FN Spy: New York Fashion Week

Coming to America
Nicholas Kirkwood kicked off New York Fashion Week with a personal appearance at Saks Fifth Avenue and stayed the weekend to see his shoes on the runway at Prabal Gurung and to “crack the whip” on the construction of his forthcoming New York store. But it’s not all about work, he told Footwear News. “I’m looking forward to seeing The Kills perform,” Kirkwood said. The designer also collaborated on footwear at Suno, but had to return to London before that show. At Saks, the designer was mobbed with fans taking pictures and asking for his autograph. Though notoriously shy, Kirkwood happily engaged crowds in the eighth-floor shoe salon past the scheduled end time until finally, he was escorted off the floor. “I am very pleasantly surprised with the turnout,” said Tracy Margolies, VP and DMM of women’s footwear at Saks. “Needless to say, we really believe in Nicholas.”

Bergdorf’s Lunch Bunch
Alexandre Birman celebrated the debut of his spring collection in Bergdorf Goodman’s second-floor shoe salon with a Valentine’s Day luncheon followed by a customer event. The luncheon, held at Bergdorf’s BG restaurant, was attended by editors, socialites and friends of the designer, including Fabiola Beracasa, Olivia Palermo, Brad Goreski, Bettina Santo Domingo and Francesco Missoni. Afterward, the designer, accompanied by his mother, greeted fans and signed shoes. He joked that due to the imminent arrival of the couple’s first child (a little girl), his wife wasn’t able to join him this time. “I can’t travel without a woman by my side. I’m spoiled,” Birman said with a wink. The soon-to-be father hinted that little girls’ shoes may soon be on his production line. “I was inspired by the miniature heels I did last season,” he said.

Collaborative Efforts
Fashion Week always encourages a creative meeting of the minds among apparel and footwear designers. And this season there was no shortage of interesting matchups, including long-standing collaborations such as Nicholas Kirkwood for Prabal Gurung and Manolo Blahnik for Carolina Herrera, as well as plenty of first-time partnerships. Kirkwood and Blahnik both branched out with new partnerships for fall ’12, with the former creating floral-print lace-up booties for Suno and the latter launching a collection of exclusive BB pumps with J.Crew. Other co-designed runway shoes included Christian Louboutin’s cut-out pumps for Marchesa, Tabitha Simmons’ kaleidoscope-colored loafer for Honor, Edmundo Castillo’s platform Mary Jane pumps for Chadwick Bell, Jean-Michel Cazabat’s mixed-media ankle boots for Libertine, Ruthie Davis’ pop-color ankle-strap pumps at Dennis Basso, Max Kibardin’s gilded sandals for Reem Acra and Aperlai’s color-matched minimalist ankle-strap sandals for Peter Som. Men’s brands also got in on the action, with Vintage Shoe Co.’s distressed ankle boots appearing in the Nicholas K presentation, and designer Richard Chai co-designing color-blocked felt high-tops with Palladium for his presentation. Joan & David and Tsubo were also spotted on the runway, at Tadashi Shoji and Timo Weiland, respectively.

Front Row Diaries
When it comes to Fashion Week, the front row sometimes can be just as eye-catching as what’s coming down the runway. This season, New York designers hosted a slew of celebs. At Michael Kors, NBC’s “Smash” stars Anjelica Houston and Debra Messing joined Paula Patton, Jessica Alba and Amber Heard, while Vera Wang’s front rowers included Viola Davis, Renée Zellweger and Leighton Meester. At Diane von Furstenberg’s show, famous faces from every industry were represented, including Simon Doonan, Molly Sims, Rachel Zoe, Brad Goreski, Andy Cohen and Barbara Walters. Starlets Emma Stone and Rooney Mara showed up on Fashion Week’s last day for the Calvin Klein show, along with model Lara Stone. The city’s hottest young designers had their fair share of front-row celebrity sightings, too, with Dakota Fanning at Proenza Schouler, along with Felicity Jones and Iris Apfel, and then Natalie Portman and teen blogger Tavi Gevinson at Rodarte.

To the Max
Max Kibardin is back on the New York circuit. The designer hosted a cocktail event Wednesday at the Wave Atelier showroom to fête his fall ’12 collection, replete with rich velvet styles including penny loafers for men and platform sandals for women. Kibardin, who also was named creative director for Bruno Magli at the end of 2011, said he was happy to be in New York, despite the fact that his schedule has verged on overwhelming. “Do you even recognize me?” the designer joked. “I have aged years since you last saw me.” Besides putting the final touches on his own line, Kibardin has been tasked with overseeing the relaunch of the Bruno Magli brand, which will be revealed in Milan during fashion week there. “I am overseeing the updated corporate identity and branding, the new showroom, bags, leather goods and the shoes,” said Kibardin, who tapped into the company’s archives before adding his own point of view to the new footwear offering, which includes a whopping 260 styles for women and 150 for men.

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