New York Fashion Week Notes: Day 3

Alexander the Great

Alexander Wang Fall 2011 Collection
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Alexander Wang’s fall collection shown at Pier 94 over on the West Side Highway, collection had it all: it was supremely modern, relevant, wearable, focused, and inventive without being over the top and silly. How brilliant and what a seemingly simple premise really: taking iconic and classic wardrobe staples (tuxedo jackets, tuxedo pants, tuxedo shirts, zip front chunky ribbed pullovers, utilitarian parkas, ponchos, anoraks, sweatpants), and giving them new life by using luxurious fabrications, magnifying the details, and doing it in almost entirely in black and white (except for a few pieces in gray or nude).

Extremely urban, it struck a perfect balance. There was the use of volume but it was never unwieldy thanks to perfect proportions, the employment of narrow legged pants, and the show of leg. It was youthful yet ageless, masculine yet feminine, not quite minimal yet not quite ‘to the max’, sporty yet dressed up, covered up and cozy looking yet alluring and sexy, daytime yet nighttime, and whimsical and witty without looking like a bad joke. It reminded me of collections one would normally see in Paris , on the runways of Japanese innovators like Yohji Yamamoto, Junya Watanabe, and Rei Kawakubo, but make no mistake about it. This was Alexander’s own.

In a season where the fur has been flying (both on and off the runways), it was refreshing to see fur used in such a youthful, sporty, and refreshing way (flesh toned mink was transformed into an oversized blazer) or in small doses (as earmuffs or peeking out on the feet from beneath narrow elongated trousers), and at a time when there has been so much over the top surface decoration and drunken use of embellishments, it was refreshing to see nothing glittery or sparkly at all. What a breath of fresh air. Bravo!

Beggars Can be Chosers

Prabal Gurung Fall 2011 Collection
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Prabal Gurung said he was inspired by John Singer Sargent’s painting, ‘A Parisian Beggar Girl’ for the fall collection he showed yesterday afternoon at Lincoln Center, and there was certainly a lot going on in this dressed up yet ‘raw’, and quite ‘out there’ collection, which was a study in inventive fabric and texture mixes, surface interest and decoration (hand embroidery, Swarovski elements, metal sequins, melted paillettes, pyramid studs), the unabashed use of furs (there was so much fur, from astrakhan and Mongolian lamb to fox, I was surprised PETA was not in front of the venue), the play of soft and hard, and practically had no daytime or ‘sportswear’ elements at all. The closest he came was a granite double face techno wool raw edged trench shown over a black silk chiffon chemise, and when he showed a black techno wool cutaway jacket, it was paired with black techno wool pants with metallic tweed inserts and a white cotton and washed silk shirt with guipure lace overlay. Let’s put it this way, this would not be a runway to check out if work clothes were what you were after.

He began with a crimson hand draped washed silk faille bustier dress that hit right below the knee, and then followed with a black hand embroidered silk faille coat with ostrich feathers and Swarovski elements, and what followed was an unabashed endorsement of longer lengths dramatic floor length dresses in crinkle silk chiffon were shown beneath everything from a black caped back motorcycle jacket to a number of brilliantly hued hand dyed ombre feathered fox jackets and coats which replaced the graphic color blocks from last season.

Give me ‘Libertine’, or Give me Death

Libertine Fall 2011 Collection

After being noticeably absent from the runways of New York Fashion Week for quite some time, the hip, cool, West Coast based label, Libertine, designed by Johnson Hartig, made its comeback this season. And what a great way to start an early Saturday morning on a frigid day in February, I might add. (Actually, yesterday was February 12, which is Lincoln’s birthday, so I suppose it’s fitting that the fashion flock is ‘celebrating’ by doing what else? indulging their materialistic side and viewing back to back collections at ‘Lincoln’ Center).

Having said that, the Libertine show, a collection for both men and women, was not held at Lincoln Center but at Exit Art and its small intimate venue was a perfect way to see the clothes up close and personal. And what a joy. Basically, it was a major endorsement for the unabandoned and unexpected use of color and pattern, with clashing hues and graphic patterns showing up in one outfit, unselfconsciously mixed together, literally from head-to-toe (the tights carried out the theme and even the high heeled suede oxfords were color blocked).

What made it work, was its reliance on otherwise, dare I say, vintage inspired, ladylike silhouettes (for example, 50’s inspired ¾ sleeved swing coats, chic short sleeved shift dresses, boxy cardigan suits with narrow below the knee length skirts, patterned silk blouses with self ties). And what about those cozy, warm, and desirable coats? I must say that after so much fur all over the runways and on the streets, this past year, I am ready for the return of the cloth coat (though I’m not talking about the “modest Republican cloth coat” Richard Nixon made mention of when referring to wife Pat’s plain Jane cloth coat, but rather the sort of distinctive, gutsy, textural, insanely colorful or graphic versions shown at Libertine. By the way, for the guys, the suits and coat ensembles shown on the runway were on the whole, far more subdued, and more urbane, relying on the chic color combination of black, white, and gray.

And speaking of clashing colors and patterns, I spotted Shail Upadaya in between shows, milling around the reception area at Lincoln Center , clad in his usual bold, offbeat, eye popping pattern mixes from head to toe, and I had to laugh. In the past seasons, he has always been considered as a ‘joke’ by fashion insiders (Robin Givhan once asked, “Who is this guy and why is he here?”), though he has always been a favorite of the photographers thanks to his graphic, unique, and utterly photogenic presence. But after Miuccia Prada’s use of monkeys, bold graphic stripes, and brash color mixes, and Raf Simons’ embrace of clashing neon colors for Jil Sander for spring 2011, Shail almost looks tame by comparison, and quite ‘on trend’ at the moment. That’s fashion for you. Go figure!

-Marilyn Kirschner

The Daily Bet by Rhonda Erb

Kaldi Arctic Hat from 66° North

Baby, it’s cold outside. This virgin wool blend hat will keep you warm on frigid winter days. Its made by 66° North Ltd. of Iceland, a company that knows how to keep people warm and comfortable even in the harshest of weather conditions.

Available at:, Kisan Concept Store, 125 Greene Street, New York City, $84.00

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Kiss My Valentine Smartphone App from Iconosys, Inc.

This smart phone app allows you to send your loved one a digital Valentine’s Day greeting instantly in English, Spanish, Portuguese, or Chinese. It also helps you manage and track your gift giving and it will automatically update and reset for 2012.

Available free of charge if you download before Valentine’s Day, $4.95 thereafter.

Lace, especially guipure lace overlays, was used often in unexpected ways, and there was even a sheath and a pair of white flared hem pants printed with a painted lace print); and as elsewhere, the employment of nude illusion (a blush tulle hand embroidered chemise was covered with black Swarovski elements, melted paillettes and silk ribbon zippered als cut organza petals and a black tulle hand embroidered blouse, shown with black tuxedo pants, had strategically placed black silk organza flowers.

Marilyn Kirschner

I am a long time fashion editor with 40+ years of experience. As senior market of Harper's Bazaar for 21 years I met and worked with every major fashion designer in the world and covered all of the collections in Paris, London, Milan and New York. I was responsible for overall content, finding and pulling in the best clothes out there, and for formulating ideas and stories.


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