Dirty Dancing’s Doug Carpenter is having the time of his life

Audiences will have the time of their lives at the Orange County premier of “Dirty Dancing, The Classic Story On Stage” at the Segerstrom Center for the Arts, beginning Feb. 3 and running until Feb. 15. The book is by the 1989 movie’s screenwriter Eleanor Bergstein so it should come as no surprise that it follows the beloved movie almost line for line. Indeed, it’s a trip down memories lane for us oldies but goodies. And, the iconic sixties’ sounds will have younger audiences dancing in the aisles.“Dirty Dancing” is billed as a musical but a couple of things set it apart from the typical Broadway blockbuster. First, it’s become an international hit without ever having been performed on the Great White Way. It opened in Australia in 2004 and continues to play to sold out audiences throughout Europe, finally embarking on a North American tour in late 2007. To date there are no plans for a Broadway debut.The second unique feature of the “Dirty Dancing” production is it’s unusual musical structure. This show sounds and feels like a musical but it isn’t exactly one. It’s a mix of sound tracks, singing and orchestration. The lead players never sing – instead a non-stop soundtrack boosts the performance numbers or serves as background music for the story. It works because this is a dancer’s show.Some songs are sung by ensemble members backed by a live band. Johnny’s cousin Billy Kostecki, played by Doug Carpenter, has several featured solos. Carpenter explains the show’s spotlight on dance.“Dirty Dancing is not a musical in the conventional sense – it’s mostly just the movie on stage," Carpenter said. "The main characters tell their story through dance. Sure, some characters, Billy is one, sing as background to the story. But there aren’t moments when the players burst into song for no conceivable reason. Basically, this is a play with music where the dancing is organic to the story and that why it’s called ‘Dirty Dancing’ not dirty singing.”Carpenter is a classically trained award winning singer and actor known for playing leading men in regional theater. Because of his background, I was curious as to why he auditioned for a show with such a strong focus on dance. The answer, like “Dirty Dancing” itself, is all about love. His girl is a dancer and he hoped they’d go on tour together. Of course, it helps that he didn’t have to dance to land the role of Billy.“I was drawn to Billy because he’s goofy, fun and there’s such a range to his personality," Carpenter said. "And on the plus side it’s a singing part.”“Dirty Dancing” follows the adventures of Frances “Baby” Houseman during a three week family vacation at a resort in the Catskill Mountains in 1963. When she comes across ‘dirty dancing’ in the staff quarters, she learns about romancing, dancing and standing up for what you believe. Carpenter’s character, Billy is the catalyst between Baby and dance instructor Johnny that pivots the plot forward. Carpenter describes his character Billy as “Johnny’s cousin, the guy who carries the watermelons. I’m a silly, girl chasing fool and it’s just so much fun to goof around on stage as Billy. There’s so much to like about my character, the music and songs are great, but it’s nice to have the freedom to just enjoy the role. The show is one big party and I guess you can say I’m having the time of my life.”Video and projections of historical events of that period, references to civic rights and the Cold War, lend a cinematic edge to the show. Carpenter feels this sets the mood for Baby’s rebellion against class divisions as she mixes with the resort’s staff members. He says, “Baby and Johnny’s coming together mirrors class struggle. There’s the same sort of resolve in the struggle for equality in the racial movement. Baby is a free spirit who rejects class separation and seeks the joy in life.”While sub-plots of abortion and prejudice lurk just under the more light weight surface, Carpenter feels that audiences should and will just enjoy the show for what it is – a joyful triumphant of the human spirit. As he says, “it’s just entertainment, a banquet of dance in which love conquers all.”“Dirty Dancing” has been so successful on tour, according to Carpenter, because people love the movie.“The film is a part of our cultural image," Carpenter said. "When Johnny says ‘Nobody puts Baby in a corner’ audiences burst into applause. I think it’s successful because like the Rocky Horror Picture Show everyone knows every line.”Like the lines, folks will be familiar with the popular songs. However, Carpenter says, “the best scenes are the dance ones with big lifts, that like the Lindy Hop are fast, fun and very athletic.” Interestingly, his favorite song isn’t one of his own, but “You Don’t Own Me” by ensemble player Jennlee Shallow. He enthuses that her rendition is beautiful and that he has never heard it sung better. As for what he considers the musical’s highlight – that would be the last 5 or so minutes of the show when he sings “Time of My Life.”Audiences, too, will have “the time of their lives” because characters in “Dirty Dancing” are likable, the dancing is incredibly energetic and the timeless love story is so intriguing . Theater patrons will rediscover everything they loved about the movie, live on stage.For a visually stunning good time, featuring the best beats of the sixties, catch “Dirty Dancing, the Classic Story On Stage” at the Segerstrom Center for the Arts, Segerstrom Hall Feb. 3 – 15. For tickets and information: The Box Office, 600 Town Center Drive, Costa Mesa, California 92626; Online at scfta.org; Phone at 714-556-2787. Box Office and phone hours are 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily.

Artist exhibits her wild side

Art is a form of expression without words being spoken. If that is the case, Cypress Art League President Pat Edep is pretty good at making the arts come alive to the masses. Edep is now showing off her goods as a professional artist at the Long Beach Playhouse beginning today through July 20.The location of the Long Beach Playhouse is 50121 E. Anaheim Street. Edep’s One-Woman Show features a plethora of images she painted that she has captured over the years that gives a unique look at the world of nature. Many of the pieces at the exhibition features Edep’s careful aim at capturing the artistic details of an up-and-close encounter with a black leopard, a dynamic portrait of a bobcat basking in serenity of its environment and the elaborate rendering of a young Panda cub.Of course, capturing one’s imagination of a Bengal Tiger going eyeball-to-eyeball with you and focusing on the animal world does limit the majestic artistry that Edep has been able to encompass. Edep is also a master at bringing to life the arts through humanity and in vivid portraits of an array of landscape paintings.

La Palma celebrates 35th Annual Run For Fun event

La Palma kicked off its 35th Annual Run For Fun Event this past 4th of July holiday weekend. Over 800 participants from all different ages, skill levels, and walks of life, were on hand to contend in the big race.“Our biggest goal is to introduce new comers to our city, and to just inspire them to come out and try our course,” says Cindy Robinson, Community Services supervisor for the City of La Palma. “We want local residents as well as tourists to understand that our race and event is for everyone, no matter the particular skill level. Another major objective that we hope to accomplish is to inspire our children to get moving, to have fun, and to exercise!”Robinson’s most favorite part of the event is watching the children’s portion of the race. “I love the ‘Yankee Doodle Dash,’ for the children,” says Robinson. “The babies are so adorable when you watch them pushing hard, and trying to run really fast.” The day’s festivities also featured a “Family Fun Zone,” which featured jumbo bouncers, ice cream, arts and crafts workshops, a potato sack tournament, and a huge tug-of-war match. A clown was also on hand to make the children balloon animals and medieval knight swords.Still, there were some worries that were on the minds of some of the runners and local residents concerning the recent weather conditions that California and the entire West Coast of the United States has been enduring as of late. “At first we were very concerned about what the weather conditions might be,” says Robinson. “Yet, we’ve been lucky. This morning we have had a thick layer of overcast that has not burned off and has lingered to keep the conditions rather cool and comfortable for our runners. Still, if anything were to happen, we have taken precautions and have lined the entire track with first aide experts, police officers, and other personnel along the sides of the course. We have also set up three water stations along the race route, and a final water station at the finish line.”Another major concern that both Robinson and the City of La Palma were ready and prepared for was the issue of terrorist threats that were made from ISIS to the United States that put the whole country on high alert for the holiday weekend.“In the midst of the threats that were made, and what has recently took place with the Boston Marathon bombings, we have made sure to take full precautionary measures,” explained Robinson. “We have several La Palma Police Command Centers on hand to protect citizens who are attending all of today’s festivities. They will be posted around the event, along with members of the public works department. As the race picks up, we will also have La Palma Police ‘Pace Cars’ to watch the track route. I will also be riding in one of the event’s ‘Pace Cars.’ The rest of our volunteer workers will be surveying the track on ground level.'”Volunteers who were sporting either turquoise or red shirts were sweeping the race route for any foreign debris or strange objects that may hinder the progression of the race.Still, despite all of the threats from ISIS about how they wanted to disrupt America’s Independence Day, the American citizens themselves did not let any of the non-sense damper their sense of charisma and spirit. Many people came from all around to enjoy all that the La PalmaAnnual Run For Fun Event had to offer.“I’ve been participating in this event since as far back as 2008,” says Dave N. “I have been training for it all year long by running 20 miles a week. I think that the overall race is a lot of fun and a great way to get healthy. The race is a great way to bring the whole community together.”Yet, not all of the runners who participated in the festivities were local residents. Adam Littke came all of the way from Canada to participate in the race.“I have been running in this marathon for several years now, but I have been running in multiple marathons for a little more than 15 years,” says Littke. “I have been running 90 miles a week to prepare for this race.”Littke was a former track and field star at the University of Ottawa in Canada. “La Palma does a really good job with its marathon,” explains Littke. “I advise that all residents and tourists should just run it for fun. Just do it! Just go out there and have a good time. It is not about the competition, it is about enjoying the outdoors.”Brothers David and Danny Ramirez also came down from Cal State Fullerton to participate in the race with their friends Robert Mitoshi and Thomas Heib. Mitoshi also attends Cal State Fullerton and has ran track and field and cross country with the Ramirez brothers since his freshman year of high school. They have over eight years of experience with the sport of competitive running.“Everyone should just give it a shot at least once,” stated David, who wound up coming in first place for the 5k portion of the marathon. “You’ll do better than you would expect,” said Mitoshi.Heib, who runs track for Los Alamitos High School, placed second in the race.“The best thing to know is that it doesn’t really hurt that bad,” explained Heib.All of the boys really brought their A-Game and had a fantastic showing. They plan on participating next year again.“We love this marathon, because it is close to our houses, it takes place in the morning, and it is just much more convenient for us,” David Ramirez said.The citizens of Southern California and beyond seemed to really enjoy themselves at the event. “We here in La Palma invite everyone to come out and join us, and enjoy our community camaraderie,” Robinson said.

‘Get Ready’ For Julius Thomas III in ‘Motown: The Musical’

“What’s Going On” is the magical production “Motown: The Musical.” The monstrous Broadway hit arrives at the Segerstrom Center for the Arts June 16 – 28. Audiences will be “Dancing in the Streets,” as well as into the aisles, with the best beats of six decades (1957-1983) from the Motown movement going full throttle.“Motown: The Musical” chronicles Motown Records founder Berry Gordy’s "rags to riches" rise from feather weight boxer to heavy hitting music mogul. He lived the ‘American Dream,’ starting small time in downtown Detroit to become the most successful African American businessman of his day. As his vision became reality, he shattered racial barriers bringing together young people with infectious songs.In Gordy’s words “black kids and white kids were dancing together to the same music. It created a bond that echoed throughout the world.”“I Heard It Through the Grapevine,” the sign above the door of Gordy’s modest Detroit headquarters read “Hitsville, U.S.A.” That sign turned out to beprophetic. Gordy uses that same entrepreneurial spirit to motivate the cast of “Motown: The Musical,” especially leading man, Julius Thomas III, who plays the hit-making mogul in the Segerstrom production. Thomas says “having the opportunity to play Mr. Gordy is very exciting. The man is a living legend; he influenced not only the music world, but also civil conflicts of that time. It is a real responsibly to do justice to his life.”New York based, and a triple threat (singer, dancer, actor), Thomas played David Ruffin of the Temptations and was an understudy to the Gordy role on Broadway. As an understudy, Thomas appeared approximately 40 times on stage during his 18-month Motown stint. He didn’t audition for the touring company because his audition was being a part of the NYC show. He says, “It was really great to cut my leading man teeth on the Gordy role. I was on and off stage so I had the opportunity to watch the other “Berry Gordy” and learn from him. I compare the experience to training wheels, observe, learn and create my own interpretation.”In this show, which is so closely related to his life, Gordy is a ‘hands-on’ producer, even going so far as to dance with the cast at the Los Angeles opening of “Motown: The Musical.”Gordy has been a mentor to Thomas, giving him advice on how to portray him. Thomas says he enjoys working with him.Mr. Gordy is the nicest man, he makes me feel comfortable," Thomas said. "He does critique my performance but in a positive way. I’m learning from the best.” He continues, “Fortunately, he tells me he loves what I’m doing.”It’s been said that the Motown family of producers, artists and stars are “forever linked and forever strong.” With “Motown: the Musical” a new link of kinship is beingformed. Thomas describes being a part of Motown as “a celebration with family. Berry and Smokey (Robinson) are often in the house. Many of the original Motown entertainers support the musical. It’s as if we all have a vested interest in telling Gordy’s musical biography. That’s not only unique, it’s neat.“Motown: The Musical” is a hit parade of 60 plus chart toppers and the hits just keep on coming for two hours and forty-five minutes but it’s not another ‘jukebox’ musical. Thomas says “This is an entirely original show. We take it seriously because it’s about more than the music, wonderful as it is; we have a story to tell. The show is a tribute to the fans, Motown artists and Gordy himself. Yes, his story is the background that fuels the music but there’s also a backdrop of the history that was happening at the time.”There “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough” that Berry Gordy hasn’t scaled in his illustrious career. “Motown: The Musical” is his Everest with a book based on his life, a score that include three new songs and a series of ‘oldie but goodie’ knockouts from the golden era of Motown. Thomas as Gordy is one of the few characters who was not a recording artist, so he blends dialogue with song,he says “we use a few songs as a story telling tool, taking a little artistic license to get it right.”While Thomas enjoys his leading man role, he looks back fondly on his Broadway “Motown” debut, saying, “I loved playing David Ruffin of the Temptations and singing "My Girl" on stage nightly.”In “Motown: The Musical,” “My Girl” is Allison Semmes. Both actors understudied their respective roles on Broadway and Semmes was first to tour playing Diana Ross. Thomas describes her as fantastic and unrivaled in the part, saying, “It’s easy to fall in love with her every night.” Incidentally, Thomas favorite song is the Supremes’ “Baby, Baby.”The musical’s cast is building bonds to match that of the original Motown family. When asked if he had a favorite scene, Thomas is passionate about any of the scenes he’s in with Jesse Nager, who plays Smoky Robinson. He says, “We are friends on and off stage, much like our real life counterparts. We’ve even had an opportunity to enact a couple of scenes in the library of Gordy’s home, with the two legends watching us. We back each other up and that makes our job easy and real.”Back in the day, Berry Gordy “wanted a place where a kid off the street could walk in one door an unknown and come out another a recording artist – a star. "Motown: the Musical" is opening doors on a whole new generation of stars because in Gordy’s words, spoken by Thomas “competition breeds champions.”Thomas says “Motown: The Musical" has everything – great, music, great laughs, great performances and a great message.”“My Mama Done Told Me” get on down to the Segerstrom Center for the Arts to see “Motown: The Musical,” playing June 16 – 28. For tickets and information: In person at the Box Office (600 Town Center Drive, Costa Mesa, California 92626); by phone, 714-556-2787; online, SCFTA.org. Hours are 10 a.m. – 6 p.m. daily.

Dixie pitches fantastic plastic at Segerstrom Center

The zany exuberance of “Dixie’s Tupperware Party” arrives at the Segerstrom Centers’ Samueli Theater on Dec. 9 through Jan. 4, 2015. The Off-Broadway show is a celebration of Dixie’s wonderful madness as she throws an onstage Tupperware party that is full of sass, somewhat crass, has audience participation, prizes, surprises and yes, Tupperware for sale. Order forms are on every seat and audience’s can select the perfect “plastic crap” (in Dixie talk) gifts this holiday season.Fasten your seatbelts and get ready for a wild ride at “Dixie’s Tupperware Party.” This isn’t your mother’s Tupperware party; oh no, expect to laugh a lot as Dixie educates audiences, on the many unique uses she’s found for the fantastic plastic.Dixie Longate is quite a character; she’s so gregariously exultant that folks just have to smile, something I discovered two minutes into a friendly phone chat with the delightfulDixie. She explained how she got her start selling Tupperware at the recommendation of her parole officer, saying “I’d just gotten out of jail and needed a job to get my kids back which I think is stupid but it’s the law. At first I thought this is silly but then I liked it, it was easy and fun. With 3 ex’s, all dead, selling Tupperware gave me a little independence, while having a good time at all these parties. “Dixie’s held her first Tupperware Party in Orange County. She says she’s thrilled to be back where it all started. She has so many friends in the OC that being on the Segerstrom Center campus will be like a homecoming party.Home base is Mobile, Alabama, where her three kids live in a trailer park.“It’s a good thing the oldest is sixteen and can watch the little ones, since I’m on the road pitching the plastic wherever the parties are," she said. "And with my own show, I’m traveling all over the country and to a bunch of foreign places too. Dixie’s Tupperware Party’ isn’t all fun and games either, although I admit I’m pretty hilarious, my show has a message about taking it, life not Tupperware, to the next level and empowering yourself.”Dixie went from homes to stage show, thanks to a director friend who heard her spiel on alternative uses for food containers at a Tupperware party.“We worked together and took it to New York City where ‘Dixie’s Tupperware Party’ just sort of exploded," Dixie said. "In 2007, I opened my own show off Broadway and I got a Drama Desk Award nomination for Outstanding Solo performance. I’ll be doing my 1000th show at the Segerstrom’s Samueli Theater. We’ll be celebrating with cake and champagne and lots of laughs. I get all tickled just thinking about strutting my stuff on stage because it so nice making folks smile.”“Home and stage parties are different,” Dixie says. "At home parties I can really get one on one with people. Being on stage, I have a bigger audience to interact with and do we have fun. The stage is just a larger version of home parties – drinking, joking and learning all about the more interesting aspects of Tupperware.”Dixie is the #1 Tupperware salesperson in America and has a one woman show, yet she doesn’t consider herself an actor, just a gal having a good time. She’s enjoyed plugging the plastic product for 13 years and although she’s written a new show, “Never Wear a Tank Top While Riding a Mechanical Bull and 16 Other Things I Learned While Drinking,” she continues to sell Tupperware for the fun of it, not to mention the great prizes for top sellers. Dixie biggest payday was at a giant house party where “these real nice folks bought just over $5,200 worth of plastic stuff, maybe because I made them happy or it might have been the free drinks.”When Dixie started selling Tupperware, she claims not to have known it was for the kitchen, saying “It took me forever to realize this stuff wasn’t supposed to be in the bedroom.” “Other than the everyday uses for Tupperware,” Dixie says “folks at the show, will be amazed when I explain its alternative uses. Yea, it’ll have the jaw pop right off your head.”Jaw popping or not, “Dixie’s Tupperware Party” is hilarious, politically incorrect, adult only improvisational comedy at its finest. The Alabama mama does more then sell during the show; she pays tribute to girl power with a mini history of Tupperware via her mentor, Brownie Wise. Dixie explains “I figured that Tupperware didn’t just come out of nowhere, it took a gal with gumption to make it a household name. Brownie Wise did real well, becoming a VP of the company and all until the inventor/CEO Earl Tupperware thought she was becoming too big for her britches and kicked her to the curb. Today, all Tupperware parties are modeled after hers. She’s such a hero for women that I’ve interwoven her inspiring story into my show.”“Dixie’s Tupperware Party” is home in Orange County for the holidays. Segerstrom Center patrons can expect uproarious Yuletide cheer, a 1000th Celebration Show (Dec. 26) and an extraordinary New Year Eve with Dixie on stage in the Cabaret-style Samueli Theater through Jan. 4, 2015. Dixie says “I’ll try to make sure that everybody keeps their panties on but I can’t guarantee it. What I’ll do is deliver a side-splitting, fun-filled show that’s a little different each night.”After an outrageous good time with Dixie, get your kink on and check out “Kinky Boots” playing at the Segerstrom Center for the Arts, Samueli Theater from Dec. 9 to Jan. 4, 2015.Tickets for all Segerstrom Center shows are available at the Box Office, 600 Town Center Drive, Costa Mesa, Calif. 92626; Online at SCFTA.org; or by phone at 714-556-2787. Office hours are 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily.

Carla Stewart channels Oda Mae Brown in Ghost at Segerstrom Center

“Ghost, the Musical” is bringing mystical charm, mayhem and magic to the Segerstrom Center for the Arts July 29 to August 10. The movie is considered a ‘chick flick’ but the tender love tale, musically told, will have guys tearing up this time around. The otherworldly story with a paranormal twist stays true to the original, including theme tune “Unchained Melody” being integral to the plot. The stage version embraces its musical genre with joyous songs and lively dance routines.And yes, that romantic pottery scene is very much a part of the show. Katie Postonik, who plays Molly, was taught to throw pots by professional potters so that she can realistically re-enact the iconic pottery scene. Keeping it even more real two pounds of clay are used at every show as Molly actually creates a pot on stage.Admittedly, this is a supernaturally sad story and a little humor hits the right note. That’s where the fake psychic Oda Mae Brown, played by Carla Stewart, enters the picture. Stewart has some tough shoes to fill. Whoopi Goldberg won an Academy Award in the role of Oda Mae, but Stewart said she is up for it.“I saw the movie years ago and I didn’t want to become a carbon copy of Whoopi," Stewart said. "I wanted to bring more of my personality, my interpretation of Oda Mae to the role. I work from the angle of who I think she is so that audiences get a fresh look at her through my eyes. Sure, audiences will compare us. Whoopi is a legend, so I just focus on who I am as Oda Mae.”Stewart attended school at AMDA, studying music and drama, in New York. Following a stint on Disney Cruises, she answered an open call in the city, reading for the role of an Oda Mae sister in the musical production. The casting director liked her and offered her a lead as Oda Mae Brown. Having seen the Broadway show, Stewart was thrilled.“Oda Mae (Brown) is cool and getting the lead is a dream come true," Stewart said.Dave Stewart, who along with Glen Ballard, set “Ghost” to music, describes the importance of the Oda Mae Brown role in being an integral part of the story.“She is a fun character and you need some comic relief. I leapt on the idea of turning her into a kind of mixture of James Brown and Tina Turner, this fake psychic putting on a show,"Ballard said. "This gave us a chance to do upbeat soul music mixed with gospel and a bit of New Orleans voodoo.”Stewart agrees.“My favorite thing about playing Oda Mae is that she is funny and that allows me to use another part of my talent," Stewart said. "Comedy is challenging – it’s a stretch between thinking you’re funny and actually being funny. What I love about Oda Mae is she allows me to not take myself seriously. I just go on stage and become her. She’s such a free spirit.”There’s no denying that “Ghost” is centered on the supernatural. Book (and screenplay) author Bruce Joel Rubin has interesting take about the musical.[It] “gave me an opportunity to explore the spiritual dimension of the story, things that intrigued me that weren’t in the film. What I mean is a cosmological view of the universe that doesn’t begin with birth and end with death.”While Stewart believes that spirits may exist, she’s not sure that they actually return like Sam does in “Ghost.” She does think it’s possible that departed souls leave signs for loved ones and says, “that’s a beautiful thing.”“As for Oda Mae, the character, she’s a fake psychic, just putting on a show,” according to Stewart, “She’s been giving folks fake hope, until Sam arrives and suddenly, to her own amazement she’s the means of communication between the living and the dead. She actually scares herself when she realizes that Sam can hear her.”One of the most interesting dynamics of “Ghost” is the contrast of the comical, loud and animated Oda Mae playing opposite the heroic, ghostly Sam. All of Stewart’s scenes are with Sam.“It was interesting working with him because he’s a ghost – I can’t see him directly," Stewart said. "This is challenging – I can’t connect with Sam through my eyes. I have to connect with my emotions. We can’t play off each other. The hardest part for me is to not look at him.”As for a favorite scene, Stewart doesn’t have one, saying “the show in its entirety offers so much – romance, humor and Shakespearean influence (think the ghost of Hamlet’s father).” It’s music that adds a new element to this classic love story with songs that explore the characters’ inner lives, their hearts and souls. Stewart thinks her two big numbers, “I’m Outta Here” and the more gospel-styled “Are You a Believer,” go a long way to expressing the essence of her character.Modern technology and lightning make ghostly shenanigans believable and move the scenery around. The ghosting of Sam is created entirely with sound, video, stage technology, choreography and illusions making this a visually exciting production. Carla says, “Technical tricks make images, like the New York subway scene, come to life. The lighting is important as well – actors are on stage but you can definitely separate the people from the ghosts because of the fabulous lighting.”Stewart recommends “Ghost, the Musical” to Segerstrom Center patrons, saying “there is something to appeal to everyone – drama, comedy, upbeat melodies, dancing. It’s an emotional roller coaster ride that will leave audiences open to fantasy and hope. Fans will become believers in magical mysteries as they share Sam and Molly’s journey.”Tickets are available at the Box Office, 600 Town Center Drive, Costa Mesa, California 92626; Online at SCFTA.org; Phone 714-556-2787.

Sandy Liang Resort 2018

The current retail landscape is tough to say the least, with both stores and designers alike experimenting with different ways to keep customers engaged. Sandy Liang has always stuck true to her instincts as a young designer, listening to retailers selectively and making sure her vision for the ultracool, carefree downtown urbanite is clear.“I think it’s always the duality between the girl who doesn’t really care about fashion and just wants to be comfortable and this fun side to her,” she said in her showroom about her resort collection.Her clothes have always elicited a subversive quality of nonchalance with oversized proportions, offbeat, oftentimes deconstructed tailoring and really kitschy, girly prints. The general consensus from retailers so far this season is an appreciation of the larger varied offering and focus on separates. Her kitschy elements this season were a “Sweet 16” print of colorful childhood vehicles and a jelly floral akin to the Limited Too brand logo, embroidered on flirty novelty denim dresses and little tops. “I love this,” Liang said of the flower. “I was Googling ‘gel-filled plastic sack’ and I ended up on Alibaba and going for it.”

Salvatore Ferragamo Resort 2018

Paul Andrew proudly showed his second collection for Salvatore Ferragamo at a space in TriBeCa. The installation focused mostly on shoes, which are historically at the core of the late Salvatore Ferragamo himself as well as the brand. “I wanted to reestablish the fact that we own certain codes of this house, which maybe people did not realize these codes were born here,” Andrew said. For starters, he explained that he looked at more than 15,000 pairs of shoes in the archives. “Going through one by one, there was an overarching theme that I noticed — so many of the shoes have flowers as a theme. So I thought it would be fun to make this season about florals,” he said.And flowers he delivered. Andrew went on a photographic expedition to the London flower markets and came back with images of what would become the motifs and prints for resort. The floral prints were seen most prominently on single-toe pumps or as the ankle wraps on patent leather sandals.“There’s a spontaneity and energy to these graphic flowers printed on silk but when you wrap and tie them the print becomes almost abstract and a softness emerges,” he said in his collection notes.

Marc Jacobs Resort 2018

Marc Jacobs went low-key for resort 2018, at least in terms of presentation. No mini shows, no showroom presentations for press. Critics could walk through the showroom during sales appointments, while the main message was presented via a look book inspired by Robert Longo’s famous “Men in the Cities” series. Models were photographed in motion, lurching, posing, jumping, dancing, like the figures clad in suits and office attire in Longo’s drawings. Jacobs’ subjects were dressed with significantly more flair, femininity and color.Many of the silhouettes had a throwback Sixties vibe, the girly side of the era captured in neat jackets, slip skirts, bra tops and shifts done in sorbet satins trimmed in glamorous jeweled embroidery, paillettes and fringe, all designed to move. Mary jane pumps and kitten heel slingbacks in silver and black patent underscored the retro vibe yet the shapes were fundamentally simple and classic. The look book was stocked with ultra pretty, feminine pieces and plenty of party attire — the resort ships for holiday season. But the racks in the showroom showed a more casual side of the collection, rife with signature Marc Jacobs references such as simple sweet dresses, much like the style that recently had a comeback as the blue dress from 1998 that Carrie Bradshaw almost wore in the opening credits of “Sex and the City,” as well as jackets trimmed with pom-poms from the dilapidated Victorian beach collection for spring 2014.

Monique Lhuillier Resort 2018

Monique Lhuillier always delivers those “belle of the ball” dresses — so to no surprise this season she continued to offer her red-carpet worthy frocks, but with a few alternatives for a more dressed-down customer. Amidst the vibrant blue-and-white, digitally painted floral princess gowns, embroidered illusion column dresses, and voluminous sleeved evening blouses and jackets, she managed to incorporate more streamlined, linear shapes into the lineup, such as a beautiful floral strapless peplum corset paired with narrow black pants and a black-and-white, below the knee dress with volume sleeves.Lhuillier also introduced knitwear to the collection — which she had dabbled with in the past. Here, she delicately embroidered with flowers a crewneck short-sleeve version that looked great with a simple black pencil skirt.“This season I wanted to give my customer more options to add versatility to her wardrobe and push her style evolution forward so I’m offering a lot of statement separates and introducing more novelty knits,” Lhuillier said.