Chic Peek At Fall 2010

I went to see Phillip Lim’s 3.1 fall collection up close in his NY showroom the other day. The show was

3.1 Phillip Lim camel coat

terrific back in February, but after 2 months, I’d forgotten the vibe that sent me into fashion orbit.

As soon as I rounded the corner (after viewing the delicious, deluxe accessories in the entry – particularly a buttery, squashy leopard satchel so chic it could almost walk you into a room !), it hit me all over again. How could I forget? These are absolutely great clothes — simply, totally elegant American sportswear chic.

Following a long but stratospheric tradition that includes iconic American designers Claire McCardell, Bonnie Cashin, Bill Blass, Geoffrey Beene, Isaac Mizrahi, Michael Kors, and Marc Jacobs, Lim has picked up the golden thread of chic American classic style and made it his own. This is where classics should be in 2010. His silhouettes are tweaked, reshaped and detailed into modernity.

There were terrific coats – from a camel double-breasted

3.1 Phillip Lim gray shearling melange coat

kimono coat with a thin black leather belt to a black silk-piped short hooded camel steamlined duffel coat — and great knits. Big, slouchy, pale blue and striped gray/blue cardigan sweaters and greige textured sweater tunics were elegantly easy. A very shaggy ivory knitted cardigan and skirt were just sublime. There were great shorts in quilted leather or cotton, to be worn over thick tights.

And the shearlings! There were endless super texture combinations of suede, shearling, tweed, leather, fur and knit worked into sections that made these the season’s best American jackets and coats, all in shades of gray, ivory, beige, natural, brown and black. So yummy.

Sequin dresses and tunics often mixed with other fabrics, and with just the right amount of shine, looked terrific here in Lim’s hands, and not tired the way they seem in the stores for spring, with scores of brassy imitators of designer shine packing the racks. Dull, rich gold, matte violet and silver spelled out a luxurious message in these covetable accent pieces.

But, best of all was the blanket plaid coat, skirt, shorts and pants that just about screamed Bonnie , Bill

3.1 Phillip Lim blanket plaid coat

and Geoffrey, albeit with a modern, assymetrical touch that Lim’s young (and now older, I am sure) customers adore. In cream, grey, beige and black, it was just about the chicest thing I saw this season. I love it when that happens! What a star to watch for anyone who loves fashion.  Available in July at stores or at www.31philliplim.com.

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This Minute

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.