Fashion (4)

SGMA eyes sophisticated aerobics, fitness shoes

Athletic footwear buyers attending the upcoming Sporting Goods Manufacturers Association (SGMA) exposition can expect a continued plethora of aerobics and fitness shoe offerings for men and women with more sophisticated technology and styling as that category continues its heyday.

Resources surveyed said that aerobic shoes, because of their sleek styling and soft, comfortable leather uppers, have begun to replace joggers as casual shoes in much the same way that athleisure chipped away at that category last year.

Resources said that prices would remain steady in most categories but may drop slightly in low-end joggers. Michael Walsh, assistant national sales manager for footwear at Nike, Inc., Beaverton, Ore., said the firm had a lot of stock keeping units in that category. “We may have to do some price realignment in that area,” Walsh noted.

The mid-price range of $35-$50 should attract most of the attention at SGMA, resources said.

Virtually all athletic resources have added aerobics shoes to their lines, including Pro-Keds, a division of Stride Rite, Cambridge, Mass. Roy Shuman, director of marketing, said the firm will introduce the Maniac, its first women’s vionic shoes for plantar fasciitis in garment leather for $39.95.

Pro-Keds and other makers of cleated shoes also expressed renewed hopes for their cleated lines. Nike’s Walsh said the firm’s cleated shoes have fared well recently. “That’s an area where we have not had the right product over the last 18 months,” he noted.

Brooks Shoes, Inc., a division of Wolverine World Wide, Rockford, Mich., is placing particular emphasis on its new line of cleated softball and football shoes ranging from $31.95-$49.95.

“There are more unique cleated shoes showing up for softball,” noted Shuman, who said the popular 100-cleat shoe was being worn for casual wear in some cases. Shuman maintained that the cleated market could be a lucrative venture for resources. “There are millions of pairs sold in that category,” he said. Shuman said the team shoe market had become very competitive as evidenced by price reductions. Some team sports shoe dealers also were becoming involved with direct imports, he noted.

Firms with existing strong aerobics programs, such as Reebok, Hingham, Mass., have begun to expand and refine their lines with new styling, technology and price points. Reebok will introduce the Princess, a popular-priced version of its successful Freestyle, which will retail in the mid $30s.

High-top aerobics womens shoes for high arches also have been added to lines by Reebok; Converse, Inc., Wilmington, Mass.; Avia, Portland, Ore.; Ellesse, New York; and Power, Los Angeles.

Athletic resources said they were expanding their women’s offerings, possibly as a result of renewed interest from the Summer Olympics. John Fisher, executive vice-president of Hyde Athletic Industries, Cambridge, Mass., said its Saucony branded division is working on women’s volleyball, basketball and soft leather shoes for bunions for future product introductions.

Kangaroos USA, Inc., St. Louis.; Etonic, Inc., Brockton, Mass.; and New Balance Athletic Shoe, Boston, will enter the men’s fitness categories with introductions at SGMA. The Kangaroos shoe will retail for $40 and is made of glove leather with a removable pu insole, said Paul Rossi, marketing director.

“Our reaction is the fitness line would be inadequate without men’s representation,” said an Etonic spokesperson, although she said the firm did not expect to do a large volume in the men’s fitness category.

Despite pleas of a glutted market in the low to mid-priced running categories, resources have continued to produce new models. Nike will highlight its new V Series running shoes at SGMA. The series includes the Vortex with a full-length air sole, the Vengeance for supinators, and the Vector for pronators, each for about $60.

Nike’s Walsh said the timing of SGMA did not coincide with the firm’s biannual line unveiling so Nike would wait for the National Sporting Goods Association Show (NSGA) in January for its major introductions.

As promised last year, Puma USA, Framingham, Mass., will not attend SGMA, but the firm will be represented by Atlantic Sports, its distributor, which will unveil four shoe styles. Puma has declared its firm alliance to NSGA and has claimed it will no longer show at SGMA events. To date, no other firms have made similar decisions because of organization loyalty, but some smaller firms have decided to sacrifice SGMA this year for economic reasons.

However, Le Coq Sportif, Robbinsville, N.J., is pulling out of SGMA this year primarily because of the glut of trade shows at this time, according to Dave McMullan, national sales manager. “It’s a matter of economics,” he said, noting that the firm would be attending the four West Coast shows during a two month period. Since Le Coq has a showroom here and had booked appointments during SGMA, it would refrain from formal exhibition, but would show at NSGA’s Anaheim and Dallas events.

SB Sports, a division of BBC International, Ltd., here, will not be showing its licensed Sport Billy line at SGMA, according to Deke Jamieson, director of marketing. Jamieson said the firm attended sporting goods shows initially because it was launching the new line, but now its distributor will stick to regional shoe shows. Jamieson said the firm is making a major thrust in Puerto Rico with the branded shoe, which is the official shoe of the island’s Little League.


Bikini Madness

Thank goodness for And God Created Woman .

Not only did the 1956 film turn Brigitte Bardot into every male adolescent’s sexual fantasy, it also made the bikini a respectable piece of apparel in America. The devilish little two-piece was invented by the incongruous combination of a French engineer, Louis RA[c]ard, and fashion designer Jacques Heim in 1946, but immediately was banned in Portugal, Spain and Italy, and was later described as a “thoughtless act” by none other than the mermaidian Esther Williams.

These days, one hardly bats an eye at barely-there bikinis on beaches everywhere from Saint-Tropez (those French!) to Ipanema (those Brazilians!)not to mention the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue. But its stature really is as much about the silver screen as the sandy shores. Think Ursula Andress in white in Dr. No; Raquel Welch in One Million Years B.C. (OK, so she wasn’t at the beach, but who cared?) and Phoebe Cates emerging from a swimming pool in Fast Times at Ridgemont High in her skimpy red number. More recently, there was Halle Berry reprising the Andress moment by stepping out of the Cuban waters in a bright orange bikini in the Bond flick Die Another Day, and Demi Moore’s grand entrance back into Hollywood with her bikini moment in Charlie’s Angels II: Full Throttle .

But face it, for all its impact on fashion, culture and the Sexual Revolution, there’s also always been a bit of silliness involved with the two-piece. Consider “Itsy Bitsy Teenie Weenie Yellow Polka DotBikini.” In that spirit, here are some of the wackiest films ever with “bikini” in the title.

Bikini Beach (1964): Just one of the Beach Party series directed by William Asher and released in the Sixties. The films featured hordes of swimsuit-clad boys and girls who always seemed to be doing The Twist to a record player on the beach and getting into madcap scrapes that had Frankie Avalon and Annette Funicello falling in love, out of love and in love againeven into their 30s. Though Funicello didn’t sport a bikini for the filmsat the strict request of Walt Disneyshe did don a respectable, polka-dotted two-piece for the movie’s posters.

Dr. Goldfoot and the Bikini Machine (1965): Vincent Price and Frankie Avalon star in this sci-fi/comedy in which mad scientist Dr. Goldfoot (Price) plans on taking over the world with beautiful female robotsclad in bikinis, no less. Secret agent Craig Gamble (Avalon) and millionaire Todd Armstrong (Dwayne Hickman) try to thwart his plans, but instead end up in the torture chamber. Hey, it could happen….

How to Stuff a Wild Bikini (1965): No, not another sci-fi flickor one in the X-rated section of the DVD store. This 1965 film was yet another installment in Asher’s Beach Party series and was the final appearance for both Avalon and Funicello. This time around, Frankie (Avalon), on naval-reserve duty in Tahiti, doesn’t quite trust girlfriend Dee Dee (Funicello) to stay faithful, so he hires Bwana (Buster Keaton), a witch doctor, to keep an eye on things. Those crazy kids!

The Ghost in the Invisible Bikini (1966): Yet another in the Beach Party series, but without Frankie and Annette, who’d decided they’d had enough sun and sand and went off to make Fireball 500 . The only one of the series not to be set at the beach (raising questions as to why the ghost is in abikini in the first place), the film tells of recently deceased Hiram Stokley (Boris Karloff, no less), who learns he has 24 hours to execute one good deed in order to get into Heaven. He enlists the help of his very dead girlfriend, Cecily (obviously a ghost), in order to stop his greedy lawyer and henchmen from claiming his estate for themselves. And, yes, there is a real bikini moment, when the true heirsled by Tommy Kirk and Deborah Walleybring their beach-party friends to the mansion for a pool party. Alas, Tommy and Deborah were no Frankie and Annette and the movie was a flop.

Bikini Squad (1993): What’s more ridiculous than the TV show Baywatch ? A spoof on it. The synopsis: A director is hired to finish the season of Bikini Squad , a popular show about a bunch of lifeguards. Not surprisingly, the cast members have absolutely no talent and the shooting becomes one disaster after another. Waitis this a spoof, or is it just a really bad movie…or both? Ultimate trivia: One of its stars is Clayton Halsey, otherwise known as Go-fer on TV’s The Dukes of Hazzard .

Bikini Drive-In (1994): This sexed-up film revolves around college gal Kim, who inherits a failing drive-in movie theater business from her grandfather. Like any intelligent, creative college kid, she drums up new business by hiring girls in bikinis who strut their stuff for local theatergoers. Cameos from horror film faves such as Conrad Brooks and Forrest J. Ackerman add some notability, although it borders on soft porn. But Ashlie Rhey, who played Kim, turned the bikini into a bit of a careershe went on to appear in films including Bikini Seasons 2 and Bikini Hoe-Down .

Bikini Bloodbath (2006): Does the title give too much away? Yes, it is about a bunch of hot chicks inbikinis getting hacked up by a bad man on the loose. The movie revolves around an all-girl slumber party (on the last day of high school) and a French chef, who shows up and starts laying into people with a meat cleaver. Think it sounds stupid? Well, the movie has already spawned two sequels BikiniBloodbath Christmas (honest) and Bikini Bloodbath Car Wash proving, once again, that you can never take the bikini too seriously.


Bulova building keeps up with the times

The watchmaker’s former workplace becomes the state-of-the-art Bulova Corporate Center

The $40 million renovation of Bulova Watch Corp.’s former manufacturing and executive facility was prompted, in large part, by the building’s sizable girth. Due to a usable floor area encompassing more than 7-1/2 acres, New York-based Blumenfeld Development Group (BDG) saw the structure’s potential to become the modern multi-tenant office facility known as Bulova Corporate Center.

Located just outside Manhattan in Queens, N.Y., the Bulova Building was the centerpiece of the timepiece manufacturer’s worldwide operation from 1953 to 1985. Conceived by company founder Arde Bulova, it serviced more than 3,500 employees and featured a cafeteria, two executive dining rooms and a medical department, as well as laundry and carpentry facilities. It also had a manufacturing floor larger than Yankee Stadium’s playing field.

These Ruthian dimensions were one reason BDG paid approximately $25 million for the property in 1984, when Bulova decided to move its operations to smaller facilities. Other pluses noted by the developer were the building’s commanding view of the New York City skyline, its electric power capacity and expansive floor-to-ceiling height.

But however impressed BDG was with the building, once the transaction was complete, it initiated plans for improvement. Completed in November 1988, the expansion/renovation was predominantly designed by New York City-based architect Leonard Colchimaro & Associates. According to firm president Colchimaro, the construction of a 50-ft. by 250-ft. atrium was a major element of the project. “There was a considerable amount of structural work relating to the atrium area,” he said.

The building’s original configuration consisted of a three,level office portion, which dropped to two stories in the rear manufacturing area. To create the atrium opening, the renovation team punched through the roof of the two-level component. “We had to remove quite a few existing columns and also reinforce the opening around where we cut through the concrete slab between the two floors,” Colchimaro said.

The atrium’s trussed skylight was carried 75 feet upward to cap a newly created rear third floor, which extends from the top floor of the building’s front portion. This process raised the former manufacturing area to three levels, with the interior of each facing onto the atrium.

Referring to the building’s former three-floor to two-floor form, Colchimaro said the added rear level effectively “completed the box.” It also established 100,000 square feet of additional floor space, for a total of 480,000 square feet.

With the building’s rear facade now rising to the same height as the front, a new 75-ft. by 50-ft. back entrance was constructed to allow easier access to employee parking, located behind the center. This entrance opens into the atrium, the building’s visual focal point and employee gathering place.

Featuring a winding “river,” fountains and foliage, the atrium is a garden-like park designed as a circulation center. It also includes a combination cafeteria, dining room and bar called the “10:10 Club.” Designed by French architect Jean-Pierre Heim of tissot watch, the restaurant’s character is determined by a time motif, in reference to the building’s previous owner. Decor includes a circular watch-like bar, and wall clocks indicating the current hour in various cities and time zones around the world.

Diverse time periods are also detected in the juxtaposition of contemporary and classic art throughout the facility. Through an agreement between BDG and the Queens Museum, the building serves as an informal art gallery and permanent home to several restored statues. These stand alongside modern works compiled by interior design consultant Susan Blumenthal, creating a collage-like presentation of old and new art.

Also, some artwork featured in the original interior was retained and restored. Most notable is a wall mural in the Art Deco-styled entrance lobby depicting the historical development of timepieces. According to Blumenthal, “We tried to create a warm environment where we could display art in a casual way and make people comfortable. “

This focus on tenant needs is one reason the building succeeds. Indeed, the center makes a functional link with the past by adhering to Arde Bulova’s original conception of a working environment with many in-house amenities. Among the building’s features are a 150-seat conference center, a mini-mall of convenience stores and a complete gym, including a swimming pool.

Bulova Corporate Center’s success is seen in the signing of tenants such as British Airways and Trump Shuttle, both of which seemed attracted to a 37-year-old building in sync with the modern workplace.

  Project Summary

           Bulova Corpora.te Center

  General information

  Architect: Leonard Colchamiro Architects &


  Structural engineer: Chester & Chester Structural


  Mechanical engineer: Barbanel & Associates

  General contractor: Blumenfeld Development


  Total sq. ft.: 480,000

  Construction time: April 1986 to Nov. 1988

  Number of floors: 3

  Construction cost: $40 million

  Project suppliers

  Life safety/security systems: Crown Fire Protection

  Heating and air conditioning: Trane

  Power delivery: Westinghouse; Bulldog; Pringle

  Windows: Active Storefront

  Skylights: Fisher Skylights Inc.

  Elevators: National Elevator/Veils Elevator Cab

  Doors:  Bilt-Rite

  Roof system: W.R. Grace

  Plastic laminate: Formica


Seeking out accessories

Now that you know all about the clothes we’re going to wear come fall, here’s the lowdown on next season’s most important accessories, the essential details that will spell up-to-date fashion.

Starting from the top, hats are a fall essential, the final punctuation to almost every outfit. Berets head the list, ranging from the classic disc shape in bright contrast colors, big, poufy velvet variations (at Kenzo), or oversized hexagonal shapes (Kenzo), to stiff-banded Highland berets, such as Betty Jackson’s. Then there are all those big, snood-like medieval-looking toques, best illustrated by Karl Lagerfeld’s giant fur bag-like toppers for Fendi. Add Russian cossack toques such as Valentino’s, especially in Astrakhan, fur-bordered calottes and dozens of fez-like variants, such as Valentino’s and Saint Laurent’s; plenty of matador hats (Tarlazzi) and umpteen equestrian-inspired riding helmets.

The super-size, all-enveloping, giant cowls and hoods, while they are very often attached to coats, sweaters, jackets and dresses, also work splendidly as a separate, optional addition. Azzedine Alaia’s, for example, were merely sensational when matched to thick- ribbed natural wool sweaters or in opulent fur, and I can’t think of a better warm-up invention for winter. Napoleonic tricornes stole the show at Lagerfeld and even at Chanel.

In Paris, evening calls for the most extravagant and fanciful frivolities, improbably perched atop even scalp-length hair; frothy concoctions made of snippets of lace, feathers and glitter. Great fun, super- feminine and flattering, provided you have the chutzpah to carry them off.

Hair, for the most part, is still resolutely short or anonymously chignoned, the better to showcase all the headgear listed above. When it has been allowed to grow longer, the style is ultra-simple and unfussy. Of course, there are exceptions, ranging from the frankly unkempt, to windmill effects, to flat crowns and curious winged extrusions – a singularly unflattering look you should give a complete miss to. Bleaching hair platinum blonde and cutting it into a stiff brush is another unhappy idea making unattractive inroads.

The newest makeup looks flat and somewhat mask-like – totally devoid of shading, contour or blush. The vampire-red lips have thankfully gone, replaced by softer, prettier and much more appealing rosy or peach shades. Valentino used plums and purples with a lavish hand, with fuchsia- shaded brow bones and ultraviolet eyes.

Jewelry is either non-existent or else gigantic, utterly and frankly fake. By universal acclaim, pearls are it, and nowhere were pearls more effectively or more extravagantly displayed than in Betty Jackson’s show, where lavish ropes of giant pearls were slung about with abandon, or shaped into giant heraldic crests or baroque brooches; or at Armani, where Butler and Wilson’s slinky pearl snakes glided across the bodices of cashmere sweaters or circled the waistlines of Directoire-style dresses. For Betty Jackson, Monty Don also produced chatelaines (these are making a big comeback) with giant keys and super-size, key-shaped earrings. Tassels are another favourite decoration (at Yves Saint Laurent and Bernard Perris), as are chains, often studded with glitter. Big hatpins skewer hats and lapels; giant pins look great clipped on to shoulders or on sleeves and paste military jewels and medals have lost none of last season’s appeal.

Coins are also much in evidence and, with the fashion accent firmly on the wrist, twin cuff bracelets are a favorite decoration.

Silver has a slight edge over gold, especially in Italy. Speaking of the wrist, the gauntlet glove, embellished with lace, filigree, fur, appliques, sequins or paste jewels is a must-have, as presented by Armani, Lagerfeld, Chanel and Montana, to name but a few of its advocates. Gloves in general are important.

Zippers, tassels and studs, metallic or jewelled, turned up frequently, especially at Dorothee Bis, Alaia, Ferragamo and Basile.

Sunglasses are a major accessory with Alain Mikli cornering the market on the more exotic examples, including some dangerously winged models for Complice and Montana – plenty of fun when played for laughs. Otherwise, the darker the better, with mirrored lenses and narrow wraparounds much in evidence.

As for shoes, they ranged from crepe or rubber-soled construction bootlets (Armani and Kenzo); spatted looks (Armani and Betty Jackson); alpine

footwear (Alaia and Montana) to the insubstantial, jeweled filaments perched atop sliver-thin heels that passed for shoes at Valentino. Similarly fragile footwear showed up at Lanvin, Ungaro and Zandra Rhodes, even with daywear. Of course, it’s daywear designed for women who get up at 4 p.m. – or, as one wag put it at Ungaro, for “Les Grandes Horizontales.” Tarty they may well be, but we women have always been pushovers for sexy shoes. The best boots, bar none, were designed by the Peter Pan of fashion, Kenzo, above-the-knee Robin Hood styles in soft, crushy, unlined suedes.

Patent leather is making inroads for fall in shoes, belts and handbags. Belts are frequently big and bold-buckled, used to hold in jacket fullness or to cinch the waist above a flared peplum.

Handbags are getting larger and thus considerably more practical. Chanel’s chain- slung quiltings are also back in favor.

There are shawls aplenty, generously wrapped or hanging loose, serape- style, matched or contrasted to ensembles, plus lots of lacy or chiffon scarves, jabots and cravats.

Legs are almost always well-covered with black or colored hose; sheer wools in bright colors or woven men’s wear patterns. A favorite look everywhere is the monochromatic top-to-toe effect – shoes, hose, gloves, handbag and hat exactly matched to the ensemble.

Socks, matched to the shoe or pant and roll-cuffed are the essential bridge between fall’s inescapable stirrup ski pant, and (preferably) flat shoes. Or, most successful of all, wear the ski pant with ankle or mid- calf boots. If you must wear them with high heels, color-match the pant, hose and shoe so there is no color break. Nothing looks less appealing or more ungainly than a too-visible stirrup or bits of visible flesh breaking up the streamlined length of leg.