Friday, February 25, 2011

Fall 2011 Collections: Same Tent, Same Circus

Yes, I know I said I was going to talk about accessories but guess what, the fall collections got in the way. While I love covering the shows and the whole zoo that surrounds fashion week, the truth is that it’s hard work, crazy hours, lousy food (if you can afford to eat at the tents) and lots of running around from place to place.

In no particular order this is what I took note of: Day One>> let the games begin. My first show was RICHARD CHAI LOVE at 11:00 AM – the crack of dawn for me since it meant schlepping across town to Lincoln Center on a freezing cold day. Got off to a bad start when I found out that there was no free coffee this season! That sucked. At least there were less fashion “Poseurs” this time, probably because it was too cold to stand around outside the tents waiting for the photogs to snap their pictures. Back to Richard Chai Love. The collection featured lots of grey, some nice updated basic jackets, long skirts, layers ( I liked the idea of his pleated skirt worn over matching trousers) etc. No fireworks, just clean wearable separates. After, I moseyed over to the NOLCHA Lounge at the Empire Hotel across the street. The idea was to check out some young upcoming designers, have a soda and chill out.

My next stop was the IT GETS BETTER LOUNGE also at the Empire Hotel where I was treated to a superb manicure. I also have to give props to one the best make up application I ever got. The artist’s name is Lysette Drumgold and you can check her out at In another suite I stopped by the PORSCHE DESIGN lounge. Where I found the perfect butter soft taupe kid suede jacket that would go nicely with one of their luxury convertibles. The brand is expanding its fashion range and I’ll watch its growth with interest. What I saw was exceptional so far.
Oops, I forgot to mention that the day before the official circus started I went down to 26th street to see a new collection called FRIENDS WITH BENEFITS. The collection was small, focused and sophisticated. The outstanding item for me was a gorgeous burgundy (also comes in black) silk cocktail dress that was exquisite in its timeless simplicity. Okay, back to day one, my gorgeous new “face” and my first time at DUCKIE BROWN men’s collection that packed the house. Sorry guys but I would gladly steal some of the clothes I saw, especially dark grey nubby funnel neck pea coat, the wool twill pullover and the fab shearling toppers. Hmm, wonder what the smallest size is?
Day two had me at four shows, from the over –the-top- glitz at FARAH ANGSANA to the clean All American menswear at NAUTICA and the ladies who lunch collection from NORMAN AMBROSE. When I win the lottery the first thing I’ll buy is his golden sable trimmed camel alligator coat, period! That’s not to say that I wouldn’t be happy with Angsana’s blue silk/wool coat with beaded lace appliqué sleeves or her high glam sable vest, hand embroidered with crystals over a gold lame gown.
It was another chilly night but my colleague and I made the trek to the Hotel Griffou on west 9th street to see a menswear presentation by RICHARD CHAI FOR ORIGINAL PENGUIN. This was a cozy bar setting with some of the best nibbles around (check out the place for great food, it’s really a restaurant), nice wine and a really terrific capsule collection of stuff that guys really want to wear at easy to take prices with nothing over $300 bucks retail.
I skipped the weekend shows so nothing to report there guess you’ll just have to look at some other blogs, etc.
Started Monday bright eyed and (semi) bushy tailed at CAROLINA HERRERA at the ungodly hour of 10:00. but it was worth it. The collection was gorgeous especially the daywear. My favorite outfit was the dark grey wool flannel “wing” skirt, cashmere turtleneck sweater belted in black velvet and a black double faced wool dress with barguzine sable collar and cocoa colored velvet belt. Hmm, I seem to be mentioning sable a lot. If you sense a trend towards fur here, you would be right. It’s PETA be damned this season it seems. Afterwards, I made my way back to the Empire Hotel to see the debut RTW collection by GABRIELA MOYA. Her combination of strong structural technique combined with exclusive unique contemporary prints added up to a good first effort. For me, the best item was a navy Ultra suede jumper dress with silk gazar accordian pleating.
JUMP For Gabriella Moya!
If I had to name one collection that did it for me I’d have to say it was ALICE + OLIVIA. Held at the Plaza Hotel’s Terrace Room, the setting was a perfect way to showcase the perfectly styled head to toe ensembles that ran the gamut from day to night. I wanted everything, but if I have to choose I’d have to go with the glitter touched black tweed full skirted coat, and the fur hooded parka over a beaded tunic dress – so cool , so wearable, worn with brown knee high boots. Maybe it was the combination of the crowds, the champagne and waiters passing around chocolates (after all it was Valentine’s Day) on silver trays that made the experience so much fun but I had a blast so start saving your pennies now. There’s something for every age, which is something I can’t say for a lot of the stuff out there.
Surprise, surprise, I didn’t have any invites for the 15th so let’s skip to Wednesday and NANETTE LEPORE. Like a lot of designers the color palette featured soft shades of ivory, off white, taupe and pale grey. For me the best were her creamy sweaters and surprise, surprise, the great handbags. This collection always offers a very feminine appeal however this time around there was a more grownup vibe. All in all the collection although in need of editing (the evening wear didn’t work for me) was strong and focused.
At MILLY it seemed to me that it was “That ‘70s Show” all over again with a huge nod to St. Laurent’s greatest hits. While I wasn’t overly fond of that decade when I lived through it the first time around (I’m a big fan of the ‘60s) somehow, Milly made me drool. First of all the color combinations were sophisticated and had that wow factor. For example, the cognac cord peplum jacket over emerald cashmere cardi, plum silk jacquard short sleeve blouse, over a guava silk sleeveless blouse that was paired with a midnight wool tweed midi skirt shouldn’t have worked but did. Oh and did I mention that the model carried a small flap bag in mustard? As to be expected the crowd went wild. My hat also goes off to the wonderful handbag collection that featured oversized envelope clutches, satchels and cross body minis in a variety of leathers, suede hair calf etc. If I have one criticism it would be to skip the corduroy culottes. They didn’t work then and they don’t work now but I’m nit picking.
Managed to get over to the DAILY LOUNGE at the Spa Townhouse between shows for a quick bite, a glance at the new very sheer run resistant control top Hanes hosiery line. Eat your hearts out but I also got to sip champagne while having my makeup done with the newest products from BEAUTY ADDICTS. The Glimmersheer luminizer gave my face a lovely glow and it’s become my favorite new product. After I road test the rest of the line I’ll let you know what else worked. Not to rub it in but I also got a manicure at the tents just before the ANNA SUI show. Who else but ESSIE could come up with such on the money colors that are also flattering. Personally I can’t wait for April’s launch of Sand Tropez. It’s the prettiest, wearable shade of pale, well, sand and my nails never looked better. Go forth and shop! This polish offers the most fashion bang for your buck.
Back to ANNA SUI’s collection. The usual madhouse prevailed with celebs and hangers-on filling the main venue. Anna did what Anna always does, she goes her own way. However this time around I didn’t get a clear picture of her theme. There was a smattering of Art Nouveau, Deco, some sequins and glitter, fun youthful furs, graphic floral prints, a touch of the ‘70s (mainly seen in the shirtwaist dresses, that staple of the decade) and in general an overall hipster boho vibe. Let’s face it, this collection is aimed at the coolest of cool girls and their crowd.
My last day started with a bang. I went to the press preview of “SET IN STYLE: THE JEWELRY OF VAN CLEEF & ARPELS” held at the Cooper-Hewitt Museum. What can I say, I’d be happy with any little bauble they’d care to toss my way. The exhibit is a must for any fashion/jewelry lover and the exhibition will run till June. Try not to drool over the cases is my advise. The only way I’ll be able to get my hands on any of the pieces is if Forever 21 does knockoffs.
After a start like that I was prepared to love anything and my last collection (for the most part) didn’t disappoint. Top Korean designer SON JUNG WAN’s evening wear was especially beautiful. She showed a very chic ‘30s inspired body skimming number in nude silk with deep V front and asymmetrical accordion pleat hem and a taupe silk pleated train dress. Furs were everywhere and frankly I never expected to see raccoon done is such a way that it looked like the most luxurious of furs. The best item, a raccoon sequined poncho thrown over metallic pants. Also not too shabby, the grey crop fur top with shoulder and placket detailing over brown leather pants. Keep your eye on this collection. She could be a star in the States as well. Fitting in nicely with this sophisticated collection is the brand new perfume from DOUGLAS HANNANT. I got a sample whiff at his posh cocktail party during fashion week at the French Cultural institute. Talk about crap and couture. The social crowd was out in full couture regalia but the excessive use of Botox gravitated towards the crap side. In between were the fashion victims. I couldn’t take my eyes off a “girl” over dressed in layers of brown tulle, with floral patterned hose and printed platform stilettos. She reminded me of the dancing hippos in Fantasia. At least the perfume is gorgeous (smells like money if you could bottle it) and harks back to the glamour days of Joy, et al.
And so the week ended… next up I promise to talk about accessories, always a favorite topic of mine. Till then, C&C.

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Crap and Couture, Notes From the Back Row