Editors and buyers’ empty stomachs were filled at the presentation by Naum—a house in its second season and, wisely, one of the first to show. Naum’s avant-garde silhouettes and couture finishes on linen jackets and gauzy coats looked simultaneously structured and louche—a benefit of the deft tailoring from Waleed Khairzada and Julia Jentsh, the design team behind the label. Richard Chai, another emerging label profiled on these pages, is, like Naum, part of the wave of designers embracing a new minimalism—taking a bare-boned, preppy approach with well-proportioned separates in cool blue-and-white stripes, some looks beautifully punctuated with a satin origami sash while Naum leans toward a more austere, Japanese inspiration. Zero Maria Cornejo has built on a leitmotif that calls for light draping, rich fabrics, and a subdued color palette. This season, she showed a well-edited selection of simple black and sand-colored dresses, drapey tops, and asymmetrical skirts which spoke volumes with restraint. Calvin Klein, that veteran of “less is more,” didn’t rely on designer Francisco Costa pulling up the archival files of several collections. His refreshingly flirty white dresses and separates in cotton voile and chiffons and liquid knee-length dresses in copper, black, and purple showed that minimalism can deliver maximal punch.
It’s beginning to look a lot like the ’80s. But instead of referring to the grand and the gaudy, for s/s 2006 designers used the less obvious references of the decade while infusing their designs with the current wave towards romantic minimalism. A top note of Rei Kawakubo and Norma Kamali wafted from the runways as designers paid homage to the era’s mistresses of unstructured volume and sporty utilitarianism. One of the most visually arresting pieces in Naum’s collection was the parachute-like sand-colored (it’s the color of the season) trench coat with triple roping through the waist that billowed dramatically in the back. Former AsFour member Kai Kuhne’s Myself line showcased a series of showstopping, oversized shirtdresses and trench coats with exaggerated belt loops that had markings of Kamali, as did the silk canary yellow dress tinged in a saucy Mexican flavor from Zac Posen. At Donna Karan, blouses and jackets radiated a sophisticated kind of New Romanticism with puffed and over-sized sleeves, as did the outsized and puffed silhouettes seen at Marc Jacobs: his mega pea coat and cuffed satin pants worn with easy knits and schoolgirl shirts all had the imprint of ’80s avant-garde. Victoria Bartlett’s VPL showed a sporty motif threading through her collection, with strings freely swaying from rapper-sized hoodies and shorts, while Sandoval proposed a darker mood with a black oversized anorak. Gwen Stefani’s L.A.M.B. ran wild in nylon Flavor Flav-flavored shell suits, both as separates punctuating tailored looks or as whole ensembles. Gary Graham‘s models personified a post-disco Deborah Harry in heavily wrinkled dresses and voluminous satin skirts, paired with edgy zippered tops.
But while the move towards less precious designs was evident on the runways, it’s still New York, and the desire for all things uncomplicated, flirty, and feminine still persists. Designers working in this vein looked towards multi-tiered detailing to make their statement. At Strenesse, layers of silk chiffon harmonized mellifluously under tailored pieces. At Jill Stuart, it was girly, shabby-chic tiered blouses and skirts in floral prints, eyelets, and lace. Brian Reyes, arguably the most buzzed-about new entry this season, served up a super-polished collection of sexy Latina-wear comprised of pencil skirts, sheer tops, and swingy jackets, hitting the mark of the tiered trend with a fauna-inspired leather paillette-strewn skirt. The hearts of the ladies who lunch surely jumped when Oscar de la Renta‘s volumized, Latin-inspired, multi-tiered black lace gown seductively sashayed down the runway. If de la Renta is synonymous with New York society dressing, then Monique L’Huillier is fast becoming Hollywood’s byword for pretty glam. With her ultra-feminine take— featuring soft, folded layers on a satin skirt and a dress flounced with jet-black beading— L’Huillier surely will have the prim girls of Buckley salivate when prom season comes. There were also more sedate versions of the multi-tier; standouts included a black minidress at Alice Roi, an above-the-knee, spaghetti-strap silk chiffon dress at Derek Lam, and the red carpet version that closed the Behnaz Sarafpour show. With a Laura Ingalls Wilder sensibility, gowns at Michael Kors came alive with frills, while Thakoon‘s airy, modernist outing produced a winning white gown draped in several rows of what seemed to be rose petals loosely encircling the body. Proenza Schouler captured the trend most subtly, showing tiered fabric down the front of a tuxedo-inspired shirt, and creating the tier illusion working upwards from embroidery to bustier in a column ensemble. One can always count on Boudicca to turn a trend on its head. In a futuristic rendition, the duo created sartorial drama with intricately pleated skirts as a side panel or a bustle, and printed fabric asymmetrically cascading over a pair of black leggings.
Sheer fabrics — whether in lace, chiffon, or tulle — are a huge story for spring. At Libertine, a color-infused collection encrusted in Swarovski crystals dazzled, while their trademark silkscreen peeked through tulle and lace. Peter Som‘s seafaring sojourn showed transparent sailor blouses, minimally detailed with linear blue piping, while at Verrier, sheer white tuxedo shirts and sea green blouses evoked a mature sophistication. Kenneth Cole closed his show with high-waisted, diaphanous knee-length dresses. Prints on sheers were also prominent in some collections. At Bill Blass, geometric, floral, and paisley prints were nicely interspersed throughout the whole collection, while at Tuleh the floral overload was made palatable by the delicacy of the fabrics. Polka dots—that favorite ’80s print—impressed sheer fabrics as well. At Y & Kei and Sass & Bide, dots inundated baggy and girly mini-dresses.
Fashion pundits say that it takes a decade a few years for a defining look to take shape. As designers present collections with voluble hints of minimalism, deconstruction, and tiered-and-sheered versions of femininity, perhaps, we are experiencing a pivotal fashion moment: purging the uniformity of the ’90s while ushering in an age of individuality not seen since the eclectic days of the ’80s.
- Robert Cordero and Jason Campbell
Libertine s/s ’06
Marc Jacobs s/s ’06
Calvin Klein s/s ’06
Proenza Schouler s/s ’06
Oscar De La Renta s/s ’06
Monique Lhuillier s/s ’06
Donna Karan s/s ’06
Boudicca s/s ’06