Last night, Ms. Stacie and I made our way to the SFA Café on the eighth floor of Saks Fifth Avenue (think the St. Peter’s Cathedral of shoe shopping) for the launch of Assouline and the CFDA’s “American Fashion Cookbook.”
Our entourage included the dashing Mr. Jay Kos and the sartorially gifted duo Jesse Garza and Joe Lupo of Visual Therapy. We all nibbled on Diane Von Furstenberg’s chicken specialty and Zac Posen’s tasty little cookies whilst rubbing elbows with the likes of Elie Tahari (whose lamb chops were the night’s star), Behnaz Sarafpour and an army of the Assouline clan.
With a forward by domestic queen Martha Stewart, the book is a lime green tome unlocking the lacquered recipe boxes of America’s fashion elite. Isaac Mizrahi shares his mushroom truffle spaghetti. Carolina Herrera divulges her pommes toupinel. Marc Ecko teases with his “Adults Only” chocolate chip cookies—how on brand of him?
Stacie and I also caught up with fashionable man about town, Jim Shi, who is now freelancing for the Financial Times. Shi shed one hundred pounds in the past year through a no carb, no sweets regime of healthy eating and two workouts a day. So very Marc Jacobs. He said he’s thrilled to be participating in fashion rather than just writing about it. We say: Bravo! You look like a fashion fox, Jim!
Like many people in the fashion industry, I was addicted to the first few seasons of “Project Runway” but certainly never took any of the contestants seriously in an Alexander McQueen sort of way. The contestants always seem to be cartoon characters who could sew…some of the time. (I remember running into Austin from Season 1 on the street and gasping, not in recognition, but in horror at the over application of neon pink rouge.)
But moving right along, I was literally stopped in my tracks when I saw Christian Siriano beside Narciso Rodriguez and Proenza Schouler in the window of Saks Fifth Avenue just before show week in New York. Firstly, a major retailer believes in his collection enough to invest in giving him floor space during one of the toughest times for retail ever. Secondly, they gave him the front window right next to the main entrance and placed him next to some of the most proven young design talents of our time. My interest was piqued.
Personally, I’ve always felt that Siriano’s designs leaned toward the world of beauty pageants, but as a former scribe I obviously decided to poll some experts. A friend who writes for the Financial Times and Vogue China (among others) stopped by the Untitled 11:11 presentation just before the Siriano show up at the tents. I was surprised she was going, but she assured me that he was something to watch. He can sew. Fine. His designs are somewhat interesting. Check. He merchandises his collection. Ok. But then I asked her if she thinks he would be where he is if not for “Project Runway.” She looked over her glasses and down her nose at me and said, “What do you think?”
Well, here’s what I think, if you care to know. I think that a lot of people love “Project Runway” because it offers a chance for the common man to walk off the street, to make a dress or two out of trash or recycled jeans, and to win the hearts of America. It harkens back to that favorite of all American mascots: The Underdog. And, I think that Christian Siriano is the first Underdog to graduate from “PR” who has a fighting chance to go up against the big boys and girls of fashion. The real beauty of the formula is that those same people who voted for Christian Siriano to win “Project Runway” are the same people who Saks and other retailers are hoping will buy his clothes. This time around, it’s Melva from Houston who will decide if Siriano is in or if he’s “aut.”