Hold the irony, please. And the pilings of stuff. And the cute-young-ones-only madcap costumery that has so tickled our fancy in recent seasons. New York has gone blatantly, unapologetically, refreshingly chic. That's chic in the traditional sense of the word, in which elegance is an essential part of the equation, even for the youngest end of the spectrum. In fact, no less a master of all things undone, twisted and manipulated than Marc Jacobs took a 180-degree turn for the collection he showed Monday night.
"It's all precise shapes, simple, clean and polished," he said, adding "no layers," in an obvious reference to his more-is-more mantra of the last few seasons. Jacobs said the time just felt right for a change, and even noted his approach to his casting. When one girl, the elfin Cecilia Mendez, showed up in a black V-neck sweater with jeans accessorized only with a pretty pendant and a gold watch, she stood out. "I'm so over seeing girls in superhero getups with tutus," he said.
He has plenty of company. Though they've never designed for the tutu set, both Oscar de la Renta and Carolina Herrera have, at times, experimented with varying levels of artsy, boho embellishment, and on Monday, both sent out strong collections that emphasized a luxe sportswear attitude. And Tuleh's Bryan Bradley still played to the iconic Vassar girl of yester-runway, but this time held the jokes. In each case, the designer showed a hankering for classics, sometimes as basic as a great blouse-and-pants pairing, and a deft knowledge of how such seemingly simple fare can skirt the mundane.
De la Renta's collection was, in a word, dazzling, and not only in its well-controlled embroideries. It shone as well in its security; its grounded, cross-generational appeal and its fabulous expression of sporty luxe. The clothes ranged from the utterly understated to those which, had they not been so cleverly rendered, could easily have veered toward ostentatious.
On the simple side, de la Renta showed any number of divinely unfettered dresses in double wool crepe and chill-chasing tweeds — a sweet houndstooth dress flecked with glitter; the simplest charcoal skirt under a little sweater. When he upped the extras, he did so with restraint. Fur — and it's everywhere again — was as likely to show up in a big, floppy hat or a border on a cocktail dress as in an au sauvage coyote vest and mukluks or a hand-woven mink tweed coat. And even when he gave in to such extravagance, de la Renta's cozy earthen palette kept the looks grounded. Though he deviated from those inviting neutrals with a few gorgeous, vibrant brocades, for the most part, he stayed relatively quiet even at night, decking simple shapes with sparkle. He outlined the neckline of a navy silk velvet column in crystals, and embroidered paillettes onto a graceful anthracite organza gown. And in his hands, the ballerina found new sophistication in layers of smoky gray tulle under a chinchilla bolero.
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