New York Fashion Week Notes – Day 7

You Don’t Look a Year Over 29!

Michael Kors Fall 2011 Collection
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I almost cannot remember back 30 years, when, as young fashion editor at Harper’s Bazaar, I first walked into Michael Kors’s garment center showroom. And while I certainly do recall that ill fated event years later, when, during the course of a formal runway show in a raw loft space, part of a ceiling fell on Suzy Menkes’ head, serving as a catalyst for what how has become a far more organized, centralized, and safe New York Fashion Week . Although, quite frankly, that one is hard to forget and I’m still convinced years later, that Ms. Menkes was spared serious injury thanks to her signature pompadour, acting as a buffer.

What I can recall, is how I felt when I first laid eyes on Michael Kors’s fabulously chic American sportswear classics; the way each piece was such a perfection of what it was meant to be, and how it symbolized the best in American sportswear. And now, 30 years later, that has not changed. Michael is arguably one of the most consistent designers in the world and that was the clear message on the runway at Lincoln Center yesterday, where the milestone celebration/fashion show, ‘30 years of American Luxury’, was staged before a huge and appreciate crowd. Unsurprisigingly, it was pure Michael throughout the 64 pieces shown for men and women and played out in a signature, beloved color palette — crisp black and white; crimson, platinum, smoke, and a range of make up in perfect flesh tones: blush, nude, and suntan (I was looking over at Aerin Lauder thinking she must be glad to see them as they would be perfect for her Estee Lauder ads).

The way in which day and evening were completely mixed together was very effective, with everything coming out at breakneck speed: cashgora bathrobe coats, felted flannel great coats, stretch cashmere jumpsuits, cashmere sweater dresses, sparkling crystal jersey dresses and jumpsuits, felted flannel reefers, felted flannel blazers, white silk charmeuse bodyshirts, knitted fox capes and coats, fox chubbies, double face tunics over trousers, jersey blouson dresses and halters, melton capes, etc. The strong message that resonated is that it all works, there’s a time and place for everything, and what looks good, always looks good. Yes, sharp tailoring is back, but so is languid jersey (did they ever go away?); the haberdashery menswear inspired great coat worn with a trouser pant has never looked better, nor has the crisp white shirt, or the dramatic cape and toga. Camel never loses its appeal nor does classic luxury (if you wanted to trade in your well worn camel hair coat for something a bit more luxe this season, how about that suntan colored belted alligator jacket?)

The accessories were minimal, in keeping with the pared down aesthetic of the clothes. While I’m a gold girl myself, I have to admit that silver does look clean and ultra modern and Michael was wise to go that route. It was very effective the way Michael used wide silver chokers and ultra wide silver cuffs, with the most menswear inspired outfits, quickly imparting a glamorous, ultra feminine feeling. Even the soles and chunky high heels on his sandals shoes and boots benefited from the use of gleaming silver. When Michael came out on the runway, Odyssey’s iconic anthem, “I’m a native New Yorker” played in the background. It was then that I understood why Anna Della Russo, seated in the front row, was wearing a gilt headpiece with what looked like two enormous apples (Get it? The Big Apple and New York?) I thought it was her way to celebrating being here. But when I saw her later, I realized it was two enormous cherries. Go figure.

By the way, in addition to the run of show, every seat had a handsome black leather case holding a pair of Michael Kors’s signature aviator sunglasses. How perfect since it was a sunny bright winter day.

Oscar’s Ottoman Empire

Oscar de la Renta Fall 2011 Collection
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I don’t think there could be anything less minimal, than the collection shown by Oscar de la Renta yesterday afternoon at 583 Park Avenue. Ornate, colorful, exotic, and luxurious, with mind boggling fabric techniques, textures, and combinations, it was hard to tell which part was daytime because it was all so over the top. Prints and patterns were often mixed together; there was an abundance of furs and the use of exotic pelts, often mixed together, fur trimmed hoods, and lavish fur trims, There was ivory chenille and gold metallic threadwork, crewel threadwork, silver metallic leather and silver metallic foil, metallic Ottoman jacquards, beaded tassels, bugle beads, and it appeared that everything in the 60 piece collection, was embroidered. There was Moroccan Beni embroidery, patchwork embroidery, gold bouillon Bukhara embroidery, floral paillette embroidery, multi color and grid sequin embroidery, and embroidered multi color abstract paisley print velvets. Often times, all the above were used in one outfit (I’m just kidding of course, but I’m not too far off the truth).

Instead of Cristobal Balenciaga and his beloved Spain, it seems as though Oscar had more exotic locales in mind when he conceived the collection, (hardly new territory for the designer who is known for his love of exotica), and it showed up from beginning to end. For example, a black and white patterned jacket with tweed trim, was made of sequin embroidered silk organza, and shown with a dress the top of which was crystal embroidered wool crepe with a feather and Mongolian lamb skirt; another heavily embroidered jacket was worn with an abbreviated red fox skirt; an ivory and black sequined grid embroidered charcoal mélange jersey jacket with tweed trim, was paired with an ivory gazar dress with ivory and black sequin grid embroidered charcoal mélange jersey skirt. A chic, rather simplified yet graphic sleeveless shift was hand painted and sequin grid embroidered. And speaking of simple yet not, in a sea of colorful long gowns, there were two that really stood out: a multi colored madras print silk chiffon gown, and a very narrow strapless gown comprised of multi color sequin embroidered patchwork and paisley print.

But hands down, the real standouts, were the eye-catching coats, which appeared throughout in dizzying combinations, many of which were patterned, fur trimmed, and embroidered, and accessorized with ottoman jacquard fox brimmed Louz hats, massive coin or crystal necklaces, and black leather boots with metal heels. In one case, a frothy silver lame mousseline and pearl embroidered silk chiffon gown with tulle skirt, was shown beneath a black crewel threadwork Moroccan Beni embroidered ivory shearling coat.

Forget about the grunge look, or the looking ‘poor’ on purpose look. This collection was all about being rich and looking rich. Oscar doesn’t show on Park Avenue for nothing.

A Match Made in Heaven

On Wednesday morning, I attended an informal showing of design collaboration between Derek Lam + Ebay held at Alice Tully Hall. Whoever thought of it had a brilliant idea. Out of the 16 dresses which were shown on live models (iconic dress styles ranging from a black cotton shift dress to an elongated crisp white cotton poplin shirtdress) 5 of them (voted on by whomever wants to do so: ) will be available to purchase on Ebay on March 1, when the choices will be made public. The popular price points, $125 – $295, a fraction of the cost of anything on Derek Lam’s collection, should be a big selling point. By the way, I had a chance to chat with the designer and I asked if he had a favorite but he did not say. I then asked if he could vote and he said, “Yes.” When I told him I “live” on EBay, he said, “So do I”. Hmmmm, I started wondering what fabulous finds have served as inspiration for his most recent collection.

– Marilyn Kirschner

The Daily Bet by Rhonda Erb

Gianni Rich Boots

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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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