It feels a little bit weird—and sad—to be heading out to the shows on the anniversary of 9/11 but life, as they say, must go on.
On my way into the tents, I run into photographer Cass Bird, whose work I am a huge fan of. I stop to introduce myself (we're Facebook friends but have never met in person) and to congratulate her on her recent Jay-Z cover for the T Men's Fall Style mag. She recognizes my name and, after responding to my query about how she's doing with a moaned "I'm so tired!" we launch into a long, freewheeling chat about all the events we've been to and our mutual Fashion Week sleep deprivation. "I need nine—or 12—hours a night," she says with a laugh. I tell her I'm a nine-hour-a-night gal myself but have been operating on four hours a night for the past five days. "Fuck off!" she says, the way someone else would say "Shut. Up." No, really. It's true. "Fuck off!" she cries again in horror, her eyes widening like dinner plates. After a little more pity party commiseration, I realize I'm going to be late for my first show and run inside.
And thank Jehovah I did, because Brandon Sun's presentation is, in a word, simply stunning. And yes, I realize that's two words, but he earned them, dammit! Inspired by a Daisetz Suzuki poem about Zen and Japanese culture (with the words "vague, indefinable, obscure, deep, genuine and substance" bandied about), this translates into louche drape front trousers, Japanese sakae lace and tulle t-shirts, geometric cherry blossom cashmere cardigans and judicious touches of fur, as seen on a charcoal tweed/techno raffia sheath with an arctic marble fox back panel that makes the wearer look equal parts savage and soigné. Neat trick, that!
I usually worship at the altar of Vera Wang, but this season I find the collection to be pretty if a bit underwhelming, full of Indian-inspired looks that are far from slavish in their interpretation yet somehow fail to excite, though the colors are sumptuous and the embroidery winningly understated. And this collection cements the Bermuda-cum-bike shorts trend (done here in azure and chatreuse damask, navy lace jacquard and cypress green guipure), that is shaping up to be big for spring. The rest of the audience, which includes Anna Wintour, Stacy Keibler and Chinese actress Yao Chen, seems to like the collection well enough, which bodes well for its commercial potential. (Actually, I think that's what leaves me feelng meh about this outing: I prefer risk-taking, avant-garde Vera, not aim-for-the-bleachers Vera.)
John Bartlett, showing in Rachel Roy's usual slot at the New York Public Library space at Lincoln Center, also looked abroad for inspiration, finding it on a recent trip to Greece, where he proposed to his longtime partner, John Esty (Mazel tov, boys!). "It started with 'what am I going to wear to my wedding?'" he tells me with a laugh backstage pre-show, where hunky male models mill about in linen shorts suits, cabana shirts, chambray tunics, "om" printed pieces and linen ticking striped djellabas. "From Mykonos to Mumbai!" the designer crows of his peripatetic muse, adding, when I comment on the preponderance of caftans, "a caftan is forever!" Indeed. I could easily see athletes like Ramses Barden of the New York Giants and J.R. Smith of the Knicks (both of whom grace JB's front row) tossing on one of these bad boys post-game.
Then it's on to Rachel Roy's presentation, which is being held in her showroom near Times Square. "I just wanted to have a presentation for buyers and editors this season," she says of the change of venue (and absence of the usual celebrity scrimmage one finds at Lincoln Center events). "This is much simpler, isn't it?" It is—and this editor, for one, loves the intimate venue as it makes it much easier to see the clothes, which are gaw-juss, full of unexpected prints (abstract skull and birds, anyone?), elegantly cut trousers, sweet eyelet shorts, and eye-poppingly bright dresses and suits. Here's hoping other designers follow her lead and opt for more low-key outings next season.
From here, it's on to the Perry Ellis by Duckie Brown debut down in the Meatpacking District. Though celebrities are scant, it seems as though every menswear editor and buyer in the biz is on hand to witness the birth of what should prove to be a very fruitful partnership. I don't have a seat near the runway—though I'm able to make out lots of beige suiting, windowpane plaids, drop crotch pants, canvas work jackets and ivory felt baseball bowlers—so I run backstage afterward to get a better look at (and better photos of) the clothes before the models change. I manage to corral a cute quartet in front of a brick wall while they're waiting for the freight elevator to whisk them to the second floor staging area and am just about to press the shutter on my camera when the casting director appears and orders them into the elevator, tout de suite. I ask her to wait just two seconds so I can get my shot but she refuses and shoves them into the waiting lift. Aaarggh. I run to the back of the cavernous space and take the stairs to the second floor two at a time, but all the lads are down to their skivvies by the time I get there, save for one young man who's standing in front of the mirror in his pink PE by DB suit, trying in vain to get the back of his black plug earring (which he'd been asked to remove for the show) screwed back on. I offer to help, as I also have multiple ear piercings and am no stranger to recalcitrant posts and he rewards me by posing for several pics (thanks, cutie!).
I am still aggravated by my missed photo op when I run into Duckie co-designer Daniel Silver on my way out, who asks, "Did you likey?" "I did," I reply. "But I would have liked a touch more Duckie." He shoots me a look and says, "Well, this is Duckie Brown for Perry Ellis not Perry Ellis for Duckie Brown," sounding slightly affronted (as he should, my response was not very thoughtful, which sometimes happens when I'm running on empty and frustrated by, say, unhelpful casting directors). "I did notice the slight dropped crotch," I say (those being a DB signature). "…And the touch of gold and the plaids and the dramatic hats…" he adds helpfully (the unspoken "you moron" implied in his scolding tone). Point taken. Duly chastised (and feeling like an ass, as I love the DB boys and thought while watching the show that it felt like a solid commercial outing that would probably do very well in store), I head back out to Fourteenth Street. (And, in an All's Well That Ends Well prologue, the Perry Ellis publicist later sent over some terrific shots, which you can see above. Thanks for that—and apologies, Daniel!)
Realizing there's no way I'm going to make it back to Lincoln Center in time for the Osklen show, I email the publicist to let her know I'll be a no-show then head home—at 3:23 (!)—with visions of getting caught up on work—and a good night's sleep—dancing in my head. I'm supposed to go back out for the Betsey Johnson 70th anniversary retrospective at 9 tonight (with a performance by Cyndi Lauper, no less) but once I settle in on my couch and start working, I know there's no way in hell I'm going anywhere (though, again, the publicist later sends over some great shots, which you can see here). Usually, this girl just wants to have fun (get it?), but Fashion Week fatigue has begun to set in, big-time. Ah well, tomorrow is another day.