Eric Wilson's Front Row Diary: Unearthing Our "Inner Somebody" on Day One of #NYFW

lisa perry
Photo: Victor VIRGILE/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images

At New York Fashion Week, when things are going well, you can learn something new every day. For example, on Wednesday, the first day of informal shows, I discovered there are buildings in New York City where you can hail a taxicab just by pushing a button in the elevator. It’s true. I saw it myself.

The designer Lisa Perry, who specializes in lively mod dresses with a knowing wink to the colors and shapes of modern and contemporary art, lives on one of the fanciest blocks on the Upper East Side. This is where she chose to present her fall collection, in a newly decorated white loft space with spectacular views of the East River and Roosevelt Island. The 59th Street bridge looms large outside her picture windows, and since she sees this every day, she was inspired to create dresses with strict lines and blocks of color that picked up the light just so. A gray neoprene trapeze dress featured cutouts in the shape of orange circles that made it look like the bridge would on a happy, sunny day (pictured, above). She had also pasted a row of orange circles on the wall next to the dress, a canvas with just a touch of color.

“I like minimalism,” Perry said. “Not every white space needs to be covered.”

On the way out, the elevator attendant pressed a button that somehow alerted a taxi was required, and by the time shoe hit pavement, the cab had arrived.

“Comfort is luxury,” is the to-the-point mantra of Victor Alfaro, who showed some fantastically mixed-up cable knits that are exclusives to Barneys and Net-a-Porter for the season. A slick burgundy knit dress was wrapped with bandage details as well, making it nice and cozy (pictured, below).

victor alfaro
Brian Ach/Getty Images

And it was time to learn something new when Rachel Comey served her fall show with dinner theater in artist Dustin Yellin’s Red Hook studio in Brooklyn, shortly after 7 p.m. Monica Lewinsky, Cindy Sherman, Natasha Lyonne, Justin Vivian Bond, and many other characters who are not the sort one would normally find at a fashion show, sat attentively as a character by the name of “Madame Hiver” introduced herself as a life coach to the assembled room. (It was the magical Tracee Ellis Ross in performance as one of her many alter-egos.) She said she was there to teach, urging guests to laugh wildly in the face of their neighbor, or to discover themselves through their vaginas (men, too).

“Everybody has an inner somebody,” Madame Hiver said, quite dramatically and with a lot of eye contact. “Let him or her out.”

rachel comey
JP Yim/Getty Images

When you think about it, isn’t that what fashion is for? Comey offered a proper, almost conservatively cut long-sleeve dress that was perversely made of leather, or a perfect color combination of unstructured pink jacket over a caramel button-front skirt (pictured, above), or just a sensible, chic shearling jacket. Hers are real clothes, neither simple nor overly done, that help create characters.

As Madame Hiver said, “If you don’t like your inner reality, make it up.”

Eric Wilson is InStyle's fashion news director. For more real-time insights during Fashion Week, follow him on Twitter and Instagram.

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