Monday, February 04, 2008

Day 3: Reviews & Notes

To the ‘Max’




Is it at all questionable that retail powerhouse Max Azria ( who is riding mighty high and can’t seem to do anything wrong these days), could successfully carry the Herve Leger mantle and make good on his promise to “not deviate from the original concept but to translate it for the modern woman”? (as he told “The Daily Front Row”). After all, when BCBGMAXAZRIAGROUP acquired the Herve Leger label in 1998 (the house was founded in 1985), they made history by virtue of being the first time a French couturier was acquired by an American label. No small feat to be sure.



The exquisitely colored collection (accessorized with feather headpieces and beaded gloves) which was shown on Sunday morning was a testament to the 51 (or so) ways in which the iconic and signature bandage dress (the staple of the line and often little more than a ‘girdle’ which leaves little to the imagination) can be translated. “You’ve seen one bandage dress…you’ve seen them all”? Well, yes and no. While undoubtedly, there was a lot of repetition (sort of a fashion version of “Groundhog Day”), there was quite a bit of variety and some fresh new takes (via color blocks, dip-dyes, ombres, airbrushing, graphic beading, 3D appliqués). And in some cases, the bandage was almost obliterated as it was used as a top which morphed into an elegant floor length silk organza gown.



And while the story was undeniably all about that seamed, structured, body hugging mini (which is hardly an item that could or should be worn by too many women on the planet, and never fails to bring to mind Posh Spice), that was not the only item on the runway; there were actually sportswear pieces (highly designed and structured sportswear pieces, a la Leger). A charcoal wool band jacket with a beautifully curved sleeve, shown over a moss color blocked mini dress, was a study in seaming and construction; sturdy cashmere capelets had the designed effect of a sweater being nonchalantly thrown over one’s shoulder; a cropped mauve cashmere sweater with a curved hem, was surprisingly paired with menswear inspired charcoal wool full legged trouser (with bandage detail, natch!)

Diane von Furstenberg

Diane abandoned the colorful tropic islands of spring 2008 for the dark streets of Berlin, the Asian florals and vivid colors of Shanghai, and the sparkle and glitter of New York (specifically the Art Deco glamour of the Chrysler Building and Rainbow room). But of course, she did not abandon her iconic prints. Instead, for a collection dubbed, “Foreign Affair” (which was strong on tailoring and mismatched suiting) she re-colored (nothing too glaring or brash) and juxtaposed them (using them sparingly) against sturdy camel’s hair greatcoats, double face officer’s coats, tweed and mohair herringbone blazers, twill double knit peplum jackets, wool and merino sleeveless vests and long cardigans.

And while prints are a DVF trademark, so too are dresses. Some of the standouts (which were not printed), include a simple black wool jersey and plisse ‘dance’ dress with a full skirt and beautiful full sleeve, and several flapper inspired incarnations (metallic embroidered, silver Chrysler beaded, and a black feather number shown beneath a lurex gingham blazer). But since Diane is all about prints after all, it’s not surprising that she would choose to end the show with a beautiful gray, black, and brown hand painted organza gown with a jeweled one shoulder.

Tracy Reese

Diane von Furstenberg was not the only designer proposing mismatched suits…Tracy Reese’s fall collection (her crowd pleasing show is always filled to the rafters as evidence of her growing fan base) was based on the notion of mismatched pieces, mismatched suits, mismatched prints, mismatched textures. Accordion pleated, released pleated, and slim knee length skirts were paired with printed sequined shells, oversized rose print blouses and sweaters. Stripes and paisleys were mixed with florals.

The dress (specifically, the dress in an over scaled floral) was another ongoing theme, both closing and ending the show. In fact, the prettiest was the finale- a rhododendron rose print full skirted one shoulder frock. But that doesn’t mean that Tracy abandoned sportswear . There were sweaters (an oatmeal long cardigan coat and an oatmeal crewneck that was shown with a copper and wood sequined knee length slim skirt), raglan sleeved coats and reefers, and bomber jackets.


Twinkle by Wenlan

You had to wait until practically the end of the Twinkle 27 piece collection, in order to find the highlights, but they were there. After some rather lackluster suits and dresses, Wenlan Chia’s strong suit (actually, not suits but her signature chunky knitwear: sweater coats, tunics, and dresses) finally made their appearance. And as usual, it’s the designer’s offhanded and rather unexpected pairing of these heavy knits with something softer and more romantic (in this case, brushstroke or abstract printed- sometimes beaded-

georgette gowns) that catches my eye. The finales, a silk georgette frost brushstroke long dress worn with a mink colored sweater tunic with side pockets, and the silk georgette Snow Fox printed long dress shown beneath a fig colored chunky sweater, were something to clap about.

-Marilyn Kirschner

Tuleh


(photo: Isabelle & Alexander Erb)

I was of two minds with regard to the Tuleh collection shown yesterday at Bryant Park. I loved the wide swingy skirts shown as dresses and two-piece ensembles that created a waist-defining 50’s style silhouette. Of particular note was an elegant blue dress with a set-in waist and a surprisingly feminine pin-stripe suit, and a stunning strapless gown in tangerine orange. The brightly colored fedora hats that accessorized some of the outfits also added a touch of whimsical nostalgia.

I found myself somewhat puzzled with a succession of looks (the sleeveless fur coats and textured vests, for example) that just did not seem to work with the rest of the collection. The show still managed to end on a high note with an romantic ruffled blouse and figure flattering slim brown pants.

-Rhonda Erb

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