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Venexiana: Kati Stern's opulent fall collection evokes '30s glamour

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Ok, picture this: You’re in a darkened room with soft spotlights meandering about the room, with Irving Berlin’s rapturous “Cheek to Cheek” playing in the background. Clearly, this is a romantic welcome to the halcyon days of old Hollywood and, one would presume, the setting of the stage for a glamorous fashion show. With enough imagination, one might even expect to see apparitions of Fred and Ginger passionately spinning around in the exedra. Alas, it was not to be. In one moment, that vision of heaven evanesces, and we are left with a punk rock band, figuratively if not literally, banging their guitars over our heads. But, this is about Venexiana, and Kati Stern’s latest creations. So never mind.

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Venexiana was launched by Kati Stern in 2003. According to the NY Magazine, The Cut, Stern’s designs are “rock-music-influenced” and “are edgy and adventurous”, with “courtesan-style corsets, leather, fur, marabou,” etc…as her signatures. To be honest, just as one would never imagine using the words ”Château Lafite” and “breakfast burrito” in the same sentence, I never thought I would utter “rock-music-influenced” and “courtesan-style corsets” in the same sentence. But whatever.

Stern’s works were, in a word, stunning. The models emerged with crown braids popularized, again, by Ginger Rogers or, more recently, Yulia Tymoshenko, for anyone following Ukrainian politics, each adorned with a work of Stern’s creative genius.

The gowns were made with an under bodice construction that creates a firm structure on which the light decorative fabric is attached. The gowns, in general, were strapless, or with a rhinestone single strap. Colorations ranged from solids to floral, in fabrics such as metallic silk chiffon, iridescent taffeta with Presciosa crystals, periwinkle crepe de chine, blue gazar, which has a smooth texture with a crisp hand; many evocative of the cabbage roses patterns of the 1930's. Indeed, the softness of the patterns and colors hark back in time to an era of luxurious fabrics and high society. The gossamer lightness of the silk charmeuse gowns, with low Watteau trains was simply exquisite. The use of lace and old Hollywood rhinestones was perfectly articulated. Accoutrements included silver fox jackets adorned with Presciosa crystals. Designs included a soft silk charmeuse halter, and elongated blouson charmeuse halters and cutaway velvets with a slight front sleeve caplet. The back showed a deep low “V” and most had a brush train, if not longer. In the case of the strapless, my only concern was that there cannot be a great deal of tolerance in the fit as the body must fit the gown exactly. Otherwise, well, you get the picture.

One gown in particular that caught my eye was the teal hued gown with the asymmetrical hand-pleated fans of silk charmeuse. Having designed and made one for a wedding several years back, I could personally appreciate the complexity and challenges of this particular piece.

For the modern bride that wants vintage in the modern world, take a look at Venexiana by Kati Stern for Fall/Winter 2014, perhaps a soft lavender, seafoam or ecru gown might be all the rage for 2014.

This was an excellent show. My only criticism, which actually has nothing to do with the gowns themselves, has more to do with the music. In my mind, the music should place the mind in the milieu where the gowns would be worn. Since they are more likely to be worn at a red carpet event than a punk rock concert, I believe that the music would have enhanced, even more, the beauty of Stern’s works. As it was, the dissonance between the “music” and the gowns created a rather Kafkaesque milieu. That said, I truly loved the gowns, and the glamour and grace of Kati Stern's collection for fall/winter 2014. If you have a special event coming up, you should certainly take a long look at this collection. And be sure to have "Cheek to Cheek' playing on the stereo. What a sumptuous show of gowns for a splendid event.

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Cindy Ann Peterson, AICI FLC is a couture designer and an award winning image and style consultant. Named by the Netherlands' Kleur and Stijl as one of the Big 7 color and style consultants for Washington DC. She is also a co-author of "My Style, My Way" and "The Power of Civility." Having lived around the globe, she speaks on a variety of style and civility topics and reflects an international flair with her Peterson Perspective to delight and inspire. Visit her website at www.cindyannpeterson.com.

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