It was a war of nature versus urbanism at Altuzarra for Spring 12, and happily there were no losers - instead, the result of the sartorial scuffle proved an ingenious and utterly unforgettable concrete jungle affair. Sporty silhouettes in complex techno fabrics were paired with a brilliant multi-hued birds-of-paradise print derived from a vintage Hawaiian shirt, an expertly balanced thematic dichotomy that in the hands of a lesser designer could easily have been a disaster. But Joseph Altuzarra has never been known to play it safe, and thus far his unconventional take on fashion and knack of breaking the rules and coming out on top has hit the right chord every time. From his cinematic Catwoman and Edward Scissorhands inspired risqué leather patchwork catsuits of several seasons passed, to his masculine-feminine collection last season fusing 90s grunge with Hollywood glamour, Altuzarra has a peculiarly chameleonic ability to present a radically new vision each season – though always with the chicly futuristic aesthetic he’s made his trademark. This time around, the vision was sleek and controlled. Aerodynamic and formfitting, at times even scuba-like, black and white dresses and ensembles with techy 90s-style zip detailing launched the show, followed by leather confections – the most interesting of which was designed to appear as a classic overcoat, and finally brightly coloured loose knit sweaters and bold print dresses and skirts. Altuzarra’s idea to introduce bold jungle print to the jaunty mix came from an old shirt he happened across, “I liked the challenge of playing around with an old Hawaiin textile print and attempting to make it chic, I also wanted to present the duality of the natural with the techno urban,” he explained following the show. “When I started building the collection, it was an extension of last season’s fetishised outer urban-wear. I wanted to push this idea of functional clothing that is protection against the built environment – but take into spring.”
The grand Academy Mansion on 63rd Street lent a fitting air of Gatsby grandeur to a collection of softly tailored 20’s style dresses for Philosophy’s spring 12 collection. As the models descended the ornate marble staircase and weaved their way through three connecting reception rooms of the ground floor, audible sighs of wonder emanated from glamorous front row guests including actresses Emma Roberts, Virginie Ledoyen and the sublime Patricia Clarkson.
Designer Alberta di Ferreti has been known for wearing her influences very honestly on her sleeve – her collection for last spring inspired by occidental costume testament to that – and for spring 12, the designer displayed this transparency yet again with a stunning array of 1920s inspired looks. As though stepping out of the pages of a Fitzgerald novel, bias-cut silk slips and delicate gossamer floor-length dresses featuring intricate hand-beading, sequins and appliqué flowers took to the runway – it was a vision of romantic perfection, and it didn’t take much to imagine these looks sauntering right off the runway and onto the lawns of an old-world Hamptons estate.
The gauzy separates, tennis-ready romper, wide-legged jumpsuit and simple dresses, paired with chic slightly oversize suit jackets, were the embodiment of elegance, as was the palette of blush, mint and gold tones. While the palette was simple and unobtrusive for the most part, allowing the sophisticated cuts to take precedence, one outfit couldn’t help but catch the eye – a beautiful yellow and lilac blazer worn loosely atop a filmy slip of the same hues. The dresses in the collection were all breathtaking, but it was the outerwear that appeared accessible and perhaps more readily saleable – the loose kimono-inspired jackets perfect for well-dressed lazy weekends, and slouchy silver cable-knit vests and cardigans the perfect layer to take your little black dress up a notch.
For spring, Anna Sui loosened her grip on the rock’n’roll bohemia she’s made her signature to make way for a new and impressive aesthetic – 1940s burlesque glamour en route via Studio 54. Gone were the audacious mod-driven knit and print ensembles of autumn/winter 11/12, and nowhere to be seen the angelic prairie girl of last spring – instead, we saw one of Sui’s strongest collection’s in recent years, featuring knock-out feminine pre-war inspired cuts in sumptuous chiffons and crepe-de-chines, with playful and endlessly cool prints. It was clear Sui had no intention of fitting in with the prevailing looks of the season, rather staying true to what she does best – showcasing her own unique and whimsical viewpoint, and setting new trends.
Sui has gained a reputation for cultivating specific and exclusive left-of-centre references, but transforming them into collections of modern, accessible clothing that has over the last 20-plus years proven a favourite both cross-culturally and cross-demographically. This season was no exception, with the designer focusing her attention on the intriguing ‘Club Sept’, the creative melting-pot and definitive place to be of 1970’s Paris fashion –in particular focusing on American Illustrator Antonio Lopez’s impact on the scene. This vision was expanded to involve a little disco fever, in the form of turbans atop frizzed-out hair, flared trouser ensembles, sexy lacquered lips, flowing skirts and long hemlines, and just a little sequin and shimmering embellishment.
As usual, a glowing Karen Elson opened the show, this season stepping out to a wildly enthusiastic crowd, broadly smiling in an adorable forties-style dress, with a black and white marabou shrug. Other key looks included a knock-out black tulle kimono atop silk shorts, sailor-inspired romper with sailor hat, high-waisted skirt paired with a super-cute bustier top and sculpted waist-cinched blazer, butterfly winged sheer silk dress and insanely sweet heart print dresses in both black and peach. The collection was well-edited and well-conceived, and all wonderfully Anna Sui - guaranteed to win over her adoring fans yet again.
Modern 60s proved the crux of Peter Som’s optimistic collection for Spring/Summer 12 – and while that may sound a little ho-hum given that it’s a repeatedly referenced era with regards to fashion, at the hands of Som, regarded as one of New York’s finest emerging designers, the mod look enjoyed a newfound vitality. Pop-rocking colour and bold floral prints anchored the brave vision, in fact with the exception of but a few khaki pieces, the entire collection was conceived in brights – and the New York audience, currently enjoying an Indian Summer and donning uncharacteristically bold hues, couldn’t have been more enthusiastic. Even the footwear, predominantly made up of chunky heeled loafers, were crafted in extreme shades of aqua, fuchsia and tangerine – perfectly in sync with the models’ grunge-meets-60s dos featuring a dramatic sweep of fluorescent pink through the hair.
Capitalising on the loyal following he has garnered for his whimsical take on modern American sportswear, Som regularly attracts an impressive array of industry leaders and celebrities to his show. Not one to disappoint, Som this season had none other than king of preppy, youth-driven sportswear, Tommy Hilfiger, in attendance, stirring the crowd as he sauntered in and took his front row seat – turns out his daughter’s show, NAHM, was to follow immediately afterwards.
While 2012 doom and gloom speculations are still rife (among those following the Mayan calendar anyway!) Som has chosen to eschew even a hint of melancholy, instead offering unmistakably optimistic colour and flatteringly structured silhouettes, his killer luau-ready zebra-print and floral bikini’s topping off the playfully vibrant fare, that while overtly referential, never migrated to the realms of kitsch. Som’s message for Spring could not have been clearer – ditch the black and get into colour. And hey, don’t mind if we do.
A clearly defined three-part show unfolded before the crowd at Doo Ri today, with a trio of seemingly incongruous elements combining to make a – not particularly unified – whole for Spring 12. The collection appeared to be split into distinct sections: structured tailoring, draping and pleating, and colour and print – and even the palette itself, comprised for the most part of nude, white and black, but punctuated with unexpected prints and shots of fluorescent pink, yellow and finally purple, appeared somewhat muddled. While certainly intriguing, Doo Ri Chung’s vision proved a little complicated – but given the designer’s artistic aspirations this season, this was perhaps the objective.
Potentially a reflection of Chung’s driving inspiration for Spring, which she described as “pen and ink to paper,” the collection, much like the haphazard, ink blot-like prints throughout, had no consistent thread. The prints, surfacing on a handful of the designs, were hand-drawn and inspired by the graphic ink drawings of luminary artists Daniel Egneus and Aubrey Beardsley, the latter of which was famed for his beautiful, yet at times grotesque and erotic, illustrations.
Within the ‘structured’ section, loose-fitting slightly oversize waist-coats and flattering blazers in neutrals showcased Chung’s ability to create flawless and unfussy day-to-night wear. The draped and pleated pieces, hitting on a key trend for the season ahead, combined fluid silhouettes with light-as-air materials, a throwback to Chung’s trademark covetable easy-breezy jersey dresses. The dresses and separates in vivid colour, and featuring abstract and eye-catching prints, proved the stand-outs of the collection though, if for no other reason than for being a brave representation of the designer’s creative vision.
Derek Lam was California dreaming for spring, crafting a sumptuous, effortlessly chic block-colour collection inspired by the wild open desert landscape and famed modernist architecture of Palm Springs, in particular the iconic Kauffman House. Wearing this influence on his sleeve, the 60s architectural references were immediately apparent as models stepped onto the runway donning simple, sophisticated silhouettes in bold mustard yellow, deep coral and a retro shade of pastel aqua.
From the first look on the runway, a striking mustard and camel boned leather jacket with a white diamond crochet t-shirt and skirt, it was evident we were in for a winning collection exuding easy, and infinitely wearable, glamour. Audible sounds of approval emanated from the audience as kaleidoscope-print separates and dresses alternately in orange and coral and peppermint and marine combinations, took to the floor – the front row cameras of Bill Cunningham and Garance Dore in a flurry. The print on print action hit all-new heights of levelled eccentricity as models sporting all-over kaleidoscope print tailored trousers and shirts stepped out, alongside kaleidoscope motif crepe de chine blouse and blazer bravely paired with a black and white laminate stripe trouser. The Californian desert influence revealed itself through the accessories; a blue and tan belt a grown-up take on the popular Aztec meets ikat aesthetic, as well as a python patchwork bag.
Towards the show’s close, gorgeous silk, embroidered dresses – one ingeniously ‘tiled’ and intricately beaded, another featuring glistening silver sequins, took on something of a 1920s sensibility – just the thing for luxurious Rat Pack-era Palm Spring cocktail parties. “Somewhere, Frank Sinatra is crooning by the piano,” Lam said of the theme behind the looks, “and Angie Dickenson lounging by a crystal blue pool.”
Over the past few seasons, the Tommy Hilfiger empire has undergone something of a revival, transforming from its streety 90s incarnation into a critically and commercially successful brand capitalising on the current cult-of-preppy style – in part due to the influence of designer, Peter Som, acting as consultant. Long the undisputed king of youth-driven sportswear, the Hilfiger of late is compelling, playing around with the classics and fine-tuning the brand's new-found high-end prep signature.
For spring 2012, Hilfiger focused on the fusion of preppy and pop, paying homage to the 60’s – a recurrent theme of the season, though the ensembles here were more amped up Ali McGraw in Love Story, than mod-style sharp and bold. Starting with bright orange and blue plaid silks, the collection seamlessly moved into spring knits – a chic orange and burgundy cable knit sweater sure to be a top seller. The soundtrack, reflecting the contemporary-meets-modernist looks on show, transitioned from a mash up of The Killers and Gorillaz into the 60’s appropriate hits of Rolling Stones and Cream. Peter Som’s influence became overtly apparent through several ensembles in the gently 60s-inspired vein, in particular a soft blue and white stripe silk ensemble, and striped silk short sleeved button-down shirt with pleated bib paired with slim fit pants – evocative of Mia Farrow’s covetable outfits in “Rosemary’s Baby”. Echoes of the Jet-set era came through in a khaki cotton single-breasted suit jacket with blue camouflage silk shirt and matching camouflage cigarette pants ensemble.For the finale, Hilfiger sent out a surprising brave choice - two kaftans sporting a subtly eccentric harlequin-slash-rugby vibe, in bang-on-trend navy, red, orange and mustard colour-blocked sections, again proving the brand has its finger on the pulse.
Virginia Woolf and the sophisticated Bloomsbury set may have been the inspiration behind Preen’s spring 12 offering, but never fear – the staunch Victorian influence sure didn’t hamper the fun. To a minimal electronic beat, models stepped through the equally minimal IAC building lobby in playfully ladylike ensembles, lit up by a pastel wall feature that echoed the dreamy sorbet tones featured throughout.
Complete with ruffled waists, frilly collars and daring flashes of fluoro detailing, dresses and interesting combinations of separates in grid-like multi-colour print – an ingeniously blown-up pixilated floral motif – had the timeless appeal we’ve come to expect from one of London’s most beloved labels.
On the surface, Preen’s spring vision might have appeared straight-up prim and proper, on closer inspection however, the looks were all skillfully infused with the ultra-modern edge Preen has become synonymous with. Not many labels could match a geometric pastel print, frills and crochet detailing with contrasting paisley-like black motif along collars, sleeves and hemlines, and come out unscathed, and yet Preen achieved just this with aplomb – the collection an instant hit with stylish front-row fans including Leith Clark, Sarah Sophie Flicker, Rose McGowan and Leigh Lezark – and why not? After all, Preen has proven to be a favourite among it-girls and A-listers for years, beginning with London’s own iconic Kate Moss, an avid supporter of designer’s Justin Thornton and Thea Bragazzi from their early Portobello Market days.
“We were looking at Virginia Wolf, and wanted to create a collection with that sense of heritage, but make it very modern,” explained the glowing husband and wife team backstage, amid a throng of well-wishers and journalists. “We started really working on creating an interesting mix of colour, to keep the collection fresh and modern. That’s where these great colour combinations came in, like cornflower blue trousers and lemon yellow blouse ensemble, and introducing the black floral print detail throughout. Our girl is always looking ahead, and so our looks for spring might be inspired by the past, but always with our signature modern vision. ”
For spring, established master of mainstream American sportswear, Michael Kors, took us on a sartorial Safari with wares inspired by a recent African jaunt. And, with a celebrity-studded front row boasting some of the biggest names to attend fashion week so far in tow, including Michael Douglas, Courtney Love, Zoe Saldana and Rosie Huntington-Whitely, Kors travel-inspired collection hit the Lincoln Center runway – and what an impact it made. Though it must be said, perhaps not as positive an impact as we are used to with the iconic brand.
An African Safari, as exotic a holiday destination it may be, proved a little rugged, uncomfortable even, for a collection of clothing – sported by intrepid models exhibiting excessive tans. While it may not have been his strongest yet on all counts (surprising after his triumphant 30-year anniversary collection of last season), the subtle earth tones throughout proved endlessly flattering, and one intriguing play on the classic Khaki button down shirt as a dress was a knock-out, as was the chic and easy saffron cashmere sweater, cardigan and loose-fit trouser ensemble. For the boys, cream Bermuda shorts and loose waffle knit sweaters exuded effortless style.
It was in the more adventurous tribal tie-dyes, dip dyes and animal print pieces that the road on this summer safari became a little rocky to navigate. A patchwork, multi-animal print swimsuit paired with leather pouch belt and a green tie-die jersey dress were somewhat unexpected additions to the Kors archive, as was dip-dyed cream linen trousers, with orange from hem to knee and a matching orange roll-neck sweater for men.
When it comes to Betsey Johnson, it’s all about attitude. And this season, the raw, amped up, over the top sex, drugs, rock’n’roll vibe hit an all-time high, with a Spring collection dedicated to those vital feminine parts, in the designers own words, “ass and titties.” Even DJ Assault’s similarly titled 90s dance track was enlisted as a soundtrack, just in case the lewd illustrated show-notes, and suggestive ensembles, were too subtle a message.
Each season, Johnson’s epic and utterly irreverent Lincoln Center show is a party from start to finish, attracting eccentric personalities to her front row like rapper, Nicki Minaj and long celebrated master of downtown New York, Michael Musto of the Village Voice.
The vision for spring 12 was firmly anchored around sexed-up, sheer, lingerie-inspired ensembles, the last looks featuring oversized silver foil balloons reading “T”, “&”, “A”, being paraded down the runway by animated models. Leading the show was none other than Lulu Johnson, Betsey’s daughter, who had the raucous full-house cheering as she stepped out, theatrically kicking her heels and all but dancing down the catwalk; sporting a lace-up bustier, bombshell hair and sexy sky-high platform stilettos.
Unexpectedly, there were some refined moments in the shape of cocktail and full length dresses, some black and floral print with fuchsia blooms, others a vivid clash of red and yellow. A black and ivory skull print playsuit and mini skirt might have been an homage to Alexander McQueen, bearing more than a passing resemblance to his infamous skull print scarves.
When Johnson came to take her bow, the energy in the room soared, as the beloved New York designer performed her signature cartwheel and then fell into a split, arms raised. At 69, she’s still got it, and knows how to flaunt it.
NYFW welcomed back designer Zac Posen with open arms at his home-coming Lincoln Center show this season, his first in New York after defecting to Paris Fashion Week over the last year. And it was a marked change from his previous New York shows – bustling talked-about affairs involving 1000-plus guests and over-the-top celebrity-studded front rows. For Spring 12, the razzle-dazzle glitz and glam was reserved entirely for the romantic floor-sweeping gowns, which took to the catwalk in the modest surrounds of the little-used Avery Fisher Hall balcony.
Featuring precise tailoring and stunning, body-skimming cuts, Posen’s offerings for the new season swept through the outdoor space to an intimate gathering of just a couple hundred magazine editors, the only apparent starlet in tow one Miss Kelley Osbourne. Model Coco Rocha, in her only professional outing of the season, opened spring 2012 for Posen – and did so with superlative grace, it’s not for nothing that she enlisted Posen to design her wedding dress. It was all old-world silver-screen glamour, restricted to only cocktail and evening wear, suggesting a sensibility more akin to Paris than New York – perhaps indicating the indelible mark the city of romance has left on his designs. The sumptuous deep jewel and earth toned dresses, almost all cascading to the floor, had an intriguingly ‘Noir’ cinematic quality – particularly evident in the standout bondage-inspired black gown with straps, mesh, and subtle flesh-baring cut-outs. However, it was the luxurious intricately embellished evening gowns in duchess satin and delicate tulle with bustier detailing and mermaid style skirt, that well and truly stole the show – just the thing to appeal to his many avant-garde A-list fans.
Inspired this season by Alice in Wonderland, iconic New York designer Vera Wang held true to her psychadelic fairytale muse with a collection of youthful, cutting-edge designs for Spring, that betrayed not a hint of the show-stopping gowns and bridal-wear she’s become synonymous with.
To the childlike melody of an antique music box, complex sporty-meets-Victoriana ensembles stepped to the catwalk in colour-blocked layers of pristine white, moving slowly into graphic bursts of abstract print and colour – starting with yellow and seamlessly graduating into grey, pale peppermint, rose and hot pink, cobalt and indigo. The high-octane front row appeared particularly roused by the final floorlength numbers, Beyone and Solange Knowles, Chanel ambassador Jen Brill and Kim Kardashian in apparent awe as they took to the floor.
The collection was clearly an exploration of tailoring and transparency, the two elements combining to create an inspiringly ultra-modern and unique vision. Hoods and drawstrings on jackets and vests, along with super-short shorts added an athletic edge to the long gossamer layers and feminine frills – in the form of peplums on almost every dress, vest and jacket. The addition of bodice and corset inspired garments and detailing consistent throughout was a clever nod to the fetish-wear getting so much traction of late (style influencers Lady Gaga, Rhianna and Katy Perry have all sported harnesses recently) – but approached in such a chic, subtle manner. While Wang’s latest wares may have been more aspirational than usual (in particular the tulle and organza super-pique meringue-like mini-skirts that might easily have originated from a psychadelic dream), the majority of the collection was original and keenly wearable.
Olivier Theyskens has long been an undisputed favourite among fashion die-hards – a designer’s designer if you will, his renowned couture-like sensibility and artistic aspirations responsible for both his career highs, and lows, over the past decade. But it seems through his unlikely partnership with Theory, the contemporary American sportswear brand he has been designing for over the past year, he has at last secured his niche.
For Spring 12, the young designer showcased his extraordinary talent with a collection catering to every whim imaginable. From ensembles for casual weekend getaways and chic workplace wear, to disco fun and through to stunning red carpet looks, Theyskens took us on a sartorial journey to every conceivable occasion without skipping a beat. “I wanted the collection to have an eclectic feel, but for all the clothing to suit the Thesyskens Theory girl,” explained the charming French designer post-show. “I created looks that reflect the many ways a girl can feel cool, and was more interested in separate garments than entire ensembles – I want girls to be able to style and put together the collection in their own way.’
Theyskens achieved this primarily through the wide array of separates mixed and matched with an expert attention to proportions. In one ensemble, a sassy black crochet mini-dress was paired ingeniously with a masculine olive green floor-length duster coat, other’s included a cropped black leather motorbike jacket and shrunken Chanel-like tweedy cardigan paired with a knee-length dress and men’s style suit pants. Loose-fit blazers were matched with structured shorts, and drop-crotch blue boyfriend jeans sat at ease with a grungy spring knit cardigan.
Much of the collection featured a purposely lived-in feel, a grungy aesthetic Theyskens put down to being a, “kid of the nineties.” And true to that spirit, there was a lot of infinitely wearable rock’n’roll daywear throughout teamed with rocking black boots – which is sure to please the mainstream Theory consumer, but it was the fun disco numbers and breathtaking evening-wear that really stood out. Cute dresses with gently undulating bias-cut hems in striking metallic fabrics, and out-there trousers cut seemingly from iridescent cellophane, were hard to miss – the showstoppers though, as expected, were the final looks to hit the sparse warehouse venue: intricate web-like cocktail dresses and demi-couture floorlength gowns revealing a whole lot of skin (and nipple) were quite simply stunning, the last, a black grosgrain full-skirt gown with sultry cut-out back flawless.
Although an established and highly visible American lifestyle and accessories brand for some time now, Spring ’12 was Tory Burch’s first foray down the runway. Sending out a sophisticated twenties-inspired collection, with a bold sixties flare for colour and print, the many looks on show were just the thing to please the chic, Tori Burch-donning uptown girls in attendance.
Set to the tune of French artist Camille alongside an organic soundtrack of crashing waves, Burch’s brand of relaxed, effortless luxury was particularly sweet and sassy this season, the opening looks a girlish raspberry and ivory polka-dot silk jacquard dress, followed by yellow and tamarind floral print collared shirt, red and white white striped jersey shirt and beachy crocheted Bermuda shorts. At home as easily in The Hamptons as in Manhattan, Burch’s demi-formal sportswear struck all the right chords for spring – as well as focusing on the key trends – most noticeably the modish sixties aesthetic and optimistic summer coral and pastel blue and mint hues we've been seeing so much of.
There was also a lot of playfully chic pattern mixing and embellishment going on, firmly rooting the collection in the now, while two silk chiffon floor length dresses in blush and pale blue were throwbacks to classic glamour showcasing Burch’s ability to transcend both styles and age demographics. A visible focus on accessories was evident, which makes sense for a brand so hugely successful for its footwear and leather-goods, as brightly coloured multiple strands of beads, fringed handbags and backpacks and super-sweet marigold Mary Jane flats and edgy two-tone brogues were paired with every other look. There’s no question that Burch excels in the accessories department, but with womenswear this increasingly accessible, it won’t be long before she is known for a lot more than her ubiquitous monogrammed shoes and bags.
Herve Leger by Max Azria
Since reviving the label in 2007, designer Max Azria has struck a winning formula with the superlative Herve Leger bandage dress. The svelte silhouette of Azria’s iconic body-con dress has been basking in must-have status for ‘It girls’ for years now, a favourite among not-so-demure starlets like Ashlee Simpson, Jessica Szhor and LeAnn Rimes, all of whom sat front row this season.
Since the concept remains more or less the same each season, the significance of each new Herve Leger bandage-dress collection then is in the details – after all, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. This season, Azria sought to embody the “Golden Age of Americana” with a palette of neutrals and polished metal tones, adding complex embellishment including braiding, weaving and fringing to his signature designs.
The introduction of attention-grabbing metallic fabrics and delicate beading was intriguing, a daring black foil bandage dress paired with black and metallic suede jacket a particular standout.
The all important slender silhouette was also tweaked - continuing on from last season’s flattering A-line shape, Spring 12 saw the introduction of flattering low swing skirts, as well as spacey Y-shaped modish necklines appropriated from the 60’s – an era visited repeatedly on this season’s runways. It’s interesting to see Azria borrow from another decade (other than scorching Robert Palmer eighties), when he most commonly adheres only to Herve Leger’s own iconic style. This season's subtle point of difference is perhaps an indication that in order to stay fresh, the label must be open to the inclusion of forthcoming trends - that said, for now the bandage dress still reigns.
The queue for the L.A.M.B presentation, which wound it’s way almost the entire length of the Lincoln Center, was akin to the rabble outside a popular nightclub – or more aptly a concert, given the designer behind the line is none other than mod-rocking platinum-coiffed Gwen Stefani. The crush of people were anxious to view Stefani’s latest offering for spring 2012, and perhaps were hoping to catch a glimpse of the designer herself.
Inside, models stood on elevated platforms arranged sporting a wide array of contemporary looks including a crisp white cotton jumpsuit with perforated gold details was complimented with a nude handbag and gold jewellery - in fact, as though stepping out of a catalogue, all the looks were complete accessorised outfits. Next, another jumpsuit in fine black and white gingham and a white high collared exaggerated baby-doll sleeveless top with an intricate gold pattern at the neckline, teamed with white Capri pants with the same gold detailing.The highlight of the collection was the black and white ikat print repeatedly featured throughout on garments including a Grecian-style one shoulder maxi dress with a pink and red paisley print insert running down one side, and charming baby doll dress with white yoke and high collar – the top half of which recalled Karl Lagerfeld-like structure, while the ikat-print lower section was playfully streety. These unexpected contrasts forming the basis of Stefani’s increasingly in demand, and lucrative, high/low brand. While in the fine craftsmanship department, L.A.M.B’s wares may run a little short, Stefani’s strength lies in her ability to capture the zeitgeist, and produce clothing that is infinitely wearable.
Just when you think you have Ports 1961 all figured out, they go and throw their known and loved ‘up-town girl’ aesthetic right out the window – but that’s not to say this new incarnation didn’t offer up alternatively interesting looks in spades. For Spring, Creative Director Fiona Cibani went experimental – gone was the easy daywear and chic, unobtrusive after-hours attire we’ve come to expect, in its place an architecturally-inspired collection of brave geometric designs in striking colour. And going by the optimistic mood of the New York collections so far, Ports – with it’s unapologetically bold colour and ultra-modern silhouettes – is bang on trend.
It’s interesting to note that Ports 1961, named after the year it was launched, did not suggest even an inkling of the sixties spirit that has so dominated the New York catwalks this season. Instead, we were treated to an ultra-modern collection of pastel, flame-hued and all out neon garments, striking against the pristine white backdrop of the New York Library intimate ground-floor space the show was held in.
There was something of a Ziggy Stardust 70s-future vibe to the vision for spring, that saw linear silhouettes and colour-blocked platform heels paired with cyber-leggings and geometric embellishment, subtly reminiscent of the disco-glam era. Towards the end of the show, dresses covered with what appeared to be broken shards of glass had all the cameras immediately snapping - perhaps not the most easy to wear item, but certainly an innovative crowd pleaser. The concept for spring was clearly defined from the first look outs, and continued in the same vein throughout – for Ports, spring is all about sharp tailoring, geometric prints and a whole lot of eye-catching colour.
There was an evident buzz surrounding Packham’s show this morning at Lincoln Center – impressive at a 9am slot, with word on the circuit revolving around the British-born designer’s sky-rocketing profile – thanks to one very high-profile, and influential fan, none other than the Duchess of Cambridge. Twice this year already Kate Middleton has donned Packham looks – a gold-hued gown at her first post-wedding outing, and a silk day dress at Calgary airport.
For Spring 2012, Packham’s vision balanced the surprisingly youthful edge of last season’s wares with the decadent evening numbers for which she is renowned. Inspired by the Rolling Stone’s song “She’s a Rainbow”, there was an array of sunset hues set off by a subtle dash of aqua, two strong trend colours this season, in a finely crafted collection of ultra-feminine dresses. Actress Mandy Moore sat front row – and if it was red carpet fare she was hoping to see, she was in luck. The opening looks on the runway were a stunning, diffused pastel-hued silk chiffon gown with Chantilly lace trim, and pristine white French beaded lace dress with ribbon belt – both looks set to top any best dressed list. A floor-sweeping white lace dress with a cascade of colourful beaded flowers followed, soon moving onto a muted blue series of looks, endearing themselves to the audience with a naïve charm. As promised by the Rolling Stones soundtrack, the collection moved on through the rainbow spectrum, starting out with sunset orange and striking flame reds, the highlight a silk chiffon gown with hand-pleated full skirt and satin bustier.
For the finale, Packham looked to old Hollywood glamour with a sumptuous flapper-style gown with individually placed Swarovski stones and sequined lining – a show-stopping look fit for red-carpet royalty.
Following last season’s lead, Jeffrey Monteiro’s collection for Bill Blass again drew on the rich heritage of the Blass’ classic Sixties and Seventies archive, but approached with a view to aesthetically updating and modernising the brand. Once again, this revised look for the quintessential American brand saw a cleansed palette of black, navy and white, with jolts of brilliant red and yellow – a striking and straightforward approach to colour that amped up the structured wares.
Within the elite surrounds of the Tony Union League Club, a decidedly nautical-themed collection emerged, complete with bold striped cropped t-shirts, sweaters and spring coats, anchor-like motifs adorning one-piece swimsuits and long-sleeved roll-necks with gold buttons – even monogrammed caps made the cut. Where for fall Monteiro was all about unfussy sophistication, for spring the vision was pushed a little further into the realms of uptown yacht-club chic. Sporty and youthful ensembles bared a little skin in the right places – showing off a section of toned midriff, revealing the nape of the neck or svelte curve of a shoulder, a tasteful element of sensuality that Monteiro introduced last season. But the story didn’t just end at the blue-blood club. Monteiro yanked his girl out of the sporty scenario and into the cocktail bar with elegant floor-sweeping dresses in numerous styles from conservative to party-wear that without a doubt proved the highlight of the show. All in all, the collection may have been a little referential, but Monteiro is slowly and surely defining his contemporary girl – and in so doing, anchoring the Blass name in the present.
Monique Lhuillier, renowned for flawless floor-sweeping gowns, gave her avid followers a run for their money today, sending out a collection for Spring/Summer 12 seemingly all but designed to shock. Where just last season the vibe was all-out opulence and grown-up glamour, the blasting electro-pop soundtrack kicking off the show was an immediate sign that we were in for a surprise. A distinct departure from her usual embellished gossamer gowns to say the least, this season Lhuillier offered up taut cocktail dresses with shocks of leather and lace – a peculiar, not altogether unpleasant, aesthetic fusion of Tom Ford’s greatest Gucci hits and sexed-up 60s Mary Quant - something that will no doubt appeal to a younger audience. “With women more into fitness and healthy lifestyles these days,” the designer explained, “I compliment their physique with intricate seaming to outline the body.” Something of a winning ethos to say the least, with svelte, health-conscious celebrities seated front row including, Mandy Moore, LeAnn Rimes, Rose McGowan and Jamie Sigler.
Like many of the collections we’ve been seeing in New York, Lhuillier focused on bright, bold colour for spring and sleek body-conscious cuts. An intriguing and unique design feature throughout, though, were the graphic black intersecting panels, and leather and lace inserts, added to the form-fitting garb. Of course, Lhuillier didn’t leave her fans entirely in the dark, she placated her die-hard fans by throwing in some traditional fare including off the shoulder twisted tulle cocktail dresses in vivid cyan, magenta and cardamom yellow. When the floor-length ball-gowns finally arrived, colour-blocking gave way to pattern, an edgy paint-splatter print in chalk-white, that contrasted interestingly with the more traditional silhouettes.
It was a bustling affair at ethical label Edun today, with A-list guests including Michael Stipe, Helena Christiansen, Courtney Love, Sting and wife Trudi, Orlando Bloom, Christy Turlington, Naomi Campbell, and Bono and wife Ali Hewson – founders of the forward-thinking label – all sitting front row. And it’s little wonder Edun attracts such a high-profile crowd when what it stands for is so important, and yet so rare in the fashion industry – the belief that style should have genuine substance. Since 2005 when the label launched, Hewson has been committed to making luxury clothing in sustainably sourced and recycled materials, while also promoting trade with developing nations &nbsp;– Edun supports six factories across Africa where 37 per cent of the women's line is made, their label’s ethos being ‘Trade not Aid’. For spring/summer 2012, an eclectic collection designed by Sharon Wauchob (the Irish designer’s third season with the label) skillfully mashed-up iconic floral patterns with traditional African prints, resulting in a thoroughly modern take on tribal. There were also numerous basic pueces for thos that shy away from print, including a sleek black trench, tailored trousers and fatigue-like separates. Overall, the palette was bold and bright, an optimistic outlook on a dark New York day (September 11), consisting of mixed print dresses hand-made in Kenya, and jackets crafted from ‘hemp recycled poly gabardine’. Striking Indigo dye patterened pieces strewn throughout were the product of a collaboration with Malian artist Aboubakar Foufana, and gorgeous black crochet dresses and intricate crochet embellishment were rather inspiringly made, it turns out, by a group of Kenyan artisan nuns known as "the crochet sisters".
There was a whole lot of horseplay going on at Ruffian for Spring 12 – and we’re not just talking about the equestrian-inspired looks that hit the catwalk. An audible cheer erupted backstage as Ruffian’s latest collection, aptly titled “thoroughbred”, was revealed. Audacious jockey-inspired silks, harlequin shirting and shiny black duchess satin trousers were a literal and playful translation of the theme, which has a long heritage in high-end fashion, and the models’ braided pony-tail hair-dos took pushed the point.
Not ones to trot out stale ideas, designers behind the label Brian Molk and Claude Morais revealed their muses this season to be radical real-life heroines, Charlotte Casiaghi and the Comtesse Jacqueline de Ribes. Like their muses who were at once rebellious and aristocratic, the designers carefully balanced contradictions throughout their collection mixing shocking shades of pink, blue, and red with razor-sharp tailoring.
The racing brights of the jockey jackets segued neatly into midriff baring satin bustiers and silk charmeuse trousers, before giving way to ultra-feminine tangerine and hot pink cocktail dresses. However, it was a somewhat more subdued moment that proved the collection’s highpoint: a white stretch pique knee-length dress with ivory silk chiffon ruffled sleeves and elegant black waist-cinching belt, just the thing for an outing to Ascot.
Backstage, the designers described the collection simply, “Sporting by day, cocktail-ing by night, our girl enjoys her life to the fullest”, and this seamless merging of masculine and feminine, decadence and rebellion, is sure to keep the Ruffian girl looking chic all the way from the Arena to the club house.
He may be best known for a stint on US reality show Project Runway, but young designer Christian Siriano is taking steps to ensure he is taken seriously, carving out an identity for himself removed from his TV persona. On the other hand, it affords him the invaluable buzz of an excitable fan-base and a front row flashbulb frenzy over the likes of Heidi Klum, Nina Garcia and Joe Zee.
There were echoes of the Michael Kors school of American sportswear (perhaps an homage to his project runway mentor), namely a knock-out three-quarter sleeve crocodile-print blazer and matching exaggerated a-line skirt ensemble, and chic colour-blocked separates. Although he hasn’t quite mastered the effortless subtlety and sophistication of Kors designs, his brave attempt is certainly a step in the right direction.
While the collection was stylish and even quite elegant at times, there were some mis-steps along the way, as in the past, there were some difficult silhouettes, where creativity manifests a little too close to the ridiculous. This was the case with impractical crepe trumpet skirts that opened the show, as well as some not particularly flattering nude Ostrich and chiffon dresses.
But the winning looks triumphed; a cream cape-like blazer and fluid lime trousers wowing the crowd, along with citrus hued organza and tulle ball skirts paired with graphic striped jersey tops.
It was hard to overlook the buzzing celebrity front row at Luca Luca – the incessant flashing of cameras, pearly-white grins and non-stop chatter forbade it, and who were these stars? It’s hard to say really… They were reality stars by the dozen – among them Whitney Port, Ashley Tisdale, Kate Mara and the female leads of popular State-side TV show “Pretty Little Liars”. This motley crue, along with an expectant early morning fashion crowd, were hustling to catch a glimpse of Raul Melgoz’s Spring Summer ‘12 collection for Luca Luca, a brand that over the years has carved out a niche for feminine yet structured silhouettes that more than hint at an element of ‘luxury’, an aesthetic evidently popular with starlets.
First up, a black floral print dress took to the runway, accentuated with matching turban, suggesting the sumptuous 70’s-inspired wares to follow. Citrus and jewel tones dominated the palette throughout, with striking colour-blocked lime green and aqua ensembles hitting a particular high-note. Red-carpet-ready cocktail and floor-sweeping dresses took to the catwalk in abundance, taking shape in bold shades of deep azure and amethyst, with provocative shoulder cut-outs and intricately crafted halter-necklines, reminiscent of Studio 54 high-octane glamour. The prints in the collection, although scantilly strewn throughout, were a highlight – and showcased the deft hand of stylist, Kathryn Neale, when it comes to on-point print-mixing. Covetable teal polka dot trousers and matching Jacquard blazer provided an avant-garde edge to an otherwise clean-cut, contemporary collection, something that Melgoza strives for, his design ethos being to, he says, “transcend seasons and trends to accomplish clothing that can be worn a lifetime."