Victoria Beckham Fall 2014 RTW

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.

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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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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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Chanel Spring 2014 RTW

Karl Lagerfeld had a great last  summer: The sun shone, Choupette was happy, creative juices geysered. The concept and the clothes for his new collection came together at the same time. Art! You can scarcely pick up a magazine or newspaper these days without coming across something about the volatility of the art world, the millions that are being spent in the getting of pictures on which the paint is scarcely dry. It’s become a huge oligarchical pissing contest, with the annual art fair in Basel, Switzerland, its most competitive arena. And Lagerfeld, antennae attuned to every wrinkle of the here and now, didn’t miss a trick with his Chanel/Basel mash-up today. Right there on the soundtrack: Jay-Z’s “Picasso Baby,” with its accompanying video ripe with images of art-world grandees lining up at the Pace Gallery in Chelsea so they could bask in Hova’s glory.

The Grand Palais was transformed into a gigantic white-walled hangar of paintings and sculptures—quintessential Basel or Frieze—all seventy-five of them made by Lagerfeld during his Summer of Prodigious Creativity. He didn’t actually make them himself—that feat would be too Olympian even for Karl—but he drew the pieces or made maquettes so his studio could
realize the finished product. Just like Jeff Koons. And, as with Koons, Karl’s reference points were identifiable, though he cleverly twisted them so they each included some element of Chanel: a camellia, a pearl, a bottle of No. 5. Some of them had red dots beside their titles, like they’d already been sold. Postshow, he wearily insisted he had no intention of doing any such thing; he’d already been asked a thousand times, just like he’d been asked to sign the whole lot.

The coming together of concept and design was clearly responsible for the way Lagerfeld’s heme infected his collection to a greater degree than usual. “Transformative!” was Koons’ response at Stella McCartney’s show the other day when he was asked about the common ground between art and fashion, and the transformations the Chanel atelier achieved with the signature tweeds were nothing short of art. In fact, they weren’t even tweed as we know it: They were some indefinable multi-processed hybrid of de- and reconstructed stuff that was then mounted on tulle to create outfits that were identifiable as iconic Chanel. Phew! And you can only imagine Lagerfeld’s delight at fooling all of the people all of the time.

Deconstruction, trompe l’oeil, collage, bricolage—this Chanel collection was a fest of art processes. You never get the sense that Lagerfeld is pushing himself; he makes everything lookmuch too easy for that. Nevertheless, in the ninety-ish looks he showed today, there were more stories than he would usually be bothered to tell. For instance, a paint chart from the 1900s yielded a whole group of primally Pantone-ed pieces. They were something quite new for Chanel. There were great things that looked like they’d been scissored from charcoaled canvas—again, in keeping with the theme but intriguingly raw for Chanel. And Lagerfeld’s
collaborators kept the dream alive with their impeccable contributions. Sam McKnight’s wigs were paintbrushes-cum-Darth Vader helmets of hair. Peter Philips’ makeup looked like an artist had wiped his brushes on eyelids instead of on clothes or canvas. Macabre maybe, but one more Chanel pointer to the transformative art of fashion at its most far-reaching.

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Jill Stuart Spring 2014 RTW

While she was vacationing in Patmos this summer, Jill Stuart found herself “thinking about rock stars’ girlfriends—particularly ones from the seventies—on holiday, and then they go back to the city and put on a leather skirt,” she said backstage after her Spring runway show today. With that in mind, Stuart conjured up a modern-day Marianne Faithfull—perhaps a cool, carefree girl like Lily Aldridge—lounging beachside in a thigh-grazing embroidered caftan or a diagonal-striped terry pullover tossed over her bikini. At night, she’d slip into a flirty mesh baby doll, smudge her eyes with kohl, and bound out for a concert or soirée.

While Stuart worked mostly in signature feminine fabrications like eyelet lace and appliquéd organza, the silhouettes here were definitely sexed up—and occasionally a tad too suggestive. Gauzy bold-shouldered crop tops (yes, that trend is still going full speed this season) were paired with kicky miniskirts, and polished denim pieces including a mod shift felt more street-ready than most of Stuart’s signature sweet wares. On the sultrier side of the spectrum, several frocks that were both super-short and super-sheer weren’t exactly the kind of thing you’d wear to dinner at your boyfriend’s parents’ house. Ditto goes for a little black leather dress with a plunging-to-the-sternum neckline, particularly when worn with towering wooden-wedge heels. Those naughtier numbers aside, the lineup successfully presented modern ideas to Stuart’s contemporary, fashion-forward customer.

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Adam Lippes Spring 2014 RTW

Adam Lippes now on his third collection. the designer has already established a clean and sophisticated, feminine tone for the brand. And so it seemed like Lippes was throwing us a curveball when he claimed this season’s inspiration was lowrider culture—big in Mexico, California, and now Brazil—which revolves around tricked-out cars with flashy paint jobs and dazzling chrome rims, and cholo-chic fashion. But Lippes loosely interpreted the barrio street movement in his own restrained way, showing white double-face satin overalls layered over a slim python bandeau, as well as a boxy T-shirt dress that was cut from the same exotic
skin. A standout pair of wide-leg denim trousers was fabricated by embroidering together nubby strips of indigo that were influenced by turn-of-the-twentieth-century African shawls. They were styled with a crisp take on the classic men’s guayabera shirt featuring a beautiful drape in back.

Elsewhere, Lippes got more adventurous with his reference point. Nodding to racy bucket seats covered in animal skins, he whipped up a structured car coat and ladylike midi skirt in a digital leopard pattern. Meanwhile, a giant lion tattoo print was splashed on a sleek shift dress, and the beast’s mane was echoed by appliquéing laser-cut pieces of leather onto an organza miniskirt. These statement makers added interest to the lineup’s beautiful basics, including delicate cashmere knits, tailored track pants, and on-trend culottes.

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Shaun Samson Spring 2014

Nineties fabulosity colored the lot. Clever touches set the scene: the lanyards whose woven bands spelled out “Shaun Samson” in numeric pager code, the Samson-branded waistbands of boxers, peering out from over the waistbands of shorts. There was such a heady sense of objectification about his muscled boys shrugging off their shirts and sagging their shorts (nine a.m. show slot be damned) that it put one in mind of the young Marky Mark in his Calvins. But his shorts weren’t silk georgette and organza like these.

There’s frisson in that froth, but it’s not overwrought, unlike the work of some other young designers. It has the gentle friction Samson managed to ignite by putting several of his surf-iest guys in towels, wrapped around the waist. “It’s not a fashion statement,” he said. “It’s a way for a man to wear a skirt.” So it isn’t, and it is.

If it’s possible to have a light touch with bugle-beaded stripes—or last season’s sequin paillette basketball shorts—Samson has it. Maybe that’s just the SoCal way, man. Whatever it is, it’s worth celebrating. Samson lives in the sweet spot where tickling a fancy meets touching a nerve.

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Calla Spring 2014 RTW

“This was my first collection about nostalgia,” Calla Haynes said of her Spring offering, an ode to early-nineties surf culture. “I was a young teenager at the time, and it was when I first discovered fashion.”

A silhouette inspired by Body Glove’s classic one-piece maillot was the style that unified today’s Calla presentation at the always crowded Milk Studios. There was a neon-green swimsuit with an exposed zipper up the front, yes, but that quintessentially nineties brand was also referenced in a kicky skater dress made of an extremely thin fabric called Alcantara, which was ink-jet-printed with a lavender design and then crinkled to give it a worn-in feel.

A full, couture-inspired skirt—made modern with a high-low hem—was printed with a speckled neon coral (that totally nineties color that falls right in between hot orange and hot red on the spectrum). Prints, as always, played a major role in Haynes’ work, but it would be interesting to see her take on solid pieces in a more serious way. She says she wants her collection to represent a real wardrobe; that’s possible, if she mixes it up just a bit.

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Michael Kors Fall 2013 RTW

You are fast-paced, athletic, and chic. You race all over from the Lower East to the Upper East Side…Make them die with envy!” Those were the notes for the models backstage at Michael Kors’ show this morning. The designer sometimes takes us on a trip to Aspen or New England for Fall. This season he stayed in town, with somewhat mixed results.

Feeling urban and sporty, he lifted taxicab yellow and caution orange from the New York streets and juxtaposed them with plenty of the city girl’s go-to black. Many of the tailored pieces seemed built for speed with rounded shoulders and aerodynamic double-face construction; black patent trim and taped seams evoked the world of car racing or maybe scuba. Goggles added to that feeling.

Mixing his metaphors, Kors also threw in all sorts of camouflage for the girls and the boys, most luxuriously in multicolor mink. That’ll get you noticed on the sidewalk. Still, he was most convincing when he played it low-key. Plenty of urban warriors at the show would kill for his charcoal gray wool melton overcoat and the pantsuit shown underneath it. A plonge leather cropped jacket and zipped-slit pencil skirt would really take girls places. Same goes for the designer’s clingy ribbed knits.

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Tocca Fall 2013 RTW

“It’s based on an ‘If I murdered my husband, this is the suit I’d wear to court’ kind of thing,” said Tocca designer Emma Fletcher at the brand’s presentation. It took no great leap to imagine the reformed Roxie Hart shimmying into Tocca’s black silk dress with inset diamonds of burnout velvet. Or perhaps she’d prefer the “Who, me?” ensemble of a lingerie pink silk cami spliced with French lace, shown tucked into a blush pink, calf-length A-line skirt with matching blazer.

On the more modern side was a lambskin leather dress with a fishnetlike panel over the chest that came from the Carlo Mollino photographs Fletcher’s been looking at, and some silky spaghetti-strapped slips of dresses. But best of all were the cover-ups. Coats, including a double-breasted herringbone number with leather-trimmed chevron pockets and a more formal black princess-seamed option, looked substantial enough to weather the current and any future storms. The overall effect was consistently Tocca: more vintage than pioneering, but just the sort of reserved yet seductive clothes that many women love to wear.

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