STATIC STATE, FORTIES-SOMETHING, AND THE ‘CASINO’ FACTOR
ANN DEMEULEMEESTER CONTINUES TO WORK THE SAME SIGNATURE TURF, WHILE PETER SPELIOPOULOS HAD A GOOD-LOOKING CERRUTI COLLECTION AND JEREMY SCOTT DRESSED MAFIA WIVES.
Ann Demeulemeester: Wrap, tuck, tie, wrap, tuck, tie — the very idea of a Demeulemeester show is like a tedious exercise in monotony. Still, this designer is a woman who is beyond skilled at her craft, honing and retooling everything she does so meticulously that every little detail has been analyzed and then some. There are no accidents here and, sadly, that may be what’s missing. That unpredictable surprise. Each season, you know you’ll get the heavy black boots, maybe a twisted skirt here and there, and the odd oversized sweater, hanging off the body. And it’s exactly what she did for fall — again.
This time around she favored black washed wool and leather, sending out a parade of roomy peacoats, biker jackets, floor-sweeping swashbuckling coats and capes — both mini and maxi — over hook-and-eye tops, all anchored with black leather leggings and that signature boot, reworked for fall with a cowboy heel. Black was the non-color of choice for Ann, with just the odd sprinkle of gray felting printed with geometric swirls, or a brick-colored tie-dye. There were also some beautiful touches of winter white in a double-breasted Edwardian coat, and a huge shape in Mongolian lamb.
But it’s time for Demeulemeester to move forward. She has the talent to excite, even exacerbate. One wonders, however, if the desire is still there.
Cerruti: It’s hard to create a collection that touches on the important trends without being, well, trendy, but Peter Speliopoulos knows how to go about the task. His fall collection for Cerruti proved he has a handle on modish mildness, that Gothic-Victoriana thing and the oversized silhouettes that are cropping up everywhere. Speliopoulos’s way is to hint at those styles, without ever going overboard. Sharply-tailored black jackets and coats were ornamented with patterns of scrolling black filigree, while somber Forties-style dresses were brought to life with yards of tiny black pompon trim.
Another look that twinkled with that era’s glamour was a cream blouse with stiff ruffled sleeves that was worn with dramatically high-waisted black pants. Think Katharine Hepburn in “The Philadelphia Story.”
His coats, meanwhile, were cut with nouveau volume, whether in cashmere tweed or in thick brown corduroy and lined with shaggy fur. Far, far from the camp stuff of high-concept collections, Speliopoulos delivered a commercially viable collection.
Jeremy Scott: Jeremy Scott is one true showman. No formal walk-pose-walk gig for him, only the spectacular, in-your-face kind will do. At his late show Wednesday night, it was fun at its best — proving that frivolity in fashion does not necessarily mean ridiculous. Yes, he had his moments, but what do you expect from the mind of someone as twisted as Scott? Set on the circular stage of the Cirque d’Hiver, dolled-up girls of the Las Vegas gangster-moll kind — red lips, big hair, killer nails — revolved around the room, much like a giant lazy Susan, camping it up in various scenarios.
While some backstage makeup artists saw the references as Martin Scorsese’s “Casino” and the likes of Sharon Stone, the effect was really closer to the “lovely Carol Merrill,” famous for her wide grin and exaggerated hand gestures on “Let’s Make a Deal.” Do you want door number one? That’s where the lovely Karen Elson is stretched across a baby grand, poured into a knit minidress, emblazoned with large, gold dollar signs. How about door number two? More dollar signs are waiting there, sprinkled on a cashmere sweatsuit — modeled on a girl riding a stationary bike.
But wait! Look at those other lovelies lounging across a four-poster bed, in dolman-sleeved knit dresses, with “SALE” written provocatively across them, or the hussy sporting the dynamite flouncy minidress, printed with dollar bills, that was as short, sweet and sexy as Scott’s show. But the ultimate showcase package was the host himself: a newly platinumed Scott, perched atop the stage, surrounded by three angelic beauties in white, tossing play money at the audience. After all, Scott just wants to give you the best fashion bang for your buck.
Sonia Rykiel: A lighthearted fashion frolic? Music to Sonia Rykiel’s ears. The designer has a knack for the flirtatious and she delivered a rollicking, seductive collection Thursday. Bright sexy knits, some lavished with rhinestones, others hanging playfully from the shoulder, were paired with baggy, low-waisted pants, while massive, shaggy furs were dyed in electric blue, yellow or red. Rykiel cashed in on the military trend with sharp androgynous suits that, adorned with zippers, referenced her own design vocabulary. Rykiel’s silhouettes were jaunty, with puffy jersey blousons, leopard-and-flower print dresses, and coats decorated with cut-out flowers at the collar. And then came the accessories, which Rykiel attacked with verve, including a square leather handbag painted with the word “Vintage.”
Akris: It’s refreshing to see a collection that’s full of fashion, but that comes clean — and without all the fuss. Just ask Akris devotees everywhere. Unpretentious luxury is the Swiss company’s specialty, and for fall that means a long, black, cashmere trenchdress, a small peacoat paired with a matching mini, or a ladylike car coat in speckled, black- and-white tweed, worn with a matching shift dress underneath.
Designer Albert Kriemler’s look for day was classically cool, but his evening styles — of which there were many — were decidedly romantic. Black velvet dresses were fizzy with dotted cutouts, and girlish layered party skirts blossomed with leafy lace. New York fans will certainly be happy to find both Kriemler’s fanciful — and his practical — fare in the company’s new Madison Avenue boutique come July.
Guy Laroche: In his first outing for Guy Laroche, Dutch-born designer Mei Xiao Zhou injected a fresh dose of energy into the house. Sure, it wasn’t perfect, but one has to start somewhere, and Laroche needs someone with a clear vision. Since Alber Elbaz designed the line and built credibility among buyers, Laroche has struggled to find a replacement. Zhou, if provided latitude to develop his vision, may be the man. A former assistant at Thierry Mugler, he has a knack for cutting a sharp suit, can do a fine evening gown, and brings a touch of ethic sensibility with graphic sequined details added to chiffon shirts and sweaters.