Friday, October 31, 2008

The SAKS Fifth Avenue/ESCADA Celebration benefiting FREE ARTS INC

Text, Vivian G. Kelly
Images, Richard Spiegel

WHEN: Thursday night, October 30th
WHERE: Saks Fifth Avenue, the 2nd floor
WHY: To show off the spring 2009 Escada collection and to benefit Free Arts NYC, and a chance to hear DUFFY sing live.

WHAT: Ron Frasch, Saks’ President and CMO & AMY SACCO collaborated to host a celebration to honor Escada’s Creative Director, DAMIANO BIELLA and to benefit Free Arts NYC.

This was an event that reminded us of pre-recession days, starting with a phalanx of photographers at the ready when we entered on the 50th Street entrance at 8PM.
Saks’ staff transformed the selling floor into a cool lounge spot - a little 101 Arabian Nights with the billowy white curtains separating the various areas.

Once inside the main bar area, the champagne flowed freely and the crowd admired DAMIANO BIELLA’s latest for Escada.
The Collection had something for women in just about every part of the country – smart thinking on Mr. Biella’s part. There was the cherry tomato red strappy dress with a fringe going from floor to knee for the Miami woman. For the New Yorker who’s wistful for Donna Karan’s 5 Easy pieces from the eighties, there’s the long hip covering white jacket that looks perfect over a pair of black leggings.
Accessory fans got theirs too – we loved the big Cleopatra style gold choker that’s all you need to accessorize an outfit.

We caught up with Saks’ Creative Director, to get his take on what he’s loving for spring, now that he’s seen everything the 3 fashion capitals had to offer.
LYRA MAG: After New York, you were quoted in WWD [Women’s Wear Daily] as saying that it was that WOW item that would really sell.
Do you still feel the same way after seeing all the European shows?

MICHAEL FINK: Well, she [our customer] doesn’t need another black suit. It’s a very fine line designers have to walk right now. The fashions have to be exciting but saleable.

LYRA: Did you find anyone new that you’ve picked up for spring?

M. FINK: We didn’t really buy anyone new, we didn’t commit to any new designers, however my team was out there looking at what everyone had to offer.

For starters, the organization boasts some heavy hitting celebrities, socialites and fashion players: Mary Kate Olsen, Ashley Olsen, Hilary Swank, Duffy, Amy Sacco, Damiano Biella, Ron Frasch, Phillip Bloch, Amanda Ross, Ann Caruso, and many more. The group’s clout was obvious by the crowd who turned out for the event.
Free Arts provides under-served children and their families with educational arts and mentoring programs. The program gives participants a winning mix of educational art activities and personal attention from volunteer arts mentors.

To find out more and/or to volunteer, visit,