Sunday, February 26, 2012

FALL FASHION 2012: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

Actually I could end my review of fashion week right here since the headline says it all. But no, I feel it’s my duty to clue you in on the whole week’s happenings from the runway shows to the lounges and everything in between.

First of all let me explain about the good, bad and ugly. Good refers to the (oh so few) members of the press and celebs I spotted who actually were dressed appropriately for a New York winter as well as those collections that caught my eye. For example, in MONIKA CHIANG’s collection, there was an element of austerity that made perfect sense to me in a retail climate of uncertainty. Chiang’s perfectly proportioned clothing such as her black felted wool funnel neck coat with oversized zipper and leather yoke, over a leather paneled knit dress and the camel hair cocoon jacket atop cropped cigarette pants will both stand the test of time beautifully.
Monika Chiang - Zeitgeist and Style Captured On a Lazy Susan

 Two of C&C'S Favorite Looks from Monika Chiang's Collection

Photos Credit:  M. McKenzie
At ADRIENNE VITTADINI’s off-site informal showing what stood out were the ponte knits, in particular the black and white color-block dress (very ‘60s) and the trench over leather tunic and leggings. I also liked Vittadini’s cute leopard print rabbit fur crop jacket over a cable knit alpaca sweater vest for casual weekends.

Adrienne Vittadini - Binary Fashion for the Digital Age

 Adrienne Vittadini Found the Rabbit Who Made a Wrong Turn at Albuquerque!

Color blocking was a big trend throughout the week and no one pulled it off better than BCBG MAXAZRIA. Normally I’m not big on little silk dresses in winter (yes, I’m always cold) but Azria’s spice/navy coral silk pleated number and his retro looking black/cream silk gown could just about change my mind. More practical and slightly warmer was a cream/taupe canvas and leather color blocked trench that looked terribly chic over merlot wide leg trousers – kind of ‘70s looking but in a more subtle way. 

C&C Would Freeze for This Look!

Color blocking took my breath away at PORTS 1961's Bauhaus-inspired collection. I would die for the aventurine deco-block ottoman top, cashmere ¾ sleeve sweater and fluid cady drawstring trousers, as well as the sable cashmere with sheared mink, fur-block vest coat over two-tone pleat knit sheath, cashmere sweater and wool trousers. It may sound overdone but trust me, it worked! As long as we’re adding to my wish list why not go for Ports' double-faced glace ottoman vest coat accessorized with suede knee high boots and a gorgeous vintage inspired alligator clutch. The latter was just one of many fabulous alligator handbags to die for. The only part of the collection that didn’t work for me were the mink collared sheath dresses. They were too contrived as were some of the get-ups worn by various wannabe fashionistas sitting front and center. My advice to those who dressed only for the photogs is get a life people or at least a full length mirror!

Patterns, graphic embellishment, textile mixes and metallics were prevalent throughout the week on and off the runway, oftentimes worn altogether (see fashion victims described above). One designer who got it right was TRACY REESE. Celebrated for her way with feminine dresses, this season I was impressed by her outerwear, in particular the belted black coat with fur sleeves, a black box jacquard hourglass coat, the juniper color peplum reefer and a sporty shearling trimmed duffle in bright tomato red.

I have a soft spot for DIANE VON FURSTENBERG since back in the dark ages when she was just getting started I free lanced for her as a fashion illustrator (hell, I wish I still kept some of those early wrap dresses). So when the invite to her collection came I was eagerly awaiting the show. Here’s a woman who understands how grownups want to dress and her confident collection reflected just that. I was mesmerized by the rich color palette of obsidian, scarlet, port, dark lapis, etc. Outstanding was a wineberry patent leather coat tossed over black/obsidian embellished turtleneck and bordeaux kimono pants. Another striking combo consisted of an antique moss textured boucle coat, yellow top and roseberry crepe pants, accented with a black leather and stingray clutch, black leather gloves and suede keyhole pumps.

This season ANNA SUI also gave grown women (anyone over 25) a reason to take a second look at her clothes. What stood out for me in a very strong collection was the ultramarine shimmery checker plaid jacket and dress, an elegant merlot ombre stripe brushed wool coat and the cadet blue plaid belted wool duffle, plaid skirt and ultramarine crepe shirt. Another terrific coat came in brick plaid boiled wool. Very “Chanel” was Sui’s ultramarine double face knit cardigan and skirt paired with a laser cut embellished print top in seafoam faille.

If Anna Sui was about piling on the layers and textures, LACOSTE was all about clean, athletic inspired cutting edge sportswear and outerwear. To quote Lacoste’s artistic director Felipe Oliveira Baptista, the leitmotif was “the rugby dress meets ski suit piece, tightly fitted, second skin”. My two favorite items – the perfect white turtleneck flared dress and white hooded duffle coat. These chic pieces will never look dated.

Now that we’ve discussed daywear let’s move on to evening and FARAH ANGSANA’s glamour laden collection. Assuming I had a social life I’d opt for her strapless silk chiffon, sequin embellished gown in nude, the floaty tangerine chiffon numbers and a pretty chantilly lace over ivory wool crepe top and silk trousers.

While I found LORENA SARBU’s evening wear a bit too beauty pageant looking for my taste two numbers stood out, a silver French lace long sleeved tunic dress and the black and nude jewel neck gown with hand appliqu├ęd jet beaded flowers. Perfect on or off the red carpet.
Lorena Sarbu Elegant Style Will Never Hit Toddlers and Tiaras (Thank God!)

Photos Credit:  M. McKenzie

Speaking of nude (or almost), my pick for ugly and undressed has to go to that idiot drag queen who sauntered around the tents in a pink tulle ballerina skirt and white fur capelet and the overexposed socialite with little bo-peep hairdo who was freezing her chops off in a thin little fur vest, silk mini skirt and sky high platforms on one of the coldest days of the week!

Since each season seems to offer less and less in the way of editor’s perks at the tents (where even a cup of coffee runs $2.75 a pop and goodies are nowhere to be seen), we editors make the trek to the style lounges where makeup touch ups, coffee, booze and snacks are offered. Of course there’s always a new or established designer line to check out while we’re there. At the Empire Hotel pop-up shop hosted by amNewYork I fell for an array of colorful leather charm band bracelets by FRANNIART INC. Another line I gravitated to was SLAP’s funky watches that come in fun colors with contrasting faces and bands that literally slap on the wrist.
amNewYork's Pop-Up Kept C&C Going Strong... that's all I'm saying!
SLAP Time!

Photos Credit:  M. McKenzie

CECE TOPPINGS offered the perfect solution for crew neck sweater wearers like moi – a range of crisp cotton and silk dickeys in solids and patterns. Practical and beautiful. EYE SLICES PROFESSIONAL was also there and handed out samples of its depuffing product which I’m eager to try.

Upstairs at the Daily Lounge the crowds were lined up for Essie manicures, cocktails and STELLA & DOT’s cute jewelry collection ranging from vintage inspired pieces to modern designs and chunky beads. In essence, the line offers something for everyone. Attendees were given the choice of a simple chain necklace or a rose gold serpent ring encrusted with pave “diamonds’.

No Morse Code at Stella & Dot's

 Photos Credit:  M. McKenzie

Speaking of jewelry I can’t end this blog without mentioning a simply magnificent collection of semi precious and high end costume jewelry from KARA ROSS. It was worth the trek to Columbus Circle and the Mandarin Oriental Hotel for her presentation. Not only did I flip out for the bold scarab rings and bracelets but Ross also offered a range of magnificent handbags and clutch bags. I have my eye on a stunning dark green faux alligator satchel but any one will do nicely (hint, hint). Compared to many of the so-called overpriced (and frankly tacky) designer handbags out there, this collection was a revelation and a must have for any woman who knows what real style’s all about.

Kara Ross - Boldly Ends Fashion Week!

Photos Credit:  M. McKenzie

So there you have it. Another season of note taking from the back row. Until next time, happy shopping. C&C

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Groove On!

During Fashion Week, especially at the very beginning of all of the craziness to come, it is always lovely and refreshing to meet up with and see the work of a young, Brooklyn-based (Williamsburg, of course) designer, such as Ann Yee. Yee’s collection of hip, wearable clothing (yes, really wearable by real people vs. only those waif-thin models) all mixed up with a groovy sense of Brooklyn-inspired style, is young and fresh and cool and lovely, to be sure.

With a definitive nod towards a modern view of humanity and ecology (nice touch here), the designer shows an appreciation for the textures, movement, and dimension of caves (oui, caves), by way of emphasis on the topography, elements and minerals, usually seen only in the beautiful designs of nature. The custom “Cave Print”, acting as the heart of the grouping, is found on many of the pieces here, supporting the designer’s obvious love for this specific kind of natural beauty. According to Yee, “a cave … mysterious and dark from the outside; once you enter, there is always an element of surprise. With the silhouettes and cuts for the new season, there is definitely more than meets the eye”.

Ann Yee - Successfully Takes Fashion Spelunking!

Best known for her knitwear and 3-ply dresses, Yee’s aesthetic sensibilities for Autumn/Winter 2012, play off against an abundance of eclectic shapes, paneling and multiple layers, coupled with dramatic draping and heavier knits that exude a raw and earthy vibe. Further to the story, the color palette has a natural resilience, grounded with shades of slate, ink, concrete, blue and dusty purple; glints of citrine, amethyst, frost and rust, married with sand-washed crepe-de-chine, silk chiffon and Italian wools further set the tone of what this collection is all about. Nicely tying Yee and her offerings together is the fact that the collection was shown in a white-washed and very plain midtown NYC loft, far away from all of the madness and “done” aura of the uptown, Lincoln Center Tents. Adding more allure to Yee’s clothing were the somber models (excellent hair by ION Studio and make-up (Dex New York), as well as Laia Garcia’s deft fashion styling; minimal and to the point, with accents of silver jewelry from Linhardt and Dr. Maarten’s footwear, in expected black and new, surprising shades of purple. 

On a final note (and wonder of wonders), starting with Yee’s showing, and continuing all through Fashion Week, this editor noticed a resurgence of Dr. Martens short to high boots, along with lace-up and slip-on shoes, worn by more than just a few editors, models, and other, assorted fashion people, attending the shows, events, et al. So, kudos to Garcia for being one of the first to pick up on this new, old style trend early on. – ADWB, C&C editor-at-large

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Fashion Alert: Milly for Sperry Top-Sider Launch

If you're spending the summer in Nantucket or the Cape, you'll want a pair of preppy boat shoes. At Milly for Sperry Top-Sider they're updated in vivid lime, orange and nautical prints.

Citrus Summer Top-Siders - Refreshing!

City slickers should opt for Milly's high-heeled version with a chunky rope sole and heel--very on trend in the navy canvas with tan leather collar. 

Best to Wear These Apres Sailing

Even the classic sneaker gets the Milly "touch". It comes in white with a navy sailor's knot pattern. Grab all of the above at fine department stores and the Milly Boutique on Madison Avenue.

C&C Was Tied in Knots After Seeing These

Credit for All Photos:  M. McKenzie

Until Next Time

Crap and Couture, Notes From the Back Row