Woman Around Town’s Editor Charlene Giannetti and writers for the website talk with the women and men making news in New York, Washington, D.C., and other cities around the world. Thanks to Ian Herman for his wonderful piano introduction.


Manus x Machina: Fashion In the Age of Technology at The Met’s Costume Institute


For the past several years I’ve been enthralled by the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute annual exhibition organized under the aegis of the incomparable Anna Wintour who we all know as the editor of Vogue and who is a trustee of the Met lending her vision extensive connections to turn these exhibitions into blockbuster events. And, each year, I leave breathless thinking they will never be able to top this.

06.Ensemble,IrisVanHerpen,Spring2010This year’s event, Manus x Machina (Hand x Machine): Fashion in an Age of Technology, is no less spectacular taking us steps closer to the future of fashion. Presented in the Museum’s Robert Lehman Wing the show explores how designers are reconciling the handmade and the machine-made in the creation of haute couture and avant-garde ready-to-wear.

Featuring more then 170 examples dating from the early 1900 when the sewing machine was invented and the founding of the haute couture through the onset of industrialization and mass production to the present day when technological advancements, such as 3-D printing, laser cutting, and computer-generated weaving and patterns are commonly used in creating high fashion. Highlights are numerous, but special mention goes to the handcrafted haute couture of Chanel and Dior and to the spectacular printed creations of Alexander McQueen and Iris van Harpen.

11.KaikokuFloatingDress,HusseinChalayan,Autumn2011Sponsored by Apple, Jonathan Ive, a co-Chair of the Gala and the firm’s Chief Designer who masterminds those glorious product designs, understands the fine line between technology and craftsman. “Both the automated and handcrafted process requires similar amounts of thoughtfulness and expertise,” he said. “There are instances where technology is optimized, but ultimately it’s the amount of care put into the craftsmanship, whether it’s machine-made or handmade, that transforms ordinary materials into something extraordinary.”

Or, simply put, technology reinvents material to form different shapes allowing us to push boundaries whereby hand crafted empathizes the refined intricacies of design creating another kind of aesthetic. In either case, as borne out by the fashion on display, machine vs. handmade practices borrow from one another thereby blurring the line between the two.

14.MxM,CaseStudy,ChanelWeddingEnsembleA word about staging a stunning complement to the minimalism of the fashion displayed. In the Robert Lehman Wing galleries on the museum’s ground and first floors, the exhibition has been installed within a dramatic cathedral-like structure by Shohei Shigematsu from OMA New York (the head office is in the Netherlands led by star architect Rem Koolhaus). White translucent scrims were constructed and stretched over an intentionally visible framework creating a building-within-a-building feel that unfolds as a series of alcoves. Each of these different ports: lacework, leatherwork, embroidery, pleating, tailors and dressmakers, and so on, showcases the garments along with projections of their details that work to amplify the craftsmanship in the pieces.

Manus x Machina (Hand x Machine): Fashion in an Age of Technology
Metropolitan Museum of Art,
Fifth Avenue at 82nd Street
On view from May 5 – August 14


18. Upper Level Gallery View: Embroidery
© The Metropolitan Museum of Art

6. Ensemble, Iris van Herpen (Dutch, born 1984),
spring/summer 2010 haute couture; The Metropolitan Museum
of Art, Purchase, Friends of The Costume Institute Gifts, 2015
(2016.16a, b)
Courtesy of The Metropolitan Museum of Art,
Photo © Nicholas Alan Cope

11. “Kaikoku” Floating Dress, Hussein Chalayan (British, born
Cyprus, 1970), autumn/winter 2011–12 prêt-à-porter; Courtesy
of Swarovski
Courtesy of The Metropolitan Museum of Art,
Photo © Nicholas Alan Cope

14. Upper Level Gallery View: Case Study
Wedding ensemble, Karl Lagerfeld ,
autumn/winter 2014–15 haute couture, back view; Courtesy of
CHANEL Patrimoine Collection
© The Metropolitan Museum of Art

My Career Choice: Jackie Rogers – Fashion Legend


Jackie Rogers bought her first Chanel suit  for “around $600.” As she stood for the first fitting found herself thinking, “It would be nice to work here.” Upon hearing that Chanel needed models, she quickly lined up an interview, “Chanel liked me, hired me on the spot and paid me top dollar,” she said. “I’m the only designer today who ever worked with the great Coco Chanel. From her I learned that fashion doesn’t start with design. Everything comes from fabrication.”

Jackie Rogers, a timeless legend in the fashion world, is one of the last remaining designers to craft custom clothing for individual clients across the country from her atelier in New York City. Rogers likes to say, “I don’t believe in fashion, I believe in style.” That motto is reflected throughout her latest collection, which is made with the timeless elegance that is the signature of the Jackie Rogers brand.

Jackie’s clientele includes Patti LuPone, Christine Baranski, Julianne Moore, Condoleezza Rice, Roberta Flack, Nicole Kidman, Gwyneth Paltrow, Salma Hayek, Courtney Love, and more. Her favorite star studded moment? Jackie Onassis. The best moment was when Jackies she asked her to design seven outfits, one for each day of the week. “I will put a number on it so I don’t have to worry about what to wear,” she said.

Jackie Rogers is designed and manufactured entirely in New York City in its midtown showroom with her collection sold from there (by appointment only),  in Palm Beach, Florida boutiques, at select Lord & Taylor retailers across the country and from her website.

Can you point to one event that triggered your interest in your career?  
Meeting Chanel. Before I was just carrying on as an actress and model. We loved her, all of the models. There were 12 of us. I went there strictly for a couple of months do to the show and wound up staying for 2 years until I quit. I think Chanel influenced me to become a designer because I would work with her late into the night. She never had one assistant. She was there alone. I came as close to it as anybody else.

What about the fashion industry did you find most appealing? 
I love what I do. I love designing clothes. This is what I live for, to design every day. I’m always thinking about it. That’s what makes me happy. What’s unfortunate now is that it is all about money and advertising, and that clothes are being chosen for celebrities without any aesthetic or unique taste.

What steps did you take to begin your education or training?
None. I never studied it or anything. The only thing I studied were men, darling. That’s how I became a menswear designer. Chanel told me not to design for women, I’d go crazy. Just do men’s clothing. So I became a menswear designer. And then finally Bill Blass said you gotta do womenswear, you’re not gonna make a name for yourself unless you do women’s clothing. So, I had to switch to women. When I was a menswear designer, I dressed all of the famous actors like Jack Nicholson, Dustin Hoffman, Tom Jones, and all the singers. I dressed the Beegies, everybody. They all came to me to get their clothing. It was a hot time.

Along the way, were people encouraging or discouraging?
No, very encouraging. I was very fortunate. Francesco Scavullo was a great photographer and he gave me Time Magazine on the cover with Meryl Streep in my clothes. That was when she was coming up in the 70s.

Did you ever doubt your decision and attempt a career change?

When did your career reach a tipping point?
That will never be reached. I think you have to keep moving and going. I don’t want to stop. I will never stop. I love designing.

Can you describe a challenge you had to overcome?
Insecurity. Thinking I wasn’t good enough. I have often questioned myself and then when I see the results I know I did the right thing.

What single skill has proven to be most useful?
Draping. I don’t sketch I drape and I form shapes with my hand on a mannequin.

What accomplishment are you most proud of? 
Staying in business through thick and thin, by myself with no outside financing. It’s a miracle.

Any advice for others entering your profession?
They have to not be influenced by anybody else and to go back into the 30s and 40s and see what the great designers did, like, Dior, Chanel, Balenciaga. It’s all about line.