SHOW AND TELL
WITH THE RETURN OF BOB MACKIE TO THE STAGE, DARYL K’S SERIOUS MOMENT AND MORE RETRO INSPIRATIONS FROM CHADO RALPH RUCCI AND FAUSE HATEN, THERE WAS PLENTY TO BE AMAZED AT — AND AMUSED BY.
Daryl K: Eighties tough with attitude to spare. If the formula sounds familiar, it was. In the collection she showed for fall, Daryl Kerrigan stalled — temporarily, one hopes — in the frisky forward romp that has marked her career so far. Especially in her last two collections, Kerrigan infused her innate downtown cool with a fresh sophistication, while sometimes giving in to overt expressions of girliness. Here, however, she revisited New Wave aggression with too much vigor and too little restraint — most notably in an unfortunate pictorial ode to the Unabomber on the backs of a shirt and sweatshirt. The shift was deliberate. “I think I wanted to be more in touch with reality,” she said after the show. “The last few seasons, it was a very fanciful image of women, and I wanted to get back to something more sharp and serious again.”
As for the bomber business, Kerrigan maintains that the image packs an ironic punch — “the joke is that the FBI sketch looks nothing like the real person” — and that, with its dark glasses and zipped-up hooded sweatshirt, it provides “an image for our times.” In noting that many people find Theodore Kaczynski’s anti-technology philosophy interesting despite “abhorrent” methods, Kerrigan lined up with others waxing quasi-political on their runways. (See page 10.)
Her clothes were statement enough, as Kerrigan played the punk card to the hilt. Micro-microminis over shiny leggings are for brazen girls only, but even the semicool will go for sexy knits, graceful draped tops and Edwardian jackets. And if the irony of Kaczynski chic escapes her, a girl can always take Kerrigan’s lead and thread a delicate beaded mantilla through one epaulet of a terrific army jacket. Which begs the question — whether or not it’s shallow — when you look that good, why not shake the adolescent anger?
Bob Mackie: Sirens, femmes fatales, Mata Hari and over-the-top Hollywood glam? You guessed it — Mackie’s back in town. And not a minute too soon. Although he hasn’t shown in New York for two years, the designer proved that he still has the power to wow, big-time. It was all smiles and vitality as his spy and movie-star looks shone on the runway.
In step with his foreign-intrigue affair, he opened with a black beaded chiffon wrap gown with miles and miles of coq feathers at the collar and cuffs. And the finale group was an all-out ode to “The Arabian Nights”: belly-dancing looks, maharajah tunics and pants and a white satin trench over a barely there nude gown with strategically placed jewelled strips. In with all the razzmatazz were some of the most beautiful pieces he’s designed in seasons. These included the sleek satin pantsuit; a strapless beaded bias gown; a knockout beaded minidress, and a delicate iridescent mauve chiffon midcalf dress with jet and plum beaded trim.
Yes, there were fabulous, even — pardon the expression — wearable, clothes here. But really, isn’t the fanfare what we all go to his shows for?
Chado Ralph Rucci: Ralph Rucci’s collections are always an ode to tranquility and grace — two elements essential to “Chado,” the tea ceremony his firm is named for. The glorious fabrics are consistent, too; superb workmanship, wonderful colors, plus all those signature seams and cutouts. Rucci is extremely skilled at understatement, but when these details are overdone, as they often were this season, his suits and coats end up looking both dowdy and artsy.
Still, there were many beautiful looks that were affectation-free: the ankle-length ecru cashmere sweater and cardigan; a short, simple black wool crepe blouson dress and a breathtaking black and chocolate cashmere knit kimono and shell, worn with black lightweight cashmere sphere pants. Most of these pieces were double-faced. Rucci even kicked up his heels a bit for fall with a three-layer taffeta jacket and some floaty jersey dresses.
James Coviello: Retro themes can get a bit redundant, but James Coviello put a fresh spin on the look this season. The collection had a Fifties style, but it was anything but frumpy. Coviello sent out a slew of romantic numbers, including crocheted lace sweaters, floral chiffon dresses, striped cable-knit cardigans and pleated skirts worn with slim blazers that were both flirtatious and whimsical. Staying away from the overtly trendy is a smart move on Coviello’s part. When it comes down to it, women want to look feminine and beautiful without looking like fashion victims, and that’s exactly what this collection delivered.
Fause Haten: Fause Haten’s Brazilian roots are always evident in his bold and lively prints that evoke images of Carneval. But while this season’s show contained some of those elements, he also toyed with sophistication and refinement. The strength of this collection was the black leather pieces — fitted shirts and blazers, full skirts and sheath dresses — which were often puckered, sequined, embroidered or cut-out. Haten paired them with chiffon blouses with ties for that masculine influence or sweatshirt-style zip jackets and tops in peach and lilac with delicate ruffle treatments. When these looks suggested a Fifties party hostess, his collection worked, but the loose chiffon dress and tops didn’t quite make the grade.