILL

Images courtesy of RAYMOND WEILL

“For 40 years, RAYMOND WEIL has been showcasing the wealth of Swiss watchmaking expertise. For 70 years, Repetto has been perpetuating this style, this French-style elegance and know-how that consolidate the stature of the country that saw the birth of classical ballet. Repetto and RAYMOND WEIL [epitomize] beautiful family stories; united by a quest for excellence and precision. Together, we accompany the women of the world as they give the performance of their lives,” enthuses Elie Bernheim, CEO RAYMOND WEIL.

—Staff

Wednesday Sample Sales: Week of March 27, 2017

Fashion Reverie seeks to keep its loyal readers informed of great samples sales. Just remember, product disappears quickly, so it is important to get there early. Also, some sample sales won’t let you try on garments, so know your size. Happy Shopping!!

Image courtesy of fashion360.com

Image courtesy of fashion360.com

BRAND: Elie Tahari Sample Sale

WHEN: 03/28–04/201 Tues.–Fri. (8:30am–7:30pm), Saturday (10am–6pm)

WHY:  Up to 70% off women’s wear, menswear and accessories

WHERE:   Elie Tahari Outlet, 501 Fifth Avenue, 2nd Floor

 

Image courtesy of highfashionliving.com

Image courtesy of highfashionliving.com

BRAND: Desigual Sample Sale

WHEN:  03/29–03/31 Tues.–Fri. (11am–7pm)

WHY:  Clothing and accessories for women, men and kids at a discount

WHERE  261 West 36th Street, 2nd Floor

 

Image courtesy of fashionisers.com

Image courtesy of fashionisers.com

BRAND:  Vivienne Westwood Sample Sale

WHEN:  03/30–04/02; Thurs.–Sun. (10am–6pm)

WHY: Featuring a new assortment of women’s and men’s apparel, handbags, and accessories

WHERE 20 West 36th Street, 6th Floor

 

Image courtesy of vogue.com

Image courtesy of vogue.com

BRAND: Paul Andrew Sample Sale

WHEN:  03/30–03/31; Thurs.–Fri. (12noon–7pm)

WHY: Women’s and men’s footwear at a discount. Limited sizes available

WHERE 41 West 58th Street, Suite 2A

—Staff

 

 

 

Fashion Reverie Exclusive: Antonia Franceschi Comes Full Circle

Antonia_Franceschi1“Do you know where you’re going to, do you know the things that life is showing you, where are going to? Do you know? — Theme song from “Mahogany”

Antonia Franceschi may not have known exactly where life would take her, but she sure she has ended up in some pretty spectacular places. And where she is right now is just right!!

Most people, if they are old enough, know Antonia from her role as the spoiled ballerina in the movie “Fame.” But that was kind of just the beginning. After “Fame” Antonia spent 11 years in the New York City Ballet and another two decades working in Europe. And all those years on the world’s stages have given her a keen eye and life perspective that is more precious than gold.

Still, life didn’t turn out exactly the way Antonia envisioned. (It rarely does for most of us.) Antonia was the ‘It’ baby ballerina of the early 80s with name recognition and a promising career at the New York City Ballet. That potential went unrealized and for those who never saw the movie “Fame,” or New York City Ballet in the 1980s and 90s, Franceschi’s name does not resonate.

But, life is more than some familiar nods. And Antonia has turned what could have been just 15 minutes of fame into a lifetime of nuanced experiences and creative satisfaction. How many people can name George Balanchine, Natalia Markarova, Jerome Robbins, Alan Parker, and Karole Armitage as personal influences? Not many.

Fashion Reverie was given the extraordinary opportunity to reminisce, revel, and luxuriate in the meandering, sometimes slippery slope, of Antonia Franceschi’s life. And we are all the better for it. We expect our readers will be, too!!

Fashion Reverie: How did you get started in ballet?

Antonia Franceschi: I was born in Ohio and then we moved to Detroit, later to New Rochelle and finally Manhattan. My mom is a painter and she loved ballet and used to take evening classes when we lived in Detroit. I would accompany her and sit on the floor while she took class. I started to imitate her and my mom thought I had some talent and enrolled me in ballet school. 

FR: How did you become one of the dancers in the movie “Grease”?

Antonia Franceschi: “Grease” happened in a very interesting way. I was a student at the High School of the Performing Arts in New York City (PA) when the school was located on 46th Street. I auditioned for both the drama and dance departments because I wanted to be a great dramatic ballerina. I was accepted into both departments, but I opted for the drama department and took ballet classes after school.  I studied the Cecchetti technique with Margaret Craske. Cecchetti technique is one of the hardest techniques because you work without mirrors; you have to feel everything. The core of the training is so good that it keeps you from getting lots of injuries.

One of my very good friends Jerry Regan at PA told me about the “Grease” open call. Now mind you, I had never heard of the musical “Grease,” although it had been a successful production on Broadway. Patricia Birch was the choreographer and she gave a dance phrase and you had to replicate it very quickly. I did my phrase and they kept me and told me to come back the next day for the second part of the audition.

The next day at the audition Pat Birch told anyone under eighteen to leave. (I was sixteen at the time.) I stayed because I figured I would never get the job. A month later I was contacted that I was cast in “Grease.”

The only way I was able to take the job—all the filming was in LA—was that the film was shot during the summer. That way I didn’t get in trouble at PA. But I got kicked out of PA anyway because filming went into early fall and PA found out. It is really hysterical when you think about it because the following year I am cast in the movie “Fame,” which is about my alma mater, PA.

The good thing about “Grease” is that I earned enough money to go to Professional Children’s School (PCS), which was necessary for me because I was now studying at the School of American Ballet (SAB), being that I was expelled from PA.  At the time no one knew that “Grease” would turn out to be the box office hit that it turned out to be.

Antonia Franceschi in "Grease" and Franceschi with "Fame" cast

Antonia Franceschi in “Grease” and Franceschi with “Fame” cast

FR: Now, lets talk about the movie “Fame”, we all know that you played the character Hilary van Doren. How did that all come about?

Antonia Franceschi: Because of the filming of “Grease,” I felt I had lost some valuable ballet training. So, I auditioned for SAB and got a scholarship while attending PCS. I lot of the students from PCS and SAB were talking about auditioning for the movie “Fame.” I didn’t want to lose more time in my dance training, so initially I was not interested. And at the time the ballet world frowned upon doing anything outside of the dance world.

The producers of “Fame” were having a hard time finding ballet dancers of the appropriate age to be in the ballet classroom scenes. So, a bunch of students from SAB went in and auditioned. Also, one of the casting agents from “Fame” contacted me and asked me to audition.

I went to the casting and they had me read Hilary van Doren’s abortion clinic scene. They liked my read and immediately had me read for the director Alan Parker. And just like that I got the part. I really liked the script and Alan Parker, so I thought it would be great to be in the movie.

The only thing that had me kind of freaked out was that George Balanchine would sometimes observe the morning advance class and choose dancers. I was worried that the day he scouted dancers for New York City Ballet (NYCB), I would be filming “Fame.” The day that Balanchine did come in, my filming schedule was in the afternoon. I was in Stanley Williams’ class that morning and Stanley organized the class to show off my best qualities. After filming “Fame” sequences that afternoon, a friend of mine, Cynthia Lochard—who was also in “Fame”—called me and screamed in the phone, “We’re in. We both got into City Ballet.” So, it worked out perfectly, I got to be in “Fame” and I was signed to the NYCB. Coincidentally, I didn’t go to the premiere of “Fame” in NYC because my graduation performance from SAB was the same night. But, I did go to the “Fame” after party at Studio 54 with my boyfriend in a limousine.

Collages1232

Images of Antonia Franceschi in “Fame”

FR: By the time “Fame” was released you were already in the New York City Ballet. Did you know that you wanted to be a ballet dancer as opposed to an actress while you were filming “Fame”?

Antonia Franceschi: Honestly, I only wanted to be a ballet dancer and work with a genius like George Balanchine. With “Fame,” the director Alan Parker is also a genius. So, early in my career, creative masters surrounded me, and that desire to collaborate with the best has stuck with me.

Also, Hollywood turned me off when I was in “Grease.” I was sixteen and very insecure. I had acne, I didn’t have large breasts, and I didn’t think I had anything special. After “Grease,” John Travolta’s manager wanted to manage me. But, I knew at that young age I couldn’t emotionally manage being in Hollywood. I didn’t have a strong support system, my parents had separated, honestly, and I really just wanted to dance. So, I opted out of becoming an actress.

When the “Fame” television series was being developed, I was asked to be a part of the cast. But, by that time I was already in the NYCB. I didn’t realize at the time that Mr. Balanchine would be dead in three years.

Even after I got into the NYCB, Hollywood would always call. I got offered a three-picture deal after “Fame.” But, I had blinders on; you have to if you are going to have a career in ballet. When I left the NYCB, I did other things. I moved to London, I acted in plays and did some film. I even wrote a play that I choreographed and starred in.

FR: You were one of the last dancers that Balanchine personally chose for NYCB. What was it was like working with Balanchine?

Antonia Franceschi: Even though Balanchine didn’t live a long time after he chose me for the NYCB, I was so fortunate to work with him closely. When Nureyev and Patricia McBride performed Balanchine’s “Le Bourgeoisie Gentilhomme,” I was one of the six SAB students chosen to perform the work. I also was in some of Balanchine’s last ballets—“Ballade” and “Noah’s Ark.” He would talk to me a lot in class and in rehearsal. He was nicest man, but his classes were not kind to your body, everything was extreme.

NYCB, at that time, was an amazing ballet company because Balanchine chose every dancer for their unique gifts. That was my environment and everything was sugar for me. Just to be in his presence and learn from this great genius has made an indelible mark on me as an artist.

FR: How were you received at NYCB because of your early fame?

Antonia Franceschi: By the time “Fame” came out I was already in the corps de ballet of NYCB after having danced with “Markarova and Company.” While I was dancing with Markarova, she got injured and I had to dance one of her roles. Clive Barnes, the dance critic for the New York Times, predicted I would be a great star.

So things at NYCB for me were a little odd in the beginning because I was already famous. Ballet companies tend to make dancers stars because of their association with certain choreographers and/or for dancing major roles. I was already well known before joining NYCB because of “Fame” and “Makarova and Company.” There were some people at NYCB that were threatened and were not as nice as they could have been. It took a while for me to prove to certain folks at NYCB that I was serious. There was some jealousy because early on choreographers would make roles on me, which is highly unusual for a new dancer. It was a tricky time.

Antonia_Franceschi

Images of Antonia Franceschi in the New York City Ballet

FR: Do you realize that to people who were not ballet fans you were more well known because of “Fame” than most ballet dancers with the exception of Nureyev, Baryshnikov and maybe Margot Fonteyn? How did you deal with that recognition early on in your career?

Antonia Franceschi: Because of the Internet and social media it is now a good thing to be famous. However, thirty years ago in the dance world you had to be humble and self-effacing. I would take the subway and people would recognize me and I would pretend I was someone else. The best compliment I ever got was this girl came up to me on the subway and said, “I hated your ass in the movie.” That comment confirmed I did my job well.

The whole world has changed since “Fame” and being in NYCB from 1980 to 1992. You can live your life in a bubble in a ballet company. I was working from 7:30 in the morning to 11pm at night, six days a week. The only people you meet are mostly those involved with the ballet world. You give everything to that world. If you had any energy left over, you’re made to feel you were not giving enough. Mr. Balanchine used to say, “What are you saving it for.”

FR: How long were you in the New York City Ballet, and what was your experience there like?

Antonia Franceschi: For most of the 11 years I was in the NYCB, I would say it was great, but very hard. One of the hardest things is that I didn’t have the success at NYCB that I wanted or that was predicted. The good thing about NYCB is that you perform a lot and dance a wide range of roles, even soloist and principal roles, while still in the corps de ballet.

I had the great disadvantage of being a transition dancer. Balanchine chose me for the company and then he passed away in 1983 and Peter Martins became the creative director. You hope things will stay the same, but they weren’t. By the time I realized how different things were I was 27 years old and too old to go to another company; which is not the case now, but back then you stayed where you were.

When Peter Martins took over NYCB, he had to learn how to run this huge institution. That said; I was never a hater; I felt I had to work harder and continue to prove myself. So I continued to work really hard, but nothing was happening. At 27, I got married and decided to get really thin, because Peter Martins liked really thin ballerinas. Immediately, I started getting soloist roles. I stayed really thin for three years but couldn’t maintain it. It was too hard counting every little calorie all day. I was worn down mentally trying to maintain my weight.

I would always get asked to do things outside of NYCB, but I would always turn things down. However, in 1992 I was offered one of the leads in a production of “Brigadoon” and some other things and I decided why not leave NYCB on a high note while I was getting all these major roles. So, I left with my dignity at the age of 30.

FR: You were in the NYCB corps de ballet for 11 years. What lead roles did dance and what roles were created on you?

Antonia Franceschi: Jerome Robbins made “Piano Pieces” for me and Jean-Pierre Bonnefous made a beautiful pas de deux for Ib Anderson and me. I did leads in Balanchine’s “Four Temperaments,” “Episodes,” a demi-soloist in “Diamonds,” Tenderness fairy in “Sleeping Beauty,” and one of the leads in Lar Lubovitch’s “Rhapsody in Blue.” When I moved to Europe I danced as a guest artist in the works of Mark Baldwin, Wayne McGregor, Michael Clarke, Arlene Phillips, and Karole Armitage for ten years and then started producing and choreographing my own work. I had a second life in Europe in my thirties that has taken me to where I am now. If I had become a principal dancer with NYCB, I never would have explored more acting opportunities and dancing with these great European chorographers, as well as realizing my gifts as a choreographer and producer, and teaching at the Royal Ballet and Rambert Dance Company.

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Antonia Franceschi’s dance company AFD Just Dance and Antonia Franceschi in rehearsal

FR: How would you describe your choreographic style?

Antonia Franceschi: When you start choreographing, your work looks like everything you have ever danced. You don’t have your own voice yet. The starting point for me, like Balanchine, is the music. My style is an amalgam of all the things I have learned from Cecchetti to Balanchine and the contemporary choreographers I worked with in Europe.

You don’t really learn to choreograph when a choreographer puts a work on you, you learn watching them work and teaching. I have worked with Richard Alston for over 15 years and I learned from him how to get people on and off stage and link movement.

FR: You continue to perform, why?

Antonia Franceschi: I continue to perform because I stayed healthy. I am so healthy because I was trained by Margaret Craske in the Cecchetti technique which when done properly keeps you from getting so many injuries. If I am asked, I will dance things that I can still dance well. I have no injuries, I have no pain and my body feels good.

I recently danced some excerpts from Balanchine’s “Serenade” and “Symphony in Three Movements” for a group piece called “Museum de Dance” at the Sofia Museum in Spain. Mark Baldwin recently made a solo for me. Still, I only perform if I think it is the right thing to do.

Downloads361FR: How has the dance world that you were such an integral part of changed? Have the dancers changed?

Antonia Franceschi: I am at a disadvantage answering that questions because I just moved back to NYC after living in London for 22 years. One of things I noticed was that there is just a quick turnover at NYCB. Balanchine rarely fired dancers. You could stay there until you didn’t want to perform any more. That is not the case now.

Also, when I was dancing I was very much on the down low about going to classes at Fordham University on my day off. Now, everyone talks about what they are going to do after they stop dancing. Dancers are now more realistic about their careers. However, the flip side of that is that maybe dance is less precious and there is less of a commitment because there are more options. And some of the magic is gone. So, there is a trade off.

FR: In your ballet for New York Theatre Ballet “She Holds Out Her Hand” one of the lead dancers was a dancer of color. That said; how do you feel about diversity in ballet?

Antonia Franceschi: When I was in “Fame” I had scene where I had to kiss Gene Anthony Ray. Now, that was back in 1979 and I was advised not to do it because it could ruin my career. I did what I wanted to do, kiss Gene Anthony Ray, because I wasn’t going to be an actress.

Now, that incident was over 30 years ago. However, I was producing a ballet program in London some years back and I brought some dancers over from the NYCB—Wendy Whelan, Peter Boal, and Albert Evans. There was beautiful poster featuring Albert Evans with the caption “New York Ballet Stars.”  Albert Evans is African American and a big star with the NYCB at that time. One of sponsors didn’t want me to use the poster because a black person didn’t represent ballet to her.  I went with the poster and we sold out. So, there!!

Still, even in Europe there is this embedded racism in ballet. They don’t want to see a brown or black girl in the corps de ballet of “Swan Lake” because in their minds all the swans should look the same. That is still a factor on the other side of the Big Pond.

To use Amanda Smith as the lead in my ballet was a no-brainer. She is deep, musical, and has a beautiful quality. Perhaps, I got that from Mr. Balanchine, he liked people who could dance.

Image courtesy of NYTB.

Antonia Franceshi’s “She Holds Out Her Hand” image courtesy of NYTB. All other images courtesy of Antonia Franceschi

FR: What is life like for you now back in the States, and what’s next for you?

Antonia Franceschi: Well, my son is 13 and I moved back because I wanted him to experience NYC and more cultural diversity. I have been substitute teaching at Barnard College and Julliard, I have two ballet commissions and I have work back in London for the summer.

I started a company called AFD Just Dance in London and we were invited to perform at the Opera House in Malta. I handpicked dancers from the Royal Ballet, Rambert, and Random DV8. We sold out, so I decided to keep the company going. We performed at the Royal Winchester and also sold out.  So, voila, I had a company. I am planning to do the same thing in NYC, mix British dancers with American dancers, performing to live music. And there were other things in the works.

—William S. Gooch

 

Antonia Franceschi’s choreography will be a part of Barnard College/Columbia Dances at Miller on April 21 & April 22.

Fashion News Alert: Nicki Minaj Signs with Wilhelmina, Rezoning Threatens NYC’s Garment District, Joan Smalls New Gig, and Amazon.com Layoffs

 

Image courtesy of billboard.com

Image courtesy of billboard.com

T and A is really trending, especially, if you are Nicki Minaj. Minaj has officially been signed as a model with Wilhelmina’s celebrity division that includes Demi Lovato and Nick Jonas.

“I love the synergy between my music and how it inspires my fashion,” Minaj said in a press release. “My message is always about celebrating your own style. I’m thrilled and honored to have signed with Wilhelmina. They get me.”

It should be noted that Nicki Minaj is one of Riccardo Tisci muses, and has appeared in Roberto Cavalli’s spring 2015 campaign.

Image courtesy of flickr.com

Image courtesy of flickr.com

Garment District sellout

Just when you thought New York City’s Garment District would be preserved, the CFDA and New York City and Economic and Development Corporation (NYCEDC) has introduced a multi-million dollar rezoning package moving the Garment District to Sunset Park in Brooklyn. Was Anna Sui, Nanette Lepore, Yeohlee and other fashion designers work in vain?

For those who don’t remember, over 25 years ago Anna Sui, Yeohlee, and Nanette Lepore launched Save the Garment campaign which helped keep real estate developers hands off critical manufacturing space in the Garment District. Now surprisingly, the CFA and NYCEDC has proposed a $51.3 million plan that will stimulate manufacturing in NYC by rezoning the Garment District to Sunset Park.

Garment District manufacturers and some NYC City Council members are outraged at this proposal. Though not opposed to the new Sunset Park fashion hub, Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer believes this move will “[add] hours or days to the production process,” according to an article on fashionnetwork.com. Manufacturing jobs in NYC have fallen from a high of 90,000 in the 1960s to currently just 14,000.

Image courtesy of gotcelebs.com

Image courtesy of gotcelebs.com

Joan Smalls innovates

If being one of the most sought after supermodels is not enough, Supermodel Joan Smalls has signed on as the first global innovator for W Hotels. Smalls will assist W Hotels in shaping its fashion platform around the world. Duties will include making special appearances, collaborating on unique partnerships, and participating in exclusive in-room digital content on The Angle, W’s digital platform that features the latest in fashion, music, and design and FUEL, the brand’s take on healthy living through spa, food and working out, as well as local content from W destinations around the globe

“I am thrilled to be named the first-ever global fashion innovator of W Hotels,” said Smalls in a statement. “It is a dream job of mine to be able to combine two of the things I love the most: travel and fashion. W Hotels—and their incredible line up of hotels around the world—is the perfect partner for such a collaboration. I’m excited to share my passions, tips and personal style with W guests,” detailed Smalls in a fashionweekdaily.com.

 

Images courtesy of amazon.com

Images courtesy of amazon.com

Trouble for Amazon

Quidisi, a beauty product subsidiary of Amazon.com, is causing Amazon to bleed jobs. Amazon.com is planning to layoff 263 workers in New Jersey this summer because of restricting around Quidisi.

“We have worked extremely hard for the past seven years to get Quidsi to be profitable, and unfortunately we have not been able to do so,” an Amazon spokeswoman said in a statement in a fashionnetwork.com post. “Quidsi has great brand expertise and they will continue to offer selection on Amazon.com; the software development team will focus on building technology for AmazonFresh.”

Quidsi operates diapers.com and other websites that appeal to young moms. Amazon will move some staff from the Quidsi sites to AmazonFresh. Affected employees at New Jersey-based Quidsi will be able to apply for other positions in Amazon, the company said in its New Jersey filing. (Reuters)

—William S. Gooch

 

 

 

 

Celebrity Fashion Sightings: Week of March 20, 2017

Will spring ever get here? Though we are officially in spring season, on the East Coast it is still chilly.  That said; Fashion Reverie is not deterred, bringing you some great fashion from your favorite celebrities.

Images courtesy of D'Orazio and Associates

Images courtesy of D’Orazio and Associates

We all love Rumer Willis’ new character on “Empire.” She is raw, edgy and totally irreverent. Fashion Reverie’s kind of girl!! A the premiere of the new “Empire” season Rumer Wore a sexy, lacy off-the-shoulder Monique Lhuillier black jumpsuit, accessorized with Doves by Doron Paloma diamond ring and a DVANI diamond floral ring.

Image courtesy of Getty/Preface PR

Image courtesy of Getty/Preface PR

This is not Noah Cyrus best look. But, at least she is on trend with a British mod aesthetic. While out in London, Noah Cyrus wore a MSGM black and red knit dress with stripe detail.

Image courtesy of the Brand Group

Image courtesy of the Brand Group

Christina Milian let it all hang out—the girls are talking loudly—at the premiere of  “Power Rangers” in Los Angeles. Milian graced the red carpet in a sexy burnt orange dress by Victoria BeckhamGianvito Rossi heels, Henri Bendel earrings, Glamrocks Jewelry ring, and body chain by 21HM.

Images courtesy of D'Orazio and Associates

Images courtesy of D’Orazio and Associates

“Scandal’s” Bellamy Young wore Maria Lucia Hohan to the screening and panel for ‘Scandal’ at the 34th Annual PaleyFest. We love the look from the back. Do you?

Image courtesy of D'Orazio and Associates

Image courtesy of D’Orazio and Associates

Last, but definitely not least, Becky G lit up the “Power Rangers’” red carpet in a yellow canary Maria Lucia Hohan gown. By the way Becky G is in the film!!

—Staff

Fashion Reverie Brand Spotlight: Michelle Helene

Fall 2017 images courtesy of Michelle Helene

Fall 2017 images courtesy of Michelle Helene

In a retail environment that is incredibly unstable and peripatetic, one ponders why anyone would enter a fashion terrain littered with some many landmines. (Just consider the list of young brands—Nasty Gal, Reed Krakoff, Pac Sun, and American Apparel—which had market value that have already disappeared or will soon exit the market.)

Taking all the naysayers and discouraging data into consideration, Michelle Helene heartily takes up the challenge and after six collections is still going strong, constantly evolving her design aesthetic. Intuitively understanding that mass consumption is not her market, Michelle Helene has positioned her brand to appeal to that consumer that wants very unique product.

By creating garments that employ artisanal techniques, Michelle Helene is setting her brand apart from a lot of new fashion brands on the market. Fashion Reverie was very fortunate to secure an interview with Michelle Helene after being blown away by her fall 2017 collection. 

Michelle Helene

Michelle Helene

Fashion Reverie: How did you come with the name of the company and how long has Michelle Helene been on the market?

Michelle Helene: The company name is my first and middle name. And this is my sixth season over a total of four years.

FR: How did you come to work in the fashion industry?

Michelle Helene: I studied fashion at the Academy of Art University in San Francisco.  After college I went into the contemporary market. I started Michelle Helene about eight years after graduation.

Michelle Helene spring 2017 images courtesy of fashion360.com

Michelle Helene spring 2017 images courtesy of fashion360.com

FR: In your collections you tend to use a lot of artisanal techniques and craftsmanship, appealing more to a customer that is not interested in mass-market apparel, why that direction?

Michelle Helene: I always wanted to create garments that reflected knitting techniques I learned while at the Academy of the Art University. So, it was kind of weird when my brother moved to New Mexico and starting getting into knitting techniques. I remember when I moved from Los Angeles to NYC, I took some time off to figure out exactly what I wanted to do, so I traveled to Asia and I honed my craftsmanship skills.

I talked to my brother and we decided that we really wanted to start something that would express my craftsmanship. I wanted to produce something that was special and not necessarily mass produced. And that was how my fashion band, Michelle Helene was birthed.

FR: You use a lot of hand knitted details in your garments, can consumers expect that design aesthetic in all your collections?

Michelle Helene: You can expect knit and hand woven details in all my collections, particularly fall/winter collections. It is trickier to use knitting, hand weaving and crocheting details in spring/summer because the fabrications are so light. Those hand woven details are a critical signature of this collection that consumers will always find in fall/winter garments combined with fabrications I am now sourcing in Japan and Italy.

FR: There are a lot of cultural influences in all your collections and they are all cohesive, never looking out of place, which is a hard thing to do.  Why bring in all these influences when it would be easier to keep it simple?

Michelle Helene: My first collection was neutral tones, either black and white. The reason I did that is because I felt that if I could design a collection in one color and keep consumers excited because each garment had something different or a small detail that set it apart, I was really accomplishing something.

My inspirations don’t just come from one thing. I stand firmly behind that idea because my design concepts each season keep evolving.  For instance, one season I was at this tropical location and I was very happy. So, I decided to create a collection inspired by the tropics using a bold color palette. The initial inspiration kept evolving during the design process. I was also traveling a lot at the time between NYC and LA, so some West Coast Baja motifs crept in. And some other happy references entered into the picture. I think I would get bored if I only used one reference point. You have to keep evolving.

Michelle Helene fall 2016 images courtesy of fashiontrendsetters.com

Michelle Helene fall 2016 images courtesy of fashiontrendsetters.com

FR: Your collections go beyond current trends, why that direction and how does that pan out for your consumer?

Michelle Helene: I have always wanted to stand apart from other designers. And it is very important to me that my garments are timeless. I know that I am not reinventing the wheel, but I do attempt to create garments that will be in someone’s wardrobe five years from now or more. I also want to appeal to a wide demographic in terms of style, age, size, and price points.

My collections always start with color and from there we start dyeing the fabric. I don’t always try to look at the trends that are in market, I just create collections based on what I am feeling and seeing.

FR: What is your design aesthetic?

Michelle Helene: My aesthetic is hard to define because it is constantly evolving.

Fall 2017 images courtesy of Michelle Helene

Fall 2017 images courtesy of Michelle Helene

FR: Well, if your design aesthetic is constantly evolving, then who is your consumer?

Michelle Helene: My consumer varies. The person who invests in garments from my collection are buying clothes that are really unique because there is so much work that goes into each garment, particularly our handcrafted pieces. They usually want to wear something that tells a story. They are usually not following trends and are more interested in pieces that express their personality.

FR: Where can consumers purchase your clothes?

Michelle Helene: They can shop my garments online at the brand website, and I also do custom orders by inquiring within my website. I have been approaching a certain kind of consumer and often those consumers are met doing my travels.  With retail having such a tough time, I am coming up with new ways of selling my clothes.

FR: How do feel about the business model “See Now, Buy Now,” and how does that business model affect your company?

Michelle Helene: “See Now, Buy Now” doesn’t really fit my company at this time. Because of the dyeing and craftsmanship that goes into many of my garments, it could take up to two weeks to create one garment. “See Now, Buy Now” works better for collections that are available for mass consumption; that is not my brand.

Because “See Now, Buy Now” is more relative to mass-consumed products and fashion collections created for mass consumption, the clothes are made mostly in countries with unregulated, cheap labor and unknown working conditions. Consumers should be aware of that. That said; I have been thinking about the business model “See Now, Buy Now,” but in a different format than currently exists.

Fall 2017 images courtesy of Michelle Helene

Fall 2017 images courtesy of Michelle Helene

FR: What’s next for Michelle Helene?

Michelle Helene: My goals are to continue doing what I am doing and honing in on the processes of dyeing, weaving, crocheting and all the craftsmanship that is used in my collection, as well as mixing that process more with other fabrications. Hopefully, we would like to be doing all those craftsmanship tools ourselves. And working in a more environmentally friendly and sustainable way.

—William S. Gooch

 

Wednesday Sample Sales: Week of March 20, 2017

Fashion Reverie seeks to keep its loyal readers informed of great samples sales. Just remember, product disappears quickly, so it is important to get there early. Also, some sample sales won’t let you try on garments, so know your size. Happy Shopping!!

Heike_Sample_Sale_01

Image courtesy of HEIKE

BRAND: HEIKE Sample Sale

WHEN:  03/20–03/24 Mon.–Fri. (Doors open at 9am)

WHY:  Coats starting at $190. SPECIAL OFFER: BUY ONE, GET 50% ON DRESSES AND 30% ON COATS.

WHERE  307 West 38th Street, Suite 811

 

Image courtesy of thestylishcity.com

Image courtesy of thestylishcity.com

BRAND: Balsa Pop and Sample Sale

WHEN: 03/22–03/25; Wed.–Fri/ (1am–7pm), Saturday (12noon–5pm)

WHY:  Ready-to-wear at a discount

WHERE:   307 West 36th Street, 14th floor

 

Image courtesy of wwd.com

Image courtesy of wwd.com

BRAND:  Creatures of Comfort Sample Sale

WHEN:  03/23–03/26; Thurs.–Sat. (11am–7pm), Sunday (12 noon–6pm)

WHY: Up to 90% off women’s clothing and accessories. Includes merchandise from Creatures of Comfort, Acne Studios, Bless, A Detacher, LD Tuttle, Y’s by Yohji Yamamoto, Baserange, and more.

WHERE 127 Grand Street

 

Image courtesy of highfashionmagazine.com

Image courtesy of highfashionmagazine.com

BRAND: Reformation Sample Sale

WHEN:  03/23–03/26; Thurs.–Sun. (10am–7pm)

WHY:  Some of our favorite styles will be up to 80% off

WHERE 39 Bond Street

—Staff

 

 

 

Fashion News Alert: Bebe Shutters Brick and Mortars, Ivanka Trump’s Lawsuit, Ryan Seacrest Expands Fashion Line, Khloe Kardashian Launches Brand in UK, and Uniqlo’s ‘Beauty and the Beast’ Collection

Image courtesy of pinterest.com

Image courtesy of pinterest.com

It seems there is nothing but bad news for the Trump clan. Ivanka Trump is facing a class-action lawsuit from California-based Modern Appealing Clothing.

Modern Appealing Clothing claims that Ivanka’s clothing and accessories brands have an undue advantage related to the brands’ association with Donald Trump, the President of the US. Modern Appealing Clothing is seeking damages for unfair competitive edge dating back to November 9 when Trump won the presidential election.

Though Ivanka is no longer involved in her clothing brand due to a conflict of interest sales have skyrocketed since January 2017 of over 346%.

Image courtesy of mytotalretail.com

Image courtesy of mytotalretail.com

Bebe bye bye?

Another bites the dust!! Since the beginning of 2017 Wet Seal, The Limited, Bibhu Mohapatra, BCBG, and Gordmans have filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. Add retail store brand Bebe to the list.

In response to low retail sales and to concentrate on its online audience, Bebe has announced that is it closing all of its brick and mortar stores. If landlords are unwilling to negotiate current leases, Bebe will file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

In February Bebe announced that it would focus its efforts on denim and leggings to meet the need for casual apparel. Bluestar Alliance, which is a partner company of Catherine Malandrino, Michael Bastian, and Nanette Lepore recently purchased a 50% investor stake in Bebe.

Image courtesy of fashiongonerogue.com

Image courtesy of fashiongonerogue.com

Uniqlo and Beauty

In just one week Disney’s “Beauty and the Beast” has grossed over $750 million. And a lot of brands are jumping on the “Beauty and the Beast” wagon. Add Uniqlo to the list!!

Just in time for spring 2017, Uniqlo has launched a capsule collection that includes tee shirts, a tunic dress, a blouse and a long shirt with some of the items decorated with characters from “Beauty and the Beast.” The collection is currently in Uniqlo stores and its e-shop.

Image courtesy of macyassets.com

Image courtesy of macyassets.com

Ryan Seacrest is growing his successful ‘Distinctions” collection, offering a sportswear/life wear collection.  Seacrest test-drove this expansion by offering a Rio-inspired sportswear collection during the recent Rio Olympics.

This new Distinctions sportwear/life wear collection is the brainchild of Distinctions creative director Mateo Gottardi.  According to fashionnetwork.com, Gottardi contends that this new extension to the Distinctions collection will offer male consumers “more freedom and flexibility in their dressing because that’s where our culture is today. Everything needs to go together effortlessly.”

Image courtesy of goodamerican.com

Image courtesy of goodamerican.com

Khloe moves across the Big Pond

Khloe Kardashian expands to the UK. Well, her fashion line, Good American, is!!

Good American, co-founded by Khloe Kardashian, has launched in British iconic retailer, Seflridges in an exclusive partnership. Good American is a casual lifestyle brand that expands to plus-size. Sizes range from 00 to 24.

Khloe Kardashian launched with her business partner Emma Grede based on a conversation that today’s women need “more freedom and flexibility in their dressing because that’s where our culture is today. Everything needs to go together effortlessly.” Good American launched denim items in January and is available in select Nordstroms and online at goodamerican.com.

—William S. Gooch

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