Veterans Carolina Herrera and Oscar de la Renta both presented strong, signature, elegant, and sophisticated collections (with different points of view, thankfully), proving that the young up and comers are not the only crowd pleasers.
For Fall 2005, Ms. Herrera admitted to being inspired by “the women of the 40’s and their elegant approach to daytime”, hence the reliance on fluted and trumpet skirts for movement, lots of classic menswear colors and fabrics (gray, brown, Prince of Wales, tweeds, and herringbones) which were mixed with chiffon and lame, and lots of gold and semi precious stones upping the shine quotient. Of course, there were furs and in fact, the best outfit in the show, and the one that set the tone for what was to follow, just happened to be the very first number out: the charcoal broadtail sleeveless knee length trumpet dress. Simply chic!
Not quite as restrained as Carolina, Oscar did his ‘thing’ and did it beautifully. He also did it before a packed audience, which included Beyonce Knowles (who caused a paparazzi frenzy as she took her seat just as the lights dimmed). He somehow manages to make couture like clothing look youthful, not stodgy or uptight. On parade were wonderful Ikat print velvet and shearling coats and jackets, (often belted with wide belts), tweeds mixed with chiffon, cashmere sweaters and boiled wool jackets embroidered with amazingly heavy gold coins and nail heads. His tailoring was impeccable, as exemplified by the black broadtail coat that was cut princess style, molding to the body and flaring out at the skirt. By the way, full and longer skirts, a message all over the runways, were very apparent at Oscar, who used them with abandon for day and evening. Evening was a usual mélange of sequins, organza, faille, satin, velvet, tulle and cashmere, and the very last dress out (a strapless gold embroidered tulle gown with an empire waist and very full skirt, had Sarah Jessica Parker’s name written all over it).
Cynthia Steffe, who was sandwiched in between the two, showing at the Tents, had a very strong collection as well. As I mentioned, Padma Lakshmi (aka Mrs. Salman Rushdie) told me that two days in a row, she was wearing something by Steffe, and she was front row center, of course. For fall, Cynthia is inspired by the opulence of Slavic Europe, which translated into volume (the full skirt again!), a regal color palette, lots of velvet, and rich embroideries. As always, Cynthia’s tailored pieces stand out (she always seems to have that 70’s thing going), and this time was not exception- highlights included her strong coats, tuxedo pantsuits, and tweed suits.
Unfortunately, Betsey Johnson’s afternoon show (called, ‘The Bull and Betsey”), did not fare as well as the others. I really wanted to like it, and there were some nice pieces (notably the checked wool belted trenchcoat with teal tulle full skirted dress, the tartan plaid suits, and one wonderful strapless and fitted tartan plaid dress). But in general, it seemed like a mishmash (a fun mishmash, but a mishmash all the same).
Later on, in the early evening, Yeohlee Teng took us a few blocks away from the Tents (like last time), but instead of a gritty hot subway platform, she chose the light, airy, and highly visual International Center of Photography as the venue of choice. For her last few shows, she has been presenting her geometric and architectural designs (that are completely timeless and timely) not on models, but on friends who just happen to be attractive ‘clothes hangers’ nonetheless. Included were Valerie Steele in a black wool flamenco coat, black matte jersey tank and black gabardine skirt; Roxanne Lowit in a white wool ‘baju’, black matte jersey high neck top and black gab slim pants; Constance White, looking amazing in a black lacquered wool gown with a white silk organza 3 square sleeve; and Irina Pantaeva in an ink light ‘saber’ coat, black matte jersey high neck top, and black gabardine slim ankle pants. A nice surprise was the appearance of Broadway legend, Tommy Tune, (no, not modeling, but in the audience).
And then there was the Marc Jacobs show. The start of the show was delayed ONE HOUR AND TWENTY MINUTES because two "celebrities" did not have the courtesy of showing up on time. Who are these shows for anyway?
(CLARIFICATION: According to Billy Daly of KCD the Marc Jacobs show was late due to last minute alterations and fittings - NOT celebrities attending the show.)