2009 February 17
(NEW YORK) Marc Jacobs
To the large assembly of freezing paparazzi outside the Lexington Armory, the Marc Jacobs show was a severe disappointment. For guests inside, it was anything but. There was no Madonna, no frenzy, and no fights for seats--in fact, there were plenty of empty ones. The main attraction in the carpeted space was the sixty winning looks that sped down the intricate maze of a runway in under 10 minutes. "The collection reminded me of the first time I came to New York," said Vogue editor Hamish Bowles. "It was an exhilarating flashback to the early 80's." Jacobs certainly has been in the Stephen Sprouse state of mind lately--and Debbie Harry, and Madonna. The designer admitted that these were core inspirations that he was comfortable with. While oversized shoulders, shocking pinks and lemon yellows, dangerous pleats, and raucous florals seem might seem experimental to other designers, they seem to be fit in Jacobs' court. "It wasn't about giving people Depression wear," opined Ingrid Sischy. "And that's exactly what we want to see: new, exciting and electric!"
Donna Karan's show was one of her most self-assured and smoldering collections in recent memory. There was plenty to look at on the runway: Karan presented an array of beautifully constructed gowns, shearling pieces, and light corsets--nearly all splattered with deceptively muted tones. It also treated the audience to the musical delights of Eric Lewis. "The piano player was amazing," raved Bernadette Peters. "I almost wanted to give him more attention, but I was to busy picking out my wardrobe." Karan's program goal was "embracing a new reality, empowering a woman with strength and security, inspiring her senses, touching her soul." "Touching her wallet" should have been an unspoken addition.
For better or for worse, Thakoon Panichgul was thrust into the public spotlight when soon-to-be First Lady Michelle Obama wore not one, but two of his creations on the campaign trail. His Fall 2009 collection showed that he is more than capable of handling the pressure. "There was surrealism, there was Lee Miller, but overall I wanted flights of fancy," Panichgul said of his sophisticated and grown up--yet unapologetically pretty--collection. Several pairs of culottes were shockingly un-elementary school, peplums graced both a trench and a cascading ruffle gown, and an incredibly innovative chiffon-to-wool degrade (sheer at the top, opaque at the bottom) shift dress was gorgeous--and with a slip, completely First Lady-appropriate. As far as his flights of fancy: a mirrored, disco ball-esque dress and sumptuous, colored furs were enough to get any girl's heart beating just a bit faster.
Quirky-cool Chris Benz's former messy magpie girl did some growing up for his Fall 2009 collection. Sure, there were still trademarks like super-bright, mismatched colors and furs for the downtown girl-about-town, but there were also trousers and blazers, cocktail-ready dresses, and more black--" which we don't do often, or at least haven't done in the past," Benz admitted. It made for a sellable and no less charming collection. "It's sort of about late '70s, early '80s, a nostalgia for a shaky New York, and optimism for going out and dressing up and escaping into the downtown," he said. "I wanted the collection to be very New York. It's about throwing on your favorite dress and a big fur coat and trucking it downtown."
Alessandro Sartori, the Creative Director of Z Zegna, created a collection of what he called "Neo Noir" for fall 2009. The masculine silhouettes of the trench coats and angora hats gave the clothes a sinister sex appeal. Trudging over a wet runway, the models sported creations both traditional and innovative in terms of proportion. Textures ranged from the slickness of laminated leather to soft wools. It was a strong collection for the brand that is becoming more and more comfortable outside the realm of conventional business attire.
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