the event. And who can blame them? With the number of camera and video lenses ready to capture and then beam their images
across the world, the chance of getting free exposure is greater than ever. But what of the clothes? The trends? The influences?
Many designers solved the conundrum of translating the difficult autumnal proportions by unwrapping layers to reveal refined
silhouettes, while others steered clear of experimentation by defining their own takes on classic American sportswear.
Marc Jacobs, for instance, turned the dark romance of his past collections into a whimsical parade of bravely layered proportions, resulting
in a fashion oeuvre rich in trends for s/s ’07. Sporting rosette-adorned caps-cum-headwraps (headgear and petals featured
in countless shows), models paraded wearing predominantly whites, off-whites, cool grays, and creams (the palette of s/s ’07),
in tiered and layered knee-length skirts, elongated coats, varying incarnations of billowy Arabian harem pants, and frilly
but deconstructed tops and dresses, hinting at the works of Japanese avant-gardists from the ’80s. Jacobs’
light tones were also fresh chromatic foils to the shimmering metallics (a big trend come spring) seen in an elongated double-breasted
jacket, loose tops and party frocks, and the label’s cash cow of bags and shoes. Equally as evocative of the current zeitgeist
is Vera Wang, whose arty experiments of seasons past resulted in confident layers, a tempered use of metallic brocades, cleverly ruched
satin pieces, inventive mixes of fabrics (in one outfit, there was chiffon, brocade, and silk jersey), and quirky details
such as deconstructed rosettes and origami squares. These ingredients came together to propose a beautiful and pensive decadence.
But if Wang’s patrician-minded fans were to explore their sartorial tastes, they might also find Zero Maria Cornejo‘s architectural spin on volume and layers — with glazed cotton, viscose jersey, and voile dresses, techno-chic metallic raffia/cotton/nylon
coats and jackets, and loose linen tops — very palatable.
Meanwhile at Marchesa, sobriety is clearly not in the design lexicon of Keren Craig and Georgina Chapman. All-out Hollywood glamour is the duo’s
mantra, as evidenced by their chiffon and satin red-carpet delicacies laden with outsized rose petals — a trend this season
that sprouted not as accessory or embellishment, but in print form at London Fashion Week defector Karen Walker‘s "Victory Garden" collection. No one experimented with florals more than New York’s version of couturiers, Rodarte. Amid the exaggerated volumes of their rather retail unfriendly but theatrical show, the sister act of Laura and Kate Mulleavy
showed a gown erupting with pink, white, and chiffon rosettes and bows. In a sportier arena, there were compelling proportional
games: At Y3, models rode treadmills, presenting cool pieces that judiciously combined Adidas’ performance-driven aim with Yohji Yamamoto’s
flair for black and white, layering, volume, and asymmetry. With their quirky aesthetic for menswear, Daniel Silver and Steven
Cox of Duckie Brown produced sweatshirts, roundneck sweaters, and low-crotch pants in immense hip-hop proportions, while Victoria Bartlett of
VPL cheerily evolved her love of jersey in distended shapes to encompass loose-fitting cropped jackets. But not everyone had
spring in their steps. Despite having the right skirt and dress length for the season (which fall above the knee), the current
CFDA womenswear designer of the year, Francisco Costa for Calvin Klein, obviously pilfered Helmut Lang’s archives — bizarrely, not Calvin’s — to produce layered, sheer chiffon pieces in white
that read rigid and heavy-handed, lacking the effortlessness of past collections that resuscitated the house.
While New York recognizes valiant propositions, the city’s benchmark for success is rooted in clothes that can smoothly transition
from the runway onto department-store racks. With one of the most recognizable (and richest) global fashion empires built
on this concept, no one does it better than Ralph Lauren, whose easy separates of menswear-inspired white tuxedo shirt-dresses, two-piece suits, and belted black trenches were modernized
by a series of shimmery silver gowns and ’20s-silhouetted dresses. Donna Karan‘s urban wear legend called for languid and flowy wrap dresses and jackets rendered in earth tones, standing in stark contrast
to Tuleh‘s structurally pretty, option-driven outing (including ample-sleeved blouses, high-waisted pencil skirts, and bubble-skirted
above-the-knee party frocks) and the sharp lines that marked Narciso Rodriguez‘s minimalism, represented by a white dress with a shiny black clasp at the hip, worn beneath a geometrically tailored and
cropped satin black top. Following this commercially friendly route, J.Mendel used his famous furs only as accents, instead
casting the spotlight on circle-embellished satin cocktail dresses and mellifluously gliding gowns for his growing uptown
coterie of prim, rich ladies. Oscar de la Renta‘s fresh bubble-skirted dresses with petal prints, however, showed that he is not yet ready to abdicate his throne.
With American fashion industry acclaim, several young design ingénues are also on the heels of the 7th avenue establishment.
Proenza Schouler displayed burnt oranges, avocado greens, deep indigos, and blacks as a richly hued backdrop to its edgy balance of contrasting
shapes; tight-fitting, short pencil skirts with boxy jackets or conservative button-down shirts shared space with sexy, taut
tanks and high-waisted A-line skirts. Zac Posen, on the other hand, is becoming New York’s version of John Galliano, thanks to his consistently referential collections — which, for spring, juxtaposed sharp menswear-referenced tailoring with
red and pink dresses dramatically embellished with huge petals and ribbons. A recipient of the CFDA’s Swarovski Perry Ellis
award for womenswear, Doo.Ri betrayed her voluminous past and sent out a host of very slim bottoms, often black, to offset her signature draped and pleated
tops, and Behnaz Sarafpour updated black and white dresses with slightly fuller skirts and pockets. While lightly tailored jackets, slouchy, high-waisted
pants, and tunics enthralled in Derek Lam‘s breezy show, his color-blocked A-line day dresses and airy gowns were the big news, and Thakoon’s ultra-feminine outing,
marked by nude, blush, and rhubarb knee-length skirts and softly shaped dresses reminded his audience why he’s one to watch.
Speaking of emerging talents, the UPS hub in Bryant Park served as a venue for ten designers to showcase their notable collections. Sportswear was on Brian Reyes‘ mind, especially in the skinny shorts with a gym class feel, while Vena Cava‘s tableau-style presentation of pretty damsels lounging on Astroturf showed silk crepe de chine dresses, camisoles, capelets,
and canvas pencil skirts, all made even more winsome with Art Deco "Havasu" prints. Erin Fetherston continued to explore volume
with green linen and taupe cotton trapeze dresses, and the series of sweet floor-sweeping gowns that ended her show make one
curious as to what her ethereal threads will loom come autumn. Sabyasachi, an established design star in India, cleverly used the hallmarks of his homeland (color, embroidery, and prints) on full
day dresses and skirts with inklings of Dries Van Noten’s globe-trotting bohemian, and Alice Ritter’s quaint use of outdoorsy
plaid exuded a nonchalant Parisian coolness.
Away from the tents, in his first-ever runway presentation, Jeremy Laing also showed plaid (black and white) in a long, tailored, sleeveless jacket and a kicky trapeze dress, and Swedish label Rodebjer worked with tartan, seen in an oversized, double-breasted coat and a bubble-skirted dress. 3.1 Phillip Lim‘s opening look — a comfy t-shirt dress, decorated with the romance of rosettes — set the tone for a well-received, mostly
white collection of breezy selections, while Naum’s sheer silk organza and pleated-cotton aprons, worn on the front of the
body, contrasted with crisp cotton pants and skirts beneath. The latter’s clean silhouettes were then bound with simple cloth
belts, creating just the right hint of fullness. Costello Tagliapietra expertly executed the draped, knee-length, belted-waist jersey frocks it’s known for with a smattering of crystal-pearl embroidery
around the neckline, adding a mild glam factor.
At FORM, asymmetrical, arbitrarily ruched, and ruffled metallic lamé numbers reigned supreme, while ever the conceptualist, Mary Ping juxtaposed her long, drapey, and loose viscose jersey and silk dresses with cutouts on their sides and backs against the
linear austerity of the presentation’s venue, the almost all-white home of architect Paul Rudolph.
With reports that Bryant Park may no longer hold future installments of New York Fashion Week, it’s very clear that the crowded
industry has grown too large for its show venue. But despite this, many will still take a chance, knowing that catching the
right buzz in the city can translate into editorial and retail success. After all, you know what they say: if you can make
it here, you can make it anywhere.
-Robert Cordero and Emily Blasenberg
Zac Posen s/s ’07
Costello Tagliapietra s/s ’07
Rodarte s/s ’07
Marc Jacobs s/s ’07
Narisco Rodriguez s/s ’07
Proenza Schouler s/s ’07
Zero Maria Cornejo s/s ’07
3.1 Phillip Lim s/s ’07
Erin Fetherston s/s ’07
Calvin Klein s/s ’07
Y3 s/s ’07
Zac Posen s/s ’07