Monthly Archives: May 2017

Bernard Ozer 60 Trends People Wanted for the Fashion Industry

Bernard Ozer, the colorful trend spotter of the nation’s fashion industry, has died of heart disease at the age of 60.

Jody Donahue, a friend and associate, said from New York on Tuesday that Ozer was 60 and died Sunday at Lenox Hill Hospital in Manhattan.

Until last month, Ozer was vice president of fashion merchandising and marketing at Associated Merchandising Corp. He was known throughout the trade for his weekly newsletter, Ozerview, in which the puckish-looking merchandiser discussed ways to put profit into street fashion.

Ozer, whose wardrobe ran to offbeat extremes, traveled the world looking for trends and styles that could be produced in America and sold in mainstream American stores.

With Associated Merchandising, Ozer helped promote and develop products for member department and specialty stores.

He taught at the Fashion Institute of Technology, Parsons School of Design, the University of Alabama and Kent State University in Ohio and appeared regularly on television as an industry spokesman.

Slightly Designing Back to Mode

Her old company is bankrupt, she’s knee-deep in messy litigation, and she has lost the rights to her own name. But Los Angeles designer Carole Little is preparing a return to the fashion scene.

Little and her longtime business partner and ex-husband, Leonard Rabinowitz, are planning a September launch of a design studio to sell Little’s creative talent to apparel manufacturers. Called Studio CL, the stripped-down venture marks the pair’s first project since their clothing company collapsed last year under a pile of debt after an ill-fated merger.

The implosion of that entity–Chorus Line Corp.–has triggered a spate of lawsuits, with Little and Rabinowitz, investors, financiers and former employees all claiming they were victims. But the most noticeable casualty for consumers is the Carole Little trademark itself. The line of better women’s sportswear and career apparel hasn’t been produced since last fall, and the label now is owned by creditors who have yet to find a buyer to make them whole.

Little concedes that prospects appear slim for working out a financial deal to regain control of her namesake brand. But if the Studio CL concept proves successful, her signature fashions may soon be back on retail racks, even though the labels will not bear her moniker.

“It’s frustrating not to control your own name,” Little said. “But I’m looking forward to doing what I love best . . . and putting that other stuff behind me.”

That may not be so easy. Even by the rough-and-tumble standards of the fashion business, the fallout from Chorus Line’s destruction isn’t pretty.

The company was formed by the July 2000 merger of two struggling companies: Chorus Line, a maker of moderately priced sportswear controlled by Beverly Hills investment firm Levine Leichtman Capital Partners Inc., and Little and Rabinowitz’s California Fashion Industries Inc., which produced the Carole Little and St. Tropez lines. The idea was to revive both firms’ fortunes by combining operations, slashing overhead and offering buyers a wide selection of apparel in several price categories.

The result, according to court records, was “a marriage made in hell.” Just four months after the merger, the firm closed its doors, throwing 300 people out of work. A Chapter 11 bankruptcy petition followed in December. The company since has taken to producing lawsuits instead of clothing.

Everyone involved now claims to be a fashion victim. The principal lender, GMAC Commercial Credit, filed suit seeking $40 million from Levine Leichtman, alleging the investment firm cooked Chorus Line’s books to trick GMAC into bankrolling the merger. Levine Leichtman denies those allegations and has filed a countersuit claiming that California Fashion Industries was the weakest link. It claims GMAC concealed the company’s “bankrupt” financial condition to dupe Levine Leichtman into consenting to a merger, wiping out the money management firm’s $49-million investment in Chorus Line when the new company tanked.

Rabinowitz and Little have filed their own suit against Levine Leichtman, alleging the firm used California Fashion Industries to prop up Chorus Line in order to hide losses from investors. And former employees have sued the merged company and its principals, claiming they are owed back wages, vacation pay and other compensation when the apparel maker abruptly ceased operations in November.

“There is plenty of blame to go around,” said Mark Brutzkus, an attorney for three vendors that pushed Chorus Line Corp. into Bankruptcy Court by filing an involuntary Chapter 7 liquidation petition. The lenders and principals “were all sophisticated business people. It’s the little guys who got burned.”

It’s now up to the courts to sort out the mess. In the meantime, Carole Little clothing hasn’t been on retailers’ shelves for nearly a year–an eternity in the fashion world. The label in effect belongs to GMAC, which has yet to arrange a sale or licensing deal. Little and Rabinowitz said they’ve had some discussion with GMAC, which did not respond to a request for comment. But the pair say they’re prepared to move on without the brand that defined them for nearly 25 years.

“Manufacturers still know who Carole is,” Rabinowitz said. “Providing them with design talent is where we can really add value.”

The pair are currently setting up their 7,000-square-foot studio on San Vicente Boulevard in the Mid- City area. They have hired a couple of support staff members, but their goal is to assemble a team that would include as many as 12 designers and artists to help manufacturers and retailers develop new lines or spruce up old ones.

Will anyone be interested in Carole Little the designer if they can’t brag about it on the label? Absolutely, said Ilse Metchek, executive director of the California Fashion Assn.

Metchek said there are plenty of manufacturers, particularly foreign apparel makers, who know how to make a quality garment but lack the distinctive styling to break through in the American market. And although low-rise jeans, halter tops and other belly-button-revealing junior fashions are currently the rage, Metchek said an aging population favors the enduring styles that have always been Little’s specialty.

“California design talent is a very, very valuable commodity,” Metchek said. “Carole Little has a proven track record. Someone is going to want to buy that creativity.”

For her part, Little said she won’t miss the headaches associated with running a manufacturing operation.

“I always liked it when we were smaller and had control over what we were doing,” Little said. “All I’ve ever cared about is the creative part.”

Jussara Lee Shares Slow Style Ideol

Jussara Lee hasn’t matched Lauren Singer’s zero-waste lifestyle in that two year’s worth of trash can be contained in a 16-ounce Mason jar, but the designer is doing her part to share the upsides of sustainability.

At this weekend’s Slow Food Nations event in Denver, Lee will be part of a roster of speakers that includes Alice Waters, Kimbal Musk and James Beard award-winning chef Alon Shaya. More than 10,000 people are expected at the Slow Food Nations, which Lee described as “a modicum number,” compared to its umbrella organization, Terra Madre in Turin, which attracts half a million people. “But this is a great start in the heart of the country that invented fast food. We hope to change that model for good,” she added.

After first encountering the Slow Food movement in Italy in the Nineties, she quickly took to its philosophy of growing vegetables in smaller scale without the use of synthetic pesticides and fertilizers and raising animals without antibiotics and hormones. In recent years, she aligned her ethos personally and professionally, drawing several parallels between her fashion career and the Slow Food movement. In relation to sound health and well-being, Lee became more conscious of pollution, overproduction, scale, safeguarding certain traditions, regeneration and fair workers’ treatment.

This weekend, Lee plans to discuss her recent experience volunteering at a small organic farm in Long Island. What was supposed to be a visit turned into a working one with the women who singlehandedly runs the farm. “We do everything by hand, the seeding, planting, weeding and harvesting. It is humbling to learn a completely different set of skills,” Lee said. “And as a fun fact, the land where the farm is located, is owned by Isabella Rossellini. Sure enough, she came to pick me up at the train station in Bellport and showed me around the area. She is very involved with the animals and started to go to this town about 30 years ago, as a model for Bruce Weber. Fashion follows me even when I’m on the field working the land.”

Lee, who believes that everything that is not biodegradable should not have a single-use purpose, is the kind of person who eschews plastic coverings for name tags. With that in mind, she decided on designing a bandanna with the Slow Food’s emblematic snail. She also suggested to SFN’s executive director Richard McCarthy that all the promotional materials be made with repurposed cloth. So Lee bought secondhand T-shirts and used couture techniques. Lee and her team individual

Jussara Lee hasn’t matched Lauren Singer’s zero-waste lifestyle in that two year’s worth of trash can be contained in a 16-ounce Mason jar, but the designer is doing her part to share the upsides of sustainability.

At this weekend’s Slow Food Nations event in Denver, Lee will be part of a roster of speakers that includes Alice Waters, Kimbal Musk and James Beard award-winning chef Alon Shaya. More than 10,000 people are expected at the Slow Food Nations, which Lee described as “a modicum number,” compared to its umbrella organization, Terra Madre in Turin, which attracts half a million people. “But this is a great start in the heart of the country that invented fast food. We hope to change that model for good,” she added.

After first encountering the Slow Food movement in Italy in the Nineties, she quickly took to its philosophy of growing vegetables in smaller scale without the use of synthetic pesticides and fertilizers and raising animals without antibiotics and hormones. In recent years, she aligned her ethos personally and professionally, drawing several parallels between her fashion career and the Slow Food movement. In relation to sound health and well-being, Lee became more conscious of pollution, overproduction, scale, safeguarding certain traditions, regeneration and fair workers’ treatment.

This weekend, Lee plans to discuss her recent experience volunteering at a small organic farm in Long Island. What was supposed to be a visit turned into a working one with the women who singlehandedly runs the farm. “We do everything by hand, the seeding, planting, weeding and harvesting. It is humbling to learn a completely different set of skills,” Lee said. “And as a fun fact, the land where the farm is located, is owned by Isabella Rossellini. Sure enough, she came to pick me up at the train station in Bellport and showed me around the area. She is very involved with the animals and started to go to this town about 30 years ago, as a model for Bruce Weber. Fashion follows me even when I’m on the field working the land.”

Lee, who believes that everything that is not biodegradable should not have a single-use purpose, is the kind of person who eschews plastic coverings for name tags. With that in mind, she decided on designing a bandanna with the Slow Food’s emblematic snail. She also suggested to SFN’s executive director Richard McCarthy that all the promotional materials be made with repurposed cloth. So Lee bought secondhand T-shirts and used couture techniques. Lee and her team individually cut and hand-embroidered 600 bandannas, crocheted about 50 award corsages, braided 800 wristbands and appliquéd and block-printed 800 lanyards. Those creations will be launched at Alice Waters’ kickoff party Saturday, when the renowned chef and activist will plug her 22-year-old campaign called The Edible Schoolyard Project.

When she returns to New York, she will host a screening of this year’s Sundance Audience Award winner documentary “Chasing Coral.” Lee will also host the second edition of the pop-up thrift shop in her West Village store this fall. The designer is also taking things a little slow as she recovers from an accident cycling — her preferred mode of transportation in New York City.

ly cut and hand-embroidered 600 bandannas, crocheted about 50 award corsages, braided 800 wristbands and appliquéd and block-printed 800 lanyards. Those creations will be launched at Alice Waters’ kickoff party Saturday, when the renowned chef and activist will plug her 22-year-old campaign called The Edible Schoolyard Project.

When she returns to New York, she will host a screening of this year’s Sundance Audience Award winner documentary “Chasing Coral.” Lee will also host the second edition of the pop-up thrift shop in her West Village store this fall. The designer is also taking things a little slow as she recovers from an accident cycling — her preferred mode of transportation in New York City.

Jussara Lee Shares Slow Style Ideology

Tonight, King Felipe VI  and Queen Letizia of Spain are the guests of honour at a state banquet at Buckingham Palace. The event, which Queen Elizabeth II, the Duke and Duchess of Cornwall, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry, among other members of the royal family, are also attending, marks the first full day of the King and Queen of Spain’s three day state visit to the UK.

There has been lengthy discussion as to whether Queen Letizia would make a diplomatic sartorial choice this evening, honouring both her host and home nations in a gown by Spanish fashion house Loewe, which is currently headed up by Irish designer J.W. Anderson. In fact, she chose Felipe Varela, her all-time favourite and go-to for major occasions, instead shining a global spotlight on the Spanish designer’s work.

The stylish Spanish Queen has, in the past, proven herself to be quite fashion forward, with jumpsuits and oversize earrings among the more daring trends she has adopted. So, although she always appears sleek and polished (often with a nod to her days as a TVE newsreader in immaculately cut tailoring) many wondered whether tonight’s ensemble would reflect her experimental approach to style, or play it safe?
If her appearances earlier today were anything to go by, it seemed the Spanish Queen might be taking some style notes from the Duchess of Cambridge. Queen Letizia was pictured wearing a canary-yellow dress and coordinating sherbet-hued coat, finishing her look with the Duchess of Cambridge’s signature shoe: nude pumps. Was this the Spanish Queen’s take on British style? Or was it an experiment gone slightly awry?. Later in the day, she was pictured at the Palace of Westminster in a burgundy trench coat by British designer Burberry – a nod to both the nation and perhaps, the Duchess of Cambridge, given that she has also worn the designer on numerous occasions.
The gown chosen by Queen Letizia for the state banquet was in fact, a crimson embroidered floor-sweeping creation, which she wore with an elaborate tiara and drop earrings. The dress, which featured a fitted bodice and an off-the-shoulder neckline, and was a similar shade to the showstopping Stella McCartney dress she wore earlier in the year for the King of the Netherland’s birthday, was in keeping with the Spanish Queen’s penchant for structured pieces and, although similar in shape to an Alexander McQueen dress worn by the Duchess to the BAFTAs earlier in the year, it was a unique choice.
And then there was the question of what fellow fashion plate and royal style ‘rival’, the Duchess of Cambridge would wear for the banquet. Her gown was by New York-based brand, Marchesa. While she hasn’t worn a dress by the label’s main line- which is headed by duo Georgina Chapman and Keren Craig – before, the Duchess has worn a dress from their second, slightly more affordable line, Marchesa Notte to theopening night of 42nd Street in London’s West End. The label is renowned for providing gorgeous red carpet looks for the likes of Halle Berry and Emma Watson, and so was a fitting choice for this evening.

This dusty-pink hue is one the Duchess of Cambridge has worn before, most recently at her sister Pippa’s wedding, where she wore anAlexander McQueen dress in a similar shade. But colour aside, the Duchess branched out in terms of cut and shape, opting for a noticeably more low-cut design than those she usually adopts.  Might this be a case of competitive dressing, or just coincidence? The fact that Kate posed for no full-length photos on the night suggesrs that she wanted to allow her guest to have her moment. 

A special occasion such as this calls for considerable embellishment. The Duchess of Cambridge appeared in the Cambridge Lover’s Knot Tiara -which she has worn before – and pearl drop earrings, the latter of which are thought to be part of Princess Diana’s private jewel collection. The ruby and diamond necklace donned by the Duchess was a wedding gift to the Queen from her parents, and hasn’t been worn since the 1980s. Other royal attendees also sported elaborate jewels, namely Queen Elizabeth II, Princess Anne and Sophie Countess of Wessex, all of whom were wearing aquamarines.