Ralph’s Got the ‘Blues’

Ralph Lauren showed his spring 2010 collection at two back-to-back showings downtown on Hudson Street. His program notes made mention of these trying and difficult times and the “resilient spirit of America”. He was inspired by the “character of the worker, the farmer, the cowboy, the pioneer women of the prairie living authentically through challenging times”, and the ‘honesty of their work wear and its reinterpretation”. This theme played out for both day and evening (a metallic ice blue lame voile overall gown, anyone?). Save for the vintage prairie flowers, a grouping in white, and a pink gown at the end of the show, which was shown beneath a blue pinstriped jacket, almost the entire line was a study in shades of blue. It was signature ‘Ralph’ and both the designer and his wife Ricky, were wearing their faded denims in a display of harmony.

The show opened with western inspired work wear and denim in a range of washes, silhouettes, and proportions: fitted jackets and boxy jackets, roll cuffed relaxed jeans, and overalls. (But ‘honesty’ and ‘authenticity’ has its limits; Ralph did not show these pieces with dirty and soiled workmen’s boots but metallic high heeled sandals). This was followed by what Ralph does better than anyone else: different takes on the haberdashery lightweight wool navy pinstripe 3 piece suits (fitted jackets, vests, shirts, pants, broadcloth shirts, ties – the whole nine yards). Then came the whites followed by a grouping in faded blue ombre charmeuse (workshirts, carpenter pants), and then the embroidered and beaded evening pieces.

For Ralph, it’s always about unexpected combinations and mixes, and so, while the vintage chambray single georgette beaded gown was pretty, it was the more unusual pairings that stood out (the indigo cotton striped jacket worn over a faded blue ombre organdy work shirt and faded blue stretch denim pants; the vintage chambray georgette beaded top and faded blue ombre charmeuse jodhpur, or the aforementioned indigo cotton striped peak lapel two button jacket thrown over a faded pink ombre gauze embroidered gown). FYI, since there is almost no living designer more synonymous with ‘American Style’ than Ralph Lauren, you can be sure many of the attendees at this year’s “Party of the Year” (in honor of the exhibit, “American Woman: Fashioning a National Identity”, will be wearing something by the designer.

You can always expect the unexpected, and theatrical from Isaac Mizrahi, though you never know what that will be. How funny fashion is, now that so many designers have seemingly ‘caught up’ with Isaac in terms of using bright colors, stripes, madcap pattern mixes, and injecting a feeling of lighthearted whimsy into their collections (remember his fall 2009 collection?), Isaac has moved on to something else.

And that something ‘else’ (though of course there is still Isaac’s sense of playfulness and whimsy) was decidedly chic, tailored, classic, and spectator-y (I loved the black and white spectator flats and low heeled shoes that were shown at the beginning). And the ‘something else’ also had more than a feeling of vintage YSL in the shapes (the tailleur, the pleated trouser pants, the tuxedos, the use of black and white, the dresses and gowns decorated with large flowers, the use of transparency in the form of sheer black ‘cages’ over dresses).

And then of course, there were the chic straw hats. Whereas last season, Isaac used pocketbooks turned upside down as hats, the only place bags were used (and they were classic and elegant as well), were on the arms of the models. Soon into the show, it began to ‘rain’ from the ceiling, and on cue, a guy dressed in a black jumpsuit ran out with an umbrella, to shield the models from the downpour. At the end, a golf cart appeared. I’m still not sure what the symbolism was; after all, Isaac was not hawking umbrellas and there was not one raincoat amongst all the beige (the main color story was the use of tan or beige mixed with strong pastels). Could it be that Isaac is spending a lot of his free time on rainy golf courses?

‘Needle’ in a Haystack

If nothing else, Francisco Costa for Calvin Klein had to put on one of the most quickly paced shows this season. There were only 35 pieces, but 35 pieces can last an eternity (lumbering music, slowly paced models -you know the drill). But Francisco had one exacting artistic vision and he delivered it quickly and to the point (the models walked by so quickly it was hard to take notes). It shouldn’t be a surprise that since fall was almost entirely all about black, there was hardly any black at all (when it was used, it was used as an abstract ‘print’). A grouping in white opened the show and there was also porcelain, bisque, shades of gray, and hits of color in the form of pale jade, shell pink, coral, and yellow.

Francisco has become known for his use of innovative fabrics and this time he introduced what the program notes described as ‘needle punched’ cotton voile or silk chiffon which was used along with double faced cotton poplin, nylon, rinsed double faced cotton voile, pleated cotton, silk gazar, and silk organdy. The result was somewhat rumpled and highly textural: surface interest without the use of any decoration. And each piece (be it a racer back dress, a coat, a gown) had its own organic shape. Speaking of organic, that would be the best way to describe the collection as well as the ‘prints’, which were very free form and abstract, (some looked marbleized in shades of gray, black, and porcelain, while others seemed to mimic the sky right before a storm).

Everything looked light and airy; nothing clung to the body, yet volume was controlled. While there were some pants shown with jackets, long skirts, (often paired with elongated racer back tank tunics), and a smattering of gowns, it was a ‘short’ story, and a dress story at that. Almost everything was short (but wisely, not too short), and when coats were shown, they were the same length as the dresses beneath. The overall effect was modern, if not somewhat Zen like, and a Japanese influence was hard to ignore. This was even apparent in the footwear (mainly lacquered calf t strap sandals on a very low platform). Hurray!Once again, another designer has endorsed a lower heel for spring. While it was certainly innovative, well conceived,and beautifully done, the clothes are not necessarily the easiest to pull off for most women and admittedly, this is not a collection for everyone (and that’s apparently fine with the designer).

-Marilyn Kirschner

“The Daily Bet” by Rhonda Erb


Fashion Week is over and that means it’s time for the press to pack up and travel to the next locale. It’s hard to look fashionable when you look like you’ve been living out of a suitcase. Rowenta’s First Class Travel Iron fits conveniently into any size bag. Its great for touch-ups so that you can arrive at your next destination looking your best. From now until September 29th, Rowenta is offering free garment care at their 5th Avenue boutique.


Rowenta Fashion Week Boutique
475 Fifth Avenue
New York, New York



Ernest Schmatolla is publisher of Lookonline since 1994. It is the longest running fashion site on the Internet.


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