This is the first Awards Season in 15 years that I will not be in Hollywood, and I could not be more excited about it. From December until April Los Angeles is a non-stop Black Tie mecca of celebrities, megalomaniacs, narcissists, sycophants, and some really amazing and talented people popped in here and there always somewhere between opening invites, shopping for gowns, and attending events. I loved it when I was younger, the glitz and glamour of it all, but the concept of awards has proven silly to me over time, and the chaos is far more enjoyable from my living room couch. I admit to loving the designers calling and sending gifts while vying for Meryl or Julia to wear their gowns, nothing is more fun then a dozen Sprinkles Cupcakes from Escada on Rodeo, but after a while you realize the game and it becomes exhausting. The fittings, the jewels, the swag give aways, being in the loop was always a thrill, and I would not trade it for anything, but I no longer want to be on call 24/7 in case a Manolo heel breaks at the Governors Ball past midnight. So, when I packed up my Brentwood home, I took most of my haute couture pieces, many of which were free, which is the dirty little secret of Hollywood the rest of the world doesn’t know, and donated it or dropped it off at Decades for consignment.
Upon arriving in Palm Beach, and finally setting up house and moving my entire business from LA to the Island, I began scouting the local go-to gown houses on Worth as well as at Saks and Neiman’s, knowing that the Gala Fundraising Season on Palm Beach would most likely fill in the void left by my loss of my Oscar and Emmy business that was my bread and butter for years. Now, don’t get me wrong, I adore Carolina Herrera, Elie Saab, Dior, Ralph, Gucci, and Oscar, who doesn’t? The staples of formal fashion always impress, and the local selection is impressive. What I did not see though were the daring, breathtaking designs I spent hours thumbing through during the last few seasons in Los Angeles. The cutting edge, fresh designers who may not be household names, but are creating awe-inspiring fantasy gowns that are both sexy and classic at once. I asked a rather high brow 13 year veteran at a local high end retailer why they had none of my favorite hot young designers that have snuck up here and there over the last few seasons to become contenders on the Red Carpet and staples in the wardrobes of the Hollywood elite. “Honey, you don’t understand the Island. The women here don’t take risks. You are not in Hollywood anymore,” Her tone was a little too condescending for my taste, but I’m starting to understand the lives of the retail sales women on the island, so I just laughed it off, her job isn’t easy. Smiling I said,”They may not have, but they will now.”
The Sales Associates in Haute Couture on Worth Avenue have a priority, moving product off the floor. As much as I understand that, it makes Island fashion incredibly staid and somewhat boring. Palm Beach women don’t take risks? I just think they don’t have the selection, or Stylists of my generation who demand they do. Unlike Hollywood, Palm Beach has a level of mystique, distinction, and class nowhere else in America can truly live up to. Between the mean income, the seasonal social scene, and the unending $1000 a plate Fundraising Galas between December and May the Palm Beach woman has a massive opportunity to be an international fashion trend setter instead of a status quo follower. For the Worth Avenue Retailers to think small only leaves a void that should and can be filled by the many Women on Palm Beach who could easily be style stars dictating trends world-wide from our unique international platform. This is an Island that is, and should be, the leading authority on all things beautiful and luxurious, so why not take advantage of it by going outside the lines just because we can. I have stressed as I moved my company from LA to Palm Beach, that I am here as a NYC Girl via Hollywood to shake up the style in this Town. I don’t judge or even dwell on the Old Guard photographed for the free Society papers or the Shiny Sheet. I love the Palm Beach Red Carpet Royalty, as most of these generous, active women have held their place in the elite Palm Beach Society for decades making the Island as lovely as it is today. God Bless Them! But the Island is getting back its 80s and 90s mojo with more and more people of my generation showing up who may have skipped it for St Barths or Cabo in their twenties. There is a fresh energy infusing the Island with excitement for the coming Season that is palpable at Buccan, or HMF, or even walking in Publix. Like it or not, the Island simply needed an infusion after being somewhat stale and stuck for the last decade. The New Generation are chic, excited, daring and want to have fun. Being in the Daily News means so much less than it did to the former Island Big Shots, what matters to the New Generation of Scenesters is enjoying the incredible blessing of living on this beautiful Island, and not taking a single moment for granted.
That being said, Style cannot be bought, fashion should not be boring, and Palm Beach should be leading the World View of what defines Haute Couture. Just the mention of Palm Beach should evoke a sense of glamour and sophistication. Thus ,I have compiled a list of amazing, incredibly gifted Haute Couture designers to consider this Season, old or young, new blood and fresh ideas make a standard night at The Breakers an Oscar Worthy Red Carpet Gala where you are the star. Palm Beach Women Don’t Take Risks? Really? Why not?
A graduate of La Cambre, the 32 year old from Brussels approaches his craft in the freshest and most unusual way of the season. “When I’m working, I’m making clothes around the body. I’m more about the draping, and finding the right line,” he explains. “Maybe because I’m half-Italian and half-Belgian, I strive for both a kind of sensuality and a control and construction.” Vaccarello prioritizes construction and shape, inevitably ending in seductive form-fitting designs with a nod towards his love of architecture. Of his gowns, Vaccarello believes the sex appeal comes from the woman wearing the dress, but in designing his pieces he creates what is aesthetically pleasing to him expecting that the women who wear his pieces bring the confidence and sex appeal of their own to pull it off.
Lebanese designer Tony Ward has an eye for what works for all women, but knows only the confident, scene stealer can really pull his gowns off. His dresses are breathtaking long evening gowns, and beautiful cocktail creations that turn heads. Tony Ward’s pieces are stunning, luxurious, and feminine all at once. He doesn’t believe in focusing on one or two elements of design using everything from lace, to exquisite embroidery, to draping, to ornate decoration. Ward studied in Paris at the top-tier tailoring school in the world, going on to work with Dominique Morlotti and Claude Montana for Lanvin, Gianfranco Ferré for Dior, Karl Lagerfeld for Chloé, before venturing out on his own.
Fresh beautiful colors dancing together in a feast for the eyes, Georges dresses are simply art for the body. The designer’s delicious feel for delicacy and femininity is to the point of fairytale land. His attention to detail is inspiring, and small unexpected touches give every dress the distinctive Hobeika feel. He clearly loves whimsy and fun, not taking fashion too seriously yet respecting the rules. Simply Breathtaking!
Having studied music and architecture, Hungarian-born designer Kati Stern launched Venexiana in 2003, and has been hitting it out of the park since. The expertly constructed, rock and roll inspired gowns are daring and edgy. She plays with different textures and constructs, incorporating courtesan corsets, leather, fur, laser-cut chiffon, lace and precision tailoring. Her energy and enthusiasm is palpable in each piece, and spills over to the woman wearing the gown. Totally Joie de Vivre in motion!
“In the past, I focused on structure,” he said. “Here I concentrated on the craftsmanship—what we can do for the client.” A rebel in formal haute couture, he’s been shunned by some of the old guard, but Mabille designs for himself in a way. He loves bows and flowing chiffon, tight structure that is both restrictive and freeing. His designs must inspire him, or he will not release them-craft is key even if a month of work ends up being for nought. With his Muse Dita Von Teese front and center at most of his shows, the burlesque, daring coquette she is famous for is clearly shared by her good friend and go to gown designer.
For the really daring Sophisticate who wants to make an entrance Rami Kadi is it. His signature draping rises more to a high art standard nearest to origami with multiple folds, abstract pleats, and hemlines with a hint of raw material splashed in there. A neophyte and another gifted Lebanese designer in the vein of his Mentor Elie Saab, Kadi is taking the haute couture idea of structure and tailoring to a whole new level. Young and fresh, Kadi is on the scene for many years to come!
Please feel free to call our office for information, and personal shopping services. In the meantime, break the rules, embrace the extravagant, and enjoy the fairy Tale!
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