You know there’s a change in the air of fashion when the best way to sum up the five official days of spring/summer 2003 shows presented during New York Fashion Week, was that the preppy, wholesome, sporty, upbeat, unapologetically happy and innocent clothes that walked the runway of Lilly Pulitzer, who staged her first formal runway show in 42 years, actually mirrored the mood and feeling on display in many of the hippest collections.
This was the most hectic, condensed, overscheduled, and overlapping New York Fashion Week in history. But while the overall atmosphere was still not quite the carnival and circus that had defined ‘pre- 9/11’ fashion weeks, the mood and tempo were definitely upbeat, both on and off the runways.
The giddy summer like weather - blue skies, no rain, temperatures in the 80’s- certainly helped the cause (although, it made wardrobe choices rather challenging- after all, this is the time when you want to break out some of your new fall clothes, stand out, and make a fashion statement.) What to wear when it’s summer outside, and winter inside the tents?
Most show attendees were still stuck in summer dress (or undress)… they looked as if they could easily be out in the Hamptons- lots of ethnic/peasant blouses (even though they’re ‘over’) feminine tops worn with low slung pants and jeans in every color and shape, and of course- a smattering of fall’s favorite shade- of black. Actually, I wasn’t too impressed with what I saw- most show attendees looked like slobs, and perfect examples of the current ‘anything goes’ aesthetic. And talk about timing- the front page article which came out in WWD on the first Monday of shows was entitled, “Seventh Avenue’s Lost Chic: Center of Style Becomes Street of Fashion Slobs”—addressing the decline and fall of well dressed fashion folk in New York’s garment district. Not only is this totally accurate, it not only applies to the fashion business, but to the world at large. And fashion pros are often the worst offenders.
Because there were many gaps in between the shows- not to mention how late they were (most were 45 minutes to an hour late), the lack of great people watching was a disappointment. But Bonnie Fuller came to the rescue with her US Daily Fashion Week Extra that was distributed on three mornings. Filled with tabloid style color photos, catchy cover lines, and popular current obsessions like Anna Wintour (her men, her clothes, her ‘necessities’) and Carine Roitfeld (a mini interview). It was perfect gossipy ‘trash’, and a perfect way to while away the minutes (or hours).
Speaking of distractions- who could forget the ‘Zippergate’ affair? (For those of us who live in New York, you couldn’t escape hearing and reading about this). Andre Leon Talley was photographed sitting front row center at Marc Jacobs, by a photographer for The New York Post, with his fly unzipped, for the entire world to see. Actually, it wasn’t unzipped, it was unbuttoned. The larger than life Talley was quick to point out “my fly is not a zipper. It’s a button fly front. It’s custom
by Huntsman in England. It’s a five button-front fly and one button was unbuttoned.” And he added, “I should have worn a big old diamond broach from Fred Leighton there.” You gotta love him! And no wonder Talley was preoccupied with other
things- not only is the busy fashion scribe covering the shows for Vogue, but he appeared numerous times on MetroChannel’s Full Frontal Fashion, helped dress Sandra Bullock for her front row appearance at Marc Jacobs and Donna Karan, and acted as a consultant to Kimora Lee Simmons on Baby Phat and Phat Farm. If you had his schedule, you would forget to do something too.
The most notable aspect of the week was that the designers all seem to be high on something……Prozac, Paxil, (or just high on life?) Though there are exceptions to every rule, most of the clothes presented seemed like a cliché of what one would expect to see for spring/summer. After so much black for fall/winter, it was obvious that there would be a lightening up for the new season- and there was. Colors like white, off white, cream, strong pastels, and tropical brights stomped down the runways. But if just one color could be used to describe the season- it would have to be pink. There was every shade- from the softest, blush and shell pinks, to hot and vibrant fuchsia. A girlie, feminine, flirty attitude was very much in evidence, and love seemed to be in the air (not to mention sex).
Dresses, for day and night, were all over the runways, and quite frankly, they never looked so good. Provocative lingerie inspired pieces made quite a statement (showing your slip and bra will not be considered ‘faux pas come springtime). And it was all about shine- the runways were filled with satin and charmeuse (for day and night), and gold, so prevalent in Prada’s past spring/summer collection, was translated this time around as well. There were whimsical prints, florals, and polka dots galore, and most importantly, the wholesomeness of sports and sportswear influence marked many of the shows “ tennis, anyone?” Country club chic (well okay, so it was a twisted, demented take on that) showed up in some likely (Michael Kors) and unlikely (Anna Sui) places. In fact, Anna Sui, (who has been championing the downtown, rock and roll, hip, boho/hippie chic look), seems to have spent the summer reading “The Preppy Handbook”. This really said it all!
And while I would rather not talk about trends (after being in the fickle and cyclical fashion business for so many years, what becomes apparent, is that everything comes and goes- and in the end, it’s really all about ‘must have’, great looking pieces that fill a gap and need in your life and stand the test of time). But alas, the easiest way to group the designers is by category.
COUNTRY CLUB -
THE SPORTING LIFE
(WITH MAXIMUM EFFECTS)
MARCHING TO THEIR OWN BEAT
CHADO RALPH RUCCI
OSCAR DE LA RENTA