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Snapshots from New York Fashion Week

by Samantha Critchell
Tuesday Sep 29, 2009

Designers at New York Fashion Week, faced with a grim national mood, looked for solutions far, far away. Vacation destinations, both exotic and less so, were the inspiration for several spring 2010 collections.

Though the styles shown were meant for spring, you might not have known it by looking. The garments previewed at the Sept. 10-17 event made the models look more covered-up than usual. Leather, suede, long sleeves and black were all over the runways.

There were nods to the usual spring look - leather was lightened up to be more luxurious and buttery than the rock-star looks in stores now for fall 2009. But for the most part, the clothes spoke to the idea of seasonless dressing, which is all the buzz among retailers, since the weather - and the economy - seems less predictable than ever.

Michael Kors

Kors had a clear vision for his new collection: Use strategically placed pieces of a colorless acrylic material to add lightness and sex appeal to a season of "urbane renewal."

The Perspex pieces, which went down the sides of a black swimsuit and across the waist of a sky-blue shift for a full view of the models' skin, gave Kors' overall look for spring a bit of a '60s vibe.

A white leather shift dress with a zigzag of zippers down the front (worn by Kors muse Carmen Kass) kicked off the show. A bleach-splatter fitted dress, silver crinkle lamé sheath and black "cage" dress - with a slashed bodice and checkerboard of black patent leather as its back - all looped back to Kors' interest in graphics and architecture.

But the collection also had a softer side, best illustrated by the painterly watercolor prints in lilac and sea foam used for silhouettes, including walking shorts and an origami-folded skirt.

Oscar de la Renta

The de la Renta collection had some of the elaborate beadwork and embroidery that are the designer's hallmark, but he also was aware of the times and the world around him, avoiding anything that would be considered too haughty.

A teal-blue coat with citrine-green embroidery topped a white lace dress. A strapless gown was covered in sunburned bronze-and-red sequins, while another gown had a bejeweled turquoise and coral waistband.

Safari jackets were paired with skinny silk-faille pants, and a pair of linen gaucho pants was worn with a white cotton blouse and a bronze tweed jacket. The models in the more traditional de la Renta evening wear - taffeta and organza gowns in bright fuchsia and red as well as a black lace-and-organza ruffled and embellished one - wore lace mantillas on their heads.

The most elaborate outfit was the finale piece: a strapless gown made of layers upon layers of gray and blue tulle with a bodice covered in crystals.

Isaac Mizrahi

Forget clothes for a minute: Mizrahi knows how to put on a show. With a rain spray, wind machine, spotlights and a staircase incorporated into his catwalk, Mizrahi even sent out one model in a golf cart wearing a black-sequin shorts suit - and a white top hat, of course.

The evening wear is what sparkled: A strapless black cocktail dress with a giant white rose on the bustline, and a fluted gown covered in black lace and tufts of tulle, both captured classic Mizrahi and his theme of a retro country club.

Mizrahi also needs a fix of kookiness, though, and this go around he accomplished that with an iridescent lava lamp-fringe coat.

Narisco Rodriguez

The Rodriguez spring collection was a study of restraint on one side and freedom on the other. They came together for a knockout finale dress: a fairly simple, silver silk tank-style gown with a shorter hemline in front and a flowing back that caught the wind of the runway and had a parachutte-like effect.

Rodriguez, best known for his tight, architectural look, hit on one of the popular silhouettes of the season: skirts and dresses that seem to hit one length, but actually have a sheer section at the bottom that makes them much longer.

A white jacket with a double peplum (the bottom one also of a sheer fabric) over a white silk-mesh tank and skinny pants was one of the best daytime looks.

3.1 Phillip Lim

The 3.1 Phillip Lim woman has done a lot of growing up in the past few months. When we last saw her on the runways, she wore a patchwork of kind of kooky Carnaby Street styles. Now, she is all business - but not in a boring way.

This woman wears with confidence the new suit for spring, with its shorts instead of pants, and, if she does go the pants route, she wears them rolled at the ankle. The most interesting change in the dominant silhouette that Lim previewed was a high, rolled waistband.

On models, it looked modern with little cropped tops and short jackets, but who knows how this will translate to anyone without the long, lean figure of the catwalkers.

Lim had other styles for her, like a camel lambskin tank top with a ribbon-tie back worn with a terra cotta-colored washed sateen short, and that same camel leather on a shift dress with a tan, cropped, collarless Macintosh style coat.

Ralph Lauren

Basic means something else when you're Ralph Lauren. It means silver-sequined slashed jeans, organza "work-shirt" dresses and even a metallic blue-lamé gown with coveralls trademark details.

Lauren, who embodies the classic American sportswear look, said he wanted to craft spring-season clothes that reflected the "resilient spirit" of the nation - and its work ethic.

The simplest looks on the catwalk were the floral dresses that featured sweet, delicate floral prints reminiscent of those farm wives wore in the 1930s. Denim was more dominant than usual, with silhouettes ranging from a tailored, suit-style jacket to rolled-ankle work jeans.

Calvin Klein

The easy elegance that has become the hallmark of the spring shows was alive and well on the Calvin Klein runway. The simple and sophisticated palette that creative director Francisco Costa favors this season was dominated by white, black and a neutral color he called porcelain.

What was new here was the looser shape and an emphasis on textures. In recent history, Costa has focused on architecture, but this was more about needle-punched fabrics, crinkle silk and a bit of mohair. A white dress with all-over crushed pleats was the perfect thing to wear for cocktails after a day at the beach.

Most styles were short, as has been the trend, and the looks that were long mostly had a sheer bottom, adding to the feeling of lightness, even if the sleeves often were long or models were wearing jackets.


It was a gray day on the Doo.Ri runway, where the designer presented an ensemble of shorts, dresses and blouses in varying shades of gray.

But while gray is certainly plain, Doo.Ri's spring collection was anything but. Pleats, plissé, tulle and ruffles brought sophistication.

Dresses ranged from a gray short-sleeve V-neck dress with a drawstring at the waist and a crinkled skirt bottom to a short sheath tulle dress with silver sequins on the sides, making it look like a sewn-on, flashy jacket.

Even with a few flashes of dark blues and pinks, the sun never seemed to come out - but that's OK.

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