It was a disaster scene out front of Marc Jacobs New York Armory show, where torrential rain threatened arriving guests scrambling to their seats for the bang-on 8pm presentation (stranding a slew of celebrities and editors arriving a minute or two late including Sophia Coppola and Drew Barrymore, relegated to the standing section). The raging storm outside appeared strangely portentous, setting the scene for the sartorial tempest Jacobs’ presented for Spring/Summer 14. Against a dramatic post-apocalyptic backdrop complete with overturned bus, destroyed beach and wrecked teepee, a stream of eerie lookalike models with blunt bleached-out dirty-dyed bobs walked the black gravel catwalk to the foreboding beat of Aphex Twin’s Icct Hedral (Philip Glass Orchestration). It was a dark, gloomy and equally decadent vision, a nightmarish spectacle that saw grunge given an elaborate Victoriana spin. Marrying the 1990’s with the 1890s, the collection included heavily embellished floor length puff-sleeve dresses and skirts paired with chunky hiking sandals and flat sequined boots, teamed with oversize tassled, beaded and appliquéd jackets. Offhand yet experimental, the looks in deep jewel tones appeared an homage to 90s alternative style, a celebration of art-school freaks in DIY charity-shop ensembles equally at home in a battered Victorian dress as grandpa pants and sneakers. There was much to ruminate over as the show drew to a close, the least of which was why Jacobs presented what appeared to be winter-wear for summer. Was the designer alluding to the grand narrative that is the Global Warming crisis and our inability to curb mass consumption – or was this nightmarish scene just the imagined morning after an epically riotous, very well-dressed, party? I suspect the latter, but like to think fashion has the capability to engage on the discourse of important global themes - either way, it was an exciting and thought-provoking end to NYFW and a reminder of what a creative power Marc Jacobs continues to be.
Striking a chord with fashion’s lovers and dreamers, Anna Sui took a trip back in time with a romantic, heavily referential collection that might have stepped straight off the streets of late 60s London. A floral headpiece clad Karen Elson kicked off the show to the dreamlike sounds of The Beatles 'The Inner Light' donning sheer floral-print layers and offering a wink and smile to friend and fellow Citizens Band mate, Sarah Sophie Flicker, sitting front row. Offering menswear for the first time in many seasons, luminous fresh-faced wavy-haired guys and girls hit the catwalk in pairs, layered in soft, shimmering lurex shirts and dresses, fringed shawls and cardigans, and suede and velvet pants, jackets and skirts. Colours were rosy and golden as though drenched in sunlight, creating the effect of a radiant summer garden at twilight. It was an unapologetically more-is-more affair, with almost every look combining multiple elements including prints and detailed embroidery, beading, fringing, feathers and sheer flowing fabrics alongside rich velvet and leather, piled on top of one another for maximum retro effect. While an element of grunge unexpectedly crept in partway through the show as hoodies toughened up sweet shift dresses, the collection was unmistakably devoted to flower children – and judging by the front row of dollybird fans in 60s dresses, it hit the right psychedelic note.
It was all in the details at Thakoon for Spring, with a polished collection of subtly-chic monochromatic eveningwear enlivened with thoughtful finishing touches. Strings of pearl, crystal chain and gold fringe details along neck and hemlines updated classic silk dresses with subtly 90s-inspired lingerie elements. Hints of skin were revealed as midriff-baring cropped tops were paired with flattering high-waisted skirts, over the knee lace boots exposed toes and satin slip dresses with daring splits and lace inserts took to the catwalk. While jewellery details – strings of pearls slung cross body and crystal embellishment – were the stand out element of the collection, a singular floral motif in vivid pink and red upon a pleat skirt and dress demanded attention, interrupting the almost entirely cream and black palette.
BAND OF OUTSIDERS
Against the soulful 60s tune of the Animals ‘House of the Rising Sun’, Band of Outsiders 70s-sporty-meets-90s-grunge vision for Spring/Summer 14 emerged. Kicking off the collection, a grungy floor-length white striped cotton jersey dress paired with chunky black sandals hit the catwalk, offering a hint of the casual-cool everyday looks to follow. Crisp, white masculine-feminine daywear marked the initial summer portion, with eminently wearable t-shirt and button-down shirt dresses a natural continuation of designer Scott Sternberg’s instantly recognizable updated American sportswear aesthetic. Grunge-chic ensembles (paired with geeky sandals atop contrasting socks) soon made way for delicate 70s-inspired scarf print silk separates and super-cute athletic short-shorts, sweaters and striking urban hooded anoraks.
As the styles moved from indie-band streetwear to 70s sporty chic, the colour palette progressed from straightforward black and white to popping yellow, pink and navy with shots of pretty floral prints throughout. Where Sternberg has in the past drawn readily on Americana romance and nostalgia for inspiration, Spring/Summer 14 presented an optimistic and easy vision of contemporary youth with a more subtle throwback to bygone eras, complete with easy-to-wear wardrobe-favourites for his ever-growing fanbase.
Injecting a vital dose of crazy into an increasingly commercially-driven New York Fashion Week, Thom Browne offered his take on mentally-disturbed chic for Spring/Summer 2014. To the tune of a relentlessly mixed-and-mashed Bjork’s ‘It’s Oh So Quiet’, models in severe Victorian-inspired garb wandered aimlessly through connecting rooms that made up the catwalk, gazing into space with make-up wildly smudged across their faces and powdered up-dos complete with pearl-beaded hair nets. As nurses handed out little white candy-pills to the audience, the engrossingly surreal performance continued, with models donning primarily cream and white confections adorned with light-as-air frills, pearls and buttons not unlike wedding cake decoration. As always, Browne experimented brilliantly with proportion – offsetting severe and structured tailoring with an amplification of feminine curves, creating almost cartoon-like hourglass silhouettes. Much attention was paid to detail, with ensembles that took every part of the body into consideration; from frilly socks atop Victorian booties, bizarre latex gloves featuring white fingernails and delicate lace about necks to clusters of toy cats hanging on strings of pearls, each look was as multilayered and creative as the elaborate sets of Sleep No More. Inspiringly berserk and strangely beautiful, Thom Browne had me at cat clusters on pearls.
To the hippy beat of psychedelic pan-pipes, Karen Walker’s 60s flower child meets 90s grunge confections were revealed, a subtle variation on her eminently wearable fare last season. Earthy tones in natural fabrics including cheesecloth cotton and wool were paired with pretty metallics – a stand out eastern print on shimmering lurex more than hinting at San Francisco 60s style. Once again, Walker’s styling was spot on, with subtly eccentric boyishly layered ensembles involving grandpa cardigans, slouchy pants, loose tie-waist skirts, beanies and multicoloured strands of beads perfectly offsetting the designer’s pretty-sweet aesthetic. Accessories were a stand out, with Karen Walker’s beloved sunglasses making an appearance alongside super-cute vintage-inspired satchels and luggage-like handbags and weekenders designed by emerging Australian label, Benah. To close the show, Marc Bolan’s ‘Children of the Revolution’ blared, proving that even with a 90s slant Karen Walker’s perennial love of 60s style prevails.
Drawing on Los Angeles for inspiration, design duo Kate and Laura Mulleavy went rock’n’roll for Spring with a collection based on their home city’s predilection for, in their own words, “Hair Metal Bands, the Sunset Strip, Rockabilly, Old Hollywood and the 1980s.” This mixed bag of trashy-chic references resulted in a collection of youthful sexy-cool wares that appeared an amalgamation of Rihanna, the B-52s and Flintstones style, with brash leopard and zebra prints adorning leather bra tops, skirts and silk evening dresses complete with risque sheer cut-outs and thigh-high splits – an 80s big-haired, long-legged Guns’n’Roses vision to behold. While perhaps an unpalatable rejection of luxury to some, the bold wares featuring appliqué lobsters, asymmetric hemlines, dirty denim and exaggerated fringing in a palette restricted almost entirely to black and white, was certainly a return to the sister’s early audacious aesthetic. To close the show, striking two-tone floor-length dresses featuring frills and sultry mesh inserts took to the light-up disco catwalk – after-all, it wouldn’t be a Rodarte experience without knockout eveningwear to appease their celebrity fans.
MARC BY MARC JACOBS
Progressing from last season’s slouchy grunge-fest to a refined take on 70s Glam Rock and 30s Broadway with a side of 80s collegiate, Marc by Marc Jacobs ditched the now-ubiquitous 90s aesthetic for a party-ready vision championing eras of excess for spring. Daywear for evening and vice versa proved the overriding theme of the men’s and women’s collections, with vibrant and youthful dusk-til-dawn ensembles ideal for 24-hour party people. Holographic sequin sheath dresses in luminous pink and green paired with geeky sneakers, iridescent leather jackets and mini-skirts and playful harlequin silk dresses offered a dressed-down approach to eveningwear. While effortlessly-cool collegiate jackets and sporty shorts and pastel-hued loose-fitting pyjama-like suits for both sexes teamed with nonchalant neckties and oversize clutch bags (for the boys) hinted at preppy Americana. Prints were graphic and bold, with geometric and abstracted floral motifs in subdued candy colours drawing on a 70s aesthetic. Rounding out the collection in upbeat contemporary glam-rock style, black and platinum-toned silk-satin suits alongside shift dresses and jumpsuits embellished with sequin and bead star motifs closed the show.
Olivier Theyskens knows what girls like, and he didn’t hold back for Spring/Summer 14 with a collection of pared-back, multi-layered round-the-clock ensembles. Looking to his girlfriend’s suitcases for inspiration, Theyskens’ noticed a recurring theme – an assortment of tank and crop tops, button-down shirts, singlets and loose tees that while alone appear inconsequential, yet make a statement when layered together. The idea may be uncomplicated, but it highlights Theyskens knack for creating accessible garments that can be styled countless ways to create entirely unique looks. Where recent collections have seen Theyskens draw on his 90s grunge roots, his vision for spring was clean and fresh, with subtle hints of 90s brought up to date via impeccable tailoring. Layering was key, and suggested in numerous ways – chicly oversized suit jackets or sweaters were paired with long tops over knee-length shorts, mini-skirts or long skirts with ruffle hems, the result a soft and effortless silhouette. A rock’n’roll vibe came through as standout black leather pieces including a voluminous floor-length skirt and slouchy t-shirt style top took to the catwalk, while multiple sheer layers revealing skin worn atop or beneath opaque items added a touch of sex appeal. Pretty floor-length pastel colour-blocked silk dresses consisting of layered sections closed the show, a whimsical note to an otherwise pragmatic-chic spring collection.
Part woodland nymph, part Studio 54 disco dolly, Proenza Schouler’s brilliantly ethereal-meets-Sci-Fi vision for Spring/Summer 2014 proved the highlight of NYFW thus far. To the repetitive electro beat of an ominous Blade Runner-like soundtrack, models took to the geometric catwalk in chicly minimal, precise and effortless ensembles featuring cropped wide-leg pants and long-sleeve ankle-length dresses and breezy pleated skirts in a clean palette of cream, beige, black and metallic hues. An ultra-modern take on 70s disco style, silhouettes in supple silk crepe and suede were lean and elongated emphasizing a lithe feminine physique, toughened up with bold metal hardware (including statement-making breast plates complete with leather straps) and sculptural sky-high platform heels. A reprieve from the ubiquitous 90s grunge-fest that has taken over NYFW this season, Jack McCollough and Lazaro Hernandez once again proved their mettle as experimental yet commercially-viable designers with an expertly crafted and thoroughly modern collection of dressed-up day and eveningwear that riffed on, rather than exploited, its key influences. Never overtly referential, the resulting streamlined 70s-inspired ensembles were at once futuristic and earthy, heralding a return to feminine glamour for spring.
To a popping medley of catchy jukebox standards, Jeremy Scott’s 50s-inspired good-girl-gone-bad wares in multi candy-colour and black for Spring 14 were revealed. With perfectly prim-and-proper beehive bobs and a broad sweep of cat-eye liner, lithe mannequin-like models donned risqué ensembles that playfully fused a rockabilly, biker-chick aesthetic with demure 50s housewife. Silhouettes were sexy and structured – sculpted high-waisted skirts paired with midriff-baring crop tops, or fetish-inspired patent leather shrunken motorcycle jacket with cut-out shoulders teamed with a skin-tight skirt plastered with zippers. Along with the pastel numbers and rock’n’roll leather confections came wild animal prints in lurid hues alongside killer slogans carried over from last season’s Santa Cruz skate art fare, standouts of which included “I’m a Mess” and “Earth Sucks” emblazoned across acidic-hued sweaters and crop tops. There were also three unique doodle-prints featured on clothing and accessories throughout the collection, care of celebrated artist, and contemporary of Keith Haring, Kenny Scharf. As always with Scott, the downtown event was as much a raucus celeb-fuelled party as fashion show. Running 40 minutes late due to the tardy arrival of bubblegum rapper Nicki Minaj, the motley row of stars sent rabid photographers into a frenzy as they exhaustively papped ASAP Rocky (his intimidating bodyguard looming, rather hilariously, over the rabble), adorably messy Charlotte Free, The Mishapes and Paris and Nicky Hilton – a ludicrous spectacle that just added to the chaos and humour of the collection.