Sunday, January 31, 2010
Architectural Carrie! Carrie Ann Inaba in NIKOLAKI Fall 2010, hosting TV Guide Network's Grammys Red Carpet Pre-Show Late last year, when I did my Emmys Fashion Wrap with Carrie Ann Inaba, she took me aside and said "You know what? I need to wear NIKOLAKI when I host one of my upcoming Red Carpet Shows..." We decided the Grammys would be perfect. The next time I saw her while filming the Golden Globes Fashion Wrap, I brought sketches for her and her stylist extraordinaire, my fellow Fashion Wrap Panelist, Jen Rade, to see. They loved all of them but decided they should stop by my NIKOLAKI Design Studio to take a closer look and "play dress-up". And boy did she: She tried on half a dozen gowns and dresses. But her eyes began "wandering"... She couldn't take her eyes off a muslin/toile sample that we had made for our Fall 2010 line. Couture Muslin: Nick Verreos and Carrie Ann Inaba pose with the muslin/toile of her Grammys dress She asked "What is that??" We said that it was just a mock-up (in cotton muslin) of one of the dresses in our upcoming line. "I HAVE to try it on!" she quipped. She did and both her and Jen found their dress. Done and done. My design partner, David Paul and I took her measurements and discussed length and any other minor adjustments. Now we just had to make it--custom--in just ONE WEEK!!! The final result: A strapless cocktail dress made with black Italian Silk-and-Wool Zibeline featuring Oragami-like "petal" folds up top and cascading down the bottom. Hand Delivery: Nick Verreos at the Staples bringing THE dress to Carrie Ann Inaba's trailer for a fitting These last few days prior to the Awards have been crazy, making trips back-and-forth to the Staples Center--site of the Grammys--for some final fitting last touches and today both David and I were at her hotel room, getting her dressed in our NIKOLAKI dress. We think she looks amazing! Click below for Carry Ann Inaba (in NIKOLAKI) and Chris Harrison interviewing Taylor Swift at the Grammys 2010: Click HERE for more videos.
Friday, January 29, 2010
Museum Queens...One Ego is Better Than Two...and a Homeless Statute of Liberty?This week's episode was the dreaded Project Runway "Team Challenge" where two designers are paired up--randomly (or so they say!)--and the producers and fellow Cameramen get some GOOD TV for y'all. For Season 7, the kids headed to the grand Metropolitan Museum of Art where "Couture Curator", Tim Gunn, stood framed by some of the most beautiful Couture garments from the 20th Century from designers like... Balenciaga (1954-55 Cocoon Silk Faille Coat above, a Gift from the Baroness Philippe de Rothschild), as well as... Madame Gres (silk jersey gown above). It would be interesting to have a "Fashion History Test" with the contestants to see how many of them even knew who Madame Gres was. Just sayin'...The Challenge this week was to design a look worthy of a Museum Couture Piece (with $500!) and then (of course there was a twist)-- they later discovered-- they also had to design a "budget H&M-like version (with $50) of another team's design. I know, I was like "Say what?". I'm sure it sounded good in the "pitch meeting" but it lead to a rather confusing episode; too much packed in just an hour episode for the viewer's mental and visual capacity. Of course, there was conflict when it came to the teams, especially with Kooky Ping and Matinee Idol I'm-an-Actor Jesse. He just wanted to do his job and Ping Wu just wanted to be Kooky--and look for her missing shoes! Mila Hermanovski and her partner Jonathan Peters were also an interesting couple. Jonathan--intelligently enough--let her be "The Boss" and boy was she. I would not want to mess with that severe bob either. Not surprisingly, when it finally came to the Runway Show, it was one great garment and one pretty bad outfit. To begin with, I liked Jesus Estrada and his partner Amy Sarabi's design: You could TOTALLY tell that it was all--or at least mostly-- Amy. That pleated-fan bolero was spectacular and so Amy's style! I also liked Maya Luz' design... It was edgy, a modern take on Museum-worthy Couture. I concur with Nina Garcia: The open side was very chic. I can see many people saying "I just don't get it...I would never wear that!" But wear-ability was not really the point for this half of the challenge.The winner ended up being Mila's color-blocked kimono coat and skinny pant look which was very 1960s Courreges/Pierre Cardin with a definite nod to Narciso Nodriguez. To be honest, it wasn't my favorite but leave it to Kors and Garcia (Champions of NY-American sportswear and separates) to chose this. But now, onto the messes:This look from Jesse LeNoir, Ping's team "assistant" was so bland, I almost fell asleep as it came down the runway. Cheap "fast fashion" doesn't have to be boring. It was Banana Republic...from 2001! And Jonathan and Mila's design...Based on Anthony Williams' bad ball gown (what was that bustier???).. It was mainly the severe Baby Doll silhouette, and that gathered tulle accent on the halter neckline that bothered me. I just wanted to get my seam-riper and take that black tulle accent off! Jonathan seems to be more talented than this--maybe it was a time restriction. I have been there huney--did you see my crazy design for the Santino-and-Nick Banana Republic Team Challenge? In other words: I understand. But of course, Ping's "Homage" to a Homeless Statue of Liberty took the Worst Museum Couture Piece this week. As I said previously, I was surprised she wasn't "auf'ed" last week and we were all just counting down the days until her demise. Ping made for great TV but that can only take you so far in a show that is based on talent and craftsmanship--not to mention 10 cameramen and an entire production crew looking over your shoulder. The lace top looked matronly and the side cowl draping was heavy-handed and was neither Museum-worthy or qualified as anything a woman of this Century would want to own. Maybe a character from HBO's "Rome", but even then, she would be the recently-freed Roman Slave--certainly not the Mistress of the house! Out with Ping...in with the rest...now onto more important matters: When are we going to see Jesse shirtless? Until next time kiddies.
Thursday, January 28, 2010
House of Valentino needs to Focus plus Elie Saab Love... Influenced: Rodarte Spring 2010 and Valentino Haute Couture Spring/Summer 2010 The House of Valentino has gone through a couple of changes since Monsieur Garavani exited. First, they hired Alessandra Facchinetti to design and one Couture Season after, she was unceremoniously fired. Ever since, Maria Grazia Chiuri and Pier Paolo Piccioli, former Accessories designers for Valentino have been at the helm. I have to admit: I think they should have kept Facchinetti-- it was my favorite post-Garavani Valentino Haute Couture Collection. Case in point: For Spring/Summer 2010, Chiuri and Piccioli sent out some beautiful designs, BUT, it was very different from the season before...and the season prior to that....Make up your mind darlings. Are you "Classic Valentino... with a Twist"? Or are you Rodarte? The color blocking, styling, and punk/apocalyptic make-up was very un-Valentino and more Blade Runner 2010... Can someone PLEASE explain this above? PLEASE??? It should be on a Fashionista test: "For $5,000, can anyone identify the designer of this dress?" I bet that 99.9 % would NOT have said "House of Valentino". That might NOT be a good thing kiddies... However, there were some moments of "Valentino Clarity": As in this limoncello-colored silk chiffon gown. I would love to see someone wear this gown to the Oscars. Seriously. That actress would certainly be a stand out! (Sans that eye blindfold, of course!). Valentino Preview Video Haute Couture Spring/Summer 2010 Elie Saab Haute Couture Spring/Summer 2010 Elie Saab Pastels reigned for Spring 2010 at the Elie Saab Haute Couture show. Saab has been accused of being repetitive in his designs and once again, if you breeze through this 44 look collection it almost looks like you are viewing many of the same gowns over and over again. But Elie Saab knows his client (multi-millionaire Chinese women, Persian Gulf and Eastern Europe DIVAS!) and delivers exactly what she wants. One has to understand that in Haute Couture, if someone orders a dress that costs upwards of $100,000, very often you want to be the ONLY person who owns this one-of-a-kind garment. Therefore, Saab intelligently offers multiple variations on his exquisite creations giving each woman the "Elie Saab Look" but different enough to call her own.The one variation in the collection were two chiffon gowns that were created using a very large floral watercolor print. Although not for everyone, these prints certainly stood out amongst the sea of beaded frocks and looked perfect for a Swedish Princess. Elie Saab Preview Video Haute Couture Spring/Summer 2010
Wednesday, January 27, 2010
Monsieur Nick Verreos...Several weeks back, I received something in the mail from Paris France. I went into "Uncle Nick" convulsions! It was an invitation for the Stephane Rolland 2010 Spring/Summer Haute Couture Fashion Show. After much thought (after I calmed down!), I realized because of my work and crazy schedule (I was actually filming in Los Angeles that day), I could not attend. But I will be in Paris for the Fall/Winter 2010 Haute Couture Fashion Week in July, so I will be hoping for another invitation! So for now I will have to settle for the next best thing: Seeing the show on video and photos. If you may not know, Stephane Rolland is one of the up-and-coming Couturiers that all of the fashion world is buzzing about. Rihanna--as well as Queen Rania--have worn his designs. He is know for glorious modern cocktail and evening wear. Sexy not vulgar. For Spring/Summer 2010 Haute Couture, he sent down beautiful designs showing a love for off-kilter draping, and curve-a-licious lines (sorry, I know that was very un-fashionista terminology). The silhouettes were DIVINE! And a bonus: One of my favorite models was in the show: The one and only Sessilee Lopez. Click Below for a Preview of the Stephane Rolland Spring/Summer 2010 Haute Couture Show: Lebanese designer Georges Hobeika also showed this past week during Paris Haute Couture Fashion Week . There was lots of beading, red, canary yellows and a running theme of transparency. The red gown above was gorgeous but I'm not so sure how many of those ultra-rich Persian Gulf clients in Bahrain and Kuwait would order that without a lining--but the color is perfect for the wives or girlfriends of all those Couture-buying Chinese billionaires that the recent WWD article was talking about. At the show, every model wore a shoulder-length brunette bob with bangs. I must admit that I am not a fan of identical wigs on models. But, I did love the pleated mini Leg O' Mutton sleeves on this beaded cocktail number.One of my favorite looks in the Hobeika 2010 Haute Couture show was this final wedding gown--now I can certainly see a fabulously wealthy Bahraini bride wear that! George Hobeika Haute Couture--Preview and Reportage
COUTURE DAHHHLING!!!!!! Sarah Palin Couture: Belorusian model Olga Sherer in her "Going Huntin' " ensemble This season, John Galliano was inspired by Charles James, Standard Oil Heiress Millicent Rodgers, Dressage and the Turn-of-the-Century Gibson Girl. It was VERY old-school Dior; Monsieur Dior would have proud (I think). The show began with 1900's Equestrian suiting that if they were made several years back, would have end up in a W Magazine spread featuring Madonna and her estate in England. Lots of folding, pleating and Galliano continued his obsession with the full-front/fitted back look reminiscent of his "Egypt/Pharoah Dior Haute Couture Collection" back in 2004.A Met Couture Exhibit: Polish Runway Supermodel Magdalena Frackowiak looking like something out of a John Singer Sergent Painting The collection seemed to be stuck on this "Equestrian Costume Diva" theme for a while until the full gowns came forth. They were marvelous in their technical mastery, draping and UBER femininity. The final gown, worn by Brazilian model Goddess Thana Kuhnen was VERY inspired by... the 1949 Dior "Junon" Gown. The petal scallop shaped hem and the delicate crystal beading were a definite homage. Click below to see the entire runway show: Christian Dior Spring/Summer 2010 Haute Couture-- Part 1 Christian Dior Spring/Summer 2010 Haute Couture-- Part 2 Chanel Haute Couture: Love, Live, Silk Charmeuse...and Bermuda (Shorts)!For his Spring/Summer Haute Couture 2010 Chanel Collection, Karl Lagerfeld sent out heart-shaped hair with over-sized bows, fitted Bermuda shorts with the iconic Chanel jackets and lots of silk charmeuse/silk-back crepe. Asymmetrical cowl draping, lot of bias-cut, and hand-applied crystal embroidery throughout. Can't wait to see Chloe Sevigny try and work one of these $45,000 hand-made wonders in an upcoming Awards Show. I'm not so sure if any of Lagerfeld's jet-setting clients would go for the shorts-suit look but those silk charmeuse side cowl gowns are A MUST!!!! Chanel Spring/Summer 2010 Haute Couture--Preview Armani Prive: Over the "Moon" with Curviform!I honestly think this was one of Armani's best Prive Collections. I have been following all of his Haute Couture shows, season after season. And it has been very "hit-and-miss". Editors are somehow afraid to just come out and say it, but... some of his last collections have been a MESS: Tricky Hair, trickier draping, a bit too "dated" and 80's...and not in a good way. BUT... this Spring 2010 Prive Collection was TRES CHIC! One of his best. At least in my humble opinion. There was a Moon Theme, using half-moon Mother-of-Pearl brooches and curved shapes throughout.It was all about under-stiffening, buckram-backed ruffles and flutters. With all that, it was still 100 % romantic, feminine and Boy, I could see half of it at the Academy Awards! Speaking of Oscars, when I saw this gown above, all I could think of was actress Tilda Swinton. I know she's a fan of Viktor and Rolf and the more Avant-Garde designers but this off-the-shoulder stiffened neckline ivory princess-seamed Gown is SO HER!!! Armani Prive 2010 Spring/Summer: Preview
Monday, January 25, 2010
SAG GLAM...The Forties: Sandra Bullock Takes a Risk on her Shoulder Padded and keyhole neckline Alexander McQueen gown at the 2010 SAG Awards (love it!) In lieu of the fact that we didn't do a Red Carpet Fashion Wrap for the Screen Actors Guild/SAG Awards for the TV Guide network, I decided to give my "Nick's Take" on who I thought looked amazing and what I thought may not have worked 100%. To begin with, it seemed like there was a lot more risk taking--or people were more "adventuresome" here at the SAG Awards Red Carpet--when it came to choosing gowns and dresses. White After Labor Day? Kate Hudson in a Pucci low back white jersey gown, 2010 SAG Awards Red Carpet I remember when the Golden Globes used to be the award show where actresses would be a little more "risky" in their red carpet choices (Hello, remember Lara Flynn Boyle?) but now it seems that the SAG Awards is possibly the place for that. Here were some of my faves: Diane Kruger:When I saw Diane Kruger on the red carpet, she took my breath away: Simply gorgeous! From the top of her off-kilter chignon to the last 1/4" of the trailing hem, she was perfect. I was sure that it was a gown form a European design house, such as Chanel or Valentino and was happy to see that it was not.I n fact it was by American Jason Wu (of Michelle Obama fame) influenced from a dress in his Spring 2010 Collection (seen in the photo above). She took a risk wearing that color; many people can't pull off that shade of mustard (and I'm sure there were some people that weren't fans of it) but I think it worked on Kruger. Marion Cotillard: Marion Cotillard wore an Elie Saab fully beaded cocktail number from his Fall/Winter 2009 "All White" Couture Collection , estimated to cost around $20,000. I absolutely LOVED this collection but I am not sure if I would have picked this particular dress. The silhouette almost looked "padded" at the hips. Cotillard would go under the "risk taker" category in choosing this dress--at least in my "style book". The top section is sensually sublime, with it's draped cowl and asymmetrical padded shoulder-- it's the bottom half that "bugs". Anna Paquin: Anna Paquin was one of those who took a risk in wearing this to the SAG Awards. It's a custom Alexander McQueen dress inspired by his AMAZING Spring 2010 Reptilian-Dinosaur-Skeleton Collection. She knew that print would not make friends--especially with the "OMG what is she wearing? I just don't get it...I would NEVER wear that!" crowd (you know who you are, Khloe Kardashian of E! Fashion Police). But the fact that she "went there", well, I am giving her "Nick Verreos Points" for that. Meryl Streep: Alright, it's official: I love this woman! Meryl Streep looked like aristocracy straight out of "Hola!" Magazine in this printed silk gown by designer Nicolas Ghesquiere for Balenciaga Fall 2009 (I know that Salma Hayek wore it before but I think Meryl looked waaay better). The padded 1940's-like shoulders, the plunging neckline, the cinched waist: You Go Meryl! The finished up-do, black clutch, and open-toe heels were the Cherry on this "Couture Cake". See you next time at the Grammy Awards!
Rating The Figure Skating Finals...Costumes! Congratulations to the delightful Rachael Flatt, who landed SEVEN (I know!!!) triple jumps including a triple flip-triple toe loop combination. Translation (to those non-figure skating fans): She did REALLY REALLY well! As a result, she garnered the Gold at this year's U. S. National Figure Skating Championships and a spot on the 2010 U. S. Olympics Team. Go Rachael! I am so happy for her--I had the privilege of meeting Rachael last year and even discussed designing a costume for her. Who knows? But I am sure she's already "taken care of" and wouldn't need "little ol' me" to design and create her Olympic-worthy costume. Speaking of her costumes, for her Long--Rachmaninoff-program, Rachael wore a red beaded number featuring a flirty skirt, and gold embroidered bodice. So perfect for her ivory skin-tone and amber-blond hair. Pretty and elegant yet still youthful and un-fussy. Score: 8.5 out of 10. Coming in Second Place was Mirai Nagasu. Along with Rachael Flatt, Nagasu will also be heading North--to the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics. She also wore a red costume for her Long Program (red was popular!) but hers was a deeper, more "Spanish" red, reflecting Bizet's "Carmen"--which is what she skated to. It was a "sweet" Carmen. I, for one, love the drama and sexuality of Katarina Witt's Carmen (in which she won the Gold Medal) I would have loved to have seen Bolero-esque shoulder treatments (like a fighting Toreador)but I realize that's not really what Mirai is about. So for that, the costume design was on the safe route: It did not detract from her program but it didn't add anything either. Score: 6.5 out of 10.

Most years, THREE women head to the Olympics for the chance of winning that Gold Medal, but because it is based on the placements from the previous World Championships (and the US Women did not do so well--oops!), there will only be TWO heading to the 2010 Vancouver Olympics. With that in mind the dreaded Third Spot went to...Ashley Wagner. In regards to her Ombre-Purple re-embroidered costume--you can read HERE what I thought about it back in December when she came in Third at the ISU Grand Prix in Tokyo Japan Here's a hint: On the fence. Score: 6 out of 10.

One of my Season 2 Project Runway Guest Judges and Challenge Subjects, Sasha Cohen, struggled throughout her Moonlight Sonata Free Skate. I SO wanted her to BRING IT! She kinda did--and kinda did not. She was credited with only one clean triple jump (in the program) and got Fourth Place and (obviously) no position to go to this 2010 Vancouver Winter's U.S. Olympic Team. In terms of her costume, I really liked the "Kool-Aid" grape-colored Ombre dyed (an theme?) color. I LOVED the crystal-beaded neck but that over-sized shirred bust was a tad bit to wide and I must admit, bothered me. Score: 7 out of 10.

Well, now were off to Vancouver...maybe not me, Ashley or Sasha...but I cannot wait for our next "Rate The Figure Skating Costumes"...LIVE from Los Angeles California!

Saturday, January 23, 2010
Homage to Lucille Ball's Burlap DressEthel and Lucy Couture: The Iconic "I Love Lucy" Burlap Dresses This week's episode of Project Runway involved the old adage of "She's so beautiful she'd even look good in a potato sack". Before we can say "Upstate New York", the 15 designers are whisked away to the country (I can only imagine that 4:30 AM wake-up call, followed by getting in a production van and spending the next two hours sleeping next to someone you don't want to be next to).Suddenly, they are all wearing Wellies (were they all asked to make sure to pack some before they left their hometowns?) and Tim Gunn commands them to make that aforementioned adage true: Make a look out of burlap for their respective models...and make it cute. Cute enough that they could wear them to an "industry" party and be noticed for the right reasons. Right there on the farm was a "Mood Farm" outpost, filled with lots of burlap and trim for the designers to use.Back at the Parsons Workroom, the designers got to work. Lots of dyeing, draping and burlap-tearing later, they were off to the runway. Supermodel of all Supermodels, 5'7" tall (short for models, she is quick to admit) Lauren Hutton is awaiting, Sharpie in hand, next to Miss Nina, Michael and Heidi of course. The Runway: In general, as Heidi noted, this was a GREAT Challenge. Most of the results came out-- surprisingly--kind of good! (who knew? High-fives to the producers!). Last week's winner, Emilio Sosa--and exempted from elimination... did a modern take on the sheath dress: Fitted, chic and rather Narciso Rodriguez-meets-Carolina Herrera-esque. Loved it. Also, one of my favorites was Amy Sarabi's creation:The dip-dye petal handkerchief skirt was fabulous and the cowl top section, draped to perfection. It was polished, modern and very feminine. I thought she should have won. However, the winner was...Scarf-happy Jay Nicolas Sario and this deep-V neck cocktail number with a full fluttery skirt. I just didn't understand what the judges saw in this, but as one who has been in that seat before, I am well aware of the you-need-to-be-five-feet-away to REALLY see the "incredible" work that is in that dress. What Models Want: Now, I need to take a moment to explain to some of these designers what MODELS actually wear to "industry" parties/red carpet/events:Lily Aldridge, 2009 Victoria's Secret Fashion Show After Party Pink CarpetMarisa Miller, 2009 Victoria's Secret Fashion Show After Party Pink Carpet Models like it SHORT, TIGHT, and if it has Herve Leger written on the label, the better (they know a $5,000 mini-dress when they see it!). With that in mind, I think Mila Hermanovski actually nailed it with her design:But that neckline gaping was awkward and showed bad pattern and fitting skill. All I wanted to do was pinch about 1 1/2" off that neckline and fix it. Just a note kiddies: That open-gape WASN'T supposed to be there! Take my Elements of Fit class at FIDM and you'll find out. Now, someone who just doesn't realize what models want to wear to an industry event is:Seth Aaron Henderson. Really Seth? The first thing that I said was: "This is SO Fashion School Graduate Fashion Show!" And not in a good way. Too contrived. A model would NEVER wear this to an industry mixer. I don't care what your model told you Seth Aaron. She lied.Another look a model would NEVER wear was poor Jesse LeNoir's. My designer friend who watched the episode with me remarked: "He may have Matinee-Idol looks but his design aesthetic is questionable at best" Baggy pants and an ill-fitting vest? Is she gardening or riding a horse? Not so much. Model's Got Back:What is with the bad back's? Oh Miss Ping Wu. I really thought she would be gone. But then I realized that she would be "good TV" for at least one or two episodes. Her look was one of the worst. And that bootie-shot didn't help. Do we need to get Ping a new form? Ping: I have a suggestion: Take LOTS of measurements next time, especially the natural waist to high-hip to low-hip to knee. Just saying. Speaking of backs: Poor Pamela Ptak. As a fellow Instructor, I had high hopes for her--and I could just see her helping all those other kids with their lackluster pattern making skills while the cameras weren't rolling (like I did back in my season). However, she transformed her vision of a burlap sack dress into a semi-HOOCHIE mini dress. I liked how she dyed the fabric to look like washed denim but the overall look was still reminiscent of a dress that one of the cast members from "Bad Girls Club" would think is cute. As a result, it was Instructor Pamela's time to go. See you next time kiddies. Don't forget to pack your Wellies!
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