Michael Kors: Sparely There
Michael Kors is a man with a minimalist point of view, and he knows how to deliver it. In the collection he showed Monday, he stayed true to his beloved camel hair, leather and flannel, this time shaping them into smart little trench and peacoats, chic day suits with A-line skirts and the smartest little mini-shift in town. He revved up his hot classics with a few leopard-printed velvet numbers that had all the class and dash one wants from Kors. He dressed his girls like ladies in suede stiletto-heeled Manolos and gloves, dyed to match the ice-cream-colored cashmere turtlenecks and Ts. But are they brave enough to face fall with bare legs as Kors showed them?
The show, held in an overheated West Side studio, began to lose its pep with the pinstriped and whipcord groups, which were nice but lacked snap, and the evening pieces, which were too repetitive. But the chocolate matte jersey tie-front column on Helena Christensen was a knockout.
Anna Sui: The Girl Who Has Everything
It was happy fashion mayhem. And Anna Sui played it for all it was worth to the delight of the hippest, highest-profile crowd in New York. Thurston Moore, Kim Gordon, Vanessa Williams, Lady Miss Kier and Bjork all turned out, as well as two generations of Coppolas — Sofia and her dad, who looked so of-the-moment in his tuxedo sans tie.
And none of them came to rest their eyes. When Anna puts on a show, she goes all the way. The girl doesn’t know from discretion. This was a wild, raucous romp that was filled with ideas — not to mention every big trend, small trend and sorta trend to hit the runways this fall. And it wasn’t perfect. But when you’re tossing fake fur, feathers, mohair, plaids, popcorn knits, vinyl, rubber, pompon trims and plastic chains into a neon fashion stew, perfection probably isn’t a realistic goal in the first place.
Anna would rather have fun — goofs and all. She did it with cheerleaders in quilted jackets and rah-rah skirts, ski togs in white or black with body-gripping bright rubber tops, and the hottest sweaters around, all cables, knots and silly appliques. She did her part for Rescue Chic with a black fireman’s coat trimmed in reflective tape, and Anna not only went to town with orange, she explained New York’s chronic fascination with the color: “This winter was so cold, people really got into it, especially that hunting orange. It went with the snow.”
Anna even liked it for makeup, which Francois Nars did in a witty, Seventies-style palette of fuschia and orange. She also looked back to that decade for her disco finale. It didn’t work — then or now. But nobody’s perfect.
Betsey Johnson: TV City
It may have been the longest show of fashion week, but Betsey Johnson didn’t care. She was just there to have fun — as always. But when her parade of futuristic cybergirls seemed never-ending, she almost had a fashion mutiny on her hands.
As TV screens blared in the background, Johnson sent out her all-Asian lineup, clad first in black or white hooded unitards that would be perfect on the speed-skating track. The designer layered sweet little pinstriped, tweed or tartan suits and dresses over her unitards for day and her black patent slipdresses or maxicoats for evening. But when Johnson ventured too far into the color spectrum with fur-trimmed ultra-neons, her viewers were ready to tune out.
Carolina Herrera: Smart Moves
For the collection she showed on Monday, Carolina Herrera left the intimate confines of her showroom for the first time in several seasons and headed over to the tents, where she drew a diverse crowd from Russell Simmons to her loyal Ladies, including C.Z. Guest, Jamie Gregory and Sally Debenham.
Such elegant gals may not be slaves to flavor-of-the-month fashion, but even they like to give the occasional nod to a big trend. For fall they can do it in smart little suits and coats — just short enough to make the point — or not-quite-butch pinstripes. And who says fake fur has to be over-the-top fluff stuff? Not Carolina, who used discreet “persian lamb” for collars, cuffs and even a little miniskirt.
Herrera also laced her palette with color from bright red to those pastels they loved so much in Europe. But one of her favorite hues is gray. She showed almost as much of it as she did black, for everything from plaid day dresses to lame pajama pants and charmeuse siren gowns.
Every now and then, Herrera went a little dippy with details. She spliced perfectly nice evening dresses with needless sheer insets, but her rear-end draping was especially hard to fathom; Carolina’s Ladies aren’t likely to want to call attention to that anatomical region.
Mary McFadden: Progress Report
Weaning Mary McFadden away from her pleats is clearly a Herculean task. But there’s been some progress. Certainly many of those signature looks continue to hold their romantic appeal but, presented as a theme show after show after show, they can get tired.
There were handblocked velvet evening coats or embroidered jackets shown over iridescent trousers and some sheer dusters that were terrific — and unpleated. But never-say-die Mary still knows how to give a bit of a new twist to tradition: Her bride wore a beautiful olive green, Marii-pleated sleeveless gown.