In the Market Report: “Catching Fire”

Pauline Trigere gown circa 1992
Photographed by Ernest Schmatolla

The late great designer Pauline Trigere was known for her love affair with red and she once famously stated, “When you’re feeling blue, wear red”. When the legendary designer Valentino Garavani staged his farewell haute couture runway show in Paris, (January 2008), he took his final walk down the runway accompanied by models, all wearing the same lipstick red chiffon gowns. Lipstick red, his signature color, had become so closely associated with him; it was used for the name of the company’s diffusion line, Red Valentino, which is geared to a younger customer. Red has been and continues to be beloved by many fashion designers, not the least of whom is Rei Kawakubo whose unforgettable red wool felt coat from fall 2012 might just be the best red coat of all time. Most recently, she made a statement with her disquietly beautiful Blood and Roses collection for spring 2015, played out almost entirely in different shades of red.

Valentino in a sea of lipstick red chiffon  spring 2008 haute couture

While one tends to see lots of women wearing red in February (timed with Valentine’s Day), and of course, around the holidays (they don’t call it Christmas Red for nothing), its presence in October is far less obvious, predictable, and clichéd. In fact, it’s almost natural and organic: as though the red hued wearers are channeling the beauty of nature as exemplified by the fiery sunrises and sunsets, and changing leaves. Red is definitely a color that is meant to be noticed; it’s almost impossible to just fade in the background when you wear it.  Tennis champ and fashion lover Maria Sharapova, (in discussing how she liked to stand out from the crowd from the time she was a little girl) perfectly summed it up: “When the invitation says black tie, I wear red.”

Giovanna Battaglia in her Comme des Garcons red felt coat

While she may have been referring to the color metaphorically, from the look of things, many women are taking it literally. Indeed, the common sartorial denominator which has linked many of the town’s most high profile social fixtures and gals about town as of late, is their wholehearted embrace of red (from orangey tomato red to blood red). And the ones that really stand out, are doing so by wisely letting the strong shade speak for itself; opting for unfussy, sleek lines and minimal styles, and foregoing unnecessary tchotchkes (over the top accessories and jewelry).

Rosarion Dawson in red Valentino with
Valentino designers Maria Grazia Chiuri & Pierpaolo Piccioli

The week before last, the American Ballet Theatre held its 75th anniversary gala (sponsored by Lanvin and Piaget), at Lincoln Center’s David H. Koch Theatre. Coincidentally, it was dubbed the “Scarlett, White and Blue Gala”. While the word Scarlett was actually used as an homage to Liam Scarlett (who produced the show stopping “With a Chance of Rain”), rather than the color, several women nonetheless heated things up in red (Julia Loomis was a standout in her amazingly cut ruby satin gown). And the color was carried out in the décor, table settings, and deserts (there were even red hued macaroons).

Brooke Shields with John and Patty McEnroe
(Photo: Lieba Nesis)

At the Valentino sponsored OAFRICA Charity Gala at the Pierre Hotel, Rosario Dawson and Zani Gugelmann both wore something in red by Valentino (the former opted for an elegant covered up gown; the latter, a sexy plunge front jumpsuit). At the World Monuments 2014 Hadrian Gala at the Pierre, Amy Lemons-Sutton and Becky Kendall were among the guests who arrived in red gowns. At the 2014 Alzheimer’s Association Rita Hayworth Gala held at the Waldorf Astoria, its Grand Ballroom’s chic black and white marble floors turned out to be a perfect graphic backdrop for the arrival of red clad guests like Muffie Potter Aston, Somers Farkas, Lise Evans, and Brooke Shields (her deep v neck gown could best be described as an orangey tomato red). For Traditional Home Magazine’s 25th Anniversary Gala at 583 Park Avenue this week, Barbara Walters wore a tailored red wool skirt suit.

Muffie Potter Aston and Dr. Sherrill Aston  at the Alzheimer’s Benefit

Unsurprisingly, several fashion magazines’ November covers are awash in red. A red lipped, Anne Hathaway, photographed by Alexi Lubominski, blows kisses from Harper’s Bazaar’s cover wearing a strapless red tulle confection by Giorgio Armani. And proving red is not just for brunettes, Cameron Diaz graces Marie Claire in a body hugging strapless red dress with the cover lines, “Look Sexy Now! Rules for a Hot and Happy Life”

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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