Fashion

Fashion Week 2009 - New York

Lisa Tant reports from New York Fashion Week



 


 


Fall 2009


[2.20.09]

Ralph Lauren


 
Ralph Lauren

Ralph Lauren
Photo: Anthea Simms

It’s the last day of Fashion Week in New York. Once Ralph Lauren shows this morning, many editors will be packing their bags and heading to London for its Fashion Week which officially starts today.

It’s frigid here today and the wind is whipping around the blocks. I abandon my Louboutins for some flat boots and take off.

Blake Lively and Laura Dern are here as is Lauren’s entire family including son David’s girlfriend Lauren Bush.

Lauren looks back to his past for a safe yet ultra-elegant collection. While the show has none of the thrill of past season’s luxing up of casual looks, this one delivers all of the items that he excels at from tweed blazers and jodphurs to LBD’s and simple red carpet stunners. New twists include heavily embroidered shearlings and metallic fringed flapper frocks. His new ‘face’ for the label’s advertising campaign is Ubah Hassan, a Canadian-based model. She’s in the show and looks gorgeous.

After an afternoon exploring Soho, I end my show week in Nolita where Montrealer Rad Hourani is showing.

Rad is one of the few Canadian designers with a singular – and admirable – vision. His look always focuses on skinny long layers in (mostly) black with an androgynous edge. This season his cropped pants, laddered legging/trousers, vests, tunics and toppers mix matte wool boucle with burnished leather, silver discs, shimmery gazar and suede. Everything goes together and while it’s shown on tall skinny lookalike male and female models, I could see the individual pieces in a more conservative mature wardrobe. Hamish Bowles from Vogue and Kate Lanphear from Elle are here so I hope to see his designs in major magazines soon.

Another season is finished. Time to pack and head home.

In summary, here are a few of the highlights:
Bold shoulders – shoulder pads are back!
80s – the brash styles of the 80s (from day glo hues to zippered bomber jackets) are coming ’round again
The silhouette – long and lean. Think power jackets with shoulder pads and skinny pants
Black – the staple defines Fall
Metallics – now a basic for day and night
Plus – draping, defined waists, cut-out details and Balmain-esque designs.

—Lisa Tant

 

 

[2.19.09]

Today is the last major day of fashion week with several heavy-hitters showing. One of my favourites, Vera Wang, has scaled down her show from the biggest theatre under the Tents to an imtimate presentation for 120 editors in her new ultra-chic Soho boutique. I head down early so I can enjoy a quiet breakfast at The Mercer Hotel. I’ll need some protein – a goat cheese omelette – to get through this day. It’s sunny now – my fingers are crossed that we won’t get hammered with rain like yesterday.

Vera’s show is inspired by art philanthropist Peggy Guggenheim and her life in Venice. I love the play of contrasts – matte scuba fabric (think neoprene) with shimmering silk gazar and bold rhinestone jewelry or sequin trim. My favourite piece is a bell skirted scuba jacket with a front bow. Divine! Can’t wait to go back and see the store full of designs tomorrow.

Tommy Hilfiger


 
Tommy Hilfiger

Tommy Hilfiger

Now it’s back to the Tents where Tommy Hilfiger has arranged for waiters offering mini mugs of morning chocolate for the audience. I resist – I’ve had so much sugar this week that I’m bound to explode and leave a tiny pile of sugar dust in my wake.

Tommy notes Fifth Avenue – the site of a new flagship opening this fall – as his Fall 09 inspiration. He concentrates on sleek toppers and simple dresses that capture the essence of New York style. These are money-in-the-bank clothes – smart pieces to last a lifetime. Smart styling idea: wear a metallic blouse under your work-worthy grey suit.

A quick break before I head downtown to catch PHI.

Ports 1961


 
Ports 1961

Ports 1961

The blue skies are turning an ominous grey – not a good sign for all of the running around I have to do today. Fingers crossed that the rain holds off.

I always love the structural perspective presented at PHI. The show features sexy lean and tough zippered bombers, second-skin sequinned dresses and the most marvelous ‘creeper’ footwear inspired by ‘brothel creeper’ shoes with their heavy soles. Most of the pieces are in black which is emerging as the season’s dominant tone.

After lunch, I go to the New York Library for a brief showing of Isaac Mizrahi’s signature collection. Isaac also designs for Liz Claiborne. Back in the 90s, Mizrahi was a huge draw at Fashion Week so I had high expectations for this show. While there were plenty of wearable pieces – a cocoon shearling coat, a colour blocked drawstring dress – the collection lacked polish. Sheer garments under sequinned gowns revealed the

Tia Cibani


 
Tia Cibani

Tia Cibani

models squished-in breasts and the handbags that were fashioned into hats were gimmicky and distracting. Very disappointing.

I dash back to the Tents for Ports 1961. This season, designer Tia Cibani chooses the rich cultural history of India’s Mughal Dynasty as her ‘port’ of call. Shimmery metallics – in pleats, embroidery and brocade – defined cropped jackets, shaped coats and draped dresses. This worked best in modern cuts – not the dropped crotch pants and fitted traditional Indian style coast. But as with many Ports’ collections, this look got tired – and costumey – fast.

Calvin Klein


 
Calvin Klein

Fierce boots at Calvin Klein

A quick break at Starbucks before one of the week’s highlight shows – Calvin Klein.

It’s a double-header tonight. First up is Calvin Klein. I always feel so privileged to see this collection up close. Online slideshows gloss over the intricate details in structure and fabric texture. Designer Francisco Costa put texture in the spotlight of this mostly black Fall show – and what a mix it was. The opening pieces mixed wool and silk jacquard to maximum effect. Other fabrics looked like perforated or crackled leather, while a series of black stretch crepe dresses highlighted plisse front panels. A standout for me was a burnished silver topper and the black calf hair boots with a translucent heel. Shoulders were big and bold – get ready for shoulder pads come fall!

Calvin Klein


 
Calvin Klein

Calvin Klein

Back at the hotel I check out a website that everybody’s buzzing about – www.modelinia.com. Like the name suggests, it’s all about models with videos, guest bloggers and fashion and beauty ideas. The best thing about the models this season is the variety of different skin tones. Maybe it’s the Obama effect? Or maybe designers just smartened up but the diversity on the runway is very ‘now’ and long overdue. I keep bumping into Coco Rocha who’s filming a special for E! She’s a natural performer and will definitely be a tv or film star in the not-too-distant future.

Coco Rocha at Zac Posen


 
Coco Rocha at Zac Posen

Coco Rocha at Zac Posen

After dinner, I head back to the Tents (I could walk that path blindfolded now) to wade into the chaos of Zac Posen’s show. Five pianos are lined up down the runway. Designers may be trimming their budgets but I would think that a live band would be more expensive than mixed music. So far I’ve seen live performances at Donna Karan, Isaac Mizrahi, Phillip Lim, and Ports 1961.

Anyway, back to Zac. The piano virtuosos are The 5 Browns, (two) brothers and (three) sisters whose music accompanies the parade of models. I’m not normally a big fan of Zac’s – he never met a frill he didn’t want to slap all over a garment. Tonight is different. The mix of classical piano with his whimsical Victorian romanticism is breathtaking. The best pieces are the ruffled blouse and skirt suit plus a few simpler red carpet gowns marked by dramatic necklines and swishy skirts. I love the nude sparkly tights and transparent boots with velvet heels and toes. It’s all overwrought with a generous helping of cheese but the crowd eats it up. It’s hard not to laugh at models like Vlada and Coco who ham it up for the photographers, and Lara Stone and Freya who do their usual stomp and grimace while decked out in ultra-girly ruffles. Nicole Ritchie, Claire Danes, Alicia Keys and

Zac Posen and Paz de la Huerta


 
Zac Posen and Paz de la Huerta

Zac Posen and Paz de la Huerta

the ubiquitous Joy Brant are here and even Anna Wintour is smiling. Patricia Field roars with laughter at the finale. She’s sitting across from me. She’s wearing a striped scarf turban-style, flashy red glasses, a black jacket and pink pants with silver shoes. Oh – and red gloves that match her hair – and she sits like a man. The editors on either side are leaning as far away as possible. What a fun night – crazy characters and great fashion. Plus Zac looks like a vaudeville star as he takes his bow with gal pal Paz de la Huerta. It doesn’t get much better than this.
—Lisa Tant

 

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[2.18.09]

Michael Kors


 
Michael Kors

Michael Kors

Day 6
I make my most important purchase of the week – a pair of gel heels to cushion my sore feet. It’s going to be a long day and my feet need all the help they can get.

First up is Michael Kors. You can always rely on this all-American treasure to create a line of gorgeous investment suits and dresses. He starts with classic black, cream, grey and camel and that electrifies the palette with shots of neon green safety cone orange and screaming pink. The effect is fun yet chic – one can only imagine how a lime green fur trapper hat would brighten a grey snowy TO day!

Oscar de la Renta


 
Oscar de la Renta

Oscar de la Renta

I take off uptown to take care of two essentials: a quick manicure and visit to Dylan’s Candy Bar. A little sugar is the perfect accompaniment to Oscar de la Renta’s frothy red carpet gowns.

Yikes! What happened, Oscar?! The models hair is styled in a squashed Gibson Girl bouffant making the young beauties look like freeze-dried grannies. I see some simple suits, a flurry of fur, some colour blocking, cougar-worthy jackets and some really bad wide belts – but the hideous hair takes over. It makes every piece look dated. Disappointing because Oscar normally produces such a stunning spectacle.

Phillip Lim


 
Phillip Lim

3.1 Phillip Lim

After a quick bite to eat, I’m back at the Tents to see 3.1 Phillip Lim. What’s the 3.1 stand for again? Something about his age… Whatever – the line is cute and full of youthful energy. Other than the Beatlesque mop wigs (what’s with the hair today?!), the show is strong and features tons of great pieces that fashionettes will clamour for – cream frock coats, relaxed jumpsuits, sequinned trimmed vests and frocks, woolly hair toppers and a gorgeous loose jacket detailed with Spanish-inspired soutache braid. Another hit for one of New York’s hottest names.

Marchesa


 
Marchesa

Marchesa

I splash through the cold rain (at least it’s not snow – yet!) to check out Marchesa at the Chelsea Art Gallery. What a smart presentation – especially of intricate red carpet gowns. Models stand on a platform so we can get right up close to inspect the gorgeous details like showers of sequins, bugle beaded ribbon bows and clusters of flowers. The only bad part? The poor girls are perched in killer Louboutins and aren’t supposed to move. One gets a leg cramp and InStyle’s Hal Rubinstein lifts the teary teen off her stage and carries her to safety. I chat with designer Georgina Chapman while her own Mr. Big, Harvey Weinstein, stands by. I expect to see a couple of these stunning entrance-making gowns on Oscar night on Sunday.

The rain is lashing the street so I grab the first (and only) cab I see and hightail it back to the Tents. Unfortunately I miss one of my favourites – Doo.Ri – but in this weather at dinner time, I’ll never get a return cab.

Anna Sui


 
Anna Sui

Anna Sui

I’m sitting behind a British twinklet at Anna Sui – a Peach or Cherry or Banana Geldof – whatever. The photographers flash like mad. There’s a couple of Gossip Girls, a Misshape and a supermodel roaming the catwalk. Agyness opens the show – what a difference a model with personality makes. The show is classic Sui – girly frilled dresses, beaded velvet coats and sweet floral skirts topped with feathered and beaded toques and finished with stomping boots. Can’t help but bring a smile to one’s face.

My last show of the night is by Mackage, the coat designers from Montreal. Perfect night to showcase coats – we’ll all be in a buying mood after this cold night. Mackage usually show their coat collection in Toronto so I figure they must be showing more – a line extension perhaps – if they’re splashing out on a New York extravaganza but – no it’s just coats and some weird buckled half-legging thingies. It’s like a show of just suits or only dresses – all appetizer when you’re starving for a full course. Never mind, I’m feeling half dead so I stagger back to the hotel and head to bed.
—Lisa Tant

 

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[2.17.09]

Day 5
A little glitz is a good way to start any day. Today that comes courtesy of a breakfast presentation by Ivanka Trump of her fine jewelry collection. “My mother is a great barometer of luxury and what people will like” she says of her glamourama mama Ivana Trump. “She bought these earrings – at a great discount! – and they’re our best sellers.” The 27 year old Trump fingers the mixed cut diamond oversized oval hoops she’s wearing. Ivanka is the collection’s best model – tall and poised with a warm friendly manner – she’s also wearing a diamond band and bracelet with a simple navy Theory dress. It’s obvious that she knows her business as she discusses her jewelry brand in one minute and then her construction job with her father’s company the next. Will she wear her fabulous hoops with her construction boots? “Probably not,” she grins.

Elijah Wood and Pamela Racine


 
Elijah Wood and Pamela Racine

Frodo and gal pal Pamela Racine.
Photography by Anthea Simms

Frodo is an unlikely fan at Rodarte – actor Elijah Wood’s girlfriend works for the Mulleavy sisters. The raw wood frame and insulation construction inside the warehouse space smells fresh – like strong glue. The show is a futuristic mix of influences – construction cement shown in marbled leathers with old photo printing techniques and their usual Mad Max meets Alien styling. Each of the minis – a pastiche of crafty yarns, snakeskin, sheers and beading – are paired with thigh-high wrapped and buckled leather boots. Standouts include the buckled motorcycle jackets and splashes of colour – emerald green and gold – in the finale. The creativity of the Mulleavy sisters never ceases to amaze me. What is surprising is how they stay in business with these couture-type clothes that would likely disintegrate with one visit to the dry cleaners. Thank goodness they’re still here though – their innovation is awe-inspiring.

A short ride uptown and I’m at Derek Lam’s show. Lam has taken up the mantle of classic American sportswear creator. His pieces are wearable without being dull – I especially loved the draped navy jersey dress with shimmery gold short sleeves. So far this season, he’s the only designer showing a lot of fur – his came in short jackets and as deep collars on trench coats.


Diesel Black


 
Diesel Black

Dirty 30s at Diesel Black

I’m six very long blocks from the Tents but at this point, cabs are scarce so I start walking. I arrive in time to catch Diesel’s Black Label show. Inspired by the jazz age, the show opens with a live jazz trio. The clothes have a Dirty 30s vibe – mens wear inspired patchwork plaids in jackets and skinny trousers, washed out cardigans, slip dresses – depressing clothes from a depressing era for a newly depressing time. Not the best way to get shoppers excited. Front row attendees Kate Bosworth and Nicole Ritchie look pretty happy though.

After wolfing down lunch – my eating habits are a mess this week – I hop in a cab back to the Lexington Armoury for the Marc by Marc Jacobs show. It’s a bigger crowd than last night but less of a zoo than previous years. Looks like everyone is on time. My friends from Holt Renfrew almost missed last night’s Marc Jacobs show when they arrived right at 8pm!

Ka-ching! The sound of money in the bank from this superb collection. I sometimes find Marc by Marc to be a little too cutesy but this time it’s full of superb looks that will appeal to all of his customers. The look reminds me of a younger fresher Annie Hall at first and then evolves into a military feel. Fitted herringbone blazers are belted over striped trousers tucked into furry boots. Nipped waist peplum sweater dresses are paired with wide horizontal striped tights and slouchy suede boots with floppy ankle ties. Most outfits are topped with banded wool felt hats. I’m sitting next to Bryanboy, the blogger – and obsessive Jacobs fan from the Phillipines who’s here as Marc’s guest. He pulls a camera out of his Chanel purse and starts snapping away.

This is the third time that Max and Lubov Azria will be taking a bow under the Tents. I’ve seen BCBG Max Azria, Herve Leger by Max Azria, and now just Max Azria. It’s described as a darkly seductive collection – and black is the dominant message. The overall look is based on lace and leggings – lacy black bodysuits under sheer striped bustier dresses for example. The show is right in step with the dominant prominent shoulder trend. Every season in New York, designers appear to be subconsciously inspired by one designer. Prada is usually the dominator but this season I see Balmain everywhere in sexy cut-outs and boxed shoulder caps. It’s no different here at Max Azria.

While some of the individual pieces are lovely though, overall the show is flat.

Narciso Rodriguez


 
Narciso Rodriguez

Narciso Rodriguez
Photo: Anthea Simms

I take time to have dinner tonight. No burger on the run but an actual meal. One of my best friends lives in New York so we spend some time catching up before I head back to the Tents to see Narciso Rodriguez. His shows are normally in a warehouse or art gallery on a deserted lower westside street so I’m quite happy to be so close to ‘home’. I can’t stop staring at the woman across from me. She’s wearing one of Prada’s berry satin turbans but it looks like a bike helmet.

Narciso is a champion of lean sexy silhouettes and cut-out details so he’s in his element this season. His ski pants and toppers are superb and I especially love an inky navy print that evolves to deep purple. I could do without the lime and coral bandage dresses – Herve Leger already owns that look – and the black and white inkblot leggings and coat that look like a cow pattern. Same goes for the bucket hats with slits for eyes. Overall though it’s strong, sexy and appealing – just what today’s power girl is looking for.

Another night done. I miss the opening party of Giorgio Armani’s Fifth Avenue flagship store. Will check it out tomorrow.
Lisa Tant

 

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[2.16.09]

Day 4
It may be a holiday here in New York – President’s Day – but everyone turns out in full force for the queen of NY fashion – Carolina Herrera. Her ultra-luxe show focuses on rich deep colours (teal, purple, forest green, metallic bronze) in slim silhouettes (high waisted pencil skirts, sheath dresses and lean trousers) with ornate belts. The look is rich and austere rather than showy or glitzy – a stunning collection sure to appeal to Herrera’s #1 fan Renee Zellweger.

Next I head to the tent next door to see Carlos Miele. The designer’s friend, Brazilian instrumentalist Max de Castro, performs the show’s music. As the dreadlocked guitar strumming musician begins his dance down the runway, the photographers go nuts. “Get out of the way!!” they holler as Max twirls from one side of the runway to the other. I’m not sure if Max understands – or even hears their shrieking – he’s in his own world. The antics are delightful and so much better than the gowns and fur jackets that are yawners from start to finish.

All the fracas makes me hungry. Time for lunch.


I head down to the Meatpacking District to see if Christian Louboutin’s store is open. It’s closed every time I’m here but this time I’m lucky! Alas they have a small unimpressive selection – I’m after the newest fringed booties – and nothing in my size. How can they have no 38s at the beginning of the season?? Anyway, I’ve saved a ton of money so I console myself with brunch at Pastis – packed as usual. The Sartorialist Scott Schuman is here as is Anna Wintour.

I walk down to 10th St for Donna Karan’s show. Like her DKNY label, this collection is based upon two essential and economy-savvy pieces: a black jersey top and lean pencil skirt. This collection goes back to Donna’s roots of sensual dressing for powerful women. Her pieces either hug the body and then unfold in silky drapes or feature cowls that cascade down curves. Jackets with wide portrait collars are belted to nip in the waist. Colours are rich from purple to gunmetal. Accessories include shiny ball collars, deep fur gauntlets and croc stilettos. Money in the bank for Donna’s savvy investment shoppers – and a more sophisticated choice for Michelle Obama. Gorgeous!

Obama has worn several of Thakoon’s distinctive print dresses so Eyebeam Studio is packed to see what might be in her wardrobe next. Not much from the looks of this show. There are two dull prints in navy and the rest is marked by ragged edged slashing, unfinished ruffles and a few coloured furs. Really disappointing.

I take the rest of the afternoon off – other than an expedition to Saks – to get ready for Marc Jacobs, the most hotly anticipated show of the week.


Marc Jacobs


 
Marc Jacobs

Marc Jacobs
Photo: Anthea Simms

Civility is the biggest trend at New York Fashion Week and who better to champion it than Marc Jacobs. The designer’s signature shows are always a madhouse of 2000+ celebrities and fashionistas jammed into the Lexington Armoury. Tonight he’s cut his list to just 700 lucky souls. Instead of a massive stage, there are spacious rows of chairs giving all of us a coveted front row seat – truly heaven. I’ve spent enough time in this place jammed on a hard aluminum bleacher waiting for hours. But not this time. The invitation states 8pm but at 7:58pm, the lights flick off and the first model hits the runway. There are dozens of empty seats and anyone foolish enough to have gone to the 7pm William Rast show (Justin Timberlake is associated with that label) will arrive long after I’m on my way back to the hotel.

Where to begin? Every season Marc flips fashion upside down and explores a different theme or era. Last season he played with a Mary Poppins vibe, this time he let loose with a joyous spin on the 80s. Imagine the love child of Billy Idol and Siouxsie Sioux with the B52s as godparents. This was 80s fashion at its wackiest. It started with teased, flipped and sprayed Marge Simpson hair, then moved to fuchsia eyeshadow with winged black eyeliner. As for the clothes, think coloured acid-washed pleated jeans with peg legs, linebacker shoulder padded jackets, metallic handkerchief hemmed minis and pouffy short skirts most paired with black opaque tights and clunky shoes with upturned toes and angled-in heels – a bit Who-ville. All completely nuts the average person might think … but not really. Once you strip away the theatrics, there were plenty of perfectly wearable pieces amidst the parade of 60 models. I’m coveting the black floral metallic topper with a curved back. Marc took a quick bow and it was all over 10 minutes later. Many people have asked me if fashion shows are like cocktail parties with champagne and canapés. Far from it. It’s a mad dash to find a cab in Manhattan at night, then a white knuckle ride to your destination – this one an old armoury – an often interminable wait for the show to start and then boom it’s over 10 minutes later and we all tear off to the next one! This year, Marc has cancelled his after-party so it’s an early night tucked into bed with a good magazine. And that’s another night wrapped up.
Lisa Tant

 

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[2.15.09]

Day 3
It’s a bright brisk morning. I’m glad I wore my tights I think as I look down at the blue-tinged bare feet (glad in the best heels of course) of the girl next to me.

First up is Preen. Phillip Green, the head of UK’s hottest fast-fashion destination TopShop, is here along with a gaggle of NY socialites, singer Roisin Murphy and Kanye West who arrives at the last moment toting an oversized camouflage Vuitton duffle. What could possibly be in there?? It looks empty and no doubt his driver is waiting outside the door. I’m surprised that PETA hasn’t made an appearance yet. The runways may not be awash in fur but many front row editors are.

Preen shows an uneven mix of bare cut-out mini dresses and woolly haired toppers trimmed with curly lamb fur. Preen may have been turning out dresses like these already but the Balmain rocker chick trend is popping up everywhere from diverse labels as Nicole Miller to Alexander Wang. The fit has to be impeccable – these ones just look awkward.

I head further downtown to the DKNY show. I always like the street-smart wearable looks Donna Karan shows. Today’s show doesn’t have its usual youthful edge. The clothes are good but very safe and geared towards a working girl looking for simple and conservative outfits. Most of the outfits are based on a black stretch turtleneck. Next come below-the-knee pencil skirts topped by wrapped knits and boxy bracelet sleeve toppers. Apple green and rhubarb pink jazz up all the black. The overall impact is nice but boring.

A bevy of starlets are expected at Herve Leger by Max Azria. The empty seat beside me says ‘VIP Guest’ so I imagine it will be soon filled by a young twinklet in one of the label’s bandage-wrapped frocks. The key to making these dresses work is simplicity – everything else in the look needs to be subtle. Guess the girl who’s posing down the runway missed that memo. Her hair is piled high, her dress is cut devilishly low to reveal an enhanced chest and then she’s added a matching raspberry-hued fur stole, dark sunglasses, lime green hooker heels and gobs of jewelry. I’m tempted to open the umbrella left on every seat to shield my eyes.

So far the celebs include Lucy Liu, Gossip Girl’s Michelle Trachtenberg, Sophia Bush and Mad Men’s January Jones – plus a bunch of mystery others. The ‘VIP’ next to me turns out to be a grandmotherly seat crasher.

‘Urban tribe’ is the inspiration – the basic tight bandage wrap is featured in earthy shades from ochre to moss and trimmed with panels of beading, snakeskin, pailettes and / or boucle wool. Newness comes from boxy shoulder caps and shimmery capelet tops. While it would be nice to see a few more simple interpretations, this collection is bound to be another red carpet hit – as long as starlets or wannabes have killer bodies to flaunt.

Diane von Furstenberg


 
Diane von Furstenberg

Skinny pants and roomy knits at DVF

I have a quick break before Diane von Furstenberg’s show so it’s time for a late lunch. DVF’s program describes a constant traveler – a modern nomad. The face of her ad campaign is here – model Natalia Vodianova with two of her children. Plus, I’ve spotted a motley crew that includes: Heidi Klum, Julia Stiles, Tim Gunn, Molly Sims, Diana Ross and Diane’s gazillionaire hubby Barry Diller.

DVF’s inspiration comes from around the globe – carpet patterns, animal prints and Highland plaids with lots of texture and sequins for good measure. Once the pompom hats and over-layering are stripped away, it’s another solid collection packed with skinny pants, roomy knits and sleek dresses and tunics. The designer is as much of a celebrity as her front row. Where most designers take a quick bow and exit stage left, she (and her key associate) takes a leisurely stroll down the runway stopping to air kiss friends and wave at fans.

Creepy sighting of the week. A fresh-faced little girl (10 years old if that) teetering to her seat in sky-high Louboutins.

One of the biggest challenges in New York is getting from show to show. Cabs may seem plentiful but finding one on duty to get you to midtown then downtown and back all within an hour can be a nightmare. This season I’m sacrificing several shows due to these nutty logistics.

Next up is Jonathan Saunders, a popular Scottish designer who now shows his graphic colour blocking and lean shape in New York. His collection blows me away – it’s easily the best I’ve seen so far. His look is very modern – no obvious retro influences – with very sharp defined shoulders, strong colour blocking (red, gold and black), digital prints, lean shapes with some tiering, nipped waists and impossibly high Louboutin heels. His message is strong power dressing perfect for uncertain times. Cutesy boho doll looks seem so wrong next to this. And strong shoulders – seen in most every collection – are the answer for times when we feel like we’re carrying the weight of the world. Very impressive.

Erin Fetherston


 
Erin Fetherston

An edgy feminine look at Erin Fetherston

Instead of racing back up to Bryant Park, I walk over a few blocks to check out the presentation by Greta Constantine – the first time Toronto-based Kirk Pickersgill and Stephen Wong are showing in NY. Their presentation shows the evolution of this stunning label. Bold bronze squares covered in mesh decorate the neckline of a liquid floor-length gown. The same mesh is layered over their signature jerseys to give a watery effect. The label is earning fans including Queen Rania of Jordan and stores such as Harrods. Their show is a highlight every season in Toronto.

I have enough time to hop in a cab and catch Erin Fetherston’s show. The cherubic Californian first came on my radar a few years ago. Known for her girly sweet looks, she excels again with a feminine collection tempered with a hard edge – think a cranberry and black palette with jailbird striped tights and sky-high patent stilettos. Even girly Peter Pan collars, puffed sleeves and ruffled edges look right with her new darker romantic side. The effect is like a goth Alice in Wonderland complete with stiffened teacup skirts, cropped jackets with marked puff sleeves and sheer dot blouses.

Miss Sixty


 
Miss Sixty

Next up is the chaos of Miss Sixty where the paparazzi literally fall all over Mischa Barton to get photos. Most don’t even see Rufus Wainwright in their panic to catch the newly red-haired Coco Rocha – this time in the front row, not on the runway. Inspiration comes from the 80s with a pop and punk spin in super skinny acid washed jeans and jumpsuits, playful print dresses (artist Roy Lichtenstein influenced the print) and studded biker leathers.

It’s the end of a long – but good – day.
Lisa Tant

 

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[2.14.09]

Lacoste


 
Lacoste

Lacoste

Day 2
Today’s lighter schedule may be due to Valentine’s Day but there are some key shows on the schedule. I’m up early to catch Lacoste. The label’s signature focuses on luxe sportswear with easy knit layers and cheery colours. The show starts with an Annie Hall vibe – a men’s wear feel marked with ties, boyfriend jackets and knit pants tucked into knee-high leggings that stretch into boots. According to the collection notes, the next part is ‘Princess Leia meets 60s Courreges’. All I see is more of the same but in pale blue and sunflower yellow. Not sure where Leia figures in that!

Lisa Tant


 
Lisa Tant

Lisa Tant
Photo: Anthea Simms

And in the name of anti-Love is a mini scandal brewing about a front row attendee at yesterday’s Yigal Azrouel show. That would be Ashley Dupre, the infamous call girl hired by disgraced NY politician Eliot Spitzer. Apparently, Azrouel’s PR firm claimed that Dupre had crashed the show but later admitted that she had been invited. Looks like that PR firm will be looking for a new gig next season. The designer was horrified that the call girl had snatched attention from his show – and that he had been chided for scraping the bottom of the celebrity barrel – ouch!


Next up is VPL by Victoria Bartlett. I’ve never been to one of her shows so I’m looking forward it. The line cleverly turns innerwear – bras, loungewear – into edgy streetwear. I like the skeleton bras with bandage like strapping paired with jersey zouave pants. A trend that is emerging is structured architectural shapes – such as a zip-front topper with a cocoon back and bell sleeves.

I grab a quick salad for lunch which means missing a show. I’ll fall over without it – and I’ll need the energy to deal with the chaos that is sure to greet me at the Barbie show.

Barbie


 
Barbie

The plastic icon comes to life

That’s right, Mattel is putting on a fashion show to celebrate Barbie’s 50th birthday. Why a plastic doll should get a fashion show under the Tents is beyond me. Money I guess to fund the whole show week – and it’s attracted a ridiculous crush of people dragging little girls in. The crowd embraces the mood – I haven’t seen so much pink, sprayed coifs and makeup spackle since I used to pull my Barbies apart. Designers Bob Mackie, Kenneth Cole and Diane von Furstenberg are here as is bon vivant Simon Doonan and his partner furniture designer Jonathon Adler, plus a very pregnant Kimora Lee Simmons and fiancé Djimon Hounsou. Photographer Annie Liebovitz is playing Barbies in the front row with the child next to her. I see Canadian designer David Dixon out front – he’s designed a collection for Toronto Fashion Week. There’s a pink clad Barbie posing in front of me. The little girls beside me are delighted but I can tell that Barbie is a dude – nice. And yes, there’s a Barbie on my seat. Heidi Klum sits in front of me and the photographers go nuts. Great. I am now blind.

A group of designers ranging from Michael Kors and Jeremy Scott and Christian Louboutin have all contributed pieces. The show is pretty much what I expect – models dolled up to look like Barbie in sexy flirty dresses. The finale features the usual model parade with the models hand-in-hand with little girls in Barbie tees and tutus. It’s all very sweet but sexually charged – the show has perfectly captured the contradiction that the doll is all about.

I grab a Starbucks and then head uptown for a dose of real cool fashion courtesy of one of the hottest young designers in town, Alexander Wang.


Alexander Wang


 
Alexander Wang

Alexander Wang
Photo: Anthea Simms

The invite says 5pm but the only show we arrive on time for is now Marc Jacobs. Alexander Wang has us lining around the block. I can’t wait to get these heels off. My feet now feel like hooves and my patience is running thin. My entertainment in line is the vapid musing of the girl behind me “Omigod -Like my friend went to Africa and got malaria. He lost so much weight. Like you know malaria is so sexy.”

Inside, the Roseland Ballroom is rocking. Sarah Jessica Parker is sitting next to Anna Wintour. Vogue’s Virginia Smith is sitting next to my fashion crush and (alas) her husband Gap designer Patrick Robinson.

Wang sticks to his signature look of lean sexy biker street style. His pants are either skin-tight leggings and biker shorts or lean toreador pants paired with cropped leather jackets and croc combat boots. I love a bare back croc leather jacket and a high waist skirt, plus another leather capelet style jacket with full leg o mutton style sleeves. Wang is also known for his jewelry. This season earrings hug the curve of the ear in a skeletal shape. To the tune of Thriller, Wang exuberantly skips on to the runway to take his bow.

The recession hasn’t seemed to slow down New York. The city is humming with tourists and high end stores appear to be busy. Louis Vuitton is packed and shoppers are snapping up the bags and scarves inspired by the late Stephen Sprouse. They should be cool but instead come across as garish. By contrast, the new Miu Miu store down the block is quiet. A group of distressed linen dresses have frayed holes torn into them. To my question of “how dumb is this?” the salesman sniffs – “that’s the runway collection”. My bet is they’ll have to give that garbage away at the end of the season.
Lisa Tant

 

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[2.13.09]

Day 1
Barbie has taken over the Tents in Bryant Park. Hot pink, the plastic princess’ signature colour, is splashed all over bags and signs and the fountain inside features a large Barbie display adorned with dozens of dolls and plastic pink apples. The bags given to visiting editors are bright pink plastic featuring a giant Barbie face. Eek. In another corner there’s a McDonalds Cafe, a Diet Coke stand, and several hair and makeup product booths – I feel like I’m at a mall.

Jason Wu


 
Jason Wu

Jason Wu
Photo: Anthea Simms

My flight was delayed due to the high winds in NY so I miss the season’s most sought-after show by Jason Wu. The 26 year old newcomer is one of Michelle Obama’s preferred designers. She chose one of his gowns for the inauguration and a dress for the cover of Vogue.

So my first show is BCBG Max Azria. The label is expanding across Canada and was featured on our November cover (on Emma Watson) so I’m looking forward to the show. The parade of dresses cleverly accessorized with Lurex tights doesn’t disappoint. The pieces are either structured with defined shoulders, wrapped waists and asymmetric pleating or softly draped in dusty toned jerseys. I love the textured silk dresses subtly hand painted with bloom-like details. The closing velvet gowns suggest a Deco influence – all very pretty and sophisticated.

Trivia note: the supper club at my hotel features Tom Wopat in March. Correct me if I’m wrong but wasn’t he a Duke of Hazzard?


I like cupcakes – ok, they’re my favourite food. Every time I come to New York I always head down to the Marc by Marc store with a side trip to the Magnolia Bakery. Their creamy frosted cupcakes were made famous on Sex and the City – there’s still usually a line-up around the block. Now I can scoot up to 49th and 6th uptown to the brand new location. It’s bigger, modern and spic and span but you’ll still have to wait in a long, long line.

I don’t expect to see many celebrities this season. The big guns are all in LA prepping for the Oscars. But it looks like there’s lots of twinklets here – you can spot these baby starlets by their self-conscious deer-in-headlights looks, coiled blonde locks, glossy lips, candy-coloured dresses and stilettos they have trouble standing up in. I only recognize Amanda Bynes. “Whoopie-ding” as my ten year old self would have scoffed. The only other ‘celeb’ I spot is model who’s wearing a sparkly leopard face knit hat complete with whiskers. Seriously. I can’t make this stuff up.

Nicole Miller


 
Nicole Miller

Grid patterns at Nicole Miller

Next I head back to the Tents for Nicole Miller’s show. Author Candace Bushnell is greeted with a paparazzi flashing spree. I like her books – always a good trashy read – but best of all, I like her. At 50, she’s got a voice that sounds like a classic New Yawk truck driver and she’s a straight shooter with a no-shit wit.

Miller’s collection takes its cue from NY skyscrapers. Grid patterns trace prints on dresses and tunics that are paired with cocoon style toppers and one great leather vest – worn by Canada’s own Alana who sports a chic fringe this season. I could do without the Balmain knock-off dress.
Lisa Tant

 

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[2.12.09]

Lisa Tant


 
Lisa Tant

Lisa Tant
Photo: George Pimentel

New York, New York!
New York Fashion Week officially starts today and, although I don’t arrive until mid-day tomorrow, I’ve already seen my first show! This morning, Halston revealed a digital viewing of their Fall 2009 collection instead of a traditional runway show. The short movie features model Dree Hemingway (Ernest’s granddaughter), dressed in a floaty yellow gown, running along the streets of New York. She passes by other Halston-clad models posing in cars, on steps and even on hotel porter carts. Granted, the idea is interesting – and likely much less costly than a six-figure Manhattan runway show – but I’m left without any idea of what the collection actually looks like. On my desktop, the images appear blurry and after 30 seconds, the floaty yellow sprinter runs out of gas.

Halston


 
Halston

Halston
Photo: Anthea Simms

What has always made Halston special are the luxurious fabrics, intensity of colour, and inventive details and cuts that are so subtle yet dramatic. I suspect that more design houses will explore this digital route in the future, but there’s no comparison to a staged runway show. Check it out on www.halston.com/fall2009.
Lisa Tant

 

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