Fashion prides itself on its place in the culture — entrenched and engaged. And it generally is. We live in a more, more, more, feeding-frenzy world and for better or worse, fashion has seized the moment. Our industry in all of its craziness can at times frustrate and overwhelm, but it seldom seems out of touch.
Yet just such a feeling made an uncomfortable appearance at Victoria Beckham on Sunday morning. Beckham held her show where she has for some time, at Cipriani on lower Broadway at 10 a.m. It just so happened that this show’s standing slot put it right in the middle of the 9/11 15th anniversary observance.
The fashion gathering felt less disrespectful than clueless — not Beckham, but all of us. She did all she could to be respectful, her camp e-mailing in advance that the 9:59 and 10:28 moments of silence would be observed.
For those who followed the excellent directions, also sent in advance, traffic was a breeze. If you didn’t know what was happening a stone’s throw away, you wouldn’t — there were no signs, no crowds, no excessive police presence, only flags at half-staff, if you happened to notice. You arrived at Victoria’s beautiful venue, sipped ice water and engaged in whatever conversation we all engage in during the preshow seated limbo. Then, an overall hush, the 9:59 moment of silence. Fashion chatter resumed. Soon, an announcement, and a moment of silence. Then more brief chatter, and show time.
Life goes on, thank God. Lower Manhattan is no longer a barren hole nor a gritty construction site, but a thriving epicenter of business, shopping and tourism, quiet away from the ceremony site, and Beckham’s show entrance, this Sunday morning. But at least for this reviewer, it felt a little off today, as this familiar activity of show-going came with a level of cognitive dissonance. Was right here, right now the time and place to be contemplating clothes?
The show itself proved a parade of loveliness, as she deftly infused interest into pretty, easy clothes.
Beckham loves a great dress, and has over the years swung between arch glam and more relaxed moods. Here, she upped the ante on languid, cutting dresses in interesting ways with twists, turns, angles and pleats. For these, she used unconventional fabrics, starting with panné velvets. In whites and wonderfully notice-me colors — lilac, aqua — they will lure the Beckham devotee even while challenging her a bit. A clever touch: big, charming cross-body bags. Shown in the same fabrics as the dresses, they added another layer of depth and intricacy to the silhouettes.
For Beckham, ease and sensuality are not either-or. A second major theme: bra constructions. She worked them into the dresses, and under jackets and pants cut with a hint of street for a dollop of appealing ying-yang.
Exiting the show, a street-style peacock did a bad job of pretending not to pose for photographers. Meanwhile, a double-decker tour bus drove by. Church bells rang in the distance.