Are You An Autumn?

Sundance Horizon Duster, $198

I’m obsessed with color, having started out as an artist long before I realized I was actually a designer, and could get paid for selecting a color palette. All I’d have to do was follow a few simple rules, when planning the next big color trend. First, I’d ask myself, does it make sense? Meaning does it already exists in the collective fashion unconscious of endlessly recycled seasonal color stories? Then I’d check if the fashion industry was on board with let’s say turquoise and coral (they are for Spring 2010).

Like A Prayer Collection, Fall 2009

But when it comes to my own wardrobe, trends need not apply. I’ll stick with colors that are best suited to my fair freckled complexion, thanks. After decades of wearing colors that looked simply hideous on me, I discovered there were a few basic rules, which when followed would bring lasting harmony to the contents of your closet. These rules were published in 1981, although I didn’t catch on right away. Color Me Beautiful is a personal color guide for dummies, using the seasons of nature to identify your unique coloring and which colors look best on you. Everything else just looks wrong. Like all my 80’s fashion choices: the Stephen Sprouse inspired day-glow chartreuse cap, which made my face look greenish grey, and the lipstick red high waited peg leg pants I paired with a jade green Ralph Lauren cavalry bib shirt that made me look like an anemic traffic light.

Like A Prayer Collection, Fall 2009

This fall, 80’s color palettes are hot again (think Nancy Reagan red) but they still make me shudder. Thankfully, as an independent designer, I don’t have to follow those rules anymore. I wasn’t convinced about Pantone’s top 10 fall ’09 colors, choosing instead a universally flattering palette that’s earthy and bright for my Like A Prayer collection, pictured here. For myself, I fell in love with a variegated striped sweater coat from the Sundance catalog, noting that the unexpected mix of earth tones with orchid pink was just what I was thinking! It’s finally starting to make sense. I’m an Autumn.

Cynthia Rybakoff sterling silver and Japanese waxed cord Like A Prayer necklaces, $88 and bracelets, $68, at Supermarket.


Pearl City

I heart pearls, those delectable organic gems from the sea. Classic, but never old fashioned, pearls are transcendent. At the dawn of civilization, pearls were considered by far the most valuable of gemstones, long before the diamond became your BFF. Cleopatra is famously said to have consumed one in a wager against Marc Antony, as the world’s most expensive meal. During the Renaissance, the original fashion queen Elizabeth I understood the power of pearls, wearing them not only as baroque jewels but liberally sprinkled on her ornate gowns and elaborate wigs. Today, no proper jewelry wardrobe is complete without a fine strand of lustrous pearls.

For Fall 2009, pearls have gotten a bit cheeky. Wear your pearl baubles dripping from tangled silver chains with a quilted black leather biker jacket like a rebellious Jackie O. Better yet, show off a single perfect strand in true aristo style, like the opera length 8.5 millimeter Mikimoto pearls that Carrie wore throughout the Sex and the City movie, paired with a black deconstructed dress and towering studded heels for an au courant girl in the city vibe. Or just wear them to bed!


Fierce Fashion

Fall/Winter 2009: a profusion of dangerous looking accessories embellished with weapons grade studs, spikes and chains are back with a vengeance, reminding me of another fashion era with paramilitary flair. I’m not referring to the gladiator chic aesthetic of ancient Rome, but rather the late 1980’s, when women sported linebacker shoulder pads and hubcap size earrings, seemingly for their own protection, while following an aggressive color and pattern protocol at all times.

The above Fashion Preview spread clearly demonstrates the pervasive mood during the pre-Gulf War years and the importance of fierce fashion. Although constructed from lightweight wood with a delicate gold leaf finish, my heavily studded finger and ear ornaments set with earthy semi-precious stones were meant to scare you just a bit. The magazine itself was an over-sized seasonal image catalog of runway trends that was the style.com of its day, covering important fashion news from New York, London, Paris, Milan and Barcelona.

From the archives: Cynthia Rybakoff Collection studded wood and gilt rings and earrings with assorted semi-precious stones.
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