Wednesday, February 08, 2006

New York Fashion Week: Day 5

More observations….it occurred to me more than halfway through New York Fashion Week, that many designers must have raided my vintage filled coat closet for inspiration - especially my Bonnie Cashins and Lilli Ann’s from the 50’s with their bracelet length wide sleeves and tent shapes. And while I hate to admit this, I am so ‘over’ little fur capelets especially the ones with satin ribbon ties. In fact, I am also somewhat bored with furs, unless it is something with an incredible cut. Give me a distinctive, gorgeously constructed cloth coat any day (no, I’m not mimicking Richard Nixon’s famous comment about Pat’s “proper Republican cloth coat”). Furs look best to me in small doses - used as a touch, as an accessory (a big fur hat, a bag, or muff) as seen at Marc Jacobs and also on the runway of ‘The Jersey Boys’ Jeffrey Costello and Robert Tagliapietra who do a collection for Saga Furs, hence finn raccoon hats and muffs accessorized their simple and beautifully crafted draped jersey dresses, and gathered jersey tops shown with menswear trousers. I think this goes hand in hand with the feeling of downplayed luxury which seems so right at the moment, and wanting to be as far away from ostentatious, over the top glam, as possible.

It also occurred to me that this coming fall and winter would be a great time to be pregnant, what with all the high-waisted, empire lined, tent shaped and voluminous coats, sweaters, jackets, and dresses that would fit a family of 4. Just think, there’d be no need to buy maternity clothes. Even if you’re not pregnant, these clothes may make you look like you’re “with child” and that’s not so bad either. If nothing else, it might just get you a seat on a crowded subway at rush hour.

Speaking of pregnant, brand new mom Monique Luillier showed a typically pretty collection this morning that not only had versions of her now famous tufted and gathered cocktail dresses and gowns, beautiful lace blouses, and suits, that are popular with the Uptown social set, but also featured several noteworthy coats, some of which had the cropped wide sleeve that is so popular. But here too, while the gowns were paired with expectedly ‘dressy’ cover-ups in mink or dreamy tulle, I couldn’t help but think that they would have looked far more interesting had they been juxtaposed with something in a thick hand knit instead.

Michael Vollbracht admitted that the late Bill Blass is always in his thoughts and on his mind and certainly, it’s hard to argue that the clear red pieces (that would have looked better without the wide black leather belt that kept showing up), the tailored pinstripe pantsuits (which appear to be more fitted than in past seasons), the plaid taffeta full skirted shirtdress with red cardigan, the group of little black cocktail dresses, embroidered evening coats (which did not need the little fur pieces that were flung across the shoulder), and the crisp white shirt paired with black embroidered cardigan and black and white printed voluminous ballskirt, were not all within the Blass vocabulary.

At Luca Luca, Venus Williams, looking adorable in a tweed jacket and well worn jeans, accompanied by Jane Lauder, the standout item (and something I could easily imagine someone wearing on the red carpet at the Academy Awards, was the finale - a floor sweeping narrow sleeveless black lace gown with an open back and dramatic train.

Charles Nolan is obviously in an upbeat preppy, collegiate kind of mood these days, based on his no nonsense collection of layered and updated wardrobe staples that seemed familiar and comfortable - classics that have gotten us through the years like the shrunken boyfriend blazers, or the navy reefer with silver buttons, or the red melton hunt coat, or the loden suits. These fared better than the group of short cocktail dresses, though the floor length satin evening coats with half belts were pretty. Almost everything was accessorized with a black flat riding boot or delicate kitten heel and the models had long falls to drive home the point about being fresh faced, young, sweet, and innocent.

Since this is turning out to be the season of strong knitwear (by the way, where IS Pierrot when we really need him?) Iisli’s sweet and concise 29 piece collection, which is comprised entirely of chunky hand knit cardigans and cable blazers (my favorite), oversized sweater dresses, and slouchy cardigans, worn with short skirts (some were pleated) layered over ribbed leggings or legging trousers, and accessorized with elongated knit scarves.

--Marilyn Kirschner

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