A good fashion collection is all in the details -- the subtleties of draping and cutting, along with such trimmings as ruffles, plackets, ribbons and more. That's also true with one that's less successful.
Alberta Ferretti: Making a move into moody territory and never looking back, Alberta Ferretti gave the trend her own artistic spin for fall. She started off powerfully strong, sending out dresses and coats embellished with shiny gold hardware, but also lengths of grosgrain ribbon, bunting and flattened ruffles that created a pretty aura of funereal pomp. Cocoon-like capes played into the drama, while boxy suits made perfect sense and gave it all a real-world spin.
After a time, however, like a jazz maestro riffing on a single melody, Ferretti's breathless mélange turned overwrought with dresses that were beaded and bunted and spliced with outcroppings of ruffles that seemed to cling like lichen. No matter. Like any seasoned pro, she soon put the show back on track. The grandiose finale — a pair of sober black gowns paneled in delicate lace — made for a romantic, refined synthesis of her dark ideas.
Blumarine: Finding a minimal bone in Anna Molinari's petite frame is about as difficult as finding an Italian who doesn't like spaghetti al pomodoro e basilico. But for her Blumarine collection, the pint-size designer attempted to pare down her embellishment fancies. Molinari could never totally abandon the fur trims, metallic floral embroidery and satin and lace details that coat her collections. Yet, for fall, she supplanted the usual sugary fair with a slightly steelier veneer. The result was a more mature and easier-to-digest-collection.
Yes, the requisite organdy and damask tiny dresses were there, as were slinky knits trimmed in beads and paillettes. But Molinari masked the demure pieces with oversized chunky cardigans and terrific shearlings with portrait collars. Tough? Not exactly, but certainly more confident.
Unfortunately, Molinari's foray into evening was not. Asymmetric chiffon gowns with complicated drapings and cutaways pulled down what could have been a solid outing.
Pringle of Scotland: You've got to love a girl who serves champagne at 9 a.m. Yet the sass implicit in such breakfast fare didn't quite translate into Clare Waight Keller's debut collection for Pringle of Scotland. What was apparent was a little soul-searching — a lot of lady laced with a little Brit "It" girl spunk — as Keller finds her way with the brand. At the time of her appointment last year, Keller professed a passion for knitwear and said she could not wait to immerse herself in the company archives. Odd, then, that she featured so few sweaters, since A, it's fall, and B, those she did were terrific — thick Aran motifs and delicate beauties with ruffled plackets. Otherwise, her coats and separates had considerable appeal and a discretion that's right for fall's new sobriety. What they lacked was a distinct point of view, or anything that popped Pringle. But first collections are typically palette cleansers, and Pringle's definitive new personality may be just a season or two away.
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