Fashion news headlines: A big name joins NYC's first Men's Fashion Week + a new home for NYFW

Written by Sara Bauknecht on .

John Varvatos Mens Fashion Designer  Steven Kolb PresidentCEO CFDA

The year of change for New York City's fashion week scene continues with another addition to the New York Fashion Week: Men's lineup ... and it's a big one!

Fashion designer John Varvatos announced that he will close the inaugural event (which is slated for July 13-16 at the Skylight Clarkson Sq. in SoHo) with a runway show for his spring 2016 collection.

"From the time I started my brand in 2000, the timing between [New York Fashion Week] and the menswear calendar was never truly aligned," he said in a media statement. "After eight years of showing in [New York], I moved my show to Milan and gained a global audience. ...

"Last month, we opened a store in my hometown of Detroit, and we received such an overwhelmingly positive response that it made me want to bring the fashion show back to New York. I am very excited about coming home to help launch the first-ever NYC menswear week."

Other designers already signed on include Tommy Hilfiger, Calvin Klein, Michael Kors, Public School, Duckie Brown, Todd Snyder and Rag & Bone, among several others. The event is created by the Council of Fashion Designers of America.




Meanwhile, the speculation for the new home for the bi-annual New York Fashion Week is over. The shows previewing trends for spring 2016 will be held Sept. 10-17 at the Skylight at Moynihan Station, the site of the historic James A. Farley post office at West 33rd Street, and the Skylight Clarkson Sq. (home to New York Fashion Week: Men's). The news was teased early this morning on social media.

The shows in February were the last to be situated beneath temporary tents at Lincoln Center on Manhattan's Upper West Side. The departure was prompted by a lawsuit filed by city park advocates arguing that the 2.4-acre Damrosch Park space where the tents are erected should no longer host private vendors and events. 


This is @nyfw. See you downtown. #NYFW

A video posted by Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week (@mbfashionweek) on

Photo at top: Courtesy of John Varvatos

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Occupation, hunger, danger and liberation -- A tale of tulip soup

Written by Doug Oster on .

blog Emmy

With gentle waves rocking a small cruise ship sailing on Markermeer Lake in Holland, Emmy Busmen sits at a table in the observation area at the back of the boat.

Soft light bathes her face as she looks out at the lake telling her mother’s compelling story of Holland’s Nazi occupation during WWII.

“She always mentioned the smell of tulip soup, Emmy said of her mom, because that was a delicacy. They had nothing to eat, so they would use tulip bulbs to make tulip soup, and that was something great.”

During the “Hunger Winter of 1944, the Germans stripped the nation of its food, sending it to Germany.

Her mother Jenny Bras was a young nurse who worked in a psychiatric ward in a countryside hospital during the occupation. Among the patients were many Jews just pretending to be mentally ill, and although hospitalized, were actually hiding from the Germans. “Every now and then the Nazis would check the hospital, so she had to hide the Jews,” Emmy said proudly of her mother.

All the food went to the patients first, who paid for the privilege. During the war years food distribution was handled in a kind of hierarchy, Emmy said. Those that had the money, had food.

As Emmy grew up, her mother talked matter-of-factly about the war. “She wasn’t traumatized by it, she was just very happy the war was over and very grateful to the Americans and Canadians who liberated us.” But something lingered after living under Nazi occupation for five years. “She was also very adamant about the fact that we should be very conscious of the affluence we have now and would never allow us to throw away food, she would not even throw away a crumb of bread, nothing,” Emmy said.

The Allied liberation began in the south in 1944 and the country was completely free of the Germans in 1945.

Her mother told amazing stories of the celebration, how the locals jumped on Jeeps and tanks thrilled to be free again. And as a shy country girl, she hitchhiked towards Amsterdam, catching rides with Allied soldiers headed the same direction. It was commonplace as all the bikes were taken by the Germans and the trains didn’t run, “the whole society had shut down because of the occupation,” Emmy said.

The liberators also brought with them chocolate and other wonderful foods. “It was like heaven opened its doors," Emmy said. "They had been hungry for a very long time.”

Years after the war was over, the Germans returned to the beaches of the Netherlands, this time for vacation. The running joke among the people of Holland, when meeting a German on the street was to say, “First of all, I want my bike back,” Emmy said laughing.

It’s a testament to the vigor and sense of humor the Dutch possess.

(Top image: Emmy Busmen. Doug Oster photo)



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Dispatches from Holland: Pittsburgh's most famous dahlia appears in Amsterdam

Written by Doug Oster on .

blog blue tulip2

After an overnight flight and short bus ride to The Americana Hotel, it was time to walk the city.

I'm accompanied here by 26 other travelers on a Tulip River Cruise of Holland and Belgium.

blog giant amaryllis buddingGiant amaryllisWe basically narrowed our first look at the city to museums or floating flower market. You can guess which one I choose.

Pittsburgh might be second to Venice for the number of bridges, but Amsterdam might be third with it's network of canals which criss-cross the city. The flower market is spectacular, but what really hurt is we can't take anything with us. Any plant material including seeds must be shipped and can't be taken by gardeners back home on the plane.

The first thing we see are countless bags of tulips, including a blue variety ... yes a blue tulip.

I wondered why tulip bulbs were for sale in the spring and the young, blonde proprietor at Staats Bollen told me they were for forcing. Tulips and other bulbs are so loved here, that even though they are blooming from the fall planting, gardeners were buying them to fill pots with, too.

There were giant amaryllis bulbs bigger than a grapefruit and they were already pushing up two flower buds. I'd never seen such huge bulbs and wondered how many flowers they would eventually produce.

It was in Staats Bollen that I saw Pittsburgh's most famous dahlia, 'Duet.' bred by the late Fred Scott. I never knew Fred, but actually inherited some of his dahlia gear from one of his close friends after I did a story about his amazing bi-color creation.

Here's the original story I wrote about Fred Scott's packet of duet dahlia tubers in amsterdamPittsburgh in Amsterdam: Fred Scott's dahlia

Amsterdam is filled with other garden surprises like shrubs of jasmine growing on a front stoop. The intoxicating fragrance gave the plant away before it was spotted.

Strange planters with upside down legs and even cannabis seeds for sale.

The city of 800,000 also claims to have as many bikes, they are everywhere and we were cautioned to look both ways when crossing a bike lane and they rarely slow down or stop.

A small group of us stopped at a little bakery to enjoy mozzarella, tomato and pesto subs, they were to die for.

Tonight we make our way to the ship and then on to explore more of the country. If it's anything like Amsterdam, we're in for a treat.

blog streetside jasmine

 Shrubs of fragrant jasmine growing on a front stoop.

Blog upside down legs skinny run down side

Unusual planters catch the eye.


blog pot seeds


Cannabis seeds for sale ... and the brand names: Orange Skunk? New York Diesel?

blog bikes and boats

A city of 800,000 makes the most of water and two-wheeled transportation.

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#SettingTheSEEN: Fun with Spring Fashion!

Written by Natalie Bencivenga on .

Spring has (finally!) sprung and one of my favorite things about this season are...of course...the fashions! I love seeing which spring fashion trends are hitting the runway (and the real-way). This year, gingham prints, nature inspired prints, and black and white graphics are must haves. We chatted with stylist and Worth New York brand ambassador, Bear Brandegee at her new fashion salon downtown. We also learned all about new hair and make-up trends (like topsy-turvy ponytails, deep side parts, and rosy plum shades for a pop of color on lips and cheeks) with Emilio Cornacchione of Izzazu Salon.

Until next time...we'll be seeing you!

Follow @NBSeen on Twitter and @NatalieBenci on Instagram to keep up with #wheresNataliePG

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Garden centers showcase new varieties for 2015

Written by Doug Oster on .

 blog 20150410dozonesgardenqual2'Chique' is a new hydrangea being offered at Quality Gardens in Valencia. There are lots of wonderful new plants to try for the new gardening season. Photo by Doug Oster

By Doug Oster / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

The paths behind Bedner’s Farm and Greenhouse in McDonald are filled with mud as they thaw out from another brutal winter. Owner Russ Bedner warns visitors to wear boots as he leads them into a big hoop greenhouse filled with colorful plants — many of them new varieties in this new growing season.
Mr. Bedner admitted he gets excited about the new plants he finds after scouring trade shows and nurseries.
“I go on a gut feeling about what I think the public will enjoy,” he said.
First on his list for spring 2015 is Digiplexis, a new hybrid that was created by crossing digitalis — foxglove — and a digitalis relative from the Canary Islands called isoplexis.
It’s a long-blooming, sun-loving annual that is perfect for gardens here in Zone 6. Bedner’s carries two colors this season. “Illumination Raspberry” has fuchsia-colored blooms lined in peach; “Illumination Flame” sports red and orange blooms. The plant looks much like a foxglove with bell-shaped flowers on 3-foot spikes.
Digiplexis, Mr. Bedner noted, is the talk of the gardening world this spring.
Mr. Bedner also favors a new begonia called “Lucky Strike,” which is good for hanging baskets. The flowers have yellow inner petals and peach outer petals that create a contrast to its dark green leaves.
Then there’s the anemone “Fantasy Pocahontas.” He said it is an easy-to-grow, hardy perennial that gets covered with pinkish-purple double flowers and grows to be 18 inches tall. It blooms midsummer and continues until frost.
A new variety of the popular hydrangea this year is called “LA Dreamin’ ” and has both pink and blue flowers. It’s a reliable bloomer as it sets buds on both old and new wood and grows to 5 feet tall and 5 feet wide.
There’s also a new hydrangea with exotic-looking black stems. One called “Zorro” has blue blooms; another called “Zebra” has white. Mr. Bedner noted that these need more sunlight than other hydrangeas.
New for the vegetable gardener this season is a plant called “Ketchup ’n’ Fries TomTatos.” A potato plant and tomato plant are grafted together and produce sweet cherry tomatoes above ground and white potatoes underground.
Also new are Kalettes, a cross between Brussels sprouts and kale.
“You have the long stock, but instead of the actual tight Brussels sprout, it will have a kale leafy vegetable shape,” Mr. Bedner said.
“You always have people asking what’s new, and it gets them excited about a new color or a new texture to add to their gardens,’’ Mr. Beder said.

On a recent brisk morning, Micah Tribou, operations manager at Plumline Nursery in Murrysville, examined some recently delivered conifers and evergreens.
He grew up in the family business, and Mr. Tribou takes pride in the fact the nursery grows a wide variety of plants and specializes in unusual varieties.
“If you can’t find it here, you can’t find it on the East Coast,” he said. “We spend all winter looking for something new.”
Mr. Tribou discovered the blue fir conifer called “Martha´s Vineyard” several years ago as a seedling in a grower’s field in Oregon. Now he has finally found specimens big enough to sell.
The tree has beautiful blue color and a conical shape. It is tough and grows only 8 feet tall and 4 feet wide. “It fits in lots of places in a garden,’’ he said.
The self-described “plant nerd” said he also is drooling over the Japanese white pine called “Tani Mano Uki.” The slow-growing, evergreen rock garden plant is relatively rare and offers the typical blue-green color but develops a significant amount of white on the tips of its needles that fade to pink in the winter.
“It looks good all year,’’ he said.
Arizona cypress “Sulfura” is a narrow evergreen that has a strong yellow cast and reaches 20 feet.
“It will really jump out at you,” he said of the plant, which offers four seasons of interest.
“Sester’s Dwarf” is a small version of a regular blue spruce that grows to resemble a dwarf Alberta spruce but with different texture and color. Instead of having lime-green needles, it has coarser, blue needles.
“It’s everything you love about a blue spruce, only a smaller variety,’’ he explained.
“Amber Jubilee” ninebark is a shrub that leafs out with yellow-orange-ish leaves, dulls a bit in the summer and turns red in the fall.
“It’s indestructible and really pretty,’’ he said.
Then there is the Japanese maple “Orange Dream,” which gets 20 feet tall with stunning leaves. In spring, the foliage is orange; in summer, it’s green; and in fall, it’s fire engine red.
“It stands out like a UFO. It’s really bright,” he said.
Mr. Tribou also has a new annual to show off. “Snow ’N Summer” jasmine grows to resemble a ground cover with variegated leaves and can be used in a container to trail over the edges.
“Everybody wants to make a house their home that speaks to your personality,’’ he said of landscaping.
Gardening excitement
A cool, soft rain peppers the roof of the greenhouse at Quality Gardens in Valencia. It’s toasty warm inside and bursting with blooms as owner Tom McMeekin selects some of his favorites.
“There’s so many new, it’s hard to pick something that’s best,’’ he said. “A number of things are wonderful this year, especially the Hydrangea macrophylla “Chique” that has bi-colored flowers resembling candy stripes.’’
Mr. McMeekin wonders aloud if we really need another heuchera — coral bells — as he talks about one called “Lava Lamp.”
“Every year there’s something that’s just exciting,” he said. “This one will have a great spot in your garden.’’
The perennial is a shade-lover grown for its foliage. The first leaves are a bright copper orange when emerging and then deepen to coppery purple through the season. The leaves are large, flat and rounded, and the plant likes brightness, but not full sun.
The Lily Looks series of asiatic lilies is another of his favorites.
“They’re hardy as bricks and will spread,” he said.
The plants stay less than 2 feet tall and love full sun, and the flowers point up for a nice show.
Then there is the petunia. “We have a love/ hate relationship with them,’’ the gardener noted. “The love comes from their performance in hot, dry locations. But we hate them for the maintenance they need with deadheading and watering.’’
He points to the new Crazytunias, which are a self-cleaning, heat-tolerant mounding variety that comes in an array of shades.
“They just keep blooming and blooming all summer and they get quite large,’’ he promised.
Also, he added, “Rex begonias are something your grandmother had out back.’’
He’s fond of the Shadow series, which offers many different colors of foliage. They form vibrant leaves bigger than your hand and thrive in the shade.
“Gardening should be something that excites you,’’ he said. ”It should give you a reward beyond just getting the job done.’’

Web sites: Bedner's Farm and Greenhouse; Plumline Nursery; Quality Gardens

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