The wait is over. I have just returned from my first foray into the spectacle that is New York fashion week. Did it live up to all the hype and hysteria??? You bet it did! It was all that and more. From the time you enter the “tents” in Bryant Park where the majority of the major shows are held, you enter another universe. People suddenly speak your language and talk your talk. Both men and women are dressed well, although some go a bit overboard to say the least. Every time I flashed my press pass to enter the tents, I felt a new jolt of excitement
I was only able to attend the last three days of an 8 day long fashion week. The first show I attended was Milly by Michele Smith on Monday afternoon (9/10). Michelle Smith launched Milly in 2000. I was happy to have my first star sighting right off the bat. LeAnn Rimes was quickly escorted to her seat so that us common folk would not be a bother. Keep in mind that designers are one or more seasons ahead of what’s in the stores, so I was seeing Spring/ Summer 2008 collections. This collection was fun and feminine, with the predominant colors being navy, white and electric green along with graphic black/ white prints. Together, this color combination looked really fresh and clean. The models wore different head coverings including a turban like hat that I could certainly use on my bad hair days! The clothing looked retro and elegant with a modern twist. Skirts were pencil thin and EVERYTHING is being belted (note this for next season). Cardigans tied around the neck were prevalent as were tiny bikinis in fun playful prints. Large oversized totes were shown with beachy cover-ups. This is a really cute line with a younger vibe, but some pieces are definitely wearable for the over 40’s set. Milly is carried locally by Bloomingdale’s, Saks and Neiman’s.
Monday night was the John Varvatos show. Varvatos is the designer credited with infusing the Converse brand with new life. This show was held on the 45th floor of a building in lower Manhattan. The space had a very industrial quality as it was unfinished office space. There were windows all along 2 sides which made for a beautiful view of tribeca and the financial district. John Varvatos does great menswear with a hip, urban feel to it. Tim Robbins (Susan Sarandon’s partner) was my next star sighting of the day/night. This was a great show although the male models looked all of about 13, more boys than men.
The runway looks were casual and cavalier, not taking themselves too seriously. The inspiration noted in the show notes mentioned the bohemian feel of the collection. Even the more tailored pieces did not look overdone. The colors were very neutral with a lot of grey, dusty rose, faded brick and pale pink along with washed shades of black and brown. The pants were very slim cut, with few grown men able to pull this look off. The knits were memorable with the vest making numerous appearances. The knits coupled with more traditional plaid shirting, made for a striking combination. The music for the show was vintage Alice Cooper, who was apparently joining Varvatos at his after show party. John Varvatos dressed several of the Emmy award attendees this past Sunday. Throwing a menswear show into the mix was a good move indeed.
Tuesday (9/11) began with torrential rain and stayed that way most of the day. Getting to the tents without getting soaking wet was a real feat. Not having packed a raincoat, but throwing in an umbrella at the last moment was like the proverbial Band-Aid on a break. After walking one block on my way to the subway, a quick stop in a drugstore for a child’s rain poncho (it was all they had left) torn at the neck to get it over my head, was all I could do to help myself. My footwear was a pair of trusty Havaiana flip flops that fared pretty well through the massive puddles. Once safely in the tents I headed to the Betsey Johnson show.
This was a show I was really looking forward to. The invitations were hot pick with black lettering and had pictures of Betsey’s 1958 Prom (during which she was crowned homecoming queen). The tent was decorated like it was 1958, complete with little tables lining the catwalk with centerpieces and silver tablecloths. Tori Spelling and hubby Dean McDermott were the celebs dujour at this show. Betsey never disappoints when it comes to theatrics. The show was a walk UP memory lane as the styles started in the 1950’s and proceeded all the way up to present day. The dresses were fun and frilly with more tulle than anyone should ever use, but that’s signature Betsey Johnson. The music mirrored each decade and the colors were candy store hues, both bright and pastel. Johnson also showed some summer looks with the main colors black and white (again) with polka dots and stripes in abundance. Cinched at the waist or bodice was the trend here. This is a show totally dedicated to wit and whimsy. Betsey cart wheeled down the runway at the conclusion of the show to the strains of Eric Clapton’s “Layla”, (her granddaughter’s name). Fun, fun, fun!
Tuesday night was Custo Barcelona, a line I had seen a lot while in Barcelona this summer. This collection has a European esthetic. The prints were bold, graphic and geometric and the color palette was bright: blues, purples, fuchsia, and lots of metallic sliver and grey. Custo Dalmau is a designer who is not afraid of color or pattern. There were lots of dresses in this collection as well as daring menswear, not for the faint of heart. Tote bags were oversized and dresses were not. There were wide legged trousers, and asymmetrical swimsuits and cover-ups. Beautiful jackets, jumpers and skirts tailored expertly wowed the packed tent. Evening ensembles, swimsuits and handbags are new to this line and will debut in stores in Spring 2008.
The tent lobby is a bit more crowded in the evenings than during the day. Drinks were being passed, and champagne was plentiful. I watched the Zac Posen show on live video feed to the lobby while sipping champagne with all of the beautiful people. Zac seems to be the designer of the moment with Mariska Hargitay and Katherine Heigel wearing his dresses to the Emmy awards Sunday. As you may recall, Zac Posen was the guest of honor for the Academy of Art University student show in April. He is boyish, charming and self deprecating all at the same time.
Wednesday was the last day of fashion week and a slower day all around. I went to a show by Caravan, which was more of a collective show with lots of different international designers. The show included Vivienne Westwood, Fred Perry (England), Walter Baker (USA), Purp7e (Brazil) and Edun, the line launched by Bono and his wife Ali Hewson. This was a more low key show at a warehouse space in Chelsea. This show was a good way to wind down my few days in fashion heaven. I’d do it again in a heartbeat, and next time, I’ll pack the raincoat!