We're back from Lincoln Center and taking a very quick break before checking out the red carpet at tonight's Emmy Awards, and the start of Boston Fashion Week. But, I have a few more goodies from NYFW to share, including this look at the Ralph Lauren Fashion show.
The Anna Sui woman is not afraid of wild prints, she's also not afraid of pom-poms, poufs, or socks worn with pumps. Which is why the eclectic designer's Spring/Summer collection was an ideal blend of crazy and classic, merged into a kaleidoscopic show that somehow never fell into a canyon of tacky. There was a period in the 1970s when the fashions of the 1940s came back into vogue, and Sui's Lincoln Center show referenced that double retro era, but she added yet another layer to the 1940-meets-1970s hybrid with an endless swirl of color. The "Sunset Boulevard" turbans, florals, wide pants, and finally a vampy collection of black siren dresses gave Sui an outlet for ideas that in the past may have floundered. Here, she merged those thoughts into a coherent and exuberant hybrid of color and cut.
Walking into a room heavy with shag carpet and retro light fixtures, the initial thought was that Jack McCollough and Lazaro Hernandez would be going back to the late 1960s or early 1970s for their Wednesday night show. Instead, the pair went back just a bit further, putting the focus on the 1940s with tight pencil dresses, delicately exposed shoulders, and one particularly jarring pantsuit. There were prints that could have come directly off of 1950s kitchen curtains, and retro elegance in the form of gloves. There were a dizzying swirl of ideas, as if the pair couldn't decide what kind of message to convey, but those ideas were carried out well.
If there was as anodyne to the flood of wild prints and raucous neon colors of the Spring/Summer 2012 collections, it came in the serene beauty of Chado Ralph Rucci’s understated and impeccably designed collection. Now celebrating his 30th anniversary in fashion. The nearly all-white collection eschewed color in favor of construction. Fashioning neoprene (the go-to-fabric of next spring), wool, and tulle into jackets and maxi dresses that enraptured an older crowd anchored by style doyenne Iris Apfel. His most experimental element, clear plastic inserts, gave a wink to the forward-thinking Pierre Cardin, but Rucci was far more concerned with elegance than trends.
Marchesa designers Georgina Chapman and Keren Craig are not known for simplicity or restraint. Their layers of cascading tulle and pleated organza have made the luxurious dresses a red carpet staple. However, their very civilized show at the posh Plaza Hotel was slightly more earthbound. Inspired by a watery painting by artist Ilya Repin, the pair referenced undersea creatures, but many of the dresses looked far more inspired by the 1920s than jellyfish. The platinum fringe dress and art deco-inspired beaded bugle dress were a surprising change of direction -- lacking the usual ruffles and flounce. Fortunately Craig and Chapman also mixed plenty of opulent eye candy into their aquatic journey.
Was there a chance that recently hitched Michael Kors honeymooned in the Sahara? The collection he showed to a packed house at Lincoln Center looked as if it had come in directly from the continent. Loose fitting pants in olive green, poplin ponchos, zebra print caftans, man sarongs (!),cheetah print patchwork shifts, and alligator messenger bags. Kors was quite literal in his interpretation of it all. Perhaps too much. But this Michael Kors, a man who’s far to savvy to show a parade of “Out of Africa” Meryl Streep Halloween costumes. The gauzy pieces, rendered in cashmere and linen, moved beautifully and the slouchy proportions made his interpretation of an African safari far more interesting than a cargo vest and a pith helmet. Fortunately neither vest nor hat made an appearance.
Let's start with highlights from today's Nanette Lapore show (these clothes were very bright and sporty):
Speaking of bright, here are highlights from Custo Barcelona. These are prints that require 3D glasses, and this wasn't the only show that went 3D (I smell a trend for fall/winter 2013):
I try not to be one of those people at fashion shows who takes pictures of the runway with their iPhone (the new scourge of the fashion show audience is the iPad). But, at today's Marchesa show at the Plaza Hotel, I delicately slipped out my phone to film this low-grade snippet for your viewing pleasure. The show was lovely as always.
It was not a case of life imitating “Mad Men,” but upon closer inspection there were subtle and frequent nods to the 1960s on the runway and in presentations this week. Erin Fetherston’s collection for her ERIN line was perhaps the most direct homage to the era. Her ultra-mini shift dresses were worn by models who were easily doppelgangers for Mia Farrow circa “Rosemary’s Baby.” Alice and Olivia’s collection was highlighted by early 1960’s cocktail dresses, and there were modern interpretations of the 1960s found in the silhouettes of Derek Lam’s leather dresses, and the Marimekko-style prints of Diane von Furstenberg’s show. And just in case you missed the message, von Furstenberg topped all of her models with a fluffy cotton candy bouffant.
After a day of loud prints and Rachel Zoe, watching the Marc by Marc Jacobs collection on Monday night felt like a palate cleanser. Those who prefer to look at the can of Mr. Pibb as half empty could sniff that these clothes were too simple. But Jacobs took classic proportions and cuts, and applied zesty shades of tangerine, kelly green, and an occasional print. In the description of the clothes, Jacobs cited architectural references such as Bauhaus and Charles Eames. Those references may not have been literal, but Jacobs clearly looked toward that feeling of stripped down simplicity for the basis of the collection.
There are some designers who are quite likable as people, but as designers they're not always on the mark. Take Betsey Johnson, for example. She's the one with the crazy hair and makeup, and a fantastic and exuberant personality. Oh, she always does a cartwheel on the runway. But her Monday night show at Lincoln Center was a bit like "The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas" exploded on the runway. I don't think I'm even allowed to say what the show was called on this blog, but she gave her outfits names such as "Loose" and "Too Hot."
On the opposite end of the spectrum was Tuesday's Badgley Mischka runway show. It felt as if the two designers were creating clothes for an episode of "Designing Women." Lots of inexplicable colors and very strange ruffles. In both cases I wanted to like the clothes. But I'll patiently hope for the best next season.
So you don't have time to scurry from tent to tent, nestle in next to editors and celebrities, and take in all of the glamorous, pricey clothing whipped up by a-list designers for New York Fashion Week. But you can still (kinda) participate in the catwalk mania and wiggle your booty in the comfort of your own Boston apartment as if you were at Fashion Week with the help of our NYFW playlist. We've hand-picked a few notable selections from this week's Spring 2012 presentations to make you feel like you're in the center of the action.FULL ENTRY
Despite her icy reputation, I'm convinced Vogue Editor in Chief Anna Wintour is generally a pretty happy person.
Since I was met with a resounding "she smiles??" when my thought came to mind, I thought New York Fashion Week would be the perfect opportunity to highlight Wintour's pearly whites -- flashed when not sneering, snickering, or snarling.
Here are several occasions during the past week that Wintour has smiled (and I have photographs to prove it!):
When being embraced by Karl Lagerfeld (who did not smile) while at the New York City launch of his diffusion collection for Macy's Impulse on Sept. 6.
When talking to Nicki Minaj at the Carolina Herrera show. What do you think they were talking about? Their bangs?
When meeting Joe Jonas at Fashion's Night Out at Saks Fifth Avenue on Sept 8.FULL ENTRY
As curt as it sounds, there was a period when fashion writers dismissed Tommy Hilfiger's American prep. The designer created an empire on outfitting coeds, but while commercially successful, much of the artistic message was hard to find. So it's been a pleasure to see a newly-inspired Hillfiger look back and recast his women's collections. His Spring/Summer 2012 runway was "inspired by the infusion of preppy and pop art," he wrote. Like many designers this season, he's paying tribute to the 1960s in very subtle ways. His looked back, but his plaids showed shapes and lengths in new ways, although some not always successful. During the show, another writer leaned over and whispered to me "I guess maternity jackets will be big next spring." But the end of the show, he had progressed to the 1970s with color blocked poncho/caftans that looked ready for Malibu royalty.
It wasn't that long ago Zac Posen claimed to have outgrown New York -- or so he said. The boy wonder who quickly wowed the crowds at the Bryant Park tents of yore with dresses that were sometimes frillier than a wedding cake, sometimes sleeker than satin, uprooted and brought his show to Paris to play with the big boys. But after a bumpy season in Paris he was embraced on his Sunday night return to New York. Just outside Avery Fisher Hall at Lincoln Center with the plaza fountain gushing in the background, he opened with demure cocktail dresses, but quickly progressed to the main course: luscious evening gowns.
There was more than a glimmer of old Hollywood to these highly-structured mermaid gowns with tulle spilling out at the train. No doubt actresses will begin choosing their award season dresses shortly. Paris' loss is New York's gain. The only fault, if it can be called one, is that there was little risk to these gowns. Regardless, it was a grand, lovely return.
Diane von Furstenberg, the queen of the prints, is never shy with bold graphics, and her show on Sunday was no exception. But her optimistic and decidedly floral perspective seems to have spread to other designers for their Spring/Summer 2012 collections. Everyone from the normally austere Derek Lam to the usualy feminine Tracey Reese swirled flowers or offered Pucci-influenced patterns. There was (and will continue to be) a quiet parade of black and white on the runway, but there is also an equally strong sentiment that everything will be coming up roses (or lilies if you're Vivienne Tam) next summer.
Diane von Furstenberg print from her Spring/Summer 2012 collection
Alexander Wang's models traditionally look like they're ready to pick a fight with the audience, or perhaps they're dressed to go to a club that is so underground and elusive that there is no sign on the door. But for his Spring/Summer 2012 collection, Wang's models appeared ready for the BMX course, that is if BMX was relocated to the East Village. At one point, his fresh take on biker culture featured a lineup of motorcross-inspired body suits paired with pointy pumps. And just to make sure the influence wasn't lost, models used botanical print BMX helmets as accessories. But it was his hexagon, laser cut jackets and skirts that felt like they were a fresh reincarnation of a 1980s classic. Oversized eel skin gym sacks only added to the ready-for-the track show. Wang is one of the rare designers here who is not afraid of street-influenced sportswear, and his unique perspective never feels like a cheap gimmick.
I've got five more days to go of New York Fashion Week, and I'm ready to start calling trends. So far it's hard to find a collection that hasn't featured black and white. I just returned from the amazing Derek Lam show at Lincoln Center, and many of his simple and lovely dresses and jackets were black and white. Beautifully constructed, his black and white is just the tip of the icicle. Eric Fetherston used the combo in her shift dresses, Alexander Wang featured it in botanical print form, Victoria Beckham's morning show paired the two in very subtle ways, Vivienne Tam offered black and white print pants with matching blouses, and Jason Wu's (somewhat) edgy show paired the combo as well. Often these looks led to further pops of color, but the bold combination seems to be on every design's mind.
Update! DKNY just showed black and white as well.
[Top image, from left: Erin by Erin Fetherston via Jeff Schear/Getty Images; L.A.M.B. via REUTERS/Cary Horowitz; Tommy Hilfiger via Peter Michael Dills/Getty Images for Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week; DKNY image below via Peter Michael Dills/Getty Images for Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week]
There were pretty dreses. Deceptively simple pieces like a violet-hued crepe halter dress with graphic tulle, but for his Spring/Summer 2012 collection, Prabal Gurung, took his feminine aesthestic in new directions that hinted at the power of fashion. Remarkably he did this while injecting his work with both sex appeal and classic shapes. In lesser hands, these leather bondage-meets-sexy-tulle-panel combinations would be a Frankenstein mess of femme fatale gone all wrong. But Gurung struck an ideal balance of the two as evident pieces such as his final frock, which would be an avant garde red carpet stunner. Here he bravely created the illusion of a row of flowers sprouting at the hem of his model's gown, and then topped it all with a leather corselet.
This progression has elevated his work into a new artistic stratosphere and after a weekend of endless mish-mashed flower prints at Lincoln Center, it was a relief to see a collection presented with a clear vision and singular vision.
Christopher Muther chatted with Corinne Bailey Rae about her thoughts on the Prabal Gurung Spring 2012 fashion show at New York Fashion Week.
If there was a chill in the air at Lincoln Center on Saturday morning, it had nothing to do with the air conditioning. Lacoste's Spring/Summer 2011 show may have featured an occasion flash of yellow or red, but this was a collection that looked like more like early fall than spring. Starting with a round of black that leaned heavily toward shirt dresses and rugby dresses, the collection cleverly straddled the line between sportswear and evening wear. But the somber tones and the playful silhouettes played off one another with unexpected grace. And there was unexpected sexiness in the form of jumper shorts that offered a glimpse of skin.
[Image above via Peter Michael Dills/Getty Images for Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week]
Inspired by precious metals, Cynthia Rowley filled her runway with enough metallic patterns that at times her collection could be mistaken for the 1970s wallpaper in "The Jeffersons" powder room. This is not entirely a bad thing. Her patterns jumped and twinkled in the reflections of her gold mirrored runway. With simpler separates, her metallic zigzags offered a hint of luxury, and on the high waisted cocktail dresses, such details added much-needed sparkle. Her sportier pieces were beach ready and city chic. But when Rowley started layering flower pattern over pattern, her precious metals starting looking as if Monet brought his easel into Studio 54.
[Above image via AP Photo/ Louis Lanzano]
The surprise of it all was almost as fun as the clothes themselves. Nicole Miller, whose Spring/Summer 2011 collection was a muted and minimalist parade of white, beige, and black, turned her 2012 runway show into an explosion of color.
Miller showed a party-ready collection on Friday that was anything but restrained. The electro-pop soundtrack (bonus points for the inclusion of the buzzy classic "A Cause Des Garcons") or the program notes, which included modifiers such as "circa 1985," were almost unnecessary. Miller's collection was youthful and her palette filled with exuberant pink and sunshine yellow, blocked and splashed into patterns.
All was influenced by bicycles. Some pieces, such as a Neoprene jacket, took the influence too far. But this was a hugely successful leap for Miller. Her banquet of periwinkle and teal was a welcome change.
And, a music history lesson that gave the show some of it's teen spirit: "A Cause Des Garcons"
It's the most wonderful time of the year... for fashion lovers. I'm on my way to Mercedes Benz Fashion Week, where I'll be blogging, tweeting, drinking [editors, please ignore that last item] and keeping you up-to-date on trends. That is if I don't drink too much.
Don't forget to catch my updates on Twitter @Chris_Muther.
If you're not able to be in NYC, There are several show you can watch streaming online, and I'll also be posting video here on the site for your sartorial enjoyment. Our good friends at Mashable have compiled some live stream shows here. See you on the runway.