The Runways: Our fashion critic previews New York and London
The fall 2011 runway show season kicked off Wednesday in New York. And this time I'm in it for the long haul, covering all four cities -- New York, London, Milan and Paris -- where designers are showing the collections we’ll be wearing this coming fall. There is a lot to look forward to. Here's a primer for the first two cities:
The Tom Ford effect
He may be out of sight, but he's not out of mind. Tom Ford isn't having a runway show this season -- or ever again, if you believe him when he says he no longer wants to be part of the fashion machine. But the New York Times reports that the 100-person, super-secret show he had back in September is resonating with other designers who will be having quieter, more intimate shows. What, no look-at-me bloggers and TV tartlets in the front row? I'll believe it when I see it.
Having previewed Los Angeles designer Barbara Tfank's new line of denim produced in collaboration with L.A. denim guru Henry Duarte, I can tell you it's the most exciting thing to happen to true blue since Lanvin dipped into denim. Tfank brings her retro feminine silhouettes, and Duarte brings his Japanese-sourced fabrics. The result is a match made in heaven, even if the ladylike Tfank and the shaggy rocker Duarte might seem an odd pair.
The L.A. pack
Designed by Johnson Hartig, Libertine returns to the runway after a two-year hiatus. The label, which was launched in 2001, gained fame and fans, such as Karl Lagerfeld, with reworked vintage clothing screen-printed with skulls, birds and other illustrations. We'll see how it has evolved, now that Hartig is designing without his former partner Cindy Greene.
Scott Sternberg, the CAA agent-turned-designer, will show his men's and women's Band of Outsiders collection on the runway for the first time, instead of at a presentation. In seven years, he's gone from having a small collection of ties to having men's, women's, outerwear and shoes in collaboration with Sperry. So it's time.
Other L.A. labels I'm looking forward to seeing: Jenni Kayne, Kimberly Ovitz, Juan Carlos Obando, Rodarte and Odiline.
Olivier Theyskens returns to the runway circuit, showing his second full collection for the contemporary label Theory. The show will be streaming live on Facebook Feb. 14 at 9 a.m. PST.
Derek Lam will show a dress collection for EBay live and at dereklam.ebay.com at 7:45 a.m. PST Feb. 16. Internet users will decide on the winning five dresses to be produced and available in May, for $125 to $295.
Celebrating Michael Kors
The American designer's 30th anniversary celebrations will begin with a store opening party in New York, and end next month at Paris Fashion Week with a dinner hosted by Charles Rivkin, U.S. ambassador to France, and his wife Susan Tolson.
In London, I will be taking a break from some of the shows to follow the trail of royal bride-to-be Kate Middleton, visiting some of her favorite hangouts, including restaurants (Tom Aikens and Bluebird), clubs (Mahiki) and shops (Jigsaw, Reiss and TK Maxx).
Dressed for success
Speaking of Miss Middleton, one runway collection that's definitely on my list is Issa, designed by Daniella Helayel. (Helayel made the blue dress seen round the world at the press conference to announce the big engagement.) And while nobody expects a royal front row sighting, you never know.
Look no further than John Paul Gaultier’s spring 2011 couture show and you'll see that androgyny is having a major fashion moment. The British magazine Love has devoted its entire February issue to the subject, and naturally, there's a party to celebrate -- with Alexander Wang as the guest of honor. I'm thinking men's wear might be appropriate attire.
Toe to toe
In an answer perhaps to Selfridges' opening what has been called the largest shoe department in the world last year (35,000 square feet), Harrods is opening its own new footwear salon. I'm also eager to see if there are any visible changes to the department store since Mohammed Al Fayed sold it to Qatar Holdings last spring. I certainly hope not.
McQueen at the Met
Metropolitan Museum of Art Costume Institute curator Andrew Bolton will preview the upcoming exhibition, “Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty,” which is scheduled to open May 4 in New York.
-- Booth Moore
Photos: (1st row from left) Tom Ford, Barbara Tfan, Olivier Theyskens. (2nd row from left) Derek Lam; Jean Paul Gaultier; Michael Kors. Credits: Kirk McKoy / Los Angeles Times; Lawrence K. Ho / Los Angeles Times; Stephen Lovekin / Getty Images; Donato Sardella for Tod's; Pascal Le Segretain / Getty Images; Carolyn Cole / Los Angeles Times
Bottom photo: Royal wedding memorabilia is displayed at Caverswall China Company in Stoke-on-Trent, central England. Credit: Adrian Dennis / AFP / Getty Images