Sunday, September 13, 2009

Day 3: Creating Butterflies in the Stomach

Models line an elevated, slanted plank on the runway after the Chado Ralph Rucci show. Photo courtesy of Getty Images.

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:o( But depend on it, I’ll do my best. Drum roll, please …

Creativity must have heard the plaintive cry of Yours Truly, for it returned to catwalks and runways around the city on the third day of Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week.

Day 3
The Players (tents)
Lacoste, Georges Chakra, Andy & Debb, Academy of Art University, Christian Siriano, Chado Ralph Rucci, Vivienne Tam

The Players (elsewhere)
Adam, Jeffrey Chow for Poleci, Richard Chai, Alexander Wang, Jeremy Laing, Ohne Titel

Chado Ralph Rucci – The Philadelphian is the only U.S. designer allowed to show at the Paris couture collections. Is it any surprise, then, that his would be the best collection of the day, if not the week. An honorable mention, however, goes to the uber-talented-for-his-tender-age, Christian Siriano. More on both collections later. For now, learn who distinguished themselves in other categories:

Vivienne Tam — Tam is captivated by “Butterfly Lovers,” a poem (written for the collection?) by Martha Huang. In the universal story, two young would-be lovers possibly are reincarnated and united as butterflies in a way that they could not be as humans. “Were they lovers dreaming they were butterflies, or butterflies dreaming they were lovers,” Huang asks/teases.

How this translates into frocks is a series of pink/green/yellow/purple – butterfly colors! – blouses, shirts and long and short dresses with butterfly and butterfly-inspired prints (including an HP netbook, a plug to Tam’s association with Hewlett-Packard; ditto for the projection showing the collection in real-time). A fetching taupe dress – the only solid – has a butterfly design on the left shoulder created by puckering the fabric. Though transfixed by the prints, I am baffled by the suede and denim, which are so out of place – there reference in the poem, notwithstanding – that I wonder whether they are included inadvertently. The hobo bags are also a bit of a curiosity, but can be explained away if one imagines that even dead lovers traveling to another life would need a tote in which to put their things, perhaps a clutch-sized computer.

A close second in the vision interpretation category is Alexander Wang who has football on the brain. It is September after all. Wang cleverly covered his bases by sending out models wearing the knee-high socks worn on the soccer pitch – football in most of the rest of the world. But there is no doubt that, in the main, he's paying homage to the NFL or, say, the Big 10 – visible in stripes along the side of pants, flaltfront, string ties shorts, sweatshirts that look to have shoulder pads underneath and so on. Touchdown!/SCORE!!!!!!!!!!!!

Georges Chakra – The versatile sterling silver band used alternately as a belt, shoulder strap and bustier nicely compliments the after-5 dresses and evening gowns in appealing hot and pale pink/yellow/white/ocean blue. One imagines that the frocks would look just fine without embellishment, but why would one, especially since some come with a perfect little bow?

Richard Chai – The gladiator sandal with covered vamp/exposed toe adds the “full stop” to ensembles from Chai’s new lower-priced “Love” line. The pieces are very relaxed but not too casual. Shorts and tanks and blouses are given a few more extras, say a ruffled bodice, rendering them too fine for a Starbucks run. Jackets may have a cap sleeve or a pointed hem, signaling that the one wearing them is not a bureaucrat who must hew to an office dress code. The sandal lends the dresses/skirts/shorts a sexy-cool quotient; the pants insouciant chicness.

Rucci – Slicked back, so as not to distract from the clothes, and looking sleek in the process. Smell the jell!

Jeremy Laing —If I had done better at geometry in ninth grade, I could say with certainty whether the models in Laing’s show are standing at a perfect 45-degree angle. To a significant degree, however, the two lines in which the poker-faced models stand to present his collection meet at a perfect angle for showing the easy pieces in mainly neutral colors with the geometric accents that the designer has a jones for.

A photographer is about to tear my head off because I can’t get totally out of his way at the end of the Rucci show. I try as best I can to explain the situation calmly: There are two photographers directly behind me moving a huge case. I can’t move, lest I stopple over the case, taking the aggrieved photog and, his camera with me. When my explanation falls on deaf, unsympathetic ears: “F_ _ _ you,” I spit. I was mortified. Did those two words actually come out of my mouth? Yes, they did. I didn’t even know they were in there. At the first opportunity, I apologized. He accepted ... But for the grace of God there go I.

A street vendor selling umbrellas outside the Union Station train station as people without umbrellas pass him in a light rain: “New York, it’s raining.” And so it was.

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