50 Shades of Gray, Day 3

Spring 2013 Herve Leger manilla black bandage color blocked dress
(All photos Vogue.com & Style.com)

Boy, was it ever steamy inside The Theatre at Lincoln Center on Saturday afternoon. Herve Leger by Max Azria had the 3pm slot, and the venue was not only jam packed, it was HOT, HOT, HOT. And I’m not just referring to the sweltering heat which had people helplessly fanning themselves (I seem to remember that at Bryant Park, the venues were so cold inside, attendees had to wear jackets).

It’s hardly surprising that in a season where there have been many references to bondage and S&M (black leather, harnesses, suggestive cut outs, slits, etc), however subtle, watered down, or elegant (I can’t wait to see how Carolina Herrera puts her spin on it-LOL), that it would be there in spades at a house which was has long been synonymous with all the above. We always know what we’re going to see at a Herve Leger show, but each season, Max & Company manage to put a fresh spin on the tried and true formula (bandage dresses, anyone?), adding some surprises along the way.

Herve Leger black & alabaster printed chain interlaced flare dress

This season, the inspiration for the 32 piece collection, was the sultry South, which came by way of handcrafted embroidery, patchwork, and applique (along with the signature couture elements). By far the most unusual, perhaps unexpected reference was the “artful quilt making of the women of Gee’s Bend, Alabama”, which, according to the show notes, symbolizes “feminine strength”. Highlights were the geometric color blocks, the multi-bandage patchworks, the printed chain interlaced pieces, and the use of passementerie. While many of the dresses were form fitting, flared and pleated skirts softened the overall look and broke the monotony.

Herve Leger black bandage dress with passementerie applique

The color palette was predominantly neutral with white, nutmeg, pale grey, steel blue, and of course black. The female form was on display in all its glory and it was exaggerated via harnesses and belts (ankle boots in python and leather were the footwear of choice). When several extremely skimpy, revealing pieces showed up on the runway, I thought they were swimsuits. Well, not exactly. They were referred to as “play-suits” in the run of show. I had to chuckle. I can only imagine what sort of “play” Max has in mind.

Tennis, Anyone?

Spring 2013 Lacoste abbreviated polo dress

Earlier in the day, just when the skies opened up and the rains came down, Lacoste presented their spring 2013 show at the The Theatre. As always in September, it is concurrently timed with the U.S. Open: perfect, given the house’s sports heritage. Actually, I was sort of disappointed that Andy Roddick, who just retired and represents them, was not there. As it turned out, the effects of Hurricane Leslie played havoc with the schedule at this U.S. Open, postponing the women’s finals and one set of men’s semi finals. But there WAS tennis on the runway.

The brand’s Creative Director for the past few seasons, Felipe Oliveira Baptista, is focused on bringing the iconic label into the 21st century, and his goal is to reestablish the legendary sportswear label and keep it relevant, modern, and contemporary. His success is a product of his ability to tap into the archives and come up with something new, while staying true to the brand.

Lacoste color blocked dress
For spring 2013, (which relied on a pleasing color palette of white, pearl grey, pale yellow, light blue, offset by navy, red, electric blue and dark orange), he tweaked proportions (the polo is looser, more amply cut, as is much of the outerwear); employed asymmetrical color blocks (they were inspired by archival pieces from the 80’s and applied to over-sized t’s); offered a new take on the polo dress, and played with the crocodile (a crocodile embossed white nappa leather polo dress, anyone?). He introduced new whimsical, lighthearted prints which took their cue from signature, iconic elements such as the tennis ball, the tennis racket, the tennis court, the crocodile, and the classic polo shirt. And he used techno fabrics, exemplified by a terrific group of plastic raincoats featuring seams that are welded instead of stitched, insuring they are waterproof.
Lacoste tennis ball tennis racket and tennis court themed print

Lacoste willl soon be celebrating their 80th anniversary, and I remember 5 years ago, in celebration of 75, when each guest received a commemorative oversized and graphic white & black canvas tote bag printed with the outline of tennis balls. It was one of the more useful gifts I’ve received at a fashion show- highly distinctive and utterly practical, I use it to this day. How nice if this season, they gave out those fabulous lightweight waterproof plastic raincoats. We sure could have used them.


Spring 2013 Mara Hoffman multi color cording applique caftan.

Mara Hoffman always goes her own way and she always sticks to what she does best. Her 33 piece collection, shown yesterday at The Stage, was testament to that. You can always count on her for designs that are feminine, colorful, a bit exotic and ethnic. Her exceptional color sense is always on display, as exhibited in her color blocks, graphic prints and patterns.

Mara Hoffman Quilt crew neck sweater and cotton quilted print slouch pants

This season was an homage to Hawaii, with the word Aloha printed on a number of pieces. The models had ‘hats’ of pineapple leaves in their hair, and colorful bangles accessorized their arms. There was beading, quilting, applique, and lattice work. There was nary one reference to Bondage or S&M on this runway, as many of the dresses, whether long or short, were cut rather loose, and had a beautiful sense of ease and grace. Even the swimwear featured high cut bikinis.

Fashion with a capital F

I was just about to say that I am now officially ‘over’ peplums, having seen too many poor examples on show attendees thus far. And thankfully, in the past three days, there was not ONE peplum on a runway. But Joseph Altuzarra, (whose masterful collection combined strong tailoring with exotica and embellishments- a perfect mix of utility and luxury) was presented last night, had some of the most most inventive and amazingly cut jackets shown thus far. And his take on a peplum looked fantastic, proving that when something is done right, it always looks right.

– 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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