Day 5: Reviews & Notes

(Diane Clehane, Entertainment Editor, talks with IMG’s Fern Mallis about life under the tents in a wide ranging interview for Read it here: )


If there could possibly be any show venue worse than the far west 22nd street gallery that has been tapped by Rodarte as their venue of choice for the past few seasons, I’d like to know what it is. In addition to being rather inaccessible to public transportation, which makes getting to and from other shows challenging unless you have a town car or limo (or helicopter) at your disposal, there is only one exit via a precariously steep winding staircase (and a tiny elevator) to take the crowds up and down the second floor (where the presentation takes place). This is not only dangerous and scary (God forbid if there was a fire or some other disaster), but it makes the process of arriving and exiting all the more frustrating and time consuming, especially when you factor in the jam packed show schedule at all ends of town. In addition, I was not the only person who tripped and almost fell flat on my face, thanks to the protruding elongated floor lights which were installed in the floorboards (they were hard to see until it was too late).

And who could possible forget this past September, when this beloved space) inconveniently lost their air conditioning on what had to be the hottest day of fashion week (the Saturday when Rodarte presented their spring 2008 collection). By the time everyone left, their clothes were ringing wet with sweat (including all the poor women, bedecked in their exquisite Rodarte finery). I really can’t believe that the Rodarte team cannot find a more suitable space, which has the proper artistic vibe and a modicum of convene niece. And while I’m at it, if any collection could benefit from a descriptive run of show it is this one, especially because of the creative and highly technical aspect of the designs, fabrication, and construction. And because the models came out at such breakneck speed, it was almost impossible for me to take adequate notes. Okay, so I got that off my chest.

What I will say is that to their credit, Kate and Laura must have felt passionately about what they showed for spring because fall 2008 was not an about face but very much an evolution of the painterly, airborne, and artistic vision that was presented 5 months ago. While it was not as tough or edgy as spring, it was all about the highly textural artistic explosion of color and pattern, and the idea of deconstruction. There were only a few solid pieces and everything else appeared to be hand painted, airbrushed, tie dyed, dip dyed, ombred, or marbleized using combinations of barely there nudes, petal pinks, sky blues, fiery crimsons, black, white, and gray. The recurring theme was the use of chiffon, tulle, and particularly, a sheer, fragile spider web knitwear (which was sometimes slashed or fringed), which formed the basis for matched and unmatched deconstructed suits and dresses) and was even used for hosiery. There were only a few skinny pants and the emphasis was on a very feminine silhouette –defined waists, mainly short and full skirts, bias cut dresses and ethereal gowns, illusion backs.

Dennis Basso

It was obvious that Tuesday’s entire show schedule would be completely off track since after Rodarte, the fashion flock had to go all the way uptown to the Plaza to view J. Mendel and then back to the Bryant Park Tents for Dennis Basso. What nobody could anticipate was that there would be a medical emergency which would force another half hour wait. The good news is that the gentleman in question, was alright and the show began (though there were plenty of empty seats…perhaps people were still stuck uptown). The 36 piece collection, an homage to the craftsmanship, couture design, and attention to detail that originally put Dennis Basso on the map 25 years ago, began on such a high note wiht an almost impossibly yummy group of coats and jackets mixing cream alligator or broadtail with matching Russian sable in youthful silhouettes; several evening dresses including a cream hand embroidered ostrich feathered dress and a gold silk organza layered gown with embroidered flowers shown beneath a cropped golden alligator vest trimmed with golden Russian sable), it was impossible to expect it would last to the very end. While the show did seem repetitive after a point, one could forgive Dennis….how many times does one get to celebrate a silver anniversary?

Monique Lhuillier

Speaking of well edited….happily, it does seem as though the growing trend is towards shorter runway shows. Designers who can make their point succinctly are always at an advantage. Working in a rich palette of peacock blues, olive greens, blue velvets, and charcoal gray, Monique Lhuillier made her point about a collection of ‘special’ items (“over the top encrusted, jeweled pieces” which “celebrate the female form”, and have “a smoky and loungy flapper feeling with a modern approach” with just 39 outfits. Standouts, which are sure to please her ever growing customer and fan base (which includes celebrities and social fixtures), include the gold embroidered short sleeved blouse worn with a white chiffon knee length embroidered skirt (this was made to resemble fur), the high wasted olive green strapless dress with embroidered bodice and ostrich skirt; the saffron halter gown with ostrich paillete skirt; the gold caviar embroidered dress with leather detail, the gold embroidered v neck sleeveless blouse worn with a knee length black cap sleeved dress with exaggerated bow (a big trend on the runways this past week); a lavishly embroidered and fur trimmed black metallic boucle coat; a long sleeved, knee length, fitted multi colored cabochon embroidered dress which recalled Norman Norell.

Badgley Mischka

Short beaded, flapper like dresses (one in gold lace with fringe trim and another in silver sequins), an amethyst handpainted organza gown, and an amethyst ikat chiffon gown worn beneath an abbreviated black lamb vest, were some of the highlights at Badgley Mischka, the duo who originally put themselves on the map with their highly coveted evening wear, quickly becoming favorites of the red carpet set. There was a time their collections were entirely eveningwear, but that was then and this is now. Nowadays, their focus is on creating a commercial and well rounded collection with a broader appeal. In fact, out of the 49 pieces presented, just about half was daywear: classic and perfectly nice (if not necessarily out of the ordinary) matched and mismatched suits, fur pieces, leather and suedes, cashmere sweaters, houndstooth pencil skirts, mannish glen plaid trousers. Notable pieces include the abbreviated chocolate broadtail and fox vest shown over a glen plaid trouser and tangerine jersey turtleneck, a blush metallic tweed suit with an evergreen plaid chiffon blouse, an evergreen sueded jacket paired with a bronze lurex oversized houndstooth skirt, a gold washed fox vest and houndstooth pant.

-Marilyn Kirschner

Narciso Rodriquez

Narciso Rodriguez presented a beautiful and very wearable tailored collection. It seems that everyone is inspired by knights’ armor and this collection is no different. However, Mr. Rodriguez’ take is more polished, young, and cut beautifully. This seasoned designer continues to give us clothes that women can walk out in confidently.

Very striking are the dresses with wide shoulder straps crossed in the front and back. These dresses would surely turn some heads. Double faced coats in cashmere and wool are a consistent staple in the collection. For the coats, apart from the basic black and gray, there were novelty shades like citrine, aqua and a stringent ‘safety orange’. The coats are solid “must have’s” for the everyday woman. So is the sexy but understated black cashmere sweater, for the more adventurous. Narciso Rodriguez also showed refinement and mastery of craft when he sent a black silk metal-embroidered dress out on the runway.

“To sell or not to sell’ is always the challenge of every designer when they create a collection. Some of them get carried away with their ideas and are not able to strike the balance of creativity, wearability and sell-ability. Narciso Rodriguez is a mature designer. He has produced a solid collection …and it will, of course, sell.

-Anna Bayle

Elaine Turner

On Tuesday Texas-based handbag designer, Elaine Turner, held her Best little bags in Texas event at her new midtown showroom on Fifth Avenue. Attendees were invited to preview her Spring and Fall 08 collections while enjoying Tex-Mex food and margaritas. Turner is a former apparel designer and fashion merchandiser, who opened her leather goods business in 2000. Her bags are sold in boutiques throughout the country as well as department stores such as Bloomingdales and Nordstrom.

Turner is known for her use of exotic embossed leathers as well as pony hair and painted grass cloth. Each bag is finished with the Elaine Turner signature hardware. The handbags are priced in the moderately expensive range.

The clutch bags, which come in both large and small sizes, were particularly appealing, as were the leather satchels which come in a variety of colors. There is also an adorable line of diaper bags, so that new moms can be both chic and practical.

-Rhonda Erb

Rhonda Erb

Rhonda Erb writes about fashion, travel and lifestyle from a New Yorker’s perspective in Better Bets. A self-confessed Instagram addict, her work has also appeared in such publications as Runway Magazine. Follow her at: Instagram: @betterbets Twitter: @betterbetsny tumblr:

No Comments Yet

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.