I suppose you can refer to Francisco Costa as Mr. Clean but Calvin Klein himself, already has that title. So I’ll call Francisco Mr. Bond because of his frequent use of bonded fabrics (more on that later). Talk about minimal and architecturally pure. Francisco Costa’s collection for Calvin Klein, a rigorous exercise in self control and attention to meticulous detail, all but stood by itself this season. There was nary a fur, nary a muffled neck scarf, nary a hat, nary a bag, nary a print, and (almost) nary an embellishment in sight. What there was, was pure, unadulterated beautifully structured, expertly cut, shapes: amazing outerwear, shifts, jackets, separates, and column gowns, and details such as rounded shoulders, engineered darts or drapes, raglan sleeves, embossed pockets, draped backs. The feeling of menswear was exemplified by the relatively simple yet highly effective midnight silk folded raglan shirt and midnight wool/silk tab front embossed pocket trouser worn by Sigrid. It was such simplistic perfection, the members of the audience almost gasped when she walked out.
The clothes followed the lines of the body without being constricting, and while there was experimentation with volume, nothing was ever exaggeratedly full, unflattering or voluminous. In a season where so many have almost blinded with superfluous ornamental decoration, Francisco added texture and surface interest to coats and dresses through glazed and embossed double faced cashmeres, hammered, or polished cashmeres When he used sequins or silver lurex (as he did in the elongated columns at the end of the show), it was done in the most subtle way. It’s obvious that each season, Mr. Costa strives to perfect his craft and he been delivering with clothes that are feats of perfection in terms of cut, construction, and fabrication. And this season was no exception. The color palette was pared down to the almost expected black, midnight, off white, ivory, gray, with just a touch of color in the form of a royal blue he called ‘aurora’ (my best guess is that black will outdo this hue).
There was the continued experimentation with fabric techniques to get just the right results. For fall, it was to be found in the ‘bonding’ technique (bonded viscose, bonded silk pointelle, bonded boiled wool). In a season of truly stellar coats, Francisco’s really stood out, such as a black bonded silk pointelle embossed pocket coat, a midnight bonded stretch technical wool storm flap trench, a midnight bonded boiled wool/cashmere/leather storm flap pea coat shown over a midnight sheer silk mock t and an engineered dark skirt; the ivory shearling storm flap trench, and a black double faced hammered cashmere cape with its curved hem. There were also the brilliant fabric combinations, where leather was effectively employed (an ivory silk crepe leather sleeve blouse with shown with an ivory silk crepe tab front trouser, and midnight leather was used with bonded boiled wool and cashmere in one very chic pea coat).
The footwear consisted of a tumbled calf metal heel bootie and a ‘stingray’ ankle strap skinny heel sandal, both on relatively high platforms. These, in addition to the elongated and narrow shape of many of the pieces, which were flatteringly form fitting, lean, and attenuating, made the already statuesque and amazingly proportioned models (including runway ‘stars’ like Kristy Hume, Stella Tennant, and Karmen), looked even more like (beautiful) tall drinks of water.
Almost nobody does tweeds like Ralph Lauren (somehow, after I leave any one of his shows, I basically want to ‘live’ in my chic tweed hacking jackets, jodhpurs, and riding boots), and he was definitely in a tweed mood for fall. The collection, which was presented at two back to back runway shows at Skylight Studios in Tribeca, was played out in the designer’s much beloved muted neutrals, and Ralph was making a case for the interesting contrasts that lie within the ongoing yin and yang of masculine and feminine, day and evening, soft and hard (this is what helps keep fashion looking modern and believable). But of course, none of this is anything new for RL because interesting pairings have always been one of his strong messages throughout the years.
But getting back to THE message for fall: it was all about the mix of hefty menswear inspired tweeds (mainly brown and moss wool tweeds), charcoal wool/cashmere herringbones, and donegals with softer more feminine elements: namely, jewel toned silk velvet separates (blouses, skirts, and jodhpurs) or wispy floral silk georgettes: flutter sleeves blouses, midcalf skirts, and floor length gowns (he’s another designer this season, who’s made a case for longer lengths and with few exceptions, most of his skirts went from below the knee to the floor). A moss washed wool Shetland tweed frock coat which was shown over a charcoal wool and cashmere herringbone vest and Rivington floral silk georgette skirt epitomized the concept. As did the olive mélange chesterfield coat thrown over the Ludlow floral silk georgette gown.
The strongest group from my point of view was not the opening (I’m not a wispy floral kind of gal), but the group that followed which consisted of rich mixes of black mélange wool tweeds, suedes, cashmeres, Shetlands, and donegals, and vintage like dark brown shearling pieces (bags, vests, leg warmers).
Standouts: The black mélange wool tweed cutaway jacket, shown with a black cashmere turtleneck, brown wool tweed cropped ‘boy pants’, and accessorized with a dark brown hand burnished calf leather Ricky bag; the narrow black tweed/wool coat shown over black leggings and a black cashmere sweater, and accessorized with a chocolate alligator shoulder saddle bag; the moss cashmere and wool Donegal tweed jacket, chocolate cashmere turtleneck, Donegal wool tweed skirt, and brown shearing hobo bag; the knee length caramel brown shearing vest (really, a sleeveless coat), which was shown with an espresso cashmere turtleneck, brown wool covert spat, chocolate crocodile clutch.
A group done all in all black and black morning stripes (not the most interesting), was followed by another grouping in black which was somewhat ethnic (this was exemplified by the black ottoman passimentary embroidered coat). The evening finale was comprised of silk georgette florals, with names like Saint Germain, Bloomsbury, Chelsea, and Le Marais, fashioned into floor length gowns which were bare on top and fitted through the torso, featuring skirts that were flounced and tiered. The last dress out was interesting in that it was juxtaposed against a moss felted cashmere cropped shawl collar jacket.
Just a note, Ralph has more often than not, been known to devote an entire collection to an all out Americana theme, though that was not the case this season. I found it curious or interesting at the least, that he would chose to emphasize a print (specifically, florals with decidedly European heritages and names) for a collection shown in such close proximity to the opening of the Costume Institute’s ‘American Woman, Fashioning a National Identity’ in May. Well, I guess we are all so very international and global these days, n’est pas? In the meanwhile, his show last season was all about variations on that all American fabric and wardrobe staple: denim, and I guess Cathy Horyn was trying to pay homage to that aesthetic when she showed up in her well worn jeans (flat boots and non descript black jacket) for this show and the rest of Friday’s schedule. Well, it sort of didn’t work – there’s real life chic, relaxed glamour, and there’s just plain poor.
Isaac’s Tall Tale
I often wonder what the madcap and always entertaining Isaac Mizrahi is ‘smoking’ (and I mean that affectionately because I adore him). Especially, when I read the fantastical and imaginative ‘essays’ describing the inspiration behind one of his shows. (If nothing else, he must have some amazing dreams)
This season, the theme was Central Park Story Book and he spun quite the tale, a fable consisting of “girls trying on glass slippers, flaps coats, and ending with evening clothes that might be confused with camping gear” (I kid you not). He spoke of ‘glorifying’ the bag lady, observing that “every upper east sider has at least once admired a bag lady” (yikes, I admit, I have!) He even used phrases like ‘Geoffrey L.L. Bean or ‘Buffalo Bill Blass’ to conjure up the proper irreverent mood, and went on to describe the show as a kind of “upper east side camping trip where the rocks have new uses”. He’s nuts, what can I say? But we all love him because he’s so unique and so, well Isaac.
The collection was presented at the Tent at Bryant Park, and the stage was decorated with bare trees made to resemble Central Park during the winter with the Manhattan skyline in the background. The 45 pieces were broken up into 5 groups: Parka Avenue, Society Samurai, Vagrant Fairies, Fish & Wildlife, and Seven Winter Fairies. Dresses and outfits were given names like Luncheon armor, Cocktail warrior, City sweats, Diamond crocodile, Toggle town, Manhattan cable, Furry, Wooly, etc. It was all very Isaac: the glamorous evening takes on survival wear (quilted coats, glittery quilted fur trimmed vests with quilted and fur trimmed hoods; dressed up survival parkas; lame utility pants; crystal toggle buttons), the shaggy orange knee length coat; the group of abbreviated shifts that were so overly embellished with crystals, they glowed in the dark; and the finale, a group of strapless evening dresses and gowns in muted, pale shades with poufy organza skirts. When the Seven Winter Fairies made their appearance on stage at the end, a snow machine made fake snow (just we needed, more snow). We all know that Isaac is neurotic about his love for Manhattan (in a Woody Allen kinda way), because he has admitted that he cannot bear to leave the city and hates to travel. So I guess you can call the show, an homage to Manhattan.
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