NEW YORK — Ralph Lauren embraced the American West, Michael Kors wants us all to be a little more optimistic, while Kimora Lee Simmons went with a low-key office presentation Wednesday during New York Fashion Week. And at Marchesa, there was a journey in color, from sunrise to dusk and then darkness.
RALPH LAUREN: A LUXURIOUS TAKE ON THE AMERICAN WEST
Ralph Lauren’s New York Fashion Week collection included fringed jackets, embroidered western-style shirts, southwestern ponchos, macrame and cowboy hats. He presented his collection in a runway show on the street outside his store, then invited guests inside to buy what they’d just seen.
“Today I am proud to share with you, for the first time ever, my new women’s collection right off the runway and into your lives,” the venerable designer wrote in a statement. “You are changing the way you live and the way you want to shop, and we are changing with you and for you.”
The block of Madison Avenue fronting his store was closed off for the glamorous event, held in a temporary glass structure that resembled a greenhouse. The show literally stopped traffic.
“I have always been inspired by the rugged beauty and romance of the American West,” Lauren wrote. “The September Collection is imbued with that spirit, but reinterpreted in a modern glamorous way for the woman whose style is both personal and luxurious.”
The show began with a slew of items in black, tan, white and brown. It was only toward the end that bright color suddenly popped up — shimmery, slinky dresses in purple, deep pink, red, yellow and bright blue.
At the end, Lauren — in washed-out jeans and a work shirt — came out for his customary wave to the crowd, stopping to make a happy gesture that resembled a flamenco move.
Then he retreated into his store, where champagne and caviar — and the new clothing, of course — awaited the invited guests.
— Jocelyn Noveck and Gina Abdy
AT MARCHESA, A JOURNEY IN TIME AND COLOR
Designers Georgina Chapman and Keren Craig at Marchesa say they have no trouble thinking of ideas for each new season.
“Georgina will call me in the morning and say, ‘I’ve had a dream, I’ve had a thought, we’re gonna do this,'” Craig said in a backstage interview. “The ideas just flow.”
Added Chapman: “At the end of the day we have our DNA in the clothes, that we’re very true to, and we enjoy it and we laugh.”
For their spring collection, the designers — red-carpet regulars — focused on what they called the journey of a day, from sunrise to twilight to darkness.
On the runway, light pinks — for sunrise — yielded to silvery blues and silvers, perhaps for dew. There was gold, to evoke sunlit wheat fields. There was black, too, of course, for deep night. There were florals galore, some fringe — as in a tiered fringe column gown in blue tulle — and of course lots of lavish embroidery.
Chapman and Craig established their brand more than a decade ago, but say they still haven’t tired of working together.
“In fact on Saturday night we had a girlie sleepover,” Craig said. “We did,” agreed Chapman. “We sent the kids and husbands away, since we had to work. We had some wine and a good giggle.”
—Gina Abdy and Jocelyn Noveck
MICHAEL KORS HAS A MESSAGE FOR SPRING: GET HAPPY!
Michael Kors put Rufus Wainwright on his runway to belt Judy Garland tunes as models walked in bring florals and looks in classic navy and white.
Kors said in an interview he was thinking about that old chestnut, “‘She’s a real dame,'” a la Barbara Stanwyck and Katharine Hepburn back in the ’40s and Kim Basinger in the ’80s.
“These women were sly and feminine but they were definitely in control,” Kors said.
He delivered that attitude in sharp tailoring of shoulders and cinched waists, mixed with things like a wide-belted trenchcoat with an asymmetrical hem, pleated palazzo pants and shoulder-to-wrist rows of ruffles on the sleeves of one collared, see-through button-down blouse.
“Something that catches the breeze,” Kors said.
Kors, bending to the “see now, buy now” trend, made some looks immediately available, but most of the collection he called timeless, the “opposite of fast fashion.”
That was true of navy blue coats, day dresses and sparkly black eveningwear. It might not be true of little bra top and romper sets in browns, or oversized sleeves flopping over hands.
A TOUCH OF WHIMSY FOR KIMORA LEE SIMMONS
The soundtrack told you all you needed to know about the clothes before you even laid eyes on them during a low-key presentation of the latest KLS collection at Kimora Lee Simmons’ midtown office.
Violinist Eric Stanley provided a live musical backdrop. While he had a classic lilt, the songs were taken from the pop charts, and were playful, sexy and inviting. That could have easily described the clothes as well.
The color schemes were generally dark blue, black or white, with dresses, skirts and pantsuits sleek and elegant enough to double for work or an after-hours event. But there were also pieces that provided a burst of cheer.
A dreamy blouse had a matching skirt that looked cotton-candy inspired. A black-and-white shirtdress was accented by ribbons and jewel-like embellishments.
“It’s a little bit more whimsical and fun,” said Simmons of the collection, her eighth.
“I’ve been able to put in little cheeky accents, like my rose jacquard, like my pop-up pink gown, like my ribbon,” she added. “It’s just beautiful, technical, but you can have a little bit of personality in there, I think.”
Simmons wore a black dress with long sleeves and a peekaboo shoulder, one of her designs.
She said she was designing for people like her: Working women juggling lots of responsibilities (Simmons is the married mother of four children).
“It’s very chic, but on a very basic level, very simple. Simply elegant,” she said. “(It’s) very wearable. Shirt dresses, pencil skirts, blouses. Even if it’s see-through or a little bit sheer, it’s not too, too much.”
The presentation was a far cry from the extravagant runway shows that she staged years ago during her Baby Phat designing days. While she doesn’t rule out a return to the runway, she’s happy with the low-key approach.
“Now it’s more intimate, and when you are in a market like we are, you always have to offer that little bit more. Nowadays, for me, that little bit more is less, it’s just a step back,” Simmons said. “It’s a little bit more accessible, and to me, I feel like that’s luxurious.”
—Nekesa Mumbi Moody