Fashion Week: Designers defy matchy-matchy wisdom for the mix
New York • Most people are taught from a young age that they want their outfits to match.
Isn't that why there are suits? And belts should complement shoes. And try to wear the same shades of black, right?
The biggest group of offenders to the conventional wisdom, however, is probably fashion designers. In the styles they've been previewing at New York Fashion Week, which hit its midpoint Sunday, it's been "juxtaposition" this and "opposite" that.
"It's all in the mix: feminine with masculine, sexy and slouchy, tailored with sport, chic with street," according to notes for the DKNY show.
It was OK at Tracy Reese that a raffia lace dance skirt covered with circle patterns was worn with a floral cropped shirt, and a checkered backpack was strapped to a floral top.
Designers can do it well, sometimes, with years of experience mixing colors and patterns and having confidence. And times have changed, too.
"There's more freedom now to express yourself through your clothes than there was 20 years ago, 50 years ago. You can wear that full feminine skirt with the man's shirt. Go ahead, take your cues from the runway," Reese said.
Cole's sporty Anorak and track jackets, hoodies and drawstring pants weren't clothes to just throw on in the morning without care. The mix of snakeskin, calf-hair camo and leather elevated normally casual silhouettes.
"The world is consumed with myriad points of view," Cole said in his notes. "And through ever-emerging technologies, our points of view can now be made available to everyone, everywhere."
That's why he sent his models down the runway with their own mobile devices to snap the crowd.
The tight ship Victoria Beckham seems to run at fashion week allowed her collection to sail smoothly down the runway.
For Beckham, there was no chaos or confusion. That goes for her small, insider-only show as well as the clothes she offers. She sticks to her vision: a chic, no-fuss approach to fashion.
Things were mostly black and white, and there was no adornment or embellishment.
It's become the norm that David Beckham comes out a few moments before the show to shake a few hands, and then their toddler daughter Harper sits on his lap as the models go by.
Twenty-five years in fashion is worth celebrating, and that's what Donna Karan did Sunday at her DKNY show.
She was all smiles as she did her lap of the runway after her parade of flirty, colorful looks.
Karan wasn't afraid to pay homage to the late 1980s when this brand geared toward a younger woman with a smaller paycheck than her signature collection was launched. The soundtrack was courtesy of the Beastie Boys, Run DMC and Aerosmith, and the backdrop was done in graffiti, reminiscent of New York's grittier time.
"We celebrated the city of life," she said. "It happens in New York City. They're clothes that last forever. They're clothes that have been inspired from nylons to lifestyle to yoga to bathing suits."
Diane Von Furstenberg
After four days of runway shows, it takes something special to get the fashion week crowd excited, and apparently Naomi Campbell is it.
Campbell, regarded by fashion insiders as queen of the catwalk, got the often jaded crowd cheering when she wore the finale look: a black, gold and white knit macrame sleeveless shift dress.
It fit into von Furstenberg's broader theme of "oasis," which also inspired some retro glam tunic-and-pants sets, ombre prints and a safari animal T-shirt dress worn by a model and von Furstenberg herself when she took her bow.
"What I wanted to do was create in this world that's a little terrifying and scary, I wanted to create an oasis of peace, of beauty, of color and of harmony," she said.
Does Monique Lhuillier have perfect timing or what? Fashion Week hits right before the Emmy Awards and then again in February right before the Oscars. Hollywood surely is her bread and butter.
The looks on her runway were lovely, and she clearly catered to her celebrity crowd with many gowns and cocktail looks. But her own wardrobe was a factor, she said. "I always look at women that I know and myself, and I'm like, 'What do I want to wear next?' I always tell myself I want to have to want to wear these clothes because if I don't, then women won't."
Gone were big ballgowns or super-slim sheaths. Do we miss them? Not really.
Cynthia Rowley was true to, well, Cynthia Rowley with fun and funky dresses and two-piece sets featuring thick embroidery.
A full, long skirt in rose was paired with the embroidery in yellow, one of the standouts at a presentation she turned into a Mexican fiesta in a cavernous hotel space that was once part of a seminary.
A short-sleeve dress in white with thin horizontal stripes had fans of blue embroidery at the chest and floppy, poppy red flower applique at the shoulders.
"For me, this season, I just wanted to be true to myself and my brand. It's sporty, it's pretty, it's a little sexy, a little bit colorful, but also experimenting with a lot of new techniques," she said.
Joseph Altuzarra, his mother and grandmother nearby, offered this message for the woman he dresses: Relax this spring.
With an emphasis on "woman," as opposed to girl.
"I love the shape of the average woman's body and that's why I always say woman and not girl," the 30-year-old said after rolling out shimmery silvers and golds for evening, layered Oxford shirting for day and a range of silks.
Altuzarra's woman isn't afraid of his high-slit dresses and skirts, long fringe on a white leather jacket and skirts, or white wool ponchos as he left behind some of the structure and aggressiveness of collections past. Inspired in part by the patchwork of traditional Japanese Boro clothing farmers and fisherman, he brought utilitarian grace to red and blue silk stripes, cotton jackets and blouses, and drawstring skirts.
The best model for the new spring Herve Leger collection wasn't on the runway, she was next to it: Nicki Minaj clapped heartily for and took her own photos of each dress that was paraded in front of her at his show. Then she stood up in her own black bandage-style dress and gave designers Max and Lubov Azria a standing ovation.
Her presence largely changed the tone of the audience conversation, which had been about rumored financial troubles with the label, but Minaj even with the camera-and-security frenzy she caused helped put the focus back on the clothes.
If there are maracas involved, it's got to be a good time, right? Reese threw herself a little Cuba-themed party at New York Fashion Week on Sunday.
She said she was doing a little dance herself backstage hip shimmies and all as she watched the dresses, which she called "dulce vida dresses," slouchy trousers and fedoras hit the runway. There was live music and bags of dried plantains were left on the chairs for the audience.
"This collection was so much fun," she said in an interview "All the girls and the one guy in the office had the best time doing it."
Hoffman has some hashtags for us: Fearless. Rainbow. Vibes.
As in good vibes. As in good vibes inspired by color, light and happiness playing out in her bold spring collection.
She said the collection is fit for a gang of rainbow warriors. As in warriors with extra-long braids down their backs, some dressed in sheer beaded chiffon adorned with neon orange, yellow and green. Others went into runway battle in bright tribal prints for mid-leg looks, shorts and swimsuits.
"I'm being a little bolder this season," Hoffman said, "as fortune favors the bold."
At 27 and fresh from an island vacation, Christian Siriano the designer is working on Christian Siriano the mogul.
The former makeup artist and hair stylist has a new yearlong beauty partnership with Sebastian Professional, an as-yet unnamed fragrance and his bespectacled eyes on designing, yes, eyewear.
And he hopes to expand his brick-and-mortar presence over the next few years. Now, he has just one namesake shop that opened last year in downtown Manhattan, selling everything from accessories to fancy home goods.
"The last year or two has been really about growing the business," Siriano said in an interview backstage. "I really wanted to make sure we were selling clothes first and really building with retailers."
So how big is too big for the season four "Project Runway" winner? Does he fret losing himself in a lifestyle brand?
"I thought it would be hard," Siriano said. "But at the end of the day, I'm growing up."
Turk's show was a road trip and she packed all the necessities: bikini, jean jacket, mesh track pants and for date night a black-and-white striped cropped top and matching pencil skirt with a floral hemline.
The outfits she presented did have a decidedly West Coast vibe. She's based in California, after all, but it's not the first caftan stylists, editors and retailers have seen this season.
Turk, considered a contemporary label, which means youthful and more affordable than some, showed a knack for mixing textures a floral-sequin slip dress with a banded leather vest, for example.
"Mixed media and surface interest are key, in jacquards, mesh, washed lamb leather and textured print basecloths," she said in her notes. "Fluid chambray, crepe and georgette add slouchy nonchalance. Combined patterns or matching total-look sets, we believe in both."