Friday, September 9, 2011

Day 1 NYFW: This Joint Is Not Jumpin'

Pale pink chiffon dress with floral appliques and pleats on the bodice from the Tadashi Shoji Spring 2012 collection. Photo by Peter Michael Dills/Getty Images.

HEAD’S UP: I repeat, it is officially a tradition at VEVLYN’S PEN. 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. It should go without saying, but it shan’t – this won’t be a comprehensive list simply because a body can’t be everywhere. But, of course, depend on one’s best effort. Drum roll, please …

Day 1
(SOME of the players at the tents and elsewhere): Nicholas K, Porter Grey, BCBG Max Azria, Richard Chai, Supima, Catherine Malandrino, Tadashi Shoji, Francis Hendy, Candela)

The first day of Fashion Week came in with a whimper. One can only hope that it went out like a lion at dawn after some smashing Fashion’s Night Out party.

One of the more restained looks from the Nicholas K Spring 2012 collection. Photo by Slaven Vlasic/Getty Images.

It is owing to the sluggish start that the day cannot be interpreted under the usual rubrics of “best overall show,” or “best interpretation of a vision” or even “best spectacle,” though there was such a one at Francis Hendy.

Certainly, it is not that that first day of Mercedes Benz Fashion Week New York Spring 2012 was awful. It is noteworthy in that there were no high points. None. Not one. Yet there is case for the opposite.

Nicholas K got the party started with some fetching white ensems that would do nicely at Diddy’s/P. Diddy’s/Sean Combs’ White Party, for instance. They are clean, fresh, smart and contained. But as the color palette deepened, things became too amorphous. Was there something in the air as this massive collection was being birthed? There is a monotonous slouchiness – and dare the word be uttered – grunginess.

Did he dress in the dark? Did she sleep in her clothes? The label has a reputation for layers, so they are to be expected. Still, yawns are threatening on sighting the seemingly endless combos: jacket, two shirts-tops, cropped pants for men/jacket, two shirts-tops or dress over cropped leggings for women. For Spring 2012 designers Nicholas and Christopher Kunz show too little restraint, making a body wistful for more construction, less asymmetry and more simplicity.

In probably the most successful collection of the day, BCBG Max Azria seemed like a kid with a new toy. In this case, it is color blocking and print blocking. Consisting of corals, blues, yellow, grays and whites, the collection of mostly dresses brought to mind a triptych. Panels abound and appear to be telling a story. Pleats, cutouts and asymmetry deepen the plot. Still, it is merely competent – par – when one is in a mood for more.

BCBG Max Azria Spring 2012 is heavy on color- and print-blocking and flirty shapes. Photo by Peter Michael Dills/Getty Images.

Competent. The term applies to Tadashi Shoji, too. The gowns are appropriately diaphanous; the dresses appropriately fetching. Utterly wearable, utterly accessible, utterly commercial – eager (EAGER) to please . The collection is like the mate most parents wish for their children: respectable, dependable, safe, good provider (for men). Good qualities all. But a little less talk and little more action, please.

Alas, Candela and Porter Grey aren’t fairly bursting with excitement either, though a piece in each collection hues toward swagger. Candela is on to something with the denim beaded shorts. The beads add texture and appeal to what would have otherwise been just another pair of Daisy Dukes. It is beading, too, that take a Porter Grey mini skirt and shift to a different place – Athens or Cairo. What to say of Richard Chai? Sleepy, sluggish, languid, lethargic, BUT the aqua/turquoise lipstick pops.

Meanwhile, Francis Hendy is back (he’d been away?) with a bright, sprightly collection of menswear that pays homage to his homeland, Trinidad. However, most memorable about the show at Samsung in the Time Warner Center in order of importance:
1. In a bit of reverse casting and possibly frustration/anger, FH used mostly African Diaspora models (that is those who would be considered/self-identify as black/African descent only). The rest (based on eye-ball observation): a few white boys, two Blatinos (black/latino), two Asians, one Mediterranean type;

2. The show started later than normal, without preamble. One moment one was talking to her neighbor and the next two guys who look like models are passing in front of her;

3. FH did not come out to be congratulated after the show.

In an otherwise lethargic Richard Chai collection for Spring 2012, the aqua/turquoise lipstick has snap, crackle and pop. Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images.

Absentee or not, FH makes bank with tropical motifs: aqua, pink, coral, florals (sometimes with stripes) in casual wear, suits, dinner/club clothes. The pattern block V-neck shirt with striped diagonal on one side and Missoni-esque scrawl on the other commands the attention.

Finally, in a bit of clever marketing or something more sinister, Catherine Malandrino showed her Fall 2011 collection – the very one she showed in February. It is bohemian chic with luxe undertones. It is also available for purchase now rather than five or six months later. One got a sinking feeling watching the show at Exit Art, though. Is CH Fall 2011 a swan song? (It was announced a few months back that there would be no Spring 2012 collection). The company has been experiencing well-publicized financial woes (the Great Recession) and talks with an expected buyer/investor have not yet panned out …

Here’s to hoping for some excitement today, Day 2 of Fashion Week.

On deck Day 2 NYFW: Billy Reid, Christian Cota, Costello Tagliapietra, Paola Hernandez, Emerson, Falguni & Shane Peacock, Cynthia Rowley, Doo.Ri, Jason Wu, Luca Luca, Mandy Coon, NAHM, Nicole Miller, Peter Som, Rag & Bone, Rebecca Taylor, The Row, Tess Giberson, United Bamboo, Yigal Azrouƫl

Visit and to learn more about Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week New York and to see live and taped streams of the shows.

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