September 19, 2011 § Leave a Comment
Although the menswear shows were timid with muted color palettes and a dearth of pattern, designers still produced collections that were rich in design and commercial appeal.
When word got around that the the boys at Duckie Brown were reinterpreting British gang wear for S/S 12, the menswear cognoscenti were abuzz. Did the show live up to the hype? I think so. On their roughed-up, slate runway, Duckie Brown showed a slew of elegant clothes with roomy silhouettes. I loved the quilted suit in baby blue worn with suede boots reminiscent of Timberlands. It channeled a street-wise flair with its baggy shape and rough styling, but the subtle quilting and softness of color disarmed any aggression the look might have had. I also enjoyed the wispy roses they printed on head-to-toe looks to close the show. In light of the recent riots in London, these precious numbers created an image of comfort and hope, and channeled the pastoral paintings of Georgia O’Keeffe. After seasons of flying under the radar of major critics and buyers, with this collection, Duckie Brown showed us that they were ready to bloom.
One of the best menswear collections of the week came from emerging label Bespoken, which featured a balanced showing of quiet, thoughtful sportswear. What stood out most about the collection was the delicacy in the slim tailoring, effortless styling, and Easter-egg color palette, as well as the subtle design details that elevated otherwise run-of-the-mill clothes to high-fashion. One of my favorite looks was a salmon shirt/shorts combination worn underneath a tailored grey blazer. It had a levity and quirk that menswear designers, especially in New York, never seem to capture. Their suits were a boon as well, especially one that bisected into two shades of grey towards the belly button.
My only concern with this collection were the leather cuffs buckled around the models’ left biceps that recalled the placement of swastikas on nazi uniforms. Perhaps they would have been less glaring had the model casting been more diverse and less conspicuously Aryan.
Michael Bastian’s collection served up classic apple pie. While the looks weren’t particularly interesting, they were fun to look at and wholly accessible to sartorial wizards and average Joe’s alike. I loved the more casual items, like a bulky sweatshirt done in two shades of grey, or generously-cut shorts that tied at the waist. They were low-key and practical, but had just the right amount of fashion to separate them from the design-orexic loungewear you might find at the sale bin at Sears. I also liked how Bastian mixed work wear-inspired items with more classic pieces, as he did with olive cargo pants worn with a cozy v-neck sweater. The overall look was easy, masculine, and young.
In menswear these days, it’s hard to find clothes that have such wide appeal, catering to both directional fashionistas and men merely wanting to wear understated, well-made clothes. Bastian is the master of this, which this collection clearly exhibited.
From what I could tell, Simon Spurr’s collection was guided by two forces: geometry and equestrianism. The geometry-driven looks took from in field jackets with patent leather panels, trench coats with contrasting sleeves, and suits with intersecting stripe patterns. The suits were particularly interesting as they channeled the “Black Paintings” of Frank Stella from the 1960s, which separated raw sections of canvas with thick, black lines of paint. Like Stella’s works, the zigzag patterns on the Spurr suits had a controlled energy. Other stand-out pieces included a collar-less leather jacket with a quilted bodice that was reminiscent of the ubiquitous Chanel classic bag, except fresher. For me the collection’s styling at times looked confused, particularly the use of knee-high boots. Perhaps Spurr wanted to clarify his inspiration to viewers, but I think at times his efforts came across as unnatural.
Robert Geller sent out his usual fare of disheveled street wear last week, but this time around, he infused them with a daddio-sensibility via wide brim hats in navy and black. It was hands-down one of the best collections of the week, showing us a series of looks that were wholly wearable, interesting, and downright hip. I loved the muted colors of the clothes – shades of dark blue, black, and grey – and the way Geller used them to create a sense of playfulness. This was clear in a shirt and short shorts done in polka dot patterns of two different sizes. The contrast gave the look a nice texture, and the dark hues kept the polka dots from taking the look into Minnie Mouse territory. Also notable in this collection was Geller’s masterful layering of mesh, which called inspiration from Burberry’s S/S 11 collection from last summer. To me, mesh tends to give either a trashy or unwelcome sportive touch to outfits, but here Geller used it to add interest and visual texture to otherwise overly staid ensembles.
Richard Chai’s collection injected a much-needed dose of energy to the menswear circuit, vibrating with a freneticism that popped against the abundance of sober, monochrome looks of other collections. As I mentioned in a previous post, his floral prints looked inspired from an acid trip in Hawaii, and their sense of humor made me wish I could have gotten in on the fun. I especially loved the print on a straight-forward button down shirt worn with cropped navy trousers; it was bright and tropical without looking tacky. The striped looks were also interesting, particularly a pair of rolled-up trousers in cobalt and plum. It had a hints of classic regality but an overall artsy downtown attitude.
Menswear has always been simple, especially compared to all the peacocks you see in the women’s circuit. But while I have felt the limits of men’s fashion in the past, which I see as designated by seemingly universal standards of masculinity, this season I saw how those limits have pushed designers to be even more creative within their imagined parameters. I’d say that despite the lack of theatrics and spectacle in the menswear collections this season, they had an honesty and thoughtfulness that pushed design in quiet, but powerful ways.
September 18, 2011 § Leave a Comment
As I perused images from the Marc Jacobs collection that closed New York Fashion Week last thursday, it wasn’t Jacobs’ hand I kept seeing in the clothes; rather, it was Miucca Prada’s. Prada’s influence was so heavy at times – particularly in the flapperesque dresses covered in magnified plastic paillettes – that it would be down right rude for Jacobs not to send her a big IOU after the show. There’s no doubt Jacobs put his own spin on the Prada F/W ’11 look, imbuing them with a kooky 20s flair, but in light of Jacob’s recent and heavy borrowing of the Common Project’s aesthetic for a line of shoes, I’m starting to wonder if the fashion world gives him too much credit for putting out original designs.
I loved some of the casual items, particularly a simple sweater in mint green. Its sharpness recalled the smooth, spongy texture of neoprene (it was actually nylon and cashmere) and its color brought the collection in line with the bright pastels of the rest of Fashion Week. If you looked closely, there were also some nice details on some of the tailored items, like panels of structured fringe that lined pockets and hems. They looked especially lovely when layered at the bottom of skirts – it was like a mini rodeo at the knees.
The show’s styling elements were hot and cold for me. I’m crazy for the stocking/high heel combo as an update for the chunky sock/wedge, but the two-toned drivers had a bulbous quality that made me think they were selected from a high-end line for Shape-Ups. And while the head wraps gave collection a cohesion and sense of theater, the rectangular handbags recalled designer toiletry cases.
Whether or not you like Jacobs’ collections, I find that they consistently invite the most passionate reviews. Just hours after the the latest Jacobs collection ended, Amy Larocca of New York Magazine exclaimed, “There can be no doubt that he is one of the most exciting designers in the history of clothes.” Cathy Horyn of The New York Times was less enthusiastic: “It wasn’t all that interesting or humorous.”
Tyra’s lesson from the season premier of ANTM was this: hate is a better reaction than indifference. Whether you love him or love to hate him, there’s no denying that Marc Jacobs’ power to define and guide American fashion is unrivaled. He constantly creates clothes that provoke, inspire, and cause a stir, and it’s because of this power, one that all fashion designers aspire to acquire, that Jacobs has positioned himself as one of the greatest designers of our time.
September 17, 2011 § 2 Comments
The Wikipedia entry for Tyra Banks begins as such: “Tyra Lynne Banks (born December 4, 1973) is an American model, media personality, actress, occasional singer, authoress and businesswoman.”
For this 17th “All Stars” cycle of America’s Next Top Model, the contestants will do their best to fill each of Tyra’s vast pumps. They will not just be modeling, but recording a single and choosing a fragrance for a perfume line. In addition to the Cover Girl contract, Vogue Italia spreads, and Express campaign, the winner will also receive a spot as a guest correspondent on Extra.”It’s not just about modeling,” announces Tyra, “It’s about star power!” This is a point that Tyra has tried to establish with varying degrees of regularity each season: you aren’t just a model; you’re a spokeswoman, an actress, and a host. You are selling a brand, she would say. This season, you are the brand.
After all, where else could ANTM have gone? Unlike Project Runway or Top Chef where contestants are judged on their craft and what they produce, for the women of ANTM their product has always been themselves – their bodies, their faces, and their “personalities.”
For their first photo shoot, Mr. Jay returns to give each of the women their “persona” from their respective cycle. For the most part, the women step up gamely to sell their characters, save for Bianca, now a working model signed with Ford, who balks at the idea of having to sell “loud and sassy” while sporting garish tracks of red hair. The rest of the women of color must similarly sell their race and class. Angelea, Bre, Camille, and Sheena are all variations on “hood” and “loud black diva.” Meanwhile Kayla sells her lesbian pride. The other (heterosexual) white contestants, on the other hand, receive personas like “angelic” (Shannon), “tough, California girl” (Alexandria), and “quirky doll” (Allison). Isis, the transgender contestant, gets “confidence” – an abstract idea rather than a persona, a sidestep from any identity.
The judging panel, replete with Ms. Multiple Personas herself, Nicki Minaj, sits on a stage in a public plaza in LA. The contestants must be subject not only to the panel, but more importantly, to a live audience. They are to walk down a runway, lined with spectators armed with digital cameras, as the judges critique their photos. Tyra tells them, “We’re looking for something extra special… Your personalities are also being judged. How you worked this crowd. How this crowd responded to you.” The women themselves continually reference their “fans” as though raised hands constitute a fan base.
Alexandria, fresh off her villainous turn from the previous cycle, is apparently still in people’s minds. The catwalk becomes her gauntlet as the crowd boos and shouts curses at her. She trembles as she approaches the mic stand, awaiting judgment. We, the people, are cruel.
The photos matter little. They look cheap, with the models meaninglessly Photoshopped onto the surface of the pool (is this a reference to Jesus?). Instead the judges discuss, with flagging levels of interest, the women’s potential to be “more” than just models, but also entrepreneurs, talk show hosts, singers, and actresses. Just like Tyra.
September 16, 2011 § Leave a Comment
It’s a rare occasion for there to be so many heterosexual men on Project Runway, so it’s an awkward reminder for us to hear just how much straight men love boobs. Heidi informs the designers that they would be designing for a client, husbands and boyfriends, who want to design looks for their significant others. Some of the men, especially Bert’s client Anthony, LOVES boobs. In fact, he loves them so much, that he likes to “motorboat” them (this means to put your face in between them and blow as you would blow a raspberry on a child’s belly button). This highlights an essential difference between straight men and fashion designers. Designers – especially gay male ones, and especially Olivier – hate boobs. “Those boobs to me are trouble,” says Olivier about the wife’s “Double D” situation. At Mood, he asks Tim, and then the female cashier, “What does Double D mean?” Olivier voices what many designers think but do not necessarily say out loud (as it is unwise to alienate your primary clientele), “I just want them to be flat.” To designers they are floaties that get in the way of art! and design! Olivier just wants to dress anemic, flat-chested size 0 waifs. Well, this is the everyday woman challenge, Olivier, and models do not reflect the real world.
The designers consult with the husbands/boyfriends, who really just want their wives/girlfriends to look super bangin’. Bert’s client, Anthony, the one who motorboats the mannequin, says, “You know the Cookie Monster? I’m the Booby Monster!” Obviously he wants Bert to make a dress that shows DA GOODS. Then the wives and girlfriends come in and lay down the law. Otherwise, the other designers are mostly left with vague directions like, I really like pink! (Bryce’s client) and I want to look like Barbie! (Laura’s client). Meanwhile Olivier, who hates designing for real people, is quietly having a nervous breakdown as he deals with clients who “talk back” to him. So how do they fare on the runway?
The designers again exhibit their competency as ready-to-wear designers. We thought the clear winner was again, Viktor (as we’ve often thought in the past), who made a gorgeous teal blouse that is sheer at the top and high-waisted grey skirt with a mustard yellow panel at the hem. He accessorized her with an adorable clutch in the same mustard yellow fabric. Overall, the ensemble looked like it belonged in a grown-up Williamsburg closet. Granted, he got, as Michael Kors said, “the most fashion obsessed couple,” but we don’t think that that should have cut against him.
Ultimately, the win went to Joshua who made a little black dress with lace trim at the collar that made a deep V on the back. The skirt had bounce and twirled along with her down the runway. The judges praised Joshua’s restraint. Nina Garcia says, “Very good job in editing” and that the dress “highlighted everything that was beautiful in this woman’s body.” Heidi says, “I’m shocked that you did not bedazzle her!” Michael comments that she looks like “a modern Grace Kelly.”
While Olivier may have been crass at expressing his disgust at dressing women with breasts (or fat people for that matter), we’d like to note that all three of the “top” looks were on thin, relatively small-breasted women. The judges praised both Joshua and Viktor for accentuating their clients’ tiny waists. They undoubtedly looked fantastic, but how much of their proximity towards “model” figures aided in creating fashion-forward looks for them?
The judges slam Bert and Anthony Ryan for making safe, boring looks. Heidi called Anthony Ryan’s red v-neck dress “super safe and super boring.” Michael says the red trim at the top makes her look like a “cheerleader sailor child.”
As for Bert’s baby doll dress that showcased the puppies, Heidi shouts, “Badda Bing!” The dress hits all of Nina’s pet peeves: “tight, short, shiny.” Heidi, of course, loves this. “I have that problem too!” she shouts. The couple also doesn’t see this as a problem. Maybe Nina needs to watch the Jersey Shore to expand her cultural references?
Bryce complains at the beginning of the episode that he is the only designer left not to have won a challenge. It’s fairly clear to us, the viewers, that this lament is fairly unwarranted and most likely signals Bryce’s demise. True to form, his ill-fitting bubblegum bridesmaid dress was a disaster. We didn’t agree with the judges that the Pepto Bismol color was nice. We do agree with them that the fit and craft were incredibly unflattering. The seams puckered, the dress crumpled as she walked, and the back gaped. The judges hate on the giant pockets. Michael says, “It looks like you went to the buffet table and you put a lamb chop in one pocket and a beer in the other.” We’re glad that Michael didn’t feel the need to hold back in front of a “real person” either.
Next week: Another team challenge! Oh noes!
September 15, 2011 § 1 Comment
The Motocross babes and surfer chicks that dominated the first half of Fashion Week were out of sight these past few days, replaced by women more fit for a fairytale than a sports arena.
After a few seasons of showing in Paris where people “understand his clothes,” Zac Posen returned to New York with his tail between his legs. He stuck to his red carpet roots with this collection, showing a slew of over-the-top gowns that harkened back to Hollywood of the 1940s. The highlight of the show was a simple, sky blue dress that ended in a pool of teal flowers at the hem. The look had an ethereality that made me think of a patch of violets swaying in a breeze. I also enjoyed a pale yellow strapless number with layered tulle that fell like an avalanche below the knees. Cathy Horyn of The New York Times suggested that the collection lacked balance, but now that Fashion Week serves as a giant preview for Red Carpet events in the winter, does balance really matter?
Rodarte embraced their Vincent Van Gogh theme so tightly that some of their looks resembled high-end souvenirs from the MOMA store. The Mulleavy sisters printed some of Van Gogh’s greatest hits onto flouncy skirts and maxi dresses that on one end were refreshingly pastoral, but on the other recalled outfits from “Little House on the Prairie.” The more successful looks from this collection grew from Rodarte’s geometric numbers from F/W 11, as seen in a seafoam look with a diagonal slit and a triangular cutout at the bodice. The angularity looked strong against the other, unstructured dresses and demonstrated that the Mulleavys are building upon weighty ideas from past collections.
Oscar de la Renta offered his standard fare of Upper East Side-y sundresses and dramatic evening wear, but this time around he infused them with some urban styling and colors better suited for the a lazer tag pen. There were a series of looks in chartreuse, the zaniest of which took form in a crop top buried in ostrich feathers and paired with billowy harem pants; it was equal parts MC Hammer and “I Dream of Genie.” He later closed the show with a creme tulle explosion that though beautiful, looked like it could have swallowed a few seamstresses before coming on the runway. While a great number of the clothes came across as a bit contrived, there were a few pieces that perfectly combined elegant draping and youthful color such as a one-strap coral gown that floated down the runway like a fiery jellyfish.
The Thakoon woman marched to her own beat this season (on a gilded runway, no less), and she wanted everyone to know it. The show passed as a swirl of gold, umber, blue, and hunter green, conjuring everything from the Wild West to ancient treasure to a sunset in Bombay. It was visually the most striking collections this week, and conceptually one of the most complex. I loved an orange paisley tunic with gold sleeves worn over a matching pair of cropped paisley pants. It would take a sartorially adventurous woman to pull off this look, but if she did, there’s no doubt she would set off fireworks wherever she set foot. My eyes were also glued to a pine green frock dress trimmed with a panel of silver and accented with leafy graphics down each side. It reminded me of the bold dresses with gargoyle monkey print from Prada’s S/S 11 collection, but it had a unique perspective that was wholly Thakoon’s.
The Marchesa show was chock full of Oscar looks. My favorite was modeled by Jourdan Dunn: a long-sleeve, floor length dress with smoky grey sequence adorning the skirt and floral appliqué covering the bodice. The texture of the dress at times recalled chain mail, giving the look a strength that contrasted beautifully with Dunn’s delicate body and the curvaceous ruffles at the hips. Another stellar look was a textured gold dress covered in layered swaths of white tulle. It looked like the model had descended from the sky and had her dress enveloped by clouds on her way down.
Despite the plethora of bad girls and athletic types we saw earlier this fashion week, it was inevitable that we would see other designers working around more conventional ideas of femininity as the week progressed. I think Cathy Horyn had it wrong when she asked Posen for balance. It’s not individual designers that need to demonstrate it; rather, I think it’s Fashion Week as a whole that does.
September 15, 2011 § 1 Comment
I didn’t need show notes or reviews to figure out that the inspiration for Rodarte’s latest collection was Vincent Van Gogh. They covered their first number, a knee-length dress with cap sleeves, in painterly sunflowers reminiscent of Van Gogh’s “Sunflower” series from 1888, while a later number carried the dramatic royal blue and violet swirls of his magnum opus “The Starry Night” (1889). I’m a huge Rodarte fan – I particularly loved their F/W 11 collection based on the American Plains – but their latest collection stuck too closely to its inspiration for me.
September 14, 2011 § Leave a Comment
For the opening look of her latest collection, Doo.Ri elevated the white button-down shirt with some expert draping. The top of the ensemble remained fairly conventional, resembling a simple white shirt with wide collar, but as the shirt transformed into a dress toward the waist, Doo.Ri showed us some magic. From what I can tell, the skirt portion of the look was constructed by taking excess shirting from the back and looping around to the front; the skirt wasn’t attached with a separate piece of fabric as one might expect. This look doesn’t dazzle – it’s too minimal for that – but it wows in its innovation and quiet elegance.
I’m a sucker for a woman in a good pantsuit. I usually prefer more classic versions, usually in black or white, but the floral print suit at Prabal Gurung evokes a luridness and hard-edge that drew me in. I love the overall cleanliness of the look – acheived by sharp tailoring, a slight sheen in the fabric, and slick styling – but I also love the print itself. The grey swirls recall molten metal and the overall composition conjures a sinister Rorschach Test. It has a sweetness to it, but also sense of menace.
As I mentioned in my latest New York Fashion Week Review, I’m wild about the tropical prints that came down the runway at Altuzarra, featuring a collage of tropical birds and flora in saturated hues of red, green, pink, and blue. In this look, I love how Altuzarra limited the print to the margins – the bottom hem, sleeves, collar – and connected them with a multicolored knit bodice. The styling of the look is also notable. The belt adds a Jetsons-esque flair and the bold brow is a refreshing alternative to bleached-out brows of recent seasons. Also, don’t you love how the model looks like Andrej Pejic?
After seeing Raf Simon’s S/S 11 collection for Jil Sander, I can’t help but think any t-shirt/voluminous skirt combination grew from its influence. Here, Peter Som offers a stunning new take on the Sander look with a sheer, cobalt top and matching floral skirt with a high slit up the left leg. The look has an arresting sexiness to it – I can see her nipples and a healthy amount of leg – but it has an elegance, particularly in the fullness of the skirt, that eclipses any vulgarity it might evoke. I’d love to see this look (perhaps an opaque version) on the Red Carpet at some point.
Thakoon has an uncanny ability to incorporate several references into one look. Here, he combines bits of the Spaghetti Western, India, and Commes des Garcons styling to create a vivid, whimsical pant suit. I love the saturated colors he uses – pool blue, burnt umber, turquoise. Their vibrancy is so strong it seems as if the clothes are pulsating. I also love the updated, magnified paisley on the pants, jacket, and collar of the shirt. They give the look a joyful dynamism that bursts with energy.
September 13, 2011 § 1 Comment
Floral Acid Trip
Designers updated the perennial floral print this season by saturating it with color and imbuing it with a dreamy, drugged-out quality. Peter Som showed enlarged rose prints done in hot pink, mandarin orange, chartreuse and plum. They had a sweetness to them, but the off-kilter coloring made me wonder if they were imagined from an acid trip. The florals at Richard Chai LOVE had a similar effect; the blue tropical petals recalled photo negatives and felt psychedelic against their bright salmon backdrop. Diane von Furstenberg’s floral prints also carried a hallucinogenic quality to them, although they seemed more joyous in their cartoonish abstraction.
Secret Sex Appeal
Silhouettes are getting sexier this season, albeit semi-covertly. A highlight from Donna Karan’s show took form in an hourglass cocktail dress with subtle cutouts following seams at the hips, shoulders, and sternum. Karan covered the openings with sheer black fabric, adding a modesty to the look. Mary Kate and Ashley Olsen added interest and seduction to a textured top by cutting out two small triangles at the hem, revealing modest slivers of midriff. Meanwhile, Prabal Gurung used cutouts more aggressively, which made the patterned panels look either glued to the models’ bodies or magically floating in place.
Through the Hourglass
It was nice to designers experimenting with couture shapes in sportswear, but I can’t say the results were always successful. Cushnie et Ochs applied disk-like peplums to their minimal white dresses, giving their collection a fun, space-age appeal. After a while, however, the peplums began to resemble something like crotch visors. Alexander Wang inventively added peplums with zip pockets to floral warm-up jackets – perfect for storing Snickers bars or bottles of Gatorade. Jason Wu’s peplums were the most conventional, finding themselves on evening gowns and prim skirts. I liked the feather details he added underneath a peplum on a black cocktail dress. It gave it some whimsy and 20s appeal.
One of the biggest and most surprising trends of the season thus far has been the popular use of mesh. Alexander Wang embraced the trend quite strongly, using it to construct everything from hoodies to track jackets to pants to dresses. He also designed mesh pockets on to a series of shorts, a detail that seems pointless to me but that critics seem to love. Cynthia Rowley constructed some beautiful dresses made from lazer cut mesh fabric in white and black, and Rag & Bone showed several open-knit sweaters that recalled fish netting or old sweaters worn to the bone.
September 12, 2011 § 1 Comment
This season’s new woman is tough, and she’s not afraid to let you know it.
Jason Wu sent out his usual parade of pleasant dresses and easy-breezy daywear, but this time he infused his collection with a hint of street-edge. At a preview of his show, he cited KAWS, the graffiti artist who rose to prominence in the 90s with his subversive reworkings of popular advertisements, as his inspiration. This took form in a series of looks printed with melancholy grey and blue flowers designed by KAWS himself. The pattern closely resembled the monochromatic rose prints from Miharayasuhiro’s S/S 11 collection and also embraced its mood; they had a seductive quality that bordered on sinister.
Wu looked toward another designer, Raf Simons, for other looks in the collection inspired by “pop art and couture,” specifically a white top with a bubblegum pink skirt and matching peplum. I can’t blame Wu for showing Simons some love – I’m a big fan of his too – but I think Wu could have reinterpreted Sander’s look in a way that felt more original.
After his preppy-meets-grunge F/W 11 collection, which showed a series of luxe parkas and slouchy sweaters, Joseph Alturazza decided to take his woman to an urban jungle. I’m absolutely wild for his tropical print that covered everything from suits to dresses to narrow panels on sweaters. They were explosive, fun, and added an element of celebration to the toughness of some of the looks; It was like a fiesta in the midst of a thunderstorm. I also enjoyed the leather elements of this collection, in particular a below-the-knee frock coat with matte panels. Something about it channeled the Matrix’s futurism and severity, but it also possessed an undeniable femininity and softness. Overall, though, my favorite look of the collection was a multicolored, short-sleeve dress accented with tropical print on the sleeves, hips and hem. It was deceptively complex and struck the right chord of everyday and avant garde.
Prabal Gurung reinvigorated the color purple this season by using it in a psychedelic floral print inspired by the work of Japanese artist Nobuyoshi Araki. He used the pattern to give everything from cocktail dresses to short shorts to pantsuits a kick of hard, space-age appeal that contrasted with some of lightness of the silhouettes. This was most evident in the first look of the show: a flouncy, above-the-knee dress with transparent cap sleeves and cutouts at the hip and thighs. Something about the ethereality of the look recalled the fantasy dresses associated with Japanese manga culture (you know, the ones that Japanese women wear when they want to look like wood nymphs or dolls come to life?), but Gurung’s slick styling and lurid print gave the look an edgier, more adult appeal.
Cathy Horyn of the New York Times pointed out that the styling of the Gurung show references Givenchy’s F/W 11 “cat” collection, which I see in the finale look: a floor-length dress with sheer panels at the knees and elbows. Unlike Wu’s reinterpretation of Miharayasuhiro and Raf Simons, it’s clear that Gurung made his Givenchy-inspired looks his own, creating a wholly unique aesthetic and tone.
I’m not too sure I love the Alexander Wang girl – she’s a bit too hard-edged for my taste – but there’s no doubt that she’s executed with a clear point of view. This season, Alexander Wang outfitted his models in an array of mesh, sportive items: hoodies, knee-length shorts, bandanas. Despite the overall casualness of these looks, however, they carried a subtle luxury as seen in a laser-cut mesh leather skirt worn with a leather crop top. It was sporty without reading Nike. I also enjoyed Wang’s geometric prints that appeared toward the end of the show. Some might argue they were a digitized rendering of Native American motifs, but I see them more as a contemporary interpretation of pixelated Atari games from the 90s. They were fun and dynamic, and the chevron stripes made your eyes go every which way. I think Wang could have done without the peplums he attached to trim bombers and velour warm-up jackets. I’m all about utilizing couture shapes in sportswear, but this seemed like too much of a disconnect for me.
Rag & Bone followed in Wang’s footsteps, showing a collection of sporty looks elevated by some impeccable tailored pieces. Honestly, I could do without the sporty elements – I prefer their more classic air of seasons past – but judging from their presence in other heavyweight collections, it seems that for better or worse women’s fashion might be heading in a sports-oriented direction.
I love the one-button blazers that hung atop mesh sweaters and nylon hoodies, especially one done in pumpkin marled yarn. Perhaps it was out of season in the way in conjured an autumn harvest festival, but it had a warmth and earthiness that seems elusive, yet fresh this season. I also loved a pieced blazer that was space-dyed in tones of turquoise, light grey, and slate and paired with a turquoise pencil skirt. The coloring gave the classic women’s suit a playful update.
Rag & Bone were wise to introduce some prints into their collection, but in light of Goyard’s “it” bag from this past year, I think they’re “cubist inspired” pattern was a bit too Louboutin v. YSL. How could they not notice? Perhaps they just don’t care.
I love that New York designers are imagining a woman who’s tougher, stronger, and sometimes, less feminine for next spring. In a way, they are expanding on conventional ideals of what a woman should look like and essentially, who she should be.
September 9, 2011 § Leave a Comment
It’s gonna be a showdown folks! Heidi announces that the 10 designers will be split into two teams of 5, eliciting a collective groan from the group. Furthermore, there will be no team leader, and the designers must work as a collective (how socialist of you, Project Runway) to put on a 5-piece fashion show complete with video and music playing in the background. Anthony Ryan, the winner from last week gets to choose the first member of his team. He picks Anya, and then Viktor, Olivier, and Bryce join Team Chaos. Meanwhile, Heidi draws Joshua’s name from the hat; his team, Nuts and Bolts, consists of Laura, Kim, Becky, and Bert. Bert, of course is the kid who is always picked last for dodgeball, and then grumbles about how he doesn’t like any of the other kids anyway.
The episode isn’t really a battle between the two teams. We’ll tell you now: Team Chaos wins this in a rout. They are a model team. The weakest link is obviously Bryce who wants to prove so badly to the other designers that he was worth being picked over Bert. The real drama unfolds between Mr. Glitter Gun (Joshua) and Bertzilla who have both alienated most of the other designers it was about time they had to work together. Joshua immediately calls out Bert who denies cursing under his breath (which, in the playback clearly indicates that Bert did drop an f-bomb). Joshua’s tantrum and subsequent meltdown though, kills any chance of team unity. Tim eventually has to step in, “Let your ego go as much as you can.” He then forces Team Nutsy to join hands in an act of solidarity. We’d like to note that Joshua was holding Becky’s arm as though he’s worried of being infected by her poor taste.
The two teams must create three different prints that must be incorporated into the majority of three looks. Team Chaos uses the Rorshach test as their inspiration and they make three prints that resemble the squiggles of a madman. Joshua’s team uses clocks – literal clocks with gears and numbers – as their inspiration. They eventually choose three horrendous prints, one of gears, another of numbers, and the last is a graffiti made of words like “delayed” and “canceled.” Their lady is always late, evidentally because she is confused by all of the numbers written on her skirt.
Olivier’s jacket and Viktor’s evening gown are incredible. Olivier spent most of his energy focused on creating an exceptionally tailored jacket with a plunging neckline, pleats along the bottom half, and a (faux?) leather lapel. Michael Kors says it’s “one of the strongest tailored pieces we’ve ever seen” on Project Runway. Nina Garcia tells Olivier, “That’s the jacket I want.” Olivier’s cropped pants made from the most geometric of the prints, were probably his undoing. He put them together in the last hour, and they were clearly just there so that his model didn’t walk down pantsless in a fabulous jacket.
Viktor’s evening look was my personal favorite. His dress had a hand-daubed “Rorshach” panel with sheer shoulders and back that forms a bit of a T – continuing their motif of rectangular backs. The bottom of the dress flowed beautifully with a slit up the right leg. The look was the very best of the collection: eleganza with an urban streak.
Overall, it was good to see a team work so well together. We suspect that Anya won as a bridesmaid-finally-gets-the-bouquet sort of thing (btw we just realized that the actress was Helen from Bridesmaids! Can we have Kristen Wiig next?!). We’re not really upset about it though as we, just like everybody else, are IN LOVE WITH HER HAIR.
The bad consists of the best of Team Chaos and the worst of Team Nuts. Of the former, the judges call out Bryce for making a “mall” look in an otherwise sophisticated collection. On the latter, Kimberly opts out of the print, but still makes a lackluster outfit. The lesson is that a bad collection brings down whatever solid individual pieces there are. Michael, however, notes her savviness and says, “She’s very into self-survival… Kimberly was smart that not a lot of people wanted to have canceled on their crotch.”
On the runway, the elimination is down to Becky and Joshua. Nina says there is “no design whatsoever” in Becky’s look. Michael says, “I think she can sew. But it’s not Project Seamstress.” Meanwhile, Becky and Bert contend that Joshua should go home for bringing bad juju to the team from the outset. However, Nina points out, “You had no leader. So you all had the responsibility to speak up and change things.” In the end, the judges evaluate the work. While Joshua’s piece was busy, the front of his jacket, cut to look like the gears of a clock, was inventive and interesting. Becky’s skirt, while she made it three times, was still a dull skirt that could probably have been constructed yet another three times.
Ultimately, this is a design competition, and the best designer – not necessarily team player – should win. While they await their verdict, Joshua tells Becky, “I know what I want to deliver to someone and I feel that you don’t. So that is probably why I should be here and why you should not be here.” The judges agree and eliminate Becky.
Next week: The real person challenge! Boyfriends help design outfits for their girlfriends!