I should make two concessions about Fashion Week straight off. First, no matter who you are, there are always a few shows that are tough to get into, so I don’t want any of you thinking, “That Laurel Pinson, she’s really got an in with Phillip Lim.” A crush, alas, does not a fashion week invite make. This year, for example, Alexander Wang was an incredibly hot ticket, but, it would seem, everyone and their dog got an invite to Reem Acra.
Second, I don’t know if it was the result of the rash of monster and action movies lately (beasts destroying Manhattan, the epic return of Rambo, Will Smith in a post-apocalyptic city), but there was a part of me — while watching hordes of well-heeled editors climbing the steps to the tents — that half expected to hear a massive explosion, then see a 60-foot dinosaur tearing open the tents and forcing dozens upon dozens of over-styled women to pour out onto Sixth Avenue in six-inch platforms and short-short skirts, throwing their 80-lb Miu Miu handbags to the floor. But, these are the moments when my imagination gets the better of me, and I realize that in many ways, Fashion Week is as much of a fantasy-monster-movie as it is an industry.
Overheard in the Standing-Room Section
Though the fashion week that takes place in February is inevitably less intoxicating than the one in September (the former showcasing tweed and boots at a time when New Yorkers have been dutifully wearing the very same since November, and the latter boasting gorgeously hued flouncy dresses, of which no one can ever get enough), there was a good deal of buzz around the tents this year. I mean, the Super Bowl, of all things, actually drew people away from the shows on Sunday. And then there was a parade for the New York team on Tuesday. (I’ll admit, the culture clash of rowdy Giants fans and European fashion editors on 42nd Street was not to be missed.) Then, Nicholas Sarkozy and Carla Bruni got married… and the editor-in-chief of French Vogue, Carine Roitfeld, wasn’t invited! Quel horreur!
This week also marked the much-talked-about return of Halston (for more on that, see Zachary Palmer’s coatcheck confessional on page 67), which makes intuitive sense considering the return of a lot of other 70s trends, like high-waisted denim and draping blouses. While Marco Zanini’s efforts for the label definitely stuck with Halston’s roots in simplicity and a certain effortless chic (Liza Minelli, sitting in the front row, was certainly impressed), it also felt like… “eh.” Personally, I loved his scoop-neck jersey jumpsuit with wide legs, but I’m also crazy sometimes.
My favorite sidelines gossip wasn’t actually about fashion, but rather about one particular model. Karlie Kloss (the Teen Vogue “it” girl) has the most unbelievably bizarre catwalk ever. The second she stepped out on the runway, I literally gasped. She slinks like something straight out of a zombie horror movie. Everyone in the industry will be doing impressions for at least three weeks.
Ultimately, fall collections tend to play to similar themes — the brilliantly tailored wool or tweed separates, the perfect black dress, an oversize cashmere sweater — so the real trick is figuring out what’s filling in the gaps. While there wasn’t any oh-my-god-I-can’t-believe-he-did-that moment, I was particularly struck by how “luxe” everything looked. Oscar de la Renta’s show, in particular, felt like fur layered on top of ostrich layered on top of sequins and covered in gold. I mean, are we not falling into a recession? Who’s going to pay for all these baubles? There were also a lot of jewel-tone silks — blouses at Proenza Schouler and Karen Walker, swinging pants at Diane von Furstenberg — as well as oversize bows and tons of glittering metallic and sequins. I also loved the trend I saw at Carlos Miele and Marc by Marc Jacobs collections of belting a blazer — it seems so simple, and it creates this immediately chic, cinched effect.
A lot of the editors’ darlings were the ones you’d expect — everyone was ooh-ing and aah-ing over Proenza Schouler’s impeccably tailored, swingy pieces (I’m obsessed with some of their pseudo-deconstructed, rounded jackets); who wouldn’t love Phillip Lim’s gold brocade coat and midnight blue dresses; and Marc Jacobs could do no wrong with his Punky-Brewster-meets-80s-grunge-prep-school-with-cleaner-lines collection for Marc, complete with berets, genie-cut pants and chunky, buckled boots. I was even impressed by commercial goliath Diane von Furstenberg’s collection, which felt straight out of some glamorous 1930s movie, including a gold foil-esque shimmering gown that was perhaps doing Halston even better than Halston.
The bright young things of the collections weren’t entirely unexpected, but it’s worth noting their shows were actually as tough to get into as some of the fashion giants. Take Alexander Wang, for example — he hasn’t even been showing for more than a year, and his grunge-influenced collection of knit caps, ripped tights and trim dresses (along with some amazing tailored silk pieces) was bumping. Preen also had a collection that might have been all over the place (starting with oversize plaid shirtdresses and ending with spiderweb-thin silk undershirts and one fantastically constructed blue silk dress), but it was captivating. And finally, Chris Benz put together a brilliant presentation (like Vena Cava before him, he chose to let his models pseudo-organically “hang out” instead of walk a runway, as though there’s an oh-so-fabulous party where everyone’s wearing his clothes), full of serious feats of color. Trust me, it takes a lot to make orange pants look chic. And if I can pull that off come September ‘08, I can do anything.