Against luminous floor-to-ceiling projections in a raw Wall Street space, Donna Karan presented her 30th anniversary collection – and it couldn’t have felt more fresh and new. Kicking off with a svelte pair of barely-there black hot-pants teamed with suede thigh-high boots and structured satin blazer, the collection immediately evinced a New York rock’n’roll vibe. Reworking classic Karan designs from decades past, looks were sophisticated and subtly provocative, with swathes of skin revealed beneath sheer layers of silk, lace and jersey. Legs were paid particular attention to – whether starring in a pair of hot-pants, poking through thigh-high Angelina Jolie style in an embellished gown, or barely concealed behind diaphanous bias-cut skirts and filmy, layered evening dresses. The breezy black sheer and opaque layers throughout were given structure and depth paired with chic tailored jackets, with plush outerwear in the form of luxurious fur coats and fur-lined puffa jackets offering necessary warmth. Texture was also at play, with velvet and intricate metallic beading alongside silk and fur – perhaps in reference to the halcyon days of the New York Jazz Era, and the city that made Karan a house-hold name. Key evening dresses appeared as updated disco-wear, highlights being the dreamy vivid red gown sported by Karlie Kloss and burgundy silk floorlength dress donned by a radiant Karen Elson.
Stepping out of revolting NY winter evening – a blizzard graduating into ice-cold torrential rain causing the street’s filthy snow piles to turn into hazardous wells of grey slush – it was more than fitting to find oneself in Marc Jacobs’ stormy Autumn/Winter 2014 set, complete with sculptural fabric clouds suspended in the rafters overhead. A little too fitting, perhaps. There’s something to be said for fashion belonging, to some degree, to the realms of fantasy – to be removed momentarily from the everyday, i.e. the most depressing, glacial winter in recent memory. That said, while it may not have been the chirpiest spectacle, Marc Jacobs’ surreal vision for the coming winter was certainly thought-provoking. As the audience perched on white leather pods with faux-clouds hanging overhead, drone-like models with bleached eyebrows and severe blunt-cut bobbed wigs and wide headbands stalked through the cavernous space as though in a trance to Jessica Lange’s foreboding spoken-word rendition of early 20th Century standard, “Happy Days are Here Again”. Appearing as a chic alien race, lookalike models donned 60s-mod meets 90s-raver Sci-Fi uniforms – go-go boots and chunky sneakers, flared knit leggings and boxy tunic combos, and mink bomber jackets atop sparse, elongated dresses with side split among the key pieces. Where last season’s dark post-apocalyptic Victoriana vision for Spring appeared to be winter wear, this collection was the complete reverse – ensembles seemingly created for summer. Soft and strangely futuristic, the collection featured minimal, clean silhouettes with low scoop and v-necklines conceived in lightweight fabrics and a pale, neutral palette of soft pink, peach, taupe and white. Breaking the muted continuum, shimmering all-over sequin and bead embellished cocktail dresses added razzle-dazzle, while the unmistakable standouts of the collection were the closing light-as-air floor-length dresses featuring wave-like tiers of pastel organza.
An insane snowstorm didn’t stop the fashion crowd attending Ralph Lauren’s Autumn/Winter 2014 show this morning, where a new Polo women’s collection was revealed. Youthful and upbeat, the Polo wares, aimed at a younger demographic than the mainline, consisted of wardrobe staples including leather bomber jackets, sporty outerwear in vivid hues, tailored separates, floral dresses and blanket coats. Following the initial 25 Polo looks came the Ralph Lauren mainline designs, distinct immediately from the earlier ensembles through attention to detail, luxurious fabrics and refined, elegant shapes – the styling of the dual lines was also vastly different, in particular the unsophisticated leggings-with-Mary-Jane’s combo in the Polo portion. Ralph Lauren has always successfully marketed itself as a fashion brand that offers a lifestyle, a universe all its own populated with well-crafted, high quality attire. It follows that the collection, conceived in beautifully warm muted hues, would mirror this sentiment – womenswear timeless in its appeal, crafted from plush materials including suede, cashmere, Mongolian lamb, silk jersey and satin. Standout looks within the flawless, concise collection included confident menswear-inspired overcoats, double-breasted blazers and tailored trousers in crisp white, pale pink, lilac and soft grey reminiscent of 70s Bonnie & Clyde attire, and resplendent silk evening dresses in silver-grey that while ultra-feminine were surprisingly striking and modern.
In the midst of New York’s bleak ‘polar vortex’, an insane cold spell that’s seen the streets piled with dirty sludgy snow for weeks, Joseph Altuzarra’s latest collection featuring elevated outerwear in brilliant colour was a welcome sight. Opening with a long, lean navy and royal blue double-faced overcoat, effortlessly belted at the waist suggesting a lithe 70s-inspired silhouette, the collection seamlessly moved on to include variations on the theme in black and cream, teal, camel and a bold somewhat 80s fusion of khaki and hot pink. While the effortlessly chic outerwear, including sumptuous shearling jackets and coats in winter white and chic black towards the shows close, proved the highlights, Altuzarra’s sultry silk evening dresses and accessible separates were on point once again this season. In line with his intention to outfit elegant working women (albeit professionals with a fashion-forward approach to personal style), Autumn/Winter offered svelte and officious daywear in the form of suiting-inspired below-the-knee length skirts and dresses along with slim-fitting tailored trousers. A necessary shot of youth and vibrancy surfaced as striking artsy woven dresses with fringed hems hit the catwalk followed by audacious multi-hued mink coats, offering a quasi-bohemian alternative to an otherwise refined and understated vision for the coming winter.
In sync with New York’s wintry mood, it was a dark and stormy affair at Herve Leger by Max Azria for Autumn/Winter 2014 involving corset-inspired detailing, feathers and fur. The unexpectedly daring vision was an interesting departure for a label renowned for its straightforward body-con confections beloved by celebrities of the Kim Kardashian ilk – in contrast, it appeared to be the wardrobe of a sophisticated super-villain. Black and grey dresses were sleek and structured featuring sultry cut-outs exposing a little skin, with thick double-faced fringed skirt sections in contrasting colours creating a flippy and fun silhouette. Risqué open-toed thigh-high black boots and oversize leather and fur motorbike jackets in sombre tones completed the bold future-gothic looks, donned by models with high pony tails streaked with vivid hues. While some of the more audacious looks, including a skin-tight jumpsuit and cinematic deep purple dress with zipper and snake-skin detailing and intimidating black feather sleeves, might prove inaccessible, there was still plenty to appease devout Herve Leger fans in the form of on-brand sexy bandage midriff tops, high-waisted mini and knee-length skirts and jacquard-knit dresses in popping orange, cream and gold.
At Derek Lam the mood was playfully clashing, as boxy and sleek cuts and seemingly incongruous colour combinations collided. While it might sound a little chaotic, the multifaceted result was surprisingly clean and sophisticated with silhouettes ranging between elegantly oversized and expertly tailored, and lengthened hemlines befitting the modest turtleneck knit sweaters consistent throughout. The palette was particularly interesting, progressing from modish duck egg blue, tan and grey to forest green, crisp white, cream, pale pink and black – one patchwork leather pencil skirt deftly combining a variety of bold hues, chicly paired with a sharp black blazer. As we’ve come to expect from most New York designers over recent seasons, outerwear stole the show. Whether simple or statement-making, coats defined the key looks - from a cropped 50s-inspired lavender boucle jacket and roomy pale blue overcoat sans ornamentation (followed by variations in cream and grey), through to an eye-catching haircalf jacket in rich tan and a glossy forest green lacquered canvas coat.
It’s always shamelessly exciting to catch a glimpse of David Backham at his wife Victoria Beckham’s show each season, and for Autumn/Winter 2014 the fashion crowd caught a glimpse of the entire family as they stepped out onto the catwalk before the show. Given the recent launch of the brand’s flagship Dover Street London store, and talk that there may soon be a Manhattan counterpart, this was a collection that had garnered some interest. Proof that Beckham’s aesthetic is becoming more refined as it evolves, the outlook for Autumn/Winter 2014 was unfussy and ladylike in equal measures, with structured ensembles conceived almost entirely in crisp winter white and chic black, save for a singular vermilion dress and black and red wool overcoat with leather lapels. Gone were the sleek body-con mini-skirts and dresses Beckham became known for, replaced by elegant longer hemlines and chic looser-fitting silhouettes. Striking gold chain detailing along waists and necklines offered a hint of bling (perhaps a souvenir from her LA stint), while the final floor-sweeping pleated evening dresses delivered a touch of red-carpet glamour.
Desperate for a little fun at the end of a long snowy day, <strong>Opening Ceremony didn’t disappoint with a collection shown against a wall dripping with Belgian chocolate. And it wasn’t some masochistic situation where the melted chocolate was off-limits – the audience were actually allowed to dip their fingers into it, and for the more civilised attendees, mugs of hot chocolate were on offer. As for the actual clothing on show, guys and girls hit the catwalk outfitted in the cool and youthful, ultramodern wares we've come to expect from OC, this season conceived in rich colorways – the vibrant palette kicking off with forest green, navy, black and caramel, and graduating through to include popping red, white, pale grey, rust, vivid coral and purple. Shapes were graphic and bold, as striking womenswear including skirts and dresses flaunted asymmetrical hemlines and extreme volume. Prints were pop-tastic, with oversize polka-dots adorning sweaters and skirts, stripes appearing on cute day dresses and illustrative hand-prints on cropped trousers stealing the spotlight. The elaborate piled-on outfits throughout combining contrasting colours and materials were layered to perfection, the overall effect being an updated and elevated take on the current resurgence of 90s grunge-wear.
Against a sonorous Hitchockian soundtrack, Zac Posen’s comparably imposing vision for Autumn/Winter 2014 - a stream of expertly crafted skirts suits, day dresses and sculptural evening gowns - took to the catwalk. Demonstrating his admiration and aptitude for the art of garment construction, Posen’s sophisticated and ultra-feminine constructions appeared somewhat anachronistic – the attention to detail visible in the pleating, pin-tucking and draping akin to dressmaking of the 40s and 50s. Beginning with demure skirt suits and slim-fitting dresses in melange tweed complete with intriguing built-in mini-capes, the collection soon progressed to eveningwear with model Coco Rocha introducing the first – a sleek and sculptural burgundy cocktail dress alongside cat-eye sunglasses. The pin curled hair plastered with bobby pins and retro eyewear donned by the models throughout mirrored the vintage-feel of the more elaborate designs including a floorlength fishtail evening dress in mint green, burnt orange heavily draped gown and striking blue-grey red-carpet-ready confection with structured cape. Adding to the inherent drama, a handful of gowns appeared to have stepped out of a classic Disney film; one a ludicrously voluminous evening dress in stormy-hued silk satin with cinched waist, high neck and three-dimensionally full skirt, another Cinderella number in jewel green featuring padded pleating along the waistline to further intensify the cinematic proportions of the skirt, and intimidating jet black watermarked satin gown appearing the perfect get-up for an evil queen. Refreshing in his rejection of popular trends and consideration of the art of fashion design, Posen and his unique point of view continue to be an inspiring anomaly.
For the second season, Olivier Theyskens showed under the Theory label sans his name – it stands to reason then, that the Autumn/Winter 2014 collection for the American retail mecca should prove rather more saleable and mainstream than his previous capsule ‘Theyskens Theory’ lines. That said, among the chic, tailored dresses, jackets and cropped cigarette pants perfectly befitting the professional women the label caters to, were unexpectedly poetic flourishes; graceful asymmetrical hemlines, harmonious integration of diaphanous chiffon and opaque fabrics and sculptural deconstructed suiting. The aesthetic overall was incredibly neat and clean, from the almost entirely monochrome palette (save for rare touches of grey, tan and navy) and limited use of print, through to the lean, controlled silhouettes and cinched waist-lines. Outerwear came in two keys forms – mid-length jackets buttoned down firmly and nipped at the waist, and effortless knee-length overcoats worn open. Theyskens’ exhibited real flair in several ensembles featuring innovatively reworked blazers with an undulating asymmetrical wave at the hip, niftily belted at the waist to create a slender feminine silhouette. The vision may have been conservative, but the experimental Theyskens' aesthetic we love him for was lurking there, just beneath the surface.
Paying homage to the suffragettes of the 19th and 20th Centuries, Karen Walker ditched her pretty mod-meets-grunge aesthetic of last season for a strong collection of tomboy-cool day and evening wear. It was Walker’s most exciting collection in recent years, combining bold monochromatic Keith Haring-esque prints (one of her fortes), a chic spare palette, deceptively simple, boxy cuts and striking burgundy and black floor-length evening dresses that closed the show. Rarely does Walker present sharp, tailored black garments or evening gowns, and it was the inclusion of both that shaped the collection and proved its core. Beginning with an austere knee-length navy dress with cinched waist worn atop a button-down shirt and moving onto an oversize boyish pantsuit and chic, baggy suede trousers of the same hue, ensembles were understated and tough – quite a transition from the dreamy, hippie fare for Spring. Prints were graphic and playful on sweaters and maxi-dresses conceived in black and white, and featuring naïve renderings of laurel wreath’s, hammers, hands and broken hearts. Breaking away from the sweetly staid and vaguely Victoriana collared dresses and shirts, coats drew on classic 60s shapes – oversize and cropped variations on a men’s double-breasted overcoat and over-the-knee vintage-feel check coat with cropped sleeves and attached neck-tie the standouts of a well-executed collection.
Whether or not you’re a fan of his audacious aesthetic, it’s impossible not to love what Jeremy Scott brings to NYFW each season – a necessary dose of fashion insanity. The crowd is always an hilarious mash-up of random celebs including ASAP Rocky, Grimes, Leigh Lezark Paris Hilton and Nicky Minaj thrown into a bonkers audience of fans and club kids donning Scott’s fetish-rave wares. This time around, Jared Leto was the star of the front row – strutting in moments before the show, which was delayed in his honour, and broadcasting to the captive audience, “my apologies. You all look fabulous” – we couldn’t help but chuckle. The vision for Autumn/Winter 2014 was all-American, with heavily athletic-influenced ensembles that practically screamed U-S-A!
With "We will rock you" blasting, guys and gals streamed past in matching football-inspired wear including jersey style dresses in cartoon-like red, blue and yellow ultra-furry fabrics emblazoned with graphic numbers across the front and back paired with fetish-inspired black patent lace-up leggings. There were also reworkings of baseball and basketball uniforms, one orange bomber jacket dress appearing as a deconstructed basketball while another oversized mesh tank was teamed with risqué underwear, garter-belt and stockings. The most interesting and experimental feature throughout the collection was what appeared initially as lingerie-like detailing, but was actually a play on lacing consistent with that of a football on bodysuits, dresses and skirts. Footwear was also striking; sporty high-heeled Adidas sneakers and dramatic thigh-high boots crafted from what appeared to be football shin-pads.