Gilles Mendel had the misfortune of scheduling his J. Mendel show at 10AM at the Bryant Park Tents, and I say ‘misfortune’, because at 9AM, the editors’ darlings, Proenza Shouler, presented THEIR collection all the way across town and downtown at Milk Studios…So, needless to say, the show not only started late, but there were plenty of empty seats to fill in at the last moment. However, because Gilles is such a favorite with the social set (and so adorable), uptown swells like Renee Rockefeller and Lauren DuPont, were there front row center to get a look at what they will be buying (or is it, ‘borrowing’) come next fall. Gilles admitted to having been inspired by the effortless chic of Faye Dunaway's Bonnie Parker and to that end, pants were used with many of the pieces to impart a feeling of luxe sportif. There were some noteworthy broadtails, lavish fox trimmed hems- on coats and cocktail dresses; and there were of course, some exceptional evening gowns (newest are the simple yet dramatic dove gray pleated beauties). But for sheer brilliance, considering we’re ensconced in a season of major knitwear, nothing can beat Gilles’ inventive take on this season’s ‘most wanted’….a belted ¾ length white knitted mink Aran cardigan which was shown over a white tuxedo blouse and a slightly longer dove grey chiffon pleated skirt.
Wolfgang Joop’s earthy, relaxed collection for Wunderkind was marked by the use of traditional menswear fabrics, layering, and interesting juxtapositions. Working in a palette of typically fall colors (browns, beiges, tans, grays, and black), some of the noteworthy pieces were the brown tweed relaxed coat shown with matching cap with earflaps; the distressed brown leather belted and slouchy coat; the brown fur ‘sweater vest’ and matching hat, layered over an oatmeal Donegal tweed long slouchy blazer and matching pant; the narrow shouldered belted brown herringbone coat with inverted pleat in back and matching cap with earflaps; and the tucked and pleated leopard print chiffon gown with voluminous skirt and balloon hem shown under a flyaway short Donegal tweed cape with antique brown small collar.
Pamela Roland, who is known for her tailored pantsuits, and especially her special occasion wear that ranges from cocktail dresses to floor length gowns, was inspired by the color palette in the landscape paintings of John Singer Sargeant (shades ranging from copper and moss green to dark ruby and jewel toned blue). With a following that includes such celebrities as Angelina Jolie, Jennifer Garner, and Nicolette Sheridan, it’s a cinch she will be represented on the red carpet at the upcoming Academy Awards. And even though it is her formal gowns (which are predictably beautiful) that will most likely find their way down the red carpet, if I were a stylist, I would try to convince one of my chic and elegant clients to forego the frou and the predictable and instead go with the chicest outfit in the fall lineup - the white chiffon long sleeved blouse with beaded center that resembled a tie, worn with the skinny floor length jet black crepe tuxedo skirt.
Vera Wang is obviously spending a lot of time walking around museums as of late. Her spring collection, for which she won the CFDA award for women’s wear designer of the year, was inspired by last summer’s Matisse exhibit at the Met. And for fall 2006, she cites Rothko’s moody color palette, the 50’s, and the movie, “The Talented Mr. Ripley” as the basis for her collection. Unfortunately, it didn’t have quite the poetic beauty or impact of last season, and some of the pieces looked a bit too complicated and artsy.
That said, there were nifty ideas and some notable pieces - beautifully cut and constructed outwear (I especially liked the navy wool felt pea coat), new takes on the skirt suit (Vera, like Doo-ri, feminized traditional menswear fabrics); the pairing of elongated color block merino sweaters over charmeuse and georgette slip dresses or Rothko colored pieces. Just a note, I also liked her vintage inspired mink jackets and boleros which were done in interesting shapes and silhouettes (even though I just said I was bored with furs. Go figure!) They looked like something one has inherited, collected, or worn for years, as opposed to being brand new, yet they didn’t look like they were salvaged from the local thrift store.
Last night we all got to see a newly restrained and pared down Zac Posen. Gone are the frills, the frou, the prints, the bright colors, and the homage to old Hollywood that always forms the basis of his collections (though ‘new’ Hollywood, as represented by Uma Thurman, was front row center). In fact, if you didn’t know whose show you were sitting at, you would not have known it was Zac. The colors were stripped down to a palette of dark (almost black) navy, ivory, pale silver, and black, and the overall silhouette was sharp, linear, close to the body, and short. Volume was hardly anywhere to be found (expect for a few full skirted, short dresses) and the evening finale.
Cropped, narrow pants (in black) were shown with almost all the short coats (some belted) and fitted jackets that were very narrow through the shoulder and featured pinched, pagoda like shoulders. He offered several takes on the white shirt/black (or navy) pant combination, and ended with two dramatic evening gowns with skirts so voluminous, they probably had more fabric in them than was used in all the other pieces combined.
Jason Wu, a former Narciso Rodriguez intern showed at the Tents right after Zac and given his resume, it seemed like it could have been interesting. Unfortunately, what came out on the runway looked like a rehash of Narcisco’s greatest hits….but poorly done.