New York Fashion Week: Hilfiger goes over the hedge
Tommy Hilfiger's last runway show here symbolically and nostalgically closed out New York Fashion Week's run at Bryant Park, and his spring-summer 2011 mens' and women's collections, presented on the runways at Lincoln Center on Sunday night was another symbol -- but about the future.
"We look forward to sharing the next 25 years with you," said a voice (presumably Hilfiger's) over the loudspeaker at the start of the show, which was packed with celebrity attendees including Jennifer Lopez, Bradley Cooper, Christina Hendricks and Neil Patrick Harris (sitting left to right in that order, by the way).
The top of the runway was dominated by ivy-covered arches evocative of the cover shot from "Take Ivy," photographer Teruyoshi Hayashida's 1965 book of photos that captured Ivy League campus style (and that was reissued in August 2010), and the show invitations had arrived nestled in a box with a thatch of faux ivy hedge, but once the show started, it was clear that Hilfiger was taking his notion of prep beyond -- make that over -- the hedge.
Described in the show notes as "twisted country club," using the preppy roots of the brand as a point of launch pad for the kind of delightful riffs we're more used to seeing from designers like Thom Browne and Scott Sternberg.
For the women's side of the collection (which, according to the show notes played off the style of socialite and style icon Babe Paley), that meant a lot of menswear shirting fabrics, miniskirts and ruffle dresses done in grosgrain ribbon, slouchy cashmere V-neck sweaters, cropped polo shirts and pleated tennis skirts.
For guys ("for the neo-preppy rocker"), that meant short suits, bold color trousers (claret and kelly green among them), contrast lapel piping on cotton khaki suits, a double-breasted navy peacoat turned out in cotton pique, and pink madras trousers.
The collection was grounded in the blue hues -- the requisite navy blue joined by shades of periwinkle and light blue, which found their way into Bengal stripes, checks, plaids and seersuckers -- and white (tennis, anyone?) with cheery pops of reds, yellows and pinks throughout.
Afterward, Hilfiger hosted a 25th anniversary party next door at the Metropolitan Opera House, complete with a red carpet lined by models kitted out in the iconic preppy silhouette of navy blue blazer and khaki trousers and a musical performance by the Strokes.
To mark the occasion, Hilfiger had his TH initials erected in two-story-tall LED lights in a huge hedgerow on Lincoln Plaza. Walking past it on the way into the runway show, it seemed mighty impressive.
But on the second pass -- after taking in Hilfiger's unabashedly light and cheery spring-summer collection, those same LEDs seemed dimmer by half.
And any label that can do that as it heads into its second quarter-century has a bright future -- no matter what side of the hedge you're standing on.
-- Adam Tschorn reporting from New York
Photos: At top, looks from Tommy Hilfiger's spring-summer 2011 runway show. Credit: Peter Stigter and Jonas Gustavsson / For The Times. At bottom, the entrance to the Tommy Hilfiger after-party. Credit: Adam Tschorn / Los Angeles Times