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