I’m not into long skirts for day (not too many women can successfully pull them off, they can look unwieldy and sloppy, AND after all the boho gypsy looks parading around this past summer, I feel as though I’ve seen enough full tiered prairie skirts to last a lifetime), but I still liked Michael Kors’s earthy and sporty collection that had as its theme, the American Southwest. But even though there were many long and tiered skirts for day and evening, it was hardly the only message. The message was about a modern approach to glamour, and an easy, relaxed luxury. It looked just right quite frankly. And while Michael did not push any major envelopes, the collection was true to his philosophy, didn’t look like anybody else’s thus far, and was very ‘Michael’. It was also wonderfully un-precious, not too sweet or too girlie (something that is already starting to wear thin) and an homage to the designer’s ongoing fascination with “great American style” (whatever that is). In this case, “rustic romanticism juxtaposed with the elegant severity of Steiglitz and O’Keefe”.
But perhaps one of the main reasons I liked Michael Kors could be summed up by Eric Wilson’s article in the ‘Style’ section of today’s The New York Times, (“Mothballs Come to Mind – For spring ’06 ladylike looks give way to old-ladylike”). Whatever you may think of the clothes presented, you certainly can’t accuse Michael’s collection of looking “old lady like”.
The collection was a reaction against fussy, contrived, frilly, and over the top glamour and there were some really beautiful items and collectibles. As always, Michael’s fabrics and fabric mixes are noteworthy, and his eased up silhouette was most refreshing. One of the most standout pieces was the hemp suede hand smocked tunic belted in brown leather, worn over olive washed linen pants turned up at the bottom. Another was the hemp suede shift with brass hand embroidery that could be considered a true collectible (I could easily see Anna Wintour wearing this). Of course, there were amazing trenchcoats, as always, often paired over full petticoated skirts which added some personality and a bit of drama. The sweaters and knitwear looked just right, and Michael’s white eyelet shirtdress with full, floor sweeping skirt was one of his best ideas, and such a wonderfully chic and unfussy way to look at night! His finale of black gowns featured one black crushed metallic duchesse bustle gown, which would be a perfect choice for someone like Catherine Zeta-Jones (who just happened to be seated front row center with hubby Michael Douglas) to wear on the Red Carpet.
While Michael’s aesthetic this season may be as far away from hard edged urban chic as can be (well, almost), one designer who is decidedly addressing the needs of the ‘Urban Nomad’ season after season is Yeohlee, and she showed one of her best, most upbeat, youthful and dare I say the ‘S’ word? (Yes, the sexiest collection I can remember). Drawing inspiration from “an infatuation with the work of Robert Mallet-Stevens and the awe-inspiring engineering of suspension bridges”, Yeohlee worked in her signature stripped down minimalist color palette of earth tones, forest greens, and black (natch!), and shades of white. Nano-Tex technology was applied to the fabric of one white outfit in order to render it stain and spill resistant. Now, how much more practical and ‘urban’ thinking is that? There were mini dresses, Victorian bathing suits with matching knitted cardigans, denim shorts, some fabulous and abbreviated black gauze dresses, and one Bali printed A-line mini cotton ‘suspension’ dress that opened the show.
As a nice surprise, Yeohlee enlisted the formidable runway talents of none other than Fern Mallis to model one outfit (for which she received a round of applause not to mention a few cat whistles to which she embarrassedly tried to ignore). The chic and flattering black double face wool Turk jacket (a knee length coat really) worn over back double face wool skirt and white cotton gauze shirt not only suited her perfectly, I’ve never seen Fern look so good. I certainly hope she adds this to her wardrobe. In addition, this show was an opportunity for Yeohlee to introduce knitwear, (a new category) and shoes, (a black sexy high heeled wedge sandal), her first accessory line.
Peter Som also had one of his best shows yet. Inspired by “a thoroughly modern Madame Butterfly”, it was a yin/yang mix of boyish sportif daywear with delicate femininity, worked in a color palette of seaworthy navy and white, celery green, sun yellow, and shades of blues given some shine through matte gold. Fabrics were crewelwork linen, hemstitched silk broadcloth, cashmere voile, georgette, silk twill, Chantilly lace handkerchief, and metallic matelesse and ostrich feathers. Best looks – his take on the current theme of juxtaposing a soft delicate blouse with mannish trousers (like the white hemstitched high necked short sleeved blouse worn with navy sailor pants or the white chantilly lace handkerchief top worn with pale gray cuffed Pinkerton pant); the naive white chantilly lace dress; a nude georgette shimmer gown with Swarovski crystals which was very fluid and graceful; and the group of ostrich feathered separates that somehow looked young and fresh (a white ostrich feather top worn with black linen culotte pants; an ivory linen tunic blouse paired with a white ostrich feather knee length skirt)
Anna Sui admitted she fell in love with “the candy box quality of illustrations in the Gazette du Bon Ton” and was inspired by the Wiener Werkstatte Decorative Arts, both of which served as inspiration for her rather soft, feminine, exotic collection that was big on lingerie touches, flutter sleeves and handkerchief hems as well as embroidered organza, chiffon and point d’esprit. Nothing was hard edged, overtly sexy, or aggressive (just like most of the other collections being shown). And it was all about prints and patterns (border prints, butterfly prints, cherry flower prints), and loose, floaty, flyaway shapes (what a great time to be pregnant I might add, because so many of the dresses have no waists). Signature colors were hothouse orchid, African violet, Bourbon Rose, Bleeding Heart, Fire Azalea, Buttercup, spearmint, black, and white.
And while there were some exceptions, this is one Anna Sui collection where out of the 54 pieces shown, many if not most, were mainly suited for the very young or very very young at heart. But there were some notable exceptions: the black mousseline and lace smock dress worn by Carolyn Murphy; the dark jade over dyed flyaway linen jacket worn over lace top and grey jacquard cropped pants; the pearl all over sequined tunic; the antique gold and black deco border sequined top over floral print chiffon dress; and the platinum/natural metallic scallop brocade clutch coat worn over a sequined halter and platinum/natural metallic scallop brocade cropped pant.