Monday, September 28, 2009


Well, that’s over. The Coterie is finished for Spring 2010. I must say, it was quite an experience.

Last Monday, the day after I returned from Australia, I met with Jack, Shauna and Michelle to set up our modest booth at the Javitz Center in Manhattan. I was beat from the trip, but anxious to get started - to see how these clothes were going to do.

Set up for the Coterie was certainly easier than the collectible trade shows we do - basically, it was just steaming the clothes and hanging them on the rack in the booth. Simple and quick - but somehow, we managed to fill the day.

The show started on Tuesday - I had no idea what to expect. Buyers swarmed the isles and before we knew it, we were in business!

If any of you have been to a trade show, you have a pretty good idea of what it was like - but for me, unlike the collectible shows, people were much more business-like and serious, but we did meet some very friendly buyers.

So how did we do? We took a few very nice orders and gave away many cards in hopes of future business. Was I thrilled with the response? I wouldn’t say thrilled, but I was pretty pleased. After all, few people had ever heard of the Company.

I have a lot to think about—I’ll keep you posted!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Wow, What a Show!

Just some quick thoughts from the Coterie..... It's been a blast. It's very, very busy at the show--it's almost overwhelming. We have a great spot on a corner, so it's nice exposure.

Best of all, we took our first order shortly after the show opened yesterday. All very exciting!

I'll have more to report, shortly.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Behind-the-Scenes Images - Robert Tonner 2010 Spring Collection

Label Detail
Ready to Start!
Directing the Models
Adjusting the Look
Meeting the Press
Ready for the Runway
Checking the Fit

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

What a Ride!

I apologize for my apparent disappearance during the past few days. If you have been following my blog, then I would assume you know my fashion show took place. It was one of the most amazing experiences I’ve had. At a certain point, I just had to let the events of the day unfold and go with it. But before I go any further, let me back up a bit.
Robert Tonner and His Models
I believe the last blog was a couple of days before the show. It turns out the design room finished the show samples by noon on Monday. No one was more surprised than I - we had time to do at least one more sample - and so we did. If you’ve looked at the pictures from the show, it was the pale green ribbon coat dress and it was finished the morning of the show. There is nothing like last minute sewing to add a little stress to a show! I finished the run of show (lineup) the weekend before so adding another outfit meant more than just getting the dress done - I had to insert the outfit into the show. Not as easy as it may sound; by adding an additional outfit it throws off the already finished run of show as well as my very carefully calculated shoe plan. I took a chance - without changing the entire line-up, I gave one model an additional outfit. She had only three looks between her changes, but the model I asked was more than up to the challenge but I’m getting ahead of myself.

The New Look

On Tuesday, September 8th, I headed for the city. I planned to spend the night (and hopefully sleep) and get a few last minute accessories. Strangely enough, I was able to sleep. I think at the time I felt that it would be what it would be - at that point there wasn’t much I could do about it, so I guess I just relaxed.

In Make-up

On Wednesday - show day - I got up early and went to the hotel gym. For me, that’s a real stress reliever and at the same time, I could plan my day. By 10:30, I was at the Metropolitan Pavilion. We were able to book the show space for the day starting at 7:00 am, so, by the time I arrived, the clothes were already there and the show set up was well under way. I was bowled over by how wonderful the runway space looked. The Pavilion is a perfect space - a pure white event space that, I hoped, wouldn’t fight the clothing.

Michael Giunta on Hair

In the back, the clothes were not yet on their appropriate racks, my staff was trying to organize and the lighting guys were trying to make sense of all the equipment. I was just in awe and at the same time, nervous. It was a mess! By noon, it was much more organized; the clothes were on their racks, the light guys were about done with their jobs and the models had started to arrive.

Adjusting the hem

Because the whole show was done on a tight budget, I felt that I wouldn’t spend the money to have the models come up to Hurley for a final fitting. I completely trusted the size and proportion of my fit model - but of course there could always be a surprise, so as soon as the models were ready the assigned outfits were tried on. Sometimes, things work out as I hope/plan and that was the case. Everything fit (we did have one pair of pants that needed to be shortened) and I was thrilled that we had no shoe surprises. With a few last minute accessory additions, we were ready. The models went on to hair and makeup and I spent the hour before the start of the show checking the music and lights. By 2:30 the first attendees began to show (in the fashion business, you can bet that the early attendees were friends and family - fashion professionals arrive much closer to start time - that was what I remember and that’s what happened).

Arriving Guests

I knew that although the show was supposed to start at 3:00, fashion shows rarely start on time so I didn’t want to have the models get into their first outfits until about ten till three. Once I gave the go ahead to start, the models got dressed and lined up. If all this sounds very organized, it wasn’t - there is a lot that goes on backstage at a show. We had the models, dressers and backstage press photographers. By three, all models were dressed and we were ready to go. Then you play the waiting game. I was on a headset talking to Jack (my VP) and Tom (marketing) who were out front. They gave me minute by minute updates on who was coming in and how many of the press were there. Harper’s Bazaar arrived, as did two editors from WWD, many online fashion press, but we held back waiting for the photographer from WWD. Much to my disappointment, by 3:17, he hadn’t shown and I knew we had to start. And so, we did!

Gilt Coral Ensemble

The show was a blur. The music started and the first girl went out. Tom was at the end of the runway and would signal me by headset when the next model was needed. As soon as I got the go-ahead, I sent out the next look. It was surreal. The models would line up and I checked them as they went out. And, before I knew it, the show was over. Seventeen minutes tops. All done. Whew!

Mist Top with Peridot Embroidered Pants

So. How does it feel? Great at the time, but I’m still processing the whole thing. I am so thankful for the help I had from the people I work with—I certainly couldn’t have done it without them. I’m very pleased with the show pictures and as far as the press, the reviews we received were great. I think I accomplished what I wanted to - I wanted to say “I’m out here” and I think that was, more or less, accomplished. Would I have liked more press? Absolutely. But I knew going in that a first show is always difficult. According to WWD there were 177 shows planned for spring as well as 122 presentations. I was one among many.

Bullion Gold Sequined Blouson Cocktail Dress

On Thursday, I left for a convention in Sydney, Australia. We’ll have a few days to relax here before traveling back next Sunday (and I sure need it). Then it’s back to New York for the Coterie - which is the most important part of this grand adventure - selling the clothes.

Polished Nickel Silk Jacquard Gown

Thanks for reading and I’ll get back to you over the next couple of days with some additional thoughts.


Wednesday, September 9, 2009


OMG...1.5 hours before the show starts...looks like we're ready!  More soon...

Friday, September 4, 2009


Shoes are always an issue. The goal is to find the best deal for the best shoe possible. When I lived in New York it was a little easier - there were shoes stores all over the place and I could go a day or so before a show to pick up any shoes I needed. It’s harder now; one, because I’m two hours away from the city and two, because a lot of those stores I shopped at are no longer in business. I did my best yesterday, but I really couldn’t find anything I liked for the right price. We’re down to the wire so I’m heading to an upstate mall this afternoon to see what I can find. It would be great if I could hire a stylist to do this for me, but it’s not in the budget. Plus I’m not doing a shoe show; I don’t need “statement” shoes, I just need beautiful, simple shoes.

I was able to find jewelry that works with my theme - actually, a ton of it - so that won’t be an issue. I was also able to pick up the final buttons that I’ll need. On a side note, I also found a button vendor that does wholesale - and I love his assortment. That’s one more step to getting this stuff to the stores.

I made a quick stop at The Metropolitan Pavilion. It was just a last minute check on the space and a couple of details about bringing the clothing into the space. I met with a very helpful, very nice women who gave me some great suggestions about the show setup. Boy, it’s a thrill to see the space - that’s when I feel that all of this is real.

Today has been crazy. We’re working on the layout for the Coterie. There are a ton of details that need to be gone over and answered today. Yep, it’s crazy time!

I’ll have more to report later.

Thursday, September 3, 2009


This will be a short post today. I am off to New York City to pick up some jewelry and shoes. I hate to be away from the room in these last few days before the show, but the models have to have shoes to wear!

Yesterday was very productive in the design room - many things were finished, or at least got closer to being finished. I’m very happy with the way the dresses are shaping up - I feel like I’m striking a balance between youthful and chic.

I had a second editor from WWD confirm yesterday—at least I can relax a little about that.

All for now.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Ups & Downs

What a rollercoaster! We had a fantastic fitting today. The clothes are coming together, and we now have almost enough finished for a fashion show of a decent size. In my experience, a show needs at least twenty outfits to make sense. I may have twenty-six or, if I’m lucky, twenty-eight. So the fitting was great, and I’ll only get to work with the model one more time before the show. That’s one big drawback of not working in New York City. My fit model comes from the city but we have to plan well in advance to get her up here. Anyway, on Saturday, I’ll focus on last minute fittingsand a few corrections. And, I’ll have her try on all the outfits that will be in the show just to make sure there are no surprises. Plus that’s the time when we add accessories. Ordinarily, I would try to keep accessories to a minimum, but my theme or inspiration calls for more. (By the way, I’ll talk more about the inspiration as we get closer)...
Fitting With the Model

Requests for seats at the show are coming in nicely. The press has been a little slower than I would have liked but we are getting them. I did have one major disappointment - won’t be at the show. However, we did get a positive response from WWD - and I’m thrilled about that.

Checking a hemline

One thing I did realize today - I was working on a dress and I said to the pattern maker “when we go into production”. That was new. Until now, I was focused on the show primarily. Although I am scoping out factories (and I think we’re finding the best of the best) I wouldn’t let myself think about the selling of the clothes. I know that sounds strange, but now I think I’m ready. I think I’ve done some really pretty things and I want them out there in the stores! So there you have it.

More, later!