If Wednesday is about anything, it's about celebrities. Beginning with Paris Hilton and ending with Kim and Kanye, I have an Us Weekly kind of day from start to finish.
Celebfest 2012 kicks off at Jeremy Scott's show at Milk Studio, with the Misshapes, Tyra Banks, Swizz Beatz (with his son, Egypt), Paris Hilton and Olympians Ryan Lochte and Canon Dwyer facing off across the runway from Olivier Zahm, Cory Kennedy and Sky Ferreira. On the runway, Jeremy serves up an homage to Gianni-era Versace (heavy on the snakeskin, gold chains and swirly metallic animal prints), alongside burkas, dresses festooned with jangly gold gun charms and lots of sports-inspired jerseys and baseball caps (sequined, of course), for an Arab Spring-meets-Milano-meets-athletics mash-up that's about as far from last season's Bart Simpson/AOL collection as you can get. Amid the more OTT offerings are plenty of wearable pieces, including some sexy print pencil skirts and a terrific black silk zip front shirt jack. And the soundtrack features Missy Elliott's Get Ur Freak On, which makes me indescribably happy—there's nothing like hearing a song you used to love in an unexpected context. It makes me want to Spotify Missy's old catalogue ASAP (which I do as soon as I hit the street). But first, I follow Paris, Swizz and Ryan backstage to congratulate the always-charming Mr. Scott. When I tell him how much I loved hearing Missy he says with a laugh, "I know, right? I emailed her last night to tell her I was using her song in the show and she said, 'That's great; send me some clothes!'" While waiting for the elevator with the backstage crew and Jeremy's publicist Kelly Cutrone, the People's Rev doyenne bellows, "Thanks to all you guys who did hair and makeup. You did a great job. You can leave here with your head held high." "Wow, an acknowledgment," deadpans one of the makeup artists. "We like that."
I grab a quick bite at my favorite sushi joint in the West Village then head over to Charles Street, where Haus Alkire duo Julie Haus and Jason Alkire are hosting an intimate presentation in a friend's townhouse—and where I run into Kate Lanphear and my old friend Scarlett Baily, who works for the company producing the event. Julie's busy talking to a WWD reporter, so Jason walks me through the print-tastic collection, which features foliage graphics based on photos he took on a long-ago trip to Hawaii during which the couple got lost in the jungle after dark—all worn, fittingly, by a gaggle of girls standing in the lush green backyard garden. An evocative sailboat print is from another trip, while a spare black and white hand sketch comes from an island of imaginary creatures the two dreamed up after another getaway. Laser cut and perforated leather details offer a touch of structured sportiness that offsets the softness of the print pieces and cozy double-faced knits. I fall hard for a pale green cotton/silk vest with forest green punched leather shoulder panels whose off-center front zip opens to reveal an overexposed bamboo forest print lining, which is known only to the wearer. In fact, all of the pieces here are as perfectly finished on the inside as they are on the outside, and this painstaking attention to detail is one of the many reasons Haus Alkire is quickly becoming a fashion world fave.
Then it's over to Industria for the Gant by Michael Bastian presentation, which is inspired by the Galapagos and showcased on groups of models standing on raised neon platforms festooned with Blue-Footed Boobies, rope, netting and other island accoutrements. The high-spirited young models clown around while clad in over-dyed seersucker blazers, camo cargos, olive-and-turquoise technical parkas and chunky Inca cardigans (on the guys) and a lace-front khaki shirtdress, fleece wrap cardigan, hooded mesh popover, madras bikinis and leaf print jeans (on the girls). It's all very high-energy fun, and the clothes are likely to fly off the shelves come spring.
I take the subway (actually, two subways) up to the Marchesa show in Grand Central Station, where design duo Keren Craig and Georgina Chapman take us on a journey that begins in Bollywood, India (via lavish embroidery, fringe and classic sari details) and ends in Hollywood, California (the red carpet being the final destination for most of these creations). Their front row is also a paparazzo's wet dream, featuring Kim and Kanye, Kelly Osbourne, Stacy Keibler and plenty of others who don't have a "k" in their name—Michelle Trachtenberg, Tyra Banks, Olivia Palermo, Rachel Roy—with Carolyn Murphy, Jessica Stam, Hilary Rhoda, Cara Delevigne, Jourdan Dunn and Isabeli Fontana on the catwalk. Backstage, I introduce myself to my Montauk neighbor Carolyn Murphy, watch as Kelly Osbourne interviews Kim Kardashian for E!'s Fashion Police, tell Stacy Keibler how well her pink Marchesa dress suits her (it's true!) and literally bump into Kanye West, who agrees to pose for a photo while standing so close I can smell his breath (it's minty fresh, in case you were wondering). "No more photos of Mr. West," intones a refrigerator-sized bodyguard a few minutes later as I try to nab a shot of the couple of the moment. "I'm actually trying to get a shot of Kim," I lie. "Yeah, but he's in the shot, too," says Sub-Zero, cockblocking my camera with his big, stupid back. "You are not the boss of me!" I want to shout but don't, as he looks like he might actually hurt me if I disobey him. So I wait a few minutes until the Kimye crush moves forward en masse, at which point I get a shot of the smiling couple as they leave Vanderbilt Hall.
Three minutes later, I'm crammed on the Shuttle heading back to Lincoln Center for the Anna Sui show (oh, the glamour!) with a crew of dressers who are also headed uptown to work the Vivienne Tam show. There's a rainbow reflected on the sidewalk outside the tents, which is an ironic counterpart to Sui's show, which might very well be subtitled Anarchy in the LC. In keeping with today's celeb theme, I spy Alexa Chung, Sarah Sophie Flicker, Tennessee Thomas, Todd Oldham and Bruce Weber seated across the aisle, while vintage Blondie, Patti Smith, Television, Richard Hell & the Voidoids and Ramones tunes boom from the speakers. On the backdrop: images of Sid and Nancy, Johnny Rotten and other Seventies punk rock icons. The collection itself is replete with leopard print bikinis, ombré rompers, bird print kimonos, Fifties-style party dresses, studded motorcycle jackets, tattered tights, exposed zippers, silver studs, fishnets, dog collars and other New Wave style signifiers, all filtered through the lens of French interior designer Madeline Castaigne and worn by America's Real Top Models (Karlie Kloss, Joan Smalls, Liu Wen, Jamie Bochert and Lindsey Wixson). All the girls sport bright blue or pink wigs by Garren, and some wear adorable cat's ear chapeaux made in collaboration with James Coviello.
My final stop of the evening is the Clover Canyon presentation at The Box, which finds designer Rozae Nichols channeling her On the Road wanderlust into "Pedal to the Metal" highway print dresses, wheel print shirts, dashboard print jackets and roadside quilted suiting. Elsewhere, "How High" cannabis leaves climb across a pencil skirt and rhinestone bra, while an "Endless Summer" surfer print takes an office worthy blouse and skirt back to the beach. But my favorite look is an elaborately embroidered shirt and pants ensemble that recalls a modernized Nudie suit, worn by a female Elvis lookalike who brandishes the King's pompadour—and his insouciant, too-cool-for-school 'tude. Departing showgoers are handed a small Clover Canyon look book filled with detailed closeups of the spring 2013 graphics, which I spend the next few days flipping through, mesmerized by the trippy kaleidoscopic imagery. Who needs cannabis when you've got Rozae Nichols as your guide? Not I.