Fashion Notes: “Hail, Hail, The Gang’s All Here”

BCBG Max Azria fall 2011
(All photos courtesy

The bi-annual Fashion Weeks always have the feeling of one large crazy family reunion. Admittedly, many, if not most of us fashion folk certainly have our quirks, and are oft times perceived as being bizarre, if not a little bit ‘off’ the wall or crazy, especially by ‘innocent’ bystanders. Anyone observing the throngs of women descending upon Lincoln Center on a freezing day in February, some of them clad in brief wispy dresses, sheer lace tights, and bare sandals (one or two were bare footed no less), accessorized with tall fur hats and fur trimmed capes, might undoubtedly scratch their heads and wonder what was going on. I actually overheard a group of construction workers in the vicinity, acknowledging that it was indeed “Fashion Week”, as if to explain away the spectacle of the crowds dispersing from one of the many shows on Thursday.

BCBG Max Arzia Fall 2011
The February shows are always met with lots of “Happy New Year” greetings, and it’s always fun to catch up with fashion pals, ‘schmooze’ about the upcoming season, gossip, and share thoughts, observations, and information about the upcoming season. When I bumped into Neiman Marcus’s fashion guru, Ken Downing, on Thursday afternoon, he was in an upbeat and optimistic mood, saying that women are buying again (a little bit of this, and a little bit of that, as long as it’s great and they don’t already have it in their closets). I asked what shows he was looking forward to seeing and he immediately answered, “Marc Jacobs”, pointing out how far reaching and influential his spring 2011 ode to YSL 70’s sojourn was. When I asked what he thought MJ will be up to this season, knowing that he is a master of the quick switcheroo (like Miuccia Prada, Marc makes no bones about the fact that he purposely goes against whatever it was he has just shown, so you can bet that he will go the opposite way the next time around), Ken theorized it would have mod overtones, a la Courreges. He thought that if there was a nod to the great Yves Saint Laurent, a constant point of reference to Marc, it might be from his Mondrian period. We’ll have to wait until Monday night to see but I think we can safely say the big frizzed out hair and peasant blouses will be long gone. Stay tuned. (By the way, speaking of mod, Irina Pantaeva was quite a space age vision yesterday, showing up at the Tents clad in a short white hooded cape coat, white thick lacey tights, and white tall fur boots).

BCBG Max Azria fall 2011

As for mod, there was nothing remotely ‘mod’ about the BCBG Max Azria fall 2011 fashion show, held on Thursday morning. The goal or shall I say, the theme of the collection, according to the program notes, was simply put: “pure lines fulfill a desire for simplicity”, and while oft times, these lofty words are never quite fulfilled, this time around, Max & Co. delivered. The 34 piece collection, minimal yet artistic, had a cohesive, succinct point of view, and it was all about layering, longer lengths, a slightly lower waistline, the use of pleating to create a sense of controlled volume, the play of sheer and opaque, and a sophisticated use of color and color blocking (it was a predominantly neutral color palette with periodic flashes of color and color splicing). Aside from one jumpsuit, it was really all about the dress, whether in silk crepe or silk chiffon, (some of which were shown beneath chic fur collared coats). The foundation (literally) for the entire line, and the one ‘thread’ that existed throughout, other than the accessories (a tall, high heeled suede boot, a narrow belt which encircled the waist, and a sculptural clutch), was the use of a white fitted bodysuit with graphic black cuffs. This was used beneath each and every piece that came out on the runway.

BCBG Max Azria fall 2011

Layering, pleats, longer lengths, the play of sheer and opaque, the play of proportion, were also the story at Love Richard Chai, though on his runway, it was more boy meets girl, streetwise with military overtones and utilitarian than it was at Max Azria. The palette was neutral and predominantly somber with shades of gray, ash, moss, jet lightened with a bit of cream, flax, and taupe, and it was all about mixing fabrics and textures (techno neoprenes were juxtaposed with hefty tweeds, georgette, cashmere, lame wool basket weave, and metallic embroidery). Sometimes all in one outfit. While there were several pants silhouettes shown throughout, oversized and skinny trousers, drawstrings, etc., it was really all about the maxi skirt and the return of the kilt, many of which were pleated below the hip and rendered in silk georgette. The finale outfit out, an oversized cream and gold wool lame basket weave utility vest layered over a cream wool cotton dotted herringbone sleeveless shawl collared coat, which were thrown over a nutmeg silk georgette pleated maxi skirt, said it all.

BCBG Max Azria fall 2011
Pleating, and longer lengths, were also recurring themes Tadashi Shoji, whose fall collection, (it was all about the dress) was rife with Eastern influences, not to mention architecture and nature, according to his run of show. There were some pretty black and nude floral embroidered lace dresses, some with hand cut gazaar feather fringe detail; a group of stretch wool jersey draped one sleeved or one shouldered knee length dresses; and strapless and halter gowns with hand cut organza floral details – an ivory feather embroidered top with the simplicity of a tee shirt, paired with a floor length black skirt with hand cut floral detail stood out. But it was the hand pleated silk chiffon gowns, and especially the dramatic graphite washed silk crepe draped one sleeve top and floor length pleated silk crepe skirt, which stood out.

Everything was just ‘duckie’ at Duckie Brown, where come to think of it, there was nothing in brown on the runway. But there were shades of gray, fawn, bark, lead, and some winter white and camel. Standouts were the slim three button jackets worn with eight pleat trousers (pleats again!), which showed up as part of a matched or unmatched suit; several nifty and very cozy looking ¾ shearling coats, one in bark and another in fawn and both of which I would wear myself, and a simple yet tres chic camel cashmere wrap coat that ended the show.

And speaking of pleats yet again, I’d have to say that the best piece on the runway at Luca Luca was the very simple winter white blouse with sheer panels, which was paired with a wool crepe pleated skirt.

– Marilyn Kirschner

The Daily Bet by Rhonda Erb

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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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