This Week's Wow: A Fashion Whirlwind, From Charles James to the Dior Cruise After-Party
In this weekly feature, InStyle’s Fashion News Director Eric Wilson shares his favorite fashion moment of the week, and explains how it could shape styles to come. Look for it on What’s Right Now every Friday.
The Moment: Where to begin? This week was a Wow from start to finish, with major fashion events in New York City for the opening of the Charles James exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, a Dior cruise collection that had well-heeled customers riding ferries across the East River to a fantastically customized studio at the Brooklyn Navy Yard, and after parties and dinners for multiple new designer projects.
Carolina Herrera, observing the designer-packed scene at the Met for a Monday morning preview (complete with a ribbon-cutting by Michelle Obama), described it best. Many of the guests had just returned from their spring breaks, but there was no lack of energy when the crowd included Donatella Versace mingling with Victoria Beckham, Ralph Lauren with Marc Jacobs, Sarah Burton, Michael Kors and many more. Standing between Donna Karan and Calvin Klein, Herrera said, "Whenever you arrive back in New York, it's like you are plugged into electricity."
Interestingly enough, it was a similar notion about America that sparked the idea for Dior to bring its cruise show to New York on Wednesday, after showing in Monaco last year. Raf Simons, the artistic director, said he was interested in distilling the idea of American style into "a pure, new form for Dior." And this was an elaborate spectacle, with five yellow water taxis decked out in Dior décor, and dozens of handsome attendants in gray sailor tops greeting guests with champagne.
"The pop culture, the energy, the fluidity—there is just something so alive here," Simons said in his press notes. And his designs seemed to speak to the practical side of American life, with simplicity of cut displayed in neutral coats and bias dresses. Oh, there were also some phenomenal textured dresses, combining panels of bright floral embroidery with what looked like home-spun macramé, and, in a nod to Dior's French roots, lots of dresses and tops made of layered print scarfs.
Why It's a Wow: The fun didn't stop there. Dior's after-party went into high gear well after midnight, when Simons arrived. The setting was The Top of the Standard, the same spot where some of the same people had been partying two nights early after the Charles James opening, which has been one of the Met's best-received Costume Institute exhibitions in years. And there was more New York energy to be found in events celebrating new handbag designs, including the debut of Snob Essentials, an HSN collection that launches on-air on May 15 from the Bag Snob bloggers Tina Craig and Kelly Cook, who hosted a dinner in celebration of their launch in which friends (including Nicky Hilton, pictured below, left) attended to show their support. The bags are cute, including smartly framed clutches made of "vegan-leather," a term the trendy kids are using these days rather than imitation, faux or fake.
And speaking of interesting materials in handbags, last but not least on Thursday, Narciso Rodriguez introduced his new designs for the Narciso Rodriguez (heart) Bottletop Collection, which promotes sustainability in fashion through the use of recycled aluminum pull tabs in design. Sound corny? It’s not...The bags and cases look as chic as woven mesh or leather "It" bags. Claire Danes (pictured below, right) was snapped clutching one.
Learn More: Check out our video report from the Dior cruise collection (above), with a guest appearance by Frédéric Tcheng, the director of the new documentary on Raf Simons’s arrival at Dior, called Dior and I.