L.A.-based designer Juan Carlos Obando took the idea of razor-sharp tailoring and beat us over the head with it.
Working in a drab palette of sand, gray and black, he showed super skinny worsted wool trousers that were totally spare aside from spiraling seams, and sleeveless belted shift dresses pared down except for a few curve enhancing stitches.
Although he should be applauded for his rigorous technique, this collection needed some eye candy beyond shoe designer George Esquivel’s laced boot extensions.
It didn’t help that it was all a build-up to a finale of gowns with micro plisse bodices, something we’ve seen from him many times before.
The classics remixed. That was the takeaway from the fall DKNY line, a compelling mash-up of menswear- inspired equestrian plaids, Bauhaus grids and Deco florals. Schoolgirl pleated skirts came in mixed plaids and checks, and Angora wool coats were oversized and man-tailored, some with contrast leather piping.
Bands of electric blue sequins livened up the camel, gray, burgundy and black sweaters and scarves in geometric collage patterns. And for evening, short dresses shined with metallic patches of beads and sequins.
Gossip, first impressions, trends in the making, celebrities and style setters.
This is shaping up to be the season when the runway comes to you.
Hundreds of designers will present their fall collections during the monthlong runway circuit that kicked off Wednesday in New York and ends in mid-March in Paris with a stop in Milan along the way. And although the runway shows used to be exclusive events — closed to all but select editors, store buyers and stylists — fashion houses increasingly are extending the reach of their blockbuster productions by using the Internet.
For several seasons now, fashion show attendees have been taking their own amateur video and photos and posting them online using Twitter, Facebook and YouTube. So it was only a matter of time before designers got on the bandwagon. Giorgio Armani, Ralph Lauren and Dolce & Gabbana are among those who have experimented with bringing their runway shows to the digital space.
The urban tribal aesthetic we saw last season at Proenza Schouler and Balenciaga is starting to turn up in the fall collections in New York this week.
First, it was at BCBG Max Azria on Thursday morning, where neutral-colored, draped silk dresses in geometric cuts were shot through with blocks of vibrant blue and yellow.
And it continued at Cynthia Rowley, where models had bright color woven into their hair and the band Preacher and the Knife struck a tribal beat.
The most exciting thing I saw on the runway Saturday was the Ohne Titel collection. Bringing a new kind of cool to draped silk, velvet and washed leather separates by working them with athletic mesh and knit, designers Flora Gill and Alexa Adams challenged the boring vernacular of office suiting.
Could we be looking at the next Donna Karan?
The designers, who met at Parsons School of Design and have stints at Helmut Lang and Karl Lagerfeld between them, launched their line in 2011, and they have been on an upward trajectory ever since, garnering nominations and awards from the Ecco Domani Fashion Foundation and the Council of Fashion Designers of America.
For fall, they worked in a palette of black, moss green, sand and pewter to create a number of separates that could find a place in any woman’s wardrobe — lean, asymmetrically cut soft leather and ribbed knit jackets, cropped shearlings, combo leather and knit leggings. Their version of the suit was a moss-colored silk blazer worn with silk pants that were slouchy up top, spiraling into ribbed knit at the bottom of the legs.
Although they cited the 19th century as inspiration, there was nothing retro about a techno collage, multicolored mesh dress, a sand leather and silk cowl neck top or a silk drawstring skirt with black leather front pouch pocket that brought motocross to mind.
After all, these are clothes for women on the move. And let’s hope this is the collection that brings this label to a wider audience. In Los Angeles, Ohne Titel (German for ‘untitled’) is stocked at Zainab and Satine.
For some reason this season, Prabal Gurung was anointed the new kid to watch. When he staged his first runway show in the Tents on Saturday, everyone was there — department store buyers, magazine editors, even a celeb or two.
Why? Who knows. Oprah’s a fan, the designer has a quirky name (pronounced Praa-ball) and a cute face, he grew up in Katmandu, started his career in India, and was design director at Bill Blass for five years.
Sculpted coats and skirts in camel, black and white wool cashmere with curvilinear seams had a Blass feel to them, but a bit too much bulk, and the floating panels, peplums and double layers weren’t incorporated well enough into the designs.
One-shouldered silk gazar dresses, distinguished by sculptural ruffles, didn’t feel that special either.
The best look — a motocross-inspired minidress that was a patchwork of metallic oxidized lace and wool faille. Too bad he didn’t stay focused on that technique a little longer.
Diane von Furstenberg may have had the best inspiration line ever in her show notes: ‘I always wanted to live a man’s life in a woman’s body.’
What did it mean? A study in contrasts, masculine meets feminine, hard against soft — a chiffon-rosette-embroidered bolero worn over a double-breasted heather-gray pantsuit, a black-felted wool blazer over a pleated school girl glitter-jacquard skirt, and a bronze-sequin jacket over a red-print chiffon dress.
It added up to lots of the versatile, wear-everywhere pieces that keep women coming back to DVF, including the perennial wrap dress, done for evening in black jersey with ruffled organza cap sleeves.
The designer also excelled at offering pieces with details that looked special for the money, such as a black-felted wool sheath dress and sweater jacket with artful metallic chain mail insets at the bottom, that have already made it onto at least one editor’s fall shopping list.
Jason Wu’s fall collection was a case of outsized ambition. On the one hand, menswear-inspired separates strayed too far from the designer’s comfort zone. On the other, couture-inspired Chantilly lace ball gowns (some with padded hips) overwhelmed his tiny, poorly lit runway.
Daywear fell flat with boxy jackets in too-heavy mohair, fold-over-waist pegged trousers and unremarkable draped wool plaid skirts. Only his cocktail dresses hinted at what could have been, the best in a blush-colored gauze that looked like spun sugar.
The zipper sunglasses, the studded-base handbags — Alexander Wang is the coolest thing in New York fashion right now. And this season, he let loose his tough ‘n’ trashy aesthetic on the men’s suit.
Although we’ve seen this exercise in deconstruction many times before (Jean Paul Gaultier, Junya Watanabe), Wang gave it his own pseudo-Goth night-crawler spin with the addition of velvet thigh-highs and lace-trimmed swallow-hemmed dresses. (And let’s not forget his more accessible price point.)
The latest leveraging of the Kardashian sister synergy hit the runway in Manhattan on Tuesday, as the Bebe-Kardashian line debuted at the Style 360 subset of New York Fashion Week. Since this was five long blocks across town from the Bryant Park tents — the center of the New York Fashion Week universe –the highest wattage celebrity attendee seemed to be the increasingly Amazonian-looking Jenni ‘J-Woww’ Farley of ‘Jersey Shore’ fame, who breezed into the room on glittery legs, wearing a turquoise Ed Hardy T-shirt dress and batting eyelashes the size of small butterflies, causing a Pamplona-like running of the paparazzi.
That was until reigning reality TV queen Kim Kardashian herself stepped in front of a phalanx of runway photographers, clad in a hooded, heather gray stretch jersey dress and black leatherette corset that cinched her figure into nearly Jessica Rabbit-like relief.
The actual show didn’t start for another 10 minutes, but Kardashian had arrived in what the crowd would shortly find out was look number two No. 2 from the new collection — which was designed by the Bebe brand’s in-house team with input from sisters and reality show costars Kim, Khloe and Kourtney — and the message was unmistakable: ‘Yeah, we’d wear this stuff.
It’s easy to see how it could happen, with the pressure to make headlines and reinvent season after season — and now in the pre-seasons, too.
But not every designer has the boundless imagination to be an Alexander McQueen. (It’s possible even McQueen was having trouble keeping up, and that it led to his death.) And not every designer should try.