Tuesday, February 16, 2010

New York Fashion Week, 2/11 to 2/18

Packing my bags, what to wear, what to wear!

Richard Chai, Fall 2010

Richard Chai held his women’s runway show earlier than usual — the opening day of fashion week as opposed to the third day, as he did last season. That meant contending with two unexpected events that threatened to overshadow his show: the fallout from a brutal snowstorm that hit New York Wednesday and the shocking news ofAlexander McQueen’s death an hour or so before Mr. Chai’s show was set to begin.

It was an unenviable position for a designer. Luckily he put forth a confident collection that had enough wearability to make retailers happy, yet enough edge to satisfy fashion editors and artsy types.

That was no accident. The clothes included slouchy cropped pants, oversized tubular knitted sweaters, long tube skirts and dresses, and overly long long-sleeved shirts in muted colors like charcoal, cadet blue and pine. Even the shoes the models wore were a dulled silver. Together they comprised hisLove collection, a contemporary secondary line with prices that are about a third less than his main line. Thursday’s show even included T-shirts he designed for T-shirt purveyor Alternative Apparel.

It was the second season in a row that Mr. Chai chose to show his more affordable and accessible line on the runway rather than his high-end line. The aforementioned looks were practical, utilitarian and cozy — looks a girl might borrow from her boyfriend’s closet.

“A lot of it had to do with when I was an art student in the ’90s and all of my friends and girlfriends,” the designer explained backstage after the show. “They were nonchalant about dressing but I noticed how cool they always looked. I wanted to bring that energy and spirit into the collection but do it really luxe and beautiful and well-crafted.”

As the show progressed, there were some flashier pieces paired with more rugged looks. These pieces included a distressed pewter metallic sequin-embroidered double-breasted waistcoat, a smoke fox belly shawl collar coat and a sequin-embroidered ruffle dress. But each was paired with things like army green flounced-sleeve T-shirts and charcoal felted wool boyfriend coats.

Clearly Mr. Chai is trying to say, with love, that being more commercial doesn’t mean being boring.

-Ray Smith

Yigal Azrouël, Fall 2010

“I’m like a little kid when I begin designing each season,” explains Yigal Azrouël two days before his fall 2010 ready-to-wear collection hits the runway in New York. “I get very excited and have a million ideas floating around in my head.” With model castings and fittings in full swing, Azrouël, and stylist Kate Young, give us a glimpse at his “structured, cohesive” new collection, complete with killer bags, Manolo Blahnik shoes, and Pamela Love jewelry. The designer describes his relationship with Young as a “long happy marriage”—the two met in an elevator years ago and have been collaborating ever since. For fall, we can expect texture (think chunky knits with a structured shoulder), edge (sleek zipper and stud details), and, of course, subversive sexiness.

-Violet Moon Gaynor

Lacoste, Fall 2010

Optimism was the order of the day at Lacoste’s runway presentation Saturday morning, where creative director Christophe Lemaire pushed sales using smiles.

The Fall 2010 collection for the iconic French brand was full of rich hues and cozy styles. The runway was made of felt and lit to give it a bright mustard tone, making for a sunny stage. A sign behind the scenes instructed the models, akin to sullenness, to shed the pouts. “Be serene, happy and confident,” it read. “Stay strong and smiley. Still full of energy!!”

The clothes were classic sportswear. Billowy wools and jerseys were crafted into familiar silhouettes, including tunics and hooded or cowl-neck tops. There were belted jackets and sweater dresses, as well as jumpsuits for the women. Men wore pleated pants. Creams and whites gave way to vivid pinks and teals. The use of black in the color blocking towards the end of the show intensified the effect.

A highlight of the collection was the knit leggings that widened at the bottom to cover the high heels. Lemaire dubbed the design “longjohn [sic] leggings” and called them “his answer to sweatpants.” The look gave off something of a pants-cum-legwarmer appearance and had the same kind of feel that an extremely long-sleeved shirt has on covering the hands. It was a fresh take on what is becoming a staid trend, and was offered in a variety of colors, including fuchsia.

All of the looks were infinitely wearable, suggesting that what Lacoste lacks in high fashion, it makes up for in saleability. The audience was filled with executives and buyers from major department stores, including Saks, Bloomingdales and Macy’s. In the designer notes, Lemaire said that he was thinking about how “the runway translates to the rack.”

-Elizabeth Holmes

For the full ongoing schedule, a must see is http://www.mbfashionweek.com/newyork/
See ratings at http://blogs.wsj.com/runway/2010/02/12/mcqueen-dominates-yesterdays-buzz-richard-chai-and-bcbq-get-positive-reviews/

Jill Michelle Martinez

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