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From the runways of London to the streets of Boston, maximalist print mixing is au courant for Spring. Joseph Gordon Cleveland takes on the trend in a surrealist editorial shoot with photographer Eric Levin.

All apparel, accessories and shoes courtesy of Neiman Marcus Copley Place.

Photographs by ERIC LEVIN, Elevin Studios
Art Direction & Styling by JOSEPH GORDON CLEVELAND
Hair by JILL COLWELL, Studio 28
Makeup by STACEY FRASCA, Studio 28
Featuring OKSANA for Maggie Inc.

Spring is alive and in the air! Tuesday night I was honored to be host of the first annual Fashion Power Play to benefit the Boston Bruins Foundation and The Second Step at Copley Place in Boston’s Back Bay district. Neiman Marcus dressed the gorgeous wives and significant others of the Bruins — as well as professional models, to show off the looks for Spring/Summer ’15. Our own Kathy Benharris organized the entire production and did a beautiful job indeed. Managing the models and wives, who generously volunteered their time for this good cause, is no easy task.  Backstage was an organized frenzy, with makeup, hair and fittings all taking place at once. Racks of Milly, Shoshanna, and Prada filled the room. Neiman’s Spring/Summer vision was Spice Market, so we saw the runway decorated with a mix of vivid oranges, blues and yellows, intermingled in floral patterns and expressionist type prints. Kathy started the show with boho chic fringe, lots of leather and jeans, then transitioned to some demure cocktail attire, focusing on trends such as the crop top, which  I happened to be sporting that evening. I received many compliments on my outfit and was happy to represent two local designers who are near and dear to my heart, Daniela Corte and Monika Ramizi. And of course, sitting front row across from the entire Bruins lineup was quite a treat…well, I mean someone had to do it.

Watch below to see how Kathy Benharris took over the center of Copley Place, while showing off Spring/Summer ’15, all for a good cause.

Kreyol, Fashionably Late at the Liberty Hotel

Kreyol, Fashionably Late at the Liberty Hotel

The goal of the evening was a fashion magic carpet ride, an inclusionary “big tent” event that a diverse gathering of fashionistas, both men and women, could enjoy regardless of their personal approach to style.  I wanted a designer dream team, each possessing an original vision for strong females with the type of talent that transcends and inspires. I chose the fresh, confident chic of Kreyol, the futuristic military vision of Julie Kontos paired with Race & Grant, and the red carpet drama of David Josef’s dresses.

kreyol

Kreyol, created by the glamorous Haitian born designer Joelle Jean Fontaine, opened the show with her Capsule Collection. The collection included 50’s inspired garments with circa 1800 details and modern touches. The structured bouffant sleeves and full, oversized a – line skirts were reminiscent of a by gone era, but the form fitting pencil skirts and cropped tops in colorfully rich patterns gave the collection a distinctly modern sex appeal. Looks were completed with strong jewelry, flirty sunglasses, and leather driving gloves.  Fontaine designs Kreyol for “the woman who creates her own reality, she is born to stand out and rule her destiny looking fabulously chic.”

The second presentation featured Boston-based designer Julie Kontos paired with Tracy Belben & Helena Grant, the accessory designers behind Race & Grant. This fusion created an evening wear collection that blends the team’s talents and commands attention. Kontos “classic with an edge” aesthetic evokes the structure of military styling with clean lines and symmetry, yet balances femininity by implementing thoughtful cut outs and flattering silhouettes. Touches of lace and shimmery fabrics enhance the crisp navy, gray, and white color palette. The fashion designer worked directly with Race & Grant to create customized accessories to compliment features within each garment.

juliekontos

Meticulously handcrafted by the designers, Race & Grant (aka ‘R&G’) is a fusion between chain jewelry artist (Belben) and handbag/ accessories creator (Grant). “In military styling, function is important. We created durable bags that incorporate both vegan and real leathers in rich color tones to accompany Julie’s collection,” states Grant, who crafts and engineers the structure of R&G’s bags.  Each R&G bag is intricately wrapped and finished in hand-linked chainmaille, which further expresses the military concept within Kontos’ collection. “If you look closely, you will find hidden symbols such as crosses and American flags linked within the chainmaille”, says Belben, who finishes each R&G piece with chain adornments.  This fashion stylist says “Sign me up!”

raceandgrant

Closing the show and bringing down the house was designer David Josef, a force in the fashion world for nearly 40 years. He attributes his long success to recognizing the needs of each individual client and focuses on silhouettes that enhance a woman’s beauty, no matter her age or dress size. Neiman Marcus, Bloomingdales and Saks Fifth Ave have all carried his collections. David Josef has been featured in ads in Vogue, Town & Country, and Harper’s Bazaar. The client list for his beautiful cocktail dresses and gowns is extensive and includes both national and local celebrities in film and news media. David has worked with Judith Light, Dionne Warwick, Debbie Reynolds and WCVB’s Susan Wornick. More recently, David worked on the wedding gown for Ariana Brown, daughter of former Senator Scott Brown and Gail Huff, for her July 2014 wedding.

CREDITS:

Models provided by Dynasty

Photography – Dilven PhotographyExfailures

 

DESIGNERS:

KREYOL –  website | facebook | twitter

DAVID JOSEF – facebook

RACE & GRANT – website | facebook | twitter

JULIE KONTOS – facebook | twitter

Phillip Lim fringe dress.

Phillip Lim fringe dress.

I know, I know. There’s still a lot of lace out there and it’s a lovely way to cover your arms if you don’t want to go sleeveless, but like I said last month, it’s tired and cliché. Everyone has that royal blue dress with the see-thru lace over a matching colored slip. So, let me suggest one of my favorite looks for the all-daunting upcoming holiday season–something literally kicky with enough variation in style that people won’t notice if more than one of you is wearing it. Try a pretty metallic dress with a steely fringe, or a simple Phillip Lim black cocktail dress with a feathery fringe. It’s an especially good look if you’ve got good legs and even better if you want to distract from your arms. Also, it’s a way to minimize accessories as the fringe is an accessory itself. I saw a really cute black Milly dress at Nieman’s with a sweet fringe or, your bank account permitting, you can go upscale with a Chanel fringe. Here are a couple of suggested designs. I’m partial to the cowboy look myself, but that’s just my thing.


Christian Louboutin goes beyond being footwear royalty. The iconic designer who consistently pushes the envelope with his imaginative designs recently celebrated his twentieth anniversary. The accoutrements of such an accomplishment? A glossy coffee-table art book cataloging his many creations and glamourous fêtes at both Bergdorf Goodman and Barneys in NYC. Now he’s rolled out a nationwide partnership with Neiman Marcus whereby one devoted Louboutin fan has a chance to win her own pair of red-soled wonders.

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It’s not often that one has the chance to be dolled up by a makeup artist whose roster of high-profile clients includes Vogue Editor-in-Chief Anna Wintour, model Nikki Taylor, actress Kerry Washington, and designer Daisy Fuentes, among others.

But this Thursday, March 1st, Neiman Marcus Copley is offering you the chance at just that, with nationally-recognized Makeup Artist Dani Wagener. For this special, by-appointment-only event, Dani will provide one-on-one consultations and helpful tips to get your beauty regiment up-to-speed for Spring. Experience her “effect and empowerment” philosophy first hand.

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This Thursday and Friday Neiman Marcus Copley Place will host designer Christian Siriano for an intimate presentation of his Resort and S/S ’12 collections. One of fashion’s favorite wunderkinds, Siriano is as well known for his ebullient personality as he is for his jaw-dropping designs. So, yes, come for the fabulous frocks, but also come to get a chance to meet this charming personality.

From ultra-feminine silhouettes to his virtuosity of tailoring, the collections are not to be missed. I had the distinct pleasure of seeing the Spring 2012 collection at NYFW, and, frankly, cannot wait to get to see these pieces up-close-and-personal.

Christian Siriano Presentation
& Personal Appearance
Thursday & Friday
October 13-14
10AM-4PM

Neiman Marcus
Couture Salon on Level Three
Copley Place

RSVP by phone to (617) 536-3660, ext. 2052

It takes a certain amount of chutzpah to pull off wearing a hat–an amount that typically hovers above the (mostly hatless) heads of most Bostonians. Hats say: Look at me, damn it. Now. And: That’s right, bitch. I’m someone to be reckoned with. If not even sometimes: You know you wish you had guts enough to wear this. None of which are sentiments most New Englanders are exactly comfy with. The ubiquitousRed Sox cap notwithstanding, hats just aren’t our thing.

I’d reckon that was all changed last Monday night. The Boston Fashion Week show of Marie Galvin, milliner and longtime Boston fixture who for years has struggled with a local aversion to flamboyance, had just that kind of impact.

That’s largely because Galvin made two very smart decisions for the show: First, she went for wearability. Gone were her outrageous sculptural creations that may look beautiful behind glass, but would all but eclipse their wearer. (And have, in the past, emitted squawks of, “Where on earth would I wear that?“) No, she kept things earthly, unpretentious, and simply pretty with intricate fascinators festooned with netting and feathers; pom-pom topped wool caps; ’20s, ’30s, and ’60s-inspired numbers topped with petite poofs of feathers. The only hints at architectural derring-do–a fascinator of silk multi-curls here, a gorgeous, asymmetrical black meringue for the finale–were still sized well enough that they stayed proportionate to the models’ heads. Meaning they came off as daring rather than overwhelming or silly.

Her second smart move was tapping CONTRA to style the show, all the clothing and accessories pulled from Neiman Marcus with an eye toward elegance and streamlined refinement that still nodded to the runway. Gauzy blouses, python-patterned pencil skirts, silk shift dresses, and fur-collared coats–all of it a mostly neutral palette, and all of it as ladylike as it was edgy. They were the perfect foil for the hats–and arguably the most convincing argument for the hats themselves.

Together, Galvin and Contra showed Bostonians that not only are hats wearable every day; they showed them how to wear them–as an improvement to an already spectacular outfit. That’s the kind of equation capable of proving to the hatless public that style statements are nothing to be afraid of. And that, even as vintage-inspired as many of Galvin’s creations may be, is an idea that’s time has finally come.

For the premiere of StyleBoston’s third season, I partnered with an all-star team to bring you what I consider to be one of the best Fashion Forward features to date: a behind-the-scenes look at our Fall 2011 editorial shoot.

I’ll admit, as a whole this F/W season was wildly underwhelming for me.  Throughout the shows in February, it seemed as though designers were reacting to continued buyer hesitation by pushing aside designs that could or would have felt new and fresh. Instead, in concert they gave us collections that not only pandered to the last-standing dollar, but also diluted, with their severe safeness, the very essence of the brands which designers were scrambling to save from financial woes. Gone were the idiosyncratic signatures of each designer–the differences that distinguish one brand from another–and in their stead was a mild sea of sameness. The waves advanced but never broke, and if they ever reached the shore, well, I must have missed them from where I was standing.

As a result of this conciliatory consensus among designers, the editorial pages of America’s major fashion tomes–Vogue, Elle, W, Harper’s Bazaar, Marie Claire and the rest of their ilk–were chock full of predictable features hailing the neoclassicist revival as the next best thing since the no-carb diet. “Finally, designers have come back to reality and created sensible collections that every woman, in every city, in every country, of every shape, of every age, can wear!” Never mind that no fewer than twenty designers brought you nearly the same pencil skirt silhouette. Never mind that you most likely already own that very silhouette and have for over a decade. These are clothes you can buy, said the editors. And though seeing that tired phrase over and over again definitely annoyed me,  I could hardly blame them. After all, designers lose money when their more outlandish pieces don’t sell and their retailers scale back their seasonal buys. Designers losing money = designers having smaller advertising budgets = designers spending fewer advertising dollars with America’s paragons of print.  Either way, it was clear: the buzzword of the season was buy buy buy buy buy, and it was repeated ad nauseum.

My word was somewhat different: bored.

Of course, I enjoy a somewhat rare position: we at styleboston maintain a pretty strict separation between our sponsors and our editorial coverage, so I’m not beholden to tell you to buy buy buy buy buy whatever’s sitting on the racks at your nearest boutique or department store. That, frankly, just isn’t my thing. If you already have it, you probably don’t need another, and if we’re being honest with ourselves, you don’t actually need any of this. But fashion, at its best, is an incredible form of escapism, a bit of fantasy that you can put on and take off as you see fit. By my estimation, when a design hits that mark, it’s always a worthy investment.

All that in mind, the team and I selected our favorites from the Fall 2011 season for this feature. That labels like Comme des Garçons and Proenza Schouler made it onto that list is to be expected,  but there were certainly a few surprises, too: a diaphanous cocktail dress from Christian Siriano, for example. The designer himself dubbed the tulle confection the “ChaCha” dress because of the way the skirt floats and sways away from the body as you move, and frankly, who could resist a dress that makes you want to dance until you drop? I mean, damn, even I was tempted to purchase the thing, and I don’t wear dresses (they don’t fit) and I hate dancing (because I can’t dance).

All kidding aside, I hope you’ll take a few moments to peruse the feature, Cosas Oscuras, and maybe, just maybe, remember that while fashion is a serious industry, it is not serious business. Consider some of fashion’s most historic moments… In 1947, Christian Dior rebelled against post-World-War-II fabric restrictions by using over 20 yards in a single silhouette. It was a perfectly pedantic whim, but in the process he débuted the revolutionary New Look. Yves Saint Laurent fantasized about a modern power woman, slick and in control. That fantasy manifested itself as the Le Smoking tuxedo. It was the first clear foray into menswear as womenswear, territory designers are still mining for inspiration to this very day. Or Savage Beauty, the Met’s Alexander McQueen retrospective, which not only drew record crowds, but was then extended, then sold over 20,000 new memberships as people vied to skip the four-hour lines. When it finally closed, the museum could hardly meet demand.  In short, a little fantasy goes a long way.

And for those who wonder at my admittedly pretentious title, Cosas Oscuras, I’ll come clean: the phrase was plucked from one of my favorite lines of Pablo Neruda’s verse, “Te amo como se aman ciertas cosas oscuras…” I won’t bother translating it because, hey, this is the digital age. You, like me, have google.

So take it in, love it, hate it, burn it (difficult through a computer screen, but I admire persistence!). And, as always, please feel free to leave your feedback in the comments section.

Much love,
JGC

J Mendel is a label best-known for it’s coveted red-carpet creations. This is not generally the realm of innovation.

This dress, however, defies such constraints. It is quite beautiful, yes. But the technique at work here, lasercut pieces of calfhair stitched to layers of tulle, is spellbinding, and incredibly precise. It’s as if Gilles wanted to remind his public that he knows his stuff. And yes, he makes beautiful gowns.

It needs little embellishment, so skip the jewelry wherever possible. For your feet, disregard these awful boots and pair this technical wonder with a pair of sky-high sculptural platforms courtesy of Raphael Young or Diego Dolcini.

GET IT HERE.

If the Boston Design Community can be proud of one single accomplishment, it is the ingenious talents and multiple successes of  Interior Designer Frank Roop.

This Thursday evening, Neiman Marcus is hosting the launch party celebration of Mr. Roop’s book,  The New Bespoke.   Not only is it an absolute honor to be invited to an event supporting such an amazing Designer, it also happens to be Fashion’s Night Out. What better way to spend a Thursday evening? I can think of no other!

Before I had the pleasure of running into Frank one evening outside his brownstone (and I literally ran into him), I have admired his unique, custom designed spaces from the get go. Originally hailing from California (see my previous post about where coolness hails……) and settling in Boston, Mr Roop has epitomized what high-end design can and should be.

An excerpt from the book’s Summary:

The New Bespoke is a compelling first monograph on the work of internationally recognized and published interior designer Frank Roop. A mastermind of original color palettes, Roop leaves his signature couture touch on each and every space that he creates. To create truly inspired spaces, the ingredients that go into his projects are unique: almost all of the furniture and furnishings he uses in his interiors are either vintage finds or custom made pieces of his own design. Roop began his design firm after a career in specialty menswear, where he acquired the principles of design that gave him a special and unexpected basis for formulating and conceptualizing his interior design schemes. For Roop, a room is not just a space to be inhabited: it is a garment to be worn, and an impeccably tailored garment at that.

I will also mention that Frank has paired up with photographer Eric Roth, a talent (and total ham) behind the camera, to create stunningly beautiful images showcasing the many spaces Frank has created over the years. Eric and I have worked on various photo shoots together and his eye for composition is second to none. What I love most about his Eric’s photographs is that he treats each space like a romantic still life. Each image  not only portrays the designer’s talents, but draws a secondary, yet equally important appreciation for the image itself.

Yes, I ‘heart” both Frank and Eric.

Here’s to you Frank Roop, for providing the world with uncompromisingly sophisticated spaces, and for an unwavering dedication to what truly good design is all about.

Looking forward to my signed copy of The New Bespoke. Hope to see you all on Thursday!

Those of you who read my Letter from the Editor last week know that I spent the Sunday prior in Gloucester, slaving away on a photo shoot. I didn’t tell you why or whatfor because, these days, I like to keep my secrets.

That said, the results are now ready! I have to admit the day ended up being far more fun than it was work (due largely to the crew I worked with, and largely to the phenomenal weather that day…).

So take it in, kids: one of the last vestiges of summer. As a California transplant, I’d say I did all right, non?

All clothes courtesy of Neiman Marcus & Stel’s; all shoes courtesy of Sperry. For purchasing info, leave a comment and we’ll give you the details…

This is bollocks.

Frankly, Zoe is a talented stylist, a successful reality-TV personality (whatever that even means), and has emerged from her maelstrom of personal issues (both publicized and not-so…) as a very, very strong ‘brand.’ So it’s only natural that she’d capitalize on that brand equity with an eponymous clothing collection, non? Not so much…

I was skeptical when I first heard ages ago, then I saw her debut collection and nearly choked.  Yes, ‘wearable’ and very Zoe-esque, but really? It begs the question: if she were not personally selling these garments, would she consider them special enough for any of her uberfamous clients? Doubtful, at best.

While the recently-released Resort collection is certainly an evolution (considering the debut collection was essentially an assemblage of low-rent interpretations of pieces Zoe has worn herself), it’s hardly worth looking at once, more the less twice. At one point, I sincerely believed I was looking at a pop-up ad from the ‘new Talbots.’ That Neiman Marcus is stocking the collection makes it clear the celebrity craze is both inexhaustible and commercially viable.

Dear celebrity folk: there are far too many slashes in your titles these days. Please quit it.

LE SIGH.

For this past weekend’s Fashion Forward, I decided it was about time we focus on menswear. With the help of an expert team, I endeavored to bring you looks that were both fresh and classic at the same time, with what is perhaps a more subtle form of subversion than you may be accustomed to expecting from me.

Boston’s conservative men can take their cues from the übertrim jackets, the narrow lapels, the extra inch of cuff showing at each sleeve (an homage to Thom Browne which you can accomplish more affordably by simply buying your jackets a size down…). There are other subtle references, of course, but I prefer you discover those for yourself, and knowing you to be quite saavy readers, have little doubt that you will.

Again, many thanks to those who helped bring this project together, including the ever-so-charming team at Miltons and a certain Annette Goubeaux at Neiman Marcus.

Much love –
JGC

Nick Wooster, inimitable Men’s Fashion Director for both Neiman Marcus and Bergdorf Goodman, is coming to Boston this Thursday (details to follow tomorrow) for a presentation at Neiman Marcus Copley. I’m happy to say I have the opportunity to interview the gentleman before the presentation for a segment for StyleBoston. Could not be more excited.

The past week was a maelstrom, to say the least. In the midst of all this work (thrilling as it may be), I often forget to take the time to enjoy the community in which I work. To that end, last Thursday Brigid and I clawed our way out of the office and made it a point to attend Louis‘ (swoooooooooon) blogger fête, and then dashed off to the Ballet for the opening of Elo Experience.

Such an evening reminds me that there is a wealth of incredible, committed talent in this city: from Debi Greenberg and the always-endearing Maria Fei of Louis, who not only, obviously, know what they’re doing but also, of greater importance, are both passionate and precise in their vision, to the spellbinding chemistry of Boston Ballet’s most recent work. There is so much to be enjoyed here.

So get out and enjoy it.

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