By  on February 13, 2006

NEW YORK — Fashion week was one of contrasts and many superlatives.

Most of the kudos went to Marc Jacobs, fashion's agent provocateur, for moving in a bold new direction that might take customers some getting used to. But if buyers had any reservations, they kept it to themselves. "Pushed the envelope," "really interesting" and "totally individual," were some of the phrases used to describe Jacobs' collection of multilayered, volumed pieces in dark tones.

Other collections garnering praise included Proenza Schouler, Diane von Furstenberg, Oscar de la Renta and Michael Kors.

The desire for great day dresses was fulfilled as several designers did jersey numbers. There was a camel knit dress at Michael Kors and elsewhere, Forties-inspired dresses with a Lolita edge. The return of color after last fall's drab palette was also welcomed. Retailers waxed rapturous over red, hunter green and rich metallics.

There were some disappointments, though. "I would have liked to see a more consistently new direction throughout the shows," said one store executive. "My biggest disappointment is when people don't push themselves, and give us the same old."

Here is what buyers had to say on the New York fall season:

Ann Stordahl, executive vice president of women's apparel, Neiman Marcus:
What I liked: We liked Oscar from start to finish because of his modern sportswear and beautiful, luxurious fabrics. Proenza Schouler was clean and modern and the fabrics were beautiful. I liked Derek Lam's lean, elegant silhouettes. Donna Karan was terrific with all her innovative shapes and rich colors. I liked Carolina Herrera's daywear best and loved her beautiful red accents for evening.

On Marc Jacobs: His whole layered silhouette looked really new. I really enjoyed the serenity of the show. Usually people are polarized by Marc. I liked it because it was new.

Trends I spotted: Rich color versus last fall, which was quite somber. I loved the accents of red and the new hunter green. There was newness in layering, the skinny pants, leggings, knit dressing and the winter short.Jennifer Wheeler, director of designer apparel, Nordstrom:
What I liked: I loved Calvin Klein. It was a blockbuster. Proenza Schouler was very strong. The lace dresses and jackets and colorblock pieces were great. Zac Posen delivered one of the most focused collection he's ever done. It highlighted the range and depth he's developing as a designer. Donna Karan's show was really beautiful. It was all about sculptural femininity.

On Marc Jacobs: We've come to expect a surprise from Marc and he's always going to move our eye forward. We love what he's put down the runway this time. I think our customers will absolutely wear it. They may not put it together exactly the way he did. The layering, capes and mixes of fabric were terrific.

Worth mentioning: We loved Philip Lim's 3.1 collection. He's a great talent to watch.

Trends I spotted: I see a couple of different camps emerging, street chic and great dresses and more day options. The jumper is a really strong trend but there are plenty of long-sleeved dresses too. I love the fact that the skinny jean pants and leggings have emerged. It's going to be a great season to buy a leather jacket.

Julie Gilhart, vice president and fashion director, Barneys New York:
What I liked: By far the best show was Proenza Schouler. It was a really grown-up expression of their signature. It's such a Barneys collection. I loved the mix of cuts they did, the colorations, the fabrications. It also had an edge. I think things need to have an edge. Rag & Bone, for a collection that has denim, was sleek and chic with short fitted jackets and narrow pants.

On Marc Jacobs: I thought Marc Jacobs was really interesting. He really made a statement about a new way of dressing, a new silhouette. His color palette was a different kind of combination. It took a lot of courage to do that. The Marc by Marc Jacobs show was one of his best. It was sophisticated while playing with interesting proportions. It had a little more edgy polish to it, which is one of the key messages of the season. It's not so much about applications, it's about silhouette and proportions.Michael Fink, senior fashion director, Saks Fifth Avenue:
What I liked: I loved Oscar de la Renta and Carolina Herrera. Carlos Miele was a highlight. I loved Calvin Klein, the nuance, the textures of all the different blacks and the very soft, yet strict silhouettes. For an all black collection there was so much drama involved. I loved all of the Baroque fabrications, such as lush brocades and velvets. The best examples were at Proenza Schouler, Doo.ri and Tuleh.

On Marc Jacobs: I loved Marc. It was about reinventing a new world and putting on your favorite things and starting a new life. He introduced all the layering.

Trends I spotted: The play on proportions, long and lean, versus voluminous shapes and bubbles. There's a return to very tailored men's wear dressing. What makes it wonderful are all of the incredibly romantic blouses out there. Leggings are a big trend of the season. We're seeing them under skirts of all lengths and even under eveningwear.

Stephanie Solomon, fashion director of women's ready-to-wear, Bloomingdale's:
What I liked: Diane von Furstenberg had a wonderful, joyous happy collection with great colors and she pushed the plaid envelope. I loved Proenza Schouler. They're moving in a new direction. Ralph Lauren's take on the huntress was wonderful. It was rich and luxurious. I loved the men's wear plaid, cashmere leggings and snuggly cashmere cardigans and plaid riding coat.

Worth mentioning: The great knit dressing and leggings at Donna Karan. Young designers — Thakoon had a wonderful hand, with good craftsmanship and beautiful workmanship. Rag & Bone is a great new line.

On Marc Jacobs: I loved Marc Jacobs. To me, as always, he pushes the envelope and makes us think differently. Everything else is perceived in a new way.

Trends to watch: Leggings, sweater coats, jumper dresses, jersey dresses, flyaway coats and jackets and lots of plaid and herringbone.

Ed Bucciarelli, president and ceo, Henri Bendel:
What I liked: Peter Som is quintessential effortless chic for the young, modern, New York girl. We especially loved his full skirts with the hidden pockets and beautiful cream blouses. Diane von Furstenberg hit the mark as usual, capturing the essence of the season in a wearable and upbeat way and channeling the perfect New York working girl. Brian Reyes' masterful attention to delicate details signals him as the one to watch. We love that Adam Lippes for adam+eve is the voice for hip dressing, and Michon Schur's stand-out collection of full skirts and dresses with pleat detailing will be perfect for the Bendel girl.Linda Fargo, women's fashion director, Bergdorf Goodman:
What I liked: Rodarte was such a dream. It was really beautiful, inspired by a flower. A counterpoint to that was Proenza Schouler, which was much more architectural and linear. I think Michael Kors looked good this time.

On Marc Jacobs: He's such an iconoclast. He always does his own thing. I'm very anxious to see it in the showroom and pull it apart. I particularly liked the evening pieces. I was just a little bit surprised by it. I want to be surprised. If every show that came out was predictable it would be a yawn. It was a new grunge again, a juxtaposition to the beautiful ladylike looks with fitted skirts and polished elegance.

Trends I spotted: The waist is important. We're starting to see an emergence of the maxi. There were a lot of architectural elements, balloon bell sleeves and lots of folding. It almost reminds me of Frank Gehry. This is going to be the year of the blouse. Muses for the fall season included Maggie Gyllenhaal in the movie "Secretary," Lauren Bacall from the Forties, but without the exaggerated shoulders, and Ali MacGraw at Michael Kors.

Worth mentioning: We had a small favorite in Rodarte, and we loved Proenza Schouler, but I thought the most fun show wasn't a women's show, but Thom Browne's with the ice skating rink and the hot chocolate.

Stefani Greenfield, founder, Scoop:
What I liked: I lived for the jersey dresses at Michael Kors. Diane von Furstenberg is also really onto something with her whole concept of jersey dressing. I love Michael Kors' cashmere angora jumpers, especially in plaid. It was just fun. Matthew Williamson had some great long skirts. I loved Marc by Marc Jacobs. DKNY had amazing wool jersey dresses and in the Pure line there were the yummiest sweaters in heather gray and a grainy natural and oatmeal.

On Marc Jacobs: One of my favorite shows of all time was Marc Jacobs. You felt as if you were at one of the European shows. The richness in color, the whole concept of layering was amazing. The knitwear, backless plaid dresses and bags were phenomenal. The colors were great. It set the bar so high. It was the whole and these fantastic parts. When you see a show like Marc Jacobs' collection it sets the bar really high.Scoop customers and Jacobs: I give them their next new uniform and hope that they like it. We'll show them how to wear the Marc Jacobs look head to toe.

With contributions from Lisa Lockwood and Marc Karimzadeh

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