NEW YORK FASHION WEEK, SPRING 2006: The Big Easy
Sorry about the pun but in addition to Hurricane Katrina and the devastation left in her wake (and all the subsequent focus on New Orleans - hence, the obvious double entendre of my title), the only other subject which seemingly dominated the shows (practically overshadowing and upstaging the clothes) was the media hyped, commercial crassness of it all and the ongoing celebrity factor (which was the subject of a front page article in WWD on Wednesday, September 14, Paparazzis Paradise: Clothes Take Backseat To Celebrity Photo Ops). But something interesting happened .Just as Fashion Week seemed to be getting more and more commercial, celebrity obsessed, and star struck (as if that were even possible), the designers collectively went in the opposite direction - a quiet revolution on their part against the cookie cutter- assembly line, commonplace, commercial, obvious and predictable. This was illustrated by their collective desire to revive artisanal techniques, local craftsmanship and handiwork as exemplified by Project Alabama, where almost everything was hand piped, hand stitched, hand beaded, and/or hand sequined (and brought it into the 21st century through the use of techno fabrics in conjunction with it) and whose show could not have been more poignant, relevant or timely considering Hurricane Katrina had just hit much of that state (though thankfully, not the area that is home to the company).
The duo Lazaro Hernandez and Jack McCollough for Proenza Shouler, put their trademark corsets and bras on the back burner (though they didnt forget them completely) and focused on a newfound love- the Arts and Crafts movement (inspired by a recent vacation in Mexico). They mixed in elements of couture, for a collection rendered in primarily pale neutral tones, filled with sweet ruffle trimmed elongated empire dresses and blouses, and of course, their always amazing and highly collectible coats. (1 2) Carolina Herrera (3 4)married uptown with down home, (as opposed to downtown) for an honest rustic folksy approach to luxury which was fueled by a desire for artistic individuality and the result was homespun haute. This was captured by her floor length ball gown fashioned not from satin, chiffon, or taffeta, but rather, decidedly heavy and street wise army fatigue cotton drab lightened up with fuchsia satin ribbons on the straps. At Oscar de la Renta, folkoric and rustic touches infused day wear and eveningwear, although the standouts were (5 6) his fresh and appealing suits (no, the jacket has not been forgotten this season), day dresses, and luxe sportive pants outfits, rather than the predictable tulle and organza evening gowns (which are still pretty of course). And all over the runways there could be seen the lavish use of custom and open work embroideries, guipure lace, needle and crewel work, hand stitching, and humble fabrics like gutsy cotton, natural hemp, hopsack, burlap, and linen.