Sunday, March 2, 2014

Trade Show Hijinks at ENK's Coterie

an inside look at the fashion buyers' market

Here we are at Coterie, a three day showcase of Fall/Winter 2014 "premier women's ready-to-wear, accessories and footwear".  The Ilux representative took a shine to us, and gave us each a pair of socks.

We had requested press passes, and when we met Julia Richmond, Director of Event Projects for ENK, which runs Coterie, she told us that one of the reasons they accepted our request was that we were among the few bloggers representing women of a certain age.  Yay!  We're pioneers of a sort!  Actually, it turned out we'd already met Julia months before.  Small world indeed!  Because we were strangers in the big Coterie city, Julia kindly had Joe Yang,  in charge of public relations, take us to our first stop.  We definitely would have gotten lost otherwise.

Hope this gives you some idea of the immensity of Coterie.  A dedicated buyer would need all three days to see everything.  Still, we hear that the Jacob Javits Center, the biggest in central Manhattan, is not big enough to accomodate many shows that would like to come here. Since we only had one day, we circled our first choice destinations on the map Joe gave us, and then at surrounding booths and interesting installations along the way.

One of the very first booths we came across, in the TMRW section, was Georgine.  You will remember her from our recent Fashion Week post.  We were so surprised to meet her in person.  Here she is with Christopher, CEO of the company, holding one of the neoprene and mesh dresses we showed in the post.  We had wondered about strategic underwear for the mesh panels.  For the show, we learned, the strategy was no underwear.  For everyday wear, though, an underslip is provided.  By the way, we'd just like to say we're in awe of Georgine, who is all of 24 years old!

Also in TMRW was Illesteva, one of Jean's favorite eyewear companies.  She immediately tried on black and white striped round eyeglasses called "Leonard" and then discovered that Illesteva has branched out into backpacks and umbrellas!  Here she is vamping in striped glasses and speckled backpack.

Another of Jean's destinations was Angela Caputi Giuggiu, one of her favorite jewelry designers, known for bold, colorful resin jewelry.  Wandering around Milan several years ago, Jean stumbled upon the shop and has been an avid fan ever since.  Caputi's main store is in Florence.  Unfortunately, she doesn't have any stores in the U.S. Luckily, Lynn Dell is also a fan, so her store Off Broadway Boutique stocks a wonderful selection of Angela Caputi's collection.

Right next door to one of our destinations, we discovered designer Karen Klein and her graphic knit collection.

Danish designer Ivan Grundahl was another must-see vendor on our list. The booth was overseen by the lovely people at IF, one of our favorite boutiques, and out in front was the black asymmetrical dress on the left, recognizable as one of Grundahl's favorite shapes. Valerie has a similar sleeveless one in shades of blue and purple; Jean tried one on in a leopard print with wire insets in the skirt on sale several seasons ago, but asked the eternal questions "Where will I wear it?" and "How will it fit in my closet?", and reluctantly let it go.

Around the corner was Israeli designer Ronen Chen's booth, where we ran into Fern Penn, owner of Rosebud, who specializes in avant garde Israeli designers. We were first exposed to Israeli fashion at her Soho shop.  When rents skyrocketed in her downtown location (rents are skyrocketing everywhere, despite the economy), Fern moved to upper Madison Avenue, and now shares space with Koos van den Akker.  She has her hair in a little tiny knot in the back that we wish you could see, and that's a Koos coat she's wearing, with beautifully detailed stitchwork.

Here is one of the models wearing a Ronen Chen dress from his Fall/Winter 2014 collection.

Speaking of avant garde Israeli designers, Kedem Sasson also had a booth at Coterie.  Working at his booth was this striking woman, who wore this dress to show off part of his new line called "Chains". We had a field day with all the great, wearable separates, dresses and coats we saw there.

We were not the only ones who loved what we saw at Kedem Sasson. We ran into Jocelyne Grenier of Quebec City's Jean Grenier boutique, and had to show you how great she looks.

In TMRW, we also stopped in Isaac Cruz's booth and admired the colorful, graphic prints in silks and knits. Jean especially loved this long striped number. On the right of the photo is another of his more structured print dresses.

Next stop was NICHE, which had a collection of graphic knits like this cowl neck tunic, some of which were even reversible.

We met Ricardo Mario, who hails from San Antonio and runs his own photography and makeup business.  Jean says:  I have this effect on men!

We stopped by Issey Miyake's Cauliflower and Pleats Please booths.  At the latter, we chatted with Andrew Gen from the Tribeca store. This snow-flake print long, wide dress in the angled-in skirt and signature tiny pleats really caught our eye.

Many (all?) women of a certain age eventually need reading glasses.  What better stop on our tour than the eyebobs Eyewear booth where Valerie found these fetching candy apple red frames with black and white tortoise print side pieces.

Optician Jason Engelman was running the booth and, as you can see, really got into the spirit of things.  We loved his shirt, which he acquired on a trip to Paris.

When we first saw Diane (left) and Cindy (right), they were talking with two fabulous women (one with a shaved head, and sooo great looking).  Assuming they were probably buyers, we walked away to let them take care of business.  (Wish we could have photographed all four of them.)  When we came back, we had a nice long talk with Diane and Cindy, and a long look at their booths and merchandise.  Diane is wearing a sweater by Transparente, and Cindy a jacket by Nelli, the next booth over.

Nelli specializes in an edgy but romantic look paired with very modern materials and technology.  We all loved this jacket.  The material is reversible, so it's sewn with both sides showing to great advantage.  The cut of the jacket helps show off the reversible material.

Transparente had a variety of eye-catching products.  We're both wearing metal and rubber necklaces we found at the booth.  Behind Valerie is a wool cloak with felted layers of yarn in black and gray.  Yummy texture!

Transparente's mother and daughter team.  Nae works in Germany while her mother designs the lines.

Immediately across from them we found Kim Bernardin, who was also showing wool cloaks in saturated colors.  This came in multiple colors (see the gray and black one to the left?), and matching accessories (see the bag at the base of the photo?).  You can tell that lighting was a bit hard to deal with.  We were under a wonderful skylight (on a blissfully sunny day after weeks of snow and clouds), and beams threw shadows everywhere, or lit up our faces like lightbulbs.

In the TMRW section, we met the ladies responsible for the Downtown Design League whose booth featured amazing products made in the USA.   (A number of vendors emphasized their domestic production.  We're so glad to see great clothes made in this country again.)  Products ranged from tee shirts to perforated leather scarves and jackets to shoes to large functional bags like this one.

We loved Yasmina's tee shirt and how she embodies the brand.

Everyone seems to have figured out that a booth's best asset is gorgeous sales assistant.  Here, the Djeeg'n team.

Actor W.C. Fields said never do a scene with a dog.  He sure knew what he was talking about: everyone notices the dog first.  But we were glad we did.  Besides having a great dog (a Staffordshire Terrier wearing a smaller version of Pim's tee shirt reading "I am Banksy"),  Lise and Pim have a hilarious line of tee shirts with a wonderfully apt name: Blondes Make Better T-Shirts!  We found them while strolling through the sustainable fashion section, and have to applaud both Coterie and the sustainable designers for being sensitive to environmental concerns.

Here's a classic example of their sense of humor.

Loyal readers know how much we love the boutique Babette and its wonderfully crinkled clothing.  The cut of this jacket with its standup collar and cut in waist and its colorful pattern just blew us away.

Nearby was the Luna Luz booth.  We didn't take any photos so as not to disturb the goings-on, but had to show you one piece from their new Jackson Pollock collection, with spatter paint designs.   The three dimensional effect (one of their defining characteristics) is achieved by having small ties underneath, which the wearer can tie or not, and tie loosely or tightly, to achieve greater or smaller puckers and shorter or longer lengths.  Simple, yet ingenious!

We were excited to stop by Aimee Grubel's booth to check out her AimeeG clothing line for fall/winter.  We've been big fans online and finally got to see her designs up close and personal.  Check out her graphic designs, some of which are reversible. And yes, that young whippersnapper has grey hair that looks even more fab in person.

During our travels, we ran into Adrienne Jones - or rather she found us!  We first met Adrienne at the Stephen Burrows exhibition at the Museum of the City of New York, where she told us she was co-curating an exhibition of her own, Black Dressfeaturing the designs of 10 contemporary black fashion designers. The show is up now at Pratt (where she also teaches) through April 26th.  If you're in the city - GO! It's at the Pratt Gallery at 144 W. 14th Street in Manhattan.

At the end of the day, we each took home two separate swag bags so packed with goodies that we thought we'd treat ourselves to a taxi.   But the center was lined with limousines, and nary a taxi in sight, so we schlepped our swag three blocks to the bus stop.  We rushed to buy tickets as the bus was just pulling up.  Needless to say, when we had our tickets in hand, the driver slammed the doors shut and pulled away.  ("Do we have time to buy a ticket?", we asked him.  "When the light changes, I'm leaving", he said.  And he did.  Without us.   Of course, THAT's when a taxi appeared, and we snagged it, bus tickets still in hand.

Just some of the contents of our swag bag (left to right): scarf by Left On Houston, cashmere gloves by Autumn Cashmere, leather pouch by Ella Moss, bracelet by Kate Spade, cashmere shawl by White & Warren, Chinese print zipper bag by Lucidez, red and black stretch pants by Evleo.  In the washable white woven bag by Leghila, a tee shirt by Juliette Has a Gun.

And to end, the selfie of all selfies!   We found Linda Farrow Eyewear, and had another field day.  The booth representative kindly let us live out our little fantasies.  These glasses are identical, but appear slightly different based on the angles of our faces.  This shot is just the tip of the iceberg.  (More of the iceberg on Wednesday.)


  1. It was so interesting to see all the photos of you both with the various clothes and people you met on your visit too the Coterie show. Your blog is fun to read and
    to look at and has been a real inspiration to me,as a
    fellow eyeglass wearing, white and gray haired woman
    living across the river here in New Jersey!

    1. If you like eyeglasses, you'll love Wednesday's blog!
      Valerie & Jean

  2. One of the highlights of Coterie, for me, was having my picture taken by and with you. And now to be called a "striking woman" by you two has totally made my day. You simply rock!

  3. The next best thing to being there. Is vicarious pleasure a sin? You guys know how to make a girl happy. XXOO

  4. Wow! Your style is really fresh and creative. The collection looks awesome.