You know those moth eaten sweaters, jackets, and coats that you spend a fortune on, taking them to the tailor to have them re weaved? Or having decided they’re not worth salvaging, (and heaven forbid, you can’t be seen wearing something with holes in it, after all) you give away to Goodwill? Well, it’s time to rethink, because having holes in your sweaters is “a good thing”. Trend setting French Vogue Editress Carine Roitfeld, in New York this past week to cover the collections, was also the guest of honor at Barneys at a party to fete her recent collaboration with the knitwear company, Lutz & Patmos, having designed a sweater that purposely looks as if it’s falling apart and “destroyed”. And last night, when Karl Lagerfeld unveiled his new Karl Lagerfeld line officially ending New York Fashion Week (leave it to Karl to have the last word) one of his statements was the knitted holey scarf, holey collar, and holey cuff that accessorized the 61 piece predominantly black (brown, and gray) collection of menswear and womenswear that could best be described as ‘streetwise, gritty urban chic’.
The key element here (as it was at Marc Jacobs) is the use of inventive layering to give attitude and infuse a feeling of function and practicality to luxurious wardrobe staples (wide legged trousers, skirts, waistcoats, trench coats, pea jackets, pea coats, blazers, knitwear) with a decided menswear feeling with touches of military, in a wide range of proportions, lengths, shapes, and silhouettes. It was all about the mix (day and night, boy meets girl, hard and soft…even pieces from Karl’s more expensive Paris based Karl Lagerfeld Collection were mixed in) and creative styling courtesy of Melanie Ward, the Harper’s Bazaar editor who is a long time friend and collaborator of Helmut Lang’s.
It was speculated that the new Karl Lagerfeld line would in fact have traces of Helmut, and it did in its urbane vibe, dark and neutral color palette, and ‘ready for anything’ aesthetic. Nothing looked too delicate or too pretty, and chunky heeled black leather boots – and thick tights (in addition to ribbed legwarmers) were used on almost every outfit – even the somewhat ethereal evening dresses in pink copper, that had a worn in wrinkled look (as if they had been put in the washing machine and then the dryer). Of course, it must be pointed out that Karl Lagerfeld is never seen wearing anything but the most starched and crisp shirts and tailored jackets. And by the way, the show, which started precisely on time, lasted only about 15 minutes, thanks to the models coming out a breakneck speed (just like the way Karl talks).
(Ralph Rucci Fall 2006 Collection: Black wattau-back jersey and mesh gown- photos Ernest Schmatolla)
Ralph Rucci showed his always stellar collection of fall 2006 ready to wear and highlights from Spring 2006 haute couture, at the Bryant Park Tents right before Karl, and the two could not be more different (sort of like going from the sublime to the ridiculous – but it’s up to you to decide which is which….). Of course, that’s like trying to compare apples and oranges, it’s unfair to compare, and one really has nothing to do with the other.
There is room for many voices, many visions, and points of view. Certainly, Ralph’s vision is not one of a gritty urban chic but of a civilized, timeless artistic aesthetic that is not predicated on ins and outs, or trends du jour. What keeps going through my mind as I look at the collections, which their renewed interest in volume, architecture, proportion, masterful cut, construction, draping, pleating, and dressmaking, is that Ralph ‘owns’ that world – these are the very things that have defined his work from the very beginning.
One attends a Ralph Rucci show knowing basically, what one will find (not that there are no surprises mind you…because there always are). But certain elements are always there – with changes from season to season, of course. But it’s more of an evolution. If I had to single out standouts this time, I would have to point to the black lambskin tortoise jacket (it was actually textured to resemble tortoise shell) worn with black pants and a knitted bargain sable scarf; the knee length trench coat in a ‘camouflage’ pattern worn with matching narrow pants;
the amazing bargain sable ankle length a line coat which had a cane leather ‘cage’ over it; the knee length black jersey dress with mesh insets; the black jersey and gazar dress decorated on top with oversized duchesse satin disks; the black ‘watteau’ back jersey and mesh gown that boasted a long skinny sleeved very sheer top, (artfully, graphically and strategically covered up) and a dramatically draped in back. It’s to Ralph’s credit that so often, his most dramatic pieces are the ones that are seemingly the most ‘subtle’. That’s because there is nothing ‘subtle’ about the artistic vision and craftsmanship.
Cynthia Rowley is apparently feeling ‘blue’ these days (not that she has much to be depressed about based on her upbeat collection of signature dresses, blouses, tunics, and coats). Her morning show, held at the Bryant Park Tents, called ‘The Blue Room’ was an homage to the “hubris of Yves Klein in thinking that he could invent a new shade of blue.” And of the 36 pieces (which primarily consisted of trapeze, tent shaped, pleated short dresses, a- line coats and tunics, and skinny pants paired with pretty, soft blouses), there were very few that were not done in some shade of blue – often the different shades were mixed together in one outfit. Cynthia even accessorized with blue leather tall boots on a chunky heels.
In addition, the audience was treated to the musical accompaniment of the New Amsterdam Boys Choir which is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year. Composed of boys aged 9-18 from local East Harlem public schools, in addition to music students from Central Park East 1, (all who wore bright blue ties with their navy blue blazers) they were onstage to provide the musical accompaniment to the show. (Three songs from Cynthia’s favorite playlist which they recomposed. It was a wonderful way to begin the last day of shows.)
Douglas Hannant was scheduled to show at Gotham Hall (as printed on the invitation), but the venue was switched to a 7th floor hall at the Manhattan Center on west 34th street. It was poorly lit, making it hard to see much of anything- including one’s seat, and many seats were empty, enabling those in the back rows to move down. (On a Friday afternoon, the last day of shows, people generally have work to catch up on, stories to file, etc.) But many of Douglas’s loyal fans and customers (the sable clad social set) and furrier Dennis Basso, were on hand to see the black/white tweed suit and dress, the nifty chocolate brown shearling motorcycle worn with tweed skirt, the billowy black chiffon poets blouse and black sequined trouser skirt, and the graceful, ethereal black pleated chiffon picot detailed dress, which were the standouts of the collection.