New York Fashion Week Notes: Day 4

Legends of the ‘Fall’

Diane von Furstenberg Fall 2011 Collection
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Diane Von Furstenberg dubbed her fall collection, ‘American Legends’, and in her run of show, she went on to describe that “fearless” woman who “knows who she is, and who she wants to be”. Of course, she might as well be describing herself; undoubtedly, she knows of what she speaks since let’s face it; DVF is a bonafide ‘legend’.

I don’t need to point out that Diane made her name with prints and patterns, and while the rest of the fashion world has now caught on (what could be more ‘of the moment’?), this has been her claim to fame for decades, and it’s what put her on the map. And while naturally, graphic prints and patterns (graphic stripes, abstracts, oversized florals), were a big part of her well attended show, held at Lincoln Center yesterday afternoon, it was hardly the only story. It was also one of her strongest shows to date. She and Yvan Mispelaere delivered a well balanced, appealing, and varied 51 piece lineup that included prints and solids; strong colors used tonally (down to the boots and bags), and surprising color mixes, as well as neutrals, nude and black. And when black was shown, it hardly looked like an ‘afterthought’, whether used alone or in combination with red (as it was throughout).

This imparted a decidedly Spanish flavor, as did the use of chic black Gaucho hats, gaucho pants and gaucho jumpsuits (some of which could be mistaken for dresses), and high heeled tall suede boots with fringe trim. (FYI, culottes and gauchos have been showing up on many runways this season, and considering that they can be tricky, difficult to wear, and unflattering, I am always surprised to see them reappear. On this particular runway, there were some wearable versions).

The emphasis at DVF has traditionally been on the dress, especially the iconic wrap dress, as was the case yesterday. And they looked good whether hitting just above the knee, midcalf, or floor length (done in silk, crepe, lace, or chiffon, sometimes embellished with sequins, and almost always paired with the aforementioned boots). But the nice surprise was the strong separates (good looking jackets, skirts, pants), that could easily go from day to evening, and particularly, the outerwear and furs. This has been very much a coat and fur season, and at DVF, there were some good looking wool coats (and Mongolian chubbies) that made use of strong color, down to the underpinnings and accessories (red, shades of blue, and unusual greens were the order of the day).

That 70’s Show

Tory Burch Fall 2011 Collection
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The lobby of the main entrance to the Tents was jam packed with people waiting in line to view Tory Burch’s fall collection – a testament to her growing popularity, her growing brand recognition, and her growing empire. While it was billed as an informal presentation from 2:15 – 3:00, it was nonetheless, a runway show, and as the rotating audience made their way into the venue, it was timed so that the models would come out in several distinct groups, posing at the foot of the runway, each taking her turn down the runway.

This season, it’s apparently all about the 70’s for Tory (and that is not exactly unfamiliar territory for the designer). The overall silhouette was long (and I mean LONG, from midcalf to floor length); the color palette was neutral with an emphasis on earth tones (paprika, rust, brown), ivory, navy, burgundy, and black. There were lavish fur trims (fur collars on coats, fur trimmed hoods, massive fur trimmed sleeves), below the knee length chubby Mongolian lamb vests, gutsy tweeds and oversized plaids, boxy cardigan suits with ladylike bow blouses, full cut tunics (some with lavish embroidery) worn with pants, natty pantsuits, and the use of a side pleated pant so wide and so long, it looked like a skirt. Footwear came in the form of luggage leather tall boots with a high chunky heel, and a square toed chunky heeled loafer.

My overall impression was that the clothes were sometimes cut so full, they were even unflattering on the models (which does not bode well for the average sized gal), which is somewhat puzzling since Tory herself is tiny boned and quite petite and normally favors a more controlled silhouette.

In like a ‘Lam’

Derek Lam Fall 2011 Collection
(All Photos

Derek Lam’s run of show began with the George Balanchine quote, “There are no new steps, only new combinations”. Well, ain’t that the truth! Why pretend that there is anything really new under the sun when in fact, it’s all been done before? Tell it like it is and call a spade a spade. Derek isn’t a designer known for trying wanting to reinvent the wheel, or wanting to come up with a 5 sleeved jacket. With Derek Lam, regardless of what the seasonal ‘inspiration’ might be, you always know what you’re going to get: wonderfully proportioned, expertly tailored, beautifully fabricated American sportswear: standout coats, capes, anoraks, parkas; perfectly cut jackets, pants, and skirts; and always beautiful eveningwear.

And there’s nothing wrong with that. He’s wise enough to know that it’s the way these wardrobe staples are recolored, re- proportioned, and most importantly, re-fabricated, that can make the difference. Certainly, these days, it’s all about new technology and fabric innovation which has the ability to change things around and help make our lives easier, more comfortable, and hopefully, let us feel and look better.

The fall collection he showed yesterday was all about seasonless layering: eliminating rigid bulk, a goal which is not only practical, but timely, modern and relevant. And he succeeded, using fabrics like pebbled leather, silk rayon twill, wool stretch flannel, waxed mink, crinkle wool challis, laundered silk crepe, along with vintage wool serge and blanket stripe wools, alpaca shearling, all of which played out in his signature chic, neutral palette. It looked luxurious yet grounded, streetwise, and utilitarian, including the beautiful evening gowns, some of which were made from laundered technical satin, rayon technical twill, and laundered technical poplin, along with the more traditional silk chiffon, silk jersey, and lambskin.

– Marilyn Kirschner

The Daily Bet by Rhonda Erb

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Marilyn Kirschner

I am a long time fashion editor with 40+ years of experience. As senior market of Harper's Bazaar for 21 years I met and worked with every major fashion designer in the world and covered all of the collections in Paris, London, Milan and New York. I was responsible for overall content, finding and pulling in the best clothes out there, and for formulating ideas and stories.

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