Tuesday, September 13, 2005

“A Night to Remember”

Oscar de la Renta and Carolina Herrera showed strong collections, both exploring that folksy, ‘rustic’ approach to luxury that seems to be all over the runways. Carolina admitted to having been inspired by the freedom and artistic expression of Vienna just before the 20’s and wanted to evoke the feeling of effortless glamour. The 42 piece collection was well edited (a trend on the runways here as designers seem to be paring down their shows a bit) and there were some beautiful pieces, the best of which were embroidered or printed. Ms. Herrera was not alone in her embrace of the polka dot this season (another big trend), and hers were frothy and done in organza (often multi layered), but she also utilized an overscaled floral. But would somebody please tell me who she Carolina is designing those shorts for? Does her customer actually buy them?

And though Oscar de la Renta was having a ‘fit’ (literally, as many of his dresses and jackets were lean and narrow and fitted to the nth degree), he interestingly emphasized trousers more than usual, (in one case he added gold embroidery to a tweed jacket and threw it over an ivory blouse and beige wool trouser to bring it down a notch), He also showed some wonderful little linen embroidered dresses, silk embroidered sweaters, including a few crochet pieces, worked within his usual repertoire of boucle tweeds, brocades, taffetas, organzas, and tulles for some amazing evening dresses that one would kill to have a party to go in order to have an excuse to wear one.

But the day, which ended with Marc Jacobs (as usual), was pretty much all about Marc Jacobs. Whatever you may think of Marc Jacobs as a designer (overrated, underrated, somewhere in between), the one thing you can’t accuse him of is not being smart and crafty. And smart and crafty are words which perfectly describe the way he approached his spring 2006 collection (and I’m not even talking about the clothes which I thought were pretty great and provided a wonderful respite from the all the too sweet, soft, and feminine fashions being proposed elsewhere).

Marc was apparently intent on making this ‘A Night to Remember” for those in the audience and particularly members of the press and retailers. Let’s face it,it’s hard to forget about a collection that ends with so much confetti thrown on the audience, I am literally still vacuuming pieces off my carpeting, wiping it out of my eyes, picking it out of my hair, off my clothes, off the keyboards of my computer, and out of the bag I carried into the Armory on 26th street and Lexington Avenue, which was the setting for Marc’s show.

And it’s hard to forget about a collection that not only did NOT start two hours late (as had been his custom) but actually started early (well, early by fashion show standards). I must say, I had an inkling there would be changes afoot when I noted Marc’s Monday night show, traditionally called for 9 p.m., had been scheduled for 8 p.m. In fact, the show began at precisely 8:35 and ended at 8:55. Unbelievable! This is a record and something many of us never thought we would live to see or talk about. Marc Jacobs likes us - he really, really likes us. He obviously took all the criticisms of his last extremely late collection to heart and made a concerted effort to turn things around and accommodate those who were less than thrilled with having to wait until almost midnight for the pleasure of seeing his new collection. And that’s not all. We were offered bottles of Perrier by polite young men as pre-show refreshments. How civilized!

As for the clothes? The show started with a very nimble baton twirler and the Nittany Lions marching band from Penn State University (did Marc graduate from there???!!) It was fitting because Marc has always had a thing for uniforms, and especially military jackets and coats. And the collegiate colors: black, navy, and gray, which formed the basis for the Penn State uniforms, were also the predominant colors of the spring collection (in addition to welcome hits of clear red, some soft grays, and a very abstract print. But that’s about it). Marc was reported as describing the collection as “Spring 101” and boy he was NOT kidding!

The show was a definite departure from his very controversial yet critically acclaimed fall 2005 collection and one could almost call it an evolution or refinement of all Marc’s ‘biggest hits’ (amazingly structured coats and jackets, new takes on classic standards like pea jackets, blazers, macs, the great white shirt, silk blouses, tuxedo pantsuits, brocades, lame slip dresses). There was a nod to ‘boy meets girl’ which was missing from other runways thus far and Marc played around with the cuffs on pants, making them extremely wide and dramatic.

Marc is still taken with volume but the volume this time is a bit more controlled and designed than what was put forth last season. He also seems to be very taken with cowl backs: they appeared on some really chic jackets and abbreviated dresses. The footwear was somewhat heavy and grounded, rather than dainty and delicate which gave everything a youthful vibe. There were patent loafer mules, patent mules, and gold loafer mules.

One cannot underestimate the power of a designer who makes us rethink proportion, rethink our wardrobe, rethink the idea of what is beautiful, pretty, or nerdy, and constantly tries to explore and push the envelope.

- Marilyn Kirschner

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