Sunday, September 09, 2007

Talk about ‘HOT’

Unfortunately, I’m not referring to the fashion shows. Or the shows at the Bryant Park Tents which in general, have been pretty abysmal thus far.

That said, the day got off to a rather upbeat start at the morning’s Lacoste's spring summer 2008 show, which was a celebration of its 75th anniversary (is it my imagination, or does it seem as if everyone is having an anniversary of one sort or another this year?) To fete the occasion, each seat had a complimentary oversized ‘Summer in the City’ large canvas beach bag in a wonderful, graphic, and very of the moment black and white golf ball print (which looked like large white circles). Featuring chic black and white striped handles and piped in black, it is so roomy and light, it would make a perfect travel bag, or a bag to use during fashion week. It had me speculating what Ralph Lauren might be planning as seat gifts for those in attendance at his 40th anniversary shows later in the evening. Perhaps each seat will have a Ricky bag in alligator. (Don’t laugh..if anyone can afford the generosity, it is RL).

The crisp, clean, timeless, sporty (and often unisex) collection for men and women was a tribute to the origins of the brand, and the creative director, Christophe Lemaire was admittedly inspired by the "chic, sporty elegance of the Lacoste lifestyle". It began with a group of white fitted blazers shown with pants (or skirts), wide red cummerbunds encircling the waist, and ended in a blaze of color as the company’s iconic pieces took the runway in solid eye popping shades ranging from orange, Kelly green, yellow, red, fuchsia, turquoise. In between there were great striped polos shown with high waisted trousers or shorts, some wonderful swimwear (many with cover ups), little white tennis dresses, and variations on that first cotton pique polo with the alligator logo (which had been enlarged in homage to Renee Lacoste). Lace up espadrilles (high wedges for the girls and flats for the guys) were the footwear of choice. By the way, considering the heritage of the company, could there have been a more perfect weekend to stage this show than on the weekend of the finals of the U.S. Open?

I usually find several things to like at a Twinkle by Wenlan show (the designer is known for her whimsical open weave knits). The show program promised new takes on knits, statement making prints, and a playful, sportif collection full of energy. It sounded promising but suffice it to say that none of the above were anywhere in sight.

The Temperley show (dubbed "Plage Prive") was an ode to the 20’s and the 30’s, specifically, the French seaside scenes from Deauville to Biarritz. It was not only a rather amusing ‘scene’ boasting fellow Brit front rowers like Duran Duran’s Simon LeBon (minus Yasmin) and Nick Rhoades, bona fide celebrities like Demi Moore and Molly Sims (seated next to bona fide celebrity stylist to the stars, Rachel Zoe) but the clothes were rather interesting, highly visual, graphic, and had a point of view. And as the program notes pointed out, there was far more emphasis on daywear (in the form of tailoring and innovative knitwear) than in past collections.

And the styling was right on cue. Instead of using high heels or platform wedges with everything, flat shoes (innocent MaryJanes, cap toed Chanel inspired low boots, or athletic lace ups with the look of a couture sneaker), were employed to exude the right feeling and mood. And of course, the reason Demi, Molly, Rachel, etc. were there was presumably, to scout future Red Carpet selections (which the company is known for). In that category, there were a number of elaborate, ornate, and magical evening gowns that would make quite a statement owing to their complicated handwork techniques and opulent embellishments.

Speaking of magical….the Rodarte sisters certainly took us on a magical mystery tour of sorts. And that’s even before the very first outfit came out. Showing in a vast second floor gallery in Chelsea at the hottest hour of the day, the air conditioner apparently broke, forcing them to rely on huge fans to cool the crowd (many clad in Rodarte designs). It was still a sauna with everyone fanning themselves to get some relief. At one point, someone had the brilliant idea (NOT) to add water to the fans…which is great if you’re dressed in a swimsuit…but since I was in vintage Pucci (velvet no less)…I ran from the water as fast as I could.

I found myself seated beside Marylou Luther and I couldn’t resist asking her what show (or shows) she thought was the best thus far. At first she drew a blank but then quickly said…"Yeohlee", citing its artistry AND wearability..and she singled out the group of diamante sprayed chiffon dresses (a departure for the designer who usually steers clear of embellishment).

When I asked what she thought of Proenza Shouler (shown the night before), she said she never got there because she fell and hurt herself at the Doo.Ri show (where she was sitting in the bleachers). She also told me she contacted KCD’s Ed Fillipowski (they handle Doo.Ri) to let him know her feeling about the venue (the Milk Studios) and how potentially dangerous it could be. Let me just say that I could not agree more. I cannot stand the Milk Studios for a number of reasons. The first is that it is so far West (and nowhere near public transportation) that unless you have a car and driver at your disposal, it’s impossible to get to the next show, or anywhere at all, quickly (unless of course you live in the Meatpacking District). And I too had a near accident seated in the bleachers. It was dark and the back step was black, and I lost my footing and fell as I tried to make my way to my seat. I initially thought I had broken my middle finger. Fortunately, I am fine but my finger is bruised. Nonetheless, I wish designers and pr firms would stay away from these locals.

Getting back to Rodarte…boy…the young innocent Mulleavy sisters (known for their youthful approach to elegant couture creations) have certainly grown up. Actually, they have not only grown up, they are now displaying a deliciously naughty side and have apparently lost their innocence (I guess that’s inevitable when you’ve been exposed to the fashion business after awhile).

The best way to describe the collection is that it was Punk Rock meets Couture and it was a bold move for the duo whose clothing had always been very elegant.To say it was wildly imaginative and beautifully conceived is an understatement. There was not only a fantastical side to it all, but a very dream like side (or nightmarish depending on how you see it). Styled by Camilla Nickerson, it was accessorized with Christian Louboutin’s wicked, almost scary looking sky high spiked heels covered with silver grommets (boy, if ever a shoe could be used as a weapon, this is it), and the models all sported long ponytails whose ends were dyed pink and blue courtesy Odile Gilber and the Aveda Team (this interestingly mimicked some of the pink and blue subtly tie dyed confections).

There was lots of tulle, net, chiffon, and organza and a lot of see through and lace (in one case, a sheer dress left nothing to the imagination). In fact, lingerie and underwear was another theme throughout. Slouchy spider web cardigans shot with lurex and shine, were thrown over see thru sheer tops and skin tight shiny pants, or broomstick pleated skirts. In an apparent effort to create a ‘new suit’, there were several that could only be described as deconstructed subversive takes on Chanel, including one tweed suit that was shot with lurex, and featured a slightly blouson elongated piped cardigan jacket over a full skirt. Another similar suit was done in striations of charcoal and ivory and featured a pleated skirt.

For the finale, a large metallic painted door opened and three models emerged, each wearing a sheer, voluminous floor length gown, one in black, one in a very cloud like tie dyed blue, and one in pink. In all fairness, without going back and seeing the collection up close and personal, it would be impossible to know or guess the fabrics because it was so intricate and the construction was so complicated. In addition, the models strode out quickly and there was no run of show. One thing is for certain, these young girls are major talents and are destined for success.

-Marilyn Kirschner

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