Alexander Wang can't seem to put a foot wrong – each season his collections seem to further epitomise the essence of New York understated cool. Wang’s latest collection for spring further cemented his position as an ever-rising design star, shown to a full capacity audience that included industry insiders and celebrities Diane von Furstenburg, Katie Grand, Julia Restoin-Roitfeld, Anna Wintour, Erin Wasson, Terry Richardson and Rachel McAdams. “My designs are always about moving my label forward, evolving the brand and challenging myself - creating clothing that may not seem typically Alexander Wang at first glance,” said the designer backstage. “That is always when I feel I’ve been successful, when I’ve taken a new direction and point of view – but always with the spirit of the Alexander Wang girl in mind.” The collection was certainly a departure from last spring’s Miami sun-drenched pastel hues, but the unmistakable Wang attitude was there in full swing – models apparently sans make-up wore their hair in messy braids sporting outfits that might have been nabbed from their boyfriends. Wang has always described his girl as a little rough around the edges – and this season, it was as if the Wang girl stepped straight off the football field and onto the runway. Models wore oversize raglan-cut grey sweatshirts cut off at the midriff, along with knee-high socks cut out to reveal the back of the calf. Extended shoulders, high-waisted leather lace-up hot-pants, striped rugby-style sweaters, sports-back vests, a silk boxing robe and varsity jackets paired with leopard print peep-toe wedges and black leather shoe-boots put a new spin on the term American Sportswear.
Band of Outsiders/Boy
For girls who want to dress like boys but still look like girls comes Boy, the cult womens counterpart to award-winning menswear label Band of Outsiders, designed by LA-based Scott Sternberg. Sternberg, who started out as a Hollywood agent (thus his campaigns feature actors and actresses including Kirsten Dunst, Jason Schwartzman, Michelle Williams, Sarah Silverman and Bijou Philips each season) has one central aim for both his collections – to perfect wardrobe classics. “I Have always been interested in classic menswear – I love the traditional Ralph Lauren and Brooks Brothers sportswear aesthetic,” said Sternberg pre-presentation. “I never really intended to create womenswear,” Sternberg noted, “But after three years designing menswear, and realising we had a cult following among women, it seemed a natural progression.” For SS10, Sternberg created an impressive indoor artificial beach scene, complete with rocks, sand dunes and grass for a few dozen models to lounge about on in old-school preppy chic attire gone contemporary. Boat shoes were visible as far as the eye could see, as were pitch-perfect blazers, pleat-front trousers with tapered legs and simple striped tee’s – separates Sternberg described as “Classic but with a fresh eye.” While the fresh-faced, wind-swept models firmly anchored the designs in the present, set against a summery soundtrack featuring The Beatles and Bob Dylan, Sternberg’s covetable collection seemed to hark back to decades past. “I’m not trying to reinvent a shirt or tie – what I’m doing is fine-tuning details and putting a modern spin on classics.”
Florals never looked so good, or so varied, than at Derek Lam’s casually elegant, straight-up sweet show this season. The designer, who worked under Michael Kors for twelve years before launching his own line, has described his collection from the outset as being classic American fashion – wearable, accessible and “devoted to beauty.” For spring this uncomplicated message rang loud and clear as fun and flattering full-skirted dresses, playsuits, preppy cardigans and sculpted mini-dresses in black, white, simple but striking primary hues and multi-colour floral print hit the catwalk. Corsetry detailing, hip-enhancing cuts and a handful of block-colour one-pieces (body-suits or swimsuits was the question of the day) added a little sass to the overtly wholesome looks for spring.
Working its way into a number of collections this season, the Egyptian theme had perhaps its most literal interpretation realised today at luminary NY designer Diane von Furstenberg’s SS10 show. Models stepped out past a dazzling blue sky backdrop to a remix of Madonna’s classic ‘Erotic’ with gold wreaths in hair, wearing intricately woven knit, kaftan shifts and animal print chiffon dresses. Von Furstenberg noted that she was, “Looking to antiquity, for effortless beauty,” taking elements of Orientalism and tribalism as pointers for spring. Muted tones were paired with bright flashes of torquoise, pink and sunburnt orange on garments as varied as floor-sweeping skirts and khaki blazers, while metallic details lit up the catwalk, in particular a shift covered entirely in gold medallion-like discs. A star-studded front row looked on appreciatively, Blake Lively, Rachael Zoe, Simon Doonan and Michelle Trachtenberg all in attendance.
In a garage-like West Village studio, Donna Karan for DKNY revealed her looks for spring – a graphic, pop floral collection titled ‘City in Bloom’. Flower motifs, in what seemed to be every possible incarnation, proved a central theme throughout a considered, though conventional, collection of what could best be described as wardrobe basics with an edge. Floral prints on navy silk were embellished with sequins, while monochromatic figure-hugging dresses featured graffiti-style graphic rose prints. Bike shorts played a surprising key role throughout, peeking from beneath every mini-skirt or pair of tailored shorts, while suiting – a DKNY staple – came through in supple silk blazers and oversize boyfriend jackets paired with casual cuffed shorts or tapered chino’s. The carefree collection was in line with the house spirit – no doubt DKNY girls are fast putting together their spring wish lists.
Taking a change of pace this season, Preen's designer couple Justin Thornton and Thea Bregazzi presented a collection of icy grey and popping pink and fluoro yellow textured silk and chiffon dresses and separates for Spring. “Everyone expects power dressing from us,” said Bregazzi backstage, baby daughter Fauve in tow, “so we wanted to push ourselves and create something really different.” Preen’s "ultra modern" aesthetic has always been a mash-up of past styles taken into a new context, and for the new season, early 90s made a comeback. Inspiration came in the form of early images by photographer Corrine Day and Kate Moss's thrown-together, organic style, “cleaned up with a modern twist," said Bregazzi. A piece of rope proved the starting point for the collection, the designers said was based on, of all things, Japanese Bondage. "We took rope as a jumping off point and played with it, looked at how it unfurled and held itself together... somehow from bondage the collection transformed into soft, airy silk and chiffon." Serpentine ropes draped across shoulders, backs and around necks halter-style on breezy garments featuring panels of ruffles and asymmetric cuts – the Preen trademark body-con mini-dress seamlessly transformed into eminently wearable, looser-fitting ensembles for summer. A couple of sci-fi future pieces managed to creep in, one silver panelled suede halter-neck dress standing out in particular, “We always love to push a future aesthetic,” said Bragazzi, “the silver dress was cool, very Star Wars C3PO.”
Following on from where they left off last summer, designer couple Max and Lubov Azria, forged into the new season with flattering draped and asymmetric silhouettes in pop, punchy citrus hues. Effortlessly working the wearable day-to-night angle, this season BCBGMAXAZRIA struck a balance between “street and art, sculptural draping and downtown luxury.” Fluttery silks and easy jersey dresses were deceptively complex, combining experimental cuts and expressive multi-coloured prints with bold black incisions. This wouldn't have been a Max Azria show, however, without a few Herve Leger style risqué body-con numbers; asymmetric mini-dresses wrapped around the body with sections of sheer black and nude fabric highlighting hourglass forms, some sporting dramatic floor-length swathes of fabric down the back. Fun, yet surprisingly pragmatic, this collection epitomised what the Max Azria girl has always been about.
From the outset, Monique Lhuillier’s collection this season was unashamedly pushing opulence. Held at the eminent Christie’s in Rockefeller Centre, Lhuillier’s presentation for SS10 saw subdued models walking, talking and pouting for two hours on a plinth-like runway in 70s glam-meets-safari attire. “I was inspired by the intricate draping of the Masai Warriors,” the designer explained of her silk jersey, fringed and elaborately embellished dresses. Either dropping to a chic knee length, or cascading to the floor, gowns in burnt metallics, warm yellows and browns featured animal prints, sequins and beading, with some silk jersey draped pieces making a statement sans decoration. Fit for sultry summer nights out on the town, standout looks were a gold bead and sequin encrusted bolero, matching flapper-style shift dress and full-skirted leopard print knee-length dress-coat.
Following a mad front row scramble – Mark Ronson, Nicky Hilton, Russell Simmons, Cory Kennedy and Erin Wasson were all in attendance – Charlotte Ronson’s easy, breezy day-to-night wear for Spring hit the catwalk to tunes mixed by sister, DJ Samantha Ronson. Starting with a deep v-necked black stonewash one-piece paired with a distressed black leather waist-coat, it was immediately clear Ronson’s inspiration for the season was 90s slouchy, grunge rock with a modern edge. Power dressing hit the mark with exaggerated shoulders and elements of suiting on mini dresses and jackets, while sheer snoods and asymmetric strips of fabric draped from casual summer pieces. The tone was sweet and sour throughout – pastel pink, nude and white lace and silk pieces went rock’n’roll when paired with black studded heels, cuffs and chunky belts.
From the first look on the catwalk, the audience was visibly stirred – Karen Walker’s SS10 collection of short ruffle-sleeved macs, frilled loose-fitting dresses predominantly in navy, white, yellow and gold ticked all the right boxes for spring. Taking cult 60s British television series, The Prisoner, as inspiration, Walker sent out navy blazers and macs with gold buttons, wide-brimmed floppy hats, navy and cream striped cotton t-shirts and chiffon dresses, paired with preppy boat shoes and desert boots (the product of a collaboration with Pointer this season). The clean-cut, downright adorable, and accessible, ensembles were contrasted with bright green psychadelic floral print dresses – “a play on opposites,” the designer said post-show. “The collection references the classic 60s Parisian style we all know and love, but I took inspiration from The Prisoner, which is set in an Edwardian seaside resort,” Walker explained. “My aesthetic is always effortless and contrasting – and this collection reflects that. There are a lot of pieces on my shopping list!”
Erin Wasson x RVCA
A reminder that NYC Fashion Week presentations can actually be a lot of fun, Erin Wasson x RVCA was as much rock show as fashion show. With Bruce Willis and gorgeous new wife Emma Heming, Alexa Chung and boyfriend Alex Turner, it-girl Corey Kennedy and NY photographer Cobrasnake up front being papped, and compelling Brooklyn noise band, Gang Gang Dance performing live, it was easy to forget what this event was all about – a collaboration between streetwear label RVCA and Alexander Wang muse, model Erin Wasson. Against projections of dreamy, sun-drenched Californian imagery and hypnotic tribal drumming dissolving into calypso rhythms, models stepped onto the runway (to screams and whistles from the audience) in bohemian, 70s meets 90s effortlessly cool, laid back summer wear. A visual equivalent to Erin Wasson herself, this collection epitomised what she is all about – thrown-together chic and unfussy natural beauty with an unmistakable rock’n’roll edge. The collection of washed-out skinny jeans, bleach-splattered army jackets and cut off shorts, chalk, oatmeal and sand-coloured casual t-dresses and supple leather skirts and waistcoats could have stepped straight out of 90s cult slacker film ‘Dazed &Confused’ it was so evocative of summers past. Tie-dye was scattered throughout, and suggestive cut-outs and tears were rife on sweaters, dresses and tees – after all, summer is about showing a little skin.
Designers Alexa Adams and Flora Gill, behind exciting young NY-based label, Ohne Titel, opened their SS10 show in West Chelsea with Karlie Kloss donning a striking two-tone skin-tight tuxedo suit. If that was a commanding opener, the collection featuring black and white, and block primary coloured, form-fitting tailored ensembles and trademark elaborate knit dresses, sweaters and skirts with feather detailing proved equal in presence and complexity. The designers, who both got their start working under Karl Lagerfeld, explained pre-show that ancient Egyptian forms had inspired their spring looks. “We were really excited about the graphic quality of Egyptian draping and wrapping – the bold lines and shapes that are created around the body,” said Adams. “Our knitwear was really strong this season, and we loved experimenting with feathers – taking them out of their usual context to allow them an abstract, richly textural quality.”
Well aware that they’re onto a good thing, the wildly popular, and iconic, Herve Leger bandage dress was out in full force today for the label’s spring show. It looked as though half the audience were donning last season’s offerings – skin-tight micro-mini skirts and dresses could be spotted as far as the eye could see. For the new season, designers behind the label, Max and Lubov Azria, took the classic body-con number up a notch by introducing complex textural elements – braiding, weaving, crocheting, knotting and beading. Denim made an entrance as horizontal-strip patchwork, while grey and black web-like tie-dye transformed the simple, sexy bandage dress into something a little more sinister, and chunks of crystals applied haphazardly added texture and earthy glamour to an otherwise straightforward asymmetric cocktail dress. Not much has changed, but the Azria’s are onto a winning formula – as the saying goes, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.
“My designs are always very feminine, and this collection follows that aesthetic” said Erin Featherstone backstage of her whimsical, fresh and 70s-inspired SS10 range – and she couldn’t have described it more aptly. Drawing on Robert Altman films, as well as a childhood trip to Nara, Japan, the collection was steeped in nostalgia and romance. Wide-brimmed sheer gauze hats completed dusty pink, navy and ivory tulip skirts, tailored dresses with light capes and show-stopping diaphanous chiffon floor-sweepers – all very Mia Farrow circa 1970. Cotton lace and floral prints abounded, as did pretty silk-satin bows on ribbon belts, organza ruffles and sequins. The cherry blossoms and free-roaming wild Sika deer of Nara inspired the faun-coloured, sequinned and subtly spotted shorts, jackets and shifts, “That trip was magical,” said the designer, “I really drew on it for the colours and mood”. The show wrapped with pretty serious floor-length gowns adorned with crystal’s – while they were impressive, they came across a little like mummy’s clothes. “I was drawn to elements of glamour and drama this season,” said Featherstone, who walked out and thanked the audience post-show in a long, flowing floral print gown. “So these were a natural progression from that… And who doesn’t love a party dress? That’s really what people come to me for, for great party dresses.”
Held at an expansive showroom on Spring Street in SoHo, no-one knew quite what to expect of Halston’s presentation this season – especially with London star designer Marios Schwab primed to take over the reigns next season. As champagne was handed out, two models in bold purple and coral red asymmetric layered chiffon stepped arbitrarily through a small maze of manniquin’s sporting the latest Halston creations that were, we were told, inspired by the ‘metallic notes of Halston’s newly launched perfume.” The collection, which drew in part on 1970s disco, was all about dresses. Strapless, mini, billowing and floor-sweeping, they were all there and all realised in shimmering gold, silver and iridescent sequins. We wait with baited breath for Marios Schwab’s collection to be revealed next February.
Roll up, roll up for Temperley London SS10, a collection inspired by 20s and 30s circus translated into a modern context. Amid trays of cupcakes, glasses of prozecco and vodka soda, a circus-inspired film played, flanked by mannequins donning garments celebrating carnival folk – the acrobats, showgirls, clowns, tightrope and trapeze artists of old. Focusing predominantly on bold colour, pattern and print, Temperley’s collection for the new season involved a warm palette of raspberry, fuchsia, coral and lemon yellow alongside neutrals – a collection that, Temperley notes, “has something for everyone.” Silk chiffon’s and crepe’s in eye-catching harlequin prints stole the show,voluminous pantaloons and tunics hit the circus theme dead-on and tailored cocktail dresses with corsetry detailing added sex-appeal toan otherwise playful range. Stepping it up a notch, Temperley’s ‘BlackLabel’ introduced luxurious fabrics and intricate hand-detailing in clothing and accessories relating to the more glamorous side of circus life. Feathered plumes, cinched waists and elaborate Egyptian-inspired neck-pieces stood out, taking cues for today from extravagant showgirls of the distant past.
Three As Four
More of a conceptual performance than runway show, Three As Four’s SS10 collection hit the catwalk at Chelsea’s MILK Studio’s with 23 models planting stools at various intervals along the front row, and patiently sitting. One model clad in a white, sheer spiralling dress, stepped to the centre of the space, staring straight ahead gripping a scissors in each hand. As Yoko Ono’s Plastic Ono Band music played (sounding increasingly like wild animals in a frenzy), models stood one by one, walked through the space in their minimal monochromatic, form-fitting ensembles, and began cutting away spirals from the initial white dress. Collaborating with Yoko Ono this season, Three As Four employed Ono’s dot drawings within the collection and as inspiration for their models make-up, as well as drawing on one of Ono’s well-known performance pieces. The pared-back clothing took a back seat to the ongoing action. Black unitard’s and body-suits of black lycra featured graphic, sheer inserts revealing sections of flesh. Curved lines proved the backbone to a stark collection almost entirely conceived in black and white – one dress featured three-dimensional spiralling coils, a pair of icy blue leggings had circular cut-outs along each leg and a simple camisole top became anything but simple with the inclusion of sculptural coiled strips jutting in an asymmetrical formation from the front. The show culminated with the central model left standing sans dress, wearing a barely there bikini. There were some sweet, wearable silk dresses featuring Ono’s print amid a collection you would be hard-pressed to see off the catwalk – and while it may not have been particularly accessible, the audience response was immediate and overwhelming, no less than a standing ovation and sustained cheers.