Dark palettes, few frills and well-worked details were some of the elements that made an impact on the runways.
Ralph Lauren: A modern shooting party — hardly the typical fashion-girl spot of tea. But coming at the end of the New York season, Ralph Lauren's ode to sartorial Englishness played like a fashion PowerPoint in 3-D, a keenly focused presentation with a singular, simple message: The goal is to make women look beautiful. Point one in support of the thesis, Halle Berry, seated in the front row, gorgeously understated in Lauren's pinstriped pantsuit and turtleneck. Unlike so many front-row celebrities, she looked real, as if she'd dressed herself and was there not to pose self-consciously, but to enjoy the show.
Which of course, has always been central to Lauren's work. Despite the renown of his so-called perfect imaginary world, Lauren doesn't set out to make sweeping social or quasi-political statements on his runway; he's content to make great, real clothes in which real women will look great. If that means approaching trends with a feather rather than a sledgehammer, so be it. Here, he hit on fall's essential themes: coziness, layering, the dark palette, the dearth of frills, all delivered with a control and haught that played to the Brit motif. He favored earthy tones — lodens, olives, browns — achieving a wrapped-up feel with no bulk and little volume, save for the occasional sweep of a wool cape or fringed poncho. More often he went for a linear line in snug-fitting peplum sweaters, lean skirts and a considerable show of leggings, mercifully limiting the true jodhpur sightings to one. Throughout, Fair Isle derivatives played against tony tweeds, supple velvet softened sturdy wools, the rugged richness of it all heightened by suedes and cabled cashmeres.
Lauren didn't linger long with evening, though he did show a crisp tartan taffeta, putting him in league with other designers with day-for-night fabrics. Still, it's not the trend, but what you do with it. Lauren took a geriatric concept — the strapless cocktail hourglass — and made it look new and young. And that's putting a little English on it.
Donna Karan: So long, yin! Catch you later, yang! Ditto full and lean, rugged and refined, and all you other long-attracting opposites. For fall, Donna Karan gave temporary rest to those career-defining dichotomies, retreating for a moment into a state of conflict-free calm. The result was a minimalist jewel in which elegance trumped edge to beautiful effect.
A Stella McCartney sketch of a custom dress made from protein-based silk in partnership with biotech lab Bolt Threads. The dress will be displayed at The Museum of Modern Art's upcoming design exhibition, "Items: Is Fashion Modern?"