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Warmest regards and thanks again for being here~ Michael Cress

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Designer Spotlight: Loris Diran

Loris Diran
What is the "American" vision in design?

That's a question Loris Diran wondered aloud with no definitive answer. For well over a century we've been heavily influenced by European design but 7th Avenue and the American press eschews designs that are too European.

Loris should know. A French-Armenian son of immigrants who moved to New York at an early age. He took his design skills he learned from instinct, his impressions of great designers of his childhood and a degree in Fine Arts from NYU and went abroad to work for major fashion houses such as Versace and Chanel. 

His perspective of both European culture and design are equally balanced with that of the U.S and his designs reflect that dichotomy. 

Continuing to wonder aloud, Loris said, "perhaps its because all Americans come from immigrant families... this true melting pot, that there's no real answer".

Indeed, as he walked me through both his men's and woman's lines I was struck with how I couldn't put my finger on any one particular influence. Depending on the piece, I could see some French, Italian and Savile Row influences, but not purely enough to label any given one. A highly sophisticated and refined melting pot of design that flawlessly works.

Loris Diran's designs reflect his perfectionism down to the last stitch of detail. It's obvious how impeccable the craftsmanship is. Both the woman's and men's lines have a wide variety of luxurious materials with wonderful silhouettes and drape. 

The men's line stretches from more avant garde and fashion forward to classic. Even the the more classic designs have small touches to set them apart from any other. Loris repeatedly says, "the beauty is in the detail". How true he proves this to be. The cuts, stitching and linings made every piece stand out to illustrate his uniqueness in design. I dare say I could now pick out a Loris Diran design from a mile away, purely on detail. 

Surprisingly, his sizable men's clientele is generally younger than his female clientele. For woman, he's very body conscious in his designs and I found the looks to be generally less avant garde but no less distinctive than the men's. Little wonder woman of all ages flock to his designs.

Loris Diran started his first woman's line in 2003 and his men's in 2005. Two years ago he opened his first of what he hopes will be a number of boutiques on 3 East First Street in the East Village.    

His visibility and notoriety continue to rise as time goes by. Well known customers such as Sarah Jessica Parker, Beyonce and Ricky Martin have increased his visibility as well as designs featured in "The Devil Wears Prada". For many, Loris Diran's familiarity comes from frequent appearances on Bravo's "The Real Housewives of New York" this past season (many of whom are clients and good friends). Who knows? Maybe he'll have his own show before long.

Personally I've been fortunate to see Loris frequently at a variety of events. From the first time I met him I was struck with how impeccably dressed he was, down to the last detail. His perfectionism is not limited to his designs, he clearly strives for it in everything he does. A prince of a gentleman, pleasant, warm and approachable, he's always been an absolute pleasure to spend time with. Perhaps Loris Diran is that epitome of American vision. It couldn't come from a nicer, more deserving gentleman.

Loris Diran
3 East First Street

Michael Cress ~ New York Sartorialist

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Jasmine Pagán ~ Dating & Relationship Coach

We all know people who are constantly attracted to the wrong people. Most of us have had periods in our lives that whatever we're putting out there is not getting the results we want for dating or relationships. Friends. There always seems to be at least one friend that we feel confident enough in to vent our relationship (or lack of) frustrations to. More often than not, that friend is on our side. He's a jerk, she's crazy- yes, yes, yes.

There's an old saying, "people who say they're your friend tell you what you want to hear. True friends tell you what you need to hear". It's hard for most all of us to listen to someone who's struggling and in emotional turmoil and not be supportive and comforting. On the other hand, to truly be supportive you may need to tell them what they are doing wrong. What they need is someone objective.

This is where Jasmine Pagán steps in. About ten years ago, Jasmine discovered she had the Midas touch for friends with relationships problems and for those having a hard time finding the right type of person to date. A combination of tough love and nurturing comfort- a deft balancing act. With people beginning to approach her because of her outstanding reputation, five years ago she turned it into a business- Dating & Beyond. I recently asked her, "how do you find your clients?" to which she said "they find me, word gets around".

Jasmine starts with the "inner game". What are you putting out there to people? What are you really saying? You say you want a nice guy or girl but only get excited about bad-boys and girls; nice ones are a bore. Perhaps you're only attracted to rescue-missions who need saving. The list of potential problems preventing people from finding that ideal person is long and varied. She starts with "who is your ideal mate?". Inevitably, people have self-inflicted obstacles preventing them from being ready for the right relationship. In short, Jasmine is an MBA is self-awareness. She shows people where they're psychologically at as well as where they need to be to find the person of their dreams. I honestly can't do justice for everything Jasmine brings to the table and her extraordinary value. I can think of a number of friends who I really wish would talk to her.

Great sense of humor, highly intuitive and a bright spirit- we had tremendous fun in our photoshoot. If hunger pains didn't set in, we probably would have kept shooting into the dark. As soon as we met up, I said "Oh my god- I love that dress!". I asked where she got it- she made it. The night before. Two large scarves stitched together to create the most beautiful piece and silhouette. She has a second career if she wants it. Once again we found that style has a story

I have never had nor seen anyone create so much much awe and attention- from men and woman alike. Comments, people stopping to take pictures with their camera-phones and general gawking. At one point I looked up across the street and there were groups of people looking out office windows on the 2nd, 3rd and 4th floors. I told her she really needs to be modeling. "I like hamburgers too much". I think she and her hamburgers work well for the camera... and obviously in person. 

With so many great images, it would be a personal injustice to only publish one or two; here are a few more for everyone's enjoyment. Also, be sure to check out www.datingandbeyond.com for that friend who keeps repeating the same dating and relationship mistakes.

Michael Cress ~ New York Sartorialist

Monday, July 12, 2010

Skinny-Ties: Style or Fashion? A Case Study

Picture Source: Brooks Brothers

A recurring question I receive is the question of tie widths, these days mostly about skinny ties; are they a fad or stylish?

To answer, it comes down to proportions. Like most clothing items, the choice of proper tie width must take other things into consideration.

The fashion industry enjoys cycling proportions. They must feel it will increase sales if they can make people feel their wardrobe is obsolete because its not in style with fashion's latest push. Pant widths, skirt or dress hemlines, ties, jacket lengths and virtually any item that can be proportionally resized will be during the endless fashion cycles.

Classic style is timeless. There are ranges of acceptable proportions and styles that will remain classic in spite of fashion cycles: they'll always look good. It's up to us to hold true to our own style and tune out the whimsical nature of high-fashion and their advertising machines. If we understand which styles and proportions have withstood the test of time and buy accordingly, we have a wardrobe that transcends the latest "fashion".

Tie widths are a perfect example. First, the choice of width is not a decision made in a vacuum. To be proportionally correct, the width of the tie should match that of the jacket lapel. Wider lapels- wider ties, thin lapels- thin ties. Historically the acceptable range of widths for both is between 3 3/8" and 4 1/4". If one was to have all his jackets and ties fall within this range, the wardrobe would be immunized from the whims of fashion cycles. They won't look too wide nor will they look too narrow.

If one was to buy a new wardrobe or more realistically, begin slowly replenishing it- where within this range should they fall? Think proportion. A larger man with wide shoulders and chest would be better proportioned at the wider end. Blazers, sportscoats and suits being the larger ticket items; thus less easily replaceable, it's imperative to purchase the best proportioned jacket for their body type with the lapel falling within the classic range. The tie width follows accordingly.

Think of fashion as a pendulum moving from one extreme to another over time, back and forth. There are times when fast-fashion is pushing 2 1/2 inch ties (and jacket lapels) and others when they swing out to 5 inches. A fashion victim would feel the need to always be on the cutting edge and follow suit. True style understands the difference between classic style and the fashion industry's moodiness. Stay within the historical classic range and you're always in-style. It's hard-earned money that we put into clothing, let's make the best investment we can by insuring it will look just as good 10 or more years from now as it does today. Personal true style has no fashion victims.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Marco Radakovic

Marco Radakovic
I admit it. I'm much tougher on men than I am on woman when it comes to good subjects for the New York Sartorialist. Why? Because I am one. I hold them to the same standards I hold myself in both dress as well as personal style and character. If I'm walking the streets of New York, I pass by literally thousands of men (and woman). As far as dress and presentation, woman have greater latitude in what they can look stylish in. For men, we're dealing with a more confined set of sartorial guidelines. Even those who are wearing nice clothes, tailored well and nice shoes- there is inevitably something missing most of the time. Panache! 

The Wall Street uniform doesn't do it for me unless they add personal touches to express their unique style (Bugs Bunny ties are not what I have in mind). Things the way they are, I inevitably find things that are "deal-killers" for me. For woman, the obvious sartorial deal-killer are their shoes. That's the beginning. Boring, mundane and lazy will kill a look. For men, that same rule applies. However, being a guy I know exactly how a jacket, slacks, ties, colors, patterns and fabrics should all work together and look as well as perfect tailoring. I'm pretty tough on my fellow man in this regard. It's slim pickins' out there, which is why I show more woman than men. That said...

I met Marco Radakovic a while back. Always a gentleman. Always dressed impeccably. The irony is we got together on a warm working Saturday afternoon and he had pulled the shirt out sans jacket. Knowing his style, he gets sartorial slack here. Being a straight male, I'm not wired for picking out really good looking guys and those who aren't. For Marco, he's a damn good looking gent. Even I can tell that.

Marco is Croatian. A football (soccer) star in his native country, he came to the U.S. in his early 20's to play professionally. About two years into it he suffered a career ending torn ACL injury. This is the beginning of explaining the soul of the man. In retelling the story to me, he said countless times how much he loved his surgeon. To this day he has tremendous warmth and sincere gratitude for the Dr. Why? He did his job and did it caringly and honestly. One would expect that those feelings would be reserved for someone who performed a miracle and got him back onto the field. No. Told from the beginning it was over and indeed it was. Short of not being able to play anymore, he's 100%. That deep gratitude for someone else in the now distant past tells me a lot about who Marco is. You won't hear that heartfelt talk from selfish, egocentric people. It's all about them and there's no room for anyone else. That's character. That's style. 

An entrepreneur, Marco has lived and is living the American dream... the opportunity of which is something else he's very grateful for. It would take pages to list his bio since his football career; let's say it's inspiring. Even in the face of people telling him he can't do something, he inevitably proves them wrong. Business? Got it. A few years ago he started playing with the idea of modeling and acting. Modeling? You're too old! Oh really? Guess again, his sideline modeling and acting career has come into full bloom. Versace runway, Four Seasons print ads, undercover special agent in the new Tom Cruise/Cameron Diaz film, "Knight and Day". Too old my foot!

Aside from the blossoming modeling and acting career, Marco is currently spending most of his time as the COO of the newly formed Wold Model Pros Modeling Agency as well as the Manager of Business Development for Couture Fashion Week. When I previously mentioned it was a "working" Saturday, they were casting for the event. 

The real deal. Character, optimistic, gracious, warm, open and honest. The kind of gentleman a gentleman wants to surround himself with. If only there were more.