New York Fashion Week Review: Spirited Away

September 15, 2011 § 1 Comment


Looks from Zac Posen

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.

Looks from de la Renta

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.

Looks from Thakoon

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.

Looks from Marchesa

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.

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