Monday, September 12, 2011

Day 4 NYFW: All the Hues Are Fit to Print

Custo Barcelona has myriad prints for Spring 2012 but they never become boring. Photo by Frazer Harrison/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 4
(SOME of the players at the tents and elsewhere): Anne Francesca, Custo Barcelona, Daryl K, Derek Lam, Diane von Furstenberg, DKNY, Edun, Jen Kao, Jeremy Laing, Jil Sander Navy, Kelly Wearstler, L.A.M.B., The Lake & Stars, Lela Rose, Thakoon, Timo Weiland, Tommy Hilfiger, Tracy Reese, Tribune Standard, Victoria Beckham, Y-3, Zac Posen

big guns came out to do battle yesterday at Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week New York Spring 2012, which continues much in the way of a fine wine.

BEST OVERALL SHOW – How does Custo Barcelona do it season after season after season after season? That is, how does designer Custo Dalmau present a massive collection of blindingly bright prints for men and women in seemingly incongruous combinations without seeming monotonous? How does he conjure up such a paella? The outfits should scream overkill, over the top, way too much, tone it down. Yet they don’t.

For Spring 2012, Custo Barcelona is “tripolar” - in which three runway looks are divided into three ascending groups, each with its own unique theme; effectively creating a spectacular runway show with triple the personality.

The show lived up to its pr. Regardless of the category, the color scheme at Custo Barcelona is actually more subdued than in past seasons but the prints are no less awesome. The collection is even more inventive because it adds newer elements such as graphics in the “dual” section and in the “mirame” section that is marked by feminine, graphic pieces created using 3-D techniques.

Jen Kao's imagination is working at full throttle for Spring 2012, too. More on that shortly. (Photo by Mike Coppola/Getty Images.

While many and sundry prints define most ensembles, a few feature only one or two prints. Case in point is the the black&gray window pane print shorts and trousers and jackets that are solid gray on one side and black&gray print with sold black stripe on the other. They are in the androgynous dual section. This collection is also more tailored (a men’s suit in coral/ocean blue/burgundy print in the “kaleidoscopio” section and several shifts for women). Who expects such workmanship from Custo Barcelona? The answer is that anyone who sees a show. In defense of those with myopia, the prints are such a sensory overload (gorgeous one-shoulder tunic with tie a neck in mirame section) that any other marks of workmanship are overlooked. Perhaps it is to CD’s credit that there are more muted prints for spring. All the more to notice the artistry.

A PRODIGAL RETURNS AND IS BETTER FOR IT – Absence truly does make the heart grow fonder. With Diane von Furstenberg behind them, many were looking with great anticipation/enthusiasm to Zac Posen’s show. A year in Paris, where one can only hope he got the understanding he complained that he wasn’t getting a home, has done ZP good. Here is a more restrained, mature version. (Ditto for Gwen Stefani’s L.A.M.B.). He’s more thoughtful in his choices, too. The collection he showed at Avery Fisher Hall is evocative of Old Hollywood glamour. Exhibit A is the silk beige gown with a massive v-neck capped sleeves, fitted dropped waist and feathers that cleverly begin right below the widest part of the hip. Deborah Kerr might have worn such a frock. Many of the gowns feature such esquisite neck/bodie treatments as ruching, darting draping.

Diane von Furstenberg likes floral print combinations for Spring 2012. Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images.

A Grecian-style spaghetti strap gown in teal with subtle ruching on the corset speaks to quiet glamour. For the naughty-little-good-girl set that helped launch ZC into the fashion stratosphere is a black mermaid gown that he showed toward the end. Sleeveless and black, it has strategically place darting that cascades into a tulle train. The word many today would use to describe it is “fierce." In the collection, too, are a couple of suits and several dresses. A b&w print dress with a cinched waist and off-the-shoulder caplike sleeves is a pretty little thing. However, it needs to be pulled up a few inches to provide decent coverage for the bosom.

BEST USE OF PRINTS – Diane von Furstenberg titled her laidback, optimistic Spring 2012 show “Beginnings.” Like Custo Barcelona, it is heavy on clever and colorful floral print combinations. However, DVF merits notice for her print work because it stands out in area where she does not normally specialize in such depth. Sometimes the prints may feature one color combination such as a v-neck dress with subtle ruching ending in a tie at the waist. It is a rather engaging tableau of three different b&w florals. Another dress or shirt/dress combo that ties off-center is the backdrop for a floral print mélange of lavendar/white, b&w, red/white, orange/white. The skirt has a split, revealing nearly a foot of flesh above the knee. The prints are really quite wonderful.

In the mix at DVF, too, are a few solid jackets, no doubt for the woman who does not go in for the frilliness associated with florals. As serviceable as they are the jackets (shown with Bermuda shorts) are a touch out of place in such a relaxed milieu, talking shop when everyone else just wants to have a few martinis and a lot of fun. Also in the solid category is a one-shoulder toga-style dress in a brilliant shade of coral – a popular hue for spring.

L.A.M.B. for Spring 2012 is more grownup but still has strong sense of fun. Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images.

BEST PATRIOTIC GESTURE – After Diane von Furstenberg’s thrilling show she and one of her lieutenants stepped onto the runway to the strains of Nina Simone’s “Feeling Good.” DVF was bearing a wide smile and nearly a dozen American flags. She hugged several people, including Valentino and handed out the little flags to various people on her front row. It was a moment that tugged at the heartstrings on the 10th anniversary of September 11, a most somber day in the United Sates of America. Contrary to popular belief, even fashion has a heart (and not doubt a soul, if not a sole:o) … More from Day 4 shortly.

On deck today, Day 5: Jenny Packman, Callula Lilibelle, Carolina Herrera, Carlos Miele, Rebecca Minkoff, Pamella Roland, Donna Karan New York, Vlov_ Qingqing Wu, Bebe, Yeohlee, Norman Ambrose, Betsey Johnson, Jad Ghandour, Perry Ellis, Edite Showroom designers

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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