New York Fashion Week: Day 6

Peter Som said he was inspired by the mid 18th century paintings by Boucher and Vigee-LeBrun which is not surprising since the collection had an old world feeling. Colors were mainly neutral with an emphasis on burlap, putty, oyster, different shades of yellow (his favorite color this season which he used for his favorite frock: the pretty yellow cotton and taffeta ‘watteau’ back dress), cherry red and cerulean blue. He focused on very short dresses (many with bell shaped skirts), shorts (one shorts suit featured cuffed full shorts and a matching cropped flyaway jacket with pronounced buttons and multi pockets), cropped jackets with cropped sleeves, and of course coats.

He threw a Prussian blue taffeta coat over a white organdy top and organza frosted damask pleated skirt and showed a parchment burlap coat over a bold floral linen radzimir bell skirt and matching chiffon top. One charcoal cross hatch cloth pantsuit with a brief peplumed jacket and skinny pants recalled Guesquiere for Balenciaga but hey – everything’s been done before…no? The washed organdy gowns at the end of the show, in soft shades of blush, white, cerulean blue featuring bare backs, slightly raised waists, and very long, graceful, skirts that ended in dramatic trains were certainly dreamy.

By the way, Peter designed apartments in a residential condominium located just steps away from the tents at 485 Fifth Avenue, billed as “The Peter Som Collection of Residences”. I was just thinking how nice and convenient it would be to have an apartment there; especially this time of year.

Michael Kors was having an 80’s moment, but it did not evidence itself in the same way it did at Marc Jacobs. Focusing on “re imagined basics” as he refers to them, the kind of pieces that transcend trends, never look dated, are always needed in one’s wardrobe, and can always be relied upon, the influence this time (and you gotta have an influence, right?) was dance, ballet, and movement, urban movement to be exact. It was leggy (yes, as in leggings which didn’t look especially newsworthy, and anyway, everyone is already wearing them) and ‘waisted’ (as in wide belts cinching the waists of everything – including draped matte jersey gowns.

The collection, which could have been called, “Michael’s Greatest Hits” was predicated on a neutral, (ballet inspired) color palette (white, black, nude, pink, beige; body conscious jersey pieces, and knitwear, both of which were often layered. The slouchy off the shoulder tops had me thinking about “Flashdance” and I found myself humming “What a Feeling” under my breath. But luckily, Michael didn’t rely on that overdone tune.

In general, what looked better to me than the outfits predicated on black spandex leggings and high heeled lace up shoes were the chicer, slouchier, sportswear inspired pieces (a suntan linen tank layered beneath a white linen pullover worn with black slouchy pants and a long cashmere scarf was elegant and effortless; the truffle nylon anorak worn belted over a cashmere sweater dress with another sweater thrown over the shoulders hit the right sporty streetwise note).

In the meanwhile, what would a MK show be without a trench or two? In this case there was a rather straightforward putty serge wool trench and one more inventive nude cotton eyelet with crinoline underneath for added fullness. Evening ran the gamut from a diamond jeweled cowl back mini to a group of simply beautiful draped jersey gowns with beautiful backs that fell gracefully away from the body.

Sometimes a girl just wants a great looking, simple, yet distinctive and beautifully constructed blazer or coat, crisp white shirt, and well cut jeans…you can’t do better than Richard Chai, whose architectural seams, precision cuts, and hand pick stitched detail seemingly (or should I say, ‘seamingly’) transform the basics. His sand cotton/linen petal jacket worn with a white cotton poplin shirt and perfectly cut pale blue denim jeans could easily be one’s spring ‘uniform’ (a new, modern suit), as well as a long black cardigan with arc seaming, which was also paired with a white cotton shirt with ruched bodice, and wider legged pale blue jeans.

Richard’s white shirts (some of which flare, have petal collars, or ruched detail) are hardly run of the mill and in one case, he transformed this classic into a shirtdress. A chocolate brown eel skin bomber jacket paired with sand cotton and linen shorts looked cool and hip, and the black white silk linen basket weave side snap car coat would be a wonderful addition to any woman’s closet.

Douglas Hannant is in love with white this spring; almost every piece in the collection shown at Gotham Hall (where there were many empty seats that had to be filled in at the last moment) was white, and very short. In fact, one in particular, which featured a pleated skirt, resembled a tennis dress. Strange considering Douglas’s customers are not necessarily teenagers or even young ladies in their 20’s but rather…a more mature woman. Since it’s a sure bet the hemlines will lengthen when they hit the stores, what’s the point of showing them so brief? In addition, it gave the expensive clothes, a rather a junior look.
That said, the soft and cloudlike evening dresses at the end especially the opal grey pleated gown and white accordion pleated chiffon halter, were beautiful.

One of the very best things I can say about the Carmen Marc Valvo show is that the designer known for special occasion wear, cocktail dresses and evening gowns, left one front row seat empty “to put the focus on who is NOT in the front row — instead of who is.” Both he and Soledad O’Brien (the CNN anchor) are working to raise awareness for the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.

Yeohlee Teng was inspired by her visit to the Schindler House in Los Angeles and the upcoming exhibition, “Skin & Bones: Parallel Practices in Fashion and Architecture” at the MOCA in Los Angeles, which promises to be the definitive exhibit showcasing the correlation between fashion and architecture, mixing the fashion avante garde with the architectural avante garde. Along with others who exemplify this oeuvre (Viktor & Rolf, Hussein Chalayan, and Alexander McQueen), Yeohlee will be represented by her white cotton hoist dress from spring 2006.

For spring 2007, almost all the spare, pure, and simplistic designs, (many of which rely more on innovative cut and structure of fabric, than construction and sewing) were done in different shades of white – which was Teflon coated to insure practicality. Including the finale, a white Teflon coated Egyptian cotton harness dress, which could be considered the bridal gown and can be worn in several different ways: as a strapless gown, or by just lifting up the sides, one can fashion a ‘wrap’. How’s that for smart design? Yeohlee designs pockets to not only look good, but to function properly and what that in mind, their size and placement is of utmost importance, In addition to white, there was black (again, different shades) and in some cases, black was used as piping on white dresses.

Cotton, linen and silk were the fabrics of choice and the emphasis was on dresses (mainly short dresses), hi waisted skirts, shorts, lean pants, and distinctive coats (such as the white wide wale cotton funnel neck coat or the white cotton denim belted trench shown with shorts and a jersey catenary tank. There was a general feeling of lightness and ease throughout – everything skimmed the body gracefully and effortlessly; volume was achieved through cape like pieces that wrapped the body.

I was seated beside Joan Kaner and thank goodness because she helped clear something up. We were talking about the ‘new’ cropped pant with fullness around the hips, tapering to the cuff, which was seen at Marc Jacobs and then at Derek Lam. I couldn’t remember what the pant is called (one problem with being around the fashion business for a long time is that you’ve seen it all – but the problem is that you can’t necessarily remember it all) Joan recalled having a pair of Calvin Klein’s from the 70’s and they were referred to as zoave pants. Whew! Thank goodness I got that straight.

Seeing Milly by Michele Smith is like taking a quick trip to Southampton or Palm Beach…preppy, upbeat, happy, fun, and feminine, the pieces are generally vintage inspired, more often than not, feature exuberant graphic patterns (a la Pucci), bright colors, and of course, white. This season is no exception. Swimsuits, bikinis, cover-ups, separates, and dresses (on their own or shown with a jacket or under a coat) form the basis of the spring line…though they were very short on the models, I’m sure they will be lengthened a bit when they reach the stores for spring. But even if they aren’t, one can always wear them as a tunic over shorts, leggings, skinny (or wide) pants. Many of the outfits were shown with coordinating printed oversized totes.

Included with the show program was a colorful montage using photos, illustrations, book jacket covers, and retro ads from simpler times, showing carefree, smiling, beautiful women in their bikinis (Gidget, Doris Day in polka dots, Annette Funnicello hugging Frankie Avalon). On the bottom it said “Enjoy the pictures”. Why not?

– Marilyn Kirschner

Notes from Adrienne Weinfeld-Berg…

It was the usual mob scene at Cipriani, as the fashion crowd showed up for the Diesel show. Once inside, everyone sat on white bleachers, where sounds of sea breezes and the ocean wafted through the air, perfectly befitting the “Beyond the Blue Horizon” theme.

On the runway, Diesel presented its “Creative Denim” story, by way of lots of jeanswear, bomber jackets, dresses and tops in a plethora of white, gold, embroidery, beading, and red, white, and blue. Nifty accessories, such as oversized handbags and poufy gold foil caps gave an extra kick to the clothes. Patty Wilson’s styling was so evident here.

Seated front row – Suzy Menkes, Corrine Roitfeld, Hal Rubinstein, Kim Hastreiter, Ingrid Sischy, Avril Levigne, Heather Graham, et al.

Special thanks to Trina Morris for getting us a hard to come by invite.



Ernest Schmatolla is publisher of Lookonline since 1994. It is the longest running fashion site on the Internet.

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