A little bit country, a little bit rock 'n' roll -- that's the mood designers were in, sending out wearable looks that were playful and ruffled, finely tailored and biker-girl chic.
Dana Buchman: With every season, Dana Buchman introduces more and more details that move her collection into increasingly fashion-y directions. Take this season's leopard sightings, which emphasized the designer's playful side. They were seen on a straightforward car coat, in the ruffles of a ladylike blouse and in the swingy pleats of a gray skirt. This subtle glamour was the word, in fact, throughout the lineup in which fur accents and sprinkles of beadwork abounded. And the shrunken brown leather jacket — with sleeves pushed up just so — had a definite cool factor. This is good news for her customer, who relies on the label for a round-the-clock look. And as for that all-important 9-to-5 time frame for the busy career girl, Buchman sent out plenty of finely tailored suits — always her strength — done in classic plaids and pinstripes.
Luella Bartley: Only in Luella Bartley's mind could the fictional Holly Golightly ever mingle with rockabilly punks. And only Bartley could pull it off with both chic and cheek. Backed by the real-life rocker actually known as Holly Golightly, fall was a rabble-rousing ode to dressing on the sexier side of nice. Bartley's cool Brit sensibility called for a second-skin fit to button-down shirts and jeans. She layered on the proper sweaters and cardigans — one embroidered with "darling" — that she loves so much, as well as smart plaid coats and shrunken jackets that ran the gamut from tony to biker. But she clearly had the most fun tinkering with the iconic Little Black Dress-and-pearls idea, tweaking it slightly a few different times until completely revisioning it into a witty, little black skirt dotted with pearl beads.
3.1 Phillip Lim: Was all the preshow hype leading up to the 3.1 Phillip Lim show worth it? You bet. Forgoing the catwalk caterwaul, Lim opted for an informal tableau vivant with guests weaving through the 20-model presentation — a perfect setting, since his clothes need to be seen up close. Take, for example, the fine gold rope beading trimming a brown shearling coat, or the delicate pleated ruffle appliqués running down the sleeve of a trés chic antique silk blouse, casually belted with a loose sash. This was a collection of polished pretty, but Lim added a sense of contrast with leather vests and band jackets, as well as studded footwear and gold-chained bags with a touch of biker chic. All the while, he kept the looks refined without being too precious. Even the string quartet playing Prince's "Purple Rain" lent to the counterpoint sensibility, what Lim called "classic with a bit of madness." Boyish bib dresses, raw denim and oversized knits rounded out the fare, giving a little something for everyone — and enough to keep retail coffers busy this fall.
A Stella McCartney sketch of a custom dress made from protein-based silk in partnership with biotech lab Bolt Threads. The dress will be displayed at The Museum of Modern Art's upcoming design exhibition, "Items: Is Fashion Modern?"