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Warmest regards and thanks again for being here~ Michael Cress

Thursday, December 31, 2009

2009... Out With The Old (We Hope!)

In the majority of my editorials I focus on what I like and what works. As 2009 comes to a close and we're ushering in 2010 and a new decade, there are a few things I just assume leave behind.

For a decade that has been completely out of proportion in a variety of ways, sartorially it seems we've had the same problem.

Perhaps it was Kate Moss and the "heroin-chic" look ushering us into the current decade that made everyone start looking at everything as if they were gazing into a fun-house mirror.

The Thom Browne label began in 2001 and not long after took the runways my storm with his shrunken suits that made a full-grown man look as if he's wearing 12-year old's clothes. The proportions are miniature. The jacket buttons near the sternum and the pants didn't cover the ankles. Oh, and the sleeves were- you guessed it, short. How did the Fashion Elite react? Just beside themselves in adoration and awards! Menswear Designer of the Year in 2006 by the Fashion Designer's of America and GQ's Designer of the Year in 2008. Ahem. We'll remind the CFDA and GQ in 10 years of that choice.

Men's pants have gotten shorter and tighter. Many now rolling up the cuff to show the ankles. Ties, fittingly, have become pencil thin and the traditional standard of 3 3/8"- 3 5/8" width is frowned upon as clown-attire by the fashion-forward types.

Proportions have come to a point that even Burberry has shortened the coats and trenches that made them famous for over 100 years. Short of special-order, a full-length Burberry is not in the offering. Sad when the venerable classic English apparel maker caves to temporary fashion whimsy and follows the herd. In a related note, the Thom Browne label is now rumored to be bordering on bankruptcy, having only netted $5 million in sales last year.

Men's magazines, former masculine staples such as GQ and Esquire seemed to have become more, well, feminine in the past decade. Heterosexual men wonder if some of what they're reading is satire. Are they serious? They've clearly gotten away from their old base. Looking at male models on the runway and print, they've become as feminine as many of the designs. Sadly, the designers have insisted that the female models follow the "heroin-chic" look and have bodies of 16-year old boys. In reviewing the Spring 2010 Menswear lines from the Fall shows, it was striking how similar the bodies were of the men and woman models- they seemed androgynously interchangeable.

This loss of the feminine look (i.e., curves) became very striking in the preparation of the recent Kim Alexis editorial. Kim having been in 6 Sports Illustrated Swimsuit issues in the 80's, I took an SI tour from 1979 (Christie Brinkley cover) to the present. What was striking was the shapelessness our current designers demand of our models compared to the days of Christie, Kim, Paulina, Elle, Kathy Ireland, etc.. Could there be any correlation with dwindling apparel revenues? I think we need some real men and real woman to step up and take control of the fashion world to redefine the sexes to what they're supposed to be.
In the December issue of InStyle, one of their predictions was that the gladiator sandal was here to stay for 2010. Please, tell me it's not so. I will say, 1 out of 10 designs are good but that one good design doesn't make up for how terrible the other nine look.

Since I've probably offended everyone at some point so far, just in case... let's talk woman's hip-hugging jeans. The derriere is a wonderful asset and best if not obscured by a low hanging waistband and a seat that sags down the upper thigh; thus making that God-given wonderful attraction no form or attention whatsoever. Hip-huggers are not sexy. The proportions are poor and they're not flattering. Ever. There, I said it.

I would have an endless list of styles I wish would come back. More classical. More masculine for men. More feminine for woman. More elegant. Classical lines that withstand the test of time and not the whims of designers rolling the dice to try and stand out. The masses actually caring how they dress. No, I shouldn't hold my breath this year either.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Putting My Hands Outside The Box

The definition of sartorial is: of or relating to the quality of tailoring or the quality of dress. As a sartorialist, it's implied that I specialize, adhere, advocate and editorialize about the quality of tailoring or quality of dress.

Wow. Put that way, I don't think I'm making enough for this work... at least I enjoy it.

I prefaced this editorial out of recognition I'm stepping a little outside the box here.

Here in the Northeast, Winter has come with a fury. Already a large snow storm, temperatures struggling to reach the freezing mark; the days of soaking up the rays of a warm summer sun seem so near yet so far away. I'm not a fan of winter. After the first snow the novelty's gone. Living in New York you have to take the bad with the good, so it goes with the territory.

One of the worst things about winter I've always encountered has been my hands getting so dried out they would inevitably split on the fingertips. Over the years, I tried many different lotions to prevent dryness but either they didn't work or left my hands feeling so greasy, I dreaded putting it on again.

A few years ago, I was reading another editorial and a suggestion was made about this Jack Black "Industrial Strength" Hand Healer. The recommendation sounded good and the name was catchy for what I had always gone through with my hands. Jack Black sounds like a pretty tough dude. "Industrial Strength" was heavy-duty and sounded a level above traditional civilian use. Hand Healer... yes, please!?

I bit. I bought. I'm still using it. I'm swearing by this stuff after a couple years of using it. It works great. Put it on in the morning and it typically can go all day. It's non-greasy which is a must. Put it on, rub it in, forget about it. That's what I had in mind! Finally.

It's been battle-tested. As some of you know, I've played competitive golf since I was 7, junior golf, college and professionally. Just play for glory now and not much of that these days. Couple of years ago, U.S Open qualifying was at the TPC of Boston. Open qualifying always held in early May, it's very hit or miss in the Northeast for weather. That year was a miss. Raw is the only way to put it. Cold, windy, damp and a long day. The kind of day that my hands would have been killing me. It's hard to swing a golf club moving 120 MPH when your hands are either greasy or hurting. Put on the Hand Healer before I went out and I was good for the day. Doesn't get any better in my book.

Jack Black is actually a men's product line but I see no reason why woman couldn't use the Hand Healer as well. It's in most good department stores, specialty stores and I recently saw it in Sephora. If all else fails you can order it online. Trust me, I'm not getting any kick-backs from the Jack Black guy for suggesting it. It just works and if one person is spared from that miserable winter dryness, then I've done good. For the rest, hopefully I've mildly entertained you.

Sartorial? Strictly speaking, no. However, as a matter of style I would rather my hands be as presentable as the clothes I'm wearing. As Cary Grant said, "It takes 500 small details to make a favorable impression", at least we're not going to miss on this one and I'm freed up to concern myself with things less painful.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Who Says You Can't Have It All?

This would make most men's heads swivel, and many woman as well. Dr. Shireen Fernandez looks radiant in her sleeveless Bebe top, Prada skirt with a sexy slit and her Chanel bag. What gives this look the prize are the leopard print BCBG heels. What was already stunning, the shoes brought that little extra bit of magic. A great look!

The Dr. isn't only good looks. Of Indian and Portuguese descent, she had lived around the world and while living in Bombay was a radio show host, had her own television show, was an actress and and worked as a print model. This after graduating with degrees in Chemistry and Psychology. Whew.

Not to slow down any, she then went to Med school and graduated last year. She's now in Residency training to be a Neurologist at NY Presbyterian.

Good grief, I was lucky to make it through Undergrad.

Who says you can't have it all? All of us guys can't get too excited, she's taken. Shireen, her boyfriend Alex Harris and close friend Bonnie Snyder created a group and Foundation called Society's Choice. Society's Choice's mission is to provide a venue for people to both socialize and make business connections outside of their normal circle, all while giving back to society through the Foundation. It's a wonderful group with tremendous warmth that serves a great purpose.


Thursday, December 17, 2009

Kim Alexis: Still Going Strong

Seen on Tuesday evening at the Stefano Marcantonio Launch Party was Kim Alexis, one of the top supermodels of the 80's and still ranked among the all-time greatest.

Kim looked gorgeous in her simple but elegant sleeveless black dress and her timeless and classical natural  features.

Twenty-five years after the middle of a career that put her on over 500 magazine covers and in a half-dozen SI swimsuit issues, her beauty hasn't faded.

Looking back at the stunning images from that period, the contrast from todays "supermodels" was striking. Kim, as well as other top models at the time like Christie Brinkley had beautiful hourglass figures. Yes, I'm getting on my soapbox now. Today, what would they say if an 18-year old Kim Alexis showed up again? Tell her to lose weight or just turn her away?

 I honestly don't understand the rationale of this thin and less shapely trend. No one I know finds the current look more attractive. Yes, woman have hips. Yes, it's attractive. Yes, it makes the clothes look better.

Ahhh. The good old days. A little closer to when woman were woman, men were men and supermodels weren't forced to have measurements of 16-year old boys. At least we can go back and look at Kim Alexis.

Former NHL hockey great and Kim Alexis' husband, Ron Duguay, The New York Sartorialist and Kim Alexis.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

The Greatest Joy of Being the New York Sartorialist

It's a rainy Sunday in New York and I was reflecting on how much my life has changed and how much I enjoy the work. I've been very fortunate to have met so many wonderful people since I started the New York Sartorialist and I look forward to meeting many more as time goes on. Today, I'm sharing some shots of some of those that I've profiled on the site and that I've been honored to meet. This is a tribute to some of them as well as those I will in the future. Thank you for coming to visit and I look forward to continuing to grow the site in the future (I hope!).
Frendy Lemorin
Ted Danson

Jenny Romanelli

Georgina Chapman

Alex Harris

Chloe Callahan

Lauren Folly

Lisa Burkhardt

Michael Cress, The New York Sartorialist by Mark Fisher

Friday, December 11, 2009

A Class Act: Alex Harris

Alex Harris is many things. Seventh generation jewelry company owner specializing in high-end estate jewelry as well as contemporary designs, father of two, UK native, world traveler, a great guy and very stylish to boot.

Today, Alex is sporting Ralph Lauren trousers and blazer, YSL shirt and Church's (of London) shoes. Simple with elegance, easy-going to match his personality. Characteristically, two top buttons unbuttoned- he knows who he is, what works for him and what he is comfortable wearing.

With Alex's pedigree, offices in NYC, L.A. and London, rich and famous clients, well connected and a beautiful girlfriend training to be a neurologist- he could easily give a standoffish persona. Fortunately for us, he doesn't. He dresses as he is: approachable, pleasant and laid back.

As if his plate wasn't full enough, Alex, his girlfriend Dr. Shireen Fernandez and close friend Bonnie Snyder created "Society's Choice".  Their vision was to make NYC a better place by offering a venue for many New Yorker's to have a better social life by having frequent events and gatherings to bring people together. As large as New York is, it can be one of the loneliest places in the world. With Society's Choice, everyone is welcome and its clear in the pure warmth of those who come... it's hard not to feel welcome. Alex's special gift of making everyone feel welcome, making introductions and being a wonderful host gives you little wonder why the events have been such a big success. Alex knows first-hand what its like to be in New York as the new guy in town, having moved here 6 years ago and having no social circle to jump into. For him, the feelings of an outsider trying to make friends is still very fresh and provides inspiration for him to make it easier for those going through those feelings now. The New York Sartorialist gives a tip of the hat to Alex, Shireen and Bonnie for their wonderful efforts!
Alex's best rendition of the New York Sartorialist!


Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Pure Style

Stylish, fashionable and a head-turner! Lisa Burkhardt, in town with her husband Bill for the UNICEF gala (highlighted in Town and Country this month). Today, Lisa was feeling a bit Dolce & Gabbana. From DG, she is sporting a dark brown wool skirt, perfect weight and texture for a pleasant Autumn day. She's purring in her leopard print silk blouse and coat (with matching purse). Accessorizing with diamond earrings, second only in sparkle to her beautiful face. The anklet boots are brown suede, braided Jimmy Choo's. The outfit is first class all the way, stylish, tasteful and well put together.  

Lisa has two stunning daughters (not surprising given the genetics), 18 and 16 years old (surprising since it doesn't seem mathematically possible). Both girls are already getting well-deserved attention from various modeling agencies. 

Bill and Lisa, both supporters of UNICEF and have pledged to raise $1 million for that great cause. The gala was star-studded and quite an event, well worth the trip from Scottsdale, AZ. As many know, at the intersection of 57th and 5th Avenue, every Holiday season there is a huge Baccarat Snowflake suspended over the intersection. As many don't know (including me until now), the US Fund UNICEF Snowflake Gala is in conjunction with the hanging of the Baccarat snowflake. Learn something new everyday! 

Lisa's husband Bill (quite stylish in his own right) was nice enough to get on the other side of the camera and take a photo of Lisa and I. This is truly my favorite part of what I do- meeting such extraordinary people. Both Lisa and Bill are wonderful, a pleasure to spend time with and the epitome of style in every sense of the word. 

Monday, December 7, 2009

Sassy, Classy and Fun

Fresh to NYC via San Francisco, Lauren Folly brought the fun with her. A great look with a lot of good spirit to accompany it. Today, Lauren looks fantastic in her light silver, three-quarter sleeve coat, black skirt and knee-high leather boots that have a flair to match her outgoing, fun-loving personality.

She keeps it simple with a two-color ensemble. Notice how the boots flair at the knee, the jacket is fitted but flairs at the waist, complimenting the skirt. It's just a cute, fun look that has continuity of style from top to bottom.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Out and About: Zhanna Ved

When Zhanna Ved is walking down the street, everyone notices. What's not to like? Today, she's wearing a white French Connection coat,  brown Miu Miu leather boots and dark jeans. She contrasts and breaks up the white coat to her blonde hair, light complexioned face by wearing a black shirt and wrapped scarf to highlight the face (personally, I would have noticed anyway, but nonetheless...).

The gorgeous Julie Haus red-heart necklace is a wonderful piece that is eye catching and a beautiful accessory, particularly contrasted with the black background.

Of course the genuine warm smile to match her personality is the greatest accessory of all.

Zhanna clearly knows what she's doing with her look in the way she is able to use colors to contrast, compliment and maximize her natural beauty. Of course, she's had practice. A model since 15 and currently with Wilhelmina, I caught her here on a way to a casting. I'm quite sure she got the job.