My Favorite Looks from New York Fashion Week, Part 2
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”.