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At The Tents

Isaac Mizrahi February 18th, 2010 — Today, Isaac Mizrahi was my last show ever (!) at the Bryant Park tents. It’s incredible to think the BP Tents will be no more. (As the whole world knows by now, the NY shows are moving up to Lincoln Center next season to free up BP “for the people” as the city wanted.)

I really can’t say enough good things about what amazing venue BP has been for the last 18 years for New York fashion– central, easy to get to, organized, glamorous, comfortable, fun and a real luxury to have, especially knowing the scattered, late-running, transportation and crowd control nightmare the NY shows used to be when I first became an editor. BP has been the center of the fashion universe for two weeks every year since then and it has cemented the polish, poise and presentation of many a designer, including some of the biggest names out there right now. Its catwalks readied these designers for the bigger world stage, and many literally grew up right under the granite lobby fountain there.

One of those was certainly Isaac Mizrahi himself, who began his company in 1988, but reached a new level of finesse as a designer with his mid-nineties collections and large audience presentations at the Tents. And no one appreciates a quintessentially New York story like the tents more than Isaac, who’s a real native New Yorker and New York storyteller himself. (Can’t you just see him in a musical about BP Fashion Week “Under The Fountain” ?) And, this Fall 2010 collection of his was an ode to New York and another park he loves – specifically Central Park.

Isaac has always been brilliant at grabbing a theme and running with it for his collections, and this one was a tour de force. Fall/winter camping in New York’s most famous 800 acres was the conceit and green, orange, and gold leafy autumn scrims hung from the ceiling and a gray cement sidewalk surfaced the runway.

The first segment, “Parka Avenue”, featured some great shiny loden-color puffer jackets, quilted dresses — including a great strapless zip one and a leaf patterned pouf vest, and leafy printed leggings. In between all the themed pieces was some great American sportswear, like the terrific cashmere and see-through plastic paneled coat that opened the show and the loden zip-out lining jacket that topped a silvery wool skirt. The clothes morphed into a nature-inspired leaf palette and Iris Strubegger looked very much like a young NY modern in a green-over-yellow organza draped strapless dress under a short quilted bomber and fur ruff.

Next, a shaggy autumn orange “Muppetfur” coat and vest added the chic humor Isaac is known for and a “one-of” fiery tangerine rectangular sequin dress under an orange blazer, and then a garnet one, lit up the catwalk like a NY sunset. A few blousey silhouettes that started here and re-appeared periodically in the collection were not as sharp as New York hard edges (and tough critics) require and fell flat, IM’s only misstep.

When evening glitter appeared, snow started falling from the tent roof, and the New York skyline dresses and coat that sparkled like cold white city lights against a black velvet sky, were brilliant. The last passage of the show included many beautiful long and short renditions of “winter fairies”. In particular, the long gray cashmere tank dress that exploded into a sweeping godee skirt, worn with a fur-trimmed hood, and the final dress on Karlie Kloss — a gold strapless bodice and tulle skirted floor-length confection — were true Gotham girl gowns.

Isaac’s terrific and very New York show was a fitting end to the Cinderella story of American fashion in Bryant Park. The tents will come down for good this time and the park will turn back into a pumpkin, albeit a nice leafy green one. And the excitement and glamour that is New York fashion will move on, with Isaac’s clear “glass” slipper boot in hand to see how it fits at Lincoln Center.

This Minute

At The Tents

Michael Kors 2/17/10 — Who better than the reigning king of American luxury to update Fall’s ubiquitous camel coat, the sweater dress, the gray sweat pant, the gray flannel trouser, the turtleneck and the peacoat? Michael Kors did just that beautifully in the Fall 2010 collection he showed this morning in Bryant Park. From the first outfit — a coyote fur vest and cashmere bodysuit with cashmere leg and arm warmers — it was apparent his was a journey to that mythical America where super-luxury fabrics are distilled into the most modern incarnations of classics we love, and where they are also within the reach of every great-looking woman who desires them. Yes — oh, yes — we all should dress that way, I agree… And, we all should have that bank account, too!

But, this is a collection line, and all about the dream, the designer’s vision, that will fuel sales from fragrance to fur and fabulous accessories, not to mention lust among his faithful. And there it succeeded wildly, pardon the pun…

In this luxe vision, a woman has plenty of fur–in coats, jackets, parkas, vests, even a skirt — and in those amazing stand alone fur hoods that are popping up in lots of shows, but best here. And, absolutely, she has great accessories — from a terrific cross-body cognac leather mailbag (that came out in gold a second later), to the wedge hiking boot that anchored a lot of looks, to just right brown belts, perfect fur and crush-down suede boots, and cashmere leg warmers for a great chunky winter sandal.

But, back to the clothes–how did Kors update these sporty chic classics? It was in how he combined them– see-through gold turtle with stretch gabardine pants, a silver Cire stormcoat and anthracite cashmere sweatpants – and what he made them of. There was new “crushed” and “crinkled” flannel, stretch in cashmere and flannel, mohair voile practically transparent turtlenecks. His modernization also came from how he shaped his new classics — really large cowls and very deep v’s and dolman sleeves on sweaters, super-high slits on a pleated below the knee kilt or slight A line button front skirts, a pleated, slouchy-at-the-top, slim leg new trouser, and an easy louche trouser skirt, and slits in the elbows of his narrow-sleeved coats and jackets for movement.

Whether this collection can be seen as further evidence that fashion is cleaning itself up, or just the right time for the already quintessential Kors modern classic style, remains to be seen. But, whatever the zeitgeist, his polished, but extremely easy sportswear chic looked so handsome, so very desirable, it might just inspire women to launch an economic recovery just to afford these stunning clothes.

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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?