Friday, February 09, 2007

Viva La Difference!

Thank goodness designers are NOT on the same wavelength and are not ALL doing the same exact thing. (How dull that would be?) Even though there are times when it seems that way (what with all the furs, fur trims, fur hats, hand knits, short dresses and boots, black opaque satin Wolford tights, etc.).

The way I see it, (and the way retailers love to see it too) there’s room for many voices and many interpretations. When I view collections from a personal point of view, I tend to see them in terms of which particular niche they could conceivably fit in my life. Who wants an entire wardrobe of just one thing not matter how much you love it? It’s up to the customer to figure out what her individual needs are; which things best suit her look, her needs, her lifestyle, her age, her body type, her mood. In the final analysis, it’s all about having a sense of what’s appropriate.

Without a doubt this has turned out to be a major fur season (both off the runway and on)…it’s as if the designers showing fur were praying to the heavens above, for severely cold weather to create the perfect frigid environment in which to show their pelts. Well, as they say, be careful what you wish for because they got it in spades. And one designer who has been on the forefront of changing the perception and image of fur, treating it as any other luxurious fabric is Gilles Mendel. And he did not disappoint this season. He said he wanted to “create a sportier feeling” and "break all the classic rules". To achieve this end he mixed lame with wool, patent with chiffon, mixed ‘savage’ furs (like nutria and fisher) with precious ones (like sable, mink, and chinchilla).

He worked fur with fabric (black and white tweed or black wool) and he worked fur with fur (or furs). He showed what is turning out to be the ‘coat of the season’, turning up in one form or another on many runways- a shiny black patent belted coat. He quilted grey broadtail and tailored it into a coat, to which he added a massive silver fox hood. And massive fox hoods were unexpectedly added to several dreamy, floating evening gowns including a black pleated silk chiffon and satin beauty which had a black fox hood and were belted with a black satin obi trench belt. By the way, satin obi trench belts were used throughout, evening on gowns, to create a defined waist.

Of the 54 looks that came down the runway at Badgley Mischka, at least half were day time, or at least mixed day and night. Certainly a far cry from seasons ago when the popular and dashing duo, (Mark Badgley and James Mischka) known for dressing socialites, celebrities, and stars on the red carpet, showed only cocktail and evening clothes. Well, that was then and this is now and they have evolved with the times and moved on. The 2007 fall collection, which included items from Badgley Mischka Platinum Sportswear, Badgley Mischka Platinum Evening, Badgley Mischka Couture, Badgley Mischka Furs, was all about a sporty, toned down approach to luxury. The models' hair was pulled back into a slightly messed up chignons and they were fresh faced and minimally accessorized. It was polished and elegant. Skirts were short and paired with boots or high heels; pants were both generously cut and menswear inspired, or streetwise and skinny. Menswear fabrics like chocolate glen plaid, coffee tweed, and smoke tweed were offset with chocolate Persian lamb, mink, and fox.

For evening, the colors were primarily black, worked against jewel tones: amethyst, navy, hematite, platinum, anthracite, smoke gunmetal, and gold. A short sold shift had an overlay of net (overlays were a pervasive theme), and the group of long gracefully floating empire waist gowns in georgette and satin were trimmed generously with sprays of silver crystal embroidery resembling liquid molten silver or featured jewel encrusted necklaces or bodices.

Vera Wang’s poetic, romanticized and beautifully executed fall vision, was very ‘Vera’ in its juxtapositions and its downplay of overt luxury. Never one to go the traditional route, she has always been one to mix day and night, hard and soft, masculine and feminine. The fall collection was all about “throwaway elegance” (the way she herself dresses) and indeed it was opulent and deconstructed at the same time. Vera said she was inspired by 20th century Russia and the survival of its people, and to this end, she offhandedly mixed military uniforms, primitive shapes, and opulent decorations which played out in a typically somber, mousey color palette (brown, black, khaki, forest green, olive, charcoal, navy, and gold). There was no color except for a red babushka shown with a jeweled evening dress. (Vera used oversized babushkas to cover the heads of many of the models).

It was opulent and deconstructed at the same time. Vintage inspired Russian insignia military buckles were added to distressed leather and crocodile belts; taffeta fencing jackets had padded peplum linings to add to the shape. Jeweled medallions were affixed to heavy brown leather boots. The amount of layering was dizzying, and it was an obvious attempt to create the proper look and mood. It was beautiful with some amazingly tailored and constructed pieces. But having said that, the overall effect was rather self conscious and contrived, and it’s hard to imagine anyone over the age of 20, who is not 6 feet tall and 105 pounds really pulling this off. (By the way, there were many sleeves tunics and dresses and one model’s arms were visibly thin enough to quality as borderline anorexic).

Hanii Y and Gene Kei, the duo behind Y & Kei, claimed they were inspired by a “visit to Australia, specifically the patchwork-effect architecture of the Federation Square building in Melbourne” for their fall collection. The 41 piece fall collection concentrated on black, navy, plum, hunter green and grey with hits of red, silver metallic and gunmetal. The mainly cocktail into evening dresses (and separates) was filled with their signature rosettes and origami details, and featured bubble hems, skinny pants, and novel uses of fur (like the black sheared mink knee length coat with short puffed sleeves and the dove grey sheared mink jacket with rosette collar and flyway back). Unsurprisingly, it was the simpler pieces (and some of their coats) that were the most successful: a navy silk jacquard bubble coat; a short sleeved dove grey cotton taffeta over coat shown with a black turtleneck; a pale grey cotton moire collarless coat dress; a charcoal metallic cotton strapless cocktail dress. The dusty pink silk evening gown at the finale was cut with the simplicity of a nightgown.

-Marilyn Kirschner

Other Shows:

Zac Posen


Zac's Black Iris Gown - photo Isabelle Erb

It was the usual packed house on Thursday night as Zac Posen presented his Fall/Winter 2007 collection in the tent at Bryant Park. Photographers overflowed the runway as they rushed to catch a glimpse of celebrity guests including Russell Simmons, Sean Combs, Rachel Bilson, and Giada DeLaurentis. Each seat contained a chic black bag filled with Mac cosmetics and L'Oreal hair products.

Zac's focus for this season was on "architectural tailoring" and "exquisite femininity". To accomplish this he led off the collection with precisely tailored coats, jackets, dresses, and pants, each of which was designed to be contoured to the shape of a woman's body. Almost every look emphasized the waist in some fashion, even his utterly charming, swingy organza dresses. The color palette was predominately black throughout the collection, with the exception of a few pieces in rich dark colors like plum or olive and a standout white sable/goat stole jacket. Zac saved his most ornate flourishes for his evening wear, closing the show with an elaborate, full skirted dress called the Navy/Black Iris Gown.

-Rhonda Erb

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