RALPH LAUREN'S WINTER WONDERLAND
With a model's tip of a high floppy hat for the cameras and others wrapped in furry shearling, Ralph Lauren put on a show of sexy — and warm — elegance.
Forget shades of grey. Lauren stuck mostly to taupe and cream, in suede platform boots, cozy cashmere sweaters and fringe on coats, collars, ponchos and capes. Wide suede belts hung at the hip, offering a little oomph to a few body-skimming looks.
There were wide-brimmed hats in tune with Lauren's signature vibe, but he threw in some warm, Russian-style gems in shearling worthy of weather that put this round of fall previews in the deep freeze.
There was also black, in a floral lace evening dress, another in velvet with a scant back strap and a beautifully tailored leather skinny pant and jacket set.
So what'd Lauren have on his mind?
"The mix of clothes," he said after the last of two shows. "The very sharp black silhouettes for evening. Sexy, very bare. Daytime is cashmere and warm and (shearling) hats. The weather is changing and it sort of goes with the world."
Kanye West, who made his fashion week debut last week, sat on Lauren's front row with a smiling Chirlane McCray, the first lady of New York City.
"I love this so much. You know I love Ralph," West gushed. "He's the No. 1 inspiration. He's the greatest designer of our time."
In more detailed notes, Lauren said he wanted to create a "sensual, textural world, a warm cozy winter wonderland of strength and dimension. From lush sophistication to the nomadic romance of artisanal shearlings to the spirit of simple elegance."
He didn't forget the sparkle, pairing a bronzy strapless sequin evening dress with one of his sensible hats and shearling on the arm to lend the wearer a fighting chance outdoors.
—Leanne Italie and Emerald Morrow
CALVIN KLEIN: A STOP FOR SALLY BOWLES
On her way to the Kit Kat Club in decadent 1930s Berlin, Sally Bowles stopped off at Calvin Klein.
That would be Sienna Miller, who just began a stint starring in "Cabaret" on Broadway, taking over for Emma Stone. Miller's been having a big year, with a major role in the movie "American Sniper" and now her theatre gig. Dressed in chic winter white, she had the seat of honour next to Vogue editor Anna Wintour at Thursday's show.
"I'm very excited," she said before the models came out. "Francisco (Costa) is a friend," she said of the Calvin Klein designer, "and I've managed to squeeze it in between my play, so I'm really happy to be here."
As for the clothes, Costa was clearly favouring patchwork leather in coats, jackets and dresses this season; fully half of his runway looks had it, in black, blush, chocolate, eggplant and forest green.
Costa also showed coats in haircalf, and dresses in a comfy-looking metallic knit. And he presented an extremely shiny patent leather peacoat, in burgundy and in black.
The designer said he was inspired by the very "vocal" type of woman he sees in New York — "very strong, very confident," he said.
Costa acknowledged that he was on his way to the Oscars next, but wouldn't reveal what actresses he might be dressing.
"They could change their minds," he explained.
—Jocelyn Noveck and Nicole Evatt
PROENZA SCHOULER: PERFECT FOR A (VERY HIP) MUSEUM
It felt like no accident that Proenza Schouler showed their collection at the imposing (and now empty) Whitney Museum on Madison Avenue. Design duo Jack McCollough and Lazaro Fernandez are so innovative — even audacious — with fabric work, their garments could be shown in glass cases and wouldn't look out of place. But that would have been a shame, since many of the items — including some soft tweed coats with nice wide belts — seemed perfect for the freezing night air outside.
Wednesday's event drew an artsy crowd, all the better to appreciate the show's theme: The art movement called the New York School, a mid-20th century group of artists based in New York, including abstract expressionist painters. Particularly, the designers say they were inspired by the paintings of Helen Frankenthaler, and her "instinctual and spontaneous approach" to her art.
The designers say that led them not to overthink their designs, and clearly that worked for them, because the collection left many in the crowd gushing over the creativity on display.
The early part of the show — which took place in an upstairs gallery with models crisscrossing each other between the seated rows at a brisk pace — focused heavily on that thick, luxurious tweed, often in grey or black. There was also a striking "spotted calf" fabric that looked exactly what it sounds like.
The Proenza designers use titles for their fabrics that hint at the complex development process: "Boiled felt," for example, and "needle-punched chiffon-crepe." The collection moved from those comfy tweeds to gauzier items to dresses and tops that, like bandages, wrapped around the body and tied in back — no closures. If they literally looked like they had been stripped apart, it seems they had been. Drawing from the work of sculptor Robert Morris, "clothes are cut, slashed and pieced together to create a feeling of movement and freedom," the designers wrote in a statement.
Often designers' themes and inspirations sound silly and unrelated to the garments on show. Not here, though. Even the hosiery looked like a work of contemporary art — with huge oval holes making the black tights look like super-artsy fishnets.
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