New York Fashion Week

New York’s Spring 2010 Fashion Week gloomed and doomed the audience for the first few days. As the week drearily progressed, it also became apparent that most designers fit into one of two categories: salable clothing or clothing based upon fantasy. 

Designers with a focus beyond the basics and lagging economy produced the most remarkable lines. 

Rodarte sisters Kate and Laura Mulleavy were inspired by a woman who had been burned alive and, as a result, was transforming into a condor. She was living in a decimated environment with little or no resources. 

These visions materialized in collection that was magnetic, delicately dark, and enchanting. They burned, ripped, and spilled dye on their pieces to reflect this gothic inspiration. 

The sci-fi theme ran deep as Cynthia Rowley displayed a collection based upon a woman who appeared trapped in a dark, 1950s parallel universe. Her blurred floral prints, unfinished hems, perfectly and purposely-botched peplum blouses and pristine cardigans paired with drippy ink prints were charmingly aphotic.

Others decided to focus on a happier aesthetic. Anna Sui, Temperley of London and Marc Jacobs all intrigued with lines inspired by circuses of years past.

Jacobs pulled inspiration from circuses of the 1920s as well as from kabuki, operas and clowns. His show was reminiscent of a movie’s dream sequence where the characters are ethereal lovers of ruffles and muted colors. 

In contrast to Rowley, Jacobs and Rodarte were designers like Thakoon whose unique use of prints and bold color is desired by the First Lady and women everywhere. 

His collection for spring was a play on tight and loose silhouettes. He realized that, in this economy, balancing his vision and distinct signature with the salability of his frocks was imperative. 

Miho Aoki and Thuy Pham of United Bamboo offered up a paradox: a modern, floral-inspired collection with a grey color palette. The duo hired illustrator Pier Fichefeux to create a primitive floral print that the pair used for a sleek, knee-length dress. Aoki and Pham’s collection painted a likeness of spring through grayed lenses. 

But designer Phillip Lim got it right this season, telling a reporter that, “Everyone says to back off aesthetically, but that’s not what’s selling.” 

Ultimately, Lim is correct. Most designers played it safe this season and presented dark runways, subdued in color. Still, it is a designer’s signature style that will sell in this economy, not another reinvention of the little black dress.

Friday, September 25, 2009