Michael Goes ‘Dotty’ for a ‘Platform’ for Change


Anna Wintour may casting her vote for delicate, pointy toed shoes with thin spindly heels (the sort made popular by Manolo Blahnik, her particular shoe maker of choice), and hoping against hope that heavy shoes will disappear (I would love to see Anna wear platform booties just once), but from the look of things (as the spring collections come to an end), they are very much here to stay. While there are always different options and choices out there, and no one specific way to go, it seems the platform shoe with a chunky heel (whether it is a sandal, lace up bootie, or rope soled espadrille) is still very much a popular choice with designers, who have been using the style to impart a sporty, casual, natural, and grounded aesthetic.

They were certainly in evidence at the upbeat, sporty and athletic collection shown by Michael Kors yesterday morning and, in fact, an exaggerated platform sandal in white or black were the only shoe he used. Other accessories which successfully carried out the sports theme were oversized white gleamy visors, aviators, and his always amazing, oversized, statement making bags (which I personally coveted). The collection, which referenced Malibu and Portofino, was very signature and pure Michael through and though. And that ain’t bad. With the optimistic and energetic Beach Boys soundtrack (“Good Vibrations” kept playing over and over) the models (gals and guys) strode down the runway looking so healthy and fabulous…it would be impossible to NOT want to look like them.

What I loved about the collection was its consistency from beginning to end (the sports theme continued into evening, where Michael proposed a jersey scuba gown, a black cashmere t shirt worn with a gunmetal crushed lame track pant, or perhaps a silk faille anorak) and the fact that it didn’t resemble anything else thus far: there was nary a floral, a ruffle, a peplum, a piece of lace, or a piece of chiffon in sight. Instead, there was neoprene, cashmere, silk marocaine, gingham poplin, gingham faille, sailcloth, tech madras, jersey, stretch merino and crushed lame. There were graphic bold regatta stripes, checks, plaids and especially dots, large polka dot appeared on tops, on swimsuits, on dresses, and often, on matching bags. The forever chic combination of black and white or the nautically inspired navy, white, and red couldn’t have looked better and Michael offered both an eased up, slouchy, often voluminous silhouette as well as something narrower. Swimwear was knockout (graphic swimsuits with surf shorts, banded bikinis), and the runway was filled with items like cire windbreakers, lame t shirts, silk marocaine pullovers, crushed habitai track suits, scuba jackets, as well as some great dresses including one knockout in navy and crimson striped stretch wool featuring an arrestingly cut out back that resembled a ladder (hence the name: the ‘ladder’ dress).

I must say I loved 3.1 Philip Lim which was very creative, individual, and all about a youthful, eccentric glamour and a ‘different’ sort of beauty: hair was pulled back into severe buns (often to one side), and reading glasses with unusual frames, were often used to accessorize, along with Christian Louboutin’s sculptural, often colorful shoes. The bullfighter served as inspiration and a Spanish theme was more than vaguely in evidence, as illustrated by such items as a fitted antique white linen matador vest trimmed with gold ribbon embellishment worn over a short sleeved antique white blouse and black ‘fold back’ trousers, a cropped black ‘conquistadora’ leather jacket shown with a taupe organza ruffled mini, a black Mantilla fringed bateau neck sweater worn with a parchment fold over middy skirt, ‘castanet’ adornments which found they way onto organza tanks as well as cummerbunds, and two sculptural ‘ole’ zipper dresses…one in black silk organza and one in pink. It was all about offhanded mixes (masculine vs. feminine, hard vs. soft, day vs. night, opaque vs. sheer). Couture like peplums encircled more than a few waists and ruffles showed up on organza and leather jackets, organza blouses, trimming a chiffon trench coat, and cascading down the back of a floor length dress. Speaking of which…the idea of back interest (arresting cut outs, details, etc.) has been a recurring theme at the spring 2009 shows, and that’s perfect especially when one makes their way on the red carpet (it guarantees you will be photogenic from every angle).

And speaking of the red carpet, Jennifer Lopez made her late entrance into Oscar de la Renta’s show just as the 62 piece collection was to begin, and she looked quite fabulous (wearing the designer’s black strapless dress). Undoubtedly, she was there to scope out selections for upcoming red carpet events and it was not a stretch to imagine the megastar wearing several glamorous evening gowns, including the avocado floral print gown with vinyl embroidery, the graphic white silk faille peplum gown with navy Harlequin embroidery, the silver and pale pink brocade strapless with a mermaid skirt, and the finale: a strapless silver ‘maco’ bead embroidered gown that looked like liquid silver, accessorized with a massive silver collar (silver was a theme throughout). In addition to silver, this season, Oscar is making a case for statement making necklaces, color blocked swimwear, crochet and lace, florals, ikat embroideries, and cherry prints (at least I think it was a cherry, it was hard to see details as I was sitting up in the balcony since they scaled down on the seating downstairs and had to add another section upstairs).

-Marilyn Kirschner

Douglas Hannant’s Rooftop Garden Party

Members of New York’s social set mingled with prominent VIPs of the fashion press, as Douglas Hannant hosted a rooftop garden party for the presentation of his Spring 2009 collection. Nina Garcia of Project Runway arrived with E-Bay’s Constance White. Ivana Trump was also in attendance. In fact, so many heavy hitters filled the narrow space high atop Manhattan’s Roosevelt hotel, that photographer Patrick McMullen was hard pressed to shoot them all before the show began.

As the guests settled into their seats, some were lucky enough to be seated in the shade, while others had to endure the blistering rays of the sun. No matter, Douglas Hannant knows his customer, and the audience was immediately delighted with his first offering: an elegant slip dress with lace insets in blush silk, replete with a wide brimmed hat. It was an outfit that was picture perfect for the garden setting.

Hannant knows how to flatter the feminine form, whether he is showing a crisply tailored white pant suit or a ballet inspired black micorsequin tweed dress with a tulle skirt. He even manages to incorporate a sporty racerback into a buff floral print dress that is the epitome of a garden party frock.

To complete his collection, Hannant offered a selection of gowns in frothy colors like powdered blue and lavender. Each piece was an eclectic mix of intricate detailing accenting an elegant, ladylike shape. The lavender silk organza ball gown had a skirt so voluminous that it seemed to be inflated. It featured a substantial amount of ruching just along the hemline. In contrast, the powder blue/ pewter strapless gown was form fitting with an elaborate pattern of ruffles covering the entire length of the dress.

After the show, attendees quickly made their way through the maze of hallways from the roof to an elevator or stairwell to reach the main floor. Each guest received a bag filled with various cosmetics and a congratulatory note from Barneys New York which read: “Congratulations Douglas Hannant on another wonderful showing of true American luxury.”

– Rhonda Erb

Anna Sui’s Spanish Sunset

Upon entering the Tent at Bryant Park, on Wedensday night, for the Anna Sui show, one immediately noticed that the runway was bathed in a deep red light and an imposing image of the sun dominated the room. This was just an inkling of what was to come as Sui wowed the crowd with a Spanish themed presentation of her Spring 2009 collection.

Right from the beginning, Sui introduced an ensemble that featured a lively mix of stripes and dots as the first model marched down the runway to the strains of a hard-driving Latin beat. The music set the mood throughout the show, lending just the right amount of playfulness for each outfit.

I was immediately drawn to the richly colored palette of Sui’s collection. The brightly colored dresses in turquoise, teal, lime, or tomato prints made me think of summer cocktails by the pool, while the more subtly colored pieces in khaki or olive evoked more of a desert like feeling. Still another aspect of the designer’s theme was represented by the predominately black, and/or white pieces, like the sun panel print linen hooded dress.

Anna Sui accessorized many of her looks, like the Rose foulard daisy border print romper, with roomy square bags with long shoulder straps. There were also a number of colorful totes in vivid patterns of red or yellow. She showed several interesting styles of footwear, ranging from gold patterned boots to ornately decorated ankle strap sandals that were anything but ordinary.

Near the end of the collection, I liked the pairing of bikini tops with vibrant print, swingy dresses, to create a look that was at once feminine and edgy. Sui closed her show with two looks that featured bolero jackets. One of the models wore a hat reminiscent of a matador’s.

The audience seemed energized by Anna Sui’s Latin inspired show. It provided the perfect respite for fashionistas after a long day in the middle of Fashion Week.

-Rhonda Erb

Rhonda Erb

Rhonda Erb writes about fashion, travel and lifestyle from a New Yorker’s perspective in Better Bets. A self-confessed Instagram addict, her work has also appeared in such publications as Runway Magazine. Follow her at: Instagram: @betterbets Twitter: @betterbetsny tumblr: betterbetsny.tumblr.com

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