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And that’s all, folks. The New York collections signed off with a shot of youthful feminism, à la playful frocks, ruffled gowns and snappy combos.
Zac Posen: Simple Shakers and early American settlers seemed an improbable inspiration for Zac Posen, a designer known for his undying love of over-the-top runway theatrics and sexy siren gowns. It’s not that Posen is incapable of doing simple. The show-opening tailored looks — vaguely safari pants and jackets, and a long black sleeveless jacket — were smart, modern and controlled. And there were graceful pairings of the unfettered and his signature dramatic frills, such as a trim, cropped jacket worn with a white skirt that fell in a cascade of ribbon candy-shaped ruffles. Posen used undulating effect throughout on blouses, long skirts and the cavalcade of bright evening gowns that, come award season, undoubtedly will make for memorable red-carpet moments. But at times, he took the Shaker theme to an earnest extreme, as in a blouse with a giant pilgrim collar and a dress that, laser-cut to resemble wheat, looked like a belted sheaf. That said, Posen is no Puritan. In fact, a lack of restraint is his biggest problem, and his greatest indulgence is the big, splashy finish. This time he took a sky’s-the-limit approach to it: Five models simultaneously skulked the runway in cloud-like gowns intended to depict weather patterns — serene, nimbus, cyclone, cumulus and cirrus, as they were called in the show notes — and a sunrise or sunset print. It was more like the twilight zone.
Tory Burch: Tory Burch has the preppy-meets-bohemian jet-setter down pat. For spring, she’ll wear a tomboy-chic kelly green drawstring fishing jacket to the marina; pretty, embellished tunics to Saint-Tropez, and a paperweight chiffon dress with paillettes to cocktail hour in Palm Springs. None of the highly decorated looks — jeweled necklines, busy prints and embroideries were many — was a stretch for Burch. But considering the meteoric retail ascent of her three-year-old collection, it doesn’t need a makeover. The news here was accessories: jewelry done, as Burch said, “in a bigger way,” meaning giant geometric bib necklaces, and oversize straw totes and canvas bowling bags trimmed in patent leather. And those metallic thongs and gladiators accented with logo disks may just be the open-toe answer to her ubiquitous ballet-flat bestseller.
L’Wren Scott: Once again, L’Wren Scott hosted an intimate and highly civilized luncheon to present her spring collection, this time at the Gagosian Gallery. What a breath of fresh air on the last day of this relentless show schedule. Here were the clothes that Scott wants her friends to wear, not a collection with commercial ambitions. Pal Ellen Barkin and the designer’s paramour, Mick Jagger, were among the guests who watched models — as lean and leggy as Scott herself — wear the skinniest pants or jeans with ankle-length coats and sizzling curvaceous jersey sheaths, both long and short. The designer has a funky way of mixing up her wares — this time in a teal and black palette — like the pleated chiffon capes or tiered jackets tossed over those slim dresses, or that knockout sequined teal cardigan and stark sheath.
Naeem Khan: Naeem Khan’s collection was all about beautiful clothes and exquisite embroidery. With just the switch from stilettos to sandals, Khan gave even the glitziest innovations a young charm — the silver leather tribal-cut minidresses being perfect examples. Khan’s Indian roots were reflected in all the elaborately beaded dresses, embroidered caftans and tunics, and the glorious nude chiffon gowns trimmed in gold paillettes or accented with jewel-maharani necklines. While the colorful Bombay-inspired lineup looked like a celebration, not a single glittery piece seemed overdone.
Angel Sanchez: Angel Sanchez, whose collections are often about evening glamour and glitz, delivered some surprisingly simple, but nonetheless beautiful, looks for spring. The very best were geometric, knee-hovering sheaths: strapless in white silk canvas with satin chevron accents, cap-sleeved in ivory silk with square leather appliqués and an Empire slip with an angled bodice. For night, Sanchez played with sporty shapes with a touch of glitter, i.e. a black silk faille short jumpsuit belted in black crystals. As for the gowns, the loveliest one was a raspberry silk chiffon number with a pleated bodice.
Heatherette: There’s Americana and then there’s Heatherette’s version of it. Richie Rich and Traver Rains’ send-up of the U.S. of A. — on 9/11, no less — was a delightful high-energy romp through the theme, complete with an opening performance by hip-hop artist Lil Mama. And this time, it wasn’t all over-the-top camp. Sure, the duo sent out their share of wacky red, white and blue getups trimmed, appliquéd, feathered, patchworked and embellished to the hilt, but there was some chic — and no less whimsical — merch there, too. Case in point: the picnic-table-print halter dress amusingly dotted with trompe l’oeil ants.
Justsweet: Only Jennifer Lopez could stage a runway show for a junior line with all the pomp and circumstance of a usual fashion-week gig. The question is whether a collection that wasn’t directional warranted such treatment. Perhaps not. But many likely will be won over by the prices — all items retail for less than $99. There were certainly plenty of pieces to pick from. Lopez and head designer Sophie Na addressed every chick clique out there with cute offerings that ranged from bejeweled Sixties-inspired frocks and denim jumpsuits to vinyl bombers and ikat-printed blouses. However, much of it is similar to that of high street chains, right down to those message T-shirts.
Academy of Art University: For its latest showcase at the tents, the San Francisco-based fashion school presented capsule collections from 10 of its top fashion, knitwear and textile design graduates. Highlights included the androgynous suiting in coated white linen by Tara Shannahan, and beachy knits inspired by designer Kathryn Scully’s childhood vacations in Cape May, N.J. Haa Cheng Thai’s inventive laser-cut and folded dresses worked well in their moody hues, while the sometimes-kooky patchwork and layered looks from Yi-Ting “Maxim” Lee were unique takes on Japanese manga. For her second foray onto the New York runway, Kyung Min Kim’s simple shapes proved an ideal canvas for her quirky textiles featuring princesses, horses and castles.