Rubin & Chapelle AW15:
Freezing for Fashion

Yes, that’s a partially frozen Hudson River below, the view west past the models at the Rubin & Chapelle Autumn/Winter 2015 presentation from the Top of the Standard near the High Line last Friday. That also was the tundra-like landscape off which the wind whipped, chilling to the bone the journalists, bloggers and photographers invited to cover that show, many of whom were made to wait outside for over half an hour in the wildly windy “feels like” temps of that day. Some of those fashionably-attired previously-mentioned were dressed wearing no socks but cool (no pun intended) pumps, short dresses, no hats or scarves — and had to huddle together en masse for warmth before making it upstairs. We never found out the reason for the 10th Avenue fashion freeze out.

Rubin & Chapelle AW15But, anyway, once we made it inside and up to the venue with the stunning views, we warmed to not only the indoor temperatures, but also to the adorable, wearable clothes. Worked up by partners in design Sonja Rubin and Kip Chapelle who collaborated with designer Johanna Michel, prints referenced traditional Scottish motifs, but rescaled and distorted digitally for versions of tartan and argyle. Hence, the Wellies-styled footwear by Sperry Top-Sider paired with many of the outfits. Outstanding favorites, and those that should be super popular come next fall/winter, were the circle skirts in graphic black and white or grey, an equestrian-themed dolman blouse and the graphic printed long dresses. Personally, I loved the bit of distressed edges on armholes; I’m always one for a raw uneven finish, as long as I can layer under it.

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Saunder AW15: A Resounding Royal Oui

I hate to be a cry baby, but this was one of the worst venues to maneuver around in the name of “viewing fashion.” Perhaps I was upset because I lost my favorite black wool knit hat there while trying to do just that. Maybe it was because I almost fell into one of the models standing on her raised pedestal after someone with a backpack swung around to take said model’s picture. Or chalk it up to having to squeeze through non-existing holes in fashionistas six abreast to get from the first group of models to the end of the fashion gauntlet. Whenever it was, the narrow little presentation path at Ed’s Chowder House at The Empire Hotel was clearly entirely too narrow to encourage great fashion feedback.

But, ah, there’s the rub. I actually fell in love with much of designer Emily Saunders’ Saunder AW2015 collection. Her creative refashioning of clothing based around the cutting off of wife Catherine of Aragon by Henry the Eighth (or was that her head?!) was inspired by London stage adaptations of Hilary Mantel’s novels Wolf Hall and Bring Up the Bodies. She stuck with the metaphor on many levels, from makeup to fingertips.

Saunders gave a quirky nod to tweeds, tartans, Tudor tailoring and punk. But it was the nails that were to die for, as was the jewelry. Accessories designer Megan Isaacs, in a fourth collaboration with Saunder that she called Modern Tudor, put forth an heirloom box’s worth of jewelry meant for a queen. And the nails? Nail artist Patricia Yankee crafted each one into tiny jewelry on the end of each finger.

This is fashion you don’t need to lose your head over — it’s easy to understand and will be great to wear next winter. Have a look; we’ve already parted the crowds for you.

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Desigual and Christian Lacroix’s Cultural Mashup AW15

Exotic blanket sweaters is cropping up as one of my favorite trends for Autumn/Winter 2015. Some of the best, including the best pom pom’d berets, printed puffer jacket amid the Oriental carpet motif sweaters, walked the runway at Desigual, where wildly intense colors and patterns helped the happy down the runway for AW15. The collection’s “living canvas,” as stated in the run-of-show notes, was inspired by a global mashup of “the artist’s atelier.” And the artist’s studio in question here would be that of Christian Lacroix’s. Mixing the lush, the exotic, the multicolored and the lavishly textured, Desigual spun out a cultural exchange from inspiration to production. Mix the moments.

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Desigual AW15

Duckie Brown AW15: Tomorrow is Not Just Another Day

Serene, sophisticated, clean…with the prettiest palette this side of Lincoln Center. And, as tends to be the case, one of my favorite menswear collections. There’s always so much creativity, but such that is honed to perfection by unusual cut, impeccable tailoring and ultimate wearability.

Tearing down the walls of backstage and creating a transparency that merged into the front row, designers Steven Cox and Daniel Silver put their hopes and dreams for a new “tomorrow,” as their show invite stated, front and center at their West Village venue at Industria. It was one part voyeurism (were you, too, thinking 50 Shades of Brown?!) and one part fashion art performance.

Pinks and clarets in silk charmeuse served as open wrapped cardigans. Floaty white chiffon turtlenecks were tucked into pleated trousers that flowed languid and loose. Collarless overcoats came out in grey flannels and buffalo checks. These were the obvious makings of a grown-up collection worthy of the self-possessed mature man.

Bring it, Duckie. We are ready for tomorrow.

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And the walls came down…prior to the presentation

 

Duckie Brown AW15

Duckie Brown AW15 Duckie Brown AW15 Duckie Brown AW15 Duckie Brown AW15

More NYFW: Darrell Cortez SS15 and his Revolution Mission

 

Designer Darrell Cortez had us thinking not only about clothes earlier this past month during New York Fashion Week. He had us thinking about revolution. Revolution within the fashion world, that is. Cortez, below, is urging a sea-change within the fashion industry, for sure, and the clothes from his Revolution collection for Spring/Summer 2015, showed during an evening gallery-turned-runway presentation, underscored a striking, thought-provoking dialogue.

Designer Darrell Cortez

Designer Darrell Cortez taking his end-of-show bow and walk

“My inspiration comes from the colors of the South African flag — red, blue, yellow, green, black and white,” Cortez told journalist Ray Cornelius.  “These colors are reflected all throughout the entire collection including the accessories, the shoes, the clothes, trimming, and patches. It’s spring and summer looks, so I use a lot of bright colors which make it very youthful and vibrant.  My show is a social commentary on the lack of representation of African-Americans in the fashion industry across the board.”

Building upon those South African-inspired colors, using African prints, crisp cottons and easy-to-wear silhouettes, the collection included the coolest contemporary printed suit, a denim knit jumpsuit – the perfect pull-on “suit” for daywear – and swimwear that was bright, color-blocked and sexy. As a fashion industry stalwart since the early ’90s, Cortez has worked with many big-name entertainers, and these were great clothes for the likes of Diddy, Busta Rhymes and Mack Wilds. But Cortez’s biggest underlying theme this season? “Working in the industry for as long as I have,” Cortez said, “you never lose sight of the underrepresentation of Black models. Trust me, there are still more barriers that need to be broken down. I am not anti-White, but I am pro-Black.”

Strong collection. Even stronger message.

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Darrell Cortez SS15

Darrell Cortez SS15_2

If the Pants Fit…Duckie Brown’s Latest Silhouette for SS15

Since introducing women’s wear last season, what else could Duckie Brown design duo Steven Cox and Daniel Silver do but get their hands back into men’s pants? I mean, into changing the silhouette, that is.

After all, the two are known for their ever-changing play of menswear shapes, silhouettes and proportions. This season they introduced a pant form inspired by the ’20s and ’30s — high waisted, baggy and loose in the bum achieved by using a curved seam on the trouser, with a bit of a long, dropped crotch and a slim leg.

Manifesting this new shape in plaids or khakis and topping with sporty squared-and-cropped camp shirts and bucket hats gave the collection a sort of updated my-uncle-the-retiree-in-Miami-Beach feeling. But in a very edgy, modern way.

Pale pink injected a fresh breath to a palette of grays, whites and khakis, while a shock of shiny glittering cobalt jolted gray, navy and black checked trousers and utility jackets.

In all, this was one of the most wearable “fashion” spring/summer 2015 menswear collections seen this season.

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Carmen Marc Valvo AW14 – Medieval Modern

Chain mail, metallic leather, bling for days. These were gowns for the strongest of women, leaders, ladies ready for battle deep into the night. All at the hand of Carmen Marc Valvo, a master of the flowing evening dress. His AW14 styles were transformative.

After the show a very happy CMV gushed to his crowd of admirers and fans, which included the lovely Vanessa Williams. Strong women, indeed.

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Carmen Marc Valvo Carmen Marc Valvo

Vanessa Williams at Carmen Marc Valvo

Designer Carmen Marc Valvo

Ricardo Seco AW14 –
Ask Not What Your Designer Can Do for You…

Ask what the Kennedys can do for your designer!

The 35th president of the United States and his family played a major influence in “Forever,” the AW14 menswear collection of Mexican-born designer Ricardo Seco, who showed yesterday evening at the always-impressive Angel Orensanz Foundation space.

Designer Ricardo Seco

Designer Ricardo Seco

As the show started down the runway with JFK’s voice intoning over the sound system, you realized that this model was wearing a sweatshirt printed with Jackie’s face, that one was swaggering by with a young JFK, Jr. saluting on his cashmere sweater, another one was wearing what could only be described as the original Jackie Kennedy Oleg Cassini A-line coat, replete with the oversized cloth-covered buttons and 3/4 sleeves.

Then there were the scarves. Silk scarves printed Warhol-like with Jackie-O and John John were tied low around the chests of Seco’s models, almost like a bondage style shawl. Ricardo told me after the show that he was inspired by the ’60s Kennedy era for his urban man, taking Jackie Kennedy’s penchant for pastels, A-line silhouettes and classic Americana styles and working them into a masculine, tailored collection.

He definitely got that right. Some of the covered-button coats may have looked a little like a guy playing dress up in styles from the thrift store, but stranger things have happened within the rock ‘n roll set, who, at least with dressing à la Jackie Kennedy, can place the style bar high. And as the coat kept coming down the runway in various renditions, it started to grow on me. The mohair charcoal Jackie coat was super cool. And there were other elements that I liked. The pink pants rocked. A black and grey pieced car coat worn over a “Pillboxes & Peacoats” printed T, leather shorts over coordinating pieced leggings was a little bit urban, a little bit punk. And while the scarves were surely a runway scarf trick, the sweaters printed with Jackie-O and little John John saluting will be great novelty sellers.

Seco closed the show with the Simon and Garfunkel classic “The Sound of Silence,” a song written in the aftermath of JFK’s assassination, as his models took to a tableaux on the stage behind him, the better to look at and photograph the clothes.

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Noon by Noor AW14

Designing cousins Noor Al Khalifa and Haya Al Khalifa presented their take on contemporary evening wear to a front row that included The Face’s host, Nigel Barker. Colors were saturated, Swarovski crystals were plentiful and skirts were long, drapey and dramatic. My favorites were the camel coat-covered red party dress toward the beginning of the show and the burgundy floor-sweeper encrusted with bling. The super messy pony-tail hair do’s and the deep burgundy wine lip were great styling elements that accentuated the Eastern-Western influence of the Noon by Noor collection.

The Face's Nigel Barker

The Face’s Nigel Barker

Noon by Noor AW14

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Noon by Noor AW14 Noon by Noor AW14 Noon by Noor AW14

It’s in the Bag at Trina Turk and Mr Turk AW14

Handbags may have been the newest addition manifested from Trina Turk’s imagination, but the freshness came directly from the clothes themselves.

Trina Turk AW14

Her eponymous women’s collection, shown in tandem with Mr Turk menswear for AW14 at The Hudson Hotel’s The Hub venue last week, was modern yet nostalgic at the same time. Trina cited California cool as the inspiration, as though the Turks had spun along “Sunset Boulevard through LA from Silverlake to the sea.” Fresh mixes of patterns, colors, textures and cuts made their Palm Springs-focused mark. Think bold florals, vibrant reds and turqs, tweeds and plaids. Swingy shorter jacket silhouettes. Sexy and slim pants and skirts. And those handbags! Just the right amount of edge to stave off any lady-like prissiness. Trina Turk and Mr. Turk AW14

Mr Turk, designed by photographer/stylist/Trina husband Jonathan Skow, had a retro gentleman’s-punk attitude going on, echoing the womenswear with a slim fit, quirky pattern combos and color mixes. Jonathan has said the menswear is exactly his style. And he wears it well.

These two collections looked so cool, so modern, they could’ve been seen out on Lincoln Center’s Plaza, being stalked by the street style blog photogs instead of being showcased in the basement of the The Hub. These are clothes that are as perfect for jumping around from fashion show to show as they are for the upcoming Oscars Red Carpet wear – how ’bout those his-and-hers black and green jacquard tuxes? Gotta be fresh.

Mr. Turk AW14 Trina Turk and Mr. Turk AW14

Trina Turk and Mr Turk AW14 Trina Turk and Mr. Turk AW14 Trina Turk and Mr. Turk AW14

Designer Trink Turk wearing her Mr. Turk menswear

Designer Trink Turk wearing her Mr. Turk menswear

Mr. Turk designer Jonathan Skow

Mr. Turk designer Jonathan Skow