For a look at all the trends described below, check out our gallery.
A lot of the designers that I mention in this column may not seem all that familiar to you, and there’s a reason. It is simply that I am not invited as a guest to shows like Michael Kors, Donna Karan, Calvin Klein or many other notables. I am not a buyer or writer for a national fashion magazine. I would not be a priority on their PR person’s directory of who to have in attendance.
That said, it does allow me to focus my attention and energy to designers that are successfully showing and selling their designs (or trying to) at boutiques and high-end retailers like Bergdorf Goodman, Neiman Marcus. These fashion auteurs are a little more distant from the collective public radar. It’s cool that I get to relay my impressions of what I see and photograph, but by no means is it to be considered the last word, just a suggestion. It’s all about what creates a reaction in you the reader.
Fashion, like art, doesn’t require you to love it. The only obligation is the understanding that design has a place in our cultural discussion. NYC Mayor Bloomberg pointed out in his opening message to all who attended Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week that, “fashion is more than glitz and glamour – it is an essential part of our economy, and a field of great promise for…. aspiring designers, buyers, and retailers.”
So here’s another completely subjective list of the trends and trappings of fashion week.
The Gold Standard
Metallic tones were always in evidence on the runways, some are just more subtle and rely on design more than shine. From one of my fashion favorites Elene Cassis we have clean lines and an interesting waist line detail on this elegant cocktail dress. The textured silk works well to keep it the look luxurious and classy. The bib necklace and large bangles by Sobral add just the right tone to balance the oversize sash.
Couture designer Douglas Hannant took his inspiration from the 1930s when clothing had feminine frills like ruffles, peplum details, and particular attention was paid to line and fit. I loved the poufy ruffled shoulder as a counterpoint to the rough texture of the simple dress. The no-fuss make up and crimped hair work to great effect. Also in evidence in his collection were the new longer skirt and cinched waistlines with wide leather belts.
Evening wear designer Sherri Hill almost had her show overshadowed by the presence of reality starlets Kim and Kourtney Kardashian, who sat front row to cheer on their little sister Kendall Jenner. It also didn’t hurt that film crews were at hand capturing the moment for their style network series. To be fair to Ms. Hill, the designs were intricately breathtaking, as was Ms. Jenner in a jeweled bustier gown with a slit up to there that revealed a jeweled panty peeking out for modesty’s sake. Lots of glamour, glitter, and gowns for the red carpet set.
Carlos Campos menswear was in tune with man’s past, as well as taking these classic looks into the future without the “edginess” that can scare males away. His take on putting it together tweaked traditional color combinations by making the blues more purple, and the reds more coral. In a sense the best use of the hackneyed phrase “classic yet modern” works here. Guys may actually want to wear these great designs. The footwear he paired with the looks also echoed many shows where women adopted the styles of these masculine spectator shoes. The zigzag chevron pattern mixed with the brown leather was a winner in my book.
Dude Where’s My Sleeves?
I like the idea here from Nomia by Yara Flynn of a jacket- like vest. What would you call this? Is it a sleeveless coat? Whatever you want to call it, the utilitarian feel of this garment would also work great with a t-shirt and jeans, and for more figure flattery add one of the season’s wide belts over a shift dress.
Colorfully fun, almost giddy is the way to describe Chris Benz‘s fashion sense. Playfully posed models on packing boxes let us examine the way that prints may go together but not necessarily match. In his collection floral prints kept an easy company with graphic patterns, stripes and solids. The hair was puffball pretty, and provided some balance to the merry mash ups. Slacks, dresses, separates, it doesn’t really matter when you know what you’re doing, and have confidence in your vision like Mr. Benz does.
Color blocking is still relevant, and I ask you, has it ever looked better? Lela Rose ramped up her girly style with fun pieces that exuded her love of life and wearable design for real women. Neutral jackets tossed over the shoulder worn with colorful camp shorts and chunky wooden jewelry keep it easy to coordinate and breezy to wear.
Coming up Shirt
Schoolgirl sexy was the order of the day for Givanna Randall designer for Honor. Long maxi dresses that had a shirtwaist effect looked cool with the menswear inspired footwear. The contrasting Peter Pan type collars gave it a retro-cool vibe. The entire collection was inspirational for a lot of the right reasons.
Wide and Wearable
Wide legged pantsuits reminiscent of the fabulous YSL in the ‘70s are still walking proud down the runway. Proportion played a key role in Carlos Miele’s spring collection, where flow was everything. If it didn’t move while they walked, he didn’t show it. These seemingly simple draped garments are harder to successfully pull off design-wise than almost any other style. The finale was a riot of color and movement that were a testament to this designer’s sinuous style.
Teal the Truth
Jenny Packham knows how to make women feel like movie stars. Color and silhouettes that flatter without being constricting are her calling card. Look at her use of color here in this one-shouldered dress. The garment does not overshadow the model, but instead points out her beauty. That is what good design is all about, no matter who wears it.
The ever-popular trapeze style made an appearance at designer Son Jung Wan. The over dyed effect was just beautiful on this grey silk and proved what would be a winning look for almost any woman, regardless of her size. Her work is some of the most beautiful every fashion week, so make sure to keep an eye out for her name.
I would go on and on, but I have to save some surprises for you when winter sets in and we need a little fashion fumes to go on. Check out the gallery for more pictures and if you can, come out and support Refashion for Life that I am hosting this Thursday. Remember being in style is all about you and how you choose to interact with the world, not necessarily what you wear.
Nicholas K Runway Show