Carolina Herrera’s show notes spoke of “an alluring confidence in the women who inspired fall”. “A sophisticated feminine attitude and striking details, reveal an integrity to luxury”. And that was luxury with a capital L. In fact, there was so much luxury on display, one could almost call it an embarrassment of riches. But I wouldn’t call it wasn’t an embarrassment; it was actually quite well done. Ms Herrera bid adieu to the artsy side she seemed to favor in recent seasons, and returned to her luxe sportif roots.
Certainly, there were enough understated cocktail dresses and gowns, as well as dramatic red carpet worth entrance makers, with sculpted pleats, fluid ruffles, embroidery, etc., to keep her social swans and celebrity customers (including her number one fan Renee Zellwegger) happy for another season. And in the case of the latter, there were enough sleeveless, one shouldered, or strapless creations to show off her well toned form.
But for me, it was the strong daywear that stood out, (in a color palette of camel, Prussian blue, deep red, and an okra floral print), the stellar coats (many of them in camel), and the creative use of embroidery and fur, mainly sable. And oh boy, the fur was flying yesterday morning; so much so that Carolina might become PETA’s number one enemy. I also loved the crisp white cotton shirts (Ms. Herrera’s signature item) used beneath some of the coats and jackets, and classic slouchy menswear trousers, sometimes in banker’s pinstripes (skinny jeans and leggings have their place but after awhile, one longs for another proportion and these looked right). Standouts: the chocolate sable and faille brush stroke print jacket with grey wool wide leg pinstripe pant; the camel crocodile and wool jacket shown with stone mélange wool wide legged pants; the double face wool cashmere cape with a an embroidered mohair scarf with fox trim, paired with a windowpane wool wide legged pant; and the sable trimmed camel double face belted knee length that looked as though there was a sable bolero over it until you saw the entire back was covered in sable. Accessories were Manolo Blahnik’s high heeled shoes (not one boot in sight), the jaunty brimmed hats by Albertus Swanepoel, and belts by Bennett Liberty (all done especially for Carolina). By the way, I liked the way she used a thin red belt to define the waist, for both day and evening. What looks better with camel than red?
The straw that broke the ‘camel’s’ back
Speaking of camel, the camel (or camel hair) coat, an iconic menswear item, is a timeless and classic wardrobe staple for women as well, and the camel coat was THE coat for fall 2009. From the look of things, it’s continued into this season (and for good reason). It’s flattering, chic, always in style, a perfect neutral which literally goes with everything, and like the tan trench or khaki army jacket, it keeps on being re interpreted. And no matter how you do so, it still looks great.
IT was hardly surprising when I looked at the run of show, (before the 19 piece Yeohlee show began), to find that camel coats would be a major focus of the collection. In fact, the first three items out were different variations on the theme: a camel single cylinder cocoon coat, a knee length camel funnel neck coat, and a camel ‘cadet’ coat, shown with either narrow cuffed pants in grey fleece or kazimir, or over a watercolor plaid silk shirtwaist dress. They were all shown with the chicest, most simplified and hard to find perfect pumps: simple, low heeled, feminine yet sturdy at the same time (sometimes with bare legs, sometimes with ankle socks). And were also accessorized with cozy, knitted hoods or large neck scarves (in black white mélange, oat two-ply melange, grey or black wool). The program notes also revealed that Yeohlee was inspired by artist Kazimir Malevich’s Black Circle springing out into a cylinder. (Thus, the double face camel wrap coat, a dress in pewter laminated jersey, or a jacket in lime grey brushed angora plaid)
Yeohlee is one of the most consistent and talented designers today, and almost nobody makes a coat quite like Yeohlee. I can attest to that fact because I am a coat collector and have several of her pieces and they not only stand the test of time, they are insanely fabulous, foldable, packable, seasonless, weightless, timeless, and magically versatile and practical (did I leave anything out?). I always think of her Urban Nomad Collection and her concept that clothing becomes one’s environment outside. So true. And I kept thinking, I’d love to add any one of those shown yesterday, to my collection. In addition to coats, standout pieces were the grouping in black/white mélange hand knit, a Spacebond (sort of a pale greige color) 3 cylinder jacket, aviator cape, and cadet dress with an interesting shoulder detail; two pewter cylinder dresses, and two perfect little black dresses.
Tracy Reese is in an upbeat, girlie, and downright sexy mood this fall based on the 40 pieces she showed yesterday afternoon. The emphasis was on the body (abbreviated skirts and narrow pants namely jodhpurs). Short dresses (frocks and shifts) appeared throughout in myriad of fabrics (everything from lace spliced jersey and shaded square jersey, to an expressionist grid). In many cases, they were paired with a thick loopy ‘fringed’ neck scarf. This Mongolian lamb like fringed fabric, (a replacement for real fur?) also appeared as a coat and several cropped jackets. While there were other faux and distressed faux furs, as well as distressed faux leathers (as in one gray faux leather coat), apparently Tracy is not making a politically correct statement about being anti fur because the real thing was used as trim on the short sleeves of several cardigans. Speaking of which, cardigans were also a recurring theme and there were several good looking coats, the best of which was a graphic alpaca plaid. The color palette was predominantly black, grey, ecru, camel, and brown and blush with touches of a smoky blue, and several abstract patterns. Glittery jewelry (mainly necklaces) by Gerard Yosca added shine.
Monique’s Crimson Tide
It may have been too late for Valentine’s Day, but Monique Lhuillier, who always shows a crowd pleasing collection which is a variation on her signature themes (if something is not broke, why fix it?) cited soldier like inspiration from “Chinese warrior and military suits” and promised strong silhouettes, strong shoulders, lots of leg, lots of ‘edge’ and a tough chic vibe. Hence, her love affair with crimson red, either alone or used in combination with black. Best pieces: the dragon lacquered mattelasse mini dress with gold encrusted cuffs that opened the show; the crimson jacquard coat with red piping and oxidized metal epaulets; the crimson halter dress with gold leather chain embroidery; the black and white tweed jacket and skirt with grayed tulle trim; the noir crocodile embossed velvet coat with oxidized crystal epaulets; the dragon lacquered mattelesse trench; the black and nude pleated tulle gown with nude floral embroidery, and the jaw droppingly beautiful Shanghai red duchesse draped gown with floral skirt.
The Daily Bet
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– Rhonda Erb