New York Fashion Week: Day 6

Making his ‘Marc’

Marc Jacobs has done it again….one year after his controversial fall 2005 collection, and years after his controversial ‘Grunge’ collection, he finds himself once again in the limelight and the center of attention – although this time, he’s more the subject of praise than of controversy. Whether or not you thought it was brilliant, flattering, completely wearable, etc., and whether or not you considered it to be ‘Grunge Part 2’, most fashion insiders felt that his Monday night show was a bright spot in a rather uneven and uninspiring week. I completely agree with Cathy Horyn that there are a lot of women who like to dress the way Marc proposed (eclectically layered in clothing that might best be described as practical, versatile, comfortable ‘urban armor’). Marc’s vision is reality based, not based on some sort of dream- like world he thinks- or wishes- his customer inhabits, and the clothing he proposed, AND the way it was put together, was all about reality- the reality of modern life. If it is ‘grunge’, than I say, ‘grunge’ is the ‘new glamour’.

Other shows:

Love it or hate him or hate him – Marc not only pushes buttons, but HE THINKS OUT OF THE BOX, coming up with new solutions to old favorites…It is true that there is nothing really new under the sun, it’s all been done before…it’s the way things are moved around and put together in a new and fresh way that makes the difference. Sadly, this is something that is apparently lost on Michael Kors, who seems to be designing on ‘pilot’ and whose work has become rather robotic and formulaic at this point. Today’s women’s and men’s collection, inspired by “Love Stories”- a mix of Ali MacGraw Chic (how many times has he referenced HER?), The Graduate, and Gatsby was puzzling to say the least. When the first outfits came out (almost floor sweeping duffle coat and striped sweater dress with elongated scarf and knitted cap in muted navy and cordovan, I said to myself, ‘Grunge!’ But flutter sleeves, sable cape, ivory cashmere sweater trimmed with Mongolian lamb…nope, not grunge at all. It might have been better if it were a major statement in just one thing. The schizophrenic collection just did not work. Actually, the men’s portion, which was much more defined, looked better.

There’s nothing wrong with taking your repertoire of greatest hits – and classics – (which is what has always been a hallmark of a Michael Kors collection) and using them as a jumping off point (the navy/white tie-dye melton pea coat was an interesting idea – too bad he didn’t have more items like that). But unless you give it a new point of view, what you are left with is a collection that resembles a bridge line. Michael’s program notes spoke of “haberdashery paisleys and foulards with a modern edge…” Designers love using the word ‘modern’ to describe what they do – it’s a word that has lost its meaning within the world of fashion because it’s been so over used. And it’s also a term that is subjective. But merely labeling something as ‘modern’ doesn’t make it so. Modern is as modern does.

And modern does describe Richard Chai’s thoughtful, beautifully cut, and architecturally based collection that is all about being comfy and cozy this season. The designer wants to envelop you in the cocooning warmth and protective coziness of a black double face cashmere turtleneck wrap coat or the beautiful black double face cashmere portrait collar flare coat with an ivory cashmere gauze bias turtleneck that had a bib effect. He effectively used black opaque tights and white patent shoes as did Narciso Rodriguez the day before and it’s a very effective way to lighten up black and add some punch.

Modern is also a term I would use to describe CFDA winning designer Derek Lam’s fall collection that was short (short in terms of time and short in terms of lengths), concise, and spoke of the youthful couture movement that many young designers are proponents of – smart, chic, urbane, but not fussy. There was much attention paid to cut, construction, and detail, not to mention proportion and was perfectly accessorized thanks to Wolford hosiery, Christian Louboutin for Derek Lam high heeled boots and pumps, Nancey Chapman jewelry (lots of chains), LaCrasia gloves and Derek Lam’s bags. The sophisticated color palette relied on lots of black (but not so basic black), grey, ivory and khaki, with shots of emerald green, purple, and yellow. Tiny ruffles encircled chiffon shirts, hefty salt and pepper tweeds were used for a-line dresses and coats, some which featured Saga silver fox sleeves, and crinkle chiffon was used to fashion long beautifully draped yet simple gowns (Mme. Gres again!)

Oh, and how can I leave out Derek’s inspired take on that tradional tan trenchcoat? His khaki maxi length trench with Saga natural Silver fox cuffs was brilliant (I can envision Anna Wintour owning this beauty).

Peter Som played with weightless volume and as always, had some noteworthy coats, dresses (including a lovely fitted dove gray cocktail dress belted at the waist with full sleeves elbow length sleeves and a large asymmetrical bow at the neck), and separates, but too much of it was bogged down with unnecessary details. And unfortunately for the designer, on the runway, the back split open on two gowns towards the end of the show (not one, but two…not a great sign).

I was looking forward to seeing Ecco Domani winner, Brian Reyes’s show, but I was disappointed in the 29 piece collection held at the Sony studios. While the first number out (an ethereal off white gazar short sleeved pouf dress with short sleeves, that resembled the petals of a flower) was promising, as was the horizontally pleated ivory silk burnout dot short sleeved dress and variations on a belted faille trench (which was fitted in the front and loose in the back), the rest of the show was overly repetitive, there were too many really sheer pieces, and unfortunately, some of the clothes didn’t fit well.

Anna Sui always stays true to her aesthetic- she is not a minimalist and never will be one (her ‘thing’ is ‘more is more’ and she goes for it each season). This time (as it has been many other times), the story is short, sweet, and innocent (Naomi Campbell???!!) with an emphasis on volume (boxy cardigans and jackets over full skirted short dresses or short skirts, plenty of baby doll, tent shaped and empire waist dresses, though Anna counterbalanced with skinny pantsuits featuring elongated jackets. And of course, there was lots of shine (achieved through metallic shot fabrics, graphic sequined trim, and long medallion necklaces).

Anna’s shows are always high energy and upbeat and at the end of the day (and almost at the end of a rather lackluster Fashion Week), having a smile on your face is not such a bad thing.

-Marilyn Kirschner

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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