Ralph lets it ‘Rip’

What a way to begin Mercedes Benz New York Fashion Week, than to hear the shocking news of the untimely passing of a true creative genius, Alexander McQueen. And how eerie that he committed suicide at the age of 40, just about three years after his best friend, muse, and discoverer, Isabella Blow, took her own life.

It’s WAY too early to talk about trends, but from the look of things yesterday, the first official day of New York Fashion Week, one trend that seems to be unfolding, is that shows will continue to be shorter and more well edited, and they will most probably start on time (meaning…not more than a half hour after they are called for). Of course, as I said, Thursday was just the first day. Another trend that seems to be a no brainer, is the continuation of the military theme (both on and off the runways). When I refer to seeing a fashion ‘army’, I mean that literally. Olive (not so) drab, is unsurprisingly the color of the season, and military jackets and army fatigue parkas were spotted on many a show goer (both the gals and the guys).

Speaking of ‘marching’ orders, I adore and respect Ralph Rucci but I have to say I was surprised if not a bit irked when I noticed the dictum on his invitation, “Evening Dress Requested”. I also wondered if those attending would take it seriously. (Did that really mean I’d really have to forego the ‘cool’ neon orange rubber wedge wellies I was wearing, which had been necessitated by the snowfall on Wednesday?) First of all, most fashion people don’t want to be told how to dress or what to wear. And it’s not a modern concept. These days, there’s ‘day for night’ and ‘night for day’ and a blurring of the lines between the two (even at Chado Ralph Rucci). I would assume that many of those invited to Ralph’s chic Soho atelier had been running to shows all day, or were coming from business, and would not have time to go home and change to evening wear just for the show.

Ralph had traditionally closed New York Fashion Week with the last show on Friday evening but this season, he showed on the first night (either way, a fitting beginning or end). But regardless of when he shows, (or what he requests), the one thing that is undeniable, is his amazing talent, imagination, and creativity. And the excruciating precision and execution that goes into each and every piece. The smaller and lighter showroom (certainly much more intimate than the Bryant Park Tents), with its white walls, mirrors, and dramatic wall mural, proved to be a perfect venue in that it provided those in attendance with an up close and personal look at the astounding workmanship and craftsmanship inherent in the museum quality pieces (the Met’s Harold Koda and FIT’s Valerie Steele and Patricia Mears, both clad in Chado Ralph Rucci, were seated in the front row).

The run of show stated that ‘levels of seduction’ (blatant and subliminal) would be an underlying theme and indeed, it was (this has been somewhat of a Ralph Rucci signature). I’ll even go as far as to say that some of what was shown (including the shoes that tied up the legs), had a somewhat bondage, fetishest feeling (Naughty Ralph!), but of course, done in the most elegant, ‘haute’ way possible. The dark color palette, with an emphasis on navy and especially black, provided the perfect mood and backdrop and was highly effective. Almost nobody can do as much magic with black as Ralph Rucci, thanks to employment of texture (an almost 3D quality), fabric mixes, and the use of transparency. In fact, some of the most incredible pieces on the line were noir, among them: the ripped black wool crepe on silk tulle dress and coat, a black silk tulle and ripped cashmere suit (the idea of tearing or ‘ripping’ fabric and hand sewing it onto silk tulle, was a theme), the dramatic black jersey and taffeta gown with fur trimmed hood, the black knitted mink and fox coat, the black leather zipper jacket and skirt, the black spiral sable and horsehair coat, and the black wool crepe and tulle slip dress with a black braided wool crepe jacket which was one crowd pleaser in particular. I must also make mention of the brilliant black broadtail pieces (who else but RR can make broadtail look as lightweight as silk?). Oh, and in case you’re wondering, I was glad I didn’t change from my orange wellies: a quick look around the room confirmed that not too many of the guests (as well heeled and well dressed as they were) took the ‘evening dress’ request too seriously

BCBG and Max Azria’s inspiration for fall 2010 is the “urban tribe”. His show notes spoke of a “clean and modern approach to fashion”, finding that perfect combination of form and function. How that played out was in a mainly neutral palette (various shades of gray and black), enlivened with shots of vibrant color (mainly blue and yellow), transparent pleating, painterly geometric patterns, color blocking, and galactic prints. As usual, there was the employment of layering, asymmetrical cuts, and draping. Belts defined waists and legs were clad in cream tights (perhaps not the most flattering unless you have perfect legs). While there was an emphasis on the dress (a Max Azria signature), there were more separates his season.

Richard Chai said he was going after a “sophisticated non chalance” (love that idea) for the collection he now calls ‘Love’. I guess he must be in love with the cool girls, because that is the group his clothes seem destined to show up on. Of course, just wearing his pieces could make almost anyone look ‘cool’. Mr. Chai’s collections always exude a streetwise sensibility and are always about the play of soft and hard, masculine and feminine, day and night, other seemingly contradictory, unorthodox pairings, and playing with proportion. This time around, in addition to a wide selection of pants (everything from ribbed leggings to slouchy boyfriend trousers in a variety of lengths), he is also in ‘love’ with a tubular, long lean ribbed skirt and dress. The soft, neutral and sophisticated color palette was easy on the eyes, the knitted pieces were beautifully done, the Saga Furs smoke fox belly vest and coat added texture and ‘luxe’, and once again, it was Richard’s wonderful way with tailoring (perfectly cut and perfectly oversized boyfriend jackets and military inspired, structured coats, some with a military feeling in fabrics like felted wool), that were standouts.

The Duckie Brown label is always synonymous with clean lines, tweaking the classics, and adding fun to traditional wardrobe staples for the guys. This season, the best pieces were the mixed plaids (Stewart Plaids, Watch Plaids, Brush plaids, and Tartans); the well tailored lacquer red wool topcoat, and the lime green mini trench.

-Marilyn Kirschner

Red Hot: The Red Dress Collection 2010

On Thursday, the Heart Truth Red Dress Collection returned to Mercedes Benz Fashion Week, making its eighth appearance at New York’s Bryant Park. The annual runway show combines the talents of some of America’s top designers and celebrities from the world of entertainment to raise awareness among women of the threat of heart disease. This year, the event moved from its usual morning time slot to the evening, which only increased the party like atmosphere that always surrounds this much anticipated show.

As always, the “fish out of water” aspect of the Red Dress Show is what makes it so enjoyable. Each celebrity faces the daunting task of maneuvering down the long red catwalk, which always makes for some unexpected surprises. Reality TV star Bethany Frankel waged a constant struggle with her short Isabella Oliver dress to prevent it from riding up and revealing too much of her pregnant physique. Actress Felicity Huffman received an impromptu kiss from her husband, William H. Macy, as she made her way in a design by Oscar De La Renta. That’s So Raven’s Raven-Symone kicked up her heels and sent her Brian Atwood shoes flying as she completed her walk, and Olympic swimmer Dara Torres barefooted her way down the runway, carrying her uber high heels in her hand as she modeled a short Rachel Roy Dress.

Two of the loudest ovations of the evening went to two of television’s legendary stars. Valerie Harper, appearing on Broadway, proved that she is nothing like her alter ego, Rhoda Morgenstern as she strutted in a Pamella Roland creation. Joan Collins, best known for her role as Dynasty’s Alexis Carrington Colby, made a grandiose walk in her Stephane Rolland gown.

For the second time, some of the dresses worn by celebrities in the Red Dress Collection will be available for the public to bid on at clothesoffourback.org. Accessories and other items from the show can also be purchased through the online auction, which benefits the National Institutes of Health.

-Rhonda Erb

The Daily Bet

MSI’s Wind U135 Netbook

Candy and flowers are nice but your gadget loving Valentine might prefer something a little bit more hi-tech. The MSI Wind U135 10” netbook has an easy to use chiclet keyboard and its 6-cell battery gives 7.5 hours of battery life. It’s the first Wind Netbook to run on Intel’s Pine Trail Platform and it comes in four colors, including ruby red.

www.msimobile.com, $329.99

-Rhonda Erb

Rhonda Erb

Rhonda Erb writes about fashion, travel and lifestyle from a New Yorker’s perspective in Better Bets. A self-confessed Instagram addict, her work has also appeared in such publications as Runway Magazine. Follow her at: Instagram: @betterbets Twitter: @betterbetsny tumblr: betterbetsny.tumblr.com

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