NY Fashion Week: Skin is in
Hurricane Hanna hit New York on Saturday, the rain came in sheets, and still the glossy editors wore their stiletto sandals and booties, God bless 'em. Me, I wore my Havaiana flip-flops and almost lost one when I stepped into a puddle up to my ankles trying to steal a cab ahead of the teetering flock on the corner of 21st and 10th Avenue.
Luckily, trucking around in the soggy weather was worth it. The shows have been good, and from the handful I have seen, it seems to be all about the body for spring. Maybe it’s the Olympics, or fashion's
never-ending love affair with the 1980s, but skin is in; skirts are short and tight.
Up-and-comer Alexander Wang has got the look down like nobody else. His show was in a garage-like space with concrete floors that his helpers sprinkled with water to create that hot and sweaty after-a-night-of-partying vibe. They needn’t have bothered. We could have all just shaken out our umbrellas.
Wang's collection was raunchy and fun -- an awesome mishmash of sportswear and the street, with a touch of "Miami Vice" in the form of neon pinks and aqua blues. Crockett and Tubbs ARE due for a fashion comeback. And I loved the quote he put in his show notes: “Anyone can get all dressed up and glamorous, but it is how people dress for their off days that is the most intriguing.”
From the opening look, a faded denim-and-black-leather motorcycle jacket, Wang was mixing it up. An over-sized shirt came in leather dyed a speckled blue to look like denim. The new shape of pants for spring is full at the top and cropped to just under the knee, and Wang’s take on the look is terrific --black parachute silk with cargo pockets. Over-sized gnarled cardigan sweaters looked as if a cat had gotten to them (in a good way), sparkly gray sweatpants were cropped and worn with killer high heels, perforated leather boxing shorts were paired with an over-sized sweatshirt dress, and black tube dresses were sliced and diced with neon color.
But the must-have piece is Wang's summer-weight blazer, light enough to throw over anything. The jacket is coming back in a big way, and he did versions that were sleeveless and black, or boxy and double-breasted in South Beach brights. My favorite was hot pink and over-sized with an open back. Hot, hot, hot!
Nicole Miller headed south for inspiration too, with voodoo-inspired prints and serape stripes. Her collection was everything you want out of summer clothes — easy menswear-inspired shirts with embroidered bands worn over slouchy silk pants, colorful print-and-sequin gowns draped with the ease of a sarong, and asymmetrical Lycra dresses.
The same body consciousness was on view at BCBG, where sleeveless dresses in shades of "vapor" and "dove gray" jersey or silk sateen were draped with asymmetrical necklines, or shocked with neon insets. It was minimalist in its own way, if a bit one-note.
Same went for Max Azria’s Herve Leger show, with its front row of bandage-dressed starlets, including Joy Bryant and Lou Doillon. It was all about the bandage dress on the runway too, with airbrushing and
neon optical effects. Some even came in leather. They could have used more double-sided tape though, because the models were popping out all over. And the swimwear finale made me wonder just how many hundreds of ways there are to wrap a 95-pound model. But Hollywood will probably fall hard for the sexy styles.
DKNY celebrated 20 years with an ethno-techno collection that included a neon ikat dot print bustier worn with the season’s cropped cargo pant. Donna Karan sent out one of the best looking jumpsuits I’ve seen in denim blue linen, as well as color-blocked dresses and a must-have skinny fringed neon scarf. Floral tweeds had a cool, computer-generated look. My favorite was a neon-green-and-yellow floral tweed minidress, worn with high-heeled, high-top sneakers. But when did DKNY start looking so young? I seem to remember the line as a go-to source for young professionals, not gossip girls.
Jenni Kayne, an L.A. designer, wasn’t able to make it to her presentation because she’s due to have her first baby next month. But the clothes spoke for her, with more fine details than ever before. We saw her elegant take on sportswear and keen color sense in a long, trapeze watercolor floral silk organza dress and a fabulous electric yellow gown. A pleated back coat in a subtle shibori stripe was polished, as was a black shift dress in textured cotton that resembled crosshatches.
Fellow L.A. designer Koi Suwannagate’s collection was a walk through an enchanted garden. And the execution was more sophisticated and less homespun than it has been in the past. She brought back her cashmere rosettes, on an ivory cashmere slip dress and matching cardigan, and used a colorful butterfly print on a pair of charming silk shorts worn with a cashmere halter top. A young actress looking to make an impression would do well to check into Koi’s sculpted sleeveless fuchsia cocktail dress with all-over silk butterflies, or her gold-and-silver zigzag crystal mesh top, worn with a long, sparkling pleated
The rain was gone by Sunday, when Diane Von Furstenberg channeled rock goddesses on the runway, showing colorful frocks that brought to mind the '60s and '70s. Models wore feathered headbands. There were maxi-dresses in psychedelic prints, studded caftans worn over the season's cropped, full- legged pants in fuchsia silk, a flower garden sequined kimono coat, space dyed sweater sets and louche bedjackets. And how can you go wrong with a pair of sequin tux shorts? It made me feel like ditching the rest of the shows for the day to catch "Hair" in Central Park. Let the sunshine in!
Photos, top to bottom: Pink, Alexander Wang blazers, with and without sleeves; DKNY mini with high-topped, high-heeled sneakers; Koi Suwannagate’s cocktail dress. Credit: Jennifer Altman / For The Times.