New York Fashion Week, for my money, could have been New York Fashion Day.
The best stuff came at the very end, on Thursday, with a breezy and bright ode to Paris from Ralph Lauren, an unexpected turn of direction from slip dresses to quasi-grunge wear from Francisco Costa at Calvin Klein, and then a fantastic send-up of cinematic fashion – and fashion in general – from the city’s reigning showman, Marc Jacobs. What they had in common was very little, other than each reflected its designer’s genuine joy in the process of design.
Lauren had “I Love Paris” on his soundtrack, and obviously his mind. The designer’s Paris store and restaurant, which opened a few years back, have been a big hit, so in a sense, he was giving a show that paid homage to that city’s style, with wide, swingy pants and a delightful geometric color-blocking that formed a boat print on a ballgown (pictured, above). Many of his light cotton shirt dresses came in French stripes, and the accessories were oh-so-chic, platforms with cork soles and woven totes with the name Ralph embroidered on the side. The French love redheads, as well, so it made a sort of sense that Julianne Moore and Jessica Chastain were there in the front row.
The Calvin Klein Collection show started with what looked like a tribute to the white slip dress that Kate Moss made famous years ago in a show designed by Klein himself. Under the creative direction of Costa for so many years, though, the collection looks very different than those days, and here, the dress was more blocky, with a bit of loose threads dangling from raw hems. But before you could detect a theme of nostalgia, though, Costa veered into very pretty territory, with dresses that featured a floral print, both hyper-focused and blurred at the same time, and more looks that suggested his girl has come undone. A moth-eaten sweater and dresses that looked like they were falling off the body, suspended only by thin straps, were curiously parts of the same collection (pictured from L-R, below).
Marc Jacobs moved his show this season to the Ziegfeld Theatre, named in honor of the bygone theater of the same name that was the site of extravagant follies in the '30s, and the perfect place for Jacobs to live out one of his long-standing fantasies – a fashion show as entertaining as a big-screen movie, complete with a live orchestra. His designs were high drama, high comedy, and in some instances, high camp, with an all-star cast of models (including Beth Ditto), and what the designer described as “character makeup.” This season Jacobs began to incorporate elements of his signature collection with his more accessible one, previously known as Marc by Marc Jacobs, and the results were a lot of fashion. And I mean a lot.
On the wilder side, there were looks with obvious references to the movies. One of his signature floor-sweeping skirts went by in dark gray, printed with an image of movie goers wearing 3-D glasses. Another long gown looked like a movie poster rendered in a garishly funny print of screaming faces (pictured, above). Who’d wear that? Who cares? It belongs in a fashion museum. For Jacobs, fashion is entertainment, and a runway (here, beginning with a long red carpet and step-and-repeat outside the theater, wowing the evening commuters) is an excuse to design anything his mind imagines – a pair of booties encrusted in crystal fireworks, a letterman jacket, a sequin dress that combined both plaid and daisies, a stars-and-stripes T-shirt, and while we’re at it, a navy sailor’s suit with sequined swans on the back pockets. It was a wild production, and I’m willing to bet there will be a sequel.