Sunday, September 12, 2010

Away From the Center/Embracing Sleek Curves

Nicole Miller, left, has more edge this season. Below in descening order: Georges Chakra's vision is impressive. BCBG Max Azria cleans up nicely. Nautica knows it's man, while 3.1 Phillip Lim swings both ways. Nautica photo by Yours Truly; all others from Getty Images.

Just like last time, 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 …

Day 2
(SOME of the players at the tents and elsewhere): Peter Som, BCBG Maz Azria, Duckie Brown, Rag & Bone, Michael Angel, Jason Wu, Edition by Georges Chakra, Costello Tagliapietra, 3.1 Phillip Lim, Ports 1961, DOO.RI, Alexander Berardi, Nicole Miller, Risto, Academy of Art University, Josie Natori, Tadashi Shoji, Lorick, Buckler

NICOLE MILLER – One gets the impression that the last few seasons Nicole Miller has been strategically inching her way toward the edge. For Spring 2010, she experimented with riptides successfully. The spawn of the riptide could be this latest collection. The designer has arrived at the edge and is in her element. The color scheme of b&w and various shades of gray evokes a moodiness. It is brightened, however, by generous use of chiffon and linen. Now and again georgette invokes itself. Themes of S&M in the form of black bands/straps complete an engaging tableau, including white linen jacket, chiffon trousers and white boat-neck shirt with a series of black bands on front. A winner is a white chiffon shirt w/b&w rounded bands over a black linen high-waisted skirt. Underneath is a black bra w/black halter straps and a connector strap. In the office, one will want to wear a blazer. On the town, sans blazer, it is eye-catching, with showstopping potential. The line is sexy, sophisticated and in good taste Only a very few pieces seem to belong elsewhere. Perhaps, the self-conscious black vest/shorts/dropped shoulder blouse and also the dowdiness that is the belted black dress with slouched bodice with chiffon underlay represent a moment of panic and indecision, for the edge can be intimidating.

– The Absolute World 1 tower, a residential development in Ontario, Canada, has been nicknamed Marilyn Monroe because of its sensual curving design. It is a beautiful building, and it is no surprise that it has the power to capture the imagination of a designer as it has that of Georges Chakra’s for his Spring 2011 Edition by Georges Chakra collection. He hits the mark in a collection of evening dresses and gowns in the season’s most popular colors. They are heavy on folds and panels that evoke the balcony overhangs on the tower. Here and there are a few panel combinations that are simply too busy.
And as someone who knows about such things wisely pointed out, more thought should have been given to how some of those panels about the hips will treat the physiques of those who wear double-digit sizes. In the main, however, GC hits the mark. A few gowns are constructed to create a flow that shows the imprint of the walker’s leg from the very top to the very bottom. It perfectly captures the curve in the tower that extends outward from its top before cascading into a slight twist.

– An argument can be made to not credit Michael Angel with the nod for best prints since graphics is his strong suit. True. A valid counter-argument, however, is that he should not be penalized for doing well. I concur with the latter. MA’s prints for Spring 2011 are simply wonderful. A standout is the demure sleeveless gray/burgundy/graphite dropped waist dress (w/thigh reveal) w/white shirt collar. He wanted to use prints, and to keep it simple, too. His solution was to use asymmetrical thigh-revealing skirt – many in solid colors. He also uses layers of leather, twill and in some cases latex to create a peekaboo effect, cleverly obscuring the more sensitive body parts. Mostly, he succeeds, though it may be useful in future to employ other minimalist elements besides thigh-revealing asymmetry to obscure any repetitiveness.

– Is it one’s imagination or have recent BCBG Max Azria collections been a little too close to trashy than sassy? If that is the case, Max and Lubov Azria have atoned for their shortcomings. For Spring 2011, things are more chaste – symbolized perhaps by the profusion of white dresses that opened the show. A side note: There is not much color here, and what appears is from the yellow, pink, and of course, black families ... One of the first fashion lessons that many young women in the West learn is to have at least one little black dress. It’s time that she’s also taught the merits of adding a white one to her wardrobe – one of BCBG’s. Fetching little affairs mainly in silk and chiffon with little embellishment apart from asymmetry, sleeve treatments or a subtle print.

3.1 PHILLIP LIM (Men’s)
– Does Philip Lim even need present his women’s show on Wednesday? It would be almost pointless to do so, no? Women who don’t have need of another dress/gown can easily shop the men’s line with perhaps only minor adjustments. The color story is mainly black, white and sky blue. Without a doubt, the jackets are bisexual. Loose-fitting shirts have a flow that lend them a blousey-feel. Some shorts are above the knee; others are or longish, but tapered enough to attract a woman’s attention ... Something to think about, ladies.

– It says something about Alexander Berardi that the inspiration for his Spring 2011 line is Jean Seberg in Jean-Luc Godard’s “Breathless” (1960) also starring Jean-Paul Belmondo. The two are a bad boy and a good girl on the run from the law. Note that his inspiration was not the 1983 remake starring Richard Gere and Valérie Kaprisky. One thing it says is that he appreciates history, an important and often overlooked one in fashion. An admirable trait in one so young. The 24-year-old designer’s understated, girly pieces do good by JS’s Patricia Franchini. It is the hair, though that is most evocative. Patricia sports a pixie with an invisible side part with her hair styled in a backward sweep. AB pays homage while keeping it modern by giving the models a side part and a side ponytail.

– Nautica used the Library for the Performing Arts at Lincoln Center to introduce its new line in a presentation format. Spring 2011 is informed by both the spirit of water and the people/architecture of the country’s Southern coast. Guests are warmly greeted by the Nautica people and two nice spreads – 20-something of the most handsome men on earth and, healthful and welcome tables of eats: hummus, pita, crudite, tea sandwiches and sweets. Here, too, are passed foods in the form of veggie samosas and, salmon-wrapped asparagus (or were those haricots verts) and prosciutto-wrapped asparagus. On a fuller stomach one can really see the line and chat amicably with the young men wearing it. Like Nicholas K, Nautica is not attempting to reinvent the wheel. It knows its core customer and wishes to give said customer more of what he likes to wear on land and sea. He can choose from any combination or stripes and solids/stripes or solids. That taupe, ribbed cardigan will come in handy on cool coastal nights. For dress up there are crisp, low-maintenance suits, as well as jackets and slacks that complement each other rather than match. A colleague and I agree that both straight and gay men will shop the line, though they most definitely will put things together differently.

– With so many Fashion’s Night Out parties where is one to start? Counting on being tired, I decided that I would stay close to home on the Upper East Side. For me that meant the shops on Madison and Fifth avenues from the high 50s up to the low 80s. I spent most of my time in the 60s. I boarded the Fashion’s Night Out bus and was deposited at Columbus Circle. From there I strolled the short distance to Bergdorf Goodman. As BF was hosting the whole of Fifth avenue, I kept it moving toward Oscar de la Renta. There I could not be received because I did not receive a special invitation. I licked my flesh wound and turned south and east toward Dennis Basso where I was warmly received and handed a glass of Veuve Clicquot to calm any frayed nerves. From there, things only got better.

EMPORIO ARMANI – Lauren Hutton regales the crowd at Emporio Armani, including Beverly Johnson (smashing in red) with tales of her times with Himself whom she met in the 70s. Some observations/claims/declarations. He was the first designer to dress stars outside of the Hollywood costumers. Remember “American Gigolo.” Remember how well Richard Gere was turned out. Remember the scene during which he lays out his clothes on the bed. LH mistakenly thought Armani would be designing her wardrobe for the film. The designer, LH declares, also created the red carpet, though “it was crappy linoleum.” And he was one of the first – if not the first – to introduce the world to fashion that didn’t originate from Paris. “Back then, there was no fashion in the United States; there was barely any in Italy. Of course, there was Valentino but he was showing in Paris … back then I was wearing jeans and T-shirts.” Armani did not like the status quo. “Don’t regular people deserve to wear clothes that look good and are well-made,” she recalls the designer saying.

CAROLINA HERRERA – Gail Simmons just blew through the doors at Carolina Herrera. Immediately, I introduce myself and congratulate her on “Top Chef: Just Desserts,” her new show debuting Wednesday (15 Sept.) on Bravo. “Thank you. It’s been a lot of fun and it’s about time we had a dessert show.” She assures me that I will become more excited about desserts after watching, and I believe her. She’d just come in from some foodie event – where did she say? Don’t remember. In any case, I ask whether she finds that when she is out at such events she is judging the food. “No,” she declares. “I’m off the clock and I just enjoy the food.” Later she buys a dress for herself and for me. Strangely, though, she leaves with both of them. Easy come, easy go … My running partner and I, along with a buddy of mine, are cooling our heels on Miss Herrera’s sofa right off of the dressing rooms. We’re watching the caricaturist and regaling each other with stories of where we’ve been the night. The highlight of Buddy’s evening is meeting/shaking hands with Naomi Campbell at Dolce&Gabbana. One is lead to make such a deduction because he retells the tale about three times in 18 minutes.

CALVIN KLEIN – The first face I see when I walk through the doors at Calvin Klein is Cynthia Nixon's. She’s chatting to some interviewer. I listen long enough to hear her jaw about how wonderful FNO is for the city. After I hear enough I venture over toward the photos on the wall by Bryan Adams,who will be performing at both 7 and 8:30. A concert might put some in the photo-buying mood, since some of the proceeds go toward charity. CN is one of the photo subjects. Dree Hemingway, daughter of Mariel, is another. And there’s Kerry Washington. Desiree Rogers. I know the name but can’t recall from where until a new acquaintance at Miss Herrera’s reminds me. “She used to work for [President Barack] Obama,” she says of the former White House Social Secretary. My acquaintance used her little sidebar with DR at CK to do some chiding.

"I told her, ‘how can you screw up a job like that’.”

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