Recession? What recession?
(More reviews later on today)
Mark Badgley and James Mischka staged their strongest showing in quite some time yesterday morning at the Bryant Park Tents. Like Carolina Herrera (and others), it was undeniably tilted towards late day, cocktail and evening, apparently factoring in the needs and wants of their privileged and loyal fan base. The only real daywear were the three chic opening outfits in black: a silk/ wool knee length belted dress, a black taffeta and wool boucle jacket and skirt, and a textured black taffeta and wool boucle knee length coat, all of which were shown with black opaque tights and either knee high boots or booties.
What made this well edited 33 piece collection work, was that nothing was overdone, the silhouettes were flatteringly close to the body and spare, and for the most part, dresses and skirts were short (though there were some entrance making gowns). The guys were masterful at showing restraint and they knew when to stop. Accessories were wisely kept to a bare minimum, hair (swept back in an up do) and makeup was modern and unfussy, and the clothes spoke for themselves.
Attention was paid to details and cut; draping, bias cuts, shoulder and back interest, were recurring themes; fabrics used were primarily organza, tulle, satin, lame, and georgette. While the color palette was primarily dark (anchored on black and gray), there were welcome touches of mauve, ruby red, crimson, absinthe, ultramarine, gold, and silver, some of the later shined thanks to ‘galaxy’ inspired beading. Speaking of which…because the Academy Awards are just days away, and Mark and James and have traditionally dressed many a star for such high profile red carpet events, I could not help but think that some of these dresses would certainly look beautiful on any number of stars this coming Sunday.
While I’m on the topic of the red carpet and Hollywood, after I took my seat at Pamella Roland, designed by Pamella DeVos, I spotted none other than Paris Hilton and her sister sitting in the front row (Paris looked sweet and pretty in her new short hair but I thought her outfit: white sunglasses, white tights, gray abbreviated shorts, and white sleeveless top with gray tie) looked silly, juvenile, and completely out of place for New York in the middle of February. She was also non-stop on her cell phone, even while the show went on.
At 56 pieces, this ran much longer than most others (the trend nowadays is really going for a tightly edited and short runway show) and it would have benefitted from some serious editing. Ms. DeVos was admittedly inspired by the masterful art of Faberge and the Russian Master Goldsmiths (which I suppose explains its overtly luxurious vibe). Unfortunately, much of it was a tad too over the top which translated to ‘old fashioned’ especially where the unwieldy ankle length lavishly fur trimmed coats were concerned.
As it turns out, the chicest and most modern daytime outfit was a glazed black stretch pea jacket worn over matching slim pants and a crisp white sateen shirt, but since Pamella is known for her eveningwear (and her fan base includes many A list stars), I’d have to give my thumbs up to the knee length gold degrade embroidered ‘Faberge’ dress; the black sateen plunging back draped goddess gown (with rhinestone tie in back); a white kimono sleeved black fox and chiffon tiered evening coat worn over winter white sateen blouse and flared leg pants; and the plunging front, plunging back platinum beaded knot waist mermaid gown, which Ms. Hilton seemed to be quite interested in. Perhaps she was planning to attend the Academy Awards this Sunday and was there to pick something out just for the occasion.
This has been a ‘let them eat cake’ kind of day. Actually, it’s been a ‘let them eat cake’ kind of week thus far and it seems to be the trend going forward. Recession? What recession? You really wouldn’t know it by many of the well dressed, fur clad show attendees these past few days, and you certainly wouldn’t know it from many of the runway shows, where the luxury quotient (and the price points presumably) appears to be going up, not down. That was certainly the case at Dennis Basso, where broadtail, sable, chinchilla, and bassarisk furs, were paired with tweed, crocodile and brocade. (And many of the guests, especially those in the front row, were not only fur clad, but fur and leopard hatted as well).
While this season was an improvement over the last, owing to a younger, more modern and up to the minute look, the 38 pieces, rendered in a neutral palette of brown, gunmetal, pewter, tortoise, graphite, desert sand, champagne, natural, and black, quickly began to look repetitive. How many horizontally worked 60’s inspired knee length coats and abbreviated jackets with massively fur trimmed sleeves, hems, backs, sides, can you look at?
Domenico Vacca packed them like sardines last night in the Salon. The scene was fairly chaotic and I thought that if I just closed my eyes and listened, I could pretend I was far away in Italy. If only. On my way in, I felt like a nervous school girl as I hoped for a possible Jonathan Rhys Meyers encounter. If only. Oh well, I was quite happy nodding to Forest Whitaker (no surprise to see him there) and Mickey Rourke seated down front. Both guys looked great and were nice enough to pose for a quick photo.
Vacca’s clothes are luxurious and this collection pounded that point home. Rich velvet, delicate chiffon, buttery silk, rainbow-shimmer and liquid-like fabrics appeared in the women’s portion of the collection, while the finest men’s suiting (which also included velvet) comprised the other half. Styling was classic as always, but unexpected touches gave the garments an edge. Chains cascading from pocket trousers of traditional pin stripe staples definitely didn’t look like the typical banker. Large and layered appliqué treatment on fine jersey and chiffon (like fall leaves stacked on top of one another) kept a youthful look to the dresses as did the exciting and daring cut-outs placed in strategic fashion. I also particularly liked a men’s tomato red leather jacket. Only Domenico Vacca can do this without it looking tacky. Apart from the tomato red, colors were warm and very much a true fall palette. Dusty purple, garnet, chocolate brown, forest, navy and black received some zest with the addition of jewels and sparkle. As always Vacca showcased an elegant collection that included several pieces I’ve put on my wish list.
Hammerstein ballroom was a mob scene last night. I’m sure the G-STAR show was a celebrity fest although I couldn’t see anybody through the wall of photographers set up near the entrance. And it didn’t help that the venue was nearly pitch dark. I did walk out in the end with Mischa Barton who apparently lost her friend in the shuffle. Even with an invitation, an RSVP and personal email correspondence, the girl at the check in table handed me a card marked with the letter “S.” The standing area in Hammerstein is in the nosebleed section and there was no way I could possibly view the show very well from that vantage point. So, I managed to get a nice girl with a headset to escort me back down to a seat in the main area where I could actually see the clothes coming down the runway.
Of course, I wanted to hate the show at this point (also, it didn’t start until 7.45), but I have to say, I absolutely loved it. The dramatic setting included a raised runway stretching through the center, dropping down and continuing along both sides at ground level. This provided a great way for everyone to see the ensembles for a longer period of time. The stage itself was back-dropped with a sheer, black curtain and one could see all of the models standing behind it like soldiers waiting for their turn to move. A piano (or keyboard or organ – it was hard to see from the side), tucked in the middle of the models, was playing Gothic-like music which set the mood.
The tightly designed collection consisted of 41 styles split almost evenly between guys and girls. A vampiric theme could be sensed immediately. Female models wore fairly porcelain faces with hair pulled back in a swooping fashion. Tuxedos made a strong statement right away as girls glided past in tailored black suits (one with satin lapels) and crisp, starched, white shirts. Black dominated and enhanced the Gothic mood. Very naturally, the collection segued into more neutral colors (sand, grey, indigo) and the garments took on a military feeling. Complex jackets incorporated high-standing collars, pockets, flaps, buckles, zippers and even parachute-like straps and ”neck roll” attachments. Pants were mostly narrow in the leg and low and baggy in the seat, almost like a modern, less severe version of the military jodhpur. Coats were, of course, an important feature throughout the collection, therefore, layering (a “trend” we’re seeing a lot so far this season) was necessary in order to showcase all components.
Fabrics were kept to a minimum — denim, leather and wool (utilized liberally) were complimented with sweater knits and plush texture. Surface treatments such as lacquer shine and different washes of denim enhanced certain pieces. Nothing was overlooked. Details were perfectly placed such as; the large metal razor blade hair clip with ‘G-STAR’ stamped on it; the heavy trapunto stitching; seam binding or the addition of just the right amount of heavy gauge rib knit.
As if all that wasn’t enough, perhaps the highlight of the evening was the unexpected appearance of Benicio Del Toro walking down the runway, reciting a monologue. He stood there for a couple of minutes and continued reading. When he finished, the models did their final rounds while Joy Division sounded throughout – a perfect note on which to end a very well done season.
Cho Cheng’s Ready-to-Wear Debut
On Tuesday, designer Cho Cheng brought his first ready-to-wear collection to Bryant Park. The designer has long been known for his craftsmanship of made-to-order clothing, and he feels that turning his attentions to ready-to-wear is a natural progression. He has no qualms about launching his new line in such uncertain economic times, believing that there is always a market for finely tailored versatile clothing.
The inspiration for Cho Cheng’s Fall/Winter collection was “The Little Prince,” a theme that worked well with his love of jewel tones and creative silhouettes. The designer loves to work with durable fabrics such as Harris Tweed and his signature velvet. He sees his core customer as a high-society woman who values quality clothing at a good price.
His collection began with a series of rainbow colored jackets (turquoise, cherry, canary yellow, key lime) that were elegant and feminine. They were paired with skirts or cropped pants. One of his most playful looks was the black satin mini can-can skirt shown with a velveteen two-buttoned jacket in green with red satin piping.
Cho Cheng gives a nod to his many years of experience as a couture designer with the creation of his evening wear. His sleekly elegant Siren gowns seemed to glide down the runway. Cho also includes a traditional Chinese long, slinky dress, the Qipaos, in all of his collections. Cho Cheng is a lover of children’s’ books, Japanese anime, and Walt Disney. In keeping with his theme of “The Little Prince”, each model donned a light blonde wig, reminiscent of Antoine de Saint Exupery’s title character.
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