Monday, September 14, 2009

Day 4: They Just Wanna Have Fun!

An outfit from the Spring 2010 Custo Barcelona collection. Photo courtesy of Getty Image.

HEAD'S UP: The plan each day of Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week is to give a roundup of the best (and worse where applicable) and most interesting Yours Truly witnesses, from shows to trends to sightings to the rather unusual/bizarre. Mind, this won’t be a comprehensive list simply because I can’t be everywhere. But depend on it, I’ll do my best. Drum roll, please …

The message on this bright, sunny day seems to be, relax and have a good time. Everybody seems to be in a good mood and it is expressed in exuberant collections.

Day 4

The Players (tents)
Lela Rose, Derek Lam, Thuy, Herve Leger by Max Azria, Diane von Furstenberg, Rebecca Taylor, Tuleh
The Players (elsewhere)
Araks, DKNY, Toni Maticevski, Oral B Pulsonic, Alexander Berardi, Y-3, Custo Barcelona, Vassilios Kostesos, Behnaz Sarafpour, Elise Øverland, Erin Fetherston, Karen Walker, Rebecca Taylor, Reem Acra

Custo Barcelona – The designer does not earn this distinction because of any great innovation or technique, but simply because he is so true to himself and has a helluva lot of fun being him. “Witness the most high energy show of the season as Custo Barcelona transforms The Tent into a Mediterranean paradise,” said the onlilne invitation.

He delivered. There is the opening (read more about that below under “BEST SPECTACLE”), but there is also the color. Barcelona loves color – orange, ocean blue, pink, green, etc. – and does not apologize for it. Every hue the Mediterraean offers is represented on the runway – bright/bold/loud/happy/free. It’s wonderful. And you gotta love a designer who will dress a man in a ocean-blue/multi suit and add matching athletic shoes. Or a woman in pink/navy/grey/purple tank with fringe bottom, conch shells on the bodice and feathers on the breast, kept in place by feathers that are also on a matching skirt with fringe hem. Strangely, it works.

Rachel Roy — Both a size 2 and a size 16 can look confident, sexy, feminine and beautiful in just about all of Roy’s latest, which is heavy on wrap dresses and suits, though there are other goodies, too. While cropped, the high-pocketed, double-hemed jackets do cover the hips and the flat-fronted pants and skirts with military buttons won’t create unsightly bunching in the tummy area. The one outfit to own, though, is the black body-hugging shift and matching jacket. It is simple, easy and can go from day to night without a hiccup. For night, a bit of bling or sparkle is optional.

Karen Walker – Stripes galore: bags, rolled-up pant hems, on socks, shirts, blouses. And, here, too, are the nautical-themed prints of a resort. Walker’s inspiration: a British TV show from the ‘60s called “The Prisoner,” about an Edwardian resort that happens to be a jail for spies. In the hats and sunglasses is a disguise that James Bond might wear to foil the latest attempts by Spectre to destroy or take over the world. And there are hints of rebellion (boat shoes paired with even the most dressed up looks, including an Edwardian-era cropped dinner jacket, which incidentally has a stripe on each lapel), for isn’t that what spies do?

Reem Acra — The princess jewels are so well-matched that they look like a design drawn directly onto the bodices, waists and necks of these mainly chic day wear and after-5 ensembles in interesting prints and bold silk solids. The fashionable ladies of Acra's Beirut would be pleased; so, too, would the Halles and Angelinas.

Elise Øverland – She made a name for herself dressing musicians, and it clear from the way she handles leather in her first formal show. It is rich, supple and moves well. Gotta love those folds; they look like they will go where you go, rather than just stand their like a stick in the mud.

Rebecca Taylor – The woman loves florals, and animal prints. For spring, though, she puts the tiger back in the cage. Meanwhile, the florals are everywhere – hanging out with each other, with solids and best of all with polka dots. But it is the floral sandal in sky blue, cream and taupe shown with just about every jaunty ensemble that makes me smile and just kick up my heels. It’s spring, after all.

Moments before I arrived at the HauteLook Fashion Week Lounge where Tristan Coppersmith was talking up her book, Menu Dating: Taste-test Your Way to the Main Course,” a man to whom I’d just been introduced, out of the blue asked when we were going to dinner. Brain-frozen, I said something like, “Are we going to do it virtually,” since at the moment he had no way to contact me.

TC, who has gone on hundreds of dates and is now married thought that was a good answer, but she had an even better answer: “As soon as possible,” explaining that it didn’t matter that he didn’t have my contact details at the time he asked me out.

TC, who wrote “Menu Dating” with her good friend and vetter, Todd Johnson, also imparted other pearls: Women can remain in control by taking a guy’s telephone rather than giving theirs. And sobriety is a huge element of control. “We’re all allergic to alcohol,” she said, noting that when we’re tipsy/drunk/plastered it causes us to do “stupid things.” A bit of advice that some may find, if not stupid, counter-intuitive or simply bad: every woman should have a single one-night stand in her lifetime. “I tell you how to do it responsibly, though,” she stressed.

Just what the marketplace needs, right, another book on dating? Friends convinced TC to write a book, but she was reluctant, thinking that the marketplace had quite enough, thank you very much. “But what I found,” she said, “is that all the books out there were telling women how to change themselves” to get a man. On the contrary, she encourages women to be themselves, because if you’re not you’ll be found out soon enough. And we all know where that leads. “I call that the padded-bra syndrome.”

After the DVF show, I escorted Lee and Marvin Traub (retired Bloomingdale’s president) backstage to say hello to their good friend. Beforehand, not knowing who I was helping, I simply put my hands on the shoulder of an elderly lady to prevent her from being knocked down and trampled. My good deed for the day!

Tuleh and Barcelona – There is a tie in this category because both events are tied a controversial issue of our day: discrimination. Tuleh’s Byran Bradley is a designer who always has a cause up his sleeve. For spring, it’s California’s Proposition 8, which is an edict that recognizes that only people of the opposite sex can marry each other. His response: Seven – count them, seven — bridal looks both feminine and masculine. As an aside, his show was also inspired by a shortstory in The New York Review of Books. Would that be the explanation for the abundance of shorts and above-the-knee skirts and dresses? … Barcelona’s ethos needs no explanation: He opened his show with 13 – count them, 13 – African Diaspora models. Clearly, what was on everybody’s mind was the hoopla a couple of years ago about the dearth of black models (and any other that were not of Eastern European extraction, for that matter) on the runways. And Italian Vogue shamed the fashion world by publishing an issue featuring black models exclusively in its July 2008 issue. Incidentally, it sold like hotcakes.

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