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.