Friday, September 09, 2011

NY Fashion Week Notes by Marilyn Kirschner

The Sun Also Rises

BCBG Spring 2012 Collection
(Photos: Firstview.com)

When I went out for my usual run on Thursday morning, I saw something so novel, something so rare as of late, it was positively indescribable. I’m referring to the sun. And because I’m such a hopeless optimist, I took that as a good luck sign that the week ahead would be charmed and filled with positive energy (hope springs eternal). Of course, later in the day, I heard the news that there had been a "specific and credible yet unconfirmed" report about a possible terrorist attack timed for the upcoming 10th anniversary of 9/11. A sobering reminder of the new reality. But life goes on, and the shows must go on, and while we must be vigilant, we can't let them win by virture of giving in to paralyzing life changing fear. (I live very close to Ground Zero, and watching the transformation of that space, has been truly amazing).

I, of course, remember that day very vividly (I lived uptown at the time). I also remember the night before, because what has stuck in my mind, is how wet, windy, and rainy the evening of Monday, September 10th was. It was so rainy, you could hear and feel the rain hitting the ceiling of the Tents at Bryant Park; even the subways had begun to flood. And so, by contrast, it made the glorious weather on Tuesday, September 11th, seem even more so. When I heard the news about the two attacks, prior to leaving my apartment for the shows, I had a sinking feeling that this would be life changing, whatever it was. By the time I got off the subway and began walking from Lexington Avenue to 6th Avenue, you could see hordes of people standing in the middle of the street, looking downtown to the sky, and not believing what they were witnessing - the two towers were immersed in smoke. I knew, right then, that Fashion Week would not be going on as usual and, more importantly, everything would quickly change. By the time I reached 6th Avenue and the entrance of the Tents, both towers were no longer there. It was chaos with everyone milling around, trying to make phone calls, etc. And then of course, they posted a sign that Fashion Week had been cancelled and I, like many others, began walking home.


 BCBG Spring 2012 Collection

That being said, the first show I saw yesterday, BCBG Max Azria, got things off to an upbeat start, dedicated as it was to an “urban, global spirit” by way of saturated brights, color blocking, neutral accents, tribal prints, and embroideries. The label’s signature fluid shapes, elegantly elongated proportions, and weightless fabrics, were all in place, but this time, there was the surprise of sports infused vibe. If you’re thinking Nike or Adidas, well, not quite. I’m not implying that Max & Co. are forgoing their supremely feminine designs in favor of active sportswear, warm ups, and sweats. Au contraire…the artistic touches, the alluring necklines, the soft, fluid dresses, and the beautiful fabrics are still in place; it’s just that one of their niftiest ideas this season happens to be the unexpected pairing of their silk crepe and georgette dresses, with a chiffon hooded ‘sports’ jacket (complete with functional, oversized pockets). If I have any criticisms, it's that there was no real 'daytime' to mention, not one real coat, and only one pair of pants in the entire lineup.

Richard Chai Spring 2012 Collection
(Photos Firstview.com)

 A decided sports and athletics theme continued in the Richard Chai Love + Mens Spring 2012 show. Do I really need to point out that the biggest ‘sports’ related fashion event would be at night, with that veritable ‘marathon’ shopping event, better known as Fashion’s Night Out? There were biker shorts, basketball jerseys, basketball and board shorts, baseball and polo shirts, bomber jackets, racer back t’s, oversized tanks, mesh insets, safari jackets, elastic waists, and zippers galore (plus, almost everything was accessorized with a flat, lace up oxford) .

Richard Chai Spring 2012 Collection

But here, as well as at BCBG, it was hardly Locker Room thanks to expert tailoring, perfect proportions, and eye catching color and pattern mixes. And of course, beautiful fabrication: cotton sateen, washed lyocell denim, cotton linen printed snake skin, drape jersey, coated cotton drill, and Swarovski Elements pearl beading (that was just for the gals).


Richard Chai Spring 2012 Collection

Some of the standouts for me, were the relatively simple cut out shoulder shirts, the masterful use of mitred stripes (striped insets on a t shirt which was shown with lean striped trousers), the narrow pants which had a removable pleated front kilt that might be tricky but seemed to work here, and the interesting combinations and unorthodox layering, exemplified by the khaki/navy linen cotton double stripe asymmetric blazer worn over an electric pink silk diamond jacquard arc seam tank and chalk/charcoal silk water rose printed flared trousers.

The Supima Design Competition, held at the Studio at Lincoln Center, showcased 5 works from 8 design students, all of whom created designs they were either cocktail dresses or evening gowns made of Supima cotton - considered to be ‘the world’s finest cotton'. The CEO of Supima introduced Rachel Zoe, who informed the audience that the winner would be announced following the runway presentation. She said that she was “blown away” by the amazing talent on display, and admitted she would consider hiring some of those featured, after their graduations, of course.

And, the winner was: Jusil Carroll, an FIT student whose high waisted evening gowns and cocktail dresses were delivered primarily in black and gray, were made of corduroy, dyed twill, dyed and digitally printed shirting, digitally draped jersey, bleached and hand painted denim, and boasted leather embellishments, leather shoulder harnesses, self trains, and draped skirts. By the way, on every seat at this show, there was a black and white printed Supima cotton canvas tote bag filled with an assortment of goodies, including a black one size fits all Brooks Brothers Country Club poncho in its own pouch so large it could fit me and at least one other person.

Tadashi Shoji said in his program notes that his inspiration for the spring 2012 line, was the “enchanting beauty and splendor of the tulip”, as conveyed by photographer Ron van Dongen. He even included a quote from The Tulip Anthology in his run of show “So, in the tulip, we have a flower of beauty and grace, of charm, refinement, and distinction. It is a powerful flower and it knows it”. I guess you can say he seems to be totally obsessed with tulips. Perhaps a tad too much so. While some of it worked, it was a bit too literal at times, what with the tulip shapes, rosette sleeves, petal details, floral appliqués, and the dresses that were most successful - lean gowns in hand painted silk linen, the ivory tulle and embroidered lace halter dress, the short sleeve transparent gown; the light fern and willow hand beaded blouson gowns; the ivory nude tulle and embroidered lace pieces, the ivory silk chiffon v neck cross back gown), were far more subtle in their homage.

- end

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