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2012 February 14

Fall 2012: Thom Browne, Bibhu Mohapatra, Betsey Johnson, Karen Walker, Barbara Tfank

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(NEW YORK) Thom Browne
"I want to tell you a story of ten beautiful girls. They loved life and they loved fashion. They died because of fashion. Today, they're dreaming of Fall 2012. Enjoy the dream...," read a "eulogist" on hand at Thom Browne's deliciously eerie presentation in his usual haunt, the Edna Barnes Salomon room at the New York Public Library. To the tunes of Jeff Buckley's "Hallelujah," ten silver-lipped, veiled models emerged from wooden caskets in staple gray suiting. The ghoulish sci-fi vamps stalked the catwalk in fantastically dreamy getups draped, conified, ballooned and layered with Browne's trademark touch. To break up the serious spectacle, a cartoonish faux fox stole made a memorable PA. Ditto for the playful stegosaurus-like closing number: a creme dress with a extra-long spiked tail. Post show, Bergdorf Goodman's Linda Fargo couldn't wait to congratulate Browne on a job well done. "That was amazing! I can't believe I'll get to say, 'I knew you when!'"

Bibhu Mohapatra
Three years after launching his namesake brand, Bibhu Mohapatra finally got a chance to join the big leagues with a full-on runway show at Lincoln Center, thanks in part to a recent induction into W Hotel's Fashion Next coterie. The buzzy up-and-comer sent out a flurry of luxe evening gowns, the designer's hallmark, inspired by the twentieth century Chinese opera, The White Haired Girl. Most notable: an elegant ivory gown with perforated lace panels at the knee, and an onyx draped column gown with ivory silk embroidery on the bodice. Gowns aside, it was his strong showing of expanding daywear that won top honors with polished fur coats and vermilion imperial rose print shifts.

Betsey Johnson
Always a spectacle, for the acid wash of colors, the cacaphony of prints, and that much-anticipated cartwheel, Johnson's latest cocktail of confections channeled the Beatles and their swinging sixties heyday with "Betsey Mania." Opening with a vid of concert footage, the soundtrack was a Fab Four-dominated audio backdrop for classic Betsey cupcake-like frocksstrapless, short, flared, and pouffy, ready for the next prom and/or cocktail party on the docket. Fittingly, the pink swag bags contained glittery pink Baked by Melissa cupcakes in the mix. But back to the clothes! Loud tweed separates shared the stage with Day Glo ensembles like look 20, a neon orange minidress and coat combo with an oversized searing pink boucle collar up top and matching opaque tights below, playfully named "Ringo Star," or the slightly more subdued "Hippy Hippy Shake," look 38, with a black velvet halter tempering the bejeweled bauble of a mini below. But the total Betsey mania came at the finale, when that signature cartwheel got closed with a split, a prance down the runway with daughter Lula and granddaughter Layla in tow and the models bounding back out with pom poms in hand. (The latter in homage to Betsey's cheerleader days.) Is there such a thing as too much fun at a fashion show?

Karen Walker
Sea Monsters invaded Pier 59 in HD yellow sweaters, gold and neon via Auckland native Karen Walker’s fall 2012 collection.  Inspired by Jules Verne’s 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, the collection mixed psychedelic prints with metallics, high necklines with high waistlines, and mod styles with Victorian-inspired pieces.  A boxy navy jacket with a silk twill paisley top underneath was a highlight, as was the oversized, woven gold coat. “The Karen Walker girl has gotten more elegant," the designer explained to The Daily, citing tailoring and military references. More paisley came via colorful printed paisley booties, and moddish sunglasses topped off the look.

Barbara Tfank

Citing the cinematic term “the magic hour,” or the sublime moment when the sun sets and the stars emerge, Barbara Tfank was ladies who lunch incarnate, in the best way possible.  The shortest hemlines hit demurely at the knee, while onger gowns tumbled onto the floor. Accoutrements included costume-y cluster earrings, just right for the mood, plus Manolo Blahnik nude and patent black pumps jazzed up by a few glittery d’orsay styles. And of course, there was fur: a knee length sable mink and a shorter blush pink chubby as well.  Incredible attention to fabric seems like Tfank's MO, exemplified by a grey brocade A-line frock blooming with intricate embroidery. Betty Draper would adore it all.




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