Want to be ahead of the fashion curve this season? Look no further than Neiman Marcus's fashion director, Ken Downing, for sartorial style pointers. In addition to teaming up with the guru for our special-edition POPSUGAR Must Have box, Ken curated his favorite picks for the holiday gifting season. With pieces ranging from Autumn Cashmere's whimsical sweaters to sleek totes from Tory Burch, Ken's irresistible lineup is sure to surprise and delight everyone on your shopping list.
It's only natural that last week's news of the upcoming Target and Neiman Marcus CFDA designer collaboration would be followed by an all-out marketing blitz — and now, it's finally begun. First up: this just-released and pretty intriguing behind-the-scenes glimpse at the collaboration's starting point, which, logically, included lots of meetings in colorfully decorated studios and lots of fabric, print, and sketch reviews. The video shows all that, plus offers cameo appearances by nearly every one of the collaboration's key players, including — but not limited to — Diane von Furstenberg, Ken Downing, Eddie Borgo, Georgina Chapman, Robert Rodriguez, Tracy Reese, Stacey Bendet, and Prabal Gurung. See it all below, and keep those eyes peeled for any clues as to what the 50-piece Holiday collection might actually look like.
>> Rachel Zoe has "no idea" what annual sales might be for her new eponymous collection, which hits a long list of stores in July: Nordstrom, Saks Fifth Avenue, Bloomingdale’s, Intermix, Selfridges, Kirna Zabete, Neiman Marcus, Bergdorf Goodman, and Shopbop.com. But she says she went numb when she heard who had bought the line: “It was this dream that I never thought would be reality because I was petrified — I was. I feel so complete now becoming a designer and having my son. I’m that happiest that I’ve ever been in my life.”
Neiman Marcus, for one, is launching Zoe's sportswear, handbags, and shoes at all 41 of its doors, plus online and at Bergdorf Goodman; "The rollout across the entire Neiman Marcus Group is a rare endorsement of a fledgling brand," WWD notes. Why the decision? "She is a real talent,” Ken Downing, SVP and fashion director of Neiman Marcus, notes of Zoe. “She understands the customer and she’s brought an effortless chic to the collection. The clothes are going to appeal to women of many ages. And, she’s got an amazing name.”
Next up for Zoe? The fourth season of The Rachel Zoe Project, which will begin airing on Bravo in July; and jewelry for Fall 2012. “I wish it were for spring,” Zoe says. “I am dying to do jewelry. I’m gagging.”
John Galliano Previously Refused to Seek Help for Alcohol Issues; Saks Pulls His Men's Collection from Stores
>> John Galliano is now spending time in rehab in Arizona after he was persuaded to go for alcohol problems. According to the Washington Post, he had been having issues for a while now: "In recent months, according to sources, Galliano had been in a depressive state, his drinking increased voluminously and his work habits became increasingly erratic. Friends and colleagues reportedly urged him to seek help, but he refused. No one staged an intervention."
As for how his designs are faring, retailers are still placing orders. Galliano's spokesman said, "It's business as usual." And Dior reported the same. At Neiman Marcus, fashion director Ken Downing says: "We do not carry Galliano, but we carry Dior and we will continue to do so. Was Galliano's behavior acceptable? No. But we haven't had the sense that the collection itself has been tainted. We came to the European shows to buy clothes that will be in the store in six months, and we haven't lost that focus. It's our business."
At Saks, meanwhile, a rep for the store says that Galliano's Dior collections will remain on sale, but "John Galliano's men's collection, of which we had a small presentation, is no longer on the floor of our New York store."
The industry has generally chided Galliano for his comments, but few have come out as Isaac Mizrahi (who is Jewish) did last night, expressing what Galliano did as unforgivable: "I don’t think he’ll work again. I hope not. I hope he doesn’t work again . . . I guess I’m the wrong one to talk to, because I never really liked sort of what he did so much. I liked better what [Alexander] McQueen did. I liked better what Vivienne Westwood did. So now I don’t like it, and he’s a Jew hater? I was like, buh-bye."
And will the downfall of Galliano and the suicide of McQueen — and even the reticence of Tom Ford to take the big stage again like he once did at Gucci — usher in a new type of fashion designer? The Washington Post points out: "Today, only a handful of star artistic-directors-for-hire remains at the helm of big luxury brands, including [Marc] Jacobs at Vuitton and [Karl] Lagerfeld at Chanel. Instead, fashion executives are hiring young, unknown and inexpensive designers with shorter contracts and a business background to churn out big-selling products season after season, and are reaping the fame and fortune for themselves."
The Donna Karan wisdom continues. After listening to her and Ken Downing at the Neiman Marcus event in San Francisco, I have a newfound interest in draping and defining luxury. Donna also mentioned Michelle Obama ("Michelle Obama is an icon") and emphasized the importance of jewelry when she spoke of her years collaborating with Robert Lee Morris: "Jewelry is important. Accessories are extremely important." Oh, and my favorite Donna quote? "Glamour — I forgot the word glamour!" Here's more Donna dish:
- Donna on draping: She always makes her skirts wide at the top and narrow at the bottom. "Draping is how fabric wraps around your body and accents the positive and hides the negative."
- Donna defines luxury: There is a difference between seeing something and wearing it, and to her, wearing is luxury. It's the difference of seeing and touching. This year was the most challenging year. It's important to not deny it and have consciousness about it. "I feel luxury is how we care for ourselves and other human beings."
To hear the rest, read more
When I think of Donna Karan, here's what comes to mind: draping, bodysuits, DKNY, womanly, classic, zen. When I met Donna Karan at a recent event at Neiman Marcus in SF, all those thoughts flooded me. But it wasn't overwhelming because Donna calmed me down with a (zen) fashion mantra: "Fashion is not all about what's on the outside. It's what you wear on the inside that also counts." I pondered that all day . . .
Prepondering, I witnessed an intimate runway show of her Fall collection. The charming senior vice president and fashion director of Neiman's, Ken Downing, served as co-maestro. Donna disclosed that she finds microphones "annoying. They're not genuine." And according to Downing, DK's collection was his high point at Fashion Week. "I love this collection," he said. On with the Donna!
- Donna on her Fall collection: Her collection was a reflection of the past, present, and future. It's also empowerment for women. It's not just about designing. It's necessary to be intentionally thoughtful.
- Donna on the resurgence of shoulder pads: "We've got a lot on our shoulders right now," DK said, referring to the economy. Ken said, "You can carry a lot more with those shoulder pads." Shoulder pads make hips appear narrower. Nobody gains weight on the shoulders, she said, referencing the cold shoulder dress.
To hear more Donna dish and to see more runway photos, read more
You all did a wonderful job matching the fabulous fashion editor to her fashion bible. I'm impressed! Now I've dug deeper into the fashion world and have found fashion insiders that may or may not look remotely familiar to you. If they do, awesome, and if not, it will be a learning experience. Let's get started. Oh, and no Googling names!