09/28/11 4:00am

It isn’t easy being a young designer in New York City: you’re constantly out looking for investors, sourcing fabric, and in many cases balancing second jobs so they can afford to do what they love.

Last February, I attended The Twentyten fashion show at Pratt Institute‘s Manhattan campus and met Nina Zilka, one third of the design trio. Six months later, I’m meeting with Nina again. This time we’re at the Brooklyn Navy Yard, where the Pratt Design Incubator for Sustainable Innovation is located. The Incubator supports start-up companies like Alder (and previously, The Twentyten) with a variety of services ranging from business consulting to simply providing workspace.

A lot more than the name changed as the trio became a duo: Alder consists of Nina and former Twentyten designer David J. Krause. While the inspiration for this particular collection is very of-the-moment (imagine the wardrobe of an urban lumberjack’s girlfriend), there is an attention to detail that goes above and beyond: The designers created the striking print used for several of the pieces by photographing actual wood ¬†and overlaying the image with a floral print. The results are extraordinary and Nina is confident about quality-investment pieces over fast fashion. “You can go to H&M but it will fall apart,” she says.

In spite of the progress that David and Nina are making, there’s still a financial struggle. Nina works as the office manager for the Pratt Design Incubator while David is a professor at Pratt. Great success stories don’t exactly happen overnight. And though Nina and David are obviously talented, I’m just wondering when pretty girls with cool haircuts will form long lines outside Brooklyn hotspots like Bird, demanding their Alder. Fundamentally, though, these designers have created gorgeous pieces that are both classic and on trend. The question is, when will everyone else catch up?

09/09/11 4:20pm

There are times when the credibility of the fashion industry is questionable, at best. For example, remember those commercials about this the bedazzler? There was also a time when it was socially acceptable to wear leggings with slashes along the side. Once we even considered Brittany Spears’ attire acceptable to wear in public. This was a dark period in fashion, but when you look at the beauty of Cushine et Ochs S/S ’12 show, you’ll instantly forget our past transgressions.

Designers Carly Cushine and Michelle Ochs make us forget that once upon a time, fashion designers gave into this urge to try every idea they’ve ever had in one garment. Yesterday at Milk Studios, they brought us a collection that is sexy yet subtle, and interesting but not “interesting” as in “dear god what was she thinking? I don’t know but let me take a picture!” A few highlights of the collection include a full pleated leather skirt that stops mid knee – a nice break from the maxi and midi lengths that we’ll be wearing all winter long – and a stunning knee length white cocktail dress with a slit in the front. Cushine et Ochs take on spring with a fresh palette that includes white, pale pink and yellow. The usual spring/summer suspects – floral and tribal – are absent. Despite what you may have heard, minimalism ain’t dead.

Photos by Elisa Hyman














03/15/11 12:15pm

Mina Stone

Fashion designer and part-time chef Mina Stone might be perfect. She uses only natural fabrics for her collection, and she even finds a way to incorporate her cooking into her clothing: the silk pieces are dyed with lentils and rice, which give the pieces texture and depth while retaining their natural beauty. Mina is humble but hopeful, sweet but genuine—and ridiculously talented.

For the past few seasons, fashion has been really dark, for lack of a better word. Even in the warmer months, designers have presented us with pieces that are very stiff and mechanical; and it seems that the only alternatives are 1960s-style femininity, which can get costumey if you’re not careful, or the overload of 70s bohemia, which gets boring if you’re not careful. Mina’s collection is romantic and architectural at once, and one might think that the pieces derive from some long storyline, but Stone says that it started from something really organic.

The pattern for each garment comes from either a circle, square or oval. One of the most beautiful pieces from the collection was one that Mina wore herself, a floor length navy blue dress. While this is her fall/winter collection, I couldn’t help but think that the pieces, with the exception of the two coats, were season-less. The color palette consisted of shades of grey, blue and white and the gorgeously draped dresses and jumpsuits can transition easily from fall to summer and back to winter.

It seems that amongst all the celebrity brands and the high end diffusion lines that give you complicated styles with much less love, there’s someone still working hard with breathtaking results. My faith in the fashion industry has officially been restored.

(Photos by Dana DeCoursey)

02/25/11 11:09am

Oscars party.

  • Oscar’s party.

This Sunday, even if you haven’t seen a single Oscar-nominated film, chances are you’ll be watching the awards anyway—perhaps while following our semi-beloved film editor Mark Asch’s live tweets, which should be a refreshing alternative to the frantic facebook statuses (OMFG JAMES FRANCO IS SO H0T!!!!) you’re bound to see. Great advances in technology mean you can read and re-tweet outside of your home and take a break from your pet/roommate/parent/parole officer who doesn’t care what witty things you have to say. There are a few great bars and restaurants holding viewing parties, and if nothing else, this means plenty of drink specials.

Kiki and Jinner’s Oscar Party
Come early to cast ballots and enter to win prizes, and enjoy drink specials like the $3 Red Carpet Cocktail and cocktails named after Best Picture nominees: Black Swan (Stoli Vanilla Black Russian) and True Grit (Tall Boy and a shot of whiskey) sound like sure winners.
Union Hall, 705 Union Street, Brooklyn, NY, 7 PM, FREE

Brooklyn Winery’s Oscar Viewing Party
Oscar night is a night to be fancy, and what better way to be fancy than skipping your usual PBR and Jack combo in favor of wine? Luckily, you don’t have to go to far. The Parlor at Brooklyn Winery will have an Oscars Bingo game for those who wish to indulge and specials on all their sparkling wines (keep that pinky up). Five lucky film buffs will win tickets to the Classic New York TV and Movie Sites Tour, so you can nerd out with a friend once the Oscars are over.
Brooklyn Winery, 213 North 8th Street, Brooklyn, NY, 7 PM, FREE

Murray Hill’s 10th Annual Oscar Party
In case you haven’t noticed, a lot of thespian types tend to take themselves too seriously. If you’re the type that would much rather laugh and throw shit at the screen, then you should stop by Joe’s Pub Sunday night for a few drinks and to watch Murray Hill conduct interviews with “nominees” (read: hilarious celebrity impersonators) and audience members. There will also be movie trivia, and prizes for the best- and worst-dressed— guests are encouraged to dress up as their favorite celebrity (Zsa Zsa Gabor).
Joe’s Pub, 425 Lafayette Street, New York, NY, 7 PM, $25 (Tickets)

Clover Club’s Annual Oscar Party
If you’re still all bent out of shape about not being able to go to some gussied-up event, you can pretend you’re one of the rich and famous at Clover Club, where guests can enjoy hors d’oeuvres, fancy schmancy cocktails, and just generally sit around feeling superior. Space is limited, so be sure to call ahead to make reservations.
Clover Club, 210 Smith Street, Brooklyn, NY, 6 PM
Call (718) 855-7939 for reservations.

Southern Hospitality’s Oscars Watch Party
Since you don’t have to worry about fitting into a designer gown or tux, why not take the opportunity to stuff your face? Southern Hospitality’s Oscar Night features a slew of drink specials, including $5 cocktails (the Social Network Cosmo sounds like a lot of fun) and $6 frozen margaritas. You can win free drinks, appetizers, gift certificates and general happiness if you enter the Oscar Pool, but the best part is there are free shots of 901 Tequila for everyone if The Social Network wins Best Picture. Just like at home.
Southern Hospitality BBQ and Bar, 1460 Second Avenue (near 76th Street) New York, NY, 8 PM

02/24/11 3:34pm

Brooklyn Guacamole Crawl

I love guacamole so much that sometimes I just eat it by the forkful (as shown), so on March 6th I’m clearing my calendar and putting on my fat pants for Nacho NY’s Brooklyn Guacamole Crawl at 5 Burro Café, Alma and Calexico, all in the Carroll Gardens/Columbia Street Waterfront District region.

$10 covers all the guacamole and chips your stomach desires, and anything else that might tempt you will cost extra. And, of course, all of these places have tons of other delicious foodstuffs, so you have options. Grab the Peños Rellenos (breaded jalapenos stuffed with cream cheese) at 5 Burro Café, some classic beef tacos at Calexico, and finish off your tour with some fish tacos at Alma. You may also want to dip into the latter’s extensive tequila selection when you’re there, as a reward for eating so much amazing food (or just because you’ve eaten so much food, it’ll take longer for you to get drunk. Whatever your reason, we’re not judging.)

So what exactly are you waiting for? The tour will be separated into three different groups, so feel free to bring a friend or go solo. Nachos NY is selling up to about 75 spots, and they’re (probably) selling out fast, and wouldn’t it be a shame for someone else to get all that guac? Here, incidentally, is a primer on how to eat large quantities of guacamole in a short period of time:

02/18/11 4:32pm

The Future: very bright.

  • The Future: very bright.

Planet C & B has glow in the dark jewelry, gorgeous twins, mysterious pink drinks, funky sunglasses, and, oh yeah, free manicures. The creative vision of accessories designers Coco and Breezy has never disappointed in the past, and last night their record remained intact. Models resembling gorgeous aliens were decked out in blue lipstick, neon necklaces and bracelets, and the signature sunglasses that the two ladies made famous.

But there weren’t only cool twentysomethings at the presentation: Coco and Breezy introduced a line of kids accessories! Adorable boys and girls (including a few sets of twins) wore miniature versions of everything the adults wore, except they looked almost 10 times cooler. The future according to Coco and Breezy looks pretty bright.

(Photos by Dana Decoursey)

02/18/11 1:53pm

Leila Shams at the Chelsea Room

If you can somehow imagine Lydia from Beetlejuice heading to a party at Studio 54, then you can imagine the perfection that is Leila Shams’ Fall-Winter 2011 collection. At the Chelsea Room, Shelia E. and Michael Jackson tunes played while models stood in place wearing sequined minidresses, feather vests with showstopping gowns in rich colors, and every girl had black lipstick to complete the look.

The 70s trend isn’t going to stop any time soon—and I’m certainly okay with that—but it’s refreshing to see high-waisted flares and fringed vests replaced with sequined minis and floor-sweeping gowns with dangerously high slits. The rich, slightly Gothic color scheme of plum, forest green and black makes the styles transition into fall effortlessly. Leila Shams, my new fashion hero, has given me a way to look glamorous and completely bad-ass at the same time.

(Photos by Briana Fahey)

02/17/11 2:32pm

Behind the scenes at the tentyten fall/winter collection

Any fashion insider can tell you that backstage before a show is when all the chaos happens. Between makeup, hair, late models and last minute wardrobe changes, there’s never a dull moment. But this isn’t Armani or Calvin Klein at Lincoln Center; it’s something much more groundbreaking. The twentyten is the brainchild of three Pratt graduates, Jeff Dodd, David J. Krause, and Nina Zilka. See our full slideshow of their fall/winter collection after the jump.

While the Fall + Winter 2011 collection incorporates the streamlined, modern silhouette present for the last two seasons, the colors and patterns are vibrant and delicate, yet incredibly wearable. Slouchy white beanies were paired with over-sized cardigans and draped maxi skirts.

But the standout piece turned out to actually be two pieces—a collage printed button down paired with matching pants that gave the effect of a jumpsuit, minus the difficulty using the bathroom. Contradictions seem to work for the twentyten, and their inspiration defies itself. They were inspired by the concept of sunsets falling over desert landfills and the entire collection toys with the contrast between soft and hard. A collection that manages to be avant-garde without being pretentious? Seems almost too good to be true.

(Photos by Briana Fahey)

01/28/11 1:37pm

Lorna Simpson: Gathered installation view.

  • Lorna Simpson: Gathered installation view. All photos by Crystal Gwyn.

Brooklyn-born photographer Lorna Simpson‘s breathtaking new exhibition at the Brooklyn Museum is a combination of found photographs (straight from eBay), ink drawings and Simpson’s self-portraits. It sounds like a lot, but its brilliance lies in Simpson’s subtlety. We braved the snow to join the attractive audience at last night’s opening reception.

Catherine Morris, Curator, Elizabeth A. Sackler Center for Feminist Art, at left, with friend.

  • Alissa Friedman, Director of Salon 94 Gallery, at left, with friend.



Lorna Simpson opening at the Brooklyn Museum

Lorna Simpson opening at the Brooklyn Museum

  • Lorna Simpson (center), Kara Walker (right) and a friend.