‘ve got to have it!’
“We need something to dream about,” Scott added. “If you’re not going to make a statement, I don’t want to hear what you have to say.”
“People want to live again and dream about fashion,” added Catherine Malandrino, who approached the fall season looking to define a new silhouette in her collection, one that is still feminine, but more comfortable and smooth. “It gives you the idea of escaping from the city,” she said. “There’s a feeling of getting lost in a wide-open plain and of feeling free. It’s like a strong woman with a little attitude. There is no aggression in the line, but at the same time, there is a little bit of rebel to it.”
Tracy Reese called her collection a cross of “low-key city glamour with Town & Country,” noting that she purposely took the collection to a more polished and refined level. “Fashion needs the jolt,” she said. “It’s time to step out and say who you are. Conservatism never excites anyone at retail.”
Luca Orlandi, designer of Luca Luca, said he was initially attracted to darker colors, but as time passed, felt the need to move toward color. “I’m in the mood for sensual, feminine and gentle,” he said. But Custo Dalmau, designer of Custo Barcelona, said he took the opposite approach, taking his color palette toward darker hues. “The idea of color changed after Sept. 11,” he said.
“Sept. 11 was in the middle of fashion week last season,” said Cynthia Steffe. “You can’t help but think of what happened at that moment. Now we just feel more patriotic and more appreciative of life, but I think it’s very important that designers show things that are new.”
Not every designer let the events of Sept. 11 cramp their style, however.
Luella Bartley, the London-based designer who will show for the second time in New York this season, said while she couldn’t help but be influenced by current affairs, “for me as a designer, I wouldn’t want to let a current mood control what I design too specifically, or reference something too obviously.
“For me, designing clothes is something that should be fun and lighthearted; [it’s about] finding a look that is going to make a girl feel good about herself,” Bartley said. “This season, I’m feeling slightly more grown-up. I’ve taken inspiration from the beatniks of the Sixties and the French Left Bank scene. There is still the story of the young girl trying to find herself, which so far has taken her from the riding club to being a rude girl [these past two seasons]. Now she’s going through her slightly existentialist period. Dare I say, she’s starting to look for a bit of meaning in her life.”
Her customer, she said, will find this in a pair of washed-out wide jeans, a tiny black felt duffle coat and a big battered Kelly bag.
Who knew existentialism was a reason to shop?