Sunday, February 10, 2013

New York Fashion Week Notes

The Iceman Cometh

Alexander Wang Collection
(All photos: Style.com)

Well, if nothing else, Friday's blizzard (as much of a nuisance it may be) has certainly provided us with the ultimate picture postcard perfect winter wonderland and atmospheric backdrop for Mercedes Benz Fashion Week, and the fall/winter 2013 collections that got underway on Thursday. If you're the folks at Moncler Grenoble, wouldn't you just love having heaps of the white stuff outside the venue where you're showing your ski worthy parkas and all the accouterments? And, let's face it, if you're in the fur business aren't you doing back flips right about now?

Some showgoers seemingly continue to ignore the season, and the frigid weather, and insist on dressing as though by sheer force of will, they will herald in an early spring (some inexplicably wear their skyscraper heels, even though they risk falling on the slippery ice). But, from the look of things, most have begun to dress wisely: quilted parkas, fur and fur trimmed coats, enormous face covering fur trapper hats, sensible boots, arm warmers, leg warmers, etc., and by doing so, mirroring much of what has been shown on the runway (life imitates art yet again).

Herve Leger collection

Even though there has been somewhat of a trend towards season less clothing in these last few years (thanks to global warming and the reality that most of us tend to layer as needed), it's hard not to notice that one of the big themes to emerge thus far, is the idea of clothes that REALLY look as though they are geared for winter (and will help get you through any emergency that comes your way). This has been really brought into focus in these past few days. I mean really, even at Max Azria for Herve Leger yesterday, where one expects to see a lot of skimpy, skin baring bandage and bondage dresses (regardless of what season it is), the body was pretty much covered up and encased in fabric, from head to toe, and surprisingly, some of the most enormous fur hoods were shown. Being covered up, staying warm and toasty (and looking chic to boot), has never been easier.

Alexander Wang fur and leather trench

Gutsy is the operative word for this season (no gutsy no glory?) Fabrics have by and large been traditional and hefty (tweeds have never looked better, nor have innovative fabric mixes); furs, fur trims, and fur accessories (fur mittens and fur trimmed hoods) have been see all over; there's been a hard to miss return to structure, volume, and ease (all of a sudden, too tight and too skimpy looks wrong); sculptural, armor like shapes seem geared towards that which is cocooning and protective; hemlines have been lowered; pronounced and exaggerated pockets look as though they can literally hold enough food, money, supplies, etc., to get you through a week (with or without electricity); sensible shoes (oxfords, flats, low heeled boots, many with lugged soles) have made a welcome return. Even though there has been a lot of optic white, either used alone, or better yet, in combination with black, the color palette has been very fall/ winter like, which means by definition: lots of black, gray, navy, burgundy, and fatigue green. Rachel Roy said she is hoping that army green will be seen as the 'new black'. Well, there has been a lot of this color used thus far, and it was shown at Moncler Grenoble and at Prabal Gurung yesterday, where it showed up as an evening dress.


Alexander Wang hooded gray sweater black leather skirt

But with all due respect, if anything can replace black (which I still doubt), I think it's more likely to be gray, as exemplified by Alexander Wang (who will be presenting his first collection for Balenciaga in Paris, in just a few weeks and is definitely ready for his 'closeup', as exemplified by his supremely focused collection). It was a rigorous study in black, white, and shades of gray (yes, I think it was 50 shades of gray), and both the color palette and mood was in perfect harmony with the snow and ice outside (hoods encased the heads and fur mittens covered the hands and arms). It was all about superb fabrication, cut, shape, and execution, with an emphasis on amazing coats, trenches, jackets, and knitwear (not to mention some great pants). It was sporty yet very sophisticated, which has been a Wang signature from the beginning and I especially loved that he endorsed flat and low heeled shoes, making them not only look sensible and comfortable, but incredibly chic.

Marilyn Kirschner


Monique Lhuillier A Frothy Evening

Monique Lhuillier
(All photos: Lieba Nesis)

The Monique Lhuillier show was held at the fashion tents in Lincoln Center on one of the most weather challenged evenings of the year. However not even the brutal snow and rain could dampen the excitement and anticipation for this evening fashion show. The tent was packed with an eclectic crowd comprised of television personalities, businessmen, fashionistas, socialities, and personal friends. Lhuillier, 41, a designer who started off in bridal wear and expanded her line to include high end dresses and clothing is a frequent go to for celebrities during the awards season. The crowd was bustling with excitement and I was able to speak to some of the luminaries attending. Deborah Roberts, a twenty twenty correspondent and Al Roker's wife, said she enjoyed Monique's clothing because, "they are timeless, ladylike and elegant. I always look forward to seeing what she will do next and while I sometimes wear her clothing on air I frequently wear her dresses for fancy black tie events and evening wear."

Mary Alice Stephenson

The actress Bridget Moynahan who was wearing Lhuillier said, "I shop so things last from season to season and I can rediscover things from year to year. I am a big fan of Lhuillier and I left my five year old to come to her show." Mary Alice Stephenson, a beauty and style expert, said "Monique is incredibly talented and understands how to flatter a woman's body, the celebrities love working with her." Echoing the sentiment of Monique's grace was the owner of the vintage clothing line Decade who said, "Monique is an incredible success story. She understands color, is a lovely person and is a very democratic designer who designs for everybody from brides to movie stars."


As the plastic was peeled off the runway, I was shooed off to my seat to view the display of this highly lauded designer. The collection started off with whites and furs reminiscent of the snow outside. The effect was frothy and light, utilizing three dimensional cable knits and moving to abstract prints in golden brochades. The silhouettes were sleek and tailored with the models hair pulled back in buns emitting elegance, although a tad too severe. The progression to color blocked furs in green and white was exciting and an unusual transition from the slim cut trousers and tailored dresses. The toned down dresses in white and a brownish yellow were my least favorite of the collection, however, she quickly reverted to her signature tulle and lace dresses. Some of these dresses were shortened for a more modern interpretation of evening however, the cropped length of these dresses forced the beading, feathers and lace into too short a dress and stunted the flow of the garments.


Thankfully floor length gowns in green, black and red were reintroduced and they were resplendent. The rich jewel tones of these gowns in malachite green, oxblood and amethyst were elegant and dramatic evoking old time Hollywood glamour yet still extremely current. Lhuillier is best in long silhouettes and the crowd was enthusiastic when her nude gowns interspersed with delicate beading were displayed. The most dramatic show stopping dresses were saved for the conclusion of the show and I could easily view these dresses on any number of Oscar contenders. Lhuillier's designs are simultaneously opulent and simple, a difficult feat to achieve.

The end of the show left me wanting more. The crowd rushed out trampling over my foot and almost knocking the camera out of my hand. I left the show trying to figure out why this show was different from the others I had attended during fashion week- what was it that set this one apart? I figured it out. The room had a warmth and ebulllience to it that I have rarely experienced. When I spoke to the audience they were genuinely rooting for Monique and cared for her. This show was not just about elegant clothing; it was about an elegant woman whose beautiful clothing reflected her own inner generosity giving way to a delightfully warm evening ensconced in the bosom of these tents, oblivious to the harsh winter elements awaiting us.

- Lieba Nesis


THE DAILY BET BY RHONDA ERB

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