I'm taking a much-needed break after the madness that is New York Fashion Week—no more email, no more books, no more fashionista's dirty looks!—and will see you in a week or so.
illustration by Lana Frankel
I'm taking a much-needed break after the madness that is New York Fashion Week—no more email, no more books, no more fashionista's dirty looks!—and will see you in a week or so.
illustration by Lana Frankel
If you don't know Band of Skulls yet, you soon will. For while they may not have set the fashion world aflame like Lana Del Rey and Azealia Banks, they r-o-c-k in ways those dizzy dames can only dream of, and are heating up the charts with their sophomore CD, Sweet Sour, and its killer first single, The Devil Takes Care of His Own.
Founded in 2004 by British guitarist/vocalist Russell Marsden, bassist/vocalist Emma Richardson and drummer Matt Hayward, the Southampton-based alternative rock trio has been compared to everyone from Led Zeppelin and The Rolling Stones to Queens of the Stone Age and The White Stripes. But Band of Skulls' sound—which veers from hard, crunchy rock to more delicate, melodic ballads propelled by deadpan his-n'-hers vocals—really don't sound like anything—or anyone—else. (Which is perhaps why Marsden refers to BOS as "the Swiss Army Knife of bands.") They also look pretty damn cool in their black-on-black stage kit and coordinating scarves.
"All of us were experimenting early on in one band or another around the time of high school and college. I think we all enjoyed playing music with other people but it worked really well when it was just us three, it felt quite natural," Richardson told The Fashion Informer about the band's origins, back when they called themselves Fleeing New York (taken from a chapter title in Hunter S. Thompson's book, Songs Of The Doomed, and the fact that all three hoped to visit NYC one day).
"Picking up a guitar and writing songs is an accessible way to start being creative," she adds. "It's a good starting point which then leads on to exploring other things in music." For Richardson, creative exploration also involves art, as she's an accomplished painter. That's her work you see on BOS album covers, and she had her first solo exhibit, entitled Cruisin' for a Bruisin', earlier this month at Londonewcastle Project Space in Shoreditch.
"For the first record we used some of the paintings that I had already completed for my degree show so it was more about how to make a good album cover out of what we had already," said Richardson. "Working alongside the creative team at our label in Canada we came up with the symmetry idea, which has continued with this new artwork. This time I made four paintings specifically with the album in mind. I took five weeks out after we recorded it and worked solidly pretty much every day on them whilst listening to mixes of the album and rehearsing, so there was more influence from the music this time."
Since releasing their first CD, Baby Darling Doll Face Honey, in 2009, their songs have been featured on the soundtracks for Friday Night Lights, Twilight Saga: New Moon and The Hangover Part II, and in Mustang and Hugo Boss ads.
Next month they'll kick off the SXSW Music Festival and plan to spend the spring touring the States, with a stop at Coachella in April. The Fashion Informer's Lauren David Peden caught up Marsden and Richardson between gigs to talk music, touring, bedtime and fashion.
So, Emma and Russell...
What did you have for breakfast this morning?
Emma Richardson: Some fruit and nut mix.
Russell Marsden: The hotel buffet.
What time do you normally go to bed and what time do you usually wake up in the morning?
Emma: I usually go to bed about 3am and wake about 10am.
Russell: The same, we have strict lobby calls.
What's your favorite movie of all time?
Emma: It's a Wonderful Life because the story is timeless and it doesn't have to be Christmas to watch it.
Russell: Close Encounters of the Third Kind. Music and UFOs; what's not to like?
What's the best—and worst—thing about touring?
Emma: The best is seeing so much of the world and getting to play live to people every night. The worst is being away from friends, family and loved ones for so long.
Russell: Best: the shows. Worst: the traveling.
Favorite city you've visted while touring?
Emma: There are so many great cities, but my favorite at the moment is Paris.
Russell: It's always the first time somewhere that is exciting, so the last one was Cape Town.
Tell me about your pet(s).
Emma: No pets. I'm not very good at looking after them.
Russell: She's a dog, and she likes beer and cheese.
How did Light of the Morning wind up in a Mustang ad?
Emma: Someone asked us and we said yes. The Mustang looked good.
What's the one grooming/beauty product you can't live without?
Emma: Moisturizer to moisturize.
Russell: A toothbrush, because they say you should not forget it.
How would you describe your look onstage and off?
Emma: Black. It's easy.
Russell: Black—it's the new black.
What is your favorite work of art?
Emma: Rubens' The Fall of the Damned because of the composition, color and the way he paints the flesh whirlwinds.
Russell: Sgt. Pepper because it's perfect.
Do you have any hidden or unusual talents?
Emma: I can't snap my fingers.
What was your nickname as a kid, and what's your nickname now?
Emma: Emmylou, and now I get called 'The Sieve."
Russell: It's always just been Russell.
If given the chance, what one question would you ask God (assuming s/he exists)?
Emma: What the hell are you doing?
Russell: What's up?
How did you come up with the idea for The Devil Takes Care of His Own video?
Emma: A few ideas got pitched to us from different directors and the idea of kung-fu appealed instantly. It was well thought out, it fit with the track plus we got to watch live fight scenes happening about a foot away.
If you found $15,000 cash in a brown paper bag, how would you spend it?
Emma: I'd save it.
Russell: I'd give it away.
When was the last time you lost your temper, and what was it that made you angry?
Emma: I can't remember.
Russell: Yesterday…bad Wi-Fi when I was trying to call home.
When are you happiest?
Emma: Playing live music.
Russell: Making music.
The Council of Fashion Designers of America Health Initiative kicked off New York Fashion Week with a discussion entitled A Well-Balanced Life, featuring panelists Karolina Kurkova, Monique Pean, Elettra Wiedemann and Arianna Huffington, moderated by CNN's Alina Cho. In the audience: Diane von Furstenberg, Anna Wintour, Steven Kolb, Jenne Lombardo, Tommy Hilfiger, Reed Krakoff, Maria Cornejo, Olivier Theyskens, Prabal Gurung and Tory Burch (among others). I was on hand to report for Rue La La.
It's not all about clothing during New York Fashion Week. There were also several major jewelry trends for fall, as seen at Anndra Neen, Erickson Beamon, Pamela Love, Melissa Joy Manning, Dezso by Sara Beltran, Brandon Sun, Irene Neuwirth, M.Patmos, Juan Carlos Obando, Skaist-Taylor and Ralph Lauren.
The last day of New York Fashion Week kicks off with that most American of designers, Ralph Lauren. The carved wooden picture frame backdrop gives no clue as to what to expect from his fall collection, but the opening music—the theme song from Downton Abbey—sure does. The first looks out are all tweedy jackets and plus-fours worn with argyle knee socks and newsboy caps, though this walkies-in-the country look quickly segues into citified three-piece pinstripe suits, complete with bowlers and briefcases. These give way to borrowed-from-the-boys topcoat and tails (avec walking sticks) and, finally, to a gold beaded turtleneck worn with a pleated leather skirt, liquid bias-cut satin evening gowns in deep magenta, and a gorgeous gold-beaded cardigan worn with a white button-down, black trousers and tie (Lady Sybil would surely approve). The show's to-the-manor-born style and pacing harkens back to a slower, more elegant era, despite the incessant camera flashes and tweeting that accompany the classical soundtrack.
Lunch is followed by a visit to the Chado Ralph Rucci showroom in Soho, where the designer often referred to as "America's only couturier" (in both the figurative and literal sense of the word) presents an assuringly elegant vision of womanhood (emphasis on woman), vis-à-vis a paneled lambskin leather circle skirt worn with a pristine white pique blouse, a fit-and-flare black leather coat atop a barguzine sable liner—itself boasting a painted calligraphy lining that can be removed and worn separately as an evening coat—and a zip-front black day dress with trapunto satin details (trapunto being a recurring theme here) that calls to mind a very sexy scuba suit. Other standouts—and there are many—include a sage green shirred mink pullover, an alabaster and spice-hued coyote-lined raincoat, a cracked-print double face cashmere jacket with chocolate leather skirt, a black reptile-and-tulle moto jacket worn worn with a flirty pleated mini, and an astonishingly weightless knitted honey sable jacket with matching scarf. It is, in a word, glorious.
Thankfully, for we non-heiresses who married for love, not money, there's Elizabeth & James. Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen present their E&J collection at Industria via clothing hung on racks (with an emphasis on cozy sweaters, tweed trousers, fur-collared coats, borrowed-from-the-boys blazers and knitted fur jackets that are sure to set you back far less than those by Mr. Rucci), along with a handful of looks worn by models. These include a spare white shirtdress topped by a trompe-l'oeil coat, a floral slipdress worn with scrunched socks, ladylike heels and a fur-trimmed parka (shades of Altuzzara!), a slim burgundy suit atop a matching cardigan, day-for-night pajamas (shades of Tommy Hilfiger!) and a crisp white button-down tunic paired with voluminous pants and a louche fur collar. The Olsens have proven themselves more than capable designers with The Row, and Elizabeth & James makes their elegant-edgy aesthetic accessible to a wider range of women—and I am told they're adding handbags to the mix next season, to accompany the shoes and sunglasses they already produce.
I'd received an email earlier in the day alerting me to the fact that Occupy Wall Street was planning a demonstration near the Calvin Klein show, and that I should come early prepared with a printout of my seat assignment and a photo ID to get through the heightened security that was expected. My cab lets me off at the Eighth Avenue side of 39th Street, which means I'm able to bypass the OWS drama on my way into the venue. Rooney Mara, Lara Stone and Emma Stone are also on hand to see Francisco Costa's latest collection, which is, I think, his best to date. Costa seems to be channeling Mara in his models' makeup (severe slicked back hair and ruddy eyeshadow) and Stone (both of them) in the collection's womanly silhouette, which updates the classic Fifties hourglass via structured, 21st century materials, including glazed wool, technical viscose, bonded crépe, shaved shearling, laser cut wool and stiff leather, with the volume reigned in by thick hammered silver belts. Pants are full and cropped a few inches above the ankle, and a few of the black cocktail dresses have mesh panels of the sort Ms. Mara favors for the red carpet (there are poppy and cerise frocks that seem just the thing for Emma Stone's next film premiere).
The Occupy Wall Streeters are lying in wait at the Seventh Avenue side of the venue, but I'm able to bypass them pretty easily and jump on the 7 train to Stephen Burrows Park Avenue presentation, which is my final show of the week. Held in the glass walled Audi Forum in full view of the street, Burrows' models sass their way down the auto showroom-slash-runway in polka dot pencil skirts, chevron print sweater dresses, sexy short shorts and python-print jeggings—done in collaboration with Raven Denim—topped by flirty fur shrugs. It's a fun, feel-good presentation and a delightful way to end the week.
photos © The Fashion Informer/Lauren David Peden 2012
I closed out Fashion Week with a roundup of fashion insider's favorite must-haves. What are your don't-leave-home-without-'em NYFW essentials?
W magazine and P&G Prestige recently invited fashion photographer Sølve Sundsbø to create a film called The Ever Changing Face of Beauty, which they unveiled at a swanky, celebrity-filled soiree (Cate Blanchett! Sienna Miller! Evan Rachel Wood!) at the Park Avenue Armory during New York Fashion Week. Here's what went down.
Wednesday begins with Norma Kamali at Pier 59 in Chelsea (which I reach via two subways and a cab fifteen minutes before the presentation's slated to end—whew). Norma is showing her fall signature collection and introducing KamaliKulture, a new line priced under $100. All the looks are shown on NK Glamazons (9' tall photorealist cardboard cutouts) and via two adorable videos filmed for the occasion—showing the models dancing and clowning around—with the collections and videos facing each other across the cavernous space. Norma tells me both lines are about "timeless pieces," though there's definitely more of a Thirties evening wear vibe to her higher-end line, with its emphasis on turbans, swingy polka dot dresses, fun faux fur, sequin coats and glittery gowns (with some OMO logo sportswear pieces thrown into the mix for good measure). KamaliKulture, on the other hand, is more work- and weekend-appropriate, with suits, pencil skirts, striped tees, capris and lots of LBDs. Both collections feature the pinup-girl swimwear for which Kamali has become famous. Guests are given a Doctor Green juice from The Juice Press as they exit, accompanied by a note from Norma that reads: "Assertive women that drink juice are fucking sexy!" She would know.
After a quick lunch at La Bottega (solid, not liquid), it's time for Jeremy Scott at MADE at Milk, which is a capital-M Madhouse. I arrive just after the doors open to find my seat's been taken—along with nearly ever other seat in the jam-packed room. People's Rev quickly finds me another one, but it's cheek-to-jowl (literally) with nary an extra inch of bench space in the house. But that's because everyone knows they're in for a wacky good time. As always, Mr. Scott does not disappoint, with a Nineties-themed collection that boasts all sorts of retro signifiers—including an AOL "You've Got Mail" logo sweater, a Lisa Frank sticker corset, melting LOL emoticons, old-school screen savers, the cursor arrow and hand pointer icon, rainbow keyboards, unicorns and, of course, Bart Simpson—all worn with rainbow wigs and light-up bindis. "Just like Facebook, where you can never truly delete your photos, that's the same thing that's going on in fashion, everything is co-existing," Jeremy tells me backstage post-show, where Terry Richardson, Joe Jonas, Nigel Barker, Leigh Lezark, Cory Cobrasnake, Sky Ferreira, Paper editor Kim Hastreiter and ID's Terry Jones gather to offer their congrats. "You could have flared pants with bondage pants, short with long—it's all up for grabs. Everything is possible and you never really lose a style or delete it from history."
I swing by the True Religion VIP lounge in Milk's basement and am devastated to discover they aren't offering massages today (nooooo!) but console myself by charging my phone, drinking a pear juice and flipping through the latest issues of Vogue and Another mag.
Then it's on to the Levi's show in Soho, where the scrum at the door is followed by another scrum upstairs where everyone is funneled from the large installation room into a smaller side room where the show is taking place. One loooong bi-level runway—faced by one loooong bench for guests—runs the entire length of the room, and is designed to look like a series of closets or dressing rooms on the upper level and a cement sidewalk (complete with curb and metal grates) down below. Following the sounds of a traffic/weather report and The Beatles' Come Together on a morning radio show, models emerge in their undies from various doors onstage one at a time, get dressed, walk down the steps at the farthest end of the runway to reach the sidewalk then head off for the day in their Levi's (denim dresses, jumpsuits, rompers and skirts for the gals; modernized jeans, suits, anoraks and workwear for the guys), accessorized with some killer two-tone shoes. It's a very cool presentation and the clothes are just terrific.
I hoof it over to the threeasFOUR presentation at the Hole Gallery on The Bowery, where guests are treated to a collection of circle-themed looks (think: face-obscuring cocoon coats, laser-cut leather dresses with spherical overlays, boots and face masks with jagged circular vine motifs and the like) set to the sonorous sound of Tibetan singing bowls played by a quintet of white robed musicians led by Joni Mitchell lookalike Brooke Hamre Gillespie. The clothes aren't wearable (by which I mean commercial), but they are indescribably beautiful and make the models look like extraterrestrial woodland nymphs—or a very luxe version of Poison Ivy (the comic book heroine, not the itch-inducing plant).
Next stop: Marchesa in the Palm Court at The Plaza, which feels worlds away from threeASFOUR's artsy downtown crowd and venue, though the level of craftsmanship and devotion to a singular vision is something these otherwise disparate designers' have in common. Here, though, the woodland nymphs have been replaced by elegant socialites who eschew Mother Nature for more gilded environs, such as the sumptuous mirrored ballroom in which I now find myself. Inspired by William-Adolphe Bouguereuau's 1878 portrait, A Soul Brought to Heaven, design duo Georgina Chapman and Keren Craig invite the audience to imagine a world where women waft through rooms in black lace cocktail frocks worn over shimmering skeleton bodysuits that trace a silver finger down their spine, or appear to float by on a skirt of clouds, or emerge, swan-like, from a bed of downy white feathers. One stunning gold lamé ball gown seems to absorb and reflect all the light in the room, so onlookers can't help but be mesmerized by both the gown and the woman wearing it. And that's kind of the point of confections like these, no? As always, Marchesa creates the dresses every little girl dreams of wearing when she grows up.
I walk over to Anna Sui at Lincoln Center—my last show today and my last tent show this season (tomorrow, the final day of New York Fashion Week, my shows are all off-site). Inspired by vintage illustrations, the collection—full of daisy print sweaters, chunky crochet cardigans, jacquard shorts, checked capes and jackets, folkloric floral frocks and unicorn appliquéd tops—has a faux naif charm (even more so than usual). The effect is heightened by the adorable bird hats, fingerless owl gloves and smiling models—something I wish there was a lot more of during Fashion Week. Thanks, Anna, for sending me home with a smile on my face, too.
photos © The Fashion Informer/Lauren David Peden 2012
Wonder what Pamela Skaist-Levy and Gela Nash-Taylor have been up to since selling Juicy Couture a while back? Skaist-Taylor, their new collection for California eccentrics, that's what. They unveiled their namesake label during New York Fashion Week in the parking garage below Lincoln Center (yes, you read that right).
It's Valentine's Day and I only have four events on the docket—my lightest day this week. I start with Ecco Domani Fashion Foundation winner Sunhee Hwang's show at Exit Art. I pop backstage before the show starts and watch the hair and makeup pros work their magic. Sunhee sends out an edgy-elegant lineup featuring pretty, cobweb-fine knits and lots o' black leather—sexy leather pants, sexy leather-panel dresses, sexy leather leggings, sexy leather shorts. It is, in a word…sexy. It's also cut to flatter a range of figures, which always gladdens my heart.
Then it's up and over to the Park Avenue Armory on the Upper East Side for the W magazine party to celebrate Sølve Sundsbø's film, The Ever Changing Face of Beauty, which is actually two films featuring the models Lara Stone and David Agbodji, who are supposed to represent Man and Woman in the larger sense (I wish!). Guests are greeted by dramatic floor-to-ceiling grey curtains that encircle two 50' video screens, each divided into four horizontal panels, on which Sundsbø's film plays like a giant flipbook, with the models' head, torso, legs and feet morphing into different representations of beauty (human, animal, vegetable, floral). The film, which Sundsbrø tells me was six months in the making, is undeniably beautiful, but as it's supposed to prove that "today, beauty crosses all boundaries of race, geography and gender" it would have been nice to use more than two models to show the true range of modern beauty. But this minor quibble aside, the film rocks. The room also smells divine, thanks to a special fragrance P&G Prestige has commissioned from Sumit Bhasin for the occasion, which is being pumped into the Armory. Although I have to leave before the Hollywood heavyweights (Cate Blanchett, Sienna Miller, Evan Rachel Wood, Chris Evans) arrive, I do bump into Martha Stewart, Susie Bubble, Bryanboy, Hanne Mustaparta, Helen Schifter, Derek Blasberg, and designers Richard Chai, Sophie Theallet, Tory Burch and Nicole Miller, all of whom seem to be congregating at the bar (hey, they've earned it this week, for sure!).
I hop in a cab and hightail it over to Lincoln Center for the New York Fashion Week debut of Haus Alkire, designed by husband-wife team Julie Haus and Jason Alkire, who are also EDFF winners and W Hotel Fashion Next sponsees. The presentation consists of stunning digital ink prints (taken from hand-manipulated photos) and streamlined silhouettes, set to what sounds like theme music from a 1960s TV show (which somehow works). I also love the models' hair, which is worn long and straight but parted back behind the ears. I spend a good 15 minutes trying to track down the designers—with the PR team directing me backstage and front-of-house several times—until they're found outside The Box doing interviews. I say a quick hello then head to the lobby to catch up on emails and tweets.
The tents are unusually quiet tonight, whether because it's Valentine's Day or because of the W party, I do not know. There at two businessmen sitting beside me in the AmEx Lounge who have tickets to Narcisco Rodriguez (which one of them keeps pronouncing with a hard "c"—Nar-cis-ko) but, after much loud back-and-forthing—and bemoaning how the tents are no longer "the scene" they once were—they opt to blow it off about 30 seconds before the doors to the show close and go have a drink instead. I have to restrain myself from smacking them upside the head as I was unable to get a ticket to Nar-cis-ko and these d-bags are basically throwing theirs away. What a waste. I watch the show on the lobby screen instead, which is ok but not the same as seeing it in person.
I end the day at the sophomore collection of Emerson, designed by Boston native (and mother of four) Jackie Fraser-Swan. I'm a bit early so I go backstage and find the designer in makeup, getting her goth-girl lipstick touched up. I walk her back to where the girls are lining up in first looks (past her young twins sleeping in a cute pink double-wide stroller). "I'm so excited!" she trills. As she should be. It's her first evening show, which is a big step up from last season's 9am slot (morning show attendance can be spotty because folks are out at parties the night before). Out front, there's a single red rose and box of candy on each seat—one of which is occupied by Leigh Lezark—and songs about l-o-v-e in the air. The collection consists of tweedy suits, sheer sweaters, two-tone camp shirts and knee-patch pants. I like the knitwear, the scuba-inspired pieces and the modernized brocades—including a terrific metallic lace bomber worn with slim eggplant wool trousers—but the collection isn't quite as cohesive as her spring debut, and a pair of lingerie-inspired pieces feel retro and déclassé, as rendered in lime green with black lace cups. But these are minor missteps in the evolution of a clearly talented designer.
And with that, I'm ready to call it a night as tomorrow promises to be another jam-packed day of shows.
photos © The Fashion Informer/Lauren David Peden 2012
Listen up! It's all music, all the time during New York Fashion Week and some stars of the fall 2012 season include It girls Lana Del Rey and Azealia Banks, rapper Theophilus London and The Citizens Band (to name just a few).
Monday kicks off with Rachel Roy at Alice Tully Hall. She's looking gorgeous, as ever. Her fall collection, which boasts plaid forest green coats, slate grey suiting, color blocked fur coats, petal-hem dresses and floral sheaths, is worn by models standing atop grassy, pebble-edged platforms—all in keeping with the designer's stated landscape architecture inspiration. The sun blazing in the floor-to-ceiling windows makes it hard to see some of the looks (my retinas are burning!) but I can see that the collection is bit incoherent, with Fifties-style full skirts and Swinging Sixties A-line dresses and coats facing off (literally) against lanky Halston-era evening wear. Megan Hilty, Coco Rocha, Brad Goreski, Olivia Palermo and Philip Bloch all swing by to pay their respects, sending the photogs into a tizzy.
I have almost two hours to kill until my next show, so I pop into the tents the grab today's WWD, The Daily and just-released New York mag fashion issue (score!), then send some tweets for Rue La La before heading over to P.J. Clarke's for my traditional Fashion Week burger fix (what, you think these hips are going to pad themselves? None of that Fashion Week juice fasting for me).
On my way across the Lincoln Center campus, I see two handsome gentlemen approaching in really cool sneakers, so I ask if I can take their photo. They graciously oblige, and it's only after I've snapped a few shots that I realize the guy in the gold leather kicks is none other than Michael K. Williams (aka, Omar from The Wire, my all-time favorite character on my all-time favorite TV show). I immediately start blubbering about what a huge fan I am of the show and his work on it and do the "I'm not worthy" bow. He's incredibly sweet and gracious, and I head to lunch floating on a cloud of Omar-induced happiness. Also happy-making: the host at P. J. Clarke's seats me at a table near an outlet so I can recharge my iPhone while I eat. During NYFW, it really is the little things in life...
Then it's back to the tents for Emilio Cavallini's luxury legwear presentation at The Box, which promises to be "a daringly sexy collection of tights and bodywear designed to incite a woman's sexual fantasies." The press notes describe a risqué short film featuring a woman alone in a hotel room with only her lingerie and her (ahem) thoughts. But they're apparently still on Italian time—or forget to push "play"—and the increasingly impatient crowd waits for close to 30 minutes while staring at a static video screen until finally—finally!—seven lanky lingerie-clad models saunter onto the otherwise bare stage, plop down in black folding chairs, pull on their pantyhose as sensually as possible—and we're talking pantyhose here, not stockings so this, coupled with the stark lighting, makes for a less than erotic experience—then exit stage right. Talk about a letdown.
I exit into the back of a taxi and head to the Donna Karan show. LIke DKNY, it's held at Cedar Lake in Chelsea but this time the doors are closed to prying eyes on the street. Sade and K.D. Lang tunes set the mood pre-show and Bill Cunningham offers DK PR girls some lozenges just as the first model hits the catwalk. The show opens with a dozen looks from the designer's Casual Luxe line (lots of blanket plaid toppers and stretch jersey skirts) before segueing into the main collection, where the message is all about tailoring of the boy-meets-girl—make that man-meets-woman—variety, with an emphasis on the grey flannel peaked lapel suit, cut broad at the shoulder and slim at the waist, topped off by Stephen Jones' flirty fedoras cocked just so over the models' foreheads. There's also plenty of sculptured body con dresses (many with sequins and illusion-net details), but the return of the power suit is the big news here. The effect is that of watching an army of female dandies march by, and it's a seriously empowering—and seriously chic—vision.
Next stop: the Highline Stages on Fourteenth Street for the 3.1 Phillip Lim show. I grab a cab and surprise a fellow showgoer by pulling over outside Donna Karan and offering her a lift ("Random Acts of Kindness" being my Fashion Week mantra). Lim's audience includes a Who's Who of style bloggers (you know: Bryanboy, Manrepller, Garance Doré, Hannali Mustapata, Susie Bubble), along with Gia Coppola and singers Oh Land and Annie Clark (aka, St. Vincent). KCD's Ed Filipowski runs back and forth as the lights dim, directing backstage security to get out of the way of the photographer's shots, but it hardly matters as the billowing smoke machine is obscuring the runway so much that the entire photo pit starts yelling "Stop the smoke! Stop the smoke!" to no avail. And the speakers are crackling feedback at top volume, as well. Yikes. It's difficult to make out the looks, but what I do manage to see are lots of graphic black and white separates with subtle color block and fur details worn with silver metal collars that recall Alexis Bittar's recent jewelry collection. Likewise, a teal digitized intarsia cape reminds me of the high-tech toppers at Alexander Wang's fall 2012 show.
Karen Walker is next, and it's just a short walk over to Pier 59 so I decide to hoof it along with what feels like half of the Phillip Lim audience. Although the collection is called "Sea Monsters" and inspired by Jules Verne's 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, the result is mercifully short of hokey maritime references, though there are a few too many ruffles and bows for my taste—even the shoes are ruffled. The best looks are the simplest: low-slung white trousers with a paisley blouse or fuzzy midnight blue sweater, an oversized paisley print dress and a navy crepe wool shirtwaist with gold watch chain are the standouts.
After walking several looong blocks trying to find a cab (it being nearly 5pm, the witching hour when cabbies switch shifts), I realize with a heavy heart that there is no way in hell I'm going to make it up to Avery Fisher Hall in time for the Chris Benz presentation (cue sad face) so I hop on the F train to catch the first of Thom Browne's three womenswear viewings at the Edna Barnes Salomon Room at the New York Public Library. Telling the story of 10 girls who rise from the dead once a year to celebrate their love of fashion (you know how they do), we're treated to wonderfully whimsical—dare I say otherworldly?—looks that are a little bit Comme-y (humps and bumps) with some Tim Burton thrown in for good measure. It all unspools at an appropriately somber pace but hey, there's no rushing the dead, people! For the finale, a glow-in-the-dark bride is followed by a same-sex groom sporting a white morning (make that mourning) coat trailing a dramatically long n' lumpy dinosaur-meets-alligator tail. There's nothing like a well-executed fashion fantasy to relieve the more craven commercial aspects of New York Fashion Week, and I head home a very happy woman (thanks, Thom!).
photos © The Fashion Informer/Lauren David Peden 2012
When it comes to New York Fashion Week, it takes a village. In the third and final installment of my NYFW Insiders series on Rue La La, I profile the behind-the-scenes hair/makeup/fashion gurus who make a designer's vision a reality.
On Sunday, I treat myself to a cab to Lela Rose's mid-morning show at Lincoln Center. In the crowd: Brad Goreski, Jenna Bush, Pretty Little Liar Shay Mitchell and Lucy Sykes. On the seats: homemade cookies from the designer's own kitchen—yum! On the catwalk: Santiago Calatrava-inspired linear grid patterns (seen in the prints and the skyscraper-like beading), exposed back zips that drive home the long, lean message, and zig zag sweaters that call to mind a super sophisticated Charlie Brown. Cable-stayed plaids and grid lace cages also nod to Rose's architectural muse while painterly florals bring nature into the mix. The best look is also one of the simplest: a fitted pumpkin sheath with a leather-trimmed shoulder zip reigning in the pleated bodice that would look terrific on a modern day Betty Draper. Rose has a deft hand with color, with bright magenta, sulfurous amber and dark bronze among the memorable hues. The only off note is the models' reddish eyeshadow and deep, bruised-looking lipstick, which makes it look as though they've been crying backstage (or maybe they're just broken up about Whitney Houston).
After brunch at Rafaella Café (hold the Mimosas), it's on to DKNY, which is once again at Cedar Lake in Chelsea, with the models entering from the street where a DKNY taxi is parked at the curb. But today, there's also a pair of enormous video screens mounted beside the garage door, so the audience is able to look at the models on the runway and onscreen simultaneously (which is similar to the set at Cynthia Rowley, come to think of it). Inspired by the poetic rebellion of the Beat Generation (I'm cribbing from the show notes here), Donna sends out lots of black leather coats and dresses, including two balmacaans with wool-and-leather sleeves that are perfectly simple—and simply perfect. Wide corset belts are worn over puffers and faux fur coats, Alaia-on-a-budget style, and a snow leopard print sweater walks the razor-fine line between cute and kitsch and emerges victorious. There are also several minis with flirty, flippy hems, a trend-in-the-making I've noticed on several runways this week.
I actually manage to catch the Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week bus back to Lincoln Center in time for the Tracy Reese show, which features a floor-to-ceiling mood board backdrop and a reggae remix of Azealia Banks' 212 on the sound system. Tweedy suits with frayed edges, exuberant floral prints and a smocked-waist gold leather miniskirt are among the first looks out. Reese is a seasoned mixmaster when it comes to prints, and she offsets the pattern pileup with fur-trimmed toggle coats, collegiate sweaters and felted baseball caps that feel both sporty and soignée. There are some terrific color block shoes and a pair of lavishly beaded nude dresses, to boot.
Skaist-Taylor designers Pamela Skaist-Levy and Gela Nash-Taylor (aka, the founders of Juicy Couture) also know a thing or two about mash-ups. But in their case, it's all about the mix-n-match glamour of the California eccentric, a muse they channel to perfection in their debut Fashion Week outing. Entering the parking garage beneath Lincoln Center, I'm greeted by a 3-D projection of a California redwood forest—make that projections, plural—which is a bit disorienting, what with the funhouse mirrors and maze-like corridors. This gives way to a concrete runway and more backlit trees, along with a Skaist-Taylor video starring quintessential haute hippie chick Theodora Richards (who was actually raised in Connecticut, but let's not quibble). Fashion-wise, think big furs, short-in-front-long-in-back skirts, off-the-shoulder blouses, flared trouser suits, bandleader jackets (of the sort popularized by Sgt. Pepper) and quirky shoes and headgear. It's the type of thing you could easily imagine Rachel Zoe wearing, so it's no surprise that she's on hand to congratulate the design duo, who wear matching outfits—right down to their blue-tipped hair (an homage to the collection, which they've dubbed Because the Sky is Blue).
It's model down! at the Joy Cioci presentation at The Box. The poor girl is carried off the podium by a troupe of handlers and half the other models promptly cop a squat (picturesquely, of course) on the overheated pedestal. Oddly, seeing the girls seated only serves to enhance the delicate beauty of Cioci's collection, which was based on the idea of manipulation and boasts familiar patterns (such as animal prints) reworked into something new, and classic fabrics (lace, chiffon) used in unexpected ways. I also love the lace-trimmed stockings, which pool fetchingly at the ankles.
I opt to skip DVF in favor of the Imitation of Christ presentation downtown (my thinking being: you've seen one DVF show, you've seen 'em all). But unfortunately, NYC traffic does not cooperate and I get to Buddakan with two minutes to spare—literally—before the models abandon their places onstage and head back upstairs. Thankfully, that's just enough time to see designer Tara Subkoff's borrowed-from-the-boys evening wear, which was made in collaboration with bespoke menswear tailors Doyle Mueser. Here, the models are whooping it up and appear to be having a much better time than those at Joy Cioci (by which I mean, no one passes out).
It's only a hop, skip and jump (e.g., just around the corner) to the Public School presentation at Milk. I've come to support my friend Lee Trimble, who produced the show (kudos!), but am totally blown away by what I see—the menswear is spectacular (modern sportswear at its finest, with an emphasis on reworked classics with a subtle Nineties feel) and so, it must be said, are the men, a diverse bunch with facial hair and facial tattoos that somehow read sexy rather than sleazy (yes, really). Of course, it helps if you look like James Dean to begin with.
I'm scheduled to see Eighteenth and Simon Spurr later tonight, but there's a 90-minute gap before my next show, and I have way more than 90 minutes worth of work waiting for me at the office. Besides, I seem destined to end all my Fashion Week days at Milk this season, so I decide to stick with that tradition and call it a night.
photos © The Fashion Informer/Lauren David Peden 2012
It was a feel-good celebfest at the annual Red Dress Heart Truth show, which featured Michael Phelps and Phylicia Rashad in the audience and Jenna Elfman, Gloria Estefan, Rebecca Romijn, Chaka Khan, Rose McGowan, Christie Brinkley and La La Anthony (among others) on the runway.
Another day another fashion show (or eight). Join me, won't you?
Saturday gets off to a slow start with Rachel Zoe's late afternoon show at The Empire Hotel. The vintage rock soundtrack (David Essex, the Stones) kills, but the collection—full of vintage RZ haute hippie signifiers (think: fit-n-flare jeans, fur chubbies, slinky caftans, fur hats, shorts suits)—is competent if underwhelming. There are also far too many references to the work of other designers (I spy with my little eye looks that recall Halston, YSL, Ralph Lauren, Giorgio di Sant A'ngelo, Gucci-era Tom Ford…the list goes on). The errrm…sartorial tributes notwithstanding, Zoe definitely has a good eye and this collection will undoubtedly resonate with her SoCal celebrity pals—and those who want to channel them the way she channels her predecessors.
Then it's over to Alexander Wang, where two girls in cartoon Anna Wintour masks hand out an illustrated broadsheet called Humor/Chic/Art. Inside, the real Anna Wintour is gamely posing for photos with a steady stream of giddy fashion fans, including a trio of giggly pre-teen girls. Take that, haters! Wang's show also begins with vintage tunes—in this case, Dre and Snoop ("One, two, three and to the four…")—but his staggered mirror backdrop and collection look to the future rather than the past. This designer loves him some high-tech fabrics and craftsmanship (peroxide lacquered merino wool and ion laminated trompe-l'oeil, anyone?), and he fashions them into pieces that feel both fresh and familiar. Witness a boxy crewneck with a finish that looks like cracked paint, sleek leather puffers, tulle dresses with "trapped thread embroidery" (aka, long swinging fringe), or a smocked leather tank that manages to look both innocent and…not. Yes, there are a few pieces here that recall Prada (knee-high wader boots) and Balenciaga (the aforementioned crackled crew), but I give Wang points for trying. And he also gets may-juh points for his finale, which features supes Gisele, Shalom, Karolina, Erin and Liya stomping around the mirrored set to the sound of wildly pounding drums. Be still my beating heart.
Next stop: Sally LaPointe's show in Chelsea. This talented newcomer draws a decidedly more artsy, left-of-center crowd than Zoe or Wang—calling all Club Kids!—but then, she is Lady Gaga's favorite designer du jour. Once the dry ice clears and the models hit the runway in her metamorphasis-inspired collection, it's clear from the curvilinear suiting, lace minis and chiffon-swagged trousers that this is a woman who knows how to showcase the female form in a way that's sensual without being saccharine. And LaPointe's richly-hued prints are astonishingly beautiful. She is, as they say, one to watch.
I've been watching Erin Fetherston for quite some time now, and she seems to get better and better each season, honing her uber-feminine aesthetic in pieces designed to appeal to a wider range of dress-loving women. At her Milk Studios presentation, there are holographic metallic minis, drapey goddess gowns, sweetly sprigged day dresses—and a hooded anorak (hey, even girlie-girls need to stay warm when the temperature drops!). I also love the live harp player and the gold tree stumps with neon ground effects, which make an elegant resting place for Erin's elegant creations.
Fashion Week newbie Dean Quinn is showing upstairs at Milk, and the advance hype turns out to be spot-on, judging from his cool collection of sharply cut, graphic dresses and gowns in shocking shades of fuchsia and red offset by grounding blue and beige, some finished with zippered carwash hems. I pop into Otswald Helgason's terrific folkloric-cool presentation for 3.5 seconds and run into the always-gorgeous Sarah Sophie Flicker on my way out. I ask her how long it takes to do her makeup. "Sadly, not long," she replies with a sigh. "This is all I know how to do. This is all I got."
What goes better with thigh-baring dresses than sky high heels, you say? Nothing, I answer. Which is how I come to find myself across the hall at Alejandro Ingelmo's presentation, which features some of the cobbler's signature shapes (including his now-famous lotus-petal pump) alongside some new additions (hel-lo, fur trimmed booties and croc heeled platforms!). But I really flip for the men's kicks, which include a pair of patent-trimmed hightops, velvet reptile print skate shoes, metal-trimmed street sneaks and fur collared ankle boots for the boys. And why not?
My last stop of the night is down the hall at Phoebe and Annette Stephens' Anndra Neen presentation, which is displayed amid clever paper installations by artists Matthew Sporzynski and Lisa Chamberlin, who fashioned trees and bushes from perforated packing material and designed conch shells, lunar landscapes and little hanging men from that most humble of materials, elevating paper to exhaled heights the way the Stephens' sisters elevate silver (as in their sweet sterling bowtie necklaces, quilted silver cuffs and sexy zig zag choker). And their silver cross clutch is definitely not your mother's minaudiere. Yes, please!
And with that, I bid you adieu until tomorrow.
In the second installment of my three-part series for Rue La La's The (Style) Guide blog, I get the New York Fashion Week lowdown from The Daily editor Ashley Baker, PR guru Cindy Krupp, Fashion Calendar founder Ruth Finley, fashion journalist Lauren Ezersky, fashion illustrator Richard Haines and photographer Patrick Butler.