David Beckham and the four children he shares with his wife, Victoria, emerged from backstage moments before the lights went down at her show today. The Beckhams know how to make an entrance, don’t they? Business is going well for Victoria Beckham. Last month she announced the brand will be opening its first store on London’s Dover Street this fall, and a new New York office and showroom indicate that she’s got her sights on a Manhattan location before too long.
There was nice growth on the runway as well. Last season Beckham might’ve gone too far in the boyish direction for her client base. She made adjustments here, elongating the silhouette first and foremost, and adding femme touches to what was, all in all, a sharply tailored collection. A substantial gold chain replaced a button closure on a winter white cashmere coat, the back of which was sharply pleated in a lighter-weight silk, while a deep organza ruffle decorated the hem of a tunic sweatshirt. Prints made a comeback, and there was sparkle to spare on a midi-skirt worn with a cowl-neck knit.
Speaking of entrance making, it was good to see Beckham redirect some of her attention to eveningwear. She reports that it’s a top-selling category for the brand, and it was easy to see why in the case of a pleated black georgette goddess gown with an ivory cashmere camisole underneath. Cate Blanchett will in all likelihood wear Armani to the Oscars, but if not, we’ve found her dress.
Paint-spattered denim. Cargo pants. Lumberjack check, name-embroidered mechanics’ jackets, and pinstripe tailoring. And Cosby sweaters? At first, it was difficult to discern the through line in the new Rag & Bone collection. Indeed, speaking backstage before today’s show, Marcus Wainwright and David Neville themselves acknowledged that this season’s outing was “a mix of a lot of things,” and that was 100 percent true. And then, as the show settled in your mind, it hit you: This was a paean to the working man! Not just the working-class man, although his presence was keenly felt in those name-embroidered jackets, like the ones sported by Jourdan Dunn and Georgia May Jagger. But also the soldier, and the man of the land. Even the grandees in their pinstripe, heading to their shiny office towers, even they got a look-see, and so too the late-eighties, tracksuit-wearing, dole-collecting Madchester lad, who would have gone to work in the factory, if the factory hadn’t shut down. Paycheck men, all of them.
Moreover, Wainwright and Neville’s egalitarian vision was large enough to include a wisecracking obstetrician with a large, happy family who worked out of his Brooklyn brownstone. The squiggly “Cosby” knits were a standout here—a collaboration with Coogi, the Australian brand that made the original versions back in the eighties. The feral hand-knit jackets were another highlight, albeit one rather difficult to connect back to the theme. But then, who cares? Consistency is a virtue much overpraised, and that “working man” hypothesis is probably rubbish. This was a collection that was more about great pieces than any ambitious conceptual or aesthetic proposition. Mohair check hoodie? Want. Baggy cream-colored jeans paint-spattered by hand? Need. Baggy knee-high boots in red? Have to have. And that whole Joan Smalls look, head to toe. Start saving your pennies, working girls. There was a mix of a lot of things here you’re going to want to buy.
For Fall, Zac Posen was determined to bring more separates into his reliable mix of ZAC Zac Posen frocks. “It adds a 9-to-5 balance,” said the designer in his Tribeca studio space, his team stitching away at the main collection in the sewing room next door. ZAC Zac Posen is his “secondary” offering, the one affordable enough for his evening-gown customer to buy multiple pieces of—a $1,000 day dress here, a $375 silk blouse there—and transform herself into a day-to-night Zac Posen woman.
The question is: Does she want that? Even when he’s making tops and bottoms, Posen likes his girl dressed up, which can look a little old-fashioned for day. Leather skirts and jackets, printed with a dark red plaid better suited to wool, just didn’t sit right. And to-the-rib-cage trousers, fashioned with multiple pleats at the hip to give them the silhouette of a long skirt, seemed impractical. The freshest looks were the long-and-short dresses and pussy-bow blouses in a pressed-flower print the color of a nectarine. They were polished but not too serious. The burnout knits, on the other hand, were too “granny’s attic” to really last in a working woman’s wardrobe. She’d much prefer one of his sharp blazers in herringbone stretch jacquard.
Lucky for her, Posen included a lot of distinctively seamed dresses and jackets. Those pieces were good enough to make more than a few of his special-occasion customers everyday ones, too.
In recent seasons, Thakoon Panichgul’s secondary line, Addition, has grown beyond the pretty dresses and printed pajamas it started off with to include more menswear-inspired tailoring and fresh styling ideas. But where Panichgul piled on the layers for Pre-Fall, here he peeled them off. “It’s about taking foundation pieces and then twisting them so they look slightly disheveled, like they’re coming undone,” he said, describing a girl who tosses on her boyfriend’s oversize cardigan (with nothing underneath, naturally), plucks a skirt off the floor, and dashes out the door. Another sweater came nonchalantly shrugged off the shoulder, adding an edge to the kicky LBD it was paired with. Shirting has emerged as a strong category for the designer.
He showed crisp button-ups peeking out from cozy knits, and added poplin touches to the sleeves and hem of a snug blazer. Outerwear highlights included a hooded cape cut from gray banker’s felt, ombré plaid toppers, and a classic duffle coat. All in all, a strong Addition outing that shined ideas on themes—artful dishevelment, men’s shirting, statement coats—that we expect to see more of when the Fall shows get underway next week.
The designer has relocated her family to Los Angeles. “What, really, do we have to do other than what’s right for ourselves?” she posed at a preview in her New York studio. In a way, the West Coast move has given Roy a fresh outlook on her business, which just turned ten years old. Her message for Fall was “to make looking feminine-but-cool as simple as possible,” she said. With this in mind, Roy offered several dresses that gave the impression of layered separates. For example, the fifth look appeared to be a lace slip worn underneath a floral V-neck top and slim navy pencil skirt; in fact, it was just one piece, just one decision for her customer to make instead of several. Throughout the lineup, Roy collaged together materials such as printed silk and delicate Chantilly on high-slit skirts, or Lurex-flecked tweed with iridescent jacquard on novelty suits. At times, the result felt a bit overwrought (the addition of metallic leather details didn’t help). Still, the handful of head-to-toe Venetian red looks here was nothing short of striking, and a gray wool topper was a nice fusion of the classic peacoat and a tough bomber jacket.
Lisa Perry typically starts the design process by looking to one of her favorite pieces of artwork or an architect she admires. For Fall, her muse came from an unexpected place: Instagram. “His name is @donalddrawbertson, and he makes art out of gaffer tape,” said Perry, sitting on a bench in the middle of her Madison Avenue boutique, which had been taped up by the artist, whose actual name is Donald Robertson. (He also happens to be one of the founders of MAC Cosmetics.)
Robertson transformed Perry’s boutique into a white lacquered space covered with lines of black tape that formed scattered geometric shapes. The boots and heels worn by the models, designed in collaboration with Manolo Blahnik, had a similar look. So it was wise that Perry stayed away from prints this season, save for a maze pattern that actually clashed quite nicely with the background.
Instead, she focused on silhouette, creating exaggerated versions of her favorite 1960s styles. A Kelly green felt trapeze dress had a back so broad that it was more like a cape, and a purple felt tunic dress was given more shape with rounded shoulders and a deep V-neck. Fabric was also a big consideration. Along with that aforementioned felt—which took color very well, and was also used to make several pairs of nice-fitting wide-leg trousers—Perry used a spongy gray jersey and a black perforated fabric with zero stretch. A fabric foil in the vein of Warhol’s silver clouds was used cleverly on an oversize sweatshirt. (It would have been too obvious on one of her classic shifts.)
The final look—a bubble dress in the perforated black fabric—appeared more like a skirt being worn as a shirt than an actual party frock. But for that misstep Perry can be forgiven. All in all, it was a strong collection, one that didn’t ring too costumey or overwrought.
“I’ve always wanted to reference the whirling dervishes,” said designer Tia Cibani on Tuesday at her sliver of a studio in New York’s Meatpacking District. For Fall, she did just that, turning to her native North Africa for more than a little inspiration.
Today, the runway at her show venue, the Prince George Ballroom—a grand ol’, just-decrepit-enough place—was lined with Moroccan rugs bought just across the street. Cibani’s team handed out Turkish delights as favors, and mint tea was served in the lobby. The clothes followed suit, most obviously with elongated felt fezzes made by New York milliner Joy Kim.
Each look was a study in layers and proportion. For instance, a pair of slim cupro pants—traditionally called churidar—were worn under an A-line caftan, and a cropped, chunky, hand-knit sweater was paired with an above-the-ankle ball skirt in a “Damascus rose” brocade. That same floral was rendered digitally on a long gown, which skimmed the body at the front but billowed into a cape at the back. “Collapsing volume,” Cibani called it.
Iris Apfel was also a muse. “I was feeling very magpie,” Cibani said. It came through in the multiple shapes and styles on offer, from a bergamot-colored coat nipped in at the waist with a leather belt to the leopard-print tunic and matching legging trouser in rusty red. Cibani managed to cast a burnished patina over the whole collection, giving each piece a sense of belonging.
“Very relaxed and easy, but special.” That sounds like a designer at cross-purposes with himself, but Narciso Rodriguez handled the dueling concepts with aplomb for Resort. They came together beautifully in the collection’s first look, a simple little shift made from raw linen laminated in a diamond pattern, and black satin that was first laser-cut into diamonds and then bonded to chiffon. From afar, the laminated linen glistened in such a way that it looked like sequins. Another dress, constructed from chiffon bonded with a scrolling laser-cut satin motif, could’ve been a newfangled, twenty-first-century lace.
Rodriguez has always loved technically challenging cuts. His tailored jackets have a sleek sensibility that belies their complicated patterns. This season, he really pushed the idea of technologies, too. “I’m considering every detail,” he said. “There’s so much fast fashion out there; I want this to be of the highest quality.” What kept the bonded laser-cut motifs layered over black and white stripes from feeling fussy was the effortlessness of the silhouettes—those uncomplicated shifts, as well as tunics layered over pajama pants, and a strapless dress that fell straight from a silver leather band at the bust to the hem. He paired most looks with pointy-toed flat slides in python or diamond-laminated linen, adding to the collection’s elegantly nonchalant spirit.
Full film of the CHANEL Spring-Summer 2014 Haute Couture show at the Grand Palais, Paris.
According to Serge Azria, Joie‘s Spring ’14 collection was all about celebrating—and elevating—white. “I wanted to make white not so simple,” said the contemporary label’s creative director and CEO during the presentation, which marked the twelve-year-old brand’s second New York fashion week effort. Joie’s new lineup was a palette cleanser, offering a host of easy separates and frocks in every tint of Azria’s chosen hue. He contrasted a stark white elongated blazer with a romantic pleated silk skirt in soft eggshell. Similarly, a sporty bright white sailing jacket popped against an oatmeal and black striped sweater.
Elsewhere, Azria enriched the shade with varying textures, like eyelet—used for a high-waisted cotton pencil skirt—or slick leather, which looked best as a pair of cropped, flair-calf trousers. The concept was applied to accessories, too—for instance, pointed cream and tan leather flats were laser-treated, causing them to look like they were made from stingray.
Inspired by a recent trip to Ponza, an island off the Amalfi Coast, Azria injected his Spring range with an air of vintage Italiana. One linen dress with a fitted skirt and blousy bodice that revealed just enough of the model’s décolleté was simultaneously effortless and va-va-voom. The Mediterranean inspiration also moved Azria to include pops of cerulean and navy. “All of the houses in Ponza were white and the doors were all blue. It looked like a painting!” he recalled. The scene was re-created in his Chelsea show space. He worked indigo into bold stripes, which ran down a three-quarter-length skirt, a billowing short-sleeved blouse, and a structured workwear jacket. An azure brushstroke print on a flippy little jupe was lovely, and a navy drawstring skirt—which was basically a silk, feminine alternative to sweatpants—looked particularly comfortable. Most of the spaghetti-strap and short-sleeved crop tops—while sweet on the models—will be near impossible to wear if you’re of normal human proportions. But a bouncy, open-back A-line frock had “summer classic” written all over it.
Tom Ford is a great example of fashion’s action/reaction dialectic. After a Spring collection saturated with intense, thrilling color, he went black for Fall. And, following seasons of hyperattenuated tailoring, he showed only two suits this time round, throwing the emphasis solidly on sportswear, “to capture the other side of my customer’s life,” as he sagely put it during today’s presentation. And such solid sportswear! Voluminous topcoats swirled around a stovepipe silhouette; a coyote-lined parka wrapped a bouclé-like sweater (yarn hand-spun in Peru, hand-knitted in Italy); gray shearling over a gray cashmere hoodie…you get the picture. And no prizes for guessing why this “other side” should suddenly have become important. Ford himself now needs such clothes (brown shoes, for Pete’s sake) when he’s walking his toddler, Jack, in Hyde Park.
Things got even better when Ford dialed down the volume, as in a down-filled taupe blazer and a bone-toned mac (aestheticized, he claimed, with a process that removes the characteristic rubbery aroma). But the most telling addition to Ford’s newly casual Fall repertoire may well have been trainers. He called them “tennis shoes.” Said he’d been resisting them forever, or at least “until I could figure out how to make them distinctive.” The secret? They are produced using the hand-polishing technique that is applied to Ford’s dress shoes: three days per pair, to yield a lustrous aged-in-wood effect.
Such obsessive attention to detail has always been Ford’s calling card. When the item merits the attention, the result can be stunning. And so it was with Fall’s eveningwear. Anyone needing their color fix could find it in lustrous silk jacquard jackets, in exotic ikats, or in textures so lush they could almost have been dévoré. And there was still color elsewhere in the collection: a zing of chartreuse slipped into a pile of cashmere sweaters, a tasty selection of spice tones in amid the urban charcoal.
There’s not a waistband in any of the looks,” Michael Kors said by way of preface to his Fall lineup. Those waited outside, in the sales showroom. When the collection came from the factories, the pieces Kors gravitated to were the sweats and track pants, all in luxurious fabrications—double-faced cashmere, suede, suiting flannel—and all with drawstring waists. That gives you an idea of the bet he’s making on ease. (“And we had so many fabulous belts…” he said wistfully afterward.)
He was reacting, he said, to the twin nightmares of business-formal overdressing and casual Fridays. He combined both into what he called “Big Sur meets Big City.” Baja sweaters and beanies abounded. There were suit fabrics and tailored jackets, but softened into something more like pajamas than power suits. A representative look paired crinkled flannel track pants with a longer, three-button jacket, untucked shirt, mohair pullover, and sandals. “It’s the crushing of Wall Street,” Kors said gleefully.
That’s an odd way for a man behind the most blockbuster fashion IPO in memory to repay Wall Street, but his bankers may be the only people able to afford ten-ply cashmere long johns. If the collection doesn’t portend the demise of the suit, it does suggest Kors has shrugged off some of the self-consciousness of his last collection for a glamorous ease that seems closer to his heart. Piece after piece was desirable, even when faintly ridiculous: cashmere sweats, suede joggers. “I have a feeling someone in Dubai will actually work out in these,” Kors said. Workout-ready or no, one major retailer exiting the presentation confirmed that luxury
loungewear is a salable and growing category.
Trussardi and Umit Benan, its designer of two years, parted ways after last season; Milan Vukmirovic, its previous steward, managed only a few more. It was hard to escape the sense that the ruling family wanted to keep its decisions made in the family. Maybe that’s hindsight speaking, now that Gaia Trussardi has been named creative director. She was noncommittal on the advantages of the bloodline. “It’s been 34 years that I’ve been breathing it,” she said simply—it being Trussardism, whose dominant characteristics include a belief in the universal applicability of leather. Trussardi has been, for a century-plus, a stalwart of accessories and leather goods. Its Spring collection—warm-weather season notwithstanding—was almost entirely skin as well: thin, supple leather dyed dusty colors, cut into dusters and anoraks, T-shirts and jeans.
Backstage, Gaia was spinning a traveling yarn: A “desert atmosphere,” with “open space, freedom, bright light, a sense of movement,” she said. Her leather pants were loose, pajama-style, not the rock ‘n’ roll sausage casings of yore. “Effortless elegance,” she decreed. That’s a phrase that seems to be applied everywhere these days, but the collection did in fact smack of it. It had less of the distinctive point of view that characterized her predecessors’. Whether that comes with the seasons, time will tell. The desert is wide; the trek’s just beginning.