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)