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