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Monthly Archives: June 2017

Jewelry You Wear All the Time

 Jennifer Meyer’s jewelry collection is among the top-selling brands at Barneys New York, cynics might be tempted to dismiss the designer as an “It girl” who benefits from the regular appearance of celebrity friends like Kate Hudson and Gwyneth Paltrow on her Instagram feed.

Then there’s the fact that her father is Ron Meyer, vice chairman of NBCUniversal, and her husband, from whom she separated last year, is Tobey Maguire (“Spider-Man”).” But Ms. Meyer, 40, has built her business since 2005 by focusing on something that’s resonated with customers: delicate jewelry that is feminine and casual enough to wear every day.

“This is not a spoiled Hollywood child,” said Ms. Paltrow, who has been friends with Ms. Meyer for a decade. “This is a completely industrious, hardworking woman who’s not leveraging anything that she was born with, other than her talent.”

Ms. Meyer’s simple 18-karat gold pieces often use motifs that are whimsical or talisman-like. Charms in the shape of wishbones and four-leaf clovers that dangle from a slender chain are best sellers, as are a variety of items adorned with a large heart.

Many items seem destined to be gifts, such as necklaces with white gold discs that are inlaid with diamond pavé initials and mismatched stud earrings with the words “love” and “you.”

Ms. Paltrow, for example, said that she always wears a stack of six of Ms. Meyer’s thin gold bands, a present from her boyfriend, on her pinkie.

“I wanted to design pieces that you wore all the time,” Ms. Meyer explained over coffee at a downtown Manhattan hotel during a recent visit. “I knew what I wanted to wear and I couldn’t find it: I wanted that delicate jewelry that you never took off, that you showered in, that you slept in.”

On this particular sunny Saturday morning, she wore nearly a dozen pieces of her own design — a couple of gold pendants, a ring accented with a small pavé diamond disc, a handful of slim bracelets and oversize hoop earrings. Although the items varied in thickness and size, there was a coherence to the style, a casual sensibility that suggested the laid-back lifestyle of Ms. Meyer’s hometown, Los Angeles.

Jewelry-making was not a lifelong goal for Ms. Meyer, although as a child she did spend afternoons making rings and medallions with her paternal grandmother, Edith Meyer, who designed enamel pieces in a tiny Santa Monica apartment, its kitchen crowded with a kiln. She studied child and family psychology at Syracuse University; when she returned to Los Angeles in 1999, she went straight into the work force, although not exactly by her own choice.

Rebekah McCabe was Ms. Meyer’s boss at Ralph Lauren and now is senior vice president of artistic direction, store design, events and public relations at Chanel. “She doesn’t rest on her laurels,” Ms. McCabe said. “There’s an innate sense of wanting to do well, wanting to work hard, not take anything for granted and always improving. She doesn’t call in any favors.”

Ms. Meyer began dabbling in jewelry design while working at Ralph Lauren, making pieces in her bedroom and taking Saturday morning classes at a local bead store. By then she was dating Mr. Maguire; they married in 2007 and have two children: Ruby, now 10, and Otis, 8.

When they moved in together, the money she saved on rent was earmarked to create the core of what became her collection. “I felt like, ‘This is a dream of mine — what better thing to blow your money on?’ ” she recalled. “It works or it doesn’t work — I tried.”

With a handful of pieces completed, she quickly saw signs of success: a dainty leaf pendant she showed to the stylists Nina and Clare Hallworth ended up on Jennifer Aniston in the 2006 film “The Break-Up.” A friend’s introduction to a buyer at Barneys led to the store carrying the line; it’s now also sold on several websites, including Net-a-Porter, and next summer Ms. Meyer intends to open a shop in the Los Angeles area. (The company, which is privately owned, does not disclose sales or revenue figures.)

Production is handled by artisans in downtown Los Angeles, and Ms. Meyer and her 10 business and marketing staff members are based in a bright office in West Los Angeles.

Ms. Meyer’s collection has always had many pieces that cost less than $1,000, including a selection of thin bracelets and stud earrings. She gradually has added higher-priced pieces to the mix, such as a long necklace of prong-set diamonds that retails for slightly more than $25,000 and a heart-shaped pendant encrusted with pavé diamonds at $6,000.

The Fashion Week Calendar

The event, staged in the sanctuary of Judson Memorial Church in Greenwich Village, was the culmination of a four-week mentorship between designers from PVH, the global clothing company that owns Calvin Klein and Tommy Hilfiger, and homeless youth from Safe Horizon’s Streetwork Project, which operates two drop-in centers and an overnight shelter.

A bracing alternative to the stoic runways at Skylight Clarkson Sq, the show was also a burst of joy from an increasingly vulnerable population.

“For young adults and teens, there are so many barriers to stable permanent housing,” Liz Roberts, the deputy C.E.O. of Safe Horizon, said in a phone interview. “They don’t have experience living on their own. They don’t have the life skills to navigate a lease and a landlord. They typically have limited work experience. They’re homeless because of a history of abuse and neglect from their families, and they need a lot of support. There’s a need for housing options that are different.”

Mayor Bill de Blasio’s plan to expand New York’s homeless shelter program, Ms. Roberts added, has improved their odds.

“We’ve been able to move more of our clients into supportive housing than in the past,” she said, referring to housing initiatives for people with mental health and substance abuse issues, and vouchers that offset rent costs at privately owned buildings. “And they’ve added beds to the youth shelter program, which is very welcome. We work with 1,000 young people every year, and on any given night we can only shelter 24.”

The fashion show allowed some of those very people to express their creativity. PVH provided sewing machines, fabric and art supplies, and guided the first-time designers from inspiration boards to execution.

At first the designer-models walked cautiously, with downcast eyes. After a few steps, they looked up, to applause and cheers. And after a few more, they smiled. Blue and white crinoline bounced from shoulders and waists, a lime green hat twinkled with rhinestones, and a hoop skirt lifted a train of binder-clipped Bubble Wrap. At least half the looks were winged.

After two days in the hospital, he moved to New York, and for the last seven months he has been homeless. Streetwork helped him secure housing at Marsha’s Place, an L.G.B.T. shelter in the Bronx.

“Every day when I wake up, I go straight to Streetwork,” he said. “The food there is amazing. I’m a foodie, trust me. I get to watch TV, play games and be creative. They treat us like they’re a parent. They’re the nicest people on this earth.”

Gimella, 22, landed at Streetwork when she was 18, after fleeing abuse at home. She now lives at True Colors, an affordable L.G.B.T. youth residence that Cyndi Lauper helped found, and is pursuing a medical assistant degree in addition to aiding Streetwork’s women’s sexual health outreach.

“I had a lot of episodes doing my look,” said Gimella, wearing a sheer dress she affixed with heart-shaped panels covered in rhinestones. “I have social anxiety sometimes. But being around good people, it helped me be more comfortable, to be proud of who I am today. Good things like this, they don’t come a lot, so you have to take advantage.”

For Joean Villarin, an assistant director of the program, Project Streetwork is also a positive shared experience. “It’s nice to be in an environment where the focus isn’t on problems, or on fixing something,” she said. “It’s on creating something.”

Daniel Armosilla, a designer and Project Streetwork mentor, said, “When we say, ‘This is a great idea, here are the tools and supplies, let’s band together and help you realize this,’ all that’s happened to them washes away. They feel peace and elation — surprised by what they’re capable of.”

Red Carpet Trends

Several hours later, after Lady Gaga dazzled a crowd of 1,400 with a grand piano performance of her song “Bad Romance” at the stately Princess of Wales Theater, a caftan-swathed André Leon Talley reclined next to Lady Barbara Black (wife of the former media mogul Sir Conrad Black) holding court at a midnight supper party hosted in his honor by the real estate tycoon David Daniels.

These are not, as one might assume, snapshots from a Canadian fashion week, but rather events that took place during the recent Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF), which began Sept. 7 and ends on Sept. 17. Along with an increasingly visible star quotient, this 10-day event in downtown Toronto has come of age as a new forum for red carpet glamour.

It’s about time. Though since its inauguration in 1976 TIFF has regularly been the first stop for a long line of films that later claim Oscar gold — from “Chariots of Fire” (1981) to “American Beauty” (1999), “Slumdog Millionaire” (2008) to “La La Land” (2016) and “Moonlight” (2016) — paparazzi have paid scant attention. Because Hollywood’s Oscar films are typically dominated by men, TIFF’s red carpet was too, and for decades the women headlining TIFF films, including Nicole Kidman, seized the opportunity to play down the glamour and turn up in trousers.

The stylist Elizabeth Saltzman spent August assessing 25 looks for her client Gemma Arterton to wear at TIFF’s premiere of “The Escape.” “TIFF is the cool kid,” Ms. Saltzman said. “It takes place in a northern city at the beginning of fall. It happens just as fashion month starts.”

“The look is about ‘I’m a serious actor,’ because TIFF commands a ton of respect from the film industry,” she said. “But you have to up the ante. You have to start to generate attention. It is the beginning of the buildup to Oscar season.”

Case in point: the blazer and shorts by Marcus Lupfer modeled by Ms. Arterton, who both stars in and produced the film. “I didn’t feel like wearing a frock,” the actress wrote in an email. “I wanted a playful take on a suit.”

Cut to last Saturday night, the premiere of Haifaa Al-Mansour’s film adaptation of “Mary Shelley” (as part of TIFF’s new move to support gender equality, about one-third of the films shown at the festival were directed by women.)

Just after 11, one of the film’s stars, the British actress Bel Powley appeared in a thigh-grazing white Alessandra Rich chiffon number and navigated her way through a sea of darkly dressed film industry heavyweights from the garden smoking area to the bar at the Hollywood Foreign Press Association and InStyle’s annual TIFF bash.

Ms. Powley had just left her co-star, Elle Fanning, who was reclining on a wicker sofa in Alexander McQueen, while somewhere nearby was Greta Gerwig, the director and writer of “Lady Bird,” in a graphic midcalf golden yellow and black silk Sophie Theallet dress, sourced by her stylist Cristina Erlich.

“Cher Coulter helped me,” said the meticulously groomed Ms. Powley, referring to the Los Angeles-based stylist who selected her minidress. Ruffly, silken and adorned with a black bow, it was an alluring play on a tuxedo shirt and a demure foil to the black velvet Swarovski-embellished Saint Laurent mini flaunted by Margot Robbie, who was across the room promoting the Tonya Harding biopic “I, Tonya.”

Indeed, minis had something of a moment at TIFF, suggesting the old days of mermaid gowns may be numbered. Following the debut of her documentary, “Gaga: Five Foot Two,” Lady Gaga accepted her standing ovation in a slick silver leather Mugler miniskirt. The next night Andrea Riseborough worked the premiere of the period comedy “The Death of Stalin” in a runway-fresh — and as yet to be seen on a celebrity — off-the-shoulder camel leather Saint Laurent minidress.

Two nights later, Chloë Sevigny supported “Lean on Pete” in an above-the-knee concoction by Andreas Kronthalter for Vivienne Westwood.

Of her own short little dress, Ms. Powley said, “I wanted to wear it because Alessandra Rich dresses very few people. It has an ’80s, Chanel vibe and a boyish element, which I always love.”

The choice was representative of what makes TIFF — unlike, say, Cannes or Venice — special: the opportunity presented by its emerging, rather than established, luxury market to break out unexpected looks by up-and-coming designers (Erdem, Christopher Kane, Nina Ricci) as opposed to predictable pieces dictated by a contract between an actress and a luxury brand.

Perhaps as a result, the executives who control celebrity dressing at exactly those luxury labels have begun using TIFF as a testing ground, dressing new stars to evaluate their red carpet potential. Prada’s bet on Ruth Negga, whom the brand dressed in velvet for TIFF 2016’s premiere of “Loving,” marked her early on as a style-setter to watch.

That came after the breakout 2013 debut of Lupita Nyong’oin “12 Years a Slave,” for which she won the Oscar for best supporting actress.

Her wardrobe at TIFF that year, which included a gold sequined white jersey Prada gown, a sleeveless tangerine Antonio Berardi cocktail shift and a lemon yellow sweater paired with hot pants, became an internet sensation and “launched her relationship with Prada, which culminated in Lupita wearing Prada to the Oscars,” said Micaela Erlanger, the stylist with whom Ms. Nyong’o collaborated.

“Every film festival has a different fashion feeling, a different character,” said Ms. Erlanger, who was back at TIFF this year styling the up-and-coming actress Tatiana Maslany for the premiere of “Stronger.”

If Cannes is the glamazon, and Venice her understudy, with Berlin, Sundance and Telluride as the casual little sisters, TIFF is now “the soft-spoken warrior,” Ms. Erlanger said. “It has a subtle power. A lot of the relationship building starts with TIFF, because what it adds up to is awards season.”

The Boy Who Made Shoes

The Boy Who Made Shoes for Lizards” is that Anna Wintour lets you see her eyes.

Normally, that fearsome Vogue editor wears sunglasses

the front row of fashion shows; when she was made a dame earlier this year. But for Manolo Blahnik, maker of some of the most sublime women’s footwear of the past four decades, she drops the lenses and lets her eyes, and feelings, show.

Mr. Blahnik inspires this warmth by dint of his shoes and also his character, which is eccentrically patrician, starry eyed, elegant. (He wears the hell out of a lilac suit.) He’s a man who describes wisteria — the word, but presumably also the plant — as “so Olympic, it’s so hedonistic in a way.”

But this film, directed by the fashion writer and editor Michael Roberts, doesn’t aspire beyond embrace. It rushes through Mr. Blahnik’s biography, dwelling on pop-culture moments and blandly ecstatic celebrity testimonials (not counting the uproarious André Leon Talley, who insists Mr. Blahnik is “up there with Baudelaire”). It also leans heavily at times on recreated footage of Mr. Blahnik’s childhood, as well as on a bizarre scene imagining a 1930s African society party in which a white woman emerges from a gorilla costume.

There is little accounting of his inner life, or for that matter of his creative gifts, which are quite exquisite. And though there are some cleverly conceived but blindingly lighted scenes of Blahnik shoes in nature, or nestled amid sculpture or architecture, there is nothing systematic to the way the shoes are discussed or filmed. In a scene puzzlingly late in the film, Mr. Blahnik, who apparently still makes samples by hand, walks through his factory and finesses a sensuous heel out of a stump of wood. More of that would have made this confection about a radiant man into something sturdier.