‘Leather’ or Not

Day 2

The best I can say about Friday’s soggy dreary downpour was that it was perfectly in sync with and symbolic of the somber day: the 8th anniversary of 9/11. But of course, life goes on and fashion marches on as well. And speaking of marching on, if you thought the zip front leather motorcycle/biker jacket that stormed runways for fall 2009 (and practically ‘defines’ the fall season), would be going away any time soon – think again. Yes, it’s a bona fide wardrobe staple and a classic, and many show attendees (both the guys and the gals) are wearing them in one form or another.

Certainly, one could say it was practically the focal point of two collections, Yigal Azrouel (many feel he does the best leather jackets on the planet) and Charlotte Ronson, both of whom showed on the second day of Fashion Week. While these lines are very different, what they both had in common was their neutral color palette; an overriding sporty, utilitarian feeling; an emphasis on sheer, weightless layers; the employment of sleeveless jackets and vests (Yigal even showed a trench with removable sleeves); the use of asymmetrical cuts and draping; and of course, the use of leather, which has long been a seasonless, year round ‘fabric’. And on both runways where the leather jacket was an important ‘accessory’, they were painstakingly made to have an unapologetically vintagey, distressed, beat up, lived in, worn in look, as opposed to looking like something brand spanking new.

At Yigal Azrouel, who always shows both menswear and womenswear together, there was a unisex ‘Desert Storm’ military feeling throughout (not surprising since the designer is Israeli), and this carried over to his much sought after leather jackets (actually, some of the best pieces were shown on the guys). At Charlotte Ronson, they jived perfectly with the hip, oh so cool, sexy, downtown vibe, which one has come to associate with the designer. (Talk about the hip and ‘cool’ factor, Russell Simmons and his gorgeous girlfriend, were front row center; in addition to Mick Jones, Nicky Hilton, and Samantha Ronson).

In the meantime, what happened to the wonderfully exuberant, original, eclectic knitwear that originally put Wenlan Chia on the fashion map and peeked jaded fashion insiders’ interest? The collection shown yesterday promised plenty of ‘attitude’ by way of Yoko Ono and Blondie but was too repetitive and fell flat. Better models would have helped but the 45 pieces did not warrant a formal runway show. (“Knit one, purl two” Wenlan).

– 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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