Sunday, February 06, 2005

Day 2: ‘All About Padma’

It seems wherever I have gone this week (well, in the two days thus far), there is Padma (as in Padma Lakshmi). The drop dead gorgeous, sexy, Indian born, American educated, young (34 years old), tall, skinny ex-model and ex-host of her very own cooking show on The Food Network, who happens to be married to Salman Rushdie, has caused a paparazzi frenzy at every show she has attended thus far. And understandably so.

It really is kind of hard not to notice her (the actor Richard Dreyfus has gone on record with the observation that she is so beautiful, it is “painful” or something to that effect anyway.) On Friday, the first day of shows, the photographers were literally falling all over themselves taking pictures of her while she was seated front row center at the Project Runway show, clad in a sweet white floral embossed “prairie skirt” designed by Cynthia Steffe, paired with a Balenciaga top, and worn with tall furry boots.

And yesterday (Saturday), she turned up at Alexandre Herchcovitch’s runway show, clad in a short and bare knitted slip dress that was also by Steffe, (which she was practically falling out of), accessorized again with tall furry shearling flat boots and a camel Gucci shearling coat. When she stood up to take a picture of the photographer’s galley with her own digital camera right before the show began, she caused another mini-sensation.

By the way, while I normally adore what Alexandre does, I found this collection of mixed prints, inspired by French Rococo to be a bit strange. However, it was interesting the way it was presented- models came out on the runway accompanied by black clad musicians and singers from divergent backgrounds (there were Hungarian accordion players, Eastern European violinists, Italian opera singers, Spanish drummers, etc.)

I caught up with Padma before Turkish designer Atil Kutoglu’s collection, which was unfortunately, a disappointment for me (colors and shapes were generally unflattering and it all seemed to be either over- or under designed). When I asked if she was covering the shows as an assignment for a magazine, she said that while she was in fact, working for Harper’s Bazaar (stating it was new ‘gig’, and she didn’t even have a title yet), she really wanted to see them for her own edification. For the record, she said that while she is an “equal opportunity” dresser (meaning she wears what she likes), she normally prefers European to American designers.

By the way, the fashion highlight of the day was hands down- Richard Chai’s beautiful collection, shown at 10 a.m. this morning at the Tents. A relative newcomer who has worked for Marc Jacobs and designed for Tse, he caused quite a buzz last season, and is proving his formidable talent is no fluke, as evidenced by his very sophisticated, well thought out, beautifully designed and executed line. Far less minimalistic than last time, fall was filled with intricate details (peplums, origami insets, quilting, padding, satin contrast) the jackets were fantastic, sweaters were beautiful, skirts (which were generally on the long side, and marked by volume, cartridge pleats, godets, and arc insets) were highly individual, and the coats (often done in thick cotton moleskin with exaggerated cuffs) were terrific. Marked by a relatively neutral color palette of ivory, navy, eggplant, and brown, in Richard’s hand, even a strong color like royal blue -- generally difficult to use -- looked fabulous. He is definitely someone to watch.

One added note, I know the saying goes, “Don’t look a gift horse in the mouth”, but still, I found the Olympus Fashion Week bags filled with goodies to be the least interesting thus far. While on the bright side, they are not as heavy as in past seasons making them easier to tote home, one has no choice of color or shape (only one black style is available). C’est la vie!

- Marilyn Kirschner

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