They’ve Gone to Plaid! 

The Fashion Week That Was

Let me first say how bizarre it feels to spend the afternoon ruminating on fall fashion from a beach chair in Mexico, where I find myself at the time of this writing. Looking back over my notes on tweed swing skirts and the appropriate (collar) and inappropriate (sleeves) places for fur from this vantage only further highlights the comedy of Fashion Week in general: hundreds of news outlets, thousands of writers and editors, all honing their intellectual prowess on one designer’s drop waists or another’s metallics. I mean, really. It’s awesome.

There weren’t too many surprises in the collections this year. Most, in fact, seemed to be elaborating on the themes of Fall 2006: the romanticism-with-a-tough-girl-edge of the 1920s and 1930s, along with the more boyish “first communion dress” or “first prep school date” look, though this year’s were crisper. There were also some hold-overs from the spring collections: the addition of wide-hipped skirts (think Louis XIV), metallics and some futuristic elements (think deconstructed trench coats and skinny leather pants — Laurel’s diet starts … now).

The strongest offerings were from relative newbies — Phillip Lim, Derek Lam, Karen Walker, Rodarte and Thakoon. Lim offered a romantic prep school collection with soft top hats that brought to mind the Hatter in Alice in Wonderland, along with his trademark wispy tunics. Rodarte created a much more architectural collection (read: harder-to-wear Louis XIV skirts), as did Thakoon with round shapes and rich hues — black and midnight blues. I wouldn’t wear everything from Karen Walker’s collection, but I respect that she was trying something different with an Amelia Earhart vibe, all combat boots and exaggerated tailoring at blazers’ shoulders. Many of the collections felt like a throwbacks, but to no particular time.

Oddly, most of the mainstays seemed to be struggling to catch up: Carolina Herrera walked a scraggly fur vest and what looked like plaid pajama pants down the runway; Marc Jacobs presented a collection that looked like the denizens of an Edward Hopper painting striding across the deck of an ocean liner (Dick Tracy cartoons? The glamorous airplane travel looks of the 1930s? Somewhere it all went terribly awry); and Jill Stuart and Thakoon seemed to have been on the same page as far as palette was concerned, but if this had been Project Runway, she would have been going home.

Overall, hang on to those skinny belts and “1920s Parisian chic” dresses you picked up last year, but reconsider the extreme layering in favor of a more deconstructed grunge with — for whatever reason — long black leather gloves. Oh, and plaid. God help us, the plaid.

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