It was ultra-sophisticated and brilliantly cinematic (Cruella de Ville-inspired even) at Altuzarra for Fall/Winter 2013 – signalling a welcome return to roots for the young designer famed for his unforgettably risqué Edward Scissorhands and Catwoman-like creations of seasons past. While his chameleonic ability to present a radically new vision each season has captivated fashion's elite from his label's inception, it was his F/W12 collection that thrust him firmly into the global spotlight. Since then, Joseph Altuzarra has risen to new heights, receiving countless accolades by the industry’s best – as though proving he deserves every ounce of praise awarded him of late, his vision for the upcoming season was his most confident yet. Models stepped out in dramatic black and white mix fur outerwear and oversize mittens, paired with expertly tailored dresses, pant-suits and super-skinny slacks in a monochrome palette punctuated by shots of taupe and popping orange. Watching the parade of beautifully structured and unapologetically severe designs pass by, I was immediately reminded of something Altuzarra said to me recently during an interview for Harper’s Bazaar. “I design for women, not girls - so the idea of empowerment is an important factor when I design. It’s become more crucial as women have taken on increasingly powerful positions in the workplace.”
Last season’s brash pixilated prints and sharp cuts of last season, inspired by ‘surfing the internet’, were long gone as precise, tailored and almost entirely black and white looks reigned at Proenza Schouler for A/W 13. The label's cool downtown girl seemingly grew into an perfectly poised uptown lady between collections – perhaps the result of the designer’s flagship store opening on Madison Avenue last season. Expertly tailored skirts and dresses were minimal and feminine, paired with 50s-inspired sculptural cropped jackets and overcoats. A 60s spacey-mod vibe was apparent in monochromatic two-tone mini-dresses, low-slung flat-front pants and bomber-like jackets, while the introduction of striking chain-mail dresses and tops worn with tweed bouclé A-line skirts and jackets was a genius high-fashion meets punk take on contemporary daywear. Subtle hues and delicate fabrics were introduced as the collection graduated into eveningwear – a peach skirt on a black and white peplum dress, and gorgeous ivory guipure lace Givenchy-like gown chicly belted at the waist standouts of a measured, ultimately flawless, collection.
To the grinding tune of 90s psych-rock anthem ‘Pepper’ by Butthole Surfers, Rodarte sent out a bad-romantic ode to their childhood spent in Santa Cruz, California. The lazy beach-town vibe, circa 1980, was ever-present in striking silk tie-dyed kaftan-inspired gowns – some intermixed with florals for an amped up vintage feel. Nostalgic craft elements came through in crystal studded, fringed alpaca sweater and skirt sets, while oversize leather biker jackets and billowy acid-wash silk ensembles hinted at a darker Santa Cruz style made famous via the cult classic, ‘Lost Boys’. Where last season the designer’s looked to the 40s, this season saw the re-emergence of a more tough-chic aesthetic that mashed up elements of the 70s, 80s and 90s – the latter decade making its undeniable appearance as low-slung pants with studded belts atop high-waisted body suits revealing bare hips. Model of the moment Chloe Nørgaard stole the show with popping neon hair she’d apparently dip-dyed herself pre-show to match her outfit – a DIY feat that neatly underscored the collection’s multilayered post-punk themes.
Under the all-encompassing glow of a faux-setting sun – a deep yellow circle of light inspired by Olafur Eliasson’s 2003 installation at the Tate Modern ‘The Weather Project’ – Marc Jacobs’ F/W13 collection of pared-back glamour took to the annular runway. Models with mussed, pixie-cropped hair started the show in modish daywear and boxy outerwear clutching bags to their chests, the collection soon graduating to shimmering, liquid gold bias-cut eveningwear paired with luxe fur capelets, jackets and fox stoles. It was an interesting marriage of simplicity and opulence – lines were clean and figure-hugging, emphasizing the models sinewy physiques, while materials were metallic-hued and luxurious, embellished with sequins. Several eras were referenced – bias-cut slip dresses drawing on 30s Hollywood, metallics and hotpants hinting at the days of disco, broad-collared coats and pajama jackets 60s-inspired, remnants of Jacobs’ heavily mod and dollybird-like last season wares. Overall, the collection inspired a sense of ease, of effortlessness – nothing was too complicated, it was all, quite simply, beautiful.
It was a raucous 60s mod-dolly meets 90s grunge fest at the Chloe Sevigny for Opening Ceremony F/W13 presentation, where screeching rock bands performed live alongside protest-movement inspired wares at East Village’s Saint Mark's Church. Kim Gordon was the first of several avant-garde musicians to perform as dead-pan models (including Sevigny herself) donned bold 60s silhouettes while clutching faux picket signs exclaiming defiant and awesomely-demented sentiments including ‘It’s time to have sex’, ‘Ham’ and ‘flirty Fishing’ among others.
The cool, collected mod-rocking collection was the very embodiment of longtime OC muse Sevigny herself, offering up graphic mod cuts, fabrics and prints including A-line skirts and swing coats, mohair sweaters, gingham and lace baby-doll dresses and PVC and corduroy separates and outerwear, all set against a killer soundtrack supplied by I.U.D. (Lizzi Bougatsos and Sadie Laska), Shannon Funchness (of Light Asylum) and Rafael Radna, Thinner (Lissy Trullie’s project) and Bleached.
Band of Outsiders
Marking an aesthetic shift for consummate American Sportswear designer Scott Sternberg, Band of Outsiders looked to 40s silhouettes and a stark monochromatic palette for Fall/Winter 2013. Continuing what has become the key trend for the upcoming season, cuts were spare and direct in keeping with the graphic hues throughout – moderated by statement-making sculptural turbans. “For Fall I ended up going back to core menswear fabrics and colors including flannel, wool and tweed in bold black, white and grey,” Sternberg said backstage. “There was a Billie Holiday 40s feel throughout, because she was the soundtrack when I was designing. I was thinking about her style when she was heavily into booze and heroin – maybe when she wasn’t at her best. That’s where the tousled hair, crazy turbans and layered ensembles came in.” While 40s tea dresses and tailored separates abounded, 80s-inspired details including shawl necklines on slouchy sweaters and loose-fitting shift dresses paid homage to Sternberg’s origins. “My stylist Tina Chai and I joke that we’re children of the 80s,” laughed Sternberg, “So whatever we're doing, there's aways going to be a little bit of 80s that creeps in. That's nostalgia I'm sure – it’s the core of who you are, that's your aesthetic jumping off point.”
With a debut collection for Balenciaga soon to launch, Alexander Wang could well be excused for letting his signature line slide – but no, the designer’s downtown-cool magic was in full effect for Fall/Winter13 as ultra-modern leather and fur confections in stark charcoal, black and inky-blue took to the catwalk in force. Models donning “cognac” pony tails (as Redken hair stylist, Guido Palau described them), took to the runway within Manhattan’s opulent Cunard Building in multi-textured separates and outerwear, complete with Wang’s trademark sophisticated-sporty detailing. Against the epic ‘Rocky 3’ theme-song, ‘Eye of the Tiger’ blared, streety hoods and glam fur boxing gloves were sent out - a dramatic chic-tough vibe Wang’s made his own, and that’s arguably become the city’s official downtown uniform. There was something of a couture 40s and 50s designer edge to the collection comprised of mohair sweatshirts and t-shirt style tops adorned with metallic hardware, effortless menswear-inspired suiting and sultry cut-outs on dresses and sleek coats – an harmonious union of commerciality and experimentation, and no doubt an indication of what's to come from Balenciaga with Wang at the helm.
It was an expert play on volume and proportion at Theyskens Theory, with an immaculate collection of subtly experimental future-mod wear taking to the runway for Fall/Winter 13. Last winter’s eminently wearable elevated grunge complete with biker boots, knitwear and slouchy silhouettes, was replaced with awesomely spacey and sculptural mini-dresses and jackets in quilted fabric, sleek leather knee-high boots, A-line skirts and loose-fitting shorts - oversize sweaters and menswear-inspired tailoring the lone reminders of last winter’s updated 90s vibe. Colours were modern and concise, in a spare palette of black, grey and cream, mirroring the bold updated-60s silhouettes throughout the collection. Theyskens has continually proven his talent at translating his visionary couture-like aesthetic for a mass audience since taking the helm at Theory, and with each nuanced collection his confidence appears to grow - this collection being the most direct and complete to date.
It was a faux industrial wasteland at 3.1 Phillip Lim for Fall/Winter 2013, where inside a cavernous Chelsea warehouse assistants wielding watering cans soaked the raw-concrete floor ahead of the show. The resulting shallow puddles and dank, urban atmosphere perfectly offset Lim’s optimistic and hugely wearable multi-hued separates and outerwear. Titled ‘
Sono Mama’, meaning “as you are” in Japanese (and apparently a motor-racing maxim), Lim’s collection referenced classic biker pieces (leather jackets, vests and racer-back dresses were rife throughout), reworked in his trademark effortlessly cool, pretty-tough style. Once again this season, Lim proved his proficiency with tailoring – his consistently experimental yet viable outerwear, in numerable incarnations, the highlights of the comprehensive collection. Looks were expertly multi-layered – impressively sans bulk given the number of pieces contributing to many of the ensembles, and crafted in striking autumnal hues with hints of pink and turquoise thrown into the mix. Leather and fur were the major players – bad-ass knee high boots, mini skirts and killer jackets and coats stealing the show – proving that last winter’s key trends (and what all the editor’s and street-style stars are sporting this NYFW) are here to stay.
With a front row consisting of dolly-bird it-girls including Tennessee Thomas and Sarah Sophie Flicker, Karen Walker’s 60s slash 90s cutie-pie Fall/Winter 13 collection of wearable whims went off with a bang. More Topshop than Thakoon, Karen Walker is for the anti-fashion fashion girl who embraces a magpie mix of vintage, high-street and designer, and this is what Walker successfully delivered in droves. Textures, colours and prints were mixed and mashed up throughout a pretty and playful spring-like collection – black and white check wool with fluoro and cotton florals with slouchy knit some of the standout looks. Models donned bold bug and cat-eye Karen Walker eyewear (an accessories line that has gone on to make the New Zealand designer something of a house-hold name), point-toed platform ankle boots, chunky knit beanies, scarves and sweaters with biker jackets atop floral skirts and dresses – a kick-about grungy feel that worked to toughen up Walker’s super-sweet aesthetic.
Widely accepted to be the most downright fun NYFW show each season (with the best goody bags: Longchamp X Jeremy Scott weekender!), Jeremy Scott once again delivered massive doses of good-time vibes with a monster mash-up of Bad Brains punk meets rockabilly meets evil SpongeBob for A/W 2013. With good-bad grotesque cartoon motifs and classic JS sentiments including ‘Too Weird To Live’ and ‘Adults Suck Then You Are One’ emblazoned across sweaters, a killer soundtrack featuring Beastie Boys ‘Girls’, B52’s ‘Rock Lobster’ and Blondie’s ‘Rip Her To Shreds’ blared. Ghoulish prints were wild and varied – some appearing as a demented Sponge-Bob Squarepants, others like Nightmare Before Christmas, paired with cool rockabilly checkerboard in crimson and lime, donned by models with mohawk-quiffs and green eye-liner. Major goat-hair made an appearance in turns as raspberry knee-high boots, a black gorilla-like suit and a dramatic yellow Pokemon-like onesie, complete with upper thigh cut-outs and a tail. Clearly, pragmatism isn’t Scott’s game – and while he’s made a successful career eschewing commercial constraints, woven into an awesomely punk-rocking ghoul parade were numerous bustiers, sculpted mini-dresses, pencil skirts and 50s tuxedo jackets that while eminently wearable, still promoted the anti-fashion JS trademark.