If there was one consistent thread running throughout the Fall shows, it was respect for women. Women were made to look mysterious, alluring, beautiful. There was a conjoined effort for women to look good, feel good about themselves, show some pride and class, uniformly from every collection.
This year's collections are going to be the benchmark, and reflect the pride of the American History of fashion for a long time to come.
Some big trends were spotted runway wide in New York last week. Some big big news in fashion this season means customers and retailers will be holding their breath until the wave hits stores in the late fall/early spring.
And some designers that might have been considered also-rans in other years just totally shone, most notably Chaiken and Chado Ralph Rucci. Every collection shone this year.
This is the year the women of New York scratch and bite to get the runway models because the clothes will sell out, out out. There were several cohesive stories taking place in almost every collection. Ralph Lauren did a now-familiar British Colonial stuck in Africa trope that went down successful to watch, even if everyone can't pull off a 6-foot balmacaan and sautoir pearls for day.
Calvin Klein went into a more subtle daze than seen of late, possibly wearable by the elite few who should be seen in his clothes and no one else. Vera Wang, noted for gala and bridal wear, contributed an exotic dark princess look with incredibly fine detail that may or may not rule the club/party scene this fall.
Overall the look is softened and feminine. As soignee as you want it to be. Classic silhouettes abound. Elegance even for day casual wear was shown. One can actually key accessories to clothes and not look around shamefacedly. People don't have to regret anymore that they know how to dress.
Indeed, Chado Ralph Rucci's collection looks like a Tippi Hedren wardrobe sketchbook from Hitchcock's "The Birds". But it's a skilled homage to the 40's-50's stylebook. If a woman can't find a color and fabric or a piece from that collection to drool over, she isn't trying.
The biggest surprise (for me) was the Chaiken group. Not the loftiest height of statements but Dear God how I wish a trunk of those clothes in my size would fall off the back of a truck. I would be happy, happy happy.
Rarely do I see a collection where I want everything everything everything. Think Ralph Lauren in 1987. The "please please please" factor. Chaiken looks like stuff you want to put on right now.
An Embarassment of Riches
The style grapes for this year's Fashion Week were so good something must be in the water in New York, the designs are so amazingly wearable and the depth of quality of color and style across all types of designer is so strong.
The mouth-watering displays made the celebration of Olympus fashion week a real delight this year, instead of just another round of retail-happy designers hoping against hope the desperation won't show through.
It's a rare season when you can't decide which dresses you like better, The Erin Fetherstein, the Zac Posen, the J. Mendel, or the Temperley. When all the new designers really race neck and neck with the old guard. When the Carolina Herrera pieces and the ones by Michon Schur look like they really do need to be home in your closet right now.
20's-30's era satin, gold, glamor
Dust off those credit cards, because by the time the copies of the Fall runways make their way to the malls, everyone will be doing the glamour thing. Fur, matelasse, satin, gold lame, shirred and glazed silk. This is the time to wear the most glamorous pieces available for quite a while. Be warned: if you don't have some sizzle for night, don't go out.
Black and white
Black and white has usually been the province of one fashion house and one alone: Chanel. Chanel launched a brilliant collection in Paris, complete with the red hunting influences, millinery statements, and razor-sharp glamor Mademoiselle would have approved of. The little glazed silk hat in black is a must-have.
But class is making a comeback all over and the design trend in black and white was present at almost every single designer's show. Everyone can make black and white fresh and work for them. But each designer made the black and white elements their own, instead of generating a grimly received set of Chanel style copies.
This was true from Betsey Johnson, whose stunning polka dots looked fun and wearable, to Jeremy Scott, who had Lydia Hearst toting a machine gun with a patriotic red white and blue swimsuit. Lacoste showed some laser-sharp black and white mod tennis wear.
Lydia Hearst is the hot new name and face in New York modeling. She is the heiress daughter of Patty Hearst, herself seen the world over toting a machine gun for the terrorists that captured and brainwashed her. Her daughter is taking over the media too, but from the runway. She is the daughter of the recovered Hearst and the bodyguard she later married.
Big yellow, shiny yellow, flirty yellow, ruffly yellow, abstract yellow, serious mustard, printed and blocked yellow with black and white and on its own. Not just for resort, yellow is making a huge comeback. If you have to pick one new accessory to wear with your black and white this fall, make it yellow and see how it sings.
But it wasn't just the use of yellow that stood out, it was how flatteringly it was incorporated into dresses from Diane Von Furstenberg or Marc Bouwer or tracksuits at L.A.M.B., or elsewhere. This harks back to the sparing use of yellow in a lot of 1980's YSL scarf prints and designer logo print looks. This will be very flattering to a lot of dark-haired ladies of all complections.
Long boho hair/club kid look
Long undressed hair hanging below shoulders accented the little girl/dropped waist frame of many hip scenester dresses. For those looking to get a little more casual wear out of their designer dollas, there are plenty of places to go. The best thing about a movement like this in one season means looks from all the designers become that much more wearable.
From washed gray linen to silk-look acetate to custom prints, the look says comfortable, wearable and easy. It looks like it might be fun to put on a pair of tights and boots and wear a pretty dress, what a thought.
The look for clubbing and nightlife is spirited and can be black and sparing but the punk influence is finished, no tatters or shreds. This is what a grown up woman wears when she wants to be clever but remain less than the laugh of the party.
Cinch waists, square shoulders, semi-unconstructed jackets, linen and silk looks hark back to '80's collections. Michael Kors showed many silhouettes that might have been cut straight from the Anne Klein 2 1990 Fall season. Taupe and black, square shoulders, pared down shoes, tasteful accessories, women are going to be looking like ladies again.
The fun came in the use of white, especially with black. Dropped waists, wide belts, square shoulder shirtdresses, taupe against black, the colorwheel and 1980's bag of style tricks showed up very prominently, most notably at Michael Kors. The Kors look book could be a trip in the wayback machine to 1988.
The big color stories were, black and white, yellow, and rple and blues. Every designer had something to say in Chanel classic style of black and white, but each new flare and updated kick was given an interpretation from the hippest and cutting edge designers as well as the traditional couture holdouts.
While the man in the street may not understand what this means, fashion-conscious dressers do. Black has been the reigning hip color for so long, with a little brown and navy every so often, people have forgotten how to dress in color. In the past few years usually only resort or vacation wear collections got the nod for red and green.
But this year some red pieces from everywhere from Carolina Herrera to Marc Bouwer will have people shaking out their checkbooks to the last penny. The investment value of a signature piece is back again and looking wearable at least for a while. It might actually be fun to wear things twice.