It's brutally hot today (we're talking 90 degrees in the shade) so I treat myself to a cab to Tess Giberson, my first show of the day at Eyebeam in Chelsea. Turns out to be less of a treat than I'd imagined, as traffic is terrible and we crawl from the east side of Manhattan to the west. I'm stressing that I'm going to miss it (which would be tragic, as Tess is a good friend and one of my favorite designers working in New York) but I arrive with plenty of time to spare and manage to have a quick catch-up with WSJ.'s creative director, Patrick Li, and snap a few shots of the set (designed by Max Wang Studio) before the show starts. Tess riffs on the concept of things "Reassembled" via a standout collection of whitewashed Liberty print blazers-turned-vests, t-shirts re-imagined as dresses, and sweaters that have been deconstructed then re-knit into hemlines and other decorative elements. The all-white palette keeps things cohesive, and artwork by the designer's sister and husband are incorporated—or should I say reassembled—into striking graphic prints. I love it all and want to buy it—and wear it—immediately.
I swing backstage to congratulate Tess (who is surrounded by well-wishers, including Sonic Youth's Kim Gordon), and watch the hairdressers remove multiple extensions from each model's head, then pop around the corner to the Sally LaPointe show on the second floor of Center 548. I chat with my Facebook buddy, James Aguiar, the newly appointed fashion director of Modern Luxury Media, while admiring Leandra Medine's look du jour (an Isabel Marant football jersey over Rebecca Minkoff spring 2013 floral bellbottom jeans—which, I might add, haven't even come down the runway yet) and watching Linda Fargo position her feet just so—one leg carefully placed behind the other to elongate her silhouette—every time a photographer asks to take her picture. [Note to self: Do what she does.] Then the music swells and out comes a parade of truly exceptional clothing inspired by the concept of (and I quote): "a secret hidden submarine base in Russia, unknown to the outside world. Carved into a mountain side, massive man-made concrete structures combine with the depth and fluidity of the sea…" I'd been afraid upon reading this lofty—and very specific—description that Sally's muse would make for tricky, overdone clothes but these creations are quite the opposite. Long, lean and languid with a heavy emphasis on cropped, layered pieces in leather, linen and ponyskin, the silhouettes are strong and angular without feeling stiff or (heaven forbid) architectural. Instead, they're clean and easy to wear, with a perfect balance of fluidity and structure. Sally has evolved her signatures, such as her trademark hip-swagged trousers, in a way that manages to feel both organic and forward-thinking. And the colors (ginger, rust, ochre, moss, evergreen) and fabrications (shantung, satin, charmeuse, georgette and lace) are wonderfully sensual.
I go backstage to congratulate Sally on her achievement—and, make no mistake, this collection represents a big leap forward in her development as a designer—and run into Alejandro Ingelmo, who did the shoes for the show, on my way down the perilously steep staircase. I mention how much I loved it and how exciting it is to personally witness a young designer hitting her stride. "I know," he says. "She gets better every season. With this collection, she really cleaned it up and pared it down. It's so refined." It certainly is. I ask if he's ready for his own presentation tomorrow night at The Standard and he replies in the affirmative. "You're coming, I hope?" I tell him I wouldn't dream of missing it.
But first, it's time for lunch (pizza!), followed by the Yigal Azrouel show at The High Line Stages on West Fourteenth Street. I'm busy Tweeting so don't notice my cabbie has blown by the venue until we're three avenues past where we should be, requiring us to double back to the West Side Highway. Good times. I'm seated in the Vogue section and listen as Teen Vogue fashion director Gloria Baume, who's wearing an adorable but heavy floral blazer, kvetches about the heat to former TV beauty assistant Laurel Pantin (now a shopping and market editor at Glamour). "Jason Wu was so close to my apartment, I was really tempted to just go home and change," Gloria says with a laugh. Well, she probably wouldn't be tempted to change into Yigal's creations, which look surprisingly heavy for spring, complete with chunky hand knit pullovers and many (many) rain hoods, some attached to swing coats and anoraks, others worn solo atop dresses and shirts. While it's nice to see the designer trying something new, this is an odd outing, full of utilitarian tent dresses and circle skirts that bear little resemblance to Azrouel's boho-luxe DNA.
Having already had two not so great cab experiences today, I take the C back up to Lincoln Center to catch the W118 by Walter Baker presentation at The Box. I'm not familiar with Baker's work, but I love (L-O-V-E, love) his spring collection It's based on the idea of the modern jetsetter and is full of wonderfully bold colors and take-no-prisoners prints (including a sublime pair of pants worn by the model nearest to the door, which bloom in a beautiful kaleidoscope pattern that radiates out from her crotch in a way that manages to be pretty, not vulgar). These are smart, commercially viable clothes for women who like to push the sartorial envelope but aren't a slave to trends. Everything feels very wearable and individual, meaning it'll be easy to adapt a few key pieces into one's current wardrobe to liven things up come spring. And the old-school, Crayola bright Skullcandy headphones worn by the models just ups the presentation's fun factor.
Rebecca Minkoff is also in a bright mood for spring. But then, why wouldn't she be feeling upbeat, with a front row that includes Lauren Conrad, Ryan Lochte, Kristin Chenoweth, Mia Moretti, Padma Lakshmi, Jamie Chung, Kaylee DeFer, Shanae Grimes, AnnaSophia Robb and the designer's Call Me Maybe video co-star, Leandra Medine. On the runway: an ode to photographer Slim Aarons and the people (and interiors) she captured in her work. This translates to paper bag-waist short shorts, hammock-fringed dresses, exuberant print skirts, glamorous head wraps and bellbottoms with floral panels running down the leg (as seen on the Manrepeller). Sure, there are still the multi-zipped moto jackets and leg-baring minis that are Minkoff's stock-in-trade, but overall this collection is sweet and sassy with just a hint of innocent sexiness. It's far more playful, and less overtly rock-n-roll, than in season's past and feels fresh, fun and decidedly optimistic. And who couldn't use a little bit of that for spring?
Afterwards, I linger backstage catching up with Padma Lakshmi (who I first interviewed for Fashion Wire Daily back in her pre-Top Chef days, when she was still married to Salman Rushdie and publishing her second cookbook), and realize there's no way I"m going to make it back down to The Standard in time for the Houghton show at 4pm. Given this, and the fact that my next event (the Emporio Armani store opening), isn't slated to start till 6pm, leaving me with a two-hour window with nothing to do (and a nearly dead cell phone battery), I decide to call it a day and head home to wrap up my writing and catch up on some zzzzz's. See you tomorrow!