Friday, September 17, 2004

Reflections on the season: The Good, Bad, and the Ugly of Olympus Fashion Week, Spring 2005

The most joyously visual sight: The Lilly Pulitzer - clad crowd that showed up to attend the Sunday morning Lilly Pulitzer show. Hordes of young women, older couples, moms with daughters or babies in tow were all dressed in variations on the nostalgic and signature lime green, pink, orange, blue floral shifts, skirts, pants, tops- as if to mirror the runway.

Most surprising conclusion: In an urban jungle like New York, where black has usually ruled, all the aforementioned riotous country club, Palm Beach inspired color looked pretty fab and not a bit out of place on that beautifully summer like Sunday.

The least surprising revival: Emilio Pucci. What a perfect time to enjoy and wear upbeat color and pattern. Not only did Fashion Week begin with a party to formally celebrate the opening of the brand new Emilio Pucci store on 5th avenue, where a majority of the crowd turned out in a plethora of Pucci prints, but the famous Pucci patterns- both new and vintage- were worn many show attendees. And not just the women- there were several men wearing Pucci ties or Pucci patterned headgear as well. Oh, and by the way, many designers seemed more than just a tad influenced by Emilio Pucci’s color and pattern sense in the clothing they sent down the runway.

The designer whose influence was most apparent on both the runways (as well as embraced by those attending the shows):. Miuccia Prada No surprise there. Not only were runways filled with Miuccia-isms, such as interesting prints and patterns, jeweled embellishments, thrift shop chic, vintage inspirations, full circle skirts, mismatched suits, Orientalia and exotica, brocades, and brooches, but so too were members of the audience (talk about ‘life imitating art’!)

The most beautiful runway: For his New York debut, the print loving Brazilian designer Alexandre Herchcovitch turned his runway into a true primrose path. It was a veritable garden and work of art, filled with assorted fresh flowers (like the beautiful roses and lilies), and it even boasted a topiary bear.

The most Romantic Moment in a fashion show: The finale of Alice Roi. The soundtrack quickly changed to John Lennon's romantic ballad, "Woman", and the models strolled out holding up large signs which read, "Will you marry me?", which had been pre-arranged by Alice's boyfriend, who was seated in the front row.

The Best News about the season that just unfolded: If you usually get dressed in the dark, early in the morning, and never know if you are 'coordinated' as you head out the door, OR if you happen to be color blind, it won't matter this season from the look of things. It's all about mismatched looks, clashing colors (or the unexpected use of color)...so it will hardly matter!

The Worst PR Moment: Again being harassed and stiffed by Harrison & Shriftman Public Relations at the Lacoste show. These two continue to confuse who they are with who they work for.

The reason why the shows run so smoothly: The security guys who know just how to keep things moving wihout getting in the way. The real unsung heroes of the shows.

The most laboriously plodding, overbearing, self-conscious, collection: Donna Karan. A perfect example of why anything that comes off as too forced simply doesn’t work right now. Also, when one tries too hard to be modern, the resulting effect is quite the opposite.

The most timely – and welcome- collection: Narciso Rodriguez. After days of dizzying prints, in your face, over the top embellishments, runways filled to the brim with the notion of ‘more is more’, the quietly refined, calm, perfectly executed, restrained collection of Narciso Rodriguez was like a breath of fresh air.

The most unapologetically upbeat, joyous, energetic, and gleeful show: Michael Kors, who looked exactly like Michael- doing what he does best. Plus, the musical soundtrack was upbeat and quick paced, and the models literally seemed to dance on the runway

Best-dressed editor: Anna Wintour. She somehow manages to show up each day, wearing the ‘news’ of the season, without ever looking like a fashion victim. SHE wears the clothes - they don’t WEAR her. It’s a good trick if you can pull it off!

Most disconcerting (or sobering) thought: With all the prints and patterns being shown for next season, we may all actually start to resemble Shayil Upadaya - the Nepalese gentleman who has become a fixture at the tents, showing up daily in head to toe eye-popping and often jarring, printed ensembles of his own design. Many make fun of him, but let’s face it he does get noticed and photographed!

The most annoyingly out of the way show venue:
The West Side Piers (at West Street and 13th street), where Marc Jacobs showed both collection and Marc this time. While I love what Marc does, and applaud his going back to this location (the last time was the night of September 10, 2001), it is annoyingly difficult to access, downright dangers at night, and unless you have a car and driver, finding a cab is a real production. And as if that were not enough, we are asked to go back and forth there two days in a row…Why not simply kill two birds with one stone and present both collections at the same time? (Just a thought).

The most atmospheric show venue: Catherine Malandrino’s brand new shop, located in the Meatpacking district, which served as the intimate setting for her extremely focused collection (which she told me celebrated “amazing individuality” as well as “really special handwork”).

Most joyous and charming runway show: Marc Jacobs. It was a thoroughly gleeful, colorful, highly tactile and textural romp filled with charming pattern mixes.

The show with the best people watching: A tie between Marc Jacobs and Zac Posen

Best gift(s): While I always love all the wonderful makeup we receive (Bobbie Brown Nars, etc.) this time around I would say it had to be large, roomy, practical, heavy canvas totes we received at Lilly Pulitzer. They were on each seat in assorted colors (orange, lime, pink, blue), boasting six large outside pockets, a large inside zipper, and lined with Lilly’s signature floral. Of course, I also appreciated the wonderfully large and elongated tan nylon Kipling travel bag, filled to the brim with goodies, courtesy Olympus Fashion Week. While I usually don’t care much for the bag itself, this time I know I’ll use and enjoy the tote.


Most disorienting aspect of the week: That it ran from Wednesday to Wednesday. Instead of the shows going from Friday to Friday, they were scheduled from Wednesday to Wednesday, which made for a few disorienting moments: sort of like the movie, ‘If it’s Tuesday it must be Brussels’. I’ve gotten so used to the schedule as it had always played out, that there were moments of real disorientation. For example, during Anna Sui’s afternoon presentation, I began to wonder why I was not sleepy and tired (Anna has always shown at 7 pm on Wednesday). And by end of Ralph Rucci’s show, I kept thinking it was Friday.

The best part of the Tents: Their convenience, all the free reads, complimentary shots of Dunkin Donuts’ yummy espressos and lattes, and I can’t leave out the always professional, polite, and utterly patient squad of black clad security guys that are on hand to make sure everything goes alright.

Worst part of the Tents: The incredibly shrinking Press Room which has been reduced to a small booth all the way in the back, one couch, and three computers (plus on day there were only 2 seats for those computers).

Worst choices for an accessory used on a runway: Ralph Rucci’s old fashioned, stiff and pagoda like hats, which opened his show. Ralph should have gone out of his way to ensure that the beautifully crafted and executed collection look as modern, easy, relevant and casual as possible. The second runner up is Michael Kors with the HUGE Janis Savitt jeweled crosses adorning the neck of several of his models. I was surprised that Michael, who I believe is half- Jewish (at least), would use this religious symbol so prominently. And any way, doesn’t he realize that the Star of David is so much ‘cooler’ and far more ‘hip’ thanks to Madonna’s endorsement of Kabbalah?


The most incredible use of fur: Ralph Rucci’s seemingly paper- thin, oyster perforated sheared mink shirt worn with oyster lambskin jeans.

The most standout knitwear: Oscar de la Renta’s disarmingly delectable and feminine crochet sweaters.

The most obvious conclusions that can be drawn by the end of Fashion Week: Anything that is too forced, aggressive, hard- edged, tackily sexy, OR too literally prim, proper, or ladylike, doesn’t work now. It’s all about a certain natural and unforced charm- a look that is soft, feminine (not prissy), and eclectic, resulting in a slightly off kilter, thrown together and highly personal effect.

And while black may well be chic, one cannot underestimate the joyful, uplifting, and optimistic effect of color.

The best part of seeing the shows: Getting ideas for how to put myself together, and achieve a new look, without necessarily going out to buy new things.

The best part about Fashion Week coming to an end: Not having to wake up and figure out what to wear!

-by Marilyn Kirschner

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