August 23 2014

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6 posts tagged "Mary Alice Stephenson"

Ten Looks, One Show: The Industry’s Top Stylists Honor the Albright Fashion Library


FIT x MAC Fashion Library

It’s been over ten years since Irene Albright first opened the doors to the Albright Fashion Library—the more than 15,000-dress-, 7,000 shoe-strong collection of contemporary couture, ready-to-wear, and accessories now housed in a massive 7,000-square-foot loft at 62 Cooper Square. “Irene was working with KCD and saw that people were running around chasing clothes, and she just decided to start buying [important pieces],” recalled the Library’s creative director, Patricia Black. “Eventually, people would come to her saying, ‘Oh, do you still have that sweater? Can I borrow it?’”

Today, after a decade functioning as a sort of dream closet for fashion insiders, the Library is feting its history, as well as the incredible individuals who have pulled from its continually evolving archive, with Albright Goes to School, an exhibition in partnership with the Fashion Institute of Technology and MAC Cosmetics that opens this evening at the Museum at FIT.

“I wanted to celebrate Irene, the Library, the stylists—the people who were working on the inside—the shakers and tastemakers,” said Black. “Without them, we wouldn’t have what we have in terms of this colossal space just packed from floor to ceiling with clothes.”


The show—a first look debuts here—features individual looks that ten stylists (June Ambrose, Paul Cavaco, Catherine George, Tom Broecker, Freddie Leiba, Lori Goldstein, Kathryn Neale, Mary Alice Stephenson, Kate Young, and Patti Wilson) created using iconic wares from the Library. A Tom Ford goat hair jacket layers over a Comme des Garçons tank in Goldstien’s look; Balmain is mixed with Givenchy and the artist’s own choker and face mask in Leiba’s; and Patti Wilson utilizes a Lanvin body harness to sex up an otherwise high glamour Yves Saint Laurent and J.W. Anderson combo.

There’s a rich history to the institution, and Black, Museum at FIT director and chief curator Valerie Steele, and set designer Stefan Beckman were tasked with expressing that through a tight narrative. “There are some incredible stylists who pulled these outfits, but they each have their own different story,” related Beckman, who described the installation as a “gritty fire escape urban idea.”

Steele added that the Museum’s interest in the exhibition stemmed, in part, from a desire to champion stylists. “People tend to think, Oh, designers make fashion. So it was important to be able to bring in stylists and show that they also have a really important role in putting looks together.”

The ten ensembles will be on display through March 31. The show marks the beginning of a greater collaboration between FIT and the Albright Fashion Library. “Irene is such an eclectic collector of everything from fashion to art to houses to people. So who knows what she’s going to start collecting next and where we’re going to take that,” suggested Black. “[But] I’m excited about the beginnings of seeing how we get to work and inspire the new generation of kids who dream of becoming the next designer, visual director, creative director, fashion editor, stylist, or costume designer. I’m hoping that we can lend a little bit of light to them in this moment.”

Photos: George Chinsee  

VERA: Changing the World, One Corset at a Time


Corsets, cell phones, fashion, and microfinance might seem like they’d make for strange bedfellows, but those things are all coming together for a good cause at tonight’s launch event for VERA, a new phone application (created by mobile-intelligence firm Validas) that targets wireless waste (unused minutes and data on your cellular bill) and donates that money to the Seven Bar Foundation—a group that aims to empower women in need around the globe with targeted business investments. Sounds complicated, but basically it’s an innovative way to give back and become a mini-philanthropist, if you will. In the past, Seven Bar has raised funds and awareness for its mission with unique lingerie runway shows. And tonight—at the United Nations, of all places—the organization will be hosting one such extravaganza. “If we’re going to launch this, we’re going to do it in true Seven Bar style,” the foundation’s founder, Renata Black, told

Black and the team behind VERA recruited several fashion designers—Erin Fetherston, Zang Toi, Guy Laroche artistic director Marcel Marongiu, and Sarah Shotton of Agent Provocateur—to create corsets for the occasion. (Mary Alice Stephenson is the master of ceremonies, and Tennessee Thomas, Hannah Bronfman, Kelly Rutherford, and Jennifer Creel are among the expected attendees.) Why corsets? you might ask. “They’re traditionally associated with restriction, but we’ve asked the designers to reimagine them as inner armor for outer empowerment,” Black explained. The designers gave an exclusive sneak peek at the custom corsets that will parade down this evening’s runway. “I’m known for my feminine aesthetic and that comes through in the draped chiffon, embellishments, and sweet bow gathering in the back. It’s romantic and modern,” said Fetherston. Meanwhile, Toi looked to Robert Indiana’s iconic LOVE sculpture for corset inspiration, and Shotton did a quintessentially Agent Provocateur (read: sexy) take on the undergarment. To top it all off, Imitation of Christ designer Tara Subkoff will give a live performance at tonight’s event. Known to dabble in all forms of film and theatrics, Subkoff will make her own corset on the spot, and promises that the result will be imaginative. Corsets for change—why not?

Photo: Jonathan Alpeyrie

No Marchesa For The Princess Bride
(Plenty For The Others, Though)


The Apthorp is one of New York’s toniest addresses, so no surprise that the frills-and-all label Marchesa chose the West Seventies apartment complex—really more of a gated community, with enormous iron bars shielding its interior gardens from Broadway—to show both finery and its new flatware: its new bridal collection on one hand, and its second collection of dinner plates, cups, and serving pieces for Lenox on the other. A crowd including Courtney Love (the proverbial bull in the china shop, who arrived a fashionably-late ten minutes before the scheduled end time), Olivia Munn, Sanaa Lathan, and Mary Alice Stephenson all stopped in for a look.

Marchesa is known for weddings—designers Georgina Chapman and Keren Craig recently custom-designed frocks for brides Nicole Richie and Emily Blunt—but Craig dispelled rumors they’re in the running for this month’s royal affair. “I’m excited to see what she’s going to be wearing,” the English-born Craig said. “I think she’s a very stylish woman, and I think she’ll probably choose something beautiful and classic. I don’t think she’s going to go for anything too trend-based or crazy edgy. She’ll look like a princess!”

For princess brides, of course, there are plenty of frothy options. But there are others, too, for city brides, beach brides, and, really, any kind of bride you could mention (though City Hall bride might find herself a little overdressed). “We really try to think of different types of bride that are out there and try to have a dress for each different kind,” Craig said. She gestured to a favorite from the collection, a wasp-waisted, skintight number. “This one is much more fitted, there’s less corsetry inside,” she explained. “A lot those brides have spent six to eight months working on their body…this is a dress for that woman who really doesn’t need the structure of the corset, she just wants to show off.”

Photo: Patrick McMullan

Mary-Kate And Ashley Olsen Support Art—Even When They Don’t Win It


On Friday night, it was Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen vs. Amy Sacco vs. Mary Alice Stephenson in a bidding war to the finish. The prize: Dan Colen’s One of Everything, a hotly contested lot at Free Arts NYC’s annual benefit auction. It had all the potential for a social throw-down of epic proportions—except that (we like to think, for the cause of party peace) a mysterious fourth bidder ended up taking the cake. Ah, well. The Row designers were hosts as well as bidders for the evening, and drew guests like Hilary Rhoda, Jason Wu, John Varvatos, and even third sister Elizabeth Olsen (namesake of Elizabeth and James). More than a few came away with a new acquisition, like Evan Yurman (whose company, David Yurman, co-sponsored with Vanity Fair) and benefit committee member Stephenson, who snagged a stencil-scrawled photo by Luca Babini. “This is New York, the cultural capital of the world, and 400,000 kids don’t have access to after-school art programs,” she said. The attending culturati did what they could to remedy that: The evening raised $550,000, and the hostesses Olsen donated enough between them to fund two days of after-school programming.

Photo: Will Ragozzino / Patrick McMullan

The Kids Are All Right


As nice as it was here in New York, plenty of fashion folks with children (David Neville and Gucci Westman, Jenna Lyons, and host Mary Alice Stephenson) spent Saturday afternoon inside at Milk Gallery at a fundraiser held by Planet Awesome Kid. The Web site is one part The Sartorialist for the under-12 set and another part party planner, and the beneficiary of the event was Global Action for Children, a charity whose honorary chair is Angelina Jolie. She and Brad weren’t in attendance, but there were models (like Dorothea Barth Jorgensen, pictured) and A-listers (Brooke Shields included) for moms and dads to ogle, while the kids watched break dancing by Kid Flash and Full Circle Soul, painted alongside the world-famous graffiti artist Aero, or got spotted for a fashion campaign. No word on whether it was coincidence or kismet that a KCD employee casting tots for a Benetton ad took a break from work upstairs to check out the party. Global Action for Children’s next project will be a celebrity auction on May 7 in honor of World AIDS Orphans Day at the Children’s Museum of Manhattan.

Photo: Julia Chesky