Wednesday dawns sunny and h-o-t with highs in the 90s and lots of good old NYC humidity. Fun! Dressing stylishly when you know you'll be running around town in a convection oven (sans car and driver) is always a challenge, but I pulled on one of my favorite summer outfits (Catherine Malandrino white embroidered peasant blouse, Eileen Fisher summer weight crepe pants and black patent/silver Mephisto Hubilias, which are like cooler, even more comfy Birkis). Because when it's nearing 100, you can't be a slave to fashion (apologies to Anna Dello Russo and Michelle Harper).
My first stop is the Grammercy Park Hotel for the presentation of Rauwolf, an incredibly chic Plexiglas clutch collection designed by Kristine Johannes. For spring, Kristine was inspired by the "tragic beauty" of Gavin Bryars' classical score, The Sinking of the Titanic, which led her to consider all manner of oceanic denizens and decay. There's a graphic black and white minaudière that recalls a wentletrap shell found of the coast of Japan, and others with silver surfaces that appear blistered and decomposed—but in the loveliest way possible. "Basically, you take a sheet of Plexiglas and you make it sick," the designer says with a laugh of her top secret technique, which had her Italian artisans shaking their heads in disbelief. The results remind me of the scarred, cloudy surface of an antique mirror—destroyed and worn down by time, to be sure. But also achingly beautiful and a tacit reminder of the fate that awaits us all. (All this from a little evening bag? Yup. That's the genius of Johannes.) I'm also enamored of the new Noblesse ("we're gettin' fancy with the French names"), a slope-sided clutch encased in a blown-up skin cell print with faceted Plexi crystals on the sides. Kristine demonstrates its super-light properties by faux tossing it while instructing me to "go long." We're interrupted by Deena Abdulaziz, the charming Saudi Arabian princess/owner of Riyadh boutique D'NA and her marketing director, Alex Aubry, who are running an hour behind schedule. After a quick introduction and a catch-up with Alex (whom I've never met in person but know from back in the day, when we both used to be frequent commenters on the then-new On the Runway blog), I reluctantly leave Kristine and her beautiful creations—and the equally beautiful Park View Suite, which is hands-down the nicest NYFW hotel venue I've seen thus far—to head to my next appointment.
On the way downtown, my cabbie and I start off having a pleasant enough conversation about politics and yesterday's primary results. He tells me he voted for Christine Quinn and Eliot Spitzer (whom he calls "my governor") and says his biggest issue is anti-bullying, suggesting there be signs posted in all classrooms and outside schools outlawing bullying. The penalty for noncompliance? "First offense: one week's suspension. Second offense: a month's suspension. Third offense: transfer to another school. No exceptions!" He also advocates higher education for all NYC teachers (at least one Master's Degree in the subject of their choice). We agree that Bill Thompson needs to concede, already (really, Bill, a few paper ballots are not gonna bring you to the 40 percent you need for a runoff) but things go off the rails when he begins ranting against Thompson—and blacks in general. "I'm not a racist, but…" and he's off to the races. Gulp. I express my disapproval and try to reign him in but he's now slagging off the city's entire Puerto Rican and Spanish community. Oh, Jeebus. Thankfully, my cab reaches its destination before I'm forced to physically slap some sense into him (as if that's even possible). Another New York cabbie conversation gone bad. Oy. But I've learned to pick my battles in these situations because, as my friend Sharon says, "You can't fight crazy, cause crazy always wins." True dat.
The accessories tour continues at the Kotur presentation at…wait for it…The Standard Hotel. Instead of the ubiquitous High Line room on the third floor, designer Fiona Kotur has taken the Empire Suite, which is filled with her colorful, whimsical creations. There are snakeskin wristlets, multimedia evening bags, sparkly clutches and an iPhone 5 minaudière with an outside slot for your cell, so you don't have to open it to read texts or take photos. Clever! I'm entranced by a tiny square snow globe bag with faux expletive graphic—it's got delicate red and gold stars encased in its liquid center that move when you shake it, and a slot for a 3x5 photo on the front. And the designer has introduced shoes for spring 2014, which range from two-tone snakeskin flats to flower and tassel-bedecked sandals to Turkish slippers and cap-toe pumps, all based around a globetrotting theme. "It's about the spirit of travel," the designer explains. "She's a Gypset who's been to Morocco, Istanbul…" Kotur's artist mom, Sheila Camera Kotur, did all the illustrations for the presentation, which depict wildly colorful creatures lounging atop piles of pillows or surrounded by riotous bouquets. "My mother was a successful fashion illustrator in the Seventies and Eighties who gave it up when she became an interior designer," says Fiona. "But she told me that she had so much fun doing these illustrations that she might take it up again." Watch your back, Garance!
After admiring the view from the Standard's top floor, it's on to my next stop: Jeremy Scott at Milk Studios' Made Fashion Week just up the street. As always, it's a celebrity scrum up in here, what with Nicki Minaj, Paris and Nicky Hilton, A$AP Rocky, Chanel Iman, Joe and Kevin Jonas, Liz Goldwyn, Iggy Azalea, Kat Graham, the MisShapes and more boldface names seated directly in front of me. I'm nearly blinded by the photogs shooting the Hiltons and have to resist the urge to photobomb them. (Must…stay…seated.) Jeremy's spring line is titled "Teenagers from Mars" and features a collaboration with the artist Kenny Scharf. His characters appear throughout the collection, as do the phrases "Mars or Bust," "Earth Sucks" and "I'm a Mess." You and me both, JS. The girls sport TV color bar bustiers and miniskirts with flippy, Mary Tyler Moore-as-Laura Petrie 'dos while the boys sport not much at all, save for painted on pants and purple zebra moto jackets. Freda Payne's Band of Gold and The Angels' 1963 classic, My Boyfriend's Back heighten the feel-good, nostalgic vibe. When one bikini-clad beauty sashays down the runway, I watch A$AP Rocky's jaw drop open (literally) while he mouths "Damn, she fine!" He watches her walk away until girlfriend Chanel Iman playfully slaps him on the leg to regain his attention—though he can't resist craning his neck to catch the rear view as she circles back down the other aisle. Backstage post-show, the couple are all smiles as they pose with Jeremy amid the craziness (and it is, to be sure, a crazy—and crazy crowded—scene). But everyone has a reason to smile as the show was a fun, exuberant paean to Eighties fashion at its finest.
I'm supposed to catch the Betsey Johnson and Anna Sui shows later tonight, but as Betsey's folks have only seen fit to give me a standing spot (uh, thanks but no thanks), that would leave me with two-plus hours to kill before Sui. So I decide to head home early. On the subway I see an ad that inquires "How ya feelin'?" Well, thanks for asking, MTA. I'm about ready for this Fashion Week madness to be over. And you?
photos by Lauren David Peden/The Fashion Informer, 2013 (except taxi photo by Noel Hidalgo, 2008)
I start my day by voting in the Mayoral Primary (cause I'm civic-minded like that) then hop a train (well, two trains) to the West Village presentation of LaQuan Smith. I'm heartened to see the big turnout for this emerging designer, whose work has been worn by the likes of Lady Gaga, Nicki Minaj, Rihanna, Ciara and others of that ilk. For his spring 2014 outing, dubbed "Dark Summer," LaQuan focused on what he calls "transitional casual wear" for those on the go, inspired by his own summer travels. "This is an ode to the girl that lives on a plane during the summer, the girl that is running to make her flight and then rushing to dinner, the girl that only packs two pairs of shoes for a week on vacation," the designer said in his program notes. So that would explain the sportswear/eveningwear mash-up, which featured models in schmancy sweats (think: metallic trimmed scuba shorts, reflective stripe terry crop tops) alongside plunging v'ed plastic lace dresses, a flounced hem canvas sheath and cutout metallic denim dresses that were decorous in the front and cut so low in track that they showcased the dimples on the models' bums. There's a bit of a disconnect between the activewear and the va-va-voom cocktail fare, but I give him points for trying.
Outside, I notice a crowd gathered to watch another crowd on the corner of Washington and Horatio. Turns out they're shooting an episode of Law & Order: SVU, and curious tourists have stopped to watch the crew in action. I didn't even know that show was still on the air. (Oh, the joys of not having television.)
It this is Tuesday, it must be the Highline room at The Standard. And so it is, in honor of Nellie Partow's presentation. It's a beautiful collection, full of sharply tailored daywear alongside softly sensual After Dark attire. "It's all about the silhouettes," Nellie, a former designer at John Varvatos and Calvin Klein, tells me. "I've always been into menswear and really wanted to play with the juxtaposition between menswear and softer pieces." Which she did via textiles like nickel foil jacquard and fine silk crepe. Nellie is also a fan of minimalism, as can be seen in the spare-yet-flattering cuts—especially evident in a nude off-the-shoulder dress and black sheath with shoulder cutouts. "I wanted to focus on a woman's character and her disposition this season," she added. Bravo! And did you know that the diminutive designer is also a competitive boxing champ and NY Daily News Golden Gloves title holder? It's true. So clearly she knows a little sumthin' sumthin' about the often conflicting elements that make up a woman's character and disposition.
My next stop is a few floors higher at The Standard (suite 1210, to be exact), where my friend Sinje Lesemann in showing her Koza collection of travel bags and accessories by appointment only. I'm very familiar with the brand—I've covered Koza many times since it launched in 2010 and am the proud owner of an early-edition Rajani tote—and am excited to see the latest evolution. In addition to introducing fun new fabrics (I especially love a blue and peach fern print and the cornflower tiger silk), the jungle-inspired collection includes a new, smaller hobo bag, two cork-bottomed totes, a twisted clutch that can be hooked onto your belt loop for hands-free sightseeing and a super-chic "lunchbag" that does double duty as a day-to-night clutch. And in keeping with the line's style-meets-substance ethos, Koza's beach clutch has a removable plastic pouch for storing your wet bathing suit at day's end. Smart! On the urban front, Sinje has introduced a range of new leather- and nubuck-trimmed bags, including a double-flap backpack designed to hold your yoga mat or umbrella (along with the rest of your everyday essentials), a two-tone tote that reverses from leather to fabric, and an iPad case with cool cork trim. A luxe diaper bag is also on offer (complete with removable plastic lining and coordinating changing pad), as is a chichi leather handle that can be clipped onto your shopping bags—or your favorite Baggu—to allow them to be carried over the shoulder in style. Sinje's girlfriend, Prim, stops by just as I'm leaving with her friend, Bridget Russo, in tow. I happen to know Bridget pretty well—we met years ago when she was the publicist at Edun—but we haven't seen each other in eons. It's an impromptu fashion reunion, and one of the things I like best about covering the shows.
I'm slated to hit the Newbark and Heidi Gardner presentations next, but they're 10 blocks away, I'm melting and my dogs are barking. While I'm sitting outside the hotel Tweeting and debating whether to nip into the Biergarten or just head home (it's crazy hot and a cold brewski sounds great right about now), I watch as a sloppy drunk tourist accosts the guy next to me, who is chatting obliviously on his cell phone until the drunkard practically sits on his lap. He swats the guy away and then it's my turn. He plops down beside me on the small yellow metal bench (where there's only room for one). "Can I ask you shhumpthing?" he slurs before grabbing my arm in a most unpleasant fashion. "No," I reply. "And why are you touching me? Get your hand off my arm." He looks hurt and perplexed—why wouldn't I want his meaty paw on my person?—but leans in to continue the conversation. Time to go!
As I cross Ninth Avenue at Fourteenth Street, I see a pair of girls holding enormous balloons that say "Shut Up & Shoot." Turns out they're shilling theQ, the world's first social media camera, which uploads your images to the interwebs automatically. Because God forbid you should have an experience and not document and share it immediately. I walk on into the night, feeling old and missing the days when social meant just that, and when friends were people you'd actually met and liked (as opposed to "liked.") Sigh.
photos by Lauren David Peden/The Fashion Informer 2013
Sadly, I had to miss the weekend shows due to previous, non-Fashion Week work commitments (deadlines to meet, money to be made and all of that). But I'm back in the proverbial NYFW saddle bright and early Monday morning. Ok, ok, late Monday afternoon.
My first show of the day is Azede Jean-Pierre, a designer I just discovered this season. Jean-Pierre is a SCAD grad who worked at Ohne Titel before launching her namesake collection in fall 2013. I somehow missed her debut, but her sophomore outing, presented at Made Fashion Week at the Standard Hotel, is mightily impressive. This season, she was inspired by the patterns found on beetle shells, which she's blown up into larger-than-life prints when not featuring the creepy crawlies themselves meandering up dresses and across low-slung shorts. "The overall vibe is happy and fun," the charming designer says of her feel-good collection. "I always do black and white so I wanted to try color." Clearly, she has a feel for it, combining yellows, blues, oranges, reds and greens in a very pretty, high-spirited stew. As for her garments' rounded hems? "There are no harsh lines or square edges in nature, so it was important to me to portray that," she says. "And the pieces show a little skin but aren't too sexy." Indeed, the collection feels both flirty and decorous, even in a crop top that bares a wide swath of midriff.
I hoof it over to the Maritime Hotel on Ninth Ave, where Adam Lippes is hosting an intimate showing of his spring 2014 collection in the light-filled penthouse. Having taken a little fashion break, Lippes kicked off with a soft relaunch last fall, so this is his first foray back into the Fashion Week fray. Just don't call it a presentation! "I prefer to call it a preview," he says with a smile, gesturing to the racks of clothing inside the suite and the five AL-clad models on the terrace. "I took a year off and thought, 'who am I and what is my role in fashion?'" The answer: he's evolved his brand from the contemporary to designer market, with pieces that blend relaxed silhouettes and uber-luxe materials, as can be seen in a white python t-shirt dress, delicate lace tops, leopard print suiting fashioned from a stiff jacquard fabric and a skirt with hand-embroidered leather appliqués that nods to the collection's signature lion motif. There's also a boxy tee and spaghetti strap dress that look like well-worn patchwork denim but are actually soft-as-a-cloud linen, and easy-elegant tank dresses designed to see you through summer in style. And those of us who mourned the closure of his Adam + Eve brand have reason to rejoice: Lippes is bringing back his t-shirt and undies line, which will be sold exclusively on his website beginning later this month. So even those who can't afford a snakeskin dress from his designer collection can get in on the action with his beautifully cut, well-priced basics. (I know Mr. TFI will be jumping for joy.) I bump into Derek Blasberg and Elettra Wiedemann on my way out, the latter trailing her chihuahua-mix puppy, Happy, who looks anything but. "He's very mellow, that's why I bring him everywhere," she says. "He's jaded. He just isn't very impressed by all of this." Unlike the rest of us.
The good folks at Donna Karan were kind enough to squeeze me in at the last minute (bisous, Aliza Licht @DKNY), so I hop in a cab to Cedar Lake, located on the farthest reaches of 26th Street in Chelsea. The audience, which includes Goldie Hawn, Joy Bryant, Marisa Berenson, Carine Roitfeld and Ali Larter, is treated to a medley of hits old (Adele's Rumor Has It) and new (Robin Thicke's catchy-if-completely-misogynistic Blurred Lines) while waiting for the show to begin. I misread the show notes as Librarian Culture and have a moment of cognitive dissonance (Donna's doing librarians? Whaaat?) before realizing it says "Urban" Culture. That makes more sense. Except it doesn't really, as the show itself is based on "the search for a scarf" and features lots of sunbaked, vegetable dyed mudcloth coats, a canvas lace-up skirt, handwoven suede fringe jacket and oversized linen caftan shirts in desert shades of sky blue and terracotta worn with flat stone necklaces, low-slung belts and distractingly large deconstructed leather hats by Stephen Jones. There are a few great looks here, to be sure (an indigo stretch georgette balmacaan with matching dress strikes the right note of rugged sophistication, as does an embroidered block print evening dress worn by Karlie Kloss that signals Donna's wanderlust muse without going overboard). And the shoes and bags are terrific. But a more prudent edit would've made things feel a bit less costume-y.
Speaking of costume-y. My next show is Thom Browne, master of the uber-creative, thought-provoking (if not always wearable) runway show. As always, he does not disappoint. Held at Center 548 a few blocks south of the Donna venue, guests step off the cavernous elevator into a warren of small rooms with white tiled- and padded walls. There are displays of medicine jars and plastic cups filed with Rx pills, headless mannequins hanging from the ceiling and disembodied limbs strewn about. The Edison lightbulbs are flickering wildly and there's some tinkly glockenspiel music droning through the speakers. The effect is totally creepy, like having entered an insane asylum, circa 1955. The TB-uniformed orderlies…I mean publicists, scurrying about trying to tame the crowd only heightens the Shutter Island vibe. I introduce myself to Harper's Bazaar editor Laura Brown, who's one of my fashion world faves (if you haven't yet seen her addictively hilarious video series, The Look, in which she interviews everyone from Sofia Vergara and Kate Hudson to Kiernan Shipka and Elmo (yes, Elmo), you can catch them here). Just be warned that once you start Looking, you won't be able to stop. I can't resist trying some of the pills (they're white M&Ms) and watch as a woman across from me keeps popping up to take photos after it's clear the show's about to start, causing a harried publicist to run out of the corner and escort her back to her seat.
Except the show is not about to start. As we listen to the repetitive music, the audience grows increasingly restless and uncomfortable, which surely is Thom's intention: once the crazy-making music and seizure-causing lights have driven us half-mad, the show will do the rest. Bwahahaha. All around me is impatient laughter and nervous chitchat. At one point, the lights dim and we all prepare for the first look. Then the lights go back up and the whole room explodes, "Oh, come on!" Editors from The New York Times, Bazaar and Teen Vogue are tapping their feet and checking their iPhone clocks. At 5:47 (nearly an hour after the scheduled start time), the photographers in the adjoining room begin a countdown ("5, 4, 3, 2, 1") hoping to kick things off. No dice. As the clock approaches 6pm, the elevator doors finally creak open and the sound of shrieking, crazy laughter fills the room, followed by Bjork ("Shhhh! Shhhh! Shhhh!"). A group of snood- and sunglass wearing, padded hipped nurses walk slowly down the runway and take up their posts near the entrance to each padded cell. Then come the poor inmates…I mean models, clad in ivory papier-mâché jackets, sliced latex tunics, paper doll dresses, opera-length rubber gloves and off-kilter pearls, their ghostly white makeup, smeared red lipstick and towering rat's nest bouffants attesting to their fragile state of mind. Some of the girls act a bit crazier than others, stumbling vacant-eyed through the rooms, their heads lolling at odd angles and their handbags hanging open while they listen to voices only they can hear. As what sounds like cats being tortured fills our ears, the models trail out and the nurses follow behind, offering select front row denizens little vials of pills (which prompts everyone in the room to burst into laughter). The show itself lasts 25 minutes (an eternity in Fashion Week Time), so guests bolt from their seats before Browne has even finished taking his victory lap, anxious to get out of the asylum and on to their next engagement.
In my case, that would be dinner with Mr. TFI followed by Libertine at Lincoln Center (I was supposed to hit the Rosie Assoulin and Maki Oh presentations at Industria, as well, but Browne's late start scotched those plans). Johnson Hartig's upbeat outings are about as far from Thom Browne's macabre theatrics as one can get. The Libertine invite trumpeted the word "Love" in big, bold letters above the choices oui or non. Naturally, oui had been circled in Magic Marker, as Johnson's is always an enthusiastically optimistic, say-yes-to-life POV. He's the fashion world's answer to Auntie Mame, and I love him for it (oui, oui, a thousand times, oui)! I sneak backstage to say hi and spot a trio of young men in sparkly suits, one of whom is clad only in black briefs. They pose for a picture and I lean in to stage whisper, "You're not wearing any pants!" The boy in question stage whispers back, "I know!" and we all crack up laughing. I spy Johnson in the corner, showing socialite skin doc Lisa Airan a few of his more colorful creations. Well, truth be told, they're all pretty colorful, awash in sparkles and beads and tie-dye and stripes and polka dots and the aforementioned LOVE/OUI/NON print. Even the model's nails are encrusted in Rainbow Brite crystals, and the women are sporting what could be construed as black tears or a prison tat near their right eyes. "I'm continuing my journey inward," Johnson says after enveloping me in a big bear hug. "I've traveled a lot this year—to India, Marrakech, Peru, France—and it's bringing me closer to my…well, I don't want to say inner spirit, but you know what I mean…" Indeed, I do. "I think of them as Earthly Warriors, protecting us," he adds with a smile while gesturing to the multicolored masses surrounding us. The good vibes continue on the runway, with models in God Save the Queen topcoats, sunny yellow hippie-chic maxis and foil-printed, party-in-the-front, business-in-the-back sweatsuits strutting to a Vanilla Ice remix (Ice, Ice Baby!) and Keef Richards' Happy. Which is exactly how this collection makes me feel.
Unfortunately, it's all business-in-the-front for me, as I head home to file my daily coverage. Thank Jehovah for my new Esquivel wingtips (a gift from the designer—thanks, George!), which allow me to pound the NYFW pavement in style, sans blisters. It's a Fashion Week miracle, people!
photos by Lauren David Peden/The Fashion Informer 2013
Fridays are usually a cause for celebration (TGIF and all that). But during New York Fashion Week, Friday just means you've hit day three in a jam-packed nine-day show schedule. Which is not cause for tears, mind you (oh, poor me, I have to sit through another day of inspiring fashion shows. boo fucking hoo) but no one who covers NYFW is in chillaxing weekend mode when Friday rolls around.
That said, my day gets off to a glorious start at the show of one of my favorite designers, Tess Giberson. I'm running late so decide to splurge on a cab and—after sitting through several traffic jams and banging a uey on 23rd to avoid another (which means we have to backtrack several blocks in the wrong direction before heading back to the West Side)—I find myself at Chelsea Piers, on time but $35 bucks lighter (ouch!). Tess has titled her spring outing "Remix," in which she aims to rework silhouettes, prints and wardrobe staples to create a new perspective on familiar pieces. To this end, she reimagines preppy classics—madras plaids, tennis skirts, collegiate sportswear—by giving them a downtown cool-girl spin. The plaid, for instance, is derived from a watercolor by the designer's artist husband, Jon Widman, and applied to silk chiffon dresses and intarsia knits, while the tennis dress is fashioned from white cotton ponte with sheer eyelet panels in a curved-hem shape. Elsewhere, classic suiting elements are repurposed in unusual ways, with blazer lapels appearing not on jackets but down the leg of pants, while trousers morph into dresses and jumpsuits. Tess also remixes her signature crochet pieces in innovative, new ways—as homespun sleeves on a graphic striped tunic, say—and puts a chic, urbane spin on classic athletic wear, crafting track pants from silk with organza side stripes and using perforated leather on elastic waist jogging shorts. The shoes—black and white criss-cross leather sandals with built-in spats and a high, chunky heel—are another fresh take on an old favorite. Post-show, I spy countless guests taking selfless in front of the crocheted backdrop, which was created for the occasion by set designer Andrew Coslow.
At the Duckie Brown show over at Industria, I'm seated next to my friend, Lauren Ezersky, who is looking resplendent, as always, in black Alaia pedal pushers and a pile of silver goth jewelry (with rings on her fingers and bells on her toes, she shall have music wherever she goes). The DB boys (Steven Cox and Daniel Silver) make music of their own with a collection that veers from the monastic (white denim work coats, pleated back polos and tuxedo t-shirts, buttoned to the neck) to the not so (basketball skirts, halter tops, a scallop edged jacket, drop crotch gym shorts). There's a cool passage of variegated striped pieces, and I especially like a navy lace mackintosh and a khaki lace work jacket worn with jute trousers and a printed burlap apron that reminds me (in the best way possible) of the potato sack dresses Lucy and Ethel wore on I Love Lucy. Duu-ckie, you got some 'splaining to do! Backstage, Daniel tells me that the jute apron was, in fact, inspired by the book Farm by Jackie Nickerson, which documents the lives of workers on African plantations. "They use coffee sacks as garments," he says while air kissing well-wishers. As for the other borrowed-from-the-girls looks? "The skirts are just basketball shorts opened up—and the halter is a sweatshirt without the sleeves." Clever, that. Outside, Florsheim (for whom Duckie designed all the patent oxfords worn in the show) has set up a Coolhaus ice cream sandwich truck (yum!), which show goers immediately queue up for, Fashion Week diets be damned.
I have lunch at Pastis, after which I drop my compact in the communal sink outside the bathroom, shattering plastic and powder all over the floor. D'oh! Thankfully, there's a Sephora on my way to the next venue, so I pop in to buy a replacement. The salesman—a very friendly, knowledgable guy named Kevin—insists of redoing all of my makeup to better demonstrate the virtues of Laura Mercier Smooth Finish Foundation Powder, which he promises will not settle into my nooks and crannies. I'm not a big powder person (I use it sparingly, on an as-need basis, to minimize shine) so by the time he finishes layering it on—a process that takes a full five minutes, versus my usual 15-second application—I feel like I'm wearing a second face on my face. The results look good but feel weird and constricting, like wearing a mask. Nonetheless, I leave with the powder, a Clinique Chubby Stick and a tube of Lancome Definicils Masacara (sucker, thy name is Lauren). I run into Duckie Brown publicist Deborah Hughes on Fourteenth Street and ask her whether it looks like I'm wearing an extra face on my face. "No, you look fine—great!—and it's sunny out here," she says. Ok, whew.
I think Deb's being honest (not just kind) but I'm not entirely reassured, so I ask Rachel Felder, who's seated in front of me at Sally LaPointe, the same question. "It looks fine to me but the light in here's not that great," she replies, gesturing to the dimly lit red and back stage set. "But who cares? It's so hot out you'll sweat it off before the day's over anyway." Good point. "I don't know about you, but I'm ready for them to get this party started," she adds with a glance at her watch. "I was hoping to have a Jeffrey moment before Cushnie." (She's referring, of course, to the designer emporium Jeffrey, which is right next door to the Highline Stages on Fourteenth Street.) Sally, who has been getting some great press as of late, unveils a collection inspired by deli flowers. Worn by models with long, center-parted Morticia Addams wigs, the collection features a techno jersey tuxedo dress and lambskin vest in past-its-prime rosebud pink, jackets and sheaths with tulip-inspired draping, petal bustier tops that float seductively around the wearer's torso and a pearlized patent leather vest, the color and texture of which recall both a bouquet of pink roses and the cellophane it came wrapped in. Wisely, the designer doesn't hammer her point home too literally, presenting plenty of other options—a black double-face jumpsuit, long ecru jacket with matching trousers—that nod to her tough luxe leanings while letting the accessories (pointy leather "long stemmed" collars, belts with petal-like waist folds) reflect her seasonal muse. She interjects a burst of color and shine with a passage of canary Lurex pieces before finishing with a series of lovely flower print cellophane organza dresses that feel beautifully melancholy, like a half-forgotten dream or a wistful memory that's just out of reach.
A publicist greets me at the backstage entrance and leads me through the cavernous backstage area, up several flights of stairs and down a long, twisting hallway where the designer awaits. Halfway there, I realize from his deferential demeanor and nervous chatter that he's mistaken me for someone else (read: someone higher up the fashion food chain). I don't bother to correct his assumption since I need to get my interview and hightail it over to the next show. "I wanted to capture an enticing sadness," Sally tells me while models pose for look book photos on the white seamless backdrop that's been set up nearby. "It's a little bit softer and more organic feeling, but it's still my DNA." I ask her about the reaction she's been getting to the terrific New York Times' profile that ran earlier in the week. "It's been amazing to see people connect to [my work] and understand it," she says with a smile. Also amazing is the fact that she included so many women of color in her lineup. This should be a non-issue in this day and age (hel-lo, it's 2013!) but sad to say, that is not the case, as model-turned-activist Bethann Hardison demonstrated in her recent attack on racism in the fashion industry. On my way to Milk Studios, I notice that Jeffrey is closed for Rosh Hashanah, so Rachel wouldn't have been able to have her Jeffrey moment even if she'd had the time (cue sad face).
At Cushnie et Ochs, the front row is full of It boys (Nigel Barker, J. Alexander, Jay Manuel) and It girls (Ashley Madekwe, Harley Viera Newton, Chelsea Leyland). I ride up in the elevator with Carly Cushnie's parents (she co-helms the line with Michelle Ochs). "The show is going to be great!" enthuses the PR who's escorting them. And indeed it is. Megamodel Karlie Kloss leads the parade in a white asymmetrical bandage dress with ruched elastic straps to the sound of Kelis crooning "C'mere copycat, you my puppet. You know I love it." This is followed by sliced white maillots and a neoprene body con dress with sheer organza cutouts covering the model's breasts. A grey buckled sheath and strappy nurse's dress follow, leading some in the audience (ok, me) to revisit their let's-play-doctor fantasies (oh, please, judgypants, like you don't have them, too). A pair of scribble print dresses looks like something a deranged child might have drawn, while a suite of super sexy black dresses with razor cut outs and restraints hew to the duo's more familiar kitten-with-a-whip proclivities. They soften up for evening with a trio of purple silk dresses, the last of which is worn by a nearly unrecognizable Chanel Iman, who's traded in her usual sunny smile for a sultry glower. "We were inspired by straightjackets," Carly tells me backstage after greeting Pamela Love, who designed the show's silver neck brace chokers. Are she and her partner feeling particularly unhinged these days? "Yeah,' she replies with a sly smile. "That's why there are all those straps and crazy scribble prints." I bump into Karlie Kloss on my way out and ask if I can take her picture. "Sure," she replies. "Just let me put my shirt on." Oh, fine, be that way. Carly and Michelle would not approve. PG-13 photo op completed, I walk ten blocks up Tenth Avenue to my next show. On the way, a photo in a gallery window catches my eye so I pop in to check it out. The sales guy and I start chatting about art and fashion and it turns out he's the ex-husband of one of my longtime fashion friends (they split up years ago, before she and I met). NYC is a very small town if you live here long enough—and I always love these Six Degrees of Fashion Week connections.
The VPL by Victoria Bartlett presentation is being held in the gymnasium of Avenues: The World School in Chelsea, a fancy schmancy private school for the offspring of Manhattan's international monied class (at least judging by the lobby and modern, incredibly well-appointed restroom, which has more than one mom in attendance exclaiming "this is the nicest school bathroom I've ever seen!" with obvious awe). Upstairs, in the equally impressive sun-filled gym, beneath signage with such inspirational phrases as "the only difference between a good shot and a bad shot is if it goes in or not" and "you miss 100 percent of the shotes you never take," Bartlett debuts her spring 2014 collection. Called "Onward," it pays homage to her label's origin as a fashion/activewear brand. To better demonstrate the sports cred of her garments' no-rub bonded seaming and seaweed-infused fabrics (which release vitamins A and E, providing a dose of skincare while you get your sweat on), Bartlett's models are put through their paces using resistance bands in routines designed by Bari Studio founder Alexandra Bonetti Perez. The tank tops, exercise bras, two-tone leggings and oversized shorts are sleek, colorful and more than a little sexy, especially when worn with elastic leg straps, which give the looks a Helmut Newton-does-SoulCycle feel. Sunglasses, neon headphones, open-toed sneaker sandals and rolled headbands of the Olivia Newton-John/Let's Get Physical variety complete the sporty chic picture. (And may I suggest you click the link just for a laugh even if you aren't an ONJ fan. Oh, the Eighties….)
A few blocks further up Tenth Ave, Novis designer Jordana Warmflash (yes, that's her real name) found inspiration in mid-century modern architecture and furniture design. This translates into a striking geometric map print that's used on t-shirts, pants, jackets and a vest dress. A larger, similarly themed geometric print appears on intarsia knit column dresses, and many of the silhouettes are long and lean, with lots of interesting textural layering and color combos. The designer's deft way with color is especially winning in a pink and yellow map tee atop a green skirt with a black and white grid under layer and checkerboard hem (which sounds like visual overload but serves to heighten one's senses rather than offend them). Likewise, a black and white drop shoulder sweater is paired, to great effect, with mint green map print pants. The result serves to amp up the volume on each piece, rendering the sum far greater than its parts. The contrasting Walter Steiger shoes only enhance the sharp, spirited interplay between Warmflash's playfully contradictory pieces.
Since I have a late start tomorrow, I finish my day by watching Nicole Holofcener's movie, Please Give, with Catherine Keener, Oliver Platt, Rebecca Hall, Sarah Steele (Eli Gold's daughter on The Good Wife) and a tanorexic Amanda Peet. It's both poignant and laugh out loud funny (Old Ladies Say the Darnest Things!). If you're into smart movies about realistic human interactions, I recommend it highly. It's the perfect antidote to all things fash-un!
photos by Lauren David Peden, The Fashion Informer, 2013
My day begins with the Tanya Taylor show down at Industria Studios in the West Village. While waiting for the proceedings to get underway, I spy the Anndra Neen girls across the aisle (looking super glam, as always) and have a lovely chat with jewelry designer Anna Sheffield, whom I haven't seen in quite some time. Taylor was inspired by colors and the work of Caro Niederer, a contemporary Swiss artist who specializes in rich, color-saturated paintings based on situations from her personal life and environment. That would explain the seating assignment card and run-of-show notes, which boast bright splashes of color I first mistook for lipstick swipes. The show opens with a series of bold skirts, suits and dresses with graphic black and white stripes bisected by riotous rainbow lines. Next up is a suite of "rainbow scroll" dresses, which feature swirly patches of color on ladylike chiffon worn with pointy-vamped stilettos with color-blocked heels. The color is tempered by a pair of white-piped denim skirt-and-top ensembles that give the eye a chance to rest. Then it's back to mirror embellished strapless cocktail dresses, floral mesh jackets and coats, blossom-splashed gingham and a series of hand-painted floral pieces that recall a garden in full bloom. The models wear neon crystal jewelry and headbands by Shourouk (who owes a debt of gratitude to Tom Binns) and wing-back mules by Paul Andrew. It may sound like overkill on paper, but in person it was lyrical, transporting and heart-stoppingly beautiful. Wisely, the models' hair is slicked off their faces and they appear to be totally bare-faced, with nary a trace of mascara or lipstick, placing the emphasis squarely where it belongs: on the clothes.
I walk up Washington to the Titania Inglis presentation at Made at the Standard and detour through the High Line park since I have a few minutes to spare, stopping to take a few shots of the gently swaying grasses (planted by Piet Oudolf, my favorite garden designer) and the DVF domed skylight in the distance. I overshoot the Standard by a block so circle back via Fourteenth Street, and when I round the corner in front of the DVF store, I spy the woman herself talking to the guy behind the counter. After a brief hello, I'm in the High Line room at the hotel, where Trent Reznor's singing about how he wants to fuck me like an animal. (Not tonight, honey.) The rmatte black runway is topped with a silver cage-like structure that reminds me of a kid's jungle gym but is, according to the show notes, inspired by the work of Buckminster Fuller, father of the geodesic dome, and Danish artist Olafur Eliasson, whose work employs light, water and air temperature (among other elemental ephemera). The resulting collection features a storm-grey mini with decorative leg braces and clay-colored sheaths topped by metal cage overlays. The most winning looks are those—like a simple grey halter dress with a triangular metal clasp and a slinky white gown with delicate waxed cotton cording criss-crossing the cutaway back—that wear their muse lightly. And as always, this eco-chic designer used natural dyes and veg-tanned leather throughout.
I kill some time answering emails in the Standard lobby, then head over to Milk Studios for the Costello Tagliapietra show. I pop backstage to see the boys (Jeffrey Costello and Robert Tagliapietra) pre-show, where I find them chatting with their longtime friend Debi Mazar, who has her daughter, Giuliana, in tow. She agrees to pose for a picture as long as I take another using her camera ("the one we took before didn't come out"). Mission accomplished. As for the collection, says Robert, "We wanted to broaden the spectrum. Our friends always want what we make for ourselves, so we took the Costello girl on vacation. It's easy, light and approachable. So a touch of us with an inherent femininity." All I know is, I'm loving the muddy plaid prints that are hanging nearby and can't wait to see them on the runway.
I head back to my seat and notice Marie Claire Accessories Director Kyle Anderson directly across the aisle. I've never met him but am a huge fan of his work (seriously, don't be put off by his OTT personal style; the guy is a genius at uber-inventive, out-of-the-box accessory stills and if you think I'm exaggerating, check them out for yourself ). "Tell my boss!" he cracks when I tell him he's the only reason I buy the magazine. "They think my ideas are too out-there!" Au contraire, mon frere. [Note to Anne Fulenwider: Whatever you're paying him, it isn't enough.] Once I'm back in my seat, Robert Verdi swings by to say hi and give me a little present: a black box festooned with a Louis Vuitton-like RV logo ("It's tongue-in-chic," he quips. "In honor of my fifteenth anniversary in the fashion industry.") Inside: a handmade beaded bracelet spelling out "Front Row," a sweatshirt with his cartoon image on it and a postcard depicting him alongside Anna Wintour, André Leon Talley, RuPaul and Andy Warhol at runway show (Andy Warhol? Robert. Honey. You aren't that old!).
But back to Costello and their fabulous clothes. Which really are fabulous, from the blurred plaid blouses and knits to the persimmon pantsuit with bright yellow blouse to the navy tuxedo pants with a red stripe running down the inside of the leg. I love many of the looks here, most especially a navy dress topped by a long, belted sleeveless cardigan (modeled after the ones the designers wear most days) and a blue "pieced" dress with seams that curve around the body like a hug (a very, very sensuous hug). And I love, love, love the Costello-does-Birkenstock sandals and cross-body messenger bag, both of which I plan to incorporate into my own wardrobe next summer. On my way out, I bump into Vogue's Meredith Melling Burke and fashion consultant Roopal Patel. "Oh, I like your little bag!" cooes MMB, pointing to my RV logo'ed box. Back off, bitch, this swag is mine!
After a late afternoon lunch (arugula and prosciuotto pizza, if you must know), it's up to Lincoln Center for my final show of the day. I still haven't picked up my official Fashion Week press credentials but figure I'll have time after the show so head in to the tents, where I'm immediately reminded how much I dislike this venue and all that it represents. Why? Because unlike Bryant Park (or even more than Bryant Park, I should say) it feels like a sterile, commercially driven convention hall. Between the space itself (which is ugly and artlessly designed with icky fluorescent lighting), the off-message sponsors littering the lobby (Sweet"N Low? Reel Code Media? DHL?) and the people littering the lobby (fashion hangers-on who seem more interested in taking selfies than seeing the shows), it all feels very tacky and bottom-of-the-barrel. And while I'm well aware that fashion is a business (one that generates billions of dollars annually), there's a crass commercialization to the tents that feels at odds with the creativity and blood, sweat and tears that go into producing a collection—even if said collection is ultimately destined to be sold and marketed to throngs of insatiable consumers. That's all fine—and necessary—but it should come later, after the clothes have been shown and sold to buyers, not before. In fact, I'm not sure why designers still choose to show here, aside from the economic benefits (the tents are far cheaper than an off-site venue, where the designer also has to pay for lighting, seats, security, et al.). Still, the venue kind of encapsulates the basest parts of the business and feels very much like a dinosaur well past its prime. But I digress…
I'm here to see Marissa Webb, and the J.Crew alum does not disappoint. Before the show, I watch as a cute, young illustrator named Danielle Meder sketches a woman in the front row (who turns out to be Cory Kennedy). As for the collection, it's inspired by the designer's own personal style—and hers is a style worth coveting. She opens with a high waisted blush pink silk skirt with matching shell (so pretty!), which is quickly followed by an austerely cut red crepe dress, moto jacket, tie-neck blouse, deep-v tunic and full skirt mini before segueing to a borrowed-from-the-boys-but-better olive (excuse me, fatigue) green shirt jacket with black leather pockets. It's tossed casually over a floral ruffle dress and accessorized with black cutout booties and a faceted onyx pendant. The perfect sexy-tomboy mix, in other words, which is Webb's preferred oeuvre. Other standout looks include a white silk-tie blouse over a black floral silk minidress, and an electric blue petal shirt atop black leather shorts with colorful racing stripes zooming down the sides. It's Webb's own wardrobe writ large—and it's exceedingly cool and exceedingly sexy (in a smart, sophisticated, not slutty way).
I'm hoping to end my day by picking up my press credentials (which make it easier to get backstage and which I registered—and paid for—weeks ago). Alas, the press office is set to close in 15 minutes and a burly security guard informs me that no one is allowed to get on the line past where he's standing (that would be me and a few other unlucky journalists) and no amount of wheedling will sway him from his appointed task. He tells us to come back at 7am the next morning. As if. I have seven shows on Friday, none of them in the tents, and the next time I'll be at Lincoln Center is for an evening show and the office will be closed. He is unmoved.
I'm supremely pissed and feeling sorry for myself when I pass a young woman sitting on the sidewalk a block or two from the tents, surrounded by a suitcase and backpack, begging for change. She's holding a hand-written sign that reads "A little kindness goes a long way." I mentally congratulate her for this lovely sentiment, then realize I should practice what she's preaching. I double back to give her a few bucks and ask, "How did you wind up here?" (meaning out on the street, begging for money). She acknowledges the cash I hand her with a nod and half-smile. "I took a bus from where I'm from," she replies. "No, I mean how did you wind up living on the street?" I inquire. Something about this girl—she looks so young and so alone, surrounded by all her wordily possessions and her DIY cardboard sign—has gotten under my skin. "Family troubles," she says with a resigned sigh and a look that speaks volumes. "Welcome to the club," I say, which turns her half-smile into a full on grin.
I walk to the subway wondering about this girl's story and the circumstances that led her to find herself, not yet old enough to drink or vote, sitting on a sidewalk near Columbus Circle. And having just come from the vulgar display of commercial excess that is the Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week tents, I find myself wondering about the fashion world's priorities—as well as my own.
photos by Lauren David Peden/The Fashion Informer, 2013
Labor Day weekend is still receding the rearview mirror—and summer along with it (*sigh*)—but it's time to ditch the paddleboard, stash the rash guard and pull out ye old Moleskine and ballpoint and head back to school. And work. Which, in my case, means New York Fashion Week.
The spring 2014 shows are kicking off a day early (Wednesday is now—egads!—part of the official fashion calendar), so I bid adieu to the beach and hit the ground running, the memory of a summer spent in flip-flops growing dimmer as I try on each NYFW look (something I do before each season so I don't have to think about what to wear once the week gets crazed). Armed with a fresh mani/pedi, I head into the fashion fray.
Thankfully, my first day is a light one (only four shows) and begins at the home of my old friends Phoebe and Annette Stephens, the designing sibs behind the jewelry line Anndra Neen. "We wanted to bring people into our working environment," says Annette, who's wearing a graphic black-and-white top with silky trousers, of inviting editors and buyers to view the collection in their art-filled living room just east of Manhattan's Grammercy Park neighborhood, where their latest pieces are surrounded by paintings and sculpture by their grandmother, father and Maxwell Gordon, their father's creative mentor. "It was inspired by the movie Baraka," adds Phoebe, who's a vision in fuchsia. "Baraka means 'blessing' in Arabic." The duo was also inspired by recent vacations in St. Barths (Annette) and Mexico (Phoebe). "It's textures from around the world," says Annette. "So we think of it as a global collection." Indeed, the webby brass cuffs and flat hammered chokers have a distinctly organic vibe, while other more streamlined pieces (such as pair of sleek brass and silver collars) feel more urbane and future-forward. Throughout, there are reworkings of Anndra Neen signatures—from an updated version of their iconic caged clutch to a 3D triangular breastplate worn by a regal-looking model—and they've introduced a chic cross-body caged cell phone bag for spring. Phoebe mentions that their four-year anniversary is fast approaching and confides that they still get a thrill out of seeing someone wearing their jewelry. "it never gets old," she says with a dreamy smile. "Seeing someone in one of your pieces it's like hearing your song on the radio."
On my way back to the subway I bump into my pal Doria Santlofer, who styled the Whit presentation earlier this morning. After a quick sidewalk catch-up, it's straight up the East Side to Lisa Perry's in-store presentation on Madison Avenue. The invitation posed the question "tennis, anyone?" and I'm assuming the collection will follow suit. I greet InStyle EIC Ariel Foxman on my way in, who just saw the first viewing. "You'll love it!" he enthuses. "It's really fun." I settle in on a white wooden bench just in time to see the first models stride out onto the green felt court…I mean runway, in pairs or quartets (nodding, I assume, to a singles or doubles match), wearing their all-white ensembles while Dionne Warwick's Do You Know The Way to San Jose? and a moody remix of Walk on By play in the background. As for the clothes, Ariel was right: I do love them. They're both cute and incredibly refined, whether it's an asymmetrical crepe mini-max dress, an iridescent Watteau-back cocktail frock, a sporty cable knit sheath or shorts worn with a matching crop top. Many of the looks feature round cutouts or circular pockets, and all are worn with high, sporty ponytails, white terry wristbands and strappy, sky-high sandals or canvas slip on sneakers. There's even a tennis bride, resplendent in her white backless halter gown. The final score? Lisa Perry: Game. Set. Match.
The Ivana Helsinki show is taking place at Pier 59 in Chelsea, and I arrive at the second floor venue to find a crazy-long line snaking past the glass doors, around the corner and all the way down the hall. But what do you expect when the invite promises "music by Shirley Manson" (yes, Shirley Manson, the frontwoman of Garbage). I cut the line (shhh, don't tell!) and make my way to my front row seat. Designer Paola Ivana Suhonen was inspired by The Bridges of Madison County, a 1995 chestnut starring Clint Eastwood and Meryl Streep as star-crossed lovers in 1960s Iowa. The show opens with a moody short film, directed by the designer, featuring a Helsinki-clad model, suitcase in hand, cavorting in color-saturated meadows and revisiting the bridges for which the movie and collection are named. Ah, yes, the collection. It's a sweetly nostalgic, highly naif paean to quaint midwestern style, replete with prim lace and button-back floral dresses, fringed suede minis, polka dot swing coats and a sundress embellished with raffia-like wooden beads. Butterflies come in many forms—on silver necklaces, as an embroidered motif, as 3D rubber appliqués taking wing on a vest and as an original print (dubbed "Iowafly") in cheerful shades of turquoise and orange. There's even a macramé butterfly perched atop one girl's head. Most of the looks are worn with coordinating gloves, kerchiefs, she's-come-undone braids or ginormous straw sun hats—and a few models sport hand-painted seamed "stockings" on their otherwise bare legs. And though Shirley Manson does not appear on the soundtrack (which features vintage Neil Young, Simon & Garfunkel and Bill Withers tunes), she has collaborated on a duck-illustrated tank top worn with faded high-waist denim flares. While I find a few of the butterfly pieces and ruffled pinafores a bit heavy-handed, overall this is a sweet, highly personal outing that puts me in a really good mood, despite the Shirley Manson no-show. It's only when I get home, hours later, that I realize she produced the music for the short film (which is mentioned nowhere in the program notes and flashed so quickly on the screen that I—and many others in the audience, judging from the grumbling I heard on the way out—missed it entirely. Thank God for Youtube.
The Veronica Beard presentation is over at the Bleecker Street Arts Club, a third floor walk-up in the West Village. Outside, it's still 2013. But upstairs, it's 1983 all over again. Models with long, slicked-back hair stand on bright, graffiti covered cubes decked out in leopard print suits, denim leather jumpsuits, neon floral sweatshirts, multi-zip dresses and clear, python embossed trench coats accessorized with Jennifer Fisher spike earrings and a playfully surly 'tude. It's as if VB designers Veronica Miele Beard and Veronica Swanson Beard took this past spring's Met Museum "Punk" moment, evolved it a few years to the early Eighties (when their new wave girls ditched CBGBs in favor of the Mudd Club and Pyramid) then dragged the whole shebang into the here-and-now and gave it a modern uptown do-over. For despite its retro inspiration, this collection feels very fresh and of the moment.
The same, alas, cannot be said of my retro self. So while I'm supposed to end the first day of Fashion Week at the celebratory launch party for the new accessories e-com site Editorialist (which just published my fall features on Tom Binns and Jessica Alba), my dogs are barking and I'm too tired to socialize, so I hightail it past the Big Gay Ice Cream store and call it a day.
photos by Lauren David Peden/The Fashion Informer 2013
My final day of the New York Fashion Week fall 2013 shows starts at The Box at Lincoln Center with Brandon Sun, one of my favorite emerging designers. Inspired by the organic, tranquil interiors of Axel Vervoodt and the Gutai art movement of 1950s Japan—particularly Kazuo Shiraga, who applied paint to the soles of his feet then hung from a rope above the canvas and let nature take its course—"I let my fabrics dictate how they would hang," says Brandon. "It was about finding the soul of the fabric and creating a new way to wear fur." (Fur being his raison d'être.) To this end—and with Blackgama sponsoring the presentation, which featured 20 models standing on a raised platform in the center of the room—he sheared mink to resemble plush velvet, topped a texturized leather biker jacket with Persian lamb panels and crafted leather and mink into an undulating peplum bodice with detached mink sleeves. "I wanted to take mink in a new direction," explains the designer while standing in front of his drop dead gorgeous collection, which feels feminine, sculptural and powerful in equal measure. Elsewhere, a long satin skirt pools at the model's feet, her upper half swaddled in a cashmere kimono cardigan and the aforementioned lamb and leather biker jacket. A black-and-white intarsia mink overcoat and stole (the latter worn atop a Chantilly lace tuxedo blouse and draped flannel skirt) instantly sets my heart racing. Ditto a Kazuo embroidered leather sheath and tank worn with slouchy black tuxedo pants and a silver fox collar. And the palette of moody black, grey, inky blue and hunter green strikes just the right note of somber and soignée. (And on the beauty front, his models sport a loose in front/bun in back 'do that is similar to those worn at Ruffian. One more sighting and we've got ourselves a hair trend, people!)
Designer Christina Kim is showcasing her ZuZu Kim collection via private appointments at the Empire Hotel across the street, so I pop in to see what she's got up her sleeve for fall. Inspired by 16th century garments, Christina focused heavily on the shoulders this season. "I love a sculptural, cape-like silhouette with an almost armored shoulder," she says while two models change into various looks. I especially like a high-collared trench with leather half-sleeves and a structured, belted raspberry cape with lace shoulder details. Another winning piece comes in the form of a black curly lamb, rabbit and leather vest that "kiss" at the seams.
Then it's on to the Garment District, where the CFDA Incubator designers are hosting a group press preview. I swing by to say hi to Daniel Vosovic, who is displaying his Egon Schiele-inspired spring 2013 pieces as his fall collection is currently at the showroom for buying appointments (and isn't debuting until his official presentation in March). He tells me he picked up 23 new stores for spring, including Shopbop,Treasure & Bond in New York and Isetan in Tokyo. I've known DV since his Project Runway days, so I couldn't be happier about his well-deserved success (I feel like a proud mom…I mean, big sister). After admiring his silk print tops and "cracked seam" pants [note to self: order a pair in black asap], I head next door to see WHIT designer Whitney Pozgay, who I was unable to track down at her presentation last week. CFDA poobahs Diane von Furstenberg and Steven Kolb swing by to pay their respects to designer Emanuela Duca while I'm checking out her fine jewelry wares, and I do quick drive-bys at Burkman Bros (rugged menswear), Reece Hudson (killer handbags) and Jonathan Simkhai (ska- and sports-inspired womenswear). I missed Jonathan's presentation Saturday night at Milk (which was styled by the incomparable Susan Joy) and his publicist tells me the designer's not on hand for today's event because he tore his meniscus muscle while hemming pants on a model and is currently in surgery. Yes, really. And you thought fashion was all fun and games. I peek into the W Hotels Inspiration lounge on my way out. W Hotels sponsors the CFDA Incubator and is sending each of the designers on a five-day trip to a W of their choosing, anywhere in the world, as inspiration for the spring 2014 collections. Daniel Vosovic and Reece Hudson are both heading to Instabul in a few weeks (separately), while Whitney P's off to Bali. Now that sounds like fun and games. [Note to DV: If you need a traveling companion—or valet—I'm available.] I run into CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund nominated jewelry designer Jennifer Fisher on my way out and snap a shot of bauble-laden appendages.
Back downtown at The Standard High Line Room, I take in the sustainable stylings of Titania Inglis, who I first met last winter when she won the Ecco Domani Fashion Foundation award. This season, she tells me she's channeling "a parallel world where magical things can happen" (a phrase I hear her repeat to reporters a half-dozen times, verbatim, before she says it to me). So much for original questions or original answers; Fashion Week fatigue has set in and we're all on autopilot. No matter, as her designers are original enough, from the leather and jersey asymmetrical hem cone dress to a grey geometric paneled dress to a color blocked druid gown with a neckline slit down to there. And then there's her use of fur, which sprouts from the shoulders of a military coat, is fashioned into a puffy miniskirt and, in the case of a reindeer jacket with leather sleeves, engulfs the model's head like some creature from the great beyond (or, you know, a parallel world where magical things are happening rightthisminute). (I call that world Jacques Torres.) Titania tells me that at first she was "grossed out" by the thought of using fur, but as she learned more about sustainable and ethical methods of fur farming and tanning, she decided to try and incorporate it into her designs in ways not usually seen in an urban environment or an eco-chic collection. Hence the reindeer hoodie, which was sourced from the Sami tribe in Lapland and helps sustain their way of life and the surrounding woodlands. But I do wish the designer would include fabric details in her program notes. Without them, it's hard for the layperson to tell what makes her plaid trousers or sweaters different from those of her less environmentally concerned colleagues.
Anarchy symbols? Check. Shredded t-shirts? Check. Exposed zippers? Check. Animal prints, checkerboard, cartoon graphics, black leather minis, colorful fun fur, asymmetrical haircuts and seriously bright eye makeup? Check, check, check. Jeremy Scott clearly hearts the '80s this season. And the crowd, which includes Bryanboy, Leigh Lezark, Michelle Harper, CL, Kat Graham, Mia Moretti, Natalia Kills, A$AP Rocky, Big Sean, Ellen von Unwerth, a buff Perez Hilton (wearing a kilt, suspenders and no shirt), clearly hearts Jeremy Scott and his OTT street style tributes. Terry Richardson is sitting in front of me and before the show starts he and the other celebs are mobbed by photogs, to whom he gives his signature thumbs up over and over. "Is that thing insured?" I ask him. "No, but it is a little swollen right now," he says with a grin, holding it next to his left thumb so Leigh Lezark and I can compare. "I need to remember to switch them." Which he does for the next 50,000 photo ops. Once the lights dim, though, all eyes are on the runway, where retro-punk boys and girls bop around to the strains of the Beastie Boys, Blondie and the B-52s ("Rock Lo-o-ob-ster") in a fun, energetic New Wave homage that makes me instantly nostalgic for the 80s and—having worn it all the first time around—makes me feel young and old at the same time. I think I actually owned a version of Scott's "Too Weird to Live, To Rare to Die" t-shirt back when Sid and Nancy roamed the earth. *Sniff*
After lunch at my favorite Mexican joint, I cab back up to Lincoln Center for yet another presentation in The Box (which I've been to I don't know how many times this week, which is why it felt like Groundhog Day when I woke up and looked at my schedule this morning). On the way, I cringe in horror watching models in a Taxi TV Juicy Couture ad butcher Joan Jett's Bad Reputation. Just stop it, Juicy. Co-opting the original Runaways' badass anthem is not going to make your craptacular mid-market mall clothes seem any more sexy or subversive than they are (which is to say: not at all).
Sexy and subversive are, however, fitting descriptives for the Leather Japan event. Featuring eight Japanese-based leather designers, this group outing is a mix of presentation, runway show and live musical performance. While the 10-piece Japanese punk band Turtle Island plays in a screened-off arena in the middle of the venue, male and female mannequins stalk the square runway that rings the stage in clothes by Sasquatchfabrics and Blackmeans. Meanwhile, shoes, bags, jewelry and electronic charging devices designed by Genten, Hender Scheme, Ed Robert Judson, Ini, e.m. and Kenji Amandana are displayed in glass cases on the floor surrounding the stage. It's a bit cacophonous, but I like the shoes and bags and I love, love, love the music and the energy in the room, which is exhilarating, even if most in the too-cool-for-school fashion crowd are afraid to let loose and whoop it up.
Twenty-three dollars and one harrowing cab ride later, I'm at the Hotel on Rivington for an appointment with Kristine Johannes of Rauwolf. I've covered this new, uber-modern evening bag collection in TFI's Introducing column but have never actually met the designer in person. Kristine turns out to be absolutely charming (and much less intimidating than her rather stern-looking headshot might suggest) and she excitedly shows me a two-page spread featuring her bags in the March issue of Elle before showing me the new bags themselves. Crafted entirely from Plexiglas—polished, matte and of varying thicknesses—the designer worked with her factory in Italy this season to make the bags lighter and carve out more interior room for one's iPhone, lipstick and other evening essentials. In addition to being less heavy and more capacious, the new fall styles feature degradé and wood details, including one clutch fashioned from a wafer-thin briarwood panel sandwiched between two pieces of colored Plexi for an almost 3-D holographic effect. In addition, the frame of each bag is now dyed to match for a chic, tonal look. Rauwolf bags really are unlike anything else out there, and it's exciting to imagine where Kristine will take her creations—and us—in the future.
I'm supposed to finish up the day back at Lincoln Center with Anna Sui and Clover Canyon, but I've got several (non-Fashion Week-related) deadlines looming so I decide to call it quits early so I'll have time to finish my show coverage and get my other work done, as well.
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
After sleeping till 9am (!) and writing yesterday's coverage, I help Mr. TFI plan his upcoming snowboard trip then watch the DKNY livestream from the comfort of my living room. The connection keeps dropping, which is frustrating, but I spy lots of floor-sweeping dresses and tops with trains, cozy charcoal knits, leopard print sweater dresses and color block motocross pieces, all of which have a slight Nineties vibe. Also channeling the Nineties: the finale's Frank Sinatra/ Notorious B.I.G. remix of Juicy/New York, New York.
My first in-person event of the day, Cynthia Rowley, doesn't start 'til 6pm, which gives me plenty of time to recover from yesterday's tummy trouble. Combining her fall 2013 presentation with the opening of her new Upper East Side boutique-cum-candy store/art gallery, Cynthia is hosting a party at the four-story townhouse on East 78th off Madison. It's a lovely building set back from the street that guests enter by walking up an alleyway decorated for the occasion with a fanciful arbor and flower installation by Raul Avila, the man behind the Met Costume Institute Gala decor. Models in the fall 2013 collection pose in a French Door'ed antechamber off the ground floor wearing styles with a "mysterious and curious feeling." Styled by Vanessa Traina with a nod to Helmut Newton, this translates into mother-of-print print skirts and popovers with a luscious holographic effect, an elegant quilted cocoon coat and a soignée indigo fur jacket. Much of the volume is reigned in with real mother-of-pearl belts and many looks are worn with sheer tights studded with giant cabochons, which resemble luxe dot candies. Meanwhile, the designer is holding court on the second floor, a whimsical wonderland devoted to her latest venture, CuRious candy and CR-branded party supplies (sparklers, piñatas, paper plates, wrapping paper, ribbon and the like). "We just signed the lease on December 28th," she says of the townhouse (which also includes the Half Gallery and Exhibition A spaces upstairs). Wow, that was quick. "I don't fuck around," she replies with a laugh. Eddie Roche from The Daily asks if she's worried about getting cavities. "No, but I was just thinking this afternoon that I should have invited my dentist!" With that, Cynthia's youngest daughter, Gigi, helps me fill up a goodie bag with malted milk balls, sour peaches, Twizzlers and gummy bears and I head back out into the night.
Fifteen minutes later, I'm seated in the front row at Zac Posen's show at the Plaza. I chat with Moda Operandi's Taylor Tomasi Hill then run around the upper level of the stately Terrace Room taking pictures of all the Posen-clad PYTs (Leigh Lezark, Katharine McPhee, Harley Viera Newton, Amanda de Cadenet Taylor, Michelle Violy Harper and a very pregnant Molly Sims). I bump into Sarah Sophie Flicker and Tennessee Thomas and mention how much I liked the "You Don't Own Me" women's rights PSA they did with Tavi Gevinson and Miranda July pre-election. "We just did another one about fracking, it's out in five days," says Sarah Sophie, proudly adding that 10 million more women then men voted in the recent election. "Well, we had to," I say. "We sure did!" she replies. On the runway, Posen showcases other strong women—including HIlary Rhoda, Coco Rocha, Lindsey Wixson, Catherine McNeil and a lusciously curvy Crystal Renn—in evening looks that range from red carpet-worthy mauve satin/chiffon and bordeaux draped velvet gowns to a structured camel wool coat with floral embroidered pants and a stunning rust duchess satin peplum top with a bordeaux tweed pencil skirt.
From here, I hoof it over to Lincoln Center for Ralph Rucci's latest tour-de-force, featuring 65 beautifully crafted looks in shades of citrus, violet, beige, black and white, including a mouth-watering passage of mink and feather coats in nude, shocking pink, chrome yellow and optic white worn by seven models who walk the runway en masse. Other standout looks (among the thoroughly standout collection) include a black leather wrap skirt with a painterly print silk top, a black leather embroidered dress with sheer insert encircling the waist, and a black crepe pant suit with skin-baring mesh-and-leather center panels that trace the contours of the wearer's torso in a way that manages to be simultaneously daring and decorous. (Neat trick, that!) I also love an OTT faux fur coat that looks like otherworldly tinsel and an embossed leather pants and jacket ensemble worn with a knee-length lace tunic. Post-show, I congratulate Ralph and ask why he's dropped "Chado" from the name of his label. He explains that was done as the brand expanded into the Asian market, so as "not to polarize" anyone. "It was my idea, not our new CEOs," he adds with a grin. "Plus, do you know how many people in this country are confused by the name? I can't tell you how many times I've been in Neiman's and heard a client ask, 'Is Chado here yet?' So it was time."
Jackie Fraser-Swan is showing her fall 2013 Emerson collection next door in The Studio, and on my way through the Lincoln Center lobby I'm offered yet another free electronic cigarette (the season's newest swag trend, of which I heartily disapprove). Thankfully, there's no smoking—mechanical or otherwise—at the Emerson show. What we do get is a collection inspired by her idea of a beautiful, post-apocalyptic world. "It's a new vision," she tells me backstage, where the girls are dressed and lined up in first looks while waiting for the Boston-based designer's mother and four children to arrive from Penn Station (their flight from Beantown was cancelled and their subsequent Amtrack trip delayed multiple times earlier in the day, so they're literally arriving with seconds to spare). The towhead children arrive around 9:40pm to rapturous applause from the crowd (who've been clued in to the situation by People's Rev PR doyenne Kelly Cutrone) and out come the models in all their sophisticated punk finery while a Ramones/Billy Idol/Siouxsie Sioux remix blasts from the speakers. I'm loving the muddy yellow-and-grey chiffon plaids (which nod to the designer's Scottish heritage), including a black lambskin dress with a pleated plaid swag at the hip. Even models' manicures are plaid! The purple metallic tinsel knits are cool, too, as is the show jewelry, designed by my pal Anna Sheffield, who just happens to be sitting across the runway.
While I head off to my Saturday morning shows, Mr. TFI heads off to cross-country ski in the park (the lucky so-and-so). Winter Storm Nemo has gifted us with nearly a foot of fresh white powder but—despite the storm-related Metro North, LIRR, NJ Transit, Amtrak and airport shutdowns—the NYFW shows must go on!
And so they do, beginning with Ruffian at 9am. The venue is surprisingly packed given the time and weather conditions. Ruffian duo Brian Wolk and Claude Morais reward the faithful with a stellar lineup of peplum jackets in old-world tweeds and floral jacquards, Prince of Wales check trousers, metallic bouclé coats, horsehair corsets and men's shirting. The collection, dubbed "Reverie," is inspired by life on the Bowery then (Sherlock Holmes hats, sweeping peignoir capes) and now (Moscot shades, knee-high Frye boots, knee-length tassel necklaces and loose-in-front, bun-in-back hairdos). The guys are greeting well wishers backstage and I add my hosannas to the chorus then head to the Marissa Webb presentation next door.
Marissa Webb, for those who don't know, is the former head of womenswear design at J.Crew who launched her own label last season. For fall, she's moved further away from the colorful, piled on aesthetic that is her ex-employer's stock-in-trade in favor of a more pared down, upscale vibe. There's still a wealth of textural interest in the form of short sleeve tweed tops, an asymmetric leather skirt, windowpane plaid blazers and bold pops of color via a flame red popover and electric blue moto pants, but these street style magnet pieces are offset by a delicate white drop waist dresswith lacy inserts, sober charcoal peplum skirt suit, military coats, bow-neck silk blouses and fur or herringbone capelets atop camel reefer coats. And the pointy, metallic-tipped shoes are the epitome of ladylike cool.
I once again find myself with three hours to kill between shows—in an attempt to not overload my schedule and maintain some semblance of sanity and balance this season, I've opted to cover far fewer shows then I have in the past. So I cool my heels in the nicely appointed Samsung Galaxy Lounge (think: white leather seating areas with Jonathan Adler-meets-Kelly Wearstler pillows, throw rugs, tables and floor lamps overlooking the Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Lincoln Center lobby, with a white lacquer bar serving complimentary tea and cappuccino and a handy-dandy iPhone…err, I mean Samsung….charging station). I call my sister in LA, catch up on work (Tweet, Tweet!) and revel in the feel-good tunes spun by DJ Crysal Clear, a cool-looking chick with a 'fro to rival Erykah Badu's and delightfully old-school musical tastes. In the two hours I'm there she spins The Police (Roxanne), The Stones (Miss You), Prince (Musicology), Janet Jackson (That's the Way Love Goes), Stevie Wonder (Higher Ground), Rod Stewart (Do Ya Think I'm Sexy?), Talking Heads (Psycho Killer), Sweet (Fox on the Run) and remixes of classic pop tunes like Human Nature by the late, great Michael Jackson. I couldn't have chosen a better playlist if I was manning the turntable (or iPod) myself and am as happy as a pig in you-know-what.
Then it's off to lunch and the Libertine show at Café Rouge near Penn Station. On my way down 32nd Street I pass the Crazy Coughing Lady who emptied my subway car yesterday morning. (What are the odds?!) She's wearing the exact same outfit (though it's now obvious she's a woman) and still hacking up a lung in the most disgusting manner imaginable. I swerve about eight feet to avoid getting sprayed with spittle and she gives me the stink eye but keeps walking.
I pop backstage at Libertine to get a few pics of the hair and makeup team in action and say hi to designer Johnson Hartig, who tells me the collection was inspired by "many things," including a recent holiday trip to India ("which was my second time visiting but felt like it was my first; everything felt new"), punk rock (especially the songs of his favorite band, The Damned) and tie-dye, among other things. He calls over a model who's wearing a beautiful coat with matching silk pants in a mosaic-like Moroccan carpet pattern (yet another inspiration) and I remark that these look like new garments (Libertine is known for producing artfully reworked vintage pieces). "They are!" Johnson exclaims. Also new: the men's luxe cashmere cable cardigans and eye- or silhouette-print sweaters with matching scarves. But his beloved vintage do-overs are also very much in evidence, including several gorgeous plaid coats and skirt suits with new rock crystal beading embellishment. This technique is repeated to dazzling effect on many of the pieces, such as a suite of black evening looks with colorful Indian-inspired beadwork. On the way to my seat, I run into Mary Alice Stephenson, Meredith Melling Burke and Bonnie Morrison, who's handling the front of house press. On the runway, I'm happy to see all of Johnson's disparate themes come together as a cohesive whole, along with several versions of Libertine's signature crystal skull motif, which feels softer and a bit more abstract this season. I also love a trio of looks with the childlike exclamation "neat" repeated from head to toe. It's an apt summation of the collection, which is feel-good fashion at its best.
The Katarina Grey presentation is down Broadway at the Nomad Hotel penthouse. The young Barcelona-based designer is hosting her first-ever New York Fashion Week event, which is a paean to decadent opulence. In sartorial terms, this translates to a sheer silk top with an elaborately embroidered black duchess satin bell skirt and a red crepe poet blouse atop black leggings with gold embroidery snaking up one thigh and black leather "waves" cascading down the other (a motif that's repeated on the sleeves of a lavishly embellished leather jacket, as well). There's also a black lace top with swagged duchess satin/leather pants, a goddess-worthy ivory crepe de chine blouse paired with a matching chiffon skirt encircled by a gold appliquéd leather belt, several lipstick red evening looks in decorous-from-the-front, revealing-from-the-back silhouettes, and a black satin column gown with Barbarella-like cutouts at the waist and a gold lace sleeve so fine that from a distance it looks like Saran Wrap. Working with shapes that "deconstruct the female body," the designer tells me she based one statement-making jacket (with a stiff, cocoon-like structure that rises from the model's back like a cobra's hood) on the S-curve. It takes a bit of maneuvering to see the looks clearly, as the models are standing in front of a wall of sunny windows, which renders them little more than silhouettes from certain angles, but Katarina clearly has a strong, original vision and the technical chops to back it up. Heightening the effect is the models' classic maquillage and ladylike updos, which have been painted with glittery gold leaf for a truly decadent touch.
I'm scheduled to attend seven more shows tonight (VPL by Victoria Bartlett, Calla, Louise Amstrup, Jonathan Simkhai, Otswald Helgason, Alejandro Ingelmo and Moncler Grenoble) but my stomach has been acting up for the past few hours—whether from the terrible pizza I had at lunch, residual germs from the Crazy Coughing Lady or something else entirely, I do not know—so in an effort to preserve my health and not make anyone else sick, I decide to go home and rest. Tomorrow is another day, as our fashionable friend Scarlett O'Hara so famously declared. Until then, I bid you adieu.
photos © Lauren David Peden/The Fashion Informer 2013
On my way into Manhattan, a well-dressed young man treats folks on the subway platform to a rousing soliloquy from The 300 ("This is Sparta!"). When none of his startled audience responds—but begins inching away in case he's crazier than he appears on the surface—he mutters something about his cousin Allen being in the movie. A pigeon coos and he says, in a mock serious tone, "Thank you, pigeon. I know you appreciate my ac-ting!" An elderly black gentleman offers a hearty round of applause, bringing a smile of delight to the thespian's face. "Thanks, man!" he says, offering a grateful fist bump.
Once I'm on the train, a certifiably crazy older woman (man? it's hard to tell beneath the many layers and hat) begins coughing and sneezing and honkingly blowing her nose (sans tissue) in a loud, extremely aggressive manner, purposely spraying nearby straphangers with her germs. Gross! Everyone on that side of the car begins moving away in droves or jumping out at the next stop, whether they need to get off there or not. The woman next to me starts exclaiming loudly in Spanish about her being loco. No shit, Sherlock. Another woman across the aisle warns the complainer (in Spanish) not to make a bad situation worse and tells the rest of us (in English) not to stare at the crazy lady or make eye contact. Good advice. Thankfully, the Loco Lady gets off at 34th Street, leaving the rest of us to ride in silence until Fourteenth Street. Ah, life in the big city. So glamorous.
When I get out of the subway, it's sleeting sideways. Nothing like a little freezing rain pelting your face to get you in the mood for a fashion show (though today I'm dressed for the weather in my cozy, shearling-lined Cole Haan duck boots and have ditched yesterday's fur vest for a more snowstorm-friendly hooded wool coat and trapper hat, as it's supposedly the start of Snowmageddon 2013).
Thankfully, my first show of the day, Sally LaPointe, more than makes up for my transportation and weather woes. Quoting the lyrics to Depeche Mode's In Your Room in her show notes—"In your room where time stands still/Or moves at your will/Will you let the morning come soon/Or will you leave me lying here/In your favorite darkness/Your favorite half light/Your favorite consciousness/Your favorite salve"—LaPointe sends out a stunning collection of edgy-chic, artfully layered pieces—bonded mohair dresses and jackets whose ocelot print looks like a cross between marble and an H.R. Giger print, crocodile tops with trailing camel silk shirts, sleek leather and suede blazers, dresses and jumpsuits in refined shades of camel, red and pink—some bisected by contrasting patent and mohair panels or architectural cutouts. The play of texture upon texture is beautiful, the colors softer in the beginning of the show before segueing to rich burgundy ombré and inky black—and the last passage features black suede and patent pieces or crocodile print cashmere with cool matte sequins. All the looks are worn with thigh high black or white leather gators, shoes designed in collaboration with Alejandro Ingelmo and jewelry by Made Her Think. It is, imho, the designer's best collection to date.
I sprint up the West Side Highway and make it to Ecco Domani Fashion Foundation winner Susan Woo's Pier 59 presentation with enough time to do a quick twirl around the room to check out her collection of sleek, tailored pieces with clever details (such as the mesh panel bisecting the waist of a black wool georgette sheath, the sheer snakeskin print torso and sleeves on a cream georgette blouse, or the charcoal and cement twill color block coat with black leather sleeves). I especially like a white poplin/georgette drop tail button down worn with perforated black leather shorts and a cropped wool turtleneck with attached wrap scarf.
Tess Giberson's hour-long presentation is taking place down the hall, so I jet over to catch the last 15 minutes. And good thing I did, as this is a tour de force (dubbed "Evolution") that follows the designer's progress from artsy-craftsy knitwear specialist to her more recent incarnation as creator of clean, modern clothing for empowered creative types. Fittingly, the first thing one sees upon entering the space is a quartet of colorful knits based on a quilt Tess's mom had made when she was a kid, including a multicolored intarsia collage sweater dress and a kick-ass black cashmere coat with multicolor hand knit sleeves (yes, please!). From there, the vignette segues to layered asymmetrical tunics over pieced leggings with fur or waxed cotton toppers. Then it's on to slightly less layered looks (heavy on the slashed, leather stitched knits and sharply tailored coats) in moody shades of olive, cement and charcoal. An all-black foursome of sleek cape dresses and drapey, fur-trimmed coats follows, culminating in a split back wool blazer with tonal floral print overlay and a pair of floral collage silk dresses featuring a print made in collaboration with Mr. Giberson (that would be her artist husband, Jon Widman). In keeping with the spirit of collaboration for which Tess is famous, an original soundtrack was created for the occasion by musician Sahra Motalebi, inspired by the birth of singing as heard through women's voices as they evolve from talking to singing tentatively to something more spiritual and transcendent. And while there are a few professional models among the 20 women standing on the raised wooden platforms, most are musicians or artists, which lends the event a welcome air of originality and authenticity, two qualities that are sorely lacking in most NYFW affairs. "I wanted to get back to the performance aspect of putting together a show," Tess tells me after explaining the idea behind the evolution concept. "Something collaborative and much more personal—more of an event." Between the thoughtful, well-designed clothes (which are self-reflective without being nostalgic), the non-model casting and the soaring score that fills the high-ceilinged space and resonates with the viewer emotionally, that is exactly what she's done.
I have three hours to kill before my next show so I hightail it to midtown to meet Mr. TFI for some afternoon delight (by which I mean lunch at Saju Bistro, people. Geesh, get your mind out of the gutter). Afterward, I accompany him back to his office where I spend a few hours writing up the morning's events (I have a laptop but hate toting it around during the shows and am loathe to thumb-type entire posts on my iPhone). After some mental to- and fro-ing, I decide to skip Cushnie et Ochs' Milk Studio show despite the lure of a front row seat in order to finish filing my story.
I watch Rebecca Minkoff's live-streamed show instead (think: leather coats, color blocked grandpa cardis, houndstooth boots, plaid balmacaans and print pants with matching tees). I'm surprised to see that the cameras zoom in on guests' cellphones while they're texting (to the point that I can clearly read the recipient's name and the exact content of their messages). I'm sure that there are signs posted all over the venue warning that the audience will be filmed but I'm not sure folks realize this means their private texts and emails are being broadcast to an audience of millions online. Big Brother is watching, indeed. As for the clothes, they're ok, if a little all over the place (and what is up with those poufy primary color dresses?). Minkoff seems to change sartorial direction each season, which isn't all that surprising for someone whose strong suit is accessories and only recently branched out into ready-to-wear. I think she's talented but am hoping she's able to solidify her vision in seasons to come rather than continue to take a "let's throw everything at the wall and see what sticks" approach.
By the time I get back down to Pier 59 for A Détacher at 6pm, the ground is covered in a fluffy white carpet of snow and the city feels hushed and peaceful (for now, anyway). This feeling continues inside, where designer Monika Kowalska unveils a collection of abstract camo and fur print jumpsuits and dresses, long 'n lean calf-length cardigans and cozy blanket capes to an audience that includes designers Tom Scott and Marcia Patmos (I'm surprised to see it's a full house, despite the hype surrounding the impending Snowpocalypse). I'm especially digging the refined sweatpants (worn with Kowalska's signature wooden heeled pumps and booties) and the oversized paperbag waist navy wool trousers topped by a slim orange and taupe striped sweater. And I am tickled to see yet another knit turtleneck dickie on the New York runways (this is the third one I've seen in as many days, which means it's officially a trend). Other winning looks include a series of dresses and blouses with a horizontal ruffle/pleat overlay running across the shoulders and down the arms, and the globe print finale jumpsuits and dresses, which, like the much of this outing, have a slightly louche, Seventies vibe. And while the two-tone mullets are definitely a don't-try-this-at-home trend, they're fun in the context of the show, which was styled by the incomparable Haidee Findlay-Levin.
The snow is really starting to stick by the time I leave so I jump in a cab to Soho for my final show of the day—the debut of knitwear designer Amanda Henderson. While in transit, I read on Twitter that the MTA has begun shutting down portions of the 5, 6, 7, J/Z and B subway trains. Gulp. I did a little feature about Amanda for Elle.com earlier this week and am really glad I made the effort to see her presentation, as her pieces are even more beautiful in person than they are in photos. Devoted to creating hand knit, one-of-a-kind items, the ethereal blond tells me she is expecting buyers from Barneys at the event but has no desire to mass produce her wares, preferring instead to work with a small number of retailers and boutiques to whom she'll offer exclusive styles in limited runs of five or so pieces. Smart cookie. In addition to displaying her finished pieces on a half-dozen models and an artfully curated wooden rack, the designer has also set up a selection of her incredibly elaborate beadwork (which she later translates to her knits), alongside a table showcasing her inspiration/mood book, sample beading stitched on pieces of felted wool and her fall 2013 look book. On the way out I pass a wall that's strung with her fanciful sketches, hanging from tiny wooden clothespins. I'm blown away not only by her talent but by the creative and thoughtful way Amanda chose to present her work to her first Fashion Week audience, which allows viewers to not only experience the designs themselves but to get a glimpse into the ideas behind them and to see firsthand the painstaking handwork that goes into making her concepts a reality. I exit on a cloud of fashion euphoria, knowing that I've witnessed the arrival of a uniquely gifted new talent—and for me, that's what NYFW is really all about.
Unfortunately, my fashion high is short lived as I bump into Andrew Mukamal (Kelly Cutrone's former assistant-turned stylist) on the 6 train, who tells me he was supposed to be working till 2 or 3am prepping for a Tuesday night show but the whole design studio was sent home after being told the MTA was shutting the entire subway system down at 8pm due to that selfish bastard Nemo. Seeing as it's 7:53pm and I still need to transfer to the train that'll take me home, I start to have a teensy weeny panic attack, jump off the 6 at Union Square and run to catch the last train out of Dodge. I make it with seconds to spare (whew!) and later learn that the subway system is not being shut down at 8pm (Andrew, you are a big fat liar pants).
A few hours later, I get confirmation emails from both Ruffian and Marissa Webb's publicists informing me that their early morning shows at Lincoln Center are scheduled to start on time tomorrow, as planned. Clearly, it's business as usual for the fashion crowd this weekend. Snowmageddon be damned: Nemo is no match for the juggernaut that is New York Fashion Week.
photos © Lauren David Peden/The Fashion Informer 2013
Thursday is the official start of Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week fall 2013 shows—meaning the tents at Lincoln Center are open for business.
I arrive an hour earlier than I need to for my first show, assuming there will be a sizable wait, as there always is, to pick up my press credentials. After freezing my butt off yesterday, I'm dressed for the occasion in my Tess Giberson hooded wool coat topped by a black Mongolian lamb vest (also by Tess). I'm laughing my ass off at Daniel Vosovic's Twitter rant about people so desperate to be shot by street style photogs that they're walking around the Garment District in open-toed shoes, sans coats (can you spell "lame," boys and girls?), and look up as my cabbie reaches Lincoln Center to see that there's no line (I repeat: NO LINE) at the press trailer. What the what? In nearly a decade of covering the shows, this is the first time I've ever waltzed right in to pick up my press pass. Richard Chai, here I come!
But while there isn't a line for credentials, there is a big line for Richard Chai's 11am show. On my way up the stairs, I'd spied the entire edit teams of Vogue, Elle and InStyle spilling out of the tents but the Lincoln Center lobby is more packed then I've ever seen them this early in the morning, full of outlandishly dressed hangers-on who are clearly more interested in preening and being photographed then in taking in a fashion show. Who are these people and where did they come from? And why won't they get the hell out of my way so I can enter the venue, already? Geesh.
I take my seat in the nosebleed section (literally, the seventh—or last—row) and await the start of the show. The redhead seated to my left announces she's going to go find a better seat until they "start to shimmy" (whatever the hell that means), flounces down the steps and plops down in a front row seat. Ballsy bitch. I watch as Chai's publicist, Megan Maguire Steele, escorts a tall, thin blond in sequins and hooker heels (totally appropriate kit for a mid-morning show—not!) to a front row seat in the Teen Vogue section. Then the redhead is back, asking if there's still room for her to squeeze into the row. There is. She announces that the blond is, in fact, a "newly skinny" Ashlee Simpson. An usher invites me to move up to a sixth row aisle seat, and I happily accept.
After peeping Jim Moore, Cathy Horyn, Suzie Bubble and Kate Lanphear (among others), the lights dim and out come the models—male and female—in handsome olive drab wool coats, great plaid suiting for the guys and slim wool peplum pencil skirts in black and a dazzling shade of purple for the gals. My favorite piece is a women's metallic poliamide/wool bomber with ginormous, face-framing collar. And I get a chuckle out of an evergreen suit with boxy, double-breasted jacket and cropped pants that looks like an homage to the clothing favored by RC's bff, Phillip Lim. There are subtle touches of embroidery on some of the men's coats and sweaters, and really terrific outerwear (always a strong suit in Chai's collection). I grab a copy of the discarded run-of-show notes off someone's chair on my way out (they only provide them to guests in the first and second row) and am surprised to see the colors described as powder blue, lilac, citrus and lavender. Clearly it read darker from where I was sitting (or maybe Chai is colorblind?). The fabric descriptions don't make sense, either. Did I just have a hallucinatory experience? I email his publicist to ask about the discrepancy and learn that the program notes are, indeed, incorrect (his team printed out last season's notes by mistake) and the colors are military green and pewter and charcoal and mercury. Whew. I thought I was losing my marbles for a minute there.
Over lunch at The Smith across from Lincoln Center (where I order the Fashion Plate Special (heavy on the fish) and read in The Times' Thursday Styles section that Chai takes out a row of seats at his show to widen the runway to give the clothes a more "sweeping effect." Not sure why a designer who specializes in daywear (with nary a space-hogging ball gown in sight) would require said "sweeping effect" but that explains the tight squeeze, seating-wise. I also peruse the debut issue of the Deborah Needleman-helmed T mag, which looks fantastic (love the redesign) and appears to be full of interesting articles (which I won't get to actually read until Fashion Week ends).
At Kimberly Ovitz, I'm seated next to the DJ Chelsea Leyland and we chat about our mutual friends Annette and Phoebe Stephens, designers of the jewelry line Anndra Neen (Chelsea and I are both wearing Anndra Neen necklaces, though hers is definitely more of a show stopper). As for Kimberly's show, well, it is a show stopper, too. Truly. I am besotted from first look to last, and that rarely happens. Full of sensuous, cocoon knits and trailing, dripping layers of swagged jersey in beautifully blurry, bright-yet-organic shades of lapis, azure, lagoon blue and sulphur, KO has scored a K.O. with this outing (sorry, I'm helpless in the face of a bad pun). I pop backstage to congratulate the designer on a job well done and tell her I want every. single. piece. "It was all about the protective responses of animals and insects" she explains of her trapunto stitched jackets, webby knits and exoskeleton-like dresses, which could be termed sophisto-goth.
Next stop: The Harvard Club, where I take in the 40th anniversary celebration of the tennis line, Boast, which is helmed by a quartet of partners that includes Ryan Babenzien and Andy Spade. "It's fun with a little twist," CEO Babenzien says of the modern prepster collection, full of kangaroo-pocket polos, sporty shorts, colorful bombers and stripey knits. He tells me that Boast's president is a member of The Harvard Club and that they are the first-ever brand invited to do a Fashion Week presentation in its hallowed halls. After saying hi to Peter Davis and his sister, Minnie Mortimer (who helped with Boast's womenswear), I head downtown to Milk Studios for the Costello Tagliapietra show, passing an amazing installation of Marilyn Monroe in NYC photos in the Penn Station subway tunnel.
I don't have time to go backstage afterwards so I pop in beforehand to wish the boys (Costello Tagliapietra designers Jeffrey Costello and Robert Tagliapietra) my best. Jeffrey and I talk about the ridiculous number of shows on the NY calendar this season then I join my colleague Rachel Felder in the front row and people watch while waiting for the show to start. Inspired by maps, topography and aerial views, the collection features gorgeous painterly prints, sophisticated knit caplets, teddybear skirts and coats, and lots of sexy secretary silhouettes. Standout pieces include a purple-blue and voilet draped waist dress, a gray-brown v-neck draped dress and a zipfront alpaca teddybear cape, which looks so plush and luxe and cozy that I want to wear it immediately. I tease Rachel (who is famous for her bold red lip) that she was clearly the muse for the makeup—the model's lips are so bright they're practically neon. Also attention-getting are the shoes, made by Schutz for CT.
I hoof it down to Industria for the NYFW debut of Ecco Domani Fashion Foundation winners, Tome, where I bump into the Anndra Neen gals in the flesh on my way in (Tome designed the jumpsuits featured in their spring 2013 presentation). The Georgia O'Keeffe-inspired collection is austere—full of sculptural shapes and a purity of line—without feeling cold or untouchable. Neat trick, that. The staging is also terrific, with the models standing side by side in individual spotlights, which results is an interesting play of shadow and light and makes the girls feel connected yet separate, allowing the viewer to easily see them as individuals and a cohesive whole.
I cab up to the Novis presentation in Chelsea and am, I must admit, sadly underwhelmed. I had wanted to check out this show after loving the vibrant and colorful spring lineup on the designer's website. But while this collection is ok—with lots of fit-and-flare crinoline dresses and velvet, houndstooth and leopard print separates—it's a little too retro and derivative to warrant much excitement. Even the models' hair feels like old news (unless you find Jane Birkin and Anita Pallenberg-style tousled tresses noteworthy).
Decidedly more in the present tense is the Dezso by Sara Beltran jewelry collection. Inspired by the concept of the Nahual, a sacred element that lives within each of us and helps protect our souls and guide us toward our truest selves, Sara found her Nahual in India—and it's this special relationship between woman and place that informs her fall collection. Showcased in wall-mounted display cases, in evocative photos of Indian elders and worn by a handsome young Indian(esque?) male model, who sits cross-legged on a painted bench, the pieces blend semi-precious stones, shells, resin shark's teeth, gold and neon cording into jewelry that feels both personal and universal in a preconscious, old-as-time kind of way.
My last stop of the day is the Haus Alkire presentation in the brand's Soho storefront. I'm surprised to see only four models standing on the raised wooden platforms and when I ask if this is the whole collection, a staffer tells me there are 24 looks in all, being shown in groups of eight, and that four more looks should be out shortly. After what feels like an interminable wait (but is probably only 10 or 15 minutes), I head backstage to see what's up. Turns out one of the models had fainted just before I arrived, then began convulsing. Needless to say, the designers (husband and wife team Julie Haus and Jason Alkire) are totally freaked out and waiting for the EMTs to arrive before resuming the presentation. Two minutes later, the EMTs have arrived, and while their production team tends to the ailing model, the duo shows me their mood board and explain the genesis of the collection, which was borne from the 10 days of darkness, quiet and solitude that enveloped lower Manhattan after Hurricane Sandy. So in addition to prints based on a dying Banksia flower, there are images of a dark building lit by candlelight, a "Dream Tree" park graphic and others based on overexposed images of the uncollected trash and newspapers that littered the streets of Soho for weeks after the storm. They also explore texture through the use of eel and anaconda skins, flat furs, fused wool and hard crystals (which is why there are three Swarovski reps taking in the show). They also cite The Elephant Man as an influence, as it is one of two DVDs the couple owns, which they watched ad nauseum during the blackout on laptops they'd charge at their 38th Street office each day. "It was about finding beauty in something that's normally not so beautiful," Julie says. "Making a happy moment from something somber." Mission accomplished, J&J! And on another happy-from-somber note: the fallen model has recovered by the time I'm getting readt to leave and insists on rejoining the lineup at the front of the house.
Sadly, I do not fare as well and suffer a major fashion fail on my way home, when my usually comfortable Rick Owens booties threaten to hobble me, once and for all. Maybe it's the fact that I'm wearing two pairs of socks to beat the cold or that I've been running around town and on my feet for the better part of eight hours, but my toes are totally numb and the balls of my feet feel like they're on fire.There are no cabs in sight and I am, quite literally, limping up Broadway and trying not to cry when a Lady Foot Locker suddenly appears in front of me like a vision from heaven (cue angelic trumpets). Though I've been trying not to do any impulse shopping, I gimp inside and buy a pair of Liberty print Nikes. It's either that or sit on the sidewalk crying until a good samaritan offers to pick me up and carry me home.
I'm supposed to go back to the West side to see Erin Barr and La Perla, but the thought of being on my feet a minute longer than I have to is unfathomable. So I carry my booties onto the subway and call it a (very fashionable) day.
photos © Lauren David Peden/The Fashion Informer 2013
Is it? Can it be? New York Fashion Week is here again already? Yup, it's time for the fall 2013 shows, and I'll be bringing you the latest news from all your favorite designers.
Wednesday (actually the unofficial start to Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week, which launches at Lincoln Center tomorrow and runs through Valentine's Day), began with a stop at my local nail salon for a quick polish change so I know I'm putting my (ahem) best fingers forward.
Two subways and one rousing Led Zeppelin Houses of the Holy guitar solo later (thank you, Union Square busker!), I find myself braving an arctic wind whipping off the Hudson on my way to the M.Patmos presentation at Pier 59. Not even my trusty cashmere coat (Tia Cibani-era Ports 1961, if you care) can cut the chill. Thankfully, designer Marcia Patmos is serving up some toasty fashion in the way of army green sweaters with delicate silk shoulder panels and bronze knit bodices, double faced olive bombers, luxe turtleneck dickies and cropped pants offset with a judicious serving of sequins, ikat and reversible camo print jacquard, offering the wearer two looks for the price of one. "It's menswear with masculine/feminine military details," Marcia says while showing me the collection. I am especially enamored of the trompe-l'oeil knits and reversible shearling pieces, including one yummy navy and brown patchwork coat that is destined to live in my closet. "They're smart for travel," says the newlywed designer of of her twofer pieces. "Super functional and multi-purpose." Equally smart: her scarves, hats and fingerless gloves, which were knit using zero waste techniques. And then there's her shoe collaboration with Manolo Blahnik, which resulted in a Sixties-inspired skimmer and an elegant pump, both of which have neon-lined ankle straps and sexy, lace-print insoles. Best of all, much of the collection is made locally, at a factory in New Jersey. It's all quite beautiful and gives a whole new meaning to the term "eco chic." After making post-NYFW lunch plans and saying hi to her husband, Richard (the two got married last fall on my own wedding anniversary, coincidentally), I head back outside to brave the wind.
Next stop, Old Homestead, where I indulge in a strip steak with a side of roast garlic (heaven!) and watch Lizzy Caplan in Viva Vena's hilarious fashion film spoof.
Then it's on to the 6 to head uptown for the Lisa Perry presentation, dubbed "maZes, twiSts & dOodLes" (whimsical capitalization hers), which is taking place at the designer's shiny white Madison Avenue boutique. Here, young girls in backcombed ponytails and Gucci Westman makeup sport LP's "it's a mod, mod, mod, mod world" dresses, replete with colorful graphic stripes, checks and circles on forgiving A-line silhouettes. Outside, a pair of pint-sized fashionistas are mimicking the moves of the model in Perry's store window, much to the amusement of passersby.
I take the train back down to Union Square for the debut of Whitney Pozgay's fall WHIT collection at the W Hotel's Great Room. Taking a young Marianne Faithfull as her muse, Whitney jettisoned the colorful, beachy vibe of her spring outing in favor of muted metallic coats, pretty paisley print dresses, wool bouclé suiting and leather jumpers in rich shades of ruby, forest green and deep blue. It's a more sophisticated outing than her last collection, an effect that's heightened by the lovely calf-hair accessories designed in collaboration with her artist friend, Jemme Aldridge, and by the elegant styling of Doria Santlofer (who happens to be a former colleague and good friend of yours truly). I bump into my pal Daniel Vosovic (he and Whitney are CFDA Incubator studio mates) on my way out and get the scoop on his fall presentation, slated to take place in March.
Then it's back uptown: same train (the 6), different stop (51st Street) to check out the Veronica Beard presentation at Bill's off of Madison Avenue. Upon entering the brownstone restaurant, the hoi polloi (that would be me) are invited to have a drink at the bar while the muckety mucks (that would be Vogue's Hamish Bowles) are whisked up the narrow staircase for a private viewing. Never one for following the rules (do you know who I am?!) I escort myself upstairs and see that in addition to Hamish, Vogue's Meredith Melling Burke and Jessica Sailer are also in attendance, as are Ken Downing and Aerin Lauder. The 16-look collection—inspired by the pioneering spirit that defines the Veronica Beard brand—features a wealth of rugged-meets-refined pieces, from a bandana print gypsy gown and faded wool field jacket beneath a patchwork raccoon vest to token-print silk twill pants worn with a matching tee and a red and black wool melange dickey (hmm, is this an early fall trend?) topped by a brick herringbone jacket with waxed canvas patches and a furry coonskin cap. The overall effect is elegant and posh with just the right amount of edge (which is to say, a whisper). After greeting one of the two blond Veronicas behind the label (I'm not sure which one, to be honest), I hightail it downstairs and back out into the night, where I call it a night.
On my way home, I see the newest MTA subway poster, "Grand Central Catwalk" by artist Marcos Chin, which depicts the architectural wonders of Grand Central Station—including the famous clock and sweeping staircase—cleverly re-imagined as articles of clothing. It's a lovely and fitting way to kick off a week devoted to NYC fashion.
photos © Lauren David Peden/The Fashion Informer 2013
In keeping with their now annual tradition (heading into its twelfth season), the Ecco Domani Fashion Foundation hosted a breakfast last Wednesday to welcome the newest winners to the fold.
High atop the Museum of Art and Design at Robert restaurant in Columbus Circle, Prabal Gurung walked the crowd (which included EDFF judges Marylou Luther, Kim Hastreiter, Julie Gilhart, Ken Downing, Josh Peskowitz, Ruth Finley and Sally Singer) through his very moving rags to riches story.
Then 2013's crop of EDFF winners—each of whom received a $25,000 grant to put toward a New York Fashion Week show or presentation—were crowned. The lucky recipients: TOME duo Ryan Lobo and Ramon Martin for womenswear, Ian Velardi for menswear, Susan Woo for sustainable design and Deborah Pagani for accessories design.
There was a small selection of each designer's work on display in the glass-walled aerie, but I'm looking forward to experiencing the full measure of their talent during New York Fashion Week. Welcome to the Class of 2013, kids!