This Minute

Fall 2010 NY Fashion Week

Cynthia Rowley February 13th, 2010 — As a designer, Cynthia Rowley has been one of American fashion’s individualists for a long time now and her collection shown last night for Fall 2010 was no exception. Rowley has never been afraid to experiment and in this runway stroll, she played with texture: ostrich feathers, fringe, net, lace and satin were part of everyday outfits. And contrary to Rowley’s usual sunny, charming catwalk presentations, this show had a darker mood and a harder edge than we’ve seen from her before.

Some of her texture ideas worked very well indeed, like the series of asymetrically fringed dresses, tops, tunics and skirts done in darker black and navy, some with a hit of cobalt blue and plum scattered about. The black ostrich feather dress, skirt and collarless coat were also standouts, and a net, lace and ostrich sleeveless top was terrific. Her brightly colored laces and some of her prints were less successful, though the bird-printed parka was just the sort of amusing, iconoclastic piece you can count on her for. The printed leggings shown with the neutral print dresses were a really good version of a currently hot idea many designers have sent down the runway.

So, Rowley’s show was, on the whole, snappy, well-conceived and delivered and although it was not as cohesive as spring’s effort, she came up with many original ideas and quite a creative result. I have to interject here, though, what I have been wondering this morning after reading a major newspaper’s Rowley review, in which the main criticism was that the show wasn’t her usual upbeat presentation, and that venturing into unknown territory might be bad for her business. Aren’t designers supposed to be inventive and try new ideas? Aren’t they supposed to evolve? Just because a designer has always done a certain thing a certain way, must she be pigeon-holed? The show was a bit uneven, but at least Rowley does go out on a creative limb — which is not to be said about too many, especially in NY. And if she wants to be a bit dark, what’s the harm in that if it makes for good clothes? And, here the darkest, hardest-edged ones were her best.

Losing Alexander McQueen this week has put the spotlight on true creativity, or the lack there of, in a big way. I think talent that’s not afraid to show itself or make a mistake, should not be chided for trying something new. For a business that turns on change, that’s a bit self-defeating, isn’t it?

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