New York Fashion Week: Day 4

Just before noon, the headline for the day could have been “7th Avenue falls flat”…No not for that reason (necessarily) but because all of a sudden, pancake flats replaced wedge soles, platforms, and stilettos heels (for the day portion anyway) on several runways including Carolina Herrera (in the form of Manolo Blahnik flat sandals) and Oscar de la Renta (who opted for elegant pointy toed patent leather flats), making a case for a new ease and more subtle, unforced glamour.

And of course, I don’t think I have to point out that the 18 year old models who walk the runways, are so beautiful AND tall, that they are still taller than most of us mortals, even if they’re wearing flats and we’re in towering heels. Who said life is fair? The headline could have also been, “All about Ease” because it seems if designers aren’t using the term “effortless” to describe their collections, they are using the word, ‘ease’.

In fact, in Carolina’s run of show, she cited “effortless chic” as the effect she was going after and focused on luxuriously fabricated, highly detailed yet unfussy shifts, sundresses, cocktail dresses and evening wear. One crowd pleasing evening gown in particular (which had the front row social set enraptured), was not an overdone, overworked, voluminous creation but a deceptively simple (but hardly homespun) re-embroidered hydrangea jacquard gown with rough piping and captivating back that had the look and ease of an elongated shirt. And as if to drive home the point, she did not end the show with an expected and predictable long gown but chose instead, a short cocktail dress in chalk with black ribbon embroidery.

I found it interesting by the way, that Oscar de la Renta was the only designer to recognize the date, 9/11, as he did with his personal message in the program notes. And he used the opportunity of his show to reveal a brand new look (he is completely bald). When he was waiting in the wings to take his après show bow, I caught him looking at people in the audience who were looking back at him, and he smiled, self consciously patting the top of his head with his hand. Coincidentally, the ‘designer’ cookies given out later in the day at the Delta booth featured a picture of the ‘old’ debonair Oscar (the way we know him)….hair and all. Either way, he looks great!

Speaking of Oscar, I saw Anna Wintour on TV, watching the tennis matches at the U.S. Open on Saturday clad in Oscar’s black and white silk faille polka dot dress from resort, and again at his show yesterday wearing Oscar’s short printed dress with modified bouffant skirt, paired with a little cardigan, She looks so well in his clothes, and is so perfect, she could easily be a ‘poster child’ for the designer.

At a time when volume still continues as the message (certainly nothing new for Oscar, who has always loved the drama, exuberance, and elegance of it all), Oscar’s taffeta bouffant confections appear to be so light and airy, I’ll bet they could keep you afloat in the ocean. But what struck me was that in a sea of big dresses, what ultimately looked the most beautiful was the navy silk sponge crepe long narrow drink of water that boasted a beautiful modified bubble back for interest.

Cynthia Steffe is another designer going after “ease” and “effortless” and she stated that she was thinking about Catherine Deneuve and Brigitte Bardot “frolicking in St. Tropez” as she put together her spring line. Unfortunately, while there certainly were some sweet dresses (like the white ‘deneuve’ dress in cotton voile) and some wonderful coats as always (notably the first one out – a pale celadon cotton damask abbreviated trench and the crisp cobalt a line coat with white stitching and statement making white pearl buttons), much of it looked too ordinary to be shown on a runway.

But it’s Monday, and that means Marc Jacobs. And that also means that the day belonged to Marc Jacobs who showed only one hour late at his usual venue – the New York State Armory. All I can say is that the show was worth the wait. Of course, to bide the time you can always people watch (Demi Moore and Ashton Kutcher, Rachel Feinstein, Mischa Barton); listen to the pounding musical soundtrack which is usually a pretty fair indicator (or not) of what will come down the runway (in this case it was everything 80’s- from Earth, Wind, and Fire to Michael Jackson’s ‘Thriller’. And yes, the show was a thriller and Marc incorporated several of those famous 80’s style jackets into the collection.

You can also study the run of show to prepare for what will come down the runway. And while it seemed obvious to me that the collection would prove to be a rather glittery, shiny, and lightweight continuation of fall’s layering (which it was), and it would be very sports inspired or at the very least, sports inspired a la Jacobs (after all, the program listed crocheted and metal headbands, jeweled hair nets, tulle bombers, gazar jumpsuits, metallic kangaroo caps, tweed bomber jackets, metallic pea jackets and trench coats, jeweled bags), that was only a small part of the picture and would ultimately prove misleading, because it was hardly sportswear in a traditional sense.

It was pure Marc Jacobs and it was brilliant (though I also saw vestiges of Helmut Lang in the slashed and appendaged athletic wear, and in the overall feeling of couture street wear). It was all about slouchy layering, light and airy movement (it’s hard to forget Karen Elson looking every inch a butterfly in flight, in her short, striped silk chiffon dress with ‘wings’), volume, and more than anything else: sparkle, shine, glitter (gold and silver).

So keeping that in mind, I now understand why Meredith Melling Burke saw fit to wear that silver sequined tank top layered over a t shirt and slouchy gray menswear inspired pants. She obviously knew something I didn’t. And after last night, Cindi Leive might have to re-think her dos and don’ts and modify the notion that wearing sequins for day is a “don’t”. Because ‘Marc’ my words…that will be the Next Big Thing.

-Marilyn Kirschner

Notes from Bernadine Morris:

“Regal” is not the first word that comes to mind when viewing the Seventh on Sixth spring shows. But Carolina Herrera, who was herself a couture customer before she began designing ready-to-wear, often has a gracious touch. Lace details, contrasting stitches and ribbon trimmings contribute a glamorous look to clothes that are elegant and stylish. Her clothes have a sense of glamour which should appeal to women who like fine dressmaking.

A group of short, full skirted evening dresses at Oscar de la Renta should encourage young women to go out dancing. The dresses have brief, short bodices above the bouffant skirts. Colors include bright red and black and there are some prints. Not to worry: the supple long dresses. and short, sweater dresses that have long been part of Oscar’s repertoire are still there, looking quietly comfortable.

Cynthia Steffe doesn’t try to astound. She makes clothes that are in the current fashion spirit but are always easy to wear. So expect Capri pants and shorts with soft blouses, loose light coats and plenty of sundresses. Cobalt blue is a color she handles well.

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.

1 Comment
  1. The Seattle Post-Intelligencer has gathered the shows at New York’s Olympus Fashion week into several photo galleries, sorted by day and designer.

    You can see them here at The Seattle P-I.

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