2011 February 16

New York Fall 2011: Rodarte, Dennis Basso, Narcisco Rodriguez, Bibhu, Karen Walker, J. Mendel

Rodarte Fall 2011 Rodarte Fall 2011
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Great plains!  Wheatfield prints, hand-quilted pinafores, ankle-length coats, and ruby-red dresses (a nod to the Wizard) may have been inspired by Days of Heaven, but provincial? Jamais. Let’s hope the stores order the floor-grazing dress, in particular, in spades.

Dennis Basso
Master furrier Dennis Basso has advanced in his quest to show the world he can master beautiful sportswear and evening as well. His knit-heavy Fall collection showed this uptown designer's more bohemian side—and rest assured, the ladies who lunch will follow suit. A kidassia skirt, in an luminous shade of taupe, hit at the mid-calf and proved that this customer is dressing in increasingly dynamic ways. A satin draped gown in dark chocolate was a modest antedote to all that luxury, but in Basso's world—why not just go for it? 

Narciso Rodriguez
Narciso Rodriguez narrowed in on a simple sleeveless mid-calf dress for fall. The clean-lined silhouette came in different color ways and fabrics but overall didn’t veer too far from its foundation. At times the formula called for pink/coral/black chiffon or nude/red/copper silk. At other times, gray wool was used in the mix. Two-tone trousers, graphic multihued coats, and washed-out plaid suiting were additional variables in a show that spoke to minimalists wanting to spice up their fall wardrobe.

Black magic. Voodoo. Sinister glamour. That is what fall was all about for Bibhu Mohapatra. With Arthur Miller’s The Crucible in mind, Mohapatra presented an impressive collection of eveningwear at The Box February 15. Wool and crepe cocktail frocks in olive, black, and metal took on graphic shapes. Elegant gowns in cerulean, gold, and plum were infused with lacquered tattoo sleeves and black crow feathers at the wrist or neck. It’s easy to see why this designer’s specialty is couture dresses though he did manage to add in a couple black draped wool trousers to round out the collection. Speaking of specialty, Mohapatra spent nine years working with Gilles Mendel so fur is second nature to him as evident by the nail punched leather and lamb pilgrim coat or the long-haired goat creation. All in all, the collection showed a designer who knows his strengths and knows his core customer. “This is the purest of my work,” said the designer. Welcome to the club, Bibhu.

Karen Walker

Karen Walker transported us back to 1970s England inside a once-famous disco nightclub called Wigan Casino. Here, the Northern working class would swap their daywear of docker’s coats for sportif racerback singlets perfect for the physical weekend dancing. For fall, Walker pulled inspiration from the day-to-dance scene along with one of her favorite albums from the Dexys Midnight Runners called Searching For The Young Soul Rebels. Literal interpretations could be seen throughout in a tableau of Saturday best contrasted with grainier work elements (silk docker’s shirts worn with jersey boat pants; a belted silk frock printed with the miner’s badges in a polka-dot motif). Leather brogues and black vinyl trimming (seen on shoulders, sleeves, and skirts) created cohesiveness in the uptown-meets-downtown collection seen in black, gray, blue, white, cream, mustard, and punches of coral. Walker fans will be pleased with her signature peppy prints and a milky blue sweatshirt stamped ‘Liberal and Miserable,’ an homage to one of the designer’s past collections.


With Gilles Mendel, you always know what to expect on the runway and that’s not a bad thing. The don’t-fix-it-if-it’s-not-broke mantra can be applied to the J.Mendel designer best known for his specialty fur coats. Models glided down the catwalk in an array of luxurious mink, Argentinean fox, and wool coats. Each piece was hand dyed and worked into a tribal-like print inspired by body art and the architectural genius of Jean Prouvé. Amidst the parade of fur was couture-like ready to wear including mannish trousers in black silk satin paired with beaded tops and flowy black and mocha silk gowns mixed with thigh-high suede tribal boots. Colors remained on the dark side with only a hint of mauve or khaki. You can be sure, prominent editrixes and dames are already placing their pre-orders.