Day Four: Reviews & Notes

Carolina Herrera

Carolina Herrera abandoned the artistic musings of spring 2008 for the idyllic life of the well bred countryside (traditionally ‘Ralph’ country although the highly theatrical effect could better be described as ‘Ralph on speed’ and seemed to have been inspired by one of Grace Goddington’s dramatic portfolios for Vogue). She cited “the ease and sophistication of the outdoors” as inspiration for fall 2008 collection but let’s fact it, there was nothing particularly ‘easy’ about the highly visual, stylized fictional costume party of Ms. Herrera’s dream. While it was a bit over the top, it was highly visual and was beautiful to watch, and there were certainly some notable items.

. Rendered in a rich and easy on the eye and ‘typically’ fall like color palette of oatmeal brown, china blue, lemon drop yellow, rust, and browns, the day and evening was purposely mixed up as if to prove the point that in this eccentric fantasy world, where you “grab a riding jacket from the mudroom and pair it over a crinkle chiffon gown for an elegant dinner on the farm”, day and night are all the same. One dresses according to whimsy, mood, and desire.

And so, perfectly cut tweed riding jackets, windowpane coats, capes, and vests (often lavishly fur trimmed or decorated with organza overlays), velvet and jersey riding pants, silk twill and chiffon bird print blouses and dresses, long sleeved jersey gowns trimmed with embroidered feathers, feather trimmed floral jacquard vests worn with gazaar corseted evening skirts, shared the stage in no particular order, and each was similarly accessorized with tall high heeled boots and elegant felt fedoras featuring the longest pheasant feathers I’ve ever seen (they indeed seemed capable of literally poking someone’s eyes out if one got too close). The fantastical hats by the way, were designed expressly for Carolina Herrera by Albertus Swanepoel.

Oscar de la Renta

While Ms. Herrera played the “Seduced and Abandoned” fashion game (you know…doing an about face from one season to the next in terms of mood and inspiration), Oscar de la Renta stayed the course with the tried and true. His very familiar luxe- sportif fall collection, shown at his new favorite venue, 583 Park Avenue, (with live music this time courtesy the duo Michel Gaubert and Steven Brinke) was undeniably rich and sophisticated, but was imbued with a sporty, youthful and decidedly vintage feeling (colors and patterns were subdued and very fall like, and even the gold was muted and ‘aged’ rather than brash). Wide leather belts defined the waists on sweaters, jackets, and coats from day to evening and many of the day looks were accessorized with a below the knee boot on a shaped, low heel or a dark brown suede stretch boot. All of Oscar’s signatures were there: lavish fur trim, herringbone and vintage tweed jackets, coats, and dresses, unmatched suits, fabric and texture mixes, cashmere tweed hand knit sweaters, the use of his beloved broadtail and swakara, full skirted silk faille cocktail dresses, ikat prints, floral jacquards and leaf prints. But perhaps the most important of all was the almost ubiquitous use of embroidery (which added surface interest and drama) for both day and evening.

In fact, it seemed that there were very few surfaces left unembroidered (even if it was just a subtle trim). Standouts in this category were the black French knot embroidered coat with mink whip stitch trim, the dark gold embroidered shearing coat; the herringbone tweed embroidered skirt shown with a tweed jacket; the tweed dress with embroidered trim; and several embroidered cocktail dresses that featured knee length, full skirts. And for pure drama, nothing could beat the green swakara embroidered jacket shown with an olive leaf print chiffon embroidered top and green silk faille ballroom skirt worn by Agnyess, and the finale…a bronze shearling embroidered vest shown over a pale champagne tulle embroidered gown.

-Marilyn Kirschner

Proenza Schouler

How do you top a ‘winner’ collection? Even the great Yves St. Laurent found it challenging to come up with another sunflower collection. Jack McCollough and Lazaro Hernandez of Proenza Schouler successfully managed to present a sober and disciplined collection, after their much talked about 2007 Fall-Winter collection.

Proenza Schouler’s Fall 2008 collection was held at the Armory on 643 Park Avenue at 8:00 p.m. on February 4. It was a cavernous venue resembling an airplane hangar with a very long runway. Models had to glide and stride, as if to take off. Since the designers inspiration for this show were paper airplanes, the presentation concept was apropos.

The collection was an exercise in constructive layering. The show started strongly with four precious cocktail silk twill dresses in rich, deep colors of marigold, aubergine, emerald and sapphire. They were matched with contrasting colored stockings and shoes. Although the woman’s body is covered, the fall of the folds when a woman is walking intimated or suggested a good figure. All through out the collection were very chic ‘slouch’ pants – below the waist, wide pants, cinched with thin jewel-buckled belts. The signature pant matched with deconstructed jackets made for a very chic silhoutte.

The designers of Proenza Schouler attempted to mix metallic paillette with wool, shearling with wool and silk, embroidered lace with latex. More importantly, the designers mixed romance with modernity with their take on their new shirts with Tudoresque ball sleeves under deconstructed wool coats. This puff ball detail would be in the elbows on some dresses. They also had this season’s trend – the oversized bows, flowing into the jacket folds. These touches of romance in this fashion forward collection showed restraint and an attention to a flattering silhouette.

Present in the front row were Amy Adams, best known for her Academy award nominated performance in the film Junebug and her Golden Globe Award nominated role as Giselle In Enchanted. Brook Shields, Kate Bosworth in a red Proenza Schouler and Dylan McDermot also graced the occasion.

-Anna Bayle

Max Azria

After seeing BCBGMax Azria’s show last Friday, I was anticipating
feeling the same excitement tonight with the third collection shown by
the designer. But tonight there was room for disappointment. Not to
mention that once again, people who made it on time had to wait almost
45 minutes, thanks to some celebrities with no sense of time nor
respect for working people.

Most of the models sported clothes of the same color gray. Gray is a
neutral, yes, but used too often with too much luster coming from the
fabric, it can be overwhelming. And it was. As for the rest of the
designs they didn’t seem practical enough to make it in the ”
real world” nor did they have enough of a creative edge to make a
difference in Fashion Week World.

Details were everywhere and it felt overwhelming to try and
understand which direction the designer was taking when he created
these clothes. Leaves, transparent silk gauze, clenched waists in look
alike half corsets, fur, fur and more fur, oh, and did I write
leaves, leaves, leaves….? The people and media attending the show
had to try and remember all that was being shown. What a head spinner!

Many fur coats and jackets were shown… one can ask the question of
how PC that looked. Nowadays all the alternatives offered to today’s
fashion designers should make it possible to avoid such display.

As for the dresses and tops that sported an odd looking leaf worn as
a brooch on the side by the models….. it served no purpose, nor did
it help make the design look any better. Sometimes, MUCH less is MUCH

First model (named Olga) was certainly beautiful, but who can wear a
transparent coat? And there was nothing special to the tailoring to
make any one remember it. And it went on and on…. not many designs
seemed practical enough to really make it on the street. Too many
transparent fabrics used for day wear. I particularly disliked the
jumpsuit. It just didn’t look good on the models, and it remains
doubtful it will on the street.

A special note for Georgina, a beautiful charcoal metallic wool skirt
and jacket that was simply beautiful, elegant and practical. It showed
what talent and cleverness can possess Max Azria.

-Muriel Triffaut

John Varvatos

The John Varvatos Autumn/Winter 2008 collection was shown high atop the 7 World Trade Center building in lower Manhattan Monday night. The high-rise location, with its breath-taking views, presented the perfect backdrop for the smartly constructed mix of classic styles with a modern twist.

The Varvatos gentleman is well tailored, with an elongated silhouette. The slim two button jackets “kick out” at the hip and the pants flair just below the knee. Shirts are tapered to fit the body with button down or stand up collars and skinny ties. The look is meant to be reminiscent of a modern Edwardian gentleman.

The colors of the collection are predominantly dark with the occasional pop of color in a red vest or scarf. Fabrics include soft cotton and cashmere, richly textured wool, and Varvatos’ signature supple leather.

-Rhonda Erb

The Blonds

Phillipe and David Blond’s Fall 2008 collection was set in the fairy tale versions of New York and Los Angles. Models were dressed as disco fairies, punk goblins, fashion harpies, and a Park Avenue princess. The characters were inspired by the films Wonderwall, starring Jane Birkin and Legend starring Tom Cruise.

There was plenty of sparkle to go around since almost every piece in the collection was encrusted with Swarovski crystals or adorned with sequins. A white silk chiffon evening gown with ostrich detailing was one of the most subdued and wearable pieces. Le Blond Angels were pure fun, dressed in pink, canary yellow, and turquoise sequin jumpers. The final piece, a Blond Diamonds Barbie corset dress with a blue fox Marlene coat ended the show with pure Hollywood glamour.

– 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:

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