Project Runway Update:

Champ Leanne Marshall
Preparing Exclusives For Bluefly

Leanne_Marshall As we wait to see if Project Runway will ever return to our TV screens, Bluefly reminds us that we still have the most recent winner, Leanne Marshall's collection to look forward to.
Remember Leanne?
She made the winsome, intricately constructed dresses, not the glitzy gowns with the hair.
The softspoken winner will be launching her label with an exclusive collection for the online retailer much the same way Christian Siriano did a season before. His line sold very well, and appears to have been a solid start for a viable business, which bodes well for Leanne.
So far, only one sketch (at left) has been released on Bluefly's blog, Flypaper, but it clearly reflects the sculptural aesthetic she showed on the program. So far we have no launch date, but we will keep you all posted.
Leanne Marshall (Official Site)
First Look: Leanne Marshall's Exclusive Bluefly Collection (Flypaper)

New York Fashion Week Update:

Bryant Park Show
Will Go On... In Secret

As we get ready for Fashion Week, which starts in almost two weeks, we have noticed that one of Mercedes Benz Fashion Week's usual highlights, the Project Runway Finale runway show remains at its usual 9 AM time slot on the final Friday.
Normally, we would been in the middle of watching the latest season, and while that it has been filmed, in Los Angeles for the first time, it has yet to air thanks to the bitter dispute between Bravo, the show's former home and Lifetime, where producer Harvey Weinstein moved it, igniting the current epic legal battle.
The New York Post pondered how they could possibly stage the finale if nobody has yet seen the first minute of the season.
We know how.
While the show itself is always a sought after ticket, it, like all other Bryant Park shows, has always been silently broadcast live on the many video screens inside IMG's tent complex for everyone with registered access to Mercedes Benz Fashion Week, like, for example The Shophound. In addition, photo services like Wire Image and Getty Images have an extensive array of still photos available online within hours of the show, so by the time the finale actually airs, many are already familiar with the looks. Of course all contestants who have not yet been eliminated on the air present a collection, adding a couple of designers to the show who are not actually finalists, but have to participate to avoid spoilers.
What happens though, when nobody has been eliminated?
We have it on good authority, that while the show will go on, nobody really knows exactly when or where it will air. We are willing to bet that, this time, there will be no video feeds outside the tents, and we expect no photos to show up on line afterwards. We do know that potential invitees are being asked to sign a series of non-disclosure agreements before being confirmed as guests. Additionally, they are requested to appear at the big tent no later than 6 AM on Friday, February 20th, which suggests either that there will be an extensive security check for easily hidden cameras or video equipment, or that every contestant will be showing a mini-collection, which could easily make for a very loooonng taping.
Will they be able to keep the show completely hidden from the series' rabid fans? We will have more on this as it develops.
Can 'Runway' Make It Work? (NYPost)

Breaking TV Fashion News:

Court Orders Project Runway
Cycle 6 Put On Hold

Although the fifth cycle of Project Runway is still a few weeks away from its finale, a whole new cycle was set to début on Lifetime this January after a controversial deal that moved the show from its original network, Bravo. None too pleased at the development, Bravo filed suit in short order, and today, a New York judge issued a preliminary ruling against The Weinstein Company preventing it from airing the show on Lifetime.
Bravo and parent company NBC Universal maintain that they were denied their right of first refusal to renew the show, and The Weinsteins obviously disagree. Production of the sixth cycle is already under way in Los Angeles, where part of the season will be taped for the first time, and presumably will continue. When or where the show will air is now very much in question after this early victory for Bravo.
For our part, the timing of starting a new season in January makes little sense. Usually, a few finalists would be expected to show their collections at Bryant Park during Fashion Week, which in this case would be sometime in Mid-February. Last season's finale runway show was held on February 8th. If they are to show at Mercedes Benz Fashion Week again, there would have to be a huge number of ineligible collections from already eliminated contestants on the runway to avoid spoilers, since the show's aired finale wouldn't occur until Late March at the earliest. This season, Joe and Suede showed full collections that will never see airtime (a blessing believe us) only because their eliminations had not yet been broadcast.
Was Lifetime planning to send its finalists for Season 6 to the very much second-rate Los Angeles Fashion Week? That would be not only a huge disappointment to the contestants but could also call the show's hard-won credibility into question. Because, really, Los Angeles Fashion Week?
Court proceedings should resume in November, so until then, Tim, Heidi, Nina and Michael will have to sit tight.

Project Runway Follow-Up:

Christian Siriano
Selling Out Online?

As the fourth Project Runway winner, Christian Siriano has basically shown everyone how to play the game after you have won the show's competition.
He has been on what has seemed like a nonstop publicity jag even before he was named the champ, appearing all over the place, but where are the clothes?
Well, in relatively short order, Bluefly, one of PR's sponsors, announced a capsule collection by the young designer yesterday, and 24 hours later, by our casual observation, we can report that the selection has dwindled rapidly, and several items are available in spotty size ranges, if they are left at all. We are guessing that a full sellout may occur by the end of the week, and betting that pieces will start appearing on eBay sometime next week.
Suede_projectrunway_ecodress_natali Has the elfin Siriano found the secret to translating reality-show triumph into real life success? What does this say about the other winners' conspicuous lack of commercial presence?
Additionally, last night's winning eco-dress (pictured right) by the thoroughly irritating Suede can be pre-ordered for $280, which actually sounds relatively inexpensive considering how it was made. There will be 150 pieces produced, although no delivery dates have been announced
Christian Siriano (Official Site)
Christian Siriano on Bluefly
Order Suede's Winning Dress on Bluefly

Barneys And Loomstate Team Up With Sundance Channel To Extend Green Initiative

BarneysloomstateWe can give our usual cynicism a rest today and give some credit to Barneys for continuing with the environmentally conscious promotions it started during the last Holiday season. The store is teaming with organic denim resource Loomstate for a t-shirt recycling program running from April 13th to the 27th. Customers are invited to participate in Tune In. Turn On. Drop Off, an initiative to include donating old t-shirts at all Barneys stores (including, presumably, Co-op locations) which will be restyled, redyed, printed and sold as limited edition items during the next Holiday season. In return they will be awarded a 20% discount on Loomstate merchandise. Only suitable t-shirts will be included, and others that can't be resold will be diverted to other recycling purposes.
Julie Gilhart, Barneys fashion director announces,

"There is a fast growing environmentally based fashion movement that we feel is the New Cool. It is redefining what luxury is all about. We must work together, educate ourselves and inform people of how to participate. Everything we do now must have a conscious thought to it. Thinking, walking and talking and with the flag of intention to create beauty through fashion in a more organic, sustainable way is the future."

Sundance Channel will film the entire project for a documentary to be included on The Green, the cable network's upcoming, weekly block of programming devoted to the environment. Barneys plans to bookend the event with VIP music performances, featuring Actress Zooey Deschanel and M. Ward and their band She & Him in Los Angeles on April 15th and British singer Kate Nash in New York on the 22nd, Earth Day.
While we found last year's holiday promotion a littl on the didactic and schoolmarmish side, we could appredciate their intention, and it's actually comforting to see that Barneys' dedication to environmental issues has so far extended beyond an advertising concept.

Oscars '08 Showcase Penney's Big Launch

So much will be said about the Oscars that we will be brief, but we can't resist sharing the first image that popped into our minds when we saw Marion Cotillard in her Jean Paul Gaultier gown. Yes, give her a wheelchair and an amusing hat and it's Delores del Lago.
Bette Midler
must be pissed.Kerirussell
On the plus side, Keri Russell made the sort of luminous appearance in Nina Ricci that can catapult someone up from the ranks of TV actresses. As for the men, what is there to say about Daniel Day Lewis' hoop earrings and brown suede shoes or Viggo Mortenson's frock coat? As little as possible.
What was most remarkable to The Shophound about the whole show was the TV launch of sponsor JCPenney's much discussed American Living collection which was developed in conjunction with Ralph Lauren.
The lines are being produced by Polo's Global Brand Concepts division, which develops exclusive products for retailers without the recognized Ralph Lauren brands and trademarks. The absence of the designer's name on the American Living label is hardly significant, because the commercials and product has been so clearly lifted from the vast archives of Lauren imagery and designs that his connection with the new brand is strongly implied. The advertising, featured heavily throughout the Oscar telecast, focuses on the sort of Bruce Weber - inspired imagery that Ralph has been trading on for years, even including models like old Weber favorite Deryl George and Jane Gill who has been closely Americanliving associated with the designer in the past. The labels might as well just read "Ralph Lauren for JCPenney". We would be shocked if it isn't a huge success for Penney's, but we can't help wondering if the designer's lack of range might start affecting his business and relationships with big retailers like Macy's, Dillard's and Carson Pirie Scott. These are the stores where Ralph does the bulk of his wholesale business and with whom Penney's is trying to compete. They can't be pleased that Polo is now producing its own lower priced knock-offs in such mass distribution. Has Ralph's longtime strategy of regurgitating his signatures finally caught up with him, or is just a marketing genius who can sell the same thing over and over and over again by subtly shifting his target market?

Fall '08 New York Fashion Week Day 4: "Make Me A Supermodel" Part II - The Boys' Turn At R. Scott French

Last Saturday we got a surprise ticket to reality TV land when Bravo's "Make Me A Supermodel" invaded the FORM show, and this morning the male contestants got their chance to take the runway at R. SCOTT FRENCH. This time it wasn't a surprise to us or the many photographers who once again swarmed Niki Taylor and the female contestants before the show. Tyson Beckford's late entrance created another mini flashbulb frenzy.
Nikiand_models The model contestants stood out a bit more on this go-round, but perhaps this was because we already knew who they were, and for anyone who didn't, they were identified in the run of show.  Still, nobody embarrassed himself. Pictured above (left to right) are Jay, Casey, Perry, Ronnie, Ben and Frankie. Perry is something of a favorite, though it's hard to imagine that Ben couldn't make it as a model with his crystalline bone structure, which is even more striking in person. At any rate, there's no way he will be able to go back to being a prison guard after this TV show. The guys also had three different changes in the show unlike the girls who each had a single look, making it somewhat more of a challenge for them but also offering three times as many chances to impress the judges.
French is one of those designers who like to have extensive program notes which are often best left unread. In this case, however he included a list of  pronouncements under the heading "Scott says...". For example:

In my life, there is only one pen permitted. It's the Sanford Uni-Ball Micro in Black. I keep dozens around me at all times

Must be hard getting around town with all those pens. At least he isn't forced to write with some crappy Mont Blanc or, heaven forbid, Cartier. And how does he keep other, lesser pens from invading his life? And what happens if they do?
As for the show itself, at a whopping 67 looks, it was a large lineup and included three different lines: Richard Harris Felt by R. Scott French,  LTD by R. Scott French and just plain R. Scott French.  They are sold at specialty stores like Takashimaya, and we have to admit we aren't too familiar them. It was frankly a hit-or-miss group of looks from our vantage point seated behind the ubiquitous Nigel Barker (from that other modeling show) and Phillip Bloch, the irritating stylist and babbling TV personality, who seems exactly the same as he is on TV: annoying.
We came away with a distinctive green canvas gift bag filled with...mostly literature. Promotional cards, catalogs, a CD by Kevin Michael, a luggage tag cover, and a necktie made for an eclectic collection of favors redeemed by a 2.5 oz. tube of Borghese Montecatini mud. We had our reality TV fix for the day, but we don't think it will be the lat one.

Fall '08 New York Fashion Week Day 2: "Make Me A Supermodel" Goes Live and In Person at FORM


We were on the fence about going to FORM since last season's installation/cocktail party left us a little cold, but we were lured again by location, this time the New Museum's new building which we had not yet seen. As we checked in, we discovered that not only would this be a full runway show, but would also be used as a challenge on Bravo's addictive "Make Me A Supermodel".
We will admit that we can be picky about reality shows, but we will watch any program that pits pretty people against each other to decide who's the prettiest, from "America's Next Top Model" to "World's Most Smartest Supermodel" and everything in between. We like MMAS because it takes place in real time, and the viewers actually vote on who gets eliminated. Apparently rather than using ANTM's fake, stagy finale runway shows, MMAS is actually putting the models in real shows with real models in front of actual Fashion Week audiences including press and buyers like Neiman Marcus' Ken Downing who would have been at the show anyway. Tyson was there along with co-host Niki Taylor who seems to be as sweet as she is jaw-droppingly gorgeous. It would seem that they are preparing their contestants to be actual, real working models instead of reality show stars. Above, see (from left to right) Stephanie, Katy, Holly, Shannon and Jacki, who worked the runway like pros. If you hadn't been watching the show, you wouldn't have known that it wasn't just another job for them. The male contestants walk in another show this week (which we believe we are attending), and we will tune in on Thursday to see who gets cut.
Oh, the clothes?
They were actually beautiful. The design team deftly played off sharp tailoring and soft drapery with chunky knits. It's not surprising that Neiman's is interested.
But who can think of clothes when you might be on TV?!
Make Me A Supermodel (Official site at )

Thursday Evening Spree

Nina_headshot_3 •Project Runway judge and Elle editrix Nina Garcia is the latest to take the quiz. (The Fashion Informer)
Zara is looking to go head to head with arch-rival H&M on Fifth Avenue and 42nd Street. (RACKED)
TatananoThe Tata Nano: Would you drive an Indian-made car?
Would you drive an Indian-made car that got 50 MPG and only cost $2,550? (Cool Hunting)
New York is now requiring large retailers to take back plastic bags. China has banned them altogether. (PSFK)
Club Monaco has started to sell vintage Rolexes on the Upper West Side. Sound a little too much like parent company Polo Ralph Lauren? (Material Interest)
Reesegg• In the "What Took So Long?" department, Mulberry is finally dipping its toes in the footwear business. (See what we did there? 'dipping its toes into footwear'. We couldn't help ourselves.) (Vogue UK)
The Wall Street Journal weighs in on the awards show cancellations' impact on the fashion biz, so it must be serious. (Wall Street Journal)
• And, as predicted, The Fug Girls are none too pleased about losing an opportunity to go to town on Helena Bonham Carter either. (Daily Intelligencer/New York Fugging City)

Hollywood Writers Strike Hits Fashion & Retail as the Golden Globe Show is Cancelled and the Oscars Look Iffy

Goldenglobes_2 For the most part, the ongoing Writer's Guild of America strike against the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers has had little lof no effect on the Fashion and Retail industries.
Until now.
The Fug Girls must be pissed.
And so is ABS's Allen B. Schwartz.
The Golden Globe Awards have been reduced to a glorified press conference, and there is talk that the Academy Awards (whose nominees should be announced in about a week or so) may be pushed back to their original late March date in hopes that the strike will be settled by then to allow a full awards show presentation. The Screen Actors Guild has made it clear that its members would not be crossing picket lines to attend or accept awards.
Why does this matter?
Dresses don't get worn, so they don't get sold or copied.
The awards shows have become fashion's mightiest marketing tool. The right gown on the right star is worth vastly more in publicity than any Fashion Week runway show. Just ask previously little known designers like Monique Lhuillier, Elie Saab, Olivier Theyskens and even Vera Wang, who, at various points in their careers, have reaped invaluable spikes in public awareness from having stars announce their labels to Joan Rivers et al. on the red carpet. The Golden Globes are a fashion favorite because of the abundance of categories in film and TV, some of which include as many as seven nominees. That's a lot of actresses to dress, or not dress as the case is this year.
The one bright spot is the Screen Actors Guild Awards on January 27, which has been rewarded for its union solidarity with a waiver from the WGA. Though usually a cable presentation, don't be surprised to see it jump to network TV. So far, it's looking like the only opportunity for designers to show off on a red carpet, so expect everyone to pull out all the stops.