Friday, August 14, 2009

The Bizz

The granddaddy of lines merged with newcomer lace at Wednesday night’s launch party for the Jennifer Berghaus Private Collection, hosted by Louise Kerz Hirschfeld at the Townhouse of her late husband and great American caricaturist, Al.

Having just met Jennifer a few days before the event, I was immediately drawn to her energy and passion. She was wearing one of her signature black lace dresses with underlying silk camisole. As I watched how relaxed she looked in the outfit’s material, my own stitches felt uptight. “It doesn’t wrinkle,” Jennifer read my mind. Being a mom with a one-year-old, the idea of a sophisticated ready-to-wear design spoke volumes about her values.

We chatted about her upbringing in South Africa and she chuckled about coming to the United States via Club Med Martinique in the ‘80s, where she met Kenneth Cole and moved to L.A. to become the West Coast representative for Candies, his father’s shoe brand. Jennifer launched her own handbag and jewelry line a few years later, but it was at a time when retail stores were going bankrupt. She changed careers, moved to New York, worked as an art dealer and made the city her home.

Jennifer’s life changed a year ago as she was walking down Madison Avenue wearing one of her newly designed lace tops. Two women on the street who wanted to know where she bought the blouse stopped her. In Jennifer’s quick-witted, half-joking voice, she explained that the top was from her private collection. When they continued to prompt her about the available colors, cost and where they could order one she took their information and said she’d be in touch.

I admired her collection is still being manufactured in New York. “I don’t want to sacrifice quality,” she said. “And, keeping the production local will allow me to give back to a city that has given me so much.”

At last night’s event, mannequins outfitted in capes, lace, silk and caftans graced multiple rooms throughout the Townhouse and outside garden. However, the modelesque statues weren’t the only ones highlighting the designer’s outfits. A few of the younger guests wore colored versions of her collection, demonstrating that her designs really do transcend body type and age.

The Al Hirschfeld Townhouse was the perfect venue for Jennifer to unveil her designs. The elegantly chic black and cream laced dresses integrated harmoniously among the artists’ archives of work.

The Jennifer Berghaus Private Collection can be found at Blue Tree NYC, 1283 Madison Ave.

- Lori Bizzoco


Anonymous said...

i peep joan crawford in the mural!

Anonymous said...

Whoa I want to know whos who in that mural