POLLY MELLEN

In her ongoing Fashion Icons series at New York’s 92Y, Fern Mallis interviewed the icon to end all icons: Polly Allen Mellen.

While most folks outside of the fashion world might not have heard of her, Polly Mellen is a legend in the industry. The stylist responsible for some of fashion’s most indelible 20th-century images – Twiggy’s flower-power Vogue covers, Nastassja Kinski and the snake, Lisa Taylor in The Story of Ohhh…., Deborah Turbeville’s bathhouse shots – Polly started her career as a salesgirl and display designer at Lord & Taylor before going on to work as a sittings editor at Harper’s Bazaar, Vogue, and Allure.

She retired in 2001, after winning the CFDA Lifetime Achievement Award, to spend time with her beloved family, but is enjoying a mini comeback thanks to her inclusion in the new book, In Vogue: The Editor’s Eye, and her appearance in the accompanying HBO documentary of the same name, in which she stars alongside Vogue fashion editors Babs Simpson, Tonne Goodman, and Grace Coddington.

On Wednesday night, the 88-year-old spitfire (who still skis, swims, hikes, gardens, and does Pilates every day) took to the stage in her trademark silver bob, black turtleneck, and sparkly Vera Wang trousers to talk about her days at Miss Porter’s School alongside classmates Gloria Vanderbilt and Jacqueline Bouvier, her reputation as a demanding boss (both Vera Wang and Joe Zee got their starts as Polly’s assistant), and her storied 60-year career working with Diana Vreeland and such legendary photographers as Richard Avedon, Helmut Newton, Irving Penn, Arthur Elgort, and Bruce Weber. Here are the highlights.
Continue reading “Spotlight On: Polly Allen Mellen” »

December 28, 2012

 

Hurricane Sandy may have delayed the Calvin Klein Spring 2013 Preview by a few weeks, but the show (make that presentation) went on as planned at the end of November and was – as always – an event to remember.

Last year marked the debut of the ck one color cosmetics line. This time around, the focus was squarely on the clothes, denim, accessories, and underwear.

Models posed prettily amid a structure billed as “a modernist house constructed of black frames,” which was “filtering light and casting shadows within a pure, all-white setting” while guests walked around enjoying tumblers of OJ and breakfast nibbles. The black frames reminded me of very chic prison cells, especially in conjunction with the bunker-like benches and graphic, black-and-white stripes (a huge trend for spring) worn by many of the models.

There were also a lot of 007-worthy pale grey suits and short-sleeved button-downs (for the gents), as well as colorblocked trousers and painterly print separates (for the ladies). Pale denim; sleek swimwear; chunky, heeled sandals; and handheld, fold-over bags completed the picture.

Worn beneath everything, of course, was Calvin Klein’s famous underwear, including the new Calvin Klein Concept line constructed from seamless, high-tech performance fabric.

On the way out, instead of the usual goodie bag, guests were offered their choice of a cropped denim jacket or a pair of sunglasses. Calvin Klein for everyone!

December 14, 2012

 

Designer Walter Baker, who helms a namesake line and W118 by Walter Baker, spends his weekdays working like a maniac. His weekends? Well, they’re spent working out like a maniac. For reals. But his downtime’s not all about the treadmill and the tennis court. “For Thanksgiving I go to my house in the south of Florida,” Walter tells Rue. “I like to be by the pool when it’s cold in NYC. That’s what I’m thankful for: some time to relax!” As for the rest of his weekend…

I wake up at 3AM every day – the weekends are no different – at my house in NYC. After I wake up I answer the hundreds of emails I have to go through, then go to the gym at 5AM and read WWD while I’m on the treadmill. I think I’m the only guy who’s reading WWD at the gym. Then I go to Battery Place Market and get a croissant, which I only have on the weekends. At home, my wife, Agnes, makes me a cappuccino in our Nespresso® machine. I’m obsessed. By 8AM I’m on the tennis court playing indoor singles for two hours.

In the afternoon I go shopping with Agnes. I like to go to Soho or the Upper East Side, always dressed head to toe in Rick Owens, black on black. I like checking out the stores to see what women are wearing and feeling out the vibe in NYC, and seeing my line in some of the best stores in NYC. Interacting with my customers is just a really awesome experience. Saturday nights I have dinner in the Village at Il Mulino. I have a standing reservation for every Saturday at 10PM for six people. It’s always a good time and the food is the best.

Sunday is basically rinse and repeat. I go to the gym but don’t play tennis, then watch sports in the afternoon and order in dinner.

Lauren David Peden writes for Rue La La as a Contributing Editor.

December 7, 2012

 

As with many East Coasters, Hurricane Sandy hit the New York fashion industry hard. The stores and headquarters of countless designers were met with damaged merchandise and office equipment, along with power and electricity outages that made conducting everyday business near impossible.

But as they did with the AIDS crisis and 9/11 (which spawned Seventh on Sale and the CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund, respectively), fashion insiders have united to help out those hit hardest.
Continue reading “Fashion For Sandy Relief Efforts” »

November 30, 2012

 

 

The Do-Gooder: Bobbi Brown
The Cause: Dress for Success (DFS)
The Mission: To promote the economic independence of disadvantaged women by providing professional attire, a network of support, and career development tools to help women thrive in work and in life.

Lauren: How did you originally get involved with Dress for Success?
Bobbi: I first got involved in 2001 and joined the board in 2005. During my first introductory meeting with Dress for Success, I was so moved by the cause I remember that I took off the scarf I was wearing to donate it. My goal from the beginning of my career has been to empower women, so this cause aligns perfectly with that.

Lauren: What is it about Dress for Success that speaks to you, personally?
Bobbi: Dress for Success is an amazing organization because it gives women the tools and knowledge they need to look like, and eventually become, the person they hope to be. It empowers women to be self-sustaining and take care of themselves and their families, ultimately building their confidence and repairing their self-esteem.

Lauren: Can you describe the work that you do with them?
Bobbi: At the beginning, we were involved through in-kind donations and monetary support. Over the years, we’ve donated time and support in a variety of ways, including makeup lessons to teach women how to create work-appropriate makeup looks. The brand also donates $25,000 to DFS every time I appear on QVC. [Bobbi also cochaired the 2011 Something to Share gala, which raised a record-breaking $1.75 million.]

Lauren: What’s been your most memorable experience with Dress for Success?
Bobbi: It’s hard to choose just one. I look forward to chairing the annual galas and volunteering at the DFS Walk Fundraisers. Another great moment was when I actually hired a DFS client on the spot when I met her in 2010. She currently works in our NYC office with our Artistry team.

Lauren: How has your involvement inspired you, personally or professionally?
Bobbi: I firmly believe that the more you give in life, the more you get back. DFS is just one of the organizations I’ve been involved with over the years that I’ve gotten so much out of through my involvement. The reason that I started my brand was to empower women to be their best selves, so to be aligned with an organization that does this in another way is even more fulfilling.

Lauren: How can others get involved?
Bobbi: By volunteering your time, donating clothing, or even pledging money (think of it as a “gift that gives back” with the holidays coming up). The Dress for Success website is a great resource for all these things.

Lauren David Peden writes for Rue La La as a Contributing Editor.

November 29, 2012

Alvin Valley was crowned “The King of Pants” by Women’s Wear Daily in the mid-nineties thanks to his amazing trousers – beloved by women of all ages and sizes. The designer lost his business a decade later and took a hiatus, returning to the fashion fold earlier this year after buying back the rights to his name and relaunching his newly reconfigured line of pants for Fall 2012 as an online-only venture. I recently stopped by Alvin’s Garment District headquarters to get the lowdown on his typical day at work and the secret to his beautifully cut trousers.
Continue reading “At Work with Alvin Valley” »

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November 23, 2012

This year marks the 40th anniversary of the American Music Awards, which has spawned some truly memorable fashion moments over the years. Here, a look back at a few of my favorites.

Michael Jackson was feeling “Dangerous” in 1993 and his AMAs performance – complete with male backup dancers wearing matching black suits, skinny ties, and fedoras – made him look like the leader of an army of well-dressed mobsters.

In 2007, Fergie took to the stage in a barely there sequined Jenny Packham sheath and sky-high red stilettos, giving Tina Turner a run for her money in the legs-up-to-there department, while her Black Eyed Peas bandmate will.i.am looked every inch the gentleman in his top hat and velvet smoking jacket. That same year, Avril Lavigne transitioned from teen punk rocker to grown-up divorcée in a black T-shirt and silver skirt.

A year later, Beyoncé channeled her alter ego, Sasha Fierce, and tore up “Single Ladies” wearing a plunging black and white Armani Privé satin jacket with matching black booty shorts beside backup dancer (and current Glee star) Heather Morris in a coordinating one-armed bodysuit.

Jennifer Lopez went for the gold – literally – during her boxing-inspired 2009 AMAs performance of “Louboutins,” with a 24K microphone and glittering gold, leather, and lace romper that almost made us forget she fell on her butt mid-song, while Rihanna opted for a skin-baring white bandage jumpsuit. Thankfully, there were no wardrobe malfunctions during her performance, despite having only a thin strip of leather covering her lady bits.

Not one to be outdone, Lady Gaga also went the jumpsuit route in 2009 but in her case, it was flesh-toned, covered by a plastic exoskeleton that extended from her ankles to her rib cage, completely obscuring the upper half of her face and lighting up when she moved.

And in 2010 Katy Perry set off “Fireworks” in a sparkly crimson Marco Marco jumpsuit that did her figure all kinds of favors.

With Nicki Minaj and Rihanna leading the 2012 AMAs with four nominations each, and Katy Perry, Justin Bieber, Maroon 5, Adele, and Taylor Swift also in the running, we know this year’s AMAs is sure to have more than a few looks to remember.

The 2012 American Music Awards will be broadcast live on Sunday, November 18, at 8PM ET on ABC.

Lauren David Peden writes for Rue La La as a Contributing Editor.

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November 16, 2012

 

After spending the week in Manhattan designing her namesake fur and lifestyle collection, Adrienne Landau likes to relax and recharge at her beach house in Long Island’s North Fork. To her, “homecoming” means “relaxing, warmth, redecorating.” So when does she feel most at home? “When a huge snowstorm hits New York. I’ll catch up on a big stack of magazines, sitting with a cup of hot cocoa and marshmallows with a fur throw to keep me warm.”

Here, Landau shares her typical weekend.

I’m an early bird, even on weekends. I love getting up early in Mattituck, New York, on Long Island. The water, rocky beaches, and huge rock formations continue to inspire me. I wake up to the most spectacular views as my bedroom in Mattituck is on the side of a cliff. The first thing I need is a big cup of coffee, and I love having a light breakfast filled with all the local fresh fruits from the lovely farm stands. If I had a stressful week, I go for one of their homemade doughnuts.

I spend my mornings hitting all the garage sales on the North Fork. I get to see all of the beautiful scenery, and of course, one man’s junk is another man’s treasure. Driving alone gives me time to think and clear my head. Gardening is one of my favorite weekend activities – cutting branches, trimming trees, cutting vines. It’s definitely a stress reducer. The North Fork is known for its wine, so I love having a couple friends over for a drink and a swim. I always wear a huge hat and a long kaftan – anything animal print. I was a painter originally and still love to paint, especially in a place like Mattituck.

On Saturday evenings, I typically throw on a pair of trousers and a great blouse to hit a screening with friends or family. Afterward, we’ll stop by one of the low-key North Fork restaurants and, if I’m feeling indulgent, I’ll grab a pie at the famous Briermere Farms. I also love firing up the fireplaces and watching a comedy surrounded by my fur throw and pillows. I can’t live without them!

I’m stir-crazy by Sunday, ready to hit the big city. We throw our stuff in the car, drive back, and immediately hit the flea markets. I love getting inspired by all the clothing, the furniture – I’m obsessed!

Lauren David Peden writes for Rue La La as a Contributing Editor.

Editor’s note: This piece was written prior to Hurricane Sandy. Thankfully, Adrienne’s house was unharmed by the storm. To help those who were affected please donate here.

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November 9, 2012

 

Last week marked the opening of not one, but two, retrospectives at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston devoted to the 30-year career of photographer Mario Testino. The event brought the likes of Anna Wintour, Olivia Palermo, Erin Wasson, Gisele Bündchen, Alessandra Ambrosio, and Karlie Kloss to Beantown – which is not at all surprising, given the diversity of Mario’s images and his unique relationship to his subjects.

The first exhibit, Mario Testino: British Royal Portraits, showcases the Peruvian-born lensman’s candid and formal portraits of England’s royal family – from an impromptu 1976 shot of the Queen Mother and her grandson Prince Edward to Mario’s gorgeous photos of Princess Diana and recent engagement portraits of Buckingham Palace’s newest glamour couple, Prince William and Kate Middleton. This is the first U.S. showing of many of these images, which Mario handpicked for the retrospective.
Continue reading “Mario Testino’s MFA Boston Debut” »

November 2, 2012

Spring 2013 fashion season wrapped up with the Paris shows earlier this month. From larger-than-life bags at Chanel to Raf Simons’s Dior debut, here’s a look at what went down the runway – and what you’ll be dying to wear once the weather warms up.

Continue reading “Paris Spring 2013 Fashion Week” »

October 26, 2012