Michael Kors: Optimism — a trend? Tell that to Michael “Feel Good” Kors. For him, rose-colored contacts are as essential an accessory as a big mink beach towel. His girls feel exactly same way. But then, with their bodies and bank accounts, they should be glum?
In the spring collection he showed on Wednesday, Kors took an imaginary sojourn to Capri, “the world’s greatest, longest-running fashion show. It’s not a place for people who pack light,” he said, relishing his imaginary traveling fashion plate. “It’s the only place where a woman changes her swimsuits six times a day.”
Hyperbole, perhaps — but it made for one terrific trip. That’s because for all his luxury frequent-flyer musings, Kors is a realist at heart. He knows that the leap from dull to diva need not be a giant one, and that most women want to look glamorous, but not in tricked-up clothes. His solution: a souped-up, luxed-up riff on the familiar, the ordinary, if you will, that ends up looking anything but. For spring that meant takes on classic, sporty shapes cut in rich fabrics and clean, lively colors, worn with a carefree attitude, but attitude nonetheless. Case in point: the preppy pullover and striped shirt duet. Kors loves the look, but why put it with khakis when a sparkly beaded mosaic-motif skirt will do just fine? And why shouldn’t jeans get a tony treatment, either with a cashmere bra and jacket or with a lace-like embroidery?
Kors’ ease with such combinations allows him to push the notion of casual indulgence. He transferred the venerable awning stripe to metal mesh for tops and carryall shoulder bags, and cut a little miniskirt from sturdy canvas, with clear pockets sewn on to keep the Vertu phone in full view. And, of course, he kept everything racy, working look-at-me cutouts into everything from a jaw-dropping maillot to a chic trench.
That trench is a necessary item because the air can turn chilly in Capri, even at the beach. Good thing we weren’t kidding about that mink beach towel. And given his penchant for luxury sportif, Michael probably isn’t, either.
Narciso Rodriguez: Before his show Narciso Rodriguez said his inspiration for spring came from all things Brazilian — the country’s sensuality, music, people and Carnivale. But you’d have to know Narciso, or at least know his clothes to make the connection with what he showed on the runway.
This isn’t a man who takes his inspiration literally, getting swept up in the feathers, froufrou and frenzy of Carnivale costumes. Still, for Rodriguez, who habitually sticks to the cement, nude and black end of the spectrum, color-wise this collection was as daring and debauched as an all-night party on the beaches of Bahia. To a rollicking soundtrack by the Brazilian band Hip-Hop Roots, Rodriguez sent out not only a fleet of body-skimming dresses and suits in natural linen, white and silver, but in fanciful lavender — or “orchid,” as Narciso calls it — and an unabashed, come-get-me-boys red. Lavender streaked down the front of a slinky tan dress, while khaki bound the seams of a ruby red number.
But Rodriguez wasn’t bold in palette alone. He took a flaunt-it-if-you’ve-got-it approach to the season’s femininity trend, cutting his curvaceous suits with a slight flare at the hip and corseted dresses in sizes slim to cinched. Bound seams arched over the hip and traced out his graphic notions. A boxy jacket came cropped short or inset with mesh wedges at the waist, just the thing for a girl with killer abs. While Rodriguez’s no-nonsense construction had an architectural edge, the collection didn’t break new ground. He simply continued to do what he does best.
Rodriguez has certainly signed up for the feel-good fashion movement. But while his peers go girly with ribbons and frills, Narciso does pretty his way — if not with samba madness, then always with precision and plenty of moments of perfection.
Proenza Schouler: Boys will be boys. But sometimes, they also will be grown-up designers. With the Proenza Schouler collection they showed on Wednesday, Lazaro Hernandez and Jack McCollough achieved that status with confidence and distinction, establishing themselves as a serious force in New York fashion.Despite their youth and still-recent student status, these two never got into the crazy-kid school of design. They started out seeking to develop an aesthetic of young sophistication and achieved that right from the start. What they’ve shown here is an intention not only to refine that aesthetic but to evolve and expand its manifestations. To that end they moved away from last season’s more lady-fied — and more sober — approach and into the realm of exuberant sportswear without sacrificing an iota of chic. And it looked fabulous.
Confidence? These clothes dripped with it. Or skipped with it, if you will, because they radiated delightful, crossing in elements of preppy, athletic and sweater girl — sometimes in a single look. In fact, what this collection had that fall did not is diversity in a wealth of great pieces to be put together at will. A girl can play the athletic deb-prep in little suede or velvet swim trunks, a proper cardigan and a pile of pearls. She can channel Daisy Buchanan in a shiny flapper dress or demure, big-collared velvet coat. Or she can just look of-the-moment in a constructed camisole and khaki shorts.
These clothes are not only good, they’re also imaginative. Which is not to say totally original. While at Parsons, Jack interned with Marc Jacobs and Lazaro with Michael Kors, and one can surely extract an elemental fusion of those influences — the romance and quirky combinations from Jacobs, the color and twists on sporty classics from Kors. And there’s also a hint of Balenciaga in the artsy-but-not-too aura. But who cares? Everybody works references, and students are supposed to learn from their mentors. What matters is that they use — not abuse — that knowledge. Hernandez and McCollough seem well on the way toward shaping lessons learned into a distinctive point of view all their own. Time will tell.
Bradley Bayou for Halston: Finally, it looks like Halston has an afterlife now that it’s in the hands of Bradley Bayou, a rookie at the house, but a 14-year veteran of the evening scene. And it’s not hyperbole when the designer refers to his 20-piece evening collection as “couture.” Because in a way it is — in its elaborate detail and workmanship, fit, fabrics, prices ($5,000 to $20,000) and its originality and glamour. While a few looks were more labor-intensive works of art than great clothes, the designer cleared the Halston-channeling hurdles that his predecessors could not, and did pure Bradley Bayou. Certainly, he has a history for making clothes that get noticed. To name a few, he has dressed Oprah, Halle Berry, Salma Hayek, Queen Latifah and Cynthia Nixon, who’s expected to wear one of his Halston creations for the Emmys this Sunday.A dyed, washed and dyed again turquoise party dress, covered with seed beads, had a wonderful distressed look; plastic, painted on the inside, then cut into small squares and pieced together, detailed a fabulous turquoise mini slipdress with an amusing gold fish motif. Bayou was big on corsets, too, working one into the green-piped bodice of an off-white satin and silk party dress with hand-painted green flowers. He showed corset-waisted trousers, corset-cinched suits and a few corseted cocktail dresses. The best of his suits was a hand-pleated beige leather jacket and slim skirt with a ruffled hem. With all those details, it might sound excessive, but most of it worked because Bayou knew just when to rein it in. And that restraint was the key to the elegance of his black wool strapless column with a single ribbon running off-center down its length.
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