Olympus Fashion Week – Day Eight:

Talk about saving the best for last…what a fabulous way to wind up Fashion Week!

The spirit of Geoffrey Beene is alive and well and living on West 57th Street. This morning marked the first formal presentation of Swedish born Einar Holiloekk, who has taken over as head designer for Geoffrey Beene. Held at the company’s chic atelier, the clothes were shown on dress forms (as it had been for the last several years) and it did feel very ‘Beene’- there was absolutely no mistaking which design house you were visiting. No surprise there. The talented Mr. Holiloekk has worked diligently as an assistant at Beene on and off since the 80’s, assuming more and more design responsibility in the past few years. Long before his death, Mr. Beene, his mentor, hand picked him to continue on with the legendary label.

While the two may have had completely different personalities, in terms of design, they were apparently very much of the same mind – cut from the same cloth you might say. And when I had a chance to interview Einar for fashionlines.com several months ago click here to read article, he stated in no uncertain terms that he was not planning to change anything (certainly not radically and certainly not anytime in the near future). He made no bones about his desire to keep things at the status quo. So, how did that translate today? Well, it was not surprising to see zippers as a major statement- decorating jackets and evening gowns (such as the fabulously molded abbreviated black leather jacket made out of the softest, thinnest, most supple skin one could imagine, and the side zippered red wool jersey draped narrow gown with an arresting back, which began literally as a zipper on a dress form and went on from there).

It was also not surprising to find tiny bolero jackets paired with jumpsuits or as part of a skirt suit; the abundant use of menswear fabrics translated into feminine soft shapes (like the gray wool belted dress with gracefully flaring skirt), or the black and white tiny checked gazar wrap jacket belted with an architecturally shaped red patent belt. Outerwear shined as well (my favorite was the chicer than chic water-repellent white silk faille trenchcoat). And of course, there were those bra topped dresses and alluring long graceful gowns (the standout was an empire waist black sequined bra top gown with an ivory satin long skirt cut on the bias -see top photo). The best part is that Einar is not only talented, but also modest, accommodating, and un-pretentious, and would clearly rather stay OUT of the limelight and do what he is happiest doing – design beautiful clothing. A perfect legacy.

In between were standout, strong signature collections of Ralph Lauren (chic, urbane, pared down to black, white, brown, and gray, with nary a Cossack hat and hardly a voluminous skirt in sight) and Donna Karan, who wisely kept her overly artsy side to a minimum and concentrated on wearable, feminine, fitted, sleek, clothes reminiscent of the collection that started it all for her.

However, THE fashion moment of the day and perhaps the week was, well no not Jennifer Lopez, sorry, but Ralph Rucci, who delivered one of the most incredible collections of his career and received a standing ovation before a crowd that included Barbara Walters, Diana Taylor (Mayor Bloomberg’s gal pal), Deeda Blair, Tatiana Soroko, and Casey Ribicoff. While his design philosophy has never changed since the beginning, and he has always shown similar pieces of incredible workmanship, it was somehow more appreciated this evening. Perhaps, after sitting through a week of somewhat uneven shows filled with too much hype and drama, the audience was truly honored to witness the real deal – a perfectly executed, conceived, fabricated day and eveningwear collection for both day and evening.

There was an added treat. Ralph not only showed his fall 2005 ready to wear collection last evening, but his spring haute couture as well, which had been scheduled to be shown in Paris this past January. Just an added observation: because the room temperature in the venue was kept very low (it was almost as cold inside as it was outside), it enabled his fans, guests, and customers to keep their amazing furs (designed by Ralph of course) on throughout the show. One woman was wearing a jaw dropping floor length fur cape (can’t tell you exactly what type of fur but it could have been sable for all I know), some wore his signature sable lined silk de longres coats, and one woman was proudly donning a sable scarf (with a sleeveless top) that appeared to be bigger than she was.

They say you start to lose brain cells with every year- so I guess that explains why I left the Number One Thing I’m completely bored with at this moment off my report yesterday: faux Chanel jackets with tattered trimming, particularly irksome when paired with faded jeans. How formulaic and robotic that is by now! I also thought I would mention a few side benefits of wearing oversized clothes that you may have overlooked: You won’t have to suffer cat whistles as you saunter down the street in front of construction workers AND you will be offered a seat on the bus or subway since you may be mistaken for a ‘woman with child’ (trust me, it’s happened to me in one enormous coat I own that could easily accommodate a family of 4).

I love seeing clothes, and I love all the visual stimuli, but I can’t say I’m sorry to bid adieu to Fashion Week. Though it gets tiring after awhile, the little fashion universe that we all become part of for 8 days starts to become so normal an existence, not to mention all the daily COMPLIMENTARY espresso, coffee, herbal tea, hot chocolate, truffles, cupcakes, magazines, newspapers, candy, make-up, bottled water, and internet access, that having to ACTUALLY dig into my wallet for any of the above items will take a bit of time to get use to.

– by 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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