I am off to San Francisco...
...to celebrate my birthday (yep, it's a big one). San Fran gals, I am excited to see you!

To everyone who's been emailing me about Ideeli and Gilt Groupe, thanks for your kind words! If you still want to join, you can still email me, however I probably won't be able to invite you until I return on Tuesday.

I have so much to say about America's Next Top Model (I hope I'm not the only one still watching it), but I am most excited about, in no particular order, the show's return to NYC, new judge Paulina Porizkova (one of my favorite supermodels of all time), contestant Claire, and next week's makeover episode. I am not too excited about the homeless-exploitation photo shoot nor this season's "cause" theme, although last season's "green" theme petered out after a few episodes, so I'm not terribly worried about it.

I will post sales on Tuesday. Please check back then!
Websites of the week: online sample sales
Sample sales hold a certain mystique: The idea of unearthing designer clothing, jewelry, or accessories for dirt-cheap is definitely enticing, and I have certainly scored some fabulous finds over the years. The reality, however, is often less glamorous--far-flung locations, ridiculously crowded spaces, unappealing merchandise. That, and with the exception of a handful of designers and showrooms in L.A., most sample sales are purely a New York City phenomenon. But now a handful of websites are letting everyone in on the action, allowing you to shop from the comfort of your own home, wherever that may be. The downside is that you don't get to try anything on, but the upside is that you don't have to try stuff on in your underwear, in front of a roomful of strangers. There are bunch of online sample-sale sites popping up (even Billion Dollar Babes got in on the action, recently holding a Valentino sale in conjunction with Yoox), but here are my two favorites.

specializes in accessories--think jewelry, sunglasses, and handbags--from heavy hitters like YSL, Burberry, Prada, and Derek Lam. Some of these items are available for sale, at 50%-90% off retail; members get periodic emails that preview upcoming sales, then you get an email approximately 30 minutes before it goes on sale. The exact day and time any given item goes on sale is pretty much a surprise, making shopping at Ideeli a very spontaneous experience. Membership at Ideeli is free (2nd Row membership is what they call it), but if, unlike me, you don't have a moral opposition for paying for the privilege to shop, you can become a 1st Row member for $7.99 a month. 1st Row members receive a text message at the start of each sale, and they are allowed to shop for an hour before 2nd Row members. The better perk of membership is that 1st Row members are eligible for giveaways, which are often more luxe than the items available for sale. Of course, the more people who join, the worse your odds. Upcoming items for sale include bags from Tod's, Gryson, Gustto, and Kooba; and jewelry from Pade Vavra and M2. Membership is by invitation only, but thankfully I am equipped to share the love, so email me if you want to join.

If Ideeli sounds complicated--and it is, somewhat--you might like Gilt Groupe a bit better. They hold four or so sales a week; each begins at noon and lasts for 24 hours (or until everything is sold out). You get an email as soon as the sale starts, and be forewarned, items go quickly--I've logged on at 12:05 and found slim pickings. Gilt Groupe primarily features clothing from contemporary and designer labels (everyone from Tibi and Twelfth Street by Cynthia Vincent to Behnaz Sarafpour and Alessandro dell'Acqua), but they also add lingerie, sunglasses, jewelry, and handbags to the mix. Since this is Oscar week, Badgley Mischka and Judith Ripka are already in play; Robert Marc starts Wednesday at noon, and Notte by Marchesa begins Thursday. Every sale features a cute little movie, and the photography is hip without being too "editorial" (in other words, you can actually see the clothes). For those worried about fit, clothes and shoes can be returned for credit within 14 days; accessories are final sale. Again, you need to be a member to shop these sales; but if you email me, I will gladly hook you up.

I have yet to buy anything on either of these sites (although I've tried on Gilt Groupe--I was just too slow), but I find the online sample-sale concept a welcome one--I'm all about democratizing fashion.
Most worstest. Oscar fashion. Ever.
Lovable host Jon Stewart aside, last night's Oscar ceremony was one of the most boring ever and, fittingly, so were the dresses. Boring jewelry, boring colors (black and red--how novel!), few risk-takers, and few rewards. Meh.

The Best Actress winner always gets a free pass, but Marion Cotillard's Gaultier mermaid gown (complete with scale-like beading) deserves an award of its own.

Anne Hathaway must've learned something from The Devil Wears Prada; I thought this Marchesa gown suited her perfectly, and it was definitely my favorite of all the reds.

Cate Blanchett screwed up my Oscar pool, but I'll forgive her, because she always takes fashion risks (this is Dries van Noten), and she always looks fabulous--even while mega-pregnant.

Honorable Mention
Nicole Kidman is, what, four months pregnant, and you can't even tell. And while her black Balenciaga gown is a bit on the understated side, her diamond necklace, designed by L'Wren Scott, is to die for.

I feel like the number-one adjective everyone is using to describe Miley Cyrus's Valentino gown is "age-appropriate," which is funny, because I wouldn't necessarily think to put a 15-year-old in Valentino. However, this gown is demure, chic, and, yes, age-appropriate

Unlike most media outlets, I did not hate Tilda Swinton's one-sleeved Lanvin gown. But I loved her diamond cuff bracelet, as well as the fact that this woman did not have a stitch of makeup on her face and yet managed to have an ethereal glow that made her look younger than most starlets. I'll have what she's having.

Most Improved
Jennifer Hudson managed to look light years better than last year's metallic-cropped-jacket disaster. My only complaint is that it looks like she's not wearing a bra, and when you've got a rack that huge, you've got to keep those puppies in line.

Dishonorable Mention
Ever since she was Sydney Bristow on Alias, I have loved Jennifer Garner. And I thought it was even sweet that she name-dropped stylist Rachel Zoe on the red carpet, but I have to subtract major points for Zoe's War on Breasts--Garner's did not fit in this dress and bubbled out in a rather unflattering manner.

I get that Ellen Page is not into fashion and all, but this is seriously one of the most boring dresses I've ever seen. Although I own a similar version in black jersey, and it is quite comfortable. However, this is the Oscars. Make an effort.

Her dress fits her beautifully, but her matronly hairstyle makes Katherine Heigl look like Movie Star Barbie. Also: It's boring.

Diablo Cody's dress itself wasn't awful per se, but she looked uncomfortable in it, and for someone who's going to be stuck with "former exotic dancer" in front of her name for the rest of her life, perhaps something a bit more classic would've been a smarter choice.

I liked Kelly Preston's dress the first time, two years ago, when I saw it on Michlle Williams. This looks like an ABS knockoff.

Former cocktail waitress and Fear Factor contestant Sarah Larson is quite possibly the luckiest girl in the world, in that she was plucked from D-list obscurity and now shares a bed with The Clooney. And considering how classy Clooney is, you'd think he could've helped her pick out a better dress than this lackluster Valentino, which looks like something a fading Palm Beach socialite would wear to a charity ball. She should just be cropped out of this photo.
The week in shopping
Always a good sale, Intermix has Stella McCartney, DVF, and a bunch of your other favorite designers for up to 70% off. 2/28-3/2; 9-8, 10-6 Sun.; Metropolitan Pavilion, 125 W. 18th St. (6th & 7th Aves.).

Score true samples and past-season stock at Temperley London. 2/26-2/28; 10-8 Tue., 10-7 Wed. & Thurs.; 453 Broome St. (at Mercer St.), 2nd fl.

Property's pricey modern furniture is a bit more palatable at 20%-70% off. 2/29-3/8; 10-6 weekdays, noon-6 weekends; 14 Wooster St. (at Grand St.).

Treat your pooch to a new winter coat ($39) or sweater ($25), or a snazzy pet carrier (also $25) from Trixie & Peanut. 2/29-3/2; 11-8, noon-5 Sun.; 23 E. 20th St. (Broadway & Park).

Morgane Le Fay's pretty-Gothic separates and dresses are $50-$1,500 (formerly $600-$4,000) at this sample sale. 2/29-3/4; 10-7; 72 Greene St. (at Broome St.).

Patti Rose has top American designers like Carolina Herrera and Bill Blass, plus Euros Lacroix, Cavalli, Pucci, YSL, and more, in sizes 2-14, for up to 75% off. Also including Jennifer Tyler cashmere, bags, and accessories. Through 2/27; 9-7 Tue., 9-6 Wed.; 124 E. 58th St. (Park & Lex).

Hello, sexy: Luca Luca's formfitting fall 2007 line is up to 85% off. 2/29-3/2; 8:30-6 weekdays, noon-5 weekend; 19 W. 36th St. (5th & 6th Aves.), 4th fl.

Venture into the East Village for 25%-75% off Corey Lynn Calter, Tracy Reese, and Lewis Cho at Coco & Delilah. Through 3/31; 1-8 weekdays, noon-8 weekends; 115 St. Mark's Pl. (at 1st Ave.).

Bindya New York has gorgeous woven scarves for up to 55% off (now $20 and up). 2/27-2/28; 11-6; 49 W. 38th St. (5th & 6th Aves.), 9th fl.

Modern but well-designed furniture is 20%-70% off at DDC Domus Design Collection. 3/1-3/9; 9:30-6 weekdays, 11-6 weekends; 181 Madison Ave. (at 34th St.).
Cheryl Shops...the Barneys Warehouse Sale
I must admit, I was a little nervous about going to the Barneys Warehouse Sale so late in the game--I almost always either go on the first or second day, but thanks to my Black Flu of Death, I had to wait until today. But I'm glad I did, because today's haul was one of my all-time best. Not only was it not ridiculously crowded, but there was plenty of merch, and everything was onto its first round of additional markdowns. There are two huge racks of Kate Moss for Topshop, all of which is an additional 50% off; the ready-to-wear (I saw lots of Marc by Marc Jacobs, Loomstate, 3.1 Phillip Lim, and Daryl K) is an additional 25% off; and the designer racks are a whopping 40% off (think Lanvin, Prada, Proenza Schouler, and Narcisco Rodriguez; I saw a Rochas jacket so beautiful it made my eyes tear up, but even after four markdowns, it was still $800). Sadly, the shoes have not been marked down again, and to all of you who've been complaining about the lack of selection, you are some tough-ass customers, because I wear a very popular size (8.5) and I saw at least three pairs that I would've bought, were it not for their prohibitively high price tags. Here's what I did buy:

Lutz & Patmos black cardigan, designed by Julianne Moore
KA7 open-front camel bouclé cardigan
High-waisted Alexander Wang black trousers
3.1 Phillip Lim shift dress, in navy with gold piping
3.1 Phillip Lim high-waisted khaki trousers
American Vintage green T-shirt dress

And would you believe I spent less than $500? I did! If that's not convincing enough, I'll try again: GO. NOW. While I kind of blew my Barneys budget, I'm tempted to go back again next week, just to see what kind of treasures I might find. But one thing is for certain: I am never going to the sale on the opening day ever again.
Sometime in between Fashion Week and my bout with the flu, I missed some very important information: Pictures of the Jovovich-Hawk Go International collection for Target are online now! Yay--it seems like ages since we've had a good Go. Anyway, the collection is very boho-chic, a look that, according to retailers, is going to be a big hit for this summer (fashion magazines seem split on it--some are pushing a more '80s technicolor trend). I am always up for a little Summer of Love, however, so if you ask me, I think the flowy dresses and pretty floral prints are supercute. Here are some of my favorite looks. The collection drops March 2nd, just in time for my birthday. Hooray!

In other Masstige news, this month's Elle has a nice story on Pierre Hardy, complete with a picture of four of his six designs for the Gap. The line hits stores March 4th, and based on what's in Elle, I think I might need to buy one of each. Let's hear it for cheap shoes!
Gap European Collection
If you've ever gone into the Gap in a foreign country, you've probably noticed that the clothes are better--more stylish, less frumpy--than the clothes in U.S. Gaps. (And, if you're me, you kick yourself for not shopping there while you have the chance.) Thankfully, Gap's website has a small selection of European merchandise for you to buy, helpfully called the European Collection. These items are priced a bit higher than Gap's regular merch, but, this being the Gap, there's nothing more than $80 (with the notable exception of a $350 leather jacket). My favorite is this very Chloe-esque short empire dress; it also comes in black, but I think the white is cuter (and more spring-appropriate). I also like the chunky zip sweater, the striped button-front dress , and I think the striped boatneck tee would look nice layered under the sleeveless belted dress . As these items are all limited edition, quantities are limited, so hurry (the white dress is already sold out in the smaller sizes).

And in other Gap news, little sister Old Navy lost its president today, but creative director Todd Oldham is firmly in place, hoping to take the store from campy to trendy. While most of his changes have yet to be seen in stores, Fashionista reports that at least the shoes are getting cuter. Case in point: These adorable (and apparently comfortable) wedge sandals, a mere $35 online but apparently an even better $15 in stores. I'll be stopping by the Soho Old Navy after work tomorrow to investigate...
The week in shopping
This week's sales are a bit weak, but there's a good batch for next week. In the meantime, there's always the Barneys warehouse sale (I'm going to hit it sometime this week; of course I will report on what I find)!

Feel better about your selfish act of shopping at Samples For (eco)mpassion's carbon-neutral sale. Score T-Bags, QI Cashmere, and all your favorite denim brands at up to 90% off, then bag your goodies in a 100% biodegradable, compostable shopping bag. Five percent of sales will go to Trees for the Future. 2/22-2/24; 11-8; 201 Mulberry St. (Kenmare & Spring Sts.).

Dennis Basso furs and Petrou clothing are on mega-markdown. Credit cards only; children under 12 not admitted. 2/24-2/28; 9-6:30; 317 W. 33rd St. (8th & 9th Aves.).

Former model Gail Elliot now has a great line of knitwear named Little Joe, and she's holding a trunk show Thursday afternoon at Soho House. 2/21; 3-8 p.m.; Soho House Library, 29-35 9th Ave. (at 13th St.).

You've got one day left to save 15% on pretty lingerie at Cheryl Shops fave GigisCloset.com; enter promo code pres15 at checkout through 2/19.

Use code SBC for 20% off all See by Chloe at shoptwigs.com.

It's the Beauty Event at Neiman Marcus; spend $100 and get a sample-filled tote through 3/2.
Barneys Warehouse Sale starts Thursday!
I won't be going for several days, due to the fact that I have the Black Plague*, but if you want to save 50%-75% on Balenciaga, Lanvin, Marc Jacobs, and all of the other fancy labels they carry, head on over to Chelsea for the Barneys Warehouse Sale. Feel free to report what you bought in the comments section below! 2/14-3/2; 8-9 tomorrow and Friday, 10-9 weekdays and 10-7 weekends thereafter; 255 W. 17th St. (7th & 8th Aves.).

*Sorry for the lack of posts this week--I have a really, really nasty case of the flu. Rest assured, I am glugging my codeine-laced cough syrup and will be back in full effect next week.
The week in shopping
Who needs a valentine? Williamsburg's Jumelle has current- and past-season APC, Isabel Marant, Mayle, and other hot designers for up to 75% off. 2/14-2/17; noon-7:30; 148 Bedford Ave. (at N. 9th St.), Williamsburg, Brooklyn.

Clothingline has irregular Tory Burch merch from all seasons. 2/12-2/14; 10-7 Tue. & Thurs., 10-6 Wed.; 261 W. 36th St. (7th & 8th Aves.), 2nd fl.

Hit Showroom Seven's sale for a trendy roster of designers, like Orla Kiely, Issa London, and Tara Subkoff. Through 2/15; 9-7; 498 7th Ave. (at 36th St.), 24th fl.

Awesome, vowel-less housewares store MXYPLYZYK is taking 20% off brands like Chilewich and Umbra. 2/15-3/9; 11-7, noon-5 Sun.; 125 Greenwich Ave. (Jane & Horatio Sts.).

Stock up on fashion jewelry and accessories for a mere $6-$15 at Alexia Crawford's Valentine's Day sample sale. 2/12-2/15; 9-7; 35 W. 36th St. (5th & 6th Aves.), 6th fl.

Score spring/summer 2008 Valentino and Missoni--plus Alexander McQueen, Moschino Jeans, and other Italian labels--for up to 70% off at this two-day sale. 2/13-2/14; 10:30-8 Wed., 9-7 Thurs.; Metropolitan Pavilion, 123 W. 18th St. (6th & 7th Aves.), 4th floor.

Save 15% on Gorjana's delicate semiprecious jewelry when you enter code VALENTINE at checkout through 2/15.
Fall 2008 Fashion Week in Review
Number of shows I attended: 29
Number of shows I was invited to but missed: 4 (two due to double-booking, two due to laziness)
Number of hours I managed to work at my daytime job: 37-1/2
Number of shows I tried to unsuccessfully talk my way into: 1 (Max Azria has prison-guard-like publicists)
Number of pounds I lost: 3
Number of ailments I now have: 1 (the flu)

Favorite shows I attended (in no particular order)
Mara Hoffman
Chris Han
Temperley London

Five trends for fall

The return of the waist
Over-the-knee (boots and socks)
Mad Men (bright colors, full skirts)

Best swag
In the Iodice gift bag, what at first looked like a random airplane toy turned out to be an incredibly useful 1GB external hard drive, courtesy of TAM airlines.

Tents vs. off-site venues

There's much debate on this topic. The tents are far more convenient--everything's all in one place, Bryant Park is centrally located, there are restrooms--but the corporate sponsors sometimes create a trade-show-like atmosphere, and then there are the crashers, fashion students, and random friends ("OMG! OMG! We're at Fashion Week! This is soooo exciting"), not to mention the Pushy McShoversons, all of whom make the tents a totally annoying experience (I think Cintra Wilson captured the experience the best in this article for Salon). As for off-site venues, they are often more serene, more civilized, and have better swag (hello, Bumble + Bumble!), but they require schlepping all over the place, which, if you don't have a car and driver (which I don't), can be a nerve-wracking experience. Also, at three of the four off-site shows I went to this season, I had guest-list issues (but more on those later).

On swag
Fashion Week gives most people a serious case of The Gimmies, and I will admit I'm not immune to it. When I enter a show and see there are no gift bags, I actually breathe a sigh of relief. When I see that only the first or first two rows have them, I get irritated (what, only the "important" guests deserve swag?). When all of the seats have gift bags, I stash mine in my purse, lest someone try to steal it (that does happen to me, at least once a season), or, if I have a standing ticket, I try to figure out how to get one. I have no idea why gift bags produce so much anxiety--they don't necessarily contain the most useful items--but, hey, as The Shophound noted, free stuff is good stuff.

How to dress for Fashion Week

There are two types of people at Fashion Week: those who have seats, and those who do not. Most of the time, I fall into the latter category (which is fine--I am happy just to get invited), which involves a lot of standing around, waiting to be let in. Editors, buyers, and other VIPs, on the other hand, stroll in wearing sky-high platforms; since they basically go between their chauffeur-driven cars and their front-row seats, practical footwear is not necessary. As for me, I wore flats (or very low heels) every day and still managed to get photographed by several Japanese street-wear magazines. Still, Fashion Week is a bit of a fashion show off the runway as well, and I think everyone gets a little anxious about their outfits.

Parties and photographs

I could care less about getting my picture taken and/or going to parties, but for many people, these aspects of Fashion Week are more important than, say, the clothes going down the runways. To me, these are just more causes for anxiety; read this post, written by Slut Machine at Jezebel, for an honest take on how Fashion Week can make you feel awful about yourself.

On publicists
At Fashion Week, publicists have an extremely challenging job. No, I'm not being facetious--they have to deal with major fashion-industry egos whilst creating a seating plan, and then when check-in time comes, they have everyone rushing at them, from people pissed off at their seating assignment (or lack thereof) to show-crashers. And, of course, things always go wrong--you're not on the list, you have a standing ticket and don't get in, etc. But it is at this point where a fashion publicist's true colors show. I think that, like in the real world, about 75% of them are genuinely nice people and about 25% are assholes. The people at MAO PR, for example, are always lovely. But you don't want to hear about them, do you? I had two publicists send me invites to shows, to which I RSVP'd, but then when I wasn't on the list, they said it was because I didn't receive a "final confirmation." Um, wouldn't my invitation be my final confirmation? When I politely pointed out the lack of business etiquette present, both situations were quickly resolved. Also, I had another publicist, who was incredulous at my lack of business cards, tell me, "Honey, bring your business cards when you come to Fashion Week." Noted.

How to dress like a fashion editor in six easy steps

1. Opaque black tights
2. Platform shoes (preferably Christian Louboutin, Balenciaga, or Prada)
3. Fur coat
4. Expensive but not-too-flashy handbag with gold hardware
5. Smock dress or bubble or tulip skirt
6. Huge ring
Zang Toi Fall 2008
Where & When: Friday, February 8th at 5 p.m. in the Promenade, Bryant Park
Runway Recap: The last show of Fashion Week is always a bit kooky, and that was certainly the case for Zang Toi. As songs like "American Girl" gave way to early Bjork tunes, the models walked at a glacially slow pace, perhaps a fitting way to show off the Mongolian-lamb-trimmed ski parkas and sable coats; toward the end, the models actually did the cheesey "aswirl" twirl at the beginning of the runway to display the admittedly gorgeous cowl backs of the evening gowns. The collection was inspired by a trip to the Adirondacks, and while the parkas and grunge-lite separates were fitting, I don't know where one would wear the multitude of red, white, and black gowns with Native American (or, as Toi called them, "American Indian"--so much for political correctness) motifs. Needless to say, the audience, which was clearly filled with loyal clients, loved it--the woman sitting in front of me dramatically raised her hands above her head to applaud the looks she liked.
Standout Look: The super-glam beaded cowl-back velvet gowns at the end were absolutely beautiful and sure to please Toi's uptown clientele.
Bonus Points: I knew I'd had enough of Fashion Week when I spotted a comely fellow in the front row and thought, "Who is that sexy, sexy guy?" Um, it was Constantine Maroulis from American Idol. Yes, I was that tired.
Where to Buy: Nordstrom
Willow Fall 2008
Where & When: Friday, February 8th at 2 p.m. in the Salon, Bryant Park
Runway Recap: Australian designer Kit Willow always ends up on those "up-and-coming designer" lists but then for some reason never quite hits it big. Which is too bad, because her collection was filled with great dresses and separates, and even a superbly tailored three-piece suit. Willow embellished most pieces with exposed zippers, grommets, or lacing, which made them stand out from the asymmetrical draped satin pieces we've seen on other runways.
Standout Look: Here are five fall trends, all in one place: the long vest, the drapey charmeuse blouse, the defined waist, the bubble skirt, and over-the-knee boots. Thankfully, all of these pieces are understated and chic, which prevents the look from fashion victimization.
Bonus Points: The lighter colors and airy fabrics looked refreshing (and almost spring-like) in comparison to the heavy tweeds and plaids at many other shows.
Where to Buy: Email sales@willowltd.com for stores
Rad Hourani Fall 2008
Where & When: Friday, February 8th at noon, Bumble + Bumble
Runway Recap: I'd had my fill of evening gowns, so I skipped the Tadashi show in favor of Rad Hourani, a Canadian stylist-turned-designer with no formal training. His look is definitely on the avant-garde side; he favors a boxy, rectangular silhouette, often with fringey, strappy things hanging down. Most of the looks were layered, with dresses, jackets, and vests over super-skinny pants. All of this creates an androgynous effect, so it makes sense that he's already earning comparisons to Helmut Lang and Ann Demeulemeester. And with all of the fussy full skirts and ruffles that have been so popular this season, Hourani's focused, streamlined collection was an exciting and welcome change.
Standout Look: The show's color palette was mostly black and red, but for me, the subtly sparkly jackets at the end really stood out. This look is successful too, because it manages to conceal the body with the boxy jacket while revealing the legs with the satiny skinny pants.
Bonus Points: I always love shows at Bumble + Bumble; not only are they totally serene (when compared to the insanity of the tents), but you get to eat fantastic chocolate-dipped macaroons while you wait, and the gift bag is always filled with B+B products (in this case, hairspray).
Where to Buy: Holt Renfrew stores in Canada
Jayson Brunsdon Fall 2008
Where & When: Thursday, February 7th at 9 p.m. in the Salon, Bryant Park
Runway Recap: Life was definitely a cabaret at Australian designer Jayson Brunsdon's show; in case you couldn't hear the showtunes, everything was styled with jazz shoes, tights, leotards, and/or bowler hats to drive the point home. Brunsdon makes chic dresses, but many of them were unnecessarily sullied by excessive ruffles, bustles, or Playboy-bunny-lke pompoms. The audience was enthusiastic, but, like in an actual cabaret, I suspect they were throwing back a few drinks beforehand.
Standout Look: Brunsdon sent some great prints down the runway, my favorite of which was this one, featuring a showgirl motif reminiscent of Toulouse-Lautrec paintings.
Bonus Points: This designer should receive applause for his diverse model lineup, which featured several black and Asian models.
Where to Buy: Elizabeth Charles at 639 Hudson Street; Saks
Chris Han Fall 2008
Where & When: Thursday, February 7th at 6 p.m. in the Salon, Bryant Park
Runway Recap: Draped jersey and pleated satin pieces met tailored pencil skirts and perfectly slouchy trousers, all in dusty, muted colors at Chris Han's packed show. There were great layered and work-friendly looks, and with the exception of a few designs that suffered from too-much-fabric syndrome, it was all very wearable. In fact, I had more stars next to this collection's looks than any other show I saw during Fashion Week.
Standout Look: The tweed coat features ribbed knit sleeves for a faux-short-sleeved effect; the satin blouse has an interesting, flattering asymmetrical neckline; and the low-slung trouser is neither too skinny nor too wide--in other words, this layered look is just perfect.
Bonus Points: It was an America's Next Top Model reunion in the front row as Noted Fashion Photographer Nigel Barker and former judge Nolé Marin caught up and reminisced about the good ol' times.
Where to Buy: A good question...to which I will work on finding the answer!
Famous people exiting and/or entering the Zac Posen show tonight within four feet of me
Anna Wintour (note: she enters the front of the tents but leaves by the side doors, by the bathrooms)
Carine and Julia Restoin-Roitfeld
Andre Leon Talley
Joy Bryant
Olivia Palermo
Rachel Zoe (who is looking very youthful all of a sudden)
Glenda Bailey
Kelly Bensimon
Tyson Beckford (whom, I think, didn't actually go into the show, but graciously posed for picture after picture with fans)
Patti Lupone (yes, that Patti Lupone--my inner gay man couldn't believe my eyes)

I ended up watching the show on the monitors, but apparently Ms. Jack White (a.k.a. Karen Elson) took quite a spill at the end.
Reem Acra Fall 2008
Where & When: Thursday, February 7th at 3 p.m. in the Promenade, Bryant Park
Runway Recap: Red-carpet regular Reem Acra could do the Grecian-goddess look in her sleep, so I found the draped charmeuse dresses in the middle of the show a bit old-hat. Thankfully, she started out with some Mad Men-inspired sweater-and-skirt separates and finished with breathtakingly glamorous, exquisitely detailed evening gowns. If the Oscars actually happen this year, look for her designs on the red carpet; if not, our loss.
Standout Look: This nude dress had a sequined black overlay that, as the model (the gorgeous Bruna Tenorio) walked down the runway, exploded like the flashbulbs of so many cameras. To. Die. For.
Bonus Points: Not only did model Chanel Iman subtly smirk whenever she walked past front-row fixture Tyson Beckford (who was plying her with "You go, girl!" cheers), but closer Jessica Stam broke out in a full grin when the audience applauded her as the music ran out and she was still only halfway down the runway. Models: They're just like us! (Well, not really...)
Where to Buy: The Reem Acra boutique at 14 E. 60th St.
Tony Cohen Fall 2008
Where & When: Thursday, February 7th at 9 a.m. in the Salon, Bryant Park
Runway Recap: The Dutch designer made his New York debut, but in spite of a big story in The Daily, his show was sparsely attended (it's rough going on the morning following the party of the season, in this case, the UN Gucci party on Wednesday night). Which is too bad, considering Cohen's airy silk dresses and chic cropped leather and shearling jackets. A master of drapery, Cohen showed some great working-girl-friendly cowl necklines and statement-making coats, although the beaded, feathered evening looks toward the end were a bit fussy.
Standout Look: I love a draped silky dress paired with a biker jacket, and this look got the balance right, perfect for the downtown girl I'm assuming Cohen is targeting.
Bonus Points: The gift bag contained an airy woven scarf, goodies from Aveeno, and a sugary-sweet Fizze drink.
Where to Buy: The Tony Cohen store in Amsterdam

Temperley London Fall 2008
Where & When: Wednesday, February 6th at 7 p.m. in the Tent, Bryant Park
Runway Recap: Alice Temperley is known for her girly, party-friendly frocks, and for fall, she took her collection a step further. Inspired by Mata Hari, the famous 20th century spy, Temperley balanced feminine tiered-ruffle skirts with very masculine military-inspired jackets, topped off with admiral caps and glittery thigh-high boots. The resulting looks were a bit vampy, but intriguing. The palette was mostly black and white, with hints of red and lime green. With all the talk of waist-definition, I admire Temperley for sticking to her guns and sending out several empire-waist silhouettes.
Standout Look: Lime green is not an easy color to wear, but the sequined lace trim and ruffles make this dress (on Lily Donaldson) an adventurous look worthy of a rendez-vous with a double agent.
Bonus Points: The Temperley show started super-late, but the heckling photographers made the wait an amusing one.
Where to Buy: net-a-porter.com, the Temperley boutique at 453 Broome Street in Soho
Carlos Miele Fall 2008
Where & When: Wednesday, February 6th at 1 p.m. in the Promenade, Bryant Park
Runway Recap: Designers often cite architecture as their inspiration in certain collections, to varying degrees of success. But in Carlos Miele's case, I could definitely see the swirling forms of Frank Gehry in the beautifully constructed asymmetrical dresses and industrial-but-organic prints that he sent down the runway. Miele, a Brazilian, is clearly a designer who loves the female form, and with the exception of the too-chunky sweaters, his designs showcase one's curves in a lovely, flattering manner.
Standout Look: Miele always has great chiffon dresses, and the asymmetrical construction of this one made for a stunning silhouette.
Bonus Points: After hearing about model Karlie Kloss' robot-death-stare runway walk all week, I finally got to witness it firsthand, and I can report that it's awesome--I haven't seen a strut that unique since Iekeliene Stange's sway-backed clomping (which I also love).
Where to Buy: the Carlos Miele boutique on 14th Street
Malan Breton Fall 2008
Where & When: Wednesday, February 6th at 9 a.m. in the Salon, Bryant Park
Runway Recap: A Malan Breton show is usually an exercise in ruffles, feathers, fur, velvet, and beading, so the streamlined, simple look of his fall collection looked almost minimalist in comparison. Breton was inspired by Catherine Deneuve in her early career (think Belle du Jour and The Umbrellas of Cherbourg, which happens to be one of my favorite movies), and considering Deneuve is a fashion icon, this was no easy feat. There were some sharply tailored jackets and coats, and while his sheath dresses were chic and well-made, there were far too many of them.
Standout Look: The groovy cropped patent leather jacket captured the mod '60s inspiration perfectly, while this wide-leg trouser had an innovative design with side panels that tied across the back for a languid, lean look.
Bonus Points: It was a Project Runway reunion in the front row, with Angela Keslar, Diana Eng, Katherine Gerdes, and Emmett McCarthy all representing.
Where to Buy: The Malan Breton website
Joanna Mastroianni Fall 2008
Where & When: Tuesday, February 5th at 6 p.m. in the Salon, Bryant Park
Runway Recap: Pretty much every designer showing in New York dabbles in eveningwear to some extent. For dramatic effect, these looks often come at the end of a runway show, often to much oohing and aahing from the audience. However, there's a difference between the typical bias-cut charmeuse gown and the pure artistry of a true eveningwear designer. Joanna Mastroianni falls into this latter category. Her shows do feature daytime looks, but her gowns are exquisitely detailed and carry a true sophistication that, well, all the designers showing trendy hip-slung trousers and vests can only hope to achieve someday. Her fall collection was inspired by Morocco, which translated into everything from ornate beading that evoked mosaic tiles to more sleek looks with geometric cutouts, with a healthy dose of spicy colors sprinkled throughout. Instead of veering into costumey territory, Mastroianni kept the theme on this side of tasteful.
Standout Look: This silk evening gown had so much going on, I didn't know where to look--a plunging neckline, a lapis-blue lining, and an ornately embroidered back panel.
Bonus Points: The designer's pomeranian took a turn down the runway, carried in the arms of a model during the final runway walk. After days of looking at strikingly beautiful women, it was nice to have a bit of cuteness.
Where to Buy: Kleinfeld, Neiman Marcus, Saks
Badgley Mischka Fall 2008
Where & When: Tuesday, February 5th at 10 a.m. in the Tent, Bryant Park
Runway Recap: Badgley Mischka took their Uptown Girl out for a night on the town at Studio 54--tastefully so, of course. Tiny bits of leopard print, subtle metallics, and luxe fur vests upped the glam factor while airy chiffon blouses and amazingly well-cut wide-leg trousers kept everything grounded in luxury. For day, there were pencil-skirted suits for day, rich brocades in autumnal tones, and some great bishop-sleeve dresses in retro prints. For evening, lightly sequined jewel-toned charmeuse and hand-painted chiffon gowns flowed into the duo's signature ornately beaded gowns in shades of silver and gold, all surely to appear soon on the red carpet, because, as everyone knows, Badgley Mischka makes glamour look effortless.
Standout Look: The sequined bodice and subtly variegated skirt of this gown look chic and fresh, not fussy, and I bet it all reads great on camera. Are you listening, Oscar nominees?
Bonus Points: A rare Anna Wintour spotting!
Where to Buy: Neiman Marcus, Nordstrom, Saks
TIBI Fall 2008
Where & When: Tuesday, February 5th at 9 a.m. in the Salon, Bryant Park
Runway Recap: Few things get me out of bed so early in the morning, but I'll gladly wake up for a TIBI show. For fall, designer Amy Smilovic took a trip back to the '70s, with low-key glam Ice Storm hostess gowns, Annie Hall tailored three-piece suits, and groovy dresses in varying lengths. As always, TIBI had a smattering of great prints, from a hippie-chic Southwestern motif to a stylized tree pattern. But the great joy in seeing a TIBI show is knowing that not only are the clothes wearable, they're also attainable--thankfully, no $5,000 dresses here.
Standout Look: While I loved the printed dresses, this was my favorite look, if only because it looks exactly like something I'd wear. Also note the knee-highs (these are part of the upcoming TIBI for Hue capsule collection), which have been popping up on a lot of runways.
Bonus Points: Not only were the gorgeous Caroline Trentini and my current fave Coco Rocha on the runway, Saleisha from America's Next Top Model also took a turn, and I begrudgingly admit she did a good job.
Where to Buy: shopbop.com, Saks, Bloomingdale's, and the TIBI store on Wooster
Iodice Fall 2008
Where & When: Monday, February 4th at 9 p.m. in the Salon, Bryant Park
Runway Recap: Iodice is a huge fashion force in its native Brazil, and while the lower-priced jersey-based collection has been available in the U.S. for awhile now, this show marked the first presentation of the higher-end designer line on our shores. Inspired by graffiti--thankfully in a more abstract sense--Iodice sent one flirty, fluid minidress after another down the runway. Arty prints and colorblocking met exposed zippers, interesting pleats, and transparency to create party-girl frocks so awesome, you might want to rework your social schedule to accommodate all of them.
Standout Look: This burnout-silk dress was styled just how a pretty young thing would wear it: with a cropped leather jacket, opaque tights, and sky-high platforms.
Bonus Points: The designer, Valdemar Iodice, took a full lap on the runway to enthusiastic applause from the audience.
Where to Buy: CoutureCandy, LabelSpree, Revolve Clothing
Ports 1961 Fall 2008
Where & When: Monday, February 4th at 7 p.m. in the Promenade, Bryant Park
Runway Recap: The Ports 1961 show is usually a more quiet affair, but last night's show was packed to the rafters with magazine editors, starlets, and department-store buyers; I guess word finally got out that the line is one to watch. Or, more likely, that designer Tia Cibani's travel-inspired collection--this time, the destination was the Scottish Highlands--is filled with work-friendly, wearable, but still thoughtful pieces, a wise investment in these uncertain times. As one would expect, there was a healthy dose of plaid (a big trend for fall), as well as some smart tweed suits, but to me, the best pieces were the slim but elegantly draped dresses, which I suspect will still be popular come fall.
Standout Look: I always love a little velvet for fall, but while the fabric has the tendency to look stiff, Cibani's velvet dresses were fluid and draped for a soft, flattering silhouette.
Bonus Points: The Ports 1961 gift is always a bit on the wack-a-doo side and this time was no exception. The Fug Girls put it best: "knitted horns on necklaces, punctuated with buttons? We don't know how else to explain them."
Where to Buy: Saks Fifth Avenue, Ports1961.com
Terexov Fall 2008
Where & When: Sunday, February 3rd at 9 p.m. in the Salon, Bryant Park
Runway Recap: When I think "Russian fashion," I think blonde, cleavage, huge designer logos, animal prints, furs, and so on. Fortunately, Russian designer Alexandr Terekhov has a far more sophisticated, refined style, especially considering the fact that he's a mere 29 years old. Simple but luxe belted jersey dresses, puffy parkas, and chic suits appeal to the working woman, whether in Moscow or, say, another cold and dreary city like Chicago. After so many sheer blouses and microminis on other runways, it was a delight to see so many wearable clothes.
Standout Look: Terekhov is Russian after all, so there was quite a bit of leather on the runway, my favorite of which was this quilted gray miniskirt, paired with a wintry white cashmere sweater.
Bonus Points: Nigel Barker was in the front row, but he couldn't hold a candle to the designer himself, who, should his design career falter, could take to the runway as a male model. See? He's a cutie!
Where to Buy: His website is in Russian, so your guess is as good as mine.
Tuleh Fall 2008
Where & When: Sunday, February 3rd at 7 p.m. in the Promenade, Bryant Park
Runway Rundown: I skipped the Sunday-morning and -afternoon shows to catch up on my sleep and post some reviews, and by the time I made it back to Bryant Park on Sunday evening, the atmosphere was almost serene. Of course, that was probably due to the fact that the Super Bowl was being played at the same time; I got seats at both shows, though, so I'm not complaining! Anyway, designer Bryan Bradley, who's now working on helping Lord & Taylor modernize its image, presented a colorful collection that celebrated, in the days leading up to Super Tuesday, our great country. Full, tea-length 1950s skirts mixed with classic cable-knit sweaters and prim belted suit jackets, and the '70s came into play with fabulous fur-trimmed dressing gowns and, for lack of a better word, pimp hats. It was all very happy and hopeful, which, in these uncertain times, is a welcome sentiment.
Standout Look: While there were some fabulously luxe long cardigans, I liked this vivid metallic-stripe sweater and full skirt ensemble. After so many minis and bubble hems, the dirndl skirt looked incredibly fresh to me.
Bonus Points: From Madonna's "American Life" to Nirvana's "Come as You Are" and Timbaland's "The Way I Are," the music was refreshingly all over the place.
Where to Buy: Bergdorf Goodman
Akiko Ogawa Fall 2008
Where & When: Saturday, February 2nd at 9 p.m. in the Salon, Bryant Park
Runway Recap: If I were to summarize this show with one phrase, it would be "business in the front, party in the back." No, there were no mullets to be seen, but Ogawa's sharply tailored jackets and voluminous gowns often erupted in exaggerated peplums, bustles, ruffles, and general clumps of fabric as the models turned back down the runways. There were also several pieces with hologram fringe, which added to the madcap feel of the collection. All a bit odd, yes, but the designer is Japanese; picture these looks on the streets of Harajuku and it all begins to make sense.
Standout Look: For those of us who don't rock the Japanese-street-fashion look, the layered chiffon cocktail dresses with Swarovski crystals make for fun party frocks.
Bonus Points: The shoes in this collection were stellar, especially the chunky platform motorcycle boots. Want. Them. Bad.
Where to Buy: Somewhere in Japan, perhaps?
Ruffian Fall 2008
Where & When: Saturday, February 2nd at 8 p.m., New Dance Group
Runway Recap: I have no idea how I got invited to this show, but I'm glad I did. The setting was super-intimate, the coolest models were in the show (Agyness Deyn, Irina Lazareanu), and, most importantly, the clothes were very rock-and-roll. Inspired by the designers' days at New England boarding schools, the collection was Gossip Girl mixed with Rebel Without a Cause. Standout pieces included skinny suits, rockabilly dresses, and graffiti-inspired prints, and I was blown away by a dress with a needlepoint graffiti design. One thing's for certain: No one dressed this cool at my high school.
Standout Look: I had a hard time picking a favorite look, so here's Agyness rocking a floor-sweeping coat and glam-rock skinny pants, courtesy of Ruffian's collaboration with Earnest Sewn. Note to self: Go buy a pair of Harlow jeans. Now.
Bonus Points: I even had backstage access at this show, and if there's anything more glamorous than attending a fashion show, it's going backstage at one. It's just as you'd expect: models primping and posing for photographers, friends and well-wishers, and general fabulousness.
Where to Buy: See website
Sass & Bide Fall 2008
Where & When: Saturday, February 2nd at 7 p.m. in the Promenade, Bryant Park
Runway Recap: This show marked the Australian duo's return to the tents after co-designer Heidi Middleton's battle with cancer, and the theme--rainbows--was an uplifting one. Colorful and whimsical, nearly every look incorporated rainbows and many featured girly ruffles. These were fun party clothes for starlets--Nicky Hilton sat in the front row, and I'm sure Lindsay Lohan will be all over the ruched leggings.
Standout Look: The woven ribbons on this dress reminded me of these colorful nylon pot holders I used to make when I was a child; my mom, bless her heart, still uses them.
Bonus Points: Niki Taylor and all of the Make Me a Supermodels were in the audience; Perry is just as hot as you'd expect him to be, if not more so.
Where to Buy: Bloomingdale's, Saks, Cantaloup
Verrier Fall 2008
Where & When: Saturday, February 2nd at 6 p.m. in the Salon, Bryant Park
Runway Recap: Ashleigh Verrier's collection was so polished, it's hard to believe she graduated from Parsons just over three years ago. (Seriously--she could teach several seasoned designers a thing or two about how to put on a show.) Inspired by Imperial Russia and Fabergé eggs, her designs were unapologetically feminine and polished, but not sickeningly sweet. Many pieces sparkled with Swarovski crystals, but Verrier countered the glitz with understated mohair, velvet, and chiffon. If you shop at Anthropologie now, this is what to aspire to.
Standout Look: From the gigot-sleeve coat to the airy taffeta camisole and the metallic brocade skirt, this ensemble is pure pretty-pretty-princess perfection.
Bonus Points: No nipples here--the models all wore nude bras. That's right, bras. This blew me away; I don't think I've ever seen undergarments on a runway before. See, I told you Verrier is a class act.
Where to Buy: Nordstrom
Alexandre Herchcovitch Fall 2008
Where & When: Saturday, February 2nd in the Tent, Bryant Park
Runway Recap: After 12 or so all-black, pod-like dresses and capelets, Herchcovich sent out a kaleidoscope of plaids, rainbow stripes, and colorblocks sure to please downtown types. A little avant-garde, yes, but the bold colors were like a ray of hope--something we can all use.
Standout Look: There's something about this swirly rainbow dress that just makes me happy (and I'm glad that the bull's-eye is below the hip area).
Bonus Points: Those who had a seat got a cute, souveniry tote bag (sadly, however, I was not one of them).
Where to Buy: www.herchcovitchloja.com.br
Mara Hoffman Fall 2008
Where & When: Saturday, February 2nd at 2 p.m. in the Promenade, Bryant Park
Runway Recap: Some fashion snobs write off knitwear designers as unimaginative and catering to the masses, but Mara Hoffman's truly innovative patterns and chic shapes should dispel that generalization. From drapey cardigans to slinkier jersey pieces, I wanted nearly every piece that came down the runway, making this show an early contender for favorite show of the week.
Standout Look: This jersey dress with matching cardigan-jacket sported a unique, exotic print; I'd wear it day into night.
Bonus Points: From the headscarves to the holster-like bags, Hoffman's accessories were just as aweseome as her clothing.
Where to Buy: shopbop.com, Pink Mascara
Araks Fall 2008
Where & When: Saturday, February 2nd at 2 p.m. in the Promenade, Bryant Park
Runway Recap: In the first part of a joint show with Mara Hoffman, Araks expanded on its luxe but smart lingerie collection with geeky-sexy cardigans, boyfriend blazers, and bermuda shorts--think of a graduate student borrowing her professor-boyfriend's clothes. The key to the collection was in the contrast between the boxy basics and the sexy sheer layers.
Standout Look: The oversized vest and sheer henley are made for layering, while the chartreuse (trend alert!) layer adds a hint of color to this all-gray ensemble.
Bonus Points: The dorky glasses on the models complemented the intellectual bent of the collection.
Where to Buy: Barneys, Henri Bendel, and a host of other stores (see Araks.com)
Thuy Fall 2008
Where & When: Saturday, February 2nd at 11 a.m., Exit Art
Runway Recap: I'm not going to mince words--this show was the biggest shitstorm since Kai Kuhne's show last February. Yes, the mimosas and truffles were a nice touch, but that didn't excuse the hour-plus wait, or the half-assed runway, which required the hundreds of attendees to squish up against the walls. The photographers had to give the models stage direction, and at least one model rolled her eyes in exasperation. Until the models all stood around at the end for us to inspect their garments up close, I could see only from the neck up (I will say, however, that the hair and makeup were beautiful). Say what you want about the three-ring circus that is the Bryant Park tents, but this sort of thing would never happen there.
Standout Look: Thuy had some interesting ideas in terms of finishing and layering; I liked the contrast here between the purple dress, the teal tights, and the beige shoes.
Bonus Points: Strangely enough, the best swag bag to date, with MAC makeup, Ted Gibson hairspray, Aveeno lotion, and a tiny piece of MarieBelle chocolate.
Where to Buy: See website for details
FORM Fall 2008
Where & When: Saturday, February 2nd at 10 a.m., The New Museum Sky Room
Runway Report: Downtown hipsters were crammed into the New Museum's tiny top-floor space, but the panoramic view of downtown Manhattan made the perfect backdrop for FORM's sculptural, asymmetrical pieces. While some of the dresses looked a bit shapeless and even burka-like when paired with the ubiquitous headscarves, the strongest pieces to me were the deconstructed suits with their intelligent jackets and perfect skinny pants.
Standout Look: Those suits (I will post a photo as soon as I can find one).
Bonus Points: I was directly across from Niki Taylor, Tyson Beckford, and the other two judges from Make Me a Supermodel; the remaining girls walked in the show (for what it's worth, I thought Shannon was the best).
Where to Buy: Oak, Curve
Venexiana by Kati Stern Fall 2008
Where & When: Friday, February 1st at 9 p.m. in the Salon, Bryant Park
Runway Recap: The 9 o'clock shows are always a toss-up--people are either exhausted from having been at shows all day, or they're drunk from hitting the tents' corporate-sponsored bars. I think the audience at Venexiana fell into the latter category, as they seemed incredibly enthusiastic about the collection, even giving the designer a standing ovation. I'm not quite sure why. Stern could have benefited from some editing--the show had a whopping 62 looks, many with Swarovski crystals and/or fur accents. And apparently she has not met a luxe fabric she hasn't liked, because she piled 'em on--fur! lamé! brocade! metallic lace! metallic tweed!--all at once. There's a difference between putting on a show and putting on a spectacle.
Standout Look: The best pieces were a series of 1930s bias-cut gowns and dresses, and this satin style was, thankfully, downright simple and elegant.
Bonus Points: I had my first, and hopefully not my last, sighting of everyone's favorite "noted fashion photographer," Nigel Barker.
Where to Buy: See website for details
Na•Be by Victorya Hong
Where & When: Friday, February 1st at 8 p.m., Metropolitan Pavilion
Runway Recap: Love her or hate her, you have to admit that Project Runway designer Victorya Hong is talented--she won three challenges before getting auffed last week with her chic but uninspired denim trench. Reading her program notes about being a "child of the '80s" made me a bit nervous, but Hong sent out a rather polished collection of work-friendly separates. The '80s inspiration came across in slim but slouchy trousers, shoulder-padded jackets, and shots of chartreuse. No leggings or dolman sleeves here--it's all a more polished, sophisticated way to wear the resurgent '80s looks.
Standout Look: Blazers and trousers like these were tailored so well, I'm almost upset we didn't see more of them on Project Runway.
Bonus Points: Christian, Elisa, and Jack, as well as Jay McCarroll from season one, made the front row seem like a Project Runway reunion.
Where to Buy: Victorya's website