September 29, 2011 § Leave a Comment
I’m happy to say that none of the featured men resembles a Scout, cowboy, or sailor; although, the Face Hunter guy comes close. That said, enjoy the trend yourself! With caution.
September 28, 2011 § Leave a Comment
Get Me Bodied
The bodysuit was an unexpected must-have item from Milan this past week. Prada showed a yellow and grey version with streamlined seams emphasizing an hourglass silhouette; Bottega Veneta gave his bodysuit a sportive flair, pairing it with a patterned gym bag; and Moschino took a sexier approach, imagining it in white lace and leaving a circular cutout just above the belly button.
Some designers looked to Spain for their latest collections, introducing looks recalling sultry flamenco dancers swaying to the beat of a drum. They did these looks in bright primary colors – red, blue, golden yellow – and decked them out in wild ruffles and diagonal hems. I loved Emilio Pucci’s interpretation of the look, particularly a blood red crop top with billowing sleeves paired with layered, silken pants. Missoni’s transparent bodice was nice, as was Moschino’s straight-forward approach.
To jazz up the perennial floral trend, Milanese designers gave it some texture, appliquéing flower-shaped cutouts on matching floral fabric. Dolce & Gabbana and Marni pursued the trend full throttle, putting out head-to toe looks with 3-dimensional floral effects. Prada showed us a more subtle, sweeter interpretation on a pink pencil skirt with lemonade flowers. Off the runway, there’s a danger of this trend skewing toward granny-land, but done right, it could add a freshness to many a spring wardrobe.
This season, a number of designers used goat hair to up the luxe factor. The boys at DSquared used long, ebony locks on a mini party dress, adding equal doses of rock n’ roll and Cousin Itt to the collection. An exercise in contrast, Etro used hair in angelic white to embellish an otherwise simple sweater worn over a flowy evening gown. Missoni dyed her goat hair Yves Klein blue, giving a handful of her Spanish-influenced looks a colorful sashay.
The ubiquitous mesh trend we saw at the New York shows carried over to Milan, but instead of imbuing the shows with roughed-up athleticism like at Alexander Wang and Altuzarra, here, it gave the collections a distinct softness. I loved the mesh two-piece dress at Jil Sander. The enlarged pores felt new and recalled a giant, elegant sponge. Marni’s mesh offerings were also of note, done with pores of varying sizes and overlaid with floral appliqué. Iceberg’s mesh tops were the most conventional of the week, used to make simple tanks and shirts.
September 27, 2011 § Leave a Comment
This is a precarious look for the average woman. Not only is it a crop top, its body-conscious fit puts mere mortals in danger of displaying a whole feast of unflattering bodily delights: muffin tops, donuts, a gut. But real-world concerns aside, this look is gorgeous. I love the hearty print of blooming yellow flowers and ripening zucchini; it’s an image of bounty. The panel of midriff adds interest to what could have been a stale sundress, and the angular neckline gives the top a structured, yet freeing quality.
Versace’s “Little Mermaid” theme has grown on me. I initially thought it was too sweet, too safe, but I’ve come to appreciate how Donatella toughened up her theme with truckloads of gold studs and allusions to classic rock n’ roll garb. I particularly enjoyed a duo of plump seahorses on what looks like a white leather top. It had a plain girlishness to it, and all the swirls recalled an updated paisley. The skirt it was paired with was also nice, featuring constellations of studs that looked like the shell of a sea urchin.
Raf Simons got the “sports-girl” memo from New York, sandwiching a two-piece, ultra white mesh number in between more conventionally feminine looks. The enlarged pores of the mesh felt new and avoided the athletic cliches we saw at other shows; it also gave a new dimension to Simons’ constantly evolving interpretation of minimalism. The styling of the collection was also in good taste. Putting a thin white dress under the mesh imbued the look with a modest elegance, and the smooth up-dos kept the overall look impeccably clean.
Emilio Pucci puts forth the best prints in Milan. For this look, he took the ubiquitous pastel palette from the rest of Fashion Week and infused it with jolts of cobalt blue. The way the colors melt into each other has an ethereal quality and recalls strokes of watercolor paint bleeding into each other on a canvas. I also love the fluidity of the train. It trails behind the model like a mere memory.
Marni collections generally pass fairy quietly, but this season designer Consuelo Castiglioni put out a booming collection of textured floral dresses that we just couldn’t ignore. For this look, Castiglioni put her own spin on the mesh trend, laser-cutting squares and tear-drops onto a black, burgundy, and marigold frock. The mix of textures is nice, and the overall blockiness channels a modicum of Lego-esque inspiration. The transparent slip underneath the dress offers a soft touch, and the nude sock/heel combination is at once edgy and childishly adorable.
September 26, 2011 § Leave a Comment
After the sportive looks from New York and the scattered themes from London, the runways in Milan have served up some food for thought in both runway concept and casting. We’ve also seen heftier daywear offerings, a welcome relief from the steady parade of Oscar-centric collections in the past couple of weeks.
At the Jil Sander show, designer Raf Simons widened armholes, lengthened sleeves, and cut hems at mid-calf to create some fresh and sophisticated silhouettes. He introduced a new neckline on a duo of tailored jackets, too, cutting the lapels straight down until they reached a horizontal plane of fabric, resulting in a rectangular cutout exposing the sternum and some seductive side cleavage. In a way, I felt like I was peering into the soul of the model, and more extensively the Simons’ design philosophy. I also enjoyed the crop tops layered over thin dresses and paired with long skirts. They had the sportive nature of a women’s football jersey, but the ultra white palette and smooth surfaces disabled any overt allusions to the NFL and guided the look to the calmer shores of high fashion. The paisley prints were also a boon, done in faint pastels evocative of an Easter egg hunt. They were clean and pared down – purified.
As I take it, Miuccia Prada is a feminist of sorts. She put men in skirts and braziers for fall 2008, and this season she dolled up her women in garb covered in racer flames and toy cars – a comment on objectification. She also loosened her silhouette on a series of cowboy-meets-dandy jackets decked out in retro florals. I think Prada might have been thinking of “freeing the woman” with these looks, putting her girls in wide, roomy outerwear, but I think the effect was a bit too pronounced; the models looked like South Western line backers. The sunburst pleating on some of the skirts was nice. They contrasted well with the tougher, more structured pieces and gave the collection a dose of old-school femininity. Sticking to her concept, though, Prada printed these with streamlined figures reminiscent of 50s race cars, imbuing the looks with an aggressive intellect that might have looked stronger had they been tempered.
Prada has a social conscience – I get it – but her collection could have benefited from a more relaxed attitude and abstracted interpretation of her politics. I do applaud her audacity, though, and the articulation of her somewhat controversial standpoint in an often socially deaf industry. She’s lucky she has the influence and financial stability to design with such bravado.
Dolce and Gabbana served up a delicious collection of sundresses and bloomers printed with ripening vegetables: red peppers, tomatoes, eggplant, red onions. It actually made me salivate. The collection took me back to 1950s Italy, on some scantly populated island with lush gardens, sumptuous food, and a very tan Sofia Loren. There was such a strong sense of history and cinema that I couldn’t help but fall in love with the fluidity of the pleated skirts and the airy, transparent fabrics. I’m also mad for the lace items in ecru and baby blue with big, ebullient flowers scattered about. They were a nice update to their daintier, more run-of-the-mill lace from S/S 11 and gave the looks a nice, soft texture.
I could have done without the rainbow beading that closed the show; it was a bit too Claire’s for me. But at least they ended the presentation on a festive note with their joyous colors and shapes that resembled fireworks. It was definitely a show to celebrate.
I know it’s sacrilege to criticize czar Lagerfeld, but honestly, I wasn’t too hot about his latest collection for Fendi. The color palette could have used a boost, namely the faint peaches and blues that conjured dirty dish water. There were also a number of looks in black-white combinations, like a black shift dress with white collar, that brought to mind a French maid uniform. I’m also not sure how the styling of the collection worked with the clothes. The glittery eyeshadow looked like shimmering face masks and the tousled up-dos channeled “Bride of Frankenstein.” Perhaps these were just deflectors for the clothes.
The strongest items from the collection were two sheer sweaters with thick, imposing cable knits running down the front and back like pillars. They had a strength in their visual weight, yet the transparency gave the look an overall soft, cozy quality.
Next to some of the more cerebral designers at Milan Fashion Week, namely Prada and Raf Simons of Jil Sander, Frida Giannini doesn’t give the sense that she’s thinking too hard about deep concepts or pushing the limits of fashion. But I think that’s ok. After all, her latest show let us know that she knows how put out a collection that is glamorous, aesthetically sophisticated, and commercially appealing – and that alone is a lot to ask. I loved the deco effects on a series of gold, black, and white cocktail dresses, especially one paired with a giant feathery stole. They had a ’20s, throwback quality that made me think of Old Hollywood parties on the top floor of the Chrysler Building. The hard lines also gave a structured, architectural form to the overall easy silhouette of the dresses.
The styling was also notable. The thick eyeliner and slick hair referenced the back up girls from Robert Palmer’s “Addicted to Love” video. All they needed were some guitars and a cold sway.
I initially didn’t notice the first six looks from Bottega Veneta’s show; I was too focused on the black models wearing them. They later closed the show, which added even more confusion. What did it all mean? Perhaps designer Tomas Maier was making a statement on the dearth of black models on the runway these days, or perhaps he was just clawing for some headlines. Whatever the case, I was just happy to see models of color – and some new ones at that.
Once my attention switched to the clothes themselves, I realized that the model casting might be the most interesting part of the show. There were some new textures, particularly slick leather in rich aquamarine and hunter green. We also saw tie-dyed trousers in red and purple, as well as jeans with bleached-out patches at the front. The mixed-media looks recalled the Commes des Garcons F/W 11 collection, which featured a series of dresses made of vintage scarves. The effect here had the same crafty quality, but the way the textures came together (or didn’t) came across as a bit confused.
Milan has a reputation for being tough to break into, especially as a young designer. I think this season has proved as much, with the experienced fashion houses like Prada and Dolce & Gabbana putting out collections that are immense in size, intellectually complex, and fun to watch.
September 22, 2011 § 1 Comment
In my years following fashion, London Fashion Week has always come across as an intermission between Milan and New York. Sure, there are a few designers anchoring the week’s shows, forcing editors to pay it some attention, but overall the fashion world seems to gloss over it, resting their eyes and keyboards until they see something spicier elsewhere.
The latest London shows, at least the ones that released images to the public (Tom Ford did not), did nothing to change this scenario. There were a lot of pleasant collections with nice clothes, but nothing really stood out as revolutionary or even particularly trend-setting. We saw a wash of ethereal pastels at Jonathan Saunders, Meadham Kirchhoff, and House of Holland, and some wicked 60s-inspired hair at Mulberry that transformed the models into Femme Bots. But for me, there were a few other collections that I think deserve more attention.
I was expecting to see a parade of short, tight party dresses on Matthew Williamson’s runway. (To be honest, he had only existed in my mind as Lindsay Lohan’s pal from an episode of “The Rachel Zoe Project.”) I was pleasantly surprised, then, to see that Williamson had a lot more to offer than high-end club wear. He didn’t reinvent the wheel with his latest collection – it was a pretty standard offering – but he nonetheless produced a lot of pretty looks that would look great on a lot of women. His floral dresses were nice, particularly the opening number in fiery orange that had a slit sliced right up the front. Some delicate cherry blossom prints came later, most notably on a charming shirt-shorts combo.
Despite the hits, there were a number of misses, including just about everything decorated with thick, shaggy fringe. On one gown, the fringe was placed at the hips to reference the now-ubiquitous peplum, but somehow it managed to transform the model into some sort of deep sea creature, calling to mind dead coral or achromatic seaweed swaying in the water. It didn’t help that the dress was completely shapeless. I mean, I know models are supposed to be skinny, but Zac Posen showed us last week that the right construction can give curves to even the most angular body.
Ex-Balenciaga designer Alistair Carr put out an impressive debut collection for Pringle of Scotland, showing us a controlled, understated show that played with geometric print and draping. The first few looks featured multicolored layers of thick, interlocking lines that brought to mind enlarged threads of a shirt or the covers of 80s math textbooks. It had a retro air to it, but the way the shirt was sewn together as a series of carefully placed panels brought it an undoubtedly contemporary feel. The cable knit prints also stood out, especially a black and white ombre version on a 3/4 length cardigan. It was tongue-in-cheek, referencing the brand’s sometimes stale, conservative reputation but turning it on its head by introducing a digital flair.
My favorite piece from the show was Carr’s take on the little black dress. From the front it looked like three trapezoidal panels floating in space, the edges delineated by thick white lines. The dress sung in its minimalism, and it somehow managed to layer fabric while maintaining a distinct lightness.
For the latest Burberry show, designer Christopher Bailey continued his African artisan theme from the menswear shows last June, decking out his girls in raffia golf hats, anoraks with crocheted collars, and below-the-knee skirts in vivid prints reminiscent of cartoon candy. The prolongation of the same theme from months ago seemed a bit lackluster in our hyper-speed fashion world. There was no suspense once the show started; the anticipation of discovering Bailey’s vision quickly deflating after the first couple of looks.
That said, there were a number of interesting, hip items in this show that I’m sure will strike editorial and commercial gold as spring rolls around next year. We saw more skirts with gathered fabric at the front that I first raved about from Marc Jacobs last weekend. While the skirts recalled crumpled paper bags at Jacobs, here they brought to mind the animated paintings of Roy Lichenstein or artistic renderings of rope. I also loved all of the tight, high-waisted skirts done in various iterations of stripes: two-toned, textured, earthy. They gave the models a nice, sexy shape, but their sober prints maintained an artisanal personality.
London Fashion Week is in dire need of a kick. Perhaps Alexander McQueen should show it some love too; designer Sarah Burton’s vision would be an undoubted boon to the Fashion Week scene and offer it some much needed-buzz. Kudos to Burberry and Tom Ford for holding down the fort and at least forcing editors to stop by and say “hello.”
September 21, 2011 § Leave a Comment
After the S/S 11 white out, which featured numerous collections of achromatic summer dresses, pant suits, and evening gowns, New York designers have taken a cue from Jil Sander’s S/S 11 show and infused some blindingly bright hues into their collections for S/S 12. Yves Klein blue, bubblegum pink, and poppy gave vibrant pops of color to a number of runways, while seafoam blue and sand balanced some of the more vivid hues with a calm neutrality.
My favorite palettes for S/S 12 were the various iterations of yellow – mustard, canary, lemonade – each of which complimented the collections in a unique way. Mustard offered a visual weight, canary gave an optimism, and lemonade added a light airiness. Look below for some colors to look forward to next spring.
YVES KLEIN BLUE
September 20, 2011 § Leave a Comment
I held my breath when a pale yellow pant suit came down Calvin Klein’s runway last week. There was such an absence in the dress – of color, details, silhouette – but paradoxically it seemed packed with ideas. I loved the transparent bib at the bodice. Its overall shape was soft and delicate like soapstone, and the way it revealed the model’s most private parts, her breasts and heart, channeled an overwhelming sense of vulnerability. I also enjoyed the 70s influence in the slender gold belt at the waist and the slight flair on the pants. It gave the look a small retro kick.
From the tens of reworked and reinvented shirtdresses we saw last week, Bill Blass’s fiery coral version stood out among the strongest. I loved how its color popped against the more prep-influenced hues in the rest of the collection – navy, black, ultra white – as well as how it blurred the line between daywear and evening wear. The shirtdress also had a number of nice details, like an almond-shaped slit that revealed a slice of skin at the sternum. It gave the dress a welcome bit of sensuality that, if absent, would have made the model look like a nun on fire. The cable knit embroidery toward the bottom of the skirt was another nice touch, adding subtle visual texture and working the look into the country club aesthetic of the rest of the collection.
When you think of a designer exploring new fabric, you might think of dyed ostrich feathers, fur scalped from endangered species, or even recycled plastics spun into twine. In his latest collection, Jacobs played with new fabric, but he didn’t have to scour distant rain forests or junkyards to discover something that felt totally new. For a small series of sweaters in glaring, springtime colors, Jacobs recreated the slick, scuba effect of neoprene from simply blending nylon and cashmere. I loved the baseball sweater in canary yellow and sand. It had a youthful quality, but its sophisticated fabric and the look’s theatrical styling let us know that it was strictly grown up. I also loved how Jacobs paired the sweater with a brown skirt that gathered at the front. All the crinkles and amorphous shapes brought to mind a child’s brown bag lunch.
At the Proenza Schouler show last week, designers Jack McCollough and Lazaro Hernandez used lacquered eel skin to luxe up some pretty exciting clothes. My favorite of these was a striped pencil skirt with a short slit in the front that flashed some leg with every stride. There was something distinctly sexy about its reptilian texture and cautionary yellow stripes that wrapped around the thighs like a poisonous snake. I also like how the top it was paired with, an off-white 3/4 shirt, was edged-out with leather details: a textured collar, a square breast pocket, sleeve panels, a slim epaulet. The overall look had a girlish foundation that was built upon by tough fabrics and an aggressive attitude.
To balance all the mommy outfits that opened his show, complete with Little Miss Muffet bonnets and achingly dowdy pastels, Ralph Lauren sent out a series of show-stopping evening looks to close it. My favorite of these was a simple, floor-length gown done in shimmering silver. The bodice of the dress was elegantly simple, but across the legs streamed curved hems that exploded into a dramatic sea of white silk as they approached the floor. The effect was controlled, yet powerful and conjured the poetic Hokusai print “The Great Wave of Kanagawa”.
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 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.