Any Given Sunday

Derek Lam Spring 2012 Collection
(Click on images for larger size)

Make no mistake about it: Sunday, September 11th was no ordinary day. Not that I expected it to be. Especially, because of my close proximity to Ground Zero, I had a rather unusual perspective than many others who live in New York. When I went out for my early morning run, I found all the streets near me had been barricaded and the police were literally all around. My usual jog on the esplanade was thwarted as there was limited access in that direction. There was no traffic on West Street, only news trucks and police cars. It was rather surreal. I was told I would need my ID just to get back into my building. And not only was I able to follow the ceremony on television, I actually heard it simultaneously on the loudspeaker right outside my windows, a few blocks away. Hearing victims’ families reciting their names, reading poems, or saying something heartfelt and personal, was incredibly moving.

Without being trite, it really does put things into proper perspective. I began to think about all the silliness and unnecessary pettiness as we head into the middle of fashion week ( like being blocked from some shows when all you are trying to do is your best job, the ridiculous attitudes, or the out of control egos). We are all in this together. Really, can’t we all get along? Can’t we treat one another with respect and humanity?

Because of the constant and unnerving reports of an unconfirmed Al Quaida car bombing planned for the 10th anniversary of 9/11, I couldn’t help but ask myself, as I started getting dressed for the day, ‘what should I wear if, it is indeed, my last day?’ (obviously, something I love, that makes me happy was the answer). That’s what’s so great about fashion. It’s not rocket science or brain surgery; we are not saving lives – not that the fashion industry does not give back and contribute to society.

Fashion should be life affirming, joyful, and bring one great pleasure and comfort. Yes, it is big business. Often times, clothes are called into play for serious and somber occasions; but it should also be fun. When a well known industry insider mentioned that he had mixed feelings about having fashion shows on 9/11 (especially this anniversary), I understood what he meant. But, I do believe, it was the right thing to go on with the shows and not stop our normal schedules. We can’t let “them” win after all.

Coincidentally, it seems as though the overall mood on the runways thus far has been unapologetically lighthearted and upbeat. Even edgy, hip, downtown houses like Daryl K, who showed yesterday, have been proposing graphic prints and patterns in jarringly strong colors, or lightening up with white, in addition to black of course.

Diane von Furstenberg Spring 2012 Collection

And as it happens, ‘lighthearted’ (colors, prints, patterns, fabrics, shapes) was the operative word at Diane von Furstenberg’s jam packed late afternoon show at The Theatre at Lincoln Center. The show even boasted a very tanned Valentino in the front row (DVF was seated at her good friend’s table at last week’s Couture Council luncheon in his honor and she was on the luncheon committee). FYI, it was hard not to notice the couturier’s influence in some of the chic togas, couture like dresses with a 60’s spin, and the use of a strong red.

Diane von Furstenberg Spring 2012 Collection

The European born Diane, the daughter of a Holocaust survivor, knows a thing or two about appreciating life and enjoying it to the fullest. She successfully translated those ideas onto her upbeat designs. As a seeming tribute to the day, she called her eclectic collection “Beginnings” and in her program notes, she spoke of renewal and resilience. The highlights were the eye popping prints and pattern mixes customized by her in house team of textile designers. Some had a Japanese feeling and others, bold and almost mod, a la Marimekko. While it was extremely feminine, there was more tailleur than in the past, (and it looked darn good), and her bags, chic clutches, were noteworthy.

When DVF and her creative director Yvan Mispelaere took their walk down the runway it was to the upbeat tune of Nina Simone’s “Feeling Good,” and she handed out miniature American flags to some of those in the front row.

Derek Lam Spring 2012 Collection

What, may I ask, could be more lighthearted, easy and uplifting, than the notion of ‘California Dreaming’? And that is precisely what California native Derek Lam, known for his unfussy approach to elegant, luxurious American sportswear, had on his mind earlier in the day when he showed at The Stage. According to his program notes, he was inspired by a fantasy he had about hanging out in the Richard Neutra designed Kaufmann House in Palm Springs. As he put it, “My mind is wandering to a place of salubrious comfort . . . Frank Sinatra and the “Rat Pack” crooning by the piano and Angie Dickinson lounging by a crystal blue pool.”

Derek Lam Spring 2012 Collection

Remenber when I talked about the notion of ‘Just Great’? Well, thats what I would call many of the chic, desirable items: stellar trenches, expertly tailored blazers, superb open weave sweaters, well cut trousers, flattering a line skirts, great dresses, and knock out leathers that came down the runway. Many of Derek’s best pieces throughout the years could easily fall into that category.


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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