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Fall forward

By Samantha Critchell
Thursday, Feb. 14, 2013, 8:45 p.m.
 

NEW YORK — Rain, snow, ice. There's been a lot of grumbling about the stiletto-adverse weather at New York Fashion Week. But, there's a silver lining: cozy coats, especially styles with oversized fur hoods, never looked better.

The eight days of previews ended Thursday, when the crowds headed to London, then Milan and on to Paris.

Here are some highlights from the week:

Betsey Johnson

The tireless 71-year-old designer, best known for punky prom dresses and a lot of pink, introduced her fall collection as a theatrical exercise video for the Style Network program “Betsey and Lulu,” which follows the lives of Johnson and her daughter. It was a catwalk of energetic, giggly models in active wear chatting on cellphones as they waved to attendees, then an exercise routine led by the designer that included running in place, yoga and pull-ups. The collection, named “BJ Kicks A,” veered from the high-school dance-party looks that she has championed for decades, running toward a junior-high-school gym class with a lot of cheek. It was an explosion of neon pink and yellow, animal prints and plaids on mini dresses worn over leggings, a veritable visual feast piled over one another.

Tommy Hilfiger

At first, Hilfiger's looks, staged like a movie-set library, looked like they were built on the Savile Row-styled menswear and Ivy League prep-school uniforms he has played with for almost 30 years. There were houndstooth prints in every scale imaginable — on a coat, turtleneck, tuxedo pants and even a dickie — and probably even more plaid. Together on the runway, the collection evoked mod for 2013. The leather argyle-pattern shifts and shirtdresses could reintroduce his muses — and fashion icons — Twiggy, Mary Quant and Marianne Faithfull to a new generation.

Vera Wang

Wang has embraced a high level of artistry for her bridal and red-carpet customers, but it was new for her ready-to-wear line. The first look out was a refined black-wool sleeveless coat and a capelike collar that was paired with a racer-neckline shift dress. Wang folded fabric like origami to create wool-silk tops, and then topped them over the chest with a silk band. For eveningwear, if anyone could start the trend for trousers on the red carpet, it's Wang. Her finale rose-printed gray-jacquard chiffon blouse and delicate evening robe worn with gray rose-printed pants would be a strong contender.

Badgley Mischka

Mark Badgley and James Mischka are big movie buffs, and it shows in their clothes as they always seem attracted to silver-screen femme fatales. This time, the inspiration was Alfred Hitchcock movies — their favorite being “Vertigo.” Kim Novak as a muse makes so much sense, Badgley said. “She's confident with a little bit of a dark, sexy side.” She wears polished silhouettes such as pencil skirts, fur stoles, halter-top gowns and tops with peplums very well, which fits the Badgley Mischka aesthetic perfectly. This customer, though, also likes her shine. For fall, she gets a black-and-oyster lame dress, a metallic tweed suit and a jet-black silk and wool gown with a beaded back, cutout bodice and mermaid hemline.

Carolina Herrera

Her entire fall collection was inspired, she said, by a piece of classical music that she specifically commissioned for the show, by the English composer Tom Hodge.

“I started out light, just like the piece, and I reached a crescendo with my more dramatic clothes,” Herrera explained. The piece, “Capriccio for Carolina,” was, in turn, inspired by Beethoven's Kreutzer Violin Sonata.

As for the clothes, Herrera said she was inspired by the 1940s, especially in the shapes of sleeves and in the small waists of the garments. Fur was a constant theme, even small bits of it. A strapless silk cocktail dress had some fox trim across the top. A long, silky flowing skirt had fur trim around the bottom. Many garments had fur collars.

Thakoon

Nubby, shiny material familiar to varsity athletes surprisingly made sense on a coat that was paired with a goatskin collar shawl, lace-inset blouse and stretch-wool seamed pants. But Thakoon Panichgul put together a cohesive catwalk of seemingly unrelated modern neoprene, a space-age dandelion print, beaded dragonfly embroidery and wallpaper-inspired florals.

He hit on a few of the trends that seem to be emerging from these previews, including peplums and structured rounded shoulders, but his collection was not done with a heavy hand, leaving a pleasant trail of almost-vintagelike looks.

Donna Karan

The goal, she explained, was clothes that work for the woman always on the go, with many interests, demands and pleasures. That sure sounds like Karan. She called the collection “Sensual, Soulful, Sculptural,” and there's an emphasis on sculptural, making a dedication in her notes to her late husband, sculptor Stephan Weiss. “His art and soul — is a part of me.”

There was a rawness to the collection, and it seemed like it came from the heart. The opening look — one of the best — was a black draped “bodydress” with a fluid, almost-liquidlike, cape on top. It was modern yet timeless, and wearable to the large base Karan appeals to.

There were a lot of body-conscious stretch and jersey looks, as there usually are on this runway, many topped with coats that were textured and interesting and had a lot of design packed in.

3.1 Phillip Lim

You always have a feeling at one of Lim's shows that you're at one of the hipper events of New York Fashion Week. You can feel it in the audience, which has a decidedly downtown, indie-music vibe, and you can see it in the clothes. A big sartorial theme was embossed neoprene. Lim began with an overcoat in that fabric, in a fresh grapefruit color. Like many of his inventive creations, it had something detachable, in this case, a leather bib. Motorcycle jackets were big, too, and Lim showed a peplum version, paired with a gray pullover, a khaki shirt, and shorts — again in grapefruit neoprene.

Lim seemingly agrees with many designers this season that coats should be big — as in oversized — and comfy, and he showed a few.

Tory Burch

Burch has a confession she shared on the runway: “I love bugs — at least from a design standpoint.” She decorated a chiffon button-down shirt with scarabs and used jeweled ones on a silk skirt. Embellished dragonflies were subtly placed on some of the shoes — remember, Burch's roots are in accessories — making them an instant, must-have status symbol. But Burch didn't go looking in dark corners for inspiration. She tried to envelop metallic fabrics, the textures of Gustav Klimt's portraits and a free-spirited mood all into the overarching theme of Art Nouveau.

Zac Posen

Posen presented his smallest show in years, taking a breath from a whirlwind few months that included joining “Project Runway” as a judge. For a designer who thrives on flashbulbs, cameras and frenzy, the change might seem odd, but he said his intimate show at the Plaza Hotel was the best way to sharpen his focus in a collection that was thoughtful and intellectual. Part of Posen's signature are red-carpet gowns, such as the strapless, draped bustier ballgown worn by Crystal Renn and the architectural peplum gown with cutouts and sharp shoulders worn by Coco Rocha.

Ralph Rucci

Romantic violet is the base of Rucci's new collection. Rucci's brilliant shade of violet appeared in a “mink pullover” — the mere term a clear sign of how he is attempting to meld his signature luxury into more casual garments. The same color returned in dresses of wool jersey or crêpe, in a silk raincoat, in a sable coat, in a particularly well-proportioned cashmere suit, in a cashmere coat with leather embroidery, and even in filmy lace pajamas. And it appeared once more for the final, show-ending garment: a long wool gown with tulle insets.

Victoria, Victoria Beckham

Fresh off the positive feedback for her high-end label, Beckham offered “zip-and-go” dressing for her more affordable line. More affordable — but to a point, as Beckham herself acknowledged. “It's still expensive,” she noted, “but a little less, and maybe something more women can buy.” Beckham said she focused the collection on the concept of easy, quick dressing, citing her sleeveless gray wool jumper with a white button-down shirt attached inside.

Samantha Critchell is the AP fashion writer.

 

 
 


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