Certain collections had a theatrical dimension this season, inspired by everything from the movie “Butterfield 8” to body armor.
Cynthia Rowley: The fanciful motifs of a children’s pop-up book wove their way through Cynthia Rowley’s fall collection, which began with models in fur-embellished heels, stepping through a constructed forest as otherwise-jaded fashion folk oohed and aahed. Autumn dressing has been tricky for Rowley, whose cheery party dresses often seem more suited for spring, but this time around she went edgy, with just the right dose of whimsy in several voluminous dresses with black animal cutouts over layers of tulle. A silk number was printed in pastel pointillism, while a sexy sheer black frock got mauve cashmere panels. Among the editorial favorites were a cozy green car coat with a faux fur collar, and rich purple and blue shirtdresses perfect for layering.
Carmen Marc Valvo: Sexy old-school glamour, à la Elizabeth Taylor in “Butterfield 8,” was the order of the day at Carmen Marc Valvo. A tight bodice and slim skirt silhouette dominated his lineup of evening dresses and gowns, which ranged from solid jewel-toned satins to lace and feather-embellished looks, many of which were topped off ultraluxe-style with fur coats. When he kept it simple, the result was can’t-miss chic, but lingerie touches, like a peekaboo bra under a strapless dress and some lace corsets, didn’t always match up to the level of elegance he may have intended.
L’Wren Scott: A L’Wren Scott luncheon speaks to the elitism of the fashion gang that eagerly awaits this calm interlude on the final day of a relentless show week. Her ever-edgier clothes looked just right for pals Kyra Sedgwick, Ellen Barkin and Christy Turlington, who joined her. “It’s a little rock music, and the moon at the Loire Valley,” Scott said of her fall inspirations, which were reflected in her purple and gold sequined gowns and the sizzling purple silk matelassé sheath, not to mention all that dramatic gold bullion detailing. Scott also can be counted on for the longest, skinniest jeans in town and terrific leathers. But it was the exquisite bolero in woven peacock feathers that was a welcome flight of fancy amidst the overwhelming bird migration that has perched on the New York runways this week.
Lyn Devon: Lyn Devon wasn’t the only designer to work with the idea of armor this season, but hers was one of the most successful interpretations. It started with a body-conscious silhouette — sporty, lean pants, fitted jackets and zip-up vests — that was strong but not aggressive, thanks to quilted knits and corded wools that kept things soft. From there, she explored the concept of a breastplate, subtly with architectural seams, and then more literally with Swarovski jet embellishments — the kind of thoughtful details and execution that have made Devon a young designer worth watching.
Rad Hourani: Plenty of young designers work with an urban state of mind. Canadian Rad Hourani does too, except he delivers his tale to the tune of a sci-fi Gotham. He nicely followed up last season’s Paris debut with more broodingly dark androgynous wares. For fall, he reemphasized his core shape, the rectangle, and cast it in everything from boxy leather jackets to vests and blazers patchworked from gridlike bands. Sleeves and pants came ultraelongated and occasionally bunched up to chic effect, while his knits were cozily droopy and languid.
MORE FROM THE SHOWS…
Leifsdottir: Johanna Uurasjarvi perfectly distilled Anthropologie’s signature sprightly quirk factor — see wide-leg green herringbone trousers and nature-printed dresses — for the store’s new wholesale collection.
Isabella Tonchi: A well-edited line of just 12 refined pieces in three colors made up Isabella Tonchi’s fall lineup, including cream-and-black pleated wool jersey dresses, a black-and-white-striped silk dress, and a lovely powder-pink cashmere coat.
Chris Han: Opposites certainly attracted, as in a tailored wool pencil skirt suit paired with a fluid chiffon blouse, in Chris Han’s latest collection, which chicly mixed shiny satins and matte knits.
Tadashi Shoji: Tadashi Shoji showed beautifully textured looks in brushed, crinkled and matelassé silks and wools, but a few cheap-looking satin pieces ultimately ruined the effect.
Staerk: Camilla Staerk, the recipient of Gen Art’s first Fashion Fund Award, showed a downtown-edgy collection of waxy cotton and leather stovepipes, racer-back tanks and dresses layered to mimic the dark collages of sculptor Louise Nevelson.
Zang Toi: Zang Toi swung from a Native American motif — a red, white and black mix — to dicey beaded gowns to all-American plaid trenchcoats and corduroy pantsuits, but his tony uptown gal was best served with the straightforward Russian sable mini toggle coat or a sable-collared cashmere version.
Susan Cianciolo: While other designers take the hippie-luxe approach, Susan Cianciolo is just an unrepentant hippie, and her Native American-inspired dresses, skirts and bell-bottoms were embellished with ultrafolksy beading and patchwork.
Willow: Kit Willow’s use of hardware as embellishment — flaxen grommets and asymmetric zippers on draped dresses and tops — proved interesting, but the extra detailing turned distracting when it came to the excessive corsetlike lacing and the broken mirror appliqués.
PHOTOS BY PASHA ANTONOV, JOHN AQUINO, TALAYA CENTENO, GIOVANNI GIANNONI AND ROBERT MITRA