Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Hats off to Marc (or should I say, hats on!)

Marc Jacobs waved his magic wand (one hour and 15 minutes past 9) and decreed that it’s time to get back to an elegant refinement. Wave good-bye to leggings, baby dolls, minis, balloon hems, wedges, anything tricky, tacky, and gimmicky. Say hello to longer lengths, fine tailoring, cuffed menswear trousers, ‘boring’ belts (his description, not mine), ‘hand oiled and polished oxfords’ (his description, not mine), trompe l’oeil, cavalry twill, polyester wrap skirts (remember those?), real jewelry, satin shirts, leather gloves, vests, tuxedos, spectators, oxfords, and hats! The propriety of the hat was one of the most notable aspects of the collection. Large fedoras and cloches by the brilliant British milliner, Stephen Jones accessorized every outfit- day and evening. Oh, and wave bye-bye to furs; Marc showed none on his runway yet earlier in the day, we were inundated with pelts in every incarnation.

Before going to the Marc Jacobs show I was trying to guess what he would be unveiling for fall. I pictured in my mind what the complete opposite of last season’s show would be because knowing Marc, the one thing that seemed obvious is that that he would be doing a complete about face from whatever that may be. And since spring was all brash gold and silver dolman sleeved bombers, balloon pants, in your face bling, I would say that the subdued and restrained lineup he sent down the runway, could qualify as just that.

How many other designers could get people out on a freezing cold Monday evening, and nobody would leave even after waiting more than one hour? And how many designers are so revered, respected and influential that no matter what they showed, people would find something valuable and worthwhile, if not fabulous within it? As soon as the curtain opened up on the stage, it revealed a set worthy of a Broadway show. Dozens of models posed aristocratically, against a wall that resembled an elegant estate complete with soaring ceilings and oversized windows and then one by one, slowly and elegantly walked down the runway. Their hair was caught back in long ponytails, their faces almost obscured by the brims of the hats. Accessories included gloves, proper jewelry (pendants, brooches, rings, cuff links), structured bags and large clutches. The color palette was basically dark (navy, gray, black) with touches of clear red and mustard (the later came in the form of gloves). The collection made me want to purge my closet and start all over again. It also made what was presented earlier in the week and earlier in the day seem very passé, overdone, and old fashioned.

And speaking of earlier in the day, Carolina Herrera and Oscar de la Renta undoubtedly have a lot in common: they are both veterans and pros of 7th Avenue known for their impeccable taste and elegant lifestyles; they are both of Spanish descent; they both show traditionally on the same day (Monday), just hours apart; their high priced collections are geared toward the very affluent customer. And neither one exactly tones down the luxury quotient. But yesterday’s showing point to the things that separate the two: Oscar is more successful at using luxury in a more modern way. There was a lot going on with Carolina’s clothes (too much in fact) and often times, the resultant effect was that she seemed to be trying too hard for the sake of experimentation. Who really wears these clothes anyway? Would you see her wearing them? No, actually, Ms. Herrera is very elegant herself, and very low-keyed, preferring elegant classics over fussy fashion statements.

Both Oscar and Carolina proposed short (knee length) for day and made a case for texture mixes, and showed a lot of furs. One reason why Oscar was more successful in keeping things modern, youthful, and realistic (well, sort of anyway) is that he was able to infuse the luxury with a relaxed, natural, and effortless feeling, wisely accessorizing with flat boots to take things down a notch and give the luxury a bit of a streetwise feeling. The models were fresh faced and accessories were kept to a minimum. You don’t need a lot going on when you have stellar coats, cashmere sweaters (many with massive fur trims), hefty tweeds, double wool boucles, astrakhans, and shearlings.

I must admit, it was the daytime portion that really stood out. Maybe because it’s so darn cold, but sleeveless little sheaths don’t really do it to for me at the moment. Perhaps that’s why the three ballgowns at the end looked so inviting…they were accessorized with abbreviate fur shrugs (sable, chinchilla, ermine).

-Marilyn Kirschner

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