so, I admit it. It looks as though I was wrong (at least
from what has been shown thus far) when I predicted black
would be a major statement on the runways here in New York,
a continuation and affirmation of what was put forth for
fall. That is hardly the case and in fact, quite the opposite
is true, as early trends over the weekend are pointing to
a desire for lightness, sweetness, and charm and the color
of choice to symbolize this is black’s polar
opposite- white- and all attending shades of pale ivory and
cream. It almost seems as though the design world wants women
to reclaim their lost innocence and go back to a time that
was kinder, simpler, gentler (pre September 11th, pre Katrina).
By the way, talk about timing. New York Fashion Week coincided
as usual, with the 4th anniversary of the World Trade Center
attacks and also followed on the heels of the worst natural
disaster in American history.
What better time for fashion that is anti hard edged and
deliberately quieter, more individual and a direct reaction
against harsh realities of life? So, if harsh and hard edged
are out… sweet, fresh and charming are ‘in’,
what better way to exemplify this than with beautiful blouses with billowy
sleeves and exquisite details, lace, eyelet, AND dresses!
In fact, the little black dress is unsurprisingly THE item of the season thus
far, as seen on editors, buyers, and customers as they take in the shows. If
you think about it, what is easier, quicker, chicer, and more modern than the ‘LBD’ which
can easily go from summer to winter, and from day to evening?
And while the almost drunken and random embellishment from seasons past seems
to be quieting down a bit for spring, it is not completely gone (and thank
goodness for that). This was personified by the sighting of Anna Wintour on
the first day of shows, sitting front row center at Kenneth Cole, wearing a
beige tweed cardigan jacket strewn with sequins over a matching dress. Even
though everyone is talking about black, black, black, Ms. Wintour chose to
ignore the funereal trend and make her own statement about ‘The Shining’.
While overtly sexy, hard edged fashion, and gratuitous, forced, over the top,
tasteless displays of shine and glitter may look passé, (as passé as
the freebie bronze pleather bags being given out by the WE Channel), creative
individuality and embellishments that have more of a loving hands at home,
rustic feeling look amazingly timely. This was typified by the strong group
of new, relatively unknown designers who showed on Thursday and Friday and
who presented extremely well thought out, beautifully designed collections.
You may not know these names now, but trust me- you will: Verrier, Naum, and
And this new mood was also exemplified by Project Alabama’s formal runway
show comprised of approximately 37 pieces done in shades of garnet, gold, amber,
navy, and white featured feminine, graceful lines, fitted and cropped cardigans,
narrow coats, sweet petticoated camisole dresses and circle skirts. Almost everything
was hand piped, hand beaded, hand stitched, and/or hand sequined and as had been
widely reported, some of the hand stitchers made the trip to New York from Alabama
(an area that thankfully was NOT hit by Katrina) to see the show and to hold
court at Jeffrey New York where they will demonstrate their techniques. Program
notes confirmed that “a portion of Project Alabama’s proceeds from
the sales will be donated to benefit Hurricane Katrina victims”.
By the way, as if to inject some local color, we were treated to the down home
Blue Grass music of Ruby Jane Smith and The Rare Jewels, a trio comprised of
two men playing guitar and bass, and a darling 10 year old prodigy (Ruby Jane)
playing fiddle and mandolin.
Charm, sweetness, and light were also evident at Y & Kei, whose running theme
is “water the earth” and who staged a very elegant, soft, sophisticated,
and beautifully accessorized collection which was graceful and feminine and all
about modern luxury, texture, rustic ornamentation. It was a love affair with
pale neutral colors (like ivory, muslin, chalk white, vanilla- though there was
a hit of black, gray, melon, yellow and parrot blue). There were very strong
dresses, both long and short, great coats and jackets, gorgeous blouses with
sweet details, eyelet trim embroidery as well as lace The Korean design duo admits
that Cate Blanchett is a muse and one can certainly see this strong fashion icon
wearing many of these modern pieces. By the way, they are seeing dots (as in
circles of all sizes and shapes) and based on early reports, I think it’s
safe to say polka dots will likely find their way onto other runways (including
that of Donna Karan).
I must say I really liked the showing by of Ashish N. Soni, the Indian born designer
who boasts quite a following in his native country. His poetic collection based
on simple yet distinctive pieces done in white, black, gray, (and mixes thereof)
had more than just a bit of that Japanese vibe (think Yohji, Issye, Rei). There
were some absolutely beautiful billowy blouses, as well as tailored coats and
jackets, with much attention paid to detail in cut, play of proportion, and an
obvious love affair with volume. Of the 45 or so looks that came out on the runway,
quite a few were standouts and spoke of an sculptural, dreamy, and artistic vision
that is not exactly commercial, but beautiful.
I also loved the well edited collection designed by former Geoffrey Beene intern,
Doo.Ri Chung, whose former boss and mentor was an obvious and major source
of inspiration. This was apparent in her chic and neutral color palette (she
dubbed this her “pantyhose collection” because of all the flesh
tone shades), the beautiful silk and jersey draped dresses (both long and short),
pleated satin halter gowns, many boasting amazing backs and cutouts, and of
course, wonderful coats.
Tracy Reese may not have had her best show yesterday, but it was very signature
Tracy, nonetheless….unapologetically girlie, feminine, soft, and in a
vintage mode. Relying on a color palette strong on shades of white mixed with
buttercup, pale lime, spring blue, citrus, and sweet pink, dresses were both
long and short, there was lots of lots of lace and mesh, intricate beading, and
the designer admittedly took inspiration from a funky mix of the Belle Epoque
and the 60’s.
Alexandre Herchcovits turned his Tent venue into a theatre auditorium for a show
that seemed would never start. But start it did and it was as usual, pure Alexandre
in its sweet and charming shapes, fresh and youthful prints and pattern mixes,
collage effects, and standout dresses, many of which featured full skirts that
were above the knee, and thick leather belted empire waists.
By the way, Sunday afternoon marked the Academy of Art University’s first
student show held in conjunction with 7th on sixth and Gladys Perint Palmer,
the noted journalist and illustrator who also serves as its Executive Director
of Fashion came to New York for the occasion. Highlights from collections of
12 recent graduates who hope to become the next Donna, Ralph, Calvin, Michael,
were shown in a 20 minute runway show and it was a wonderful showcase for their
creative techniques and innovative designs (particularly in the areas of knitwear
and textile design).
Included in the group were Staci Snider who has already won an internship with
Sebastian Pons, Jamie Mihlrad , who finished an internship with Marc Jacobs and
will fly to Milan to work with Carla Sozzani at her famed store, Corso Como 10
along with Kia Faulkenberry-Lewis, and Jeehyun Shim who was selected by Azzedine
Alaia to intern for him in Paris.