Thursday, December 18, 2014

meet Daniel Lombardi..

Years and years ago, the concept of a personal shopper was someone you went to who had access to manufacturers at a wholesale level or someone who was employed by a store who personally helped you with wardrobe selections according to your specific needs and lifestyles. The former required cash only and the latter required more than a single item purchase.
.art by Marc-Antoine Coulon

As the business of fashion has morphed and evolved so has this concept of having another person assist you with sartorial choices. Today we are faced with “the stylist” who is most often associated with those who are celebrities or those who only think they are celebrities and prefer to borrow rather than buy clothes. Along with the new meaning to the phrase “personal shopper” comes a new breed of talent that honestly can help men and women select the correct options for his or her wardrobe. No longer is this a business of women dragging women from showroom to showroom and trying on clothes behind racks ; today the real  professionals use the major fashion capitals, retail stores or manufacturers as their resource base.

Today’s  new generation of fashion professional  now garners respect rather than disdain, is a treasured asset rather than a secret  and further more shows us that this sector of the business is no longer reserved for ladies only. Please do not construe Daniel Lombardi as some vapid personality such as the talentless and self-anointed Brad Goreski as Mr. Lombardi has equal parts taste, charm, talent and humanity, not to mention good looks, experience and great authority.

So as a change of pace, today we explore another point of view or aspect when it comes to fashion as the usual M O for me is from the designer’s or retailer’s angles rather than the consumer. Insterad of me blathering on and on about this, you need to listen to Daniel Lombardi and hear what he has to say as you might find it useful or you might even seek him out for advice…  judge for yourself!!!...................

1-What are your go to brands in clothing, shoes & accessories and why?
Although I have my favorites for my personal shopping, I believe all brands have hits and miss  depending on the season and some collections are better that others, be it designer brands or not.
That said, I’m not “married” to any brand when it comes to selecting for clients. I look at the collection for that season and then decide.  I work with all brands and collections that suit my clientele’s needs, taste and fit at the time of the buy and compliment their existing wardrobe.

2-do you have a screening process when accepting a client? By that I mean, must they possess any special requirements? Men? Women only? Financial requirements?
I work with both men and women clients. I always have a consultation with my clients first, where I have a one-on-one conversation, followed by an in-depth profile questionnaire about their needs, likes, lifestyle, budgets, etc.  I do have to feel a personal connection with the client before taking him/her as a client. 

3-when working with a specific client, do you shop with or do you shop for... meaning are they always with you or are you are to “charge and send” to them without issue?
All clients are different. Some clients love the shopping experience (and they travel to NY, Miami or Europe to meet with me and make it a fun shopping trip) and others prefer that I shop for them and have it sent on “consignment”  at home, and have the pleasure of trying on and selecting at their ease.

4-has a store every approached you to frequent them as opposed to their competition and in doing so offered you additional compensation? Would you do it?
Yes, most stores offer an additional compensation to shop with them but, I have NEVER accepted it.  I believe that goes against the best interest of the client and in detriment of your work.  I always think of the clients and their needs first. 

5-how would you characterize your current roster of clients? Size? Particular needs? Geographic locale?
Through the years I have built a pyramidal structure, where now after 15 years in the business I currently work only with top clients from Latin America, USA and Europe.

6- In an ideal situation what would a typical day be if you and a client are working together for the day?
I like to make it fun for the clients.  Shopping should always be an adventure where while going from store to store the clients learn more about the different brands, the collections, the fit of each designer and about themselves (what looks best on them and why).  A stop for a lunch break at Bergdorf’s or Barneys is always a must while in NY, at Michaels if in Miami Design District or La Goulue in Bal Harbour Shops, at L’Avenue in Paris... etc, etc…

7-do you ever get involved with made to measure for your clients?
Made to measure is a must for male clients. And, one of a kind creations for brides (have been dressing brides and their entourage for 10 years now)

8-have you ever worked abroad with a client such as during collection in Paris or Milan? And which shows do you attend? Do you find Europe to be an essential part of your job?
I have worked with numerous clients in Europe.  Me and my clients do get invited to a lot of the shows -although these days you can see ALL the shows live online which saves you a lot of time and energy!! Europe is essential during market, where you have a chance to touch and feel the collection and pre-order some of the special pieces for clients.

9-when shopping for a client, are you or they only interested in name designers or do you widen the playing field by shopping newer lesser known designers as long as they fit the bill? Can you name some of these designers? The same goes for stores?
Most clients tend to ask for name designers pieces at the beginning of our work relationship   but, once they feel confident with me and trust me, they can easily rock a Zara piece mixed with a Louboutin shoe and a vintage YSL clutch. I like to take them to the “edge” always. I want them to experience what it is to be “outside the box and their comfort zone”.  And I like to bring vintage to their lives as well since, those finds are the ones which make a difference at the end of the day. They learn that it is not about the clothes or the designer, it’s about them -how they project themselves and how they feel and see themselves in the mirror, whether in an Alexander McQueen gown or an Alexander Wang for H&M piece.  “Wear something appropriate and they will notice the person, wear something inappropriate and they will notice the outfit”, Coco Chanel.
Zara to Club Monaco, from Top Shop/Man to H&M, All Saints to The Kooples and many more …

10-when shopping with a client do you also act as image consultant or do you segment that area of your job?
Even when shopping I’m acting as an image consultant. I’m not just a stylist; I’m beyond the personal shopper role. I work from the inside out. I work on making them feel good about themselves with the ultimate goal of “walking into a room and having everyone turn around to see them being the center of attention because of their inner glow”.  You can wear the most expensive and beautiful piece of clothing but, if you don’t believe in your inner self you will never project it.

11-in a perfect world, what are your favorite brands and why? Who would be your ideal client?  Here you can name names if you wish...
I believe there is a good array of brands in the market for all type of clients, tastes and likes. I do love most brands but, as I said before I look at their “collection for the season” independent of their name in the industry. My current clients are the ideal client, men and women who love to travel, dress up and have fun with it.

12- As a fashion professional, how to you “show yourself” to a client? Meaning what do you personally wear? What is your go to look for Daniel Lombardi?
My presentation card and conversation starter is my own image. I don’t have a specific look. I like to keep it edgy but, classy and chic.  I always wear a detail that would be the focal point of attention that would give people a chance to comment on it and for me to introduce myself and my line of business. I am bold and will wear anything that no one else would dare to wear, from my grandma’s diamond brooch to a mix of patterns, fabrics and colors.  People always say “if anyone can pull it off it’s you” but, I say “you can also pull it off; it’s all in the attitude with which you carry yourself and wear it”.

13-let’s talk about how you see fashion? Good? Bad? Changes you would make?
Fashion is a form of art, and as such it has evolved. It used to be for the connoisseurs and those who had a specific love for it and interest but, in the last decade thanks to social media and the cyberspace it has become a social experience. Designers get immediate feedback on their collections and they can adapt it to the needs, likes and taste of the audiences and the different demographics.
Changes I would make?  Not sure, even if I like to break the rules of fashion for myself, I would like to go back to the days where guidelines were respected and a black tie was strict black tie and not whatever you feel like wearing that night.  I also miss the days where a fedora was part of a man’s wardrobe and matching gloves, shoes and purses were a must for women.   

14-how did you get into this area of fashion? Who were your style icons or mentors? Do you have an end game or are you content with your present situation and want no more?
At 30 years old, and while in the corporate world, I realized that although I had achieved my goals in life I was not following my passion so, I decided to move to the US and do what I’m best at, make people feel good about themselves and look good and, be an image consultant. My grandma and my mother were great mentors in my life, socialites that taught me everything I know about fashion and style. As for icons, I grew up watching Hollywood movies from the golden area where it was all about glamour.  Audrey Hepburn will always be the icon of perfection, class and style.

15-how do you shop for yourself? Online? In store? Where?  Brands or just items that you love?
I don’t really shop brands but, items that I really love. I hardly shop online since I like to try things on and feel the quality and fit of the garments. I do get invited to a lot of sample sales and friends & family sales which makes it easier to shop.  Just realized that I never “go shopping” for myself, shopping comes to me J.
PS ..if you are in need of further information about Mr. Lombardi, please let me know

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Versace pre-fall 2015

What can one say? If one can say nothing else, one can surely say that Donatellamommamia is persistent and if one wanted to take it a step further you might say erratic! It would appear that when she doesn’t seem to be trying that hard she shines and shows herself and her brand off to their greatest advantages.

Pre-fall is full of clothes that can actually be worn outside of  eastern Europe or the orient and that in of itself is a great accomplishment for the brand as well as the designer. Apparently the requisites of pre-fall are strictly adhered to this season  as these are clothes that can sell provided of course that they appeal to you. Ms. Versace has decided to reference the iconic safety pin dress through various incarnations and interpretations of lashing and “staples” or rather a flat connector bar of sorts.  In some cases it is quite effective and in others not so much which holds true for her color blocking and knits.

Her ode to houndstooth is okay but nothing to yell about as it gets a bit confusing especially in the knits and the patchwork type patterning. Where she is much more successful is with the leather work and the use of the silver studs and lashing on the all black pieces. Even the silhouettes prove greatly appealing in those pieces especially the slimmer top paired with the full skirted bottom. Rarely does Ms. Versace deviate from her come and get it shapes but this season she surely takes a path toward reality based clothes and that includes shoes and hemlines.

Monday, December 15, 2014

meet John Loring .. Tiffany legend

What can be more universally recognizable than the name Tiffany? … And for those who are savvy enough, there are few people who are more connected or synonymous with that name than John Loring. For 30 years, Mr. Loring was the creative director/brains at Tiffany & Co. and for 30 years this man raised the bar higher and higher, charted this brand’s course and by doing so he enhanced its image, notoriety and its contents beyond one’s wildest imagination. Tiffany went from staid and reliable to hip, happening and a lifestyle that was not solely based on jewelry.

Few will know that Mr. Loring has a long history in design whether it is at Architectural Digest or his affiliation with Rive Gauche. He continues his creative endeavors via the Museum of Modern Art where he serves on one of its committees and he is a prolific and astute writer who has authored many books concerning style, Tiffany and all things exquisite and refined. You will also learn about his relationship with the Tivoli Gardens in Copenhagen.

Today, we are afforded a rare opportunity to learn more of the man who is a living legend for those of us who grew up admiring his creative output and regarded him as a pinnacle and purveyor of good taste. If you were not lucky enough to see the progression of Tiffany during his tenure then you surely missed many enduring moments and visuals that remain with us to this day. He was and is a force majeur!

It is humbling for me as well as an honor to be able to introduce you to John Loring …..  And while Tiffany & Co. may be what he is remembered for in the minds of many; this is a man who is much more than just that one part of his life.

1-During the Tiffany years, can you tell us what you consider to be your greatest pleasure and crowning achievement and why?
 My greatest pleasure at Tiffany & Co. was to work alongside the dazzling cast of characters: Walter Hoving; Van Day Truex; Elsa Peretti; Paloma Picasso; Jacqueline Kennedy; Eleanor Lambert; Gene Moore; Sybil Connolly; Archimede Seguso; Camille Le Tallec; and hundreds more. --- WOW! WOW! WOW!”
    “Crowning” is something bestowed by public recognition so that points straight at my “Atlas” watch (introduced 1983) and the “Atlas” designs which follow – “Modern icons” they’re called in Tiffany’s ads. It’s great to think of them out there all over the world having so many different adventures.

2-Being a New Yorker I grew up on Tiffany windows and the in-store table displays when Tiffany was the epitome of riche, luxe, good taste and success. How do you think that has changed from the time you took the creative reins until now?
 When I began as design director at Tiffany’s in 1979, there were only seven Tiffany stores in the US; there are now three-hundred worldwide. That transition has not led to any lessening in quality as quantity has spiraled upward. The fact that there is more of something has no effect on its quality. The world is, of course, a vastly different place today than it was thirty-five years ago. There is more mobility, less formality; there are many emerging markets for luxury durables as well as a new and younger and more informed audience. And, of course, there is that great game-changer the internet that was not even a dream thirty-five years ago. There is new technology bringing with it improved manufacturing techniques.  There is a smaller skilled artisan population with fewer young people learning high level craftsmanship. (Fortunately this is not the case in the arts of the gold smith or gem cutter or watch maker.) Oh yes! We live in a different world than the one where I debuted at Tiffany’s in 1979.  
    I may feel nostalgia for the vanished porcelain painters in Paris, silver smiths in London and glass blowers on Murano, but it’s easily offset by the advances in the production of fine jewelry and watches that has allowed us to offer Tiffany’s wonderful jewels and watches to such a broad and diverse audience worldwide.

3-Having authored many books about Tiffany and related subjects can you tell us what other heritage or new brands you admire and why?
Outside of Tiffany & Co., I admire the quantum leap in the availability of fine ready-to-wear fashion over the forty-seven -years since I opened the Saint Laurent Rive Gauche boutique in Venice, Italy in 1967. There were five Rive Gauche boutiques then (Paris, Brussels, Rome, Milan and Venice); there are hundreds now. So many fashion houses have prospered in ready-to-wear, making great design in fashion available almost everywhere. Look at Prada, Ralph Lauren, Bottega Veneta, Hugo Boss, Dolce and Gabbana – and on a lower level H&M. None of that was there when I was young – alas!

4-While on the subject of your writing, I would be remiss if I didn’t ask about your relationship with Mrs. Onassis. What is your fondest memory of her and how do you think she influenced your work if at all?
 My fourteen-year/six book adventure with “Jackie O” as my editor stands out in high profile. Nothing can match that. She set the bar high (where it should always be set) in everything and made you feel bigger than life, like there was nothing you couldn’t do if you put your best efforts to it. Knowing she was there gave you tremendous confidence, and then you certainly didn’t want to disappoint her. I loved her way of calling things back to order that was both strict and graceful, and was done with her ever-present wit with phrases like “Now, you can’t possibly believe I want Caroline to think I approve of ………………..” or “In this situation, Jack (or Ari) would have handled it this way,…………….., and I think Jack (or Ari) was right, and I suggest you might want to consider doing the same.”  There were her insights and cautions: “Now let’s psych them out, but steady – just look at them, look at them; they’re so vile they think of things every second that you and I couldn’t imagine in a lifetime.”  And then there were her little notes on her pale blue stationary cheering you on. Or a phone call at two in the morning, “I want to check you haven’t snuck off to bed. There’s a deadline on Monday.” Then her comment as we ate a less than satisfactory lunch out of Styrofoam containers sitting on my photo-strewn office floor: “Oh! I wish Robin Leach could film this for ‘The Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous’.” All my memories of Jackie are fond, and I miss her still after twenty years without her, and I miss all the “sprees of joy” as she called them.

5-You have lived through and witnessed 3 different regimes and a few different owners at Tiffany, do you miss the Harry Platt days or wish that things had taken a different turn?
 There were several changes of ownership while I was at Tiffany’s – all of them for the better even if the few short years with Avon were somewhat challenging. All’s well that ends well; and the company is better and stronger and more successful than ever.
Do I miss times with Louis Comfort Tiffany’s old school great-grandson Harry Platt? Yes, he could be charming and make you laugh to tears. That was fine; it’s always good to laugh and be charmed. Maybe we don’t laugh quite enough these days, or perhaps the times have less to laugh about than in the 70s and 80s – and less charm. But laughs and charm are both alive and well.
6-Let’s digress and get a bit more personal here. If you were not as involved and so defined by your tenure at Tiffany what would you have done or been doing at this time?
If, if, if……. If I’d done something completely different with my life what would it be? I once wanted to be a concert pianist but had no talent for that. I liked being an artist and did get to Pace, but the art world in the 70’s and my role in it wasn’t satisfying to me. What “if?ing” has no bearing on life as it’s lived, so how can I guess at a different outcome?! Museum curator, chef, photographer, art professor, architect………….???? I told a Paris reporter that I’d probably be covered with tattoos and in prison in Clermont-Ferrand.

7-Do you miss not being in NYC or all the traveling you did on behalf of Tiffany? Your greatest experience while on the road?
 Travel? I’m in New York about a third of the year so I don’t miss the city. I travel a lot, and travel is not all that comfortable today - so I’m ok on travel. Remember that I still design for the Tivoli Gardens in Copenhagen after seventeen years at that - so I’m there three or four times a year. I love that. And, I love going home to Paris where I had apartments for thirty-three years. I do miss the trips with Elsa Peretti and Paloma Picasso.
    What was my greatest travel experience?  I might suggest riding on elephants through the Nepalese jungle in 1985 while photographing “Tiffany Taste” with the inimitably stylish, quick-witted Nancy Holmes. But, the last memorable experience is always freshest in memory; and, less than three weeks ago while working at Tivoli I had dinner seated between the Queen of Denmark (She does great sets and costumes for the Tivoli theatres.) and her younger sister the Queen of Greece. For a boy who in 1945 carried his lunch pail a mile through the desert every morning to the one-room school house in Cave Creek, Arizona, that was amazing – like something in a Hans Christian Andersen fairy tale. Oh! How charming they are! Only in Denmark! (It looks like my career on the social stage will be straight down from there!)

8- Van Day Truex? Can you tell us a bit about him as he is not exactly a household name?
 Van Day Truex was design director of Tiffany’s for twenty-three years – just before me (1956-1979). He had been president of the Parsons School of Design in New York and before that the director of the Parsons School in Paris. He designed the Parsons table with Jean-Michel Frank, was in the Best Dressed List Hall of Fame and has been called “the man who invented American style”. I am forever in his debt for bringing me to Tiffany & Co. as his successor and teaching me all he could about style and design. There was no better teacher and no finer gentleman or better pal.

9-Let’s speak of Elsa Peretti... did you ever think that her little bean would explode into the mega business that it has become? Again can you tell us a bit about your relationship with her?
 Elsa Peretti is one of the few people I’ve met with true genius. Her every design is perfection – simple, organic, sensual, powerful, beautiful (let’s not forget beauty). She is also tempestuous, hell-raising, charming beyond belief, witty, fearless, demanding, loving, witty, beautiful, exasperating, worth it.  Travels with Elsa? Hang on to your hat! – and on to everything else! You’re in for a wild and wonderful ride. She once arrived four days late in Venice to work on glass designs – her excuse – “If I arrive three days late you kill me; if I arrive four days late you are so happy to see me you forgive me everything.”

10-Can you tell us something about John Loring that perhaps you have never revealed?
 Do I have unrevealed secrets? Maybe like everyone I keep a few things to myself, but I try to be as open as possible. Like everyone, I’ve had some seriously bad times, but those I chose to forget as much as possible. I follow my great, late friend Eleanor Lambert’s advice, “Don’t look back.” I never joined my fan club; I never watch TV shows I’m on (even Martha’s) – actually I never watch TV; I don’t believe in any personal myths (I’m no better than the next guy whoever he may be.); I believe we’re put here to use out talents – great or small – to help others as much as possible (But I’m no saint either.) Oh! I’m pathologically shy. That’s something I try to keep hidden.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Elie Saab .. pre-fall 2015

 Elie Saab is not exactly synonymous with the term rebel but for Pre-Fall 2015 he does sort of throwaway the rule book and forge his own path. As has been stated so many times before, Pre-Fall is not a season that is customarily fraught with innovation, but a selling tool that has a long shelf life and usually includes a greatest hits kind of scenario. Let me be clear, yes, there are lots of what Saab is so very well known for but he stretches his vocabulary and flexes his design muscles as well.

For, this season Saab offers a terse and very convincing presentation  of what he does best and that is to produce immaculately conceived and finished clothes for women who want the best. The clothes sort of scream or rather raise their voice” and yet they remain perfectly Saab meaning they are urbane, chick, slick, luxe, soigne and precise.

With that said  there are amazing pieces such a  scorching red gown and blush "onesie"   with a serpentine ruffle, a chicer than chic blush ensemble complete with broadtail skirt, an astounding black coat that is so heavily embroidered and cut out and plenty of laces and beaded pieces that will no doubt tempt the most loyal of Saab ladies. There are several pieces that combine crepe and lace which are just about as good as it gets but then  there is the print which is a bit disturbing but them again any print in any collection is so very personal.

Mr. Saab is to be commended as he segments his collections by their content. Ready to wear always includes daywear of which he is quickly developing a look and a client and then in Haute Couture it is all about evening from the simplest to the most dramatic and embellished. Neither of these suffers as Saab is so focused and he has refined and clarified his signatures so clearly to the point that they are unmistakably Elie Saab.