Rag & Bone Fall 2014 Ready To Wear

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.

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ZAC Zac Posen Fall 2014 Ready To Wear

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.

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Thakoon Addition Fall 2014 Ready To Wear

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.

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New York Fashion Week – Organic By John Patrick

John Patrick has long been an earth-obsessed designer. But this season, he turned his attention toward space. His latest Organic collection found him mashing up looks from the era of the moon shot—here, a long-sleeve jumpsuit in a material that looked like Tyvek  there, pleated and pencil skirts with the modest hemlines favored by Right Stuff-era housewives. The fabric mix was intriguing—Patrick leaned hard on technicals, in particular sheer materials with a plastic sheen, but he also integrated a lot of cozy textures, such as quilted cotton, felted wool, and fur. The latter looked particularly appealing on this slushy day; meanwhile, the crispy high-neck blouses had a more trans-seasonal appeal. That approach was astute. You could even say, it was typically down-to-earth.

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New York Fashion Week – Rachel Roy Fall 2014 Ready To Wear

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.

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New York Fashion Week – Lisa Perry Fall 2014 Ready To Wear

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.

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Tia Cibani Fall 2014 Ready To Wear

“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.

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Narciso Rodriguez Resort 2014

“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.

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Joie Spring 2014 Ready To Wear

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.

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Z Zenga Fall 2013

Z Zenga went for a country walk this season—the kind of country walk that wends you toward the local mad-science lab. You can pipe in all the fresh air, birdsong, or forest-floor runway you want (ZZ, at least, provided the latter), but the heartbeat of the label is always going to be innovation. And so it was. The “great outdoors” of the show’s title—”The Urban Wanderer Meets the Great Outdoors”—loosened up some of the stricter lines of Paul Surridge’s previous collections, but the show stayed as tough and future-leaning as ever. How could it not, given its dedication (so say the trusty show notes) to offering “clarity and order in today’s fast
fashion maelstrom”?

The collection was made of cloth, you had to admit, but tweaked and teased until you barely recognized it as such: heat-bonded, felted, degradé-d…the list goes on. It seemed more like some kind of alien element. Jackets rounded stiffly about the body or were sewn with reversed seams all the way down to their jointed elbows, so that they seemed to be exoskeletons. There were intricately quilted trenches, suits, and bombers, and a full suit made of raincoat. The bags and backpacks had the hard, faceted shape of gemstones.

As a visual spectacle of fashion, this ranked among the highest of the day, and the quality is unimpeachable, but the true success of the collection was that very little of it seemed unwearable—though it’s worth wondering if every customer shares Surridge and the label’s taste for tweaks. Some shearling buyers may prefer shearling to the wool-and-silk replicant version ginned up here, say. Then again, some may not. If Surridge and Z Zegna do decide to stop and smell the flowers a bit, they’re headed in the right direction. They’re out there in the great outdoors.

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