I wound up having to skip the shows on Monday due to that pesky stomach virus (boo hiss!), which means I missed some of my favorite designers, including 3.1 Phillip Lim, Donna Karan, Karen Walker, Kaelen and Thom Browne.
Mercifully, I am feeling better this morning so off I go to Vera Wang. The show has drawn an A-list crowd that includes John Legend and Chrissy Telgen, Olivia Palermo, Christine Baranski, Jada Pinkett Smith (looking very pretty—and extremely tiny—in a pleated peach sheath) and my old pal Rachel Roy, who tells me she'd just seen Beautiful Creatures with her daughter the night before. "It was a bit corny," she says with a smile. "But I loved it." And I love Vera's collection. Riffing on the idea of classical dressmaking in sculptural silhouettes, the designer takes her minimalist-meets-maximalist tendencies to a whole new level via a series of curvy black wool vests, dresses and boleros atop slim stone or charcoal sheaths, and a strapless lace shift topped with a silk bandeau bra that binds the model's breasts in a most flattering fashion. This bralet is repeated on many looks, most winningly in bejeweled black on a simple kimono sleeved frock and in concert with a jacquard and brocade jumper. A passage of fringe tweed pieces add a dash of irreverence (and movement) to the highly textural proceedings, and the designer rebukes those who say she's too focused on black by way of stone rose jacquard and metallic flower cloqué separates in eye-popping shades of magenta, tangerine and fuchsia. Fur is another big story here: draped into capes, epaulets and uber-sophisticated shrugs. And let's not forget the chiffon-trains-atop-skinny-pants that trail down the runway. It may sound a bit all-over-the-place on paper, but in person it feels assured, cohesive and very, very desirable. Also desirable are the thick ankle strapped booties, which strike just the right balance of edgy and elegant.
After a delicious steak lunch at The Smith near Lincoln Center, it's a hop, skip and a jump on the 1 train to see Jules Kim's trunk show of her avant-garde jewelry collection, Bijules, at the W Hotel in the Financial District. Instead of releasing an entirely new collection for fall 2013, says Jules, "I wanted to push my archive and communicate my work over the past 10 years." To that end, she's dubbed this outing The Origin of Creation and set up displays throughout the spacious hotel suite, starting with the horizontal bar ring that she invented nine years ago (and which you may remember from The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo) and segueing through her bony knuckle ring to her nail ring to her ear cuffs to her gold nipple pasties to her sexy silk panties with delicate gold suspenders, all of which have been—how to put this delicately?—ripped off ad nauseum by other people. They've also been worn by a Who's Who of celebs, including Alicia Keys, Beyoncé, Rihanna and Stephanie Seymour (to name a few), all of whom can be seen in the various press books scattered throughout the space. "The way we consume fast fashion and deliver fast product is through that consumerist influence," she says while trying on rings for my benefit. "I wanted to really showcase the gut-wrenching creative process that's behind the finished product, which is not something people usually get to see." So in addition to the jewelry itself, Jules commissioned videos from four emerging directors from four different countries, all of whom were given a directive based on the designer's experience living on the Lower East Side during Hurricane Sandy, when she watched strangers come together in a time of darkness, both literal and figurative. "It was about shedding light on a very dark place," she explains. "So not just about the darkness but about hope and possibility and a sense of community." The four artists—Lina Plioplyte (from Lithuania), Gunnar Tufta (Norway), Ruben XYZ (Stockholm) and Alessandro Simonetti (Italy)—were given complete creative freedom and each took a unique approach, from Plioplyte's visual tone poem to Sznajderman's winkingly funny film starring a Bijuled Venus emerging from the half shell. The designer will be taking these videos—and the concept, the collection and the afterparty—on the road to Paris, Los Angeles, Berlin, Stockholm and Copenhagen over the next six months while she evolves her archival pieces into brand new creations for spring 2014. "I want to expose the story behind it now so that spirit of origin takes off like seeds in the wind," she says with a grin. "In today's market it's just about doing the safe thing and being accepted. But that's the worst—it just sustains the status quo." No chance of that happening with Jules Kim on the case.
From here, I cab up to The Standard for the presentation of Misha Nonoo's namesake collection. Following the adventures of a young Englishwoman invited to spend a weekend in the Russian countryside, we're treated to riding jackets and greatcoats adorned with Bolshevik military medallions, flippy skirts in Prince of Wales checks, Russian red gowns and leopard print shorts worn with furry Shapka hats. Standout looks include a tomboyishly chic fur collared herringbone topcoat whose sleeves are slit at the elbow and a black silk blouse with a magpie print bib tucked into a pair of checkerboard pleated trousers with a solid cropped cuff. "The heart of the brand is always British tailoring," Misha tells me while surveying the crowd from a corner of the wood-paneled High Line Room. "That's consistent from season to season." And if the clothes themselves aren't enough to telegraph her current romance with the Romanovs, the handsome young gentleman in the Russian military uniform escorting the models back and forth to the platform drives the message home.
And home is where I'm headed next. But not before a quick stop at Tess Giberson's Crosby Street store to pick up my just-arrived spring personal order (yay!). Because there's no better way to cap a day of seeing new clothes than to actually get some new clothes of one's own.
photos © Lauren David Peden/The Fashion Informer 2013