The design duo behind Preen, Justin Thornton and Thea Bregazzi, since their inception have been about making "ultra modern" clothing that references the past. For SS10, the London-based label once again reinterpreted styles of the past with an early 90s inspired collection that, Thea explained backstage, "took inspirations like early Corrine Day photographs and Kate Moss's thrown-together, organic style and cleaned it up with a modern twist." The show, held at Milk Studios in Chelsea, began with icy grey ensembles stepping onto the catwalk against a dark Duran Duran soundtrack. Knee-length and signature Preen mini dresses, and oversized mens-style suits in muted grey and nude, and later bright yellow and pink, waffle cotton and silk georgette featured shots of fluorescents. While bold, the overall tone was softer than their last few collections, "everyone's expecting power dresses from us," said Thea, "so we pushed ourselves to create something different." Along with early 90s inflections, this collection took Japanese bondage, of all things, as a departure point. A piece of rope was the starting point for creating the collection, said the designers, "playing with it, unfurling it, using rope-like straps around necks, across backs and shoulders... somehow from concepts of Japanese bondage the collection transformed into silk and chiffon."
3.1 Phillip Lim
Pragmatism reigned at 3.1 Phillip Lim for SS10 – and why shouldn’t it? Lim is one of the few designers growing exponentially at a time when most are streamlining, and it comes down to not just smart design, but smart business. “I was motivated by a gap in the market between high-end designers with hefty price tags and contemporary labels that followed trends and became generic versions of their luxury counterparts,” said Lim leading up to his show. “There was nothing in-between. So I wanted to create clothing with a distinct personality at accessible price points, for confident, intelligent, quirky and independent people.” The distinct Phillip Lim personality was immediately apparent as the models stepped onto a graphic, geometric red runway, initially clad in red ensembles including a bold pvc trench. It wasn’t long, however, before bright red dissolved into neutral hues – camel, mushroom and nude proved the colours du jour on accordion pleat silk dresses, leather pencil skirts, tapered pleat-front trousers, cropped jackets and classic macs. Simple, sweet cotton pieces followed – naïve midriff-baring tops and dresses tied up at the back, revealing a little skin, but with the utmost restraint. A gold sequinned wrap skirt and opulent short and jacket combo proved the highlights of a collection that was perfectly in synch with the aesthetic and personality of the Phillip Lim brand.
Inspired by ancient Egyptian structured forms and graphic lines, designers Alexa Adams and Flora Gill, the duo behind emerging NY-based label, Ohne Titel, opened their SS10 show in West Chelsea with a striking two-tone skin-tight tuxedo suit – an ensemble guaranteed to make an impact. The SS10 collection, featuring black, white, and block primary coloured, figure-hugging tailored dresses and separates alongside signature intricate knitwear (finished this season with unusual feather detailing), proved compelling and complex – something the designers set out to achieve. “Ohne Titel is about re-imagining the body's shape in a modern way,” said Adams backstage. “We think of Ohne Titel as intelligent luxury – our strength as a label is in designing with a certain freedom and sense of experimentation in terms of surfaces.” Interested in the “graphic quality” of Egyptian draping and wrapping, Adams and Gill drew attention to the body’s natural contours through bold lines and cuts. Elaborate knitwear – in the form of body-con dresses, skirts and sweaters, made for a string statement – as did the introduction of plumes along hemlines and seams. “We loved experimenting with feathers,” said Adams, “it was fun to take them out of their usual context and allow them an abstract, richly textural quality.”
Karen Walker’s SS10 collection of short ruffle-sleeved macs, frilled loose-fitting dresses predominantly in navy, white, yellow and gold was a fresh and flawless vision for spring. Taking cult 60s British television series, The Prisoner, as inspiration, Walker sent out navy blazers and light trench’s with gold buttons, wide-brimmed floppy hats, navy and cream striped tees and chiffon dresses, paired with preppy-chic boat shoes and desert boots (the product of a collaboration with Pointer this season). Clean-cut, accessible and downright cute, the Parisian overtones of the majority of the collection were contrasted with eye-catching bright green psychadelic floral print dresses. “Including the psychadelic prints was a play on opposites,” the designer explained post-show, saying her aesthetic is always, “a combination of effortlessness and contrasts”. “The collection references the classic 60s Parisian style we all know and love – little tan rolled up trousers, deck shoes and sun hats, but I took inspiration from The Prisoner, which is set in an Edwardian seaside resort,” Walker said. “My aesthetic is always effortless and contrasting – and this collection reflects that. There are a lot of pieces on my shopping list!”
Alexander Wang is onto a good thing. He’s become known and loved for creating clothing that epitomises New York understated cool, and with each season he further cements his glowing status. Wang’s packed out show today had a star-studded front row including industry insiders and celebrities Diane von Furstenburg, Katie Grand, Julia Restoin-Roitfeld, Anna Wintour, Erin Wasson, Terry Richardson and Rachel McAdams. Once again this season was rocking the unmistakable Alexander Wang attitude – models sans make-up with unkempt braids donned outfits that might have been nabbed from their boyfriends. Wang has always described ‘his girl’, or fictitious muse, as a little rough around the edges – and this season, it was taken to a literal extreme. As though straight off the football field and onto the runway, models wore oversize raglan-cut grey sweatshirts slashed at the midriff with cut-out knee-high socks. Gridiron style extended shoulders, high-waisted leather lace-up hot-pants with zips at each side, striped red and white 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. “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.”
An optimistic vision for the season ahead, Donna Karan's SS10 collection saw day-to-night wear in subtle greys, creams and peaches, set off by radiant bursts of coral and red, take shape in diaphanous layers. To a packed crowd at her garage-like studio in West Village, Karan effortlessly worked this season's most tangible trend - asymmetric layering of delicate raw silk and chiffon. As though spun from air, dresses hung asymmetrically on models, floating poetically with each step down the catwalk. Waists were accentuated as breezy, chicly oversized dresses were severely belted 50s style, a look completed with sculptural white sunhats, and body-con mini-dresses were few and far between, featuring unusual textures and detailing. To close the show, floor-sweeping gowns in vivid colour and divided sections of flowing silk stepped out onto the catwalk – a visual reminder that after decades at the helm of NYC fashion, Karan still has what it takes to push a simple idea to a wearable extreme.
"Film is such an interesting medium, and I wanted to create something contemplative, beautiful and inspiring," said London-base designer at the Chelsea screening of his latest fashion film, in collaboration with MAC. The film, displayed on four screen's simultaneously in a cube-like formation at MILK Studios, was created, said Pugh, "As a mood board and a way of expressing a feeling and emotion, it's setting the scene for my upcoming Paris show rather than simply showing the clothing catwalk style." Believing that fashion films should be, "about creating beautiful images, not pushing products," Pugh said he was driven to generate a film that would take people out of their, "everyday mindset, because that is what fashion is really all about - it's fantasy, and it should transport people from their day to day reality." Of his upcoming collection to be shown in Paris, Pugh, though tight-lipped, revealed that it would be, “so different to what I’ve done before… It will be surprising.”
It was to be expected that Rodarte’s new collection for spring would cause a frenzy – there were people lining up outside with the kind of fervour usually reserved for rock concerts, or free booze after parties. The front row was genuinely star-studded, with Kirsten Dunst, Jason Schwartzman, Elijah Wood, Grace Coddington and Kim Gordon all in attendance, and all seemingly mesmerised by the Rodarte spectacle. Each season, the label’s design duo, captivating sister’s Kate and Laura Mulleavy, manage to take their ferocious, though magical, aesthetic to new extremes. For spring, an earthy and tribal, though thoroughly otherworldly, theme took hold. The show opened, black grit underfoot and poisonous yellow lights overhead, with dry ice pouring down onto the catwalk enveloping the warehouse space. Bedraggled models with severe make-up and clumped hair emerged from the ether to a dark, distorted soundtrack, wearing garments constructed through complex looping, draping, knotting and plaiting. As though stepping to the catwalk from some ancient Scottish moor, the models appeared at once menacing and awe-inspiring, draped in earth-toned ensembles featuring shots of fluorescent yellow and unsual tie-dying and dip-dying techniques. To close the show, three models stood, dry ice pouring down above them, in dramatic floor-length gowns, staring out at the crowd. Mesmerising, anarchic and unlike any other NY Fashion Week presentations, this was a show to reignite our love of fashion.
For spring, Michael Kors pushed a confident and texture heavy, fresh and clean aesthetic. Models were positively shiny, sleek and fresh-faced, perfectly suited to the simple, crisp designs dominating his collection. Saturated summery colour was rife throughout both the mens and womenswear pieces, with fitted dresses and mens suits constructed from 50s Miami-inspired pastel purple, green and blue fabric. While iridescent watercolour-like pastel print skirts and women’s trousers took the collection briefly out of the eminently wearable (pearly pastel isn’t the easiest look to carry off), the constant throughout was a wardrobe staple, the shift dress. It came out in endless incarnations – draped, asymmetric, high-necked, and what it lacked in design complexity, it made up for in surface treatment. Scrunched and crushed taffeta and silk, lame, soft leather and silken jersey added interest to modest cuts, as did the 90s techno-future clear PVC asymmetric graphic inserts on tops and dresses.
OSCAR DE LA RENTA
As a groomed Anna Wintour, Grace Coddington and fashion iconoclast Iris Apfel sat front row, sartorial master, Oscar de la Renta, revealed his radiant vision for the season ahead. A testament to his abiding talent and success through the decades, de la Renta’s was a front row populated by industry insiders, like young NY designer Zac Posen – not celebrities. Opening with a teal blue reinterpretation of a retro safari suit, de la Renta’s collection nailed a refined, and modern, 50s slash 70s summery aesthetic. The mood was relaxed and luxurious in a collection embodying the essence of understated, elegant design. Loose silk column dresses in sumptuous coral, torquoise and chocolate were cinched high on the waist with leather belts, a stand-out khaki linen trench fell smartly below the knees and billowing sleeved shirts and shifts in silk organza, paired with gold accessories, worked a bohemian vibe. From clean, pared back lines, de la Renta soon stepped it up and took the collection from day well and truly into night. Glamorous floor-length gowns of lace and circular-cut out organza ruffles in vivid hues, worn alternately with black and white lace shawls over the head and shoulders, brought to mind a flamenco spirit, as did chantilly lace ensembles paired with braided hair and thick black eyeliner. As ‘Sartorialist’ Scott Schuman said following the show, de la Renta delivered some necessary, “Old school glamour,” to a fashion week still dominated by talk of the recession. While wearable design is key at a time when dollars are scarce, there is something to be said about taking clothing out of the ordinary and allowing it the room to inspire.
PHILLIP LIM Menswear
While other fashion houses may be paring back as a response to the difficult economy, Phillip Lim, never one to take the prescribed route, went the other way with an impressive stand-alone menswear presentation this season for the first time. "I felt it was time to stop ignoring half the population," said Lim after the presentation, "as a guy and a fashion fanatic, I had to do this for my life. Fashion is like oxygen to me, my designs are personal." Inspired by 50s and 60s poets, musicians and artists, Lim's SS10 collection titled 'Neo-Beatniks' involved, said Lim, "No power suits, no ego - just a power spirit." Aiming to convey a sense of intimacy, Lim presented his collection in a whitewashed set designed by designer Andrew Ondrejcak that referenced bohemian living spaces. Guests, scotch rocks or ice-latte in hand, walked through a cavernous warehouse space that featured a central series of rooms and limited furniture including a piano (that was being played by a model) inhabited by numerous models in Lim's latest wares, described by the designer as, "classic with a sense of madness."