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Brooklyn Gal

Skip Shopbop and Shop Esther’s Winning Collection

Esther Perbandt, Making the Cut runner-up and Berlin-based designer

We don’t know about you, but we here at the Brooklyn Gal tore through Amazon’s reality fashion series Making the Cut, eagerly awaiting the weekly Friday drop of two new episodes until, alas, the premiere season came to close.

For the uninitiated, think Project Runway with a million dollar prize and a fresh spin on the moving parts, from the multiple locations (New York, Paris, Tokyo) to the esteemed panel of judges (including the outspoken Naomi Campbell, never one to sugarcoat her feelings, and early on, French editor and icon, Carine Roitfeld) to the 12 designers (a global array of mostly experienced talent). Hosted, of course, by Project Runway veterans, Heidi Klum and Tim Gunn. The premise: to find the next major fashion brand (as opposed to the next big fashion designer).

The season ended with (spoiler alert) LA entrepreneur Jonny Cota winning the grand prize, and our favorite contestant, Berlin designer, Esther Perbandt, an ardent fan of the color black, winning second place. Bummer. In our book, Esther was the winner. In fact, she had it all: Talent, vision, a calm sense of self-assurance and a viable marketing plan (one of the storylines in a late-season episode). Oh, and a super-cool take on black clothing, from her fabrics and silhouettes to her distinctive aesthetic.

So why aren’t we knocked out by Perbandt’s new Amazon collection, now available at Shopbop, Amazon’s fashion offshoot?

Nearly every week, the MTC judges would remark on the salability of black clothing, remarking that black pieces just didn’t present well online. Could that be the reason why this collection seems to lack oomph? Um, no. Could it be the high price tags, rather aspirational for a local Berlin designer? Um, no again. From the Brooklyn Gal‘s perspective, Perbandt’s Shopbop pieces are just not unique enough to warrant an outlay of hundreds of dollars, no matter how deep your pockets. Dare we say, her design prowess has been dumbed down?

That, of course, was not the case on Making the Cut. Every week, Perbandt delivered something interesting, something modern, something we wanted to wear out in the world (one day, anyway). But not these Shopbop pieces. They seem to belong to another designer entirely.

Fortunately, all is not lost. We recently discovered Esther Perbandt’s online shop, the one where she sells her distinctive designs, not the Amazon-ified line available to the masses. Now we just need to pony up the bucks, oh, and the place (!) to wear her amazing creations.


Brooch, the Subject

Dita Von Teese puts her best foot forward

First things first: we here at the Brooklyn Gal are not necessarily fans of Dita Von Teese, though we do admire her retro moxie, alabaster skin and ink-black tresses. Still, the other day, while we were working out at the gym, we couldn’t help but catch a glimpse of divine Dita on the silent TV screen above.

Ms. DVT sat daintily on the edge of the couch, chatting to her host, Wendy Williams. With the sound turned down, we had no clue what this striptease star was saying, but, never mind, it did not matter one teensy bit because, hello, her gigantic flower-shaped brooch, all glitzy and rhinestone-y (or, dare we say, diamond-encrusted?) radiating against her reddish-pink-clad chest, seemed to do all of the talking.

We happen to own a few pretty pins from way back when, scooped up at flea markets and such, but believe us, we’ve never seen anything quite as head-turning as Dita’s glamorous piece of festoonery.

As it turned out, that little episode was a repeat show from May and Dita, her hair coiffed like a calendar girl from back in the day, her nails and lips painted a rich ruby red, with high-heels to match, was giving Wendy an earful about her love for 1940s lingerie and how she got her start in the va-va-voom business.

We were intrigued. A little bit more research revealed that this vintage vixen does indeed have a penchant for such glittery chestal ornaments from back in the day — her fulsome flower was no fluke. We have to confess, in her own particular way, Ms. DVT is a class act: this girl knows how to turn up the shine factor.

So, do we smell a brooch trend in the air? Well, not exactly. After all, no one else can play pin-up like a true burlesque queen.


Ta-Ta South Riding

We here at the Brooklyn Gal are counting the hours till tonight’s conclusion of the latest MASTERPIECE CLASSIC trilogy, South Riding, an adaption of Winifred Holtby’s moving love story. And, we might add, we’re a tad annoyed that this gripping romantic saga, set in Depression-era Yorkshire, should be limited to three short episodes.  Still, we’ll take what we can get and indeed there’s much to revel in given that South Riding has all of the ingredients that make us go weak in the knees.

For starters, it’s set between the Great Wars, a time period we find ourselves drawn to again and again. What’s more, the characters are flawed, compelling and riveting to watch. Our favorites (of course): Sarah Burton played by Anna Maxwell Martin, the fiery red-headed headmistress who shakes things up in her new post as the headmistress who returns from London to her old stomping grounds. She champions her girls’ right to learn and, shocker, choose to have a career, aside from being wives and mothers.  And Robert Carne, who plays David Morrissey, the ruggedly handsome gentleman farmer with a whole lot of baggage, including an insane wife, locked away in an institution. Just last week we learned that she was pushed further over the edge after the birth of her daughter.

Just as transfixing, of course, are the head-turning costumes, created by Stephanie Collie.  Sarah Burton’s cornflower blue shirtdress, pink-and-blue knit jumper and skirt, nervy boater-style red suit and captivating cape — much saucier than Little Red Riding Hood’s, we might add — all artfully convey this plucky woman’s spirit and sense of self. Not exactly beautiful, she nonetheless cuts a dazzling figure. And she’s rarely seen without a shock of bright scarlet lipstick.

If we could, we would watch a whole season’s worth of South Riding. But alas, MASTERPIECE created a mini series. Apparently all good things must come to an end.