Fashion Flashback: Gone But Not Out Menswear Brands

Greg Lauren image courtesy of

Greg Lauren image courtesy of

On the eve of New York Fashion: Men’s spring 2018, Fashion Reverie looks back at menswear brands that had a strong presence in the American menswear scene, but lost momentum and are no longer a part of the US men’s fashion market. Most of these brands had a distinct, signature voice and spoke to an evolving, diverse menswear audience that was thirsty for something innovative and fashion forward.

Still, though most of these menswear brands had some traction, circumstances forced them out of the menswear milieu. While some of these menswear brand creative directors have popped up at other menswear companies, their own individual creative mien is sadly missed.  And, with the current state of the global retail market; perhaps, if some these menswear brands had managed to maintain market viability, there would be more vitality and perspective in the menswear market.

Antonio Azzuolo fall 2012

Antonio Azzuolo fall 2012

One of the most highly missed menswear brands in the depressed American menswear market is Antonio Azzuolo. After honing his craft at Hermes, Kenzo, and Galeries Lafayette in Paris, Azzuolo took up the mantle of design director at Ralph Lauren’s Purple Label and Black Label in 2006. In 2008 Azzuolo launched his eponymous label and quickly became a strong presence on the US menswear scene.  a.a. antonio azzuolo is a New York–based menswear brand that focuses on street wear seen through a refined lens.

Though the brand is not technically extinct, Azzuolo has not made a new collection in a few seasons. Fashion wagging tongues confide that Azzuolo is now working for Warby Parker.

Unruly Heir fall 2013 image courtesy of

Unruly Heir fall 2013 image courtesy of

Known for their out-of-the box, irreverent presentations during New York Fashion Week (NYFW), Unruly Heir was launched in 2008 by Joey Goodwin and John Gagliano. Unruly Heir placed a tongue-and-cheek, irreverent twist on classic menswear attire, providing one-of-a-kind pieces for the tailored young man whose lifestyle goes against formal society.

You never knew what you were getting at one of Unruly Heir’s fashion week presentations. You might witness a staged catwalk rumble or food fight, but it was all fun and part of theatre that longer exist during NYFW. Though Unruly Heir’s website is still active and you can purchase merchandise, their NYC presence is all but gone.

Marlon Gobel fall 2014 image courtesy of

Marlon Gobel fall 2014 image courtesy of

One of the most innovative voices on the American menswear landscape was Marlon Gobel. In his first seven years in the menswear market, Gobel worked for some of most prestigious brands in menswear, Thom Browne and Michael Bastian. In 2010 Marlon Gobel launched in eponymous brand that was immediately picked up by Bergdorf Goodman.

Gobel’s design oeuvre was innovative construction with a penchant for glam with a modern sensibility. During NYFW, Gobel always had some of the best male models in his shows including Henry Watkins and Sebastian Suave. Though Gobel still has a Facebook presence, his website only consists of a 2015 video. Gobel has not created a new menswear collection for several seasons.

Alexandre Plohkov images courtesy of pinterest

Alexandre Plohkov images courtesy of pinterest

Alexandre Plokhov’s menswear brand is technically still in existence, but after taking up the mantle at Helmut Lang, not a lot has been going on at Plokov’s eponymous brand. Plokov established himself as an innovative designer when he launched Cloak in 2000. Cloak won the Ecco Domani award in 2003 and the 2005 CFDA Swarovski Perry Ellis Award for Menswear. Plokhov became known for his military goth style that included razor sharp tailoring, details and luxurious fabrics.

After Cloak shuttered due to partnership disagreements in Plokhov launched his namesake line in 2010. Alexandre Plokhov became one of the must-see menswear brands during NYFW. However, after Plokhov moved over to Helmut Lang, Plohkov announced on Instagram in late December 2015 he would be shutting down his eponymous line. That said; word on the street is that Plokhov has bee replaced at Helmut Lang by the design team from Hood by Air.

Greg Lauren Spring 2016 images courtesy of

Greg Lauren Spring 2016 images courtesy of

Greg Lauren’s menswear collection had a lot of traction in the menswear market. After being the darling of New York Fashion Week: Men’s, Lauren has all but disappeared. Launched in 2011, Lauren’s namesake brand set a standard for distressed aesthetics.

From his initial launch, Greg Lauren’s men’s and women’s collections were picked up by Bergdorf Goodman and many mainstream department stores and boutiques. Yet, Greg has been suspiciously absent from the NYFW scene, although his spring 2017 and 2018 collections are available for purchase through is online site.

—William S. Gooch

Fashion Flashback: Santo Loquasto

Image courtesy of

Image courtesy of

As the spring ballet season and Broadway’s spring season are in full swing, Fashion Reverie looks back at one of the most prolific costume designers for both ballet and the Broadway stage, Santo Loquasto.

Spring 2017 is turning out to be a banner season for Santo Loquasto. American Ballet Theatre is performing “Don Quixote,” “Le Corsaire,” and “Eugene Onegin,” ballets for which Loquasto has designed costumes. And one of the biggest hits of Broadway’s spring season, “Hello Dolly,” has Santo Loquasto’s stamp on it.

Images from "Hello Dolly"

Images from “Hello Dolly”

Born in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, Santo Loquasto earned a BA degree in literature from King’s College and an MFA from Yale Drama School. Loquasto has worked on 61 productions as either a costume or scenic designer, winning Tony Awards for “The Cherry Orchard” and “Grand Hotel: The Musical.”

Images from "Desperately Seeking Susan"

Images from “Desperately Seeking Susan”

Loquasto’s film and television resume is just as extensive as his stage credits. A favorite of Woody Allen, Loquasto has costumed Woody Allen’s “Crimes and Misdemeanors,” “Smoke and Fog,” “Mighty Aphrodite,” “Husbands and Wives,” “Bullets over Broadway,” and “Radio Days.” His most well known film to date is “Desperately Seeking Susan,” where he served as production designer.

Images from ABT productions of "Eugene Onegin," and "Don Quixote"

Images from ABT productions of “Eugene Onegin,” “Le Corsaire,” and “Don Quixote”

Since the late 1960s, Santo Loquasto has enjoyed a beloved and long-time association with American Ballet Theatre (ABT). In 1976, Loquasto’s costumes for ABT’s iconic production of “Don Quixote” solidly placed Loquasto in the pantheon of costume designers for ballet. (A list that includes Barbara Karinksa, Irene Sharaff, Oliver Messel, Nicholas Georgiadis, and Willa Kim.) Since the mid-70s, Loquasto has designed costumes for the New York City Ballet, the Royal Ballet, the Joffrey Ballet, the National Ballet of Canada, Les Grand Ballets Canadiens, and the San Francisco Ballet.

Collages1291Currently, Santo Loquasto has costumed three ABT ballets playing this spring at the Metropolitan Opera House, “Eugene Onegin,” “Le Corsaire,” and “Don Quixote.” And Loquasto’s costumes and scenic design for “Hello Dolly” has been nominated for a couple of 2017 Tony Awards.

Bravos, and kudos Loquasto!!


Fashion Flashback: The Enduring Style of Michelle Obama

Images courtesy of

Images courtesy of

As the 45th Presidential Inauguration dawns upon America and the world at large, Fashion Reverie looks back at the sophisticated and enduring White House style of First Lady Michelle Obama. From her choice of fashion designers Jason Wu, Carolina Herrera, and Naeem Khan, no other First Lady has brought more diversity in style and fashion to the White House than Michelle Obama.


Michelle Obama in Tom Ford, Atelier Versace, and Brandon Maxwell, respectively.

Jacqueline Onassis has been anointed as the First Lady who without a doubt bought inimitable style, grace and immaculate sophisticated and elegance to the White House. Michelle Obama, though continuing in the tradition of former First Lady Jacqueline Onassis, has redefined the style of the First Lady by bringing an ease and relaxed elegance to the White House. With her youthful vigor and curvy silhouette, no other First Lady has had clothing fit their frame so beautifully and with regal luster. Another accomplishment to take note of is that Michelle Obama is the first First Lady to grace of cover of American Vogue, not once, but on three separate occasions.


Michelle Obama in Carolina Herrera, Givenchy Couture, and Zac Posen, respectively. Images courtesy of

First Lady Michelle Obama became famous for relaxed elegance. Whether hosting a party for children at the White House, appearing on talk shows or hosting events, no First Lady has done it better than Michelle Obama.

Images courtesy of Vera Wang, and Gucci, respectively.

When it comes to State Dinners and Kennedy Center honors, Michelle Obama’s style is in a class by itself. Donning designers as diverse as Atelier Versace, Jason Wu, Zack Posen, and Carolina Herrera to Brandon Maxwell, Naeem Khan, Marchesa, and Tom Ford, Michelle Obama has proved time and time again that White House fashion can be glamorous, as well as relatable.

Michelle Obama in Tracy Reese, Duro Olowu, Jason Wu, and Byron Lars Beauty Mark, respectively.

Michelle Obama in Tracy Reese, Duro Olowu, Jason Wu, and Byron Lars Beauty Mark, respectively. Images courtesy of Getty Images,,, and, respectively.

No other First Lady has incorporated designers of color in their wardrobes more than Michelle Obama. From Bryan Lars, Tracy Reese, Naeem Khan, and Charles Harbison to Duro Olowu, Vera Wang, and Jason Wu, Michelle Obama style reflects the true diversity of the US and the world.

Michelle Khan in Naeem Khan

Michelle Khan in Naeem Khan

Michelle Obama’s inimitable style will be missed. Still, her grace and elegance will live in on in the memory of all we witnessed her grace and elegance. Bravo Michelle!!

—William S. Gooch

Fashion Flashback: America’s Next Top Model

Image courtesy of VH1

America’s Next Top Model’s cycle 23 judges image courtesy of VH1

America’s Next Top Model (ANTM) returns to network television after a year’s hiatus. In this ANTM incarnation, the newly revamped ANTM is minus Tyra Banks and some very familiar judges—Kelly Cutrone and Jay Alexander.

Since its cancellation in 2015, many fashion and entertainment pundits felt that the model competition show in its 22-season cycle needed a makeover. That makeover includes a new network, VH1, host Rita Ora replacing Tyra Banks, curvy supermodel Ashley Graham, celebrity stylist Law Roach, and Drew Elliot, chief creative officer of Paper magazine. And there is also a bevy of guest judges DJ Khaleed, French Montana, Tinashe,  Zendaya, Director X, supermodels Stacey McKenzie and Chanel Iman, Jason Derulo, Amber Rose, and others. And Tyra Banks, who still serves as executive producer makes a few surprise appearances on the show this season.

ANTM cycle 23 contestant images courtesy of

ANTM cycle 23 contestant images courtesy of

That said; Fashion Reverie looks back at the 13-year model competition show that gave insight into the modeling industry like no other show of its kind. And though many fashion industry professionals complain that ANTM was more entertainment than fashion, it cannot be denied that consumers loved it!!

When Tyra Banks launched ANTM in 2003, few believed it would be successful. Banks could find very few fashion industry professionals to appear on the show in its inaugural season, so Banks had to call on fashion friends and a few favors just to get the ball rolling. Original judges included supermodels Kimora Lee Simmons, Janice Dickinson, and model scout Beau Quillian. By season two Banks had employed model scout/stylist Nole Marin as a regular judge and Nigel Barker as the show’s main photographer. Nole Marin suggested Barker, who had been a top male model, to Banks.

ANTM cycle 9 image courtesy of

ANTM cycle 9 image courtesy of

The first few seasons received such high ratings that top designers/brands like Betsey Johnson, Zac Posen, Roberto Cavalli, Versace, Cynthia Rowley, Pamella Roland, Alice + Olivia, Kevan Hall, Osklen, Nanette Lepore, and many others made guest appearances or lent clothes to the show. And the list of judges grew from the original cast of Kimora Lee Simmons, Janice Dickinson, and Brett Quillian to Nole Marin, Andre Leon Talley, Twiggy, Paulina Porizkova, Kelly Cutrone, Jay Manuel, Bryan Boy, Rob Evans, Yu Tsai, and Nigel Barker.

Still, what of the model contestants? While very few of the contestants have established huge careers in fashion and entertainment industries, there are some notable models that have used ANTM as launch pad to respectable careers as models.


ANtM model alumna clockwise Fatima Siad, L’Eila Goldkuhl, Yaya DaCosta

1) Perhaps, the most successful former ANTM alumnae is Leila Goldkuhl from cycle 19. Leila is signed with NEXT Model Management in New York, Milan, Miami, and Los Angeles. She is also signed with Chic Model Management in Sydney. She was chosen by designer Riccardo Tisci to walk in the Givenchy Spring 2016 collection as a worldwide exclusive, and appeared in Givenchy’s spring/summer 2016 advertising campaign, which was shot by Mert and Marcus and became the face of fall ready-to-wear campaigns for Dolce & Gabbanaand Just Cavalli In 2016, she appeared in editorials for Japanese, German and Australian VogueW (magazine), Harper’s Bazaar and CR Fashion Book.  In addition, she has walked for Versace, Fendi, Tom Ford, Hermes, Stella McCartney, Kenzo, Giambattista Valli and Max Mara.

2) Fatima Siad from ANTM cycle 10 is currently signed with IMG Models in New York City, Paris, Milan, and London, and Ace Models in Athens, Greece, as well as with Munich Models in Munich, Germany. She has walked the runways for GiorgioArmani, Hermés, Ralph Lauren, Dries Van Noten, Emilia Wickstead, Moncler Gamme Rouge, J. Crew, Dennis Basso, NanetteLepore, Alexandre Vauthier, bebe, Tracy Reese, Betsey Johnson, Anne Valérie Hhas, and St. John. She has appeared in advertising campaigns for Ralph Lauren, Marc Jacobs, Hervé Léger, Tiffany & Co., Liz Claiborne, BCBG, Tracy Reese, Express,Talbots, Neiman Marcus, Urban Decay, Aveda, Pantene, L’Oreal, Avon, Armani Exchange, Sephora, Cynthia Rowley, and Coca Cola. Siad has a contract with the Swiss cosmetic company, Arbonne and is one of the new faces for Arbonne FC5, appearing in ads for the products.

3) Though Yaya DaCosta seldom models these days, since her runner-up finish on ANTM cycle 3, DaCosta after a successful career as a commercial model, successfully moving on to a career in film, theatre and television. DaCosta breakout film role was in the dance film “Take the Lead” in 2006, and has since had a reoccurring role on “All My Children,” a featured role in “The Butler,” the lead role in the Lifetime biopic about Whitney Houston, and in 2015 a recurring role on “Chicago Med.

ANTM alumnae clockwise Gabrielle Kniery, Chantal Jones, Stacey-Ann Fesquiere, Sophie Sumners, and Phil Sullivan

ANTM alumnae clockwise Gabrielle Kniery, Chantal Jones, Stacey-Ann Fequiere, Sophie Sumners, and Phil Sullivan

4) Other ANTM alumnae who’ve achieved some traction in the fashion industry include Chantal Jones, cycle 9, who is signed to Muse Model Management in NYC. Jones has s a consistent runway presence during New York Fashion Week and New York International Bridal Week, modeling for Barbie, Galia Lahav Bridal, Anne Barge Bridal, and RIVINI Bridal.

Sophie Sumner, winner cycle 18 is signed to New York Models works regularly in Asia. Phil Sullivan, male contestant on cycle 20, is signed to Ford Models, has a regular presence on runway and presentations during New York Fashion Week: Men’s. Stacy-Ann Fequiere, cycle 10, is signed to NEXT Models in Miami and State Model Management in NYC, has a consistent presence on runways and presentation in NYC, modeling for Alice + Olivia, Chromat, and Rinat Brodach. She has appeared in Seventeen, and Glamour South Africa. Gabrielle Kniery, cycle 14, is signed with Fenton Model Management in NYC and is a regular model for Alice + Olivia fashion shows.

“America’s Next Top Model” cycle 23 airs on VH1 on December 12 at 10pm EST.

—William S. Gooch





Fashion Flashback: James Galanos

james_GalanosFashion Reverie looks back at the career of Jams Galanos. James Galanos transitioned on October 30, 2016, after decades of dressing the American elite, most noticeably former First Lady Nancy Reagan. Rosina Rucci, sister of longtime friend and fellow designer Ralph Rucci, confirmed Galanos’s death.

“Ronnie liked Jimmy’s clothes very much,” Mrs. Reagan said in a 2007 interview with Vanity Fair magazine. “Wearing Jimmy meant never going overboard or to extremes. Jimmy really set the standard.”

James Galanos made a name for himself dressing celebrities and the fashion elite. Twice he won the prestigious Coty Award, respectively in 1954 and 1956, as well as the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Council of Fashion Designers of Designers in 1985.

Collages1013Born in Philadelphia to Greek immigrant parents, Galanos, who studied briefly at the Traphagen School of Fashion in New York City, got an auspicious start in the industry, first working as a general assistant for Hattie Carnegie. After a failed attempt designing for a ready-to-wear startup in Los Angeles, Jean Louis, head costume designer at Columbia Pictures, hired Galanos. After the war, Galanos worked in Paris for the French couturier Robert Giguet. By the early 1950s, Galanos had opened his own company, Galanos Originals, in California. Saks Fifth Avenue in Beverly Hills immediately picked up clothes from his early collections. After opening a showroom in New York City, Galanos became the darling of Diana Vreeland, Eleanor Lambert, Eugenia Sheppard, and the president of Neiman Marcus, Stanley Marcus.

James Galanos’s designs were known for their simple elegance. He was especially adept at draping and finding new ways of working with chiffon.  As much as Galanos’s chiffon gowns were the envy of every woman in the 50s, 60s, and 70s, Galanos was also highly respected for his furs. He used mainly mink, sable, lynx and broadtail and handled the furs imaginatively, as if they were fabric. He smocked and quilted the surfaces, nipped the waistlines and used drawstrings, ruffles and capelets to give a strong fashion slant to all that opulence.

Though Galanos had a wide celebrity and social elite clientele, Galanos never sought to proliferate the market with his designs. Galanos designed mostly for a select group of wealthy customers. He aggressively stayed out of the limelight and the fashion press, never staging fashion shows or developing clothes for mass market consumption.. “I’m only interested in designing for a certain type of woman,” Mr. Galanos once said. “Specifically, one that has money.” That said; Galanos’s select list of clients included Elizabeth Taylor, Marilyn Monroe, Diana Ross, Grace Kelly, Marlene Dietrich, Kim Basinger, Jackie Kennedy, Lady Bird Johnson, Nancy Reagan, Ivana Trump, Arianna Huffington, and Betsy Bloomingdale.

“There was an establishment quality to Galanos, a sense of privilege around his clothes,” Harold Koda, a former curator of the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute, told Vanity Fair. “A Galanos projected knockout glamour, absolute luxury, but the lightness of his handiwork prevented the clothes from ever looking like costume.”

Collages1014After Galanos retired from fashion in 1998, he became passionately obsessed with photography. In 2006, at age 82, Galanos’s first exhibition of photography was held to great acclaim at the Serge Sorokko Gallery in San Francisco. The show featured more than 40 photographs taken by Galanos over the previous several years. The works were mostly abstract, with the notable exception of a few mystical, mirror-effect enigmatic landscapes.

“The highlight of my career is simply existing for 46 years,” he answered. “The most important thing I have done is to maintain what I started out to do.”

James Galanos, 92, died in his home in West Hollywood.



Fashion Flashback: Imitation of Christ

Imitation of Christ spring 2002 images courtesy of

Imitation of Christ spring 2002 images courtesy of

Fashion Reverie looks back on the controversial fashion brand, Imitation of Christ. Like several popular fashion brands launched in the early 2000s—Heatherette, Cloak, Juicy Couture, Winter Kate, House of Harlow, and Baby Phat— Imitation of Christ was initially heavily associated with celebrities. Founded by art students Tara Subkoff and Matthew Damhave, Imitation of Christ evolved from an art collective in 2000 to a full-fledged fashion brand by 2001. Initially the brand was composed of recycled clothed, restructured and resewn by Subkoff and others, but transitioned into a brand that consisted of easy staple items with a bit of edge.

Former art students Matthew Damhave and Tar Subkoff launched Imitation of Christ in 2000 as a an art collective, borrowing the name from a song by the Pyschedelic Furs and the 15th century devotional text. Subkoff and Damhave transitoned their art installations to a fashion line because critics and viewers mistook the art collective as a fashion collection. While the fashion collection was highly constroversional with unorthodox themes—fashion shows were sometimes held in odd places, like a funeral parlor with models demanding money from the audience or models being topless vacuuming carpets—the brand was praised by critics for its creatively beautiful garments.


Images of Tara Subkoff and Chloe Sevigny courtesy of

Imitation of Christ, early on garnered a cult following  by those who saw the clothes as wearable art. As explained by Subkoff, “we were talking about waste, throwing things away, and taking something that’s old and making it new again, putting the human hand back into a world that wreaks of manufacturing. It felt very appropriate to do that in 2000. When we started it was such a different time. You could talk about issues like globalization; you could talk about free trade. Then, September 11th happened and the entire world changed. Everything became irrelevant. Everything we were saying and doing became so overshadowed by fear and false patriotism.”

Imitation of Christ spring 2007 courtesy of

Imitation of Christ spring 2007 courtesy of

Many celebrities were involved with the fashion brand, now operating under Opening Ceremony, with Chloe Sevigny coming on as creative director and also modeling in the shows and Scartlett Johansson also modeling the collections. With the departure of Matthew Damhave, in 2007 Subkoff sold Imitation of Christ to Josh Sparks, former CEO of  Sass and Bide for a reported $2 million dollars. “The name got so big, and it appeared to be such a giant success, but like most things that are artistic and creative and amazing, it was never this financial powerhouse. It was an art project. It was rewarding to spearhead, and it was a great collaboration with Matt Damhave and so many other amazing people, but I had to work about four or five other jobs—a shoe collaboration with Easy Spirit and consulting for Sara Lee Apparel (which owned Wonderbra, Hanes, and Playtex)—just to keep the company afloat,” explained Subkoff in a article.

Spring 2013 images courtesy of

Spring 2013 images courtesy of

However, after the brand went under financially, Subkoff relaunched the company in 2011 under the name Imitation. In relaunching the brand, Subkoff detailed, “I’m inspired by Coco Chanel and her use of jersey. I’d like to do that with Imitation. I want something as effortless as a T-shirt, but in dress, trench, and jacket shapes.”





Fashion Flashback: Sonia Rykiel

Image courtesy of

Image courtesy of

Fashion Reverie looks back at fashion icon, Sonia Rykiel. Sonia Rykiel died on Thursday, August 25, 2016 after a long battle with Parkinson disease. With Zandra Rhodes and Vivienne Westwood, Sonia Rykiel completed the fashion triptych of European female designers who had a direct influence on how women dressed over three decades. While Rhodes and Westwood very heavily influenced by the avant garde, punk, social upheaval and rebellion, Rykiel’s design aesthetic was a modern distillation on how the modern women could be comfortable and casually chic while still breaking some of fashion’s traditional rules.

Known as the “Queen of Knits,” Rykiel was the first designer to put seams on the outside of garments, leave hems unfinished and put slogans on her sweaters. Born to Jewish parents in Neuilly-sur-Seine, Rykiel nee Fris first job was dressing windows for a Parisian textile store. Later, she married Sam Rykiel, the owner of Laura, a chic Paris boutique. While pregnant with her first child and unable to find anything to wear that she liked, Rykiel created a practical dress and sweater, which incorporated high cut arm holes and a shrunken fit to cling to the body which became known as the “Poor Boy’s Sweater. After selling the knit ensemble to friends and Rykiel began selling the knit set at her husband’s store. In 1965, Rykiel’s “Poor Boy’s Sweater” was featured in French Elle and caught the attention of lots of celebrities, particularly Audrey Hepburn. In 1968 Rykiel opened her first boutique on the Left Bank.


Images from Sonia Rykiel’s 1988 and 1972 collections, respectively

In 1972, Rykiel was given the moniker “Queen of Knits” by Women’s Wear Daily. Rykiel began to popularize black as a color that was acceptable for women to wear at any time of the day. In 2010 Sonia Rykiel collaborated with H&M for a collection entitled Sonia Rykiel for H&M.  And in 2008, Rykiel was the subject of an exhibition at the Musee des Arts Decoratif in Paris.

Coco Mitchell modeling for Sonia Rykiel

Coco Mitchell modeling for Sonia Rykiel

“Sonia Rykiel was one of the go-to brands that I used when I was styling for Japanese independent films and commercials in the 80s and 90s,” explained legendary stylist Rosemary Ponzo. “Her designs were classic, but always with a twist. At times she did use a lot of bold color, but she is also known for using a lot of black. She was also the queen of embellishing clothing with brocade-like fabric, diamond-shaped designs and fur. I still have a diamond-shaped fur Rykiel vest. She was truly ahead of her time … Going to her showroom was wonderful when she had her collections in her showroom in NYC … “I pulled a lot of her garments for Japanese films because the Japanese love anything that was different and French. Although she’s known for using black, she also used bold colors like mustard, terracotta, and red when other designers stayed away from some of those colors. She was in the league of Andres Courreges and Claude Montana. At one time she had a little in-house boutique at Barneys New York and consumers in NYC loved her clothes because her clothes were cut for the American woman.”

Images from Sonia Rykiel's spring 2017 collection courtesy of styleway. net

Images from Sonia Rykiel’s spring 2017 collection courtesy of styleway. net

“ I modeled for Sonia Rykiel a lot in the 80s. And she knew exactly what she wanted and she really didn’t give a lot of direction. In fact, she was kind of quiet, which is unlike a lot of French designers that can sometimes yell a lot and be very demanding,” explained supermodel Coco Mitchell.  At the time no one was doing things like Sonia Rykiel with all her knitwear, she had her vision of Parisian style for the modern woman … “It was amazing walking in her shows because she sometimes would send out 10 models at one time wearing the same thing. It was almost like a visual tableau of models wearing the same thing, saying ‘look at us.’” “She was a light in the fashion world for me because I was a new model in Europe when I started modeling for her.”

—William S. Gooch

Fashion Flashback: “Mahogany” the Movie

 Collages820With New York Fashion Week: The Shows (NYFWS) spring 2017 less than three weeks away, Fashion Reverie looks back at one of the films that reflects the golden age of fashion. “Mahogany,” Diana Ross’ follow-up film to “Lady Sings the Blues,” centers on an African American woman who rises to fame in Rome first as a fashion model and later as an haute couture designer. “Mahogany” starred Diana Ross, Billy Dee Williams, Anthony Perkins, Nina Foch, Merissa Mell, Beah Richards, and Jean-Pierre Aumont. “Mahogany” was also nominated for an Academy Award for the song “Do You Know Where You’re Going To.”

With a screenplay written by John Bynum, “Mahogany” tapped into the burgeoning presence of black models on runways and in some of top couture shows in Europe. (Think of supermodels Pat Cleveland and Grace Jones in Yves Saint Laurent’s runway  shows in the mid-70’, Donyale Luna on the cover of Time magazine in 1968; Beverly Johnson on the cover of American Vogue in 1974, and the 12 black models that were a significant part of the Grande Divertissement a Versailles in 1973.) It is reported that “Mahogany” was modeled on the career of African American model Naomi Sims.

Originally slated to be directed by British director Tony Richardson of “Tom Jones,” “Charge of the Light Brigade,” and “A Delicate Balance” fame, “Mahogany” became the directorial debut of Motown founder Berry Gordy. Though panned by some critics, in 1975 “Mahogany” was a box office success, grossing more than $5 million dollars, and has become a cult classic.

 Collages819Diana Ross, known mostly a former member of the Supremes and a top-ranking solo artist, designed many of the clothes in the film. Iconic haute couturier Princess Irene Galitzine designed additional key garments in “Mahogany.”

And though Ross had had success in “Lady Sings the Blues,’ Ross had never worked as a fashion model. Supermodel Pat Cleveland was brought in to coach Diana Ross by Anthony Perkins who was married to fashion photographer Barry Berenson, sister of top model Marissa Berenson. Cleveland also appeared in the film’s opening runway scene.

Fashion_Flashback_MahoganyThere are also a few lines from “Mahogany” that have become a part of camp culture vernacular. “The men love me, the women love me, me Mahogany;” “I’m success, baby;” “Success is nothing without someone to share it with;” and “this is not politics, this is fashion.”

“Mahogany” was released on DVD in 2007.


Fashion Flashback: Katoucha


Image courtesy of

Image courtesy of

As couture week takes off in Paris this weekend, Fashion Reverie looks back at one of the most recognizable models that defined French couture style in the 1980s and early 90s, Katoucha Niane. Remembered as Yves Saint Laurent’s muse in the 1980’s and as the African model who set the stage for such models as Naomi Campbell, Alek Wek, Jourdan Dunn, and Naomi Smalls, Katoucha’s—the single moniker she became known for in the 80s—auspicious fashion career didn’t start out the traditional route of runway models.

Born into an influential Guinean family—her father was the playwright/author/poet Djibril Tamsir Niane—Katoucha’s family was forced into exile after her father came into conflict with Guinean president Sekou Toure. After marrying at the early age of 17 and giving birth to her first child, Katouche with her family moved to France and began modeling for Lanvin, Thierry Mugler, Paco Rabanne, Christian Lacroix and later Yves Saint Laurent with whom she formed a special, lasting relationship.

Fashion_Flashback_Katoucha_NianeKatoucha rise to fame in the fashion industry, particularly the world of haute couture came on the heels of French couturiers being mesmerized by African American models witnessed en masse in the now famous “Divertissement de Versailles” in 1973. Some years later Hubert de Givenchy hired a contingent of African American models to showcase in collection in Paris and Martinique-born Mounia became a special muse to Yves Saint Laurent.

Katoucha reign as the “ebony princess” for Yves Saint Laurent came after paying her dues first working as a fit model at Lanvin and later gaining attention with her wide shoulders that narrowed down to a slender waist in Mugler’s early 80s power suits. Katoucha also became a particular favorite in the couture shows of Gian Franco Ferre, Chloe, Chanel, Givenchy, and Dior.  And Japanese audiences declared the queen of their catwalks in the 80s and early 90s.


After retiring from modeling full time in 1994, Katoucha dedicated her time to setting up a charity, Katoucha Pour la Lutte Contre l’Excision that campaigned against female genital circumcision. Later, in 1995 she launched her own fashion label, Katoucha. Of her failed fashion label, Katoucha said, “I’ve got long fingers to grab money and big gaps between them to let it fall through.”

After many years struggling with drugs and alcohol abuse, in 2007 Katoucha released her tall-all autobiography, and that same year Katoucha starred in Senegalese writer Abbas Ndione film adapted “Ramata.” The director, Leandre-Alain Baker, said: “She could go right from laughter to anger. But she always came back, and I attribute that to her past, what she … lived through.”

Collages747Tragically, Katoucha Niane was found dead in the Seine in 2008. Her death was ruled an accidental drowning after she fell off of her houseboat into the Seine River.


Fashion Flashback Tribute: Prince

"Purple Rain" tour images

“Purple Rain” tour images

As the world mourns the untimely death of one of the greatest musicians and fashion icons of the 20th and 21st centuries, Fashion Reverie takes a retrospective look at the fashion stylings of the peripatetic and ever-evolving Prince. No other musical and fashion icon has had the global impact over the past four decades than Prince Rogers Nelson.

Images from 1991 "Diamonds and Pearls" tour

Images from 1991 “Diamonds and Pearls” tour

When it comes to finding that delicate balance between feminine and masculine silhouettes with a dose of avant-garde and a nod to vintage and the baroque, no musical has defined this mix of fashion eclecticism better than Prince. With Prince, sexy surprise is the norm. And his norm is way ahead of the fashion curve.

That said; with almost four decades in the music industry, no musical artist has made the impact Prince has made, musically or creatively. He is irreverent, rebellious, sensual, fashion forward, unpredictable, sublime, and yes, divine. In other words, Prince is in a class all of his own!!


Recent images of Prince at the Academy Awards, Grammy’s , and NAACP Image Awards

Since his musical debut in the late 70s, Prince has consistently defied the standard perception of how a male musical artist is supposed to dress on and off stage. From wearing black bikini thongs with thigh-high leg warmers and heeled boots to a pompadour coif with ruffled shirts and heavily embroidered jacquard baroque–inspired jackets to his final incarnation paying homage to Black Power in a big Afro, Prince’s fashion predilection was not only fashion forward and gender bending, but also political.

Fashion_Flashback_PrinceWhat could be more political than redefining masculinity and masculine silhouettes. Yet, Prince’s political leanings went way beyond juxtaposing feminine styles against masculine silhouettes. When Prince was not able to access his master tapes in the mid-1990s he started writing ‘slave’ on his face and used he moniker the ‘Artist Formerly Known as Prince.’ His nod to black empowerment was made evident in donning a big Afro paired with Nehru-type jackets and love beads.

Images from 1981 "Controversy" tour

Images from 1981 “Controversy” tour

Prince never tried to separate politics from life. And the real-time politics of everyday life was infused into his music, as well as his fashion choices. Think the lyrics in “Controversy,” “Annie Christian,” and “Ronnie Talk to Russia,” all from Prince’s 1981 “Controversy” album. There is also “Money Don’t Matter 2 Night” and “Race” from Prince’s “Diamonds and Pearls” album. Last, but not least, there is the “Emancipation” album that was heavily inspired by Prince’s battle with Warner Bros. over master tapes. This album produced the politically charged “Face Down,” “2045: Radical Man.”

Images for "Under the Cherry Moon"

Images for “Under the Cherry Moon”

Still, at times his political statements didn’t match his religious views. Some social pundits note that Prince may have been a conservative Christian that didn’t support gay marriage and his spiritual journeys which swayed from Seventh Day Adventist to Jehovah Witness were crazy quilt and uneven, at best. Perhaps, like all deep thinkers, Prince was continually searching for his truth. And his search for the Divine evolved just like his music and personal style.

Collages655That said; what cannot be denied is his style. No other pop artist celebrated bold color, and in particular the hues of purple like Prince. From sequined purple jackets, to metallic purple trench coats to tight purple, hip hugging slacks to purple heels, Prince was the ‘Emperor of Purple.’

We will never, ever forget you dear Prince. May your music and fashion style live for generations to come. Long live the Prince!!

—William S. Gooch

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