NEW YORK, N.Y. - Remember clapping? As in when a fashion designer puts on his runway finale and then takes a bow before an adoring crowd.
The fashion hordes these days are way too busy tweeting, Instagramming and taking video with their smartphones to put those busy hands together. But more often than not, so are the fashion houses.
Technology has taken over in important ways for designers and was ready made for this New York Fashion Week as the huge storm had the elite teetering around Manhattan in blowing snow, clutching those phones.
Audiences had already been on the bandwagon, taking phone pics from their seats and posting reviews online before the models were off the runway, but designers are figuring out how to use all the instant feedback to their advantage.
Before the snow hit, information went out to retailers, editors, stylists and bloggers on how to view the Donna Karan and Helmut Lang shows online and through phone apps for those unable to attend in person.
Rachel Roy and Peter Som switched to entirely digital catwalk shows. Rebecca Minkoff and Kenneth Cole beamed live tweets on the walls, with Cole pledging donations to amFAR if a certain hashtag was used during the show.
Tommy Hilfiger collected curated interactions — and added some himself — that were shared with guests entering and exiting his menswear show. He planned to do the same Sunday for his women's collection.
Still clutching those phones, the crowds dealt Saturday — Day 3 of the eight days of fall previews — with the storm's mush of an aftermath in their dash around town and at the Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week tents at Lincoln Center.
The industry will shift to Milan, London and then Paris after the shows close here Feb. 14.
With buzz and anticipation building for his debut collection for Balenciaga, Wang used his own show to make the statement that his signature line is still very much on his mind.
The collection of finely tailored pieces in luxe and lush textured fabrics seemed elevated from the more casual and funky styles he's turned out the past few seasons, although there was the sportswear twist he is best known for woven into every look. It was a sophisticated turn — and trick — to pull off.
The song "Eye of the Tiger" of "Rocky III" fame was the underlying theme music as the models stepped onto the runway in the lobby of the ornate Cunard Building at the southern tip of Manhattan. (It was a drastic change in vibe from the airplane-hanger feel of the pier he had shown in for years that now is hosting the Westminster Dog Show.)
The catwalkers wore fur boxing gloves and hoods, with an opening for their ponytails, wrapped tightly around their heads, and fuzzy footwear. Sweatshirt-style tops were made of mohair with a touch of metallic, and fur had a burnout effect. He said he "disguised" some of the richest fabrics by brushing them, re-embroidering them and mixing them to make them modern.
Military touches are shorthand in high fashion for strength and confidence. Gurung added some exclamation points, specifically citing as his muse a woman in combat.
There has been much in the news — and Gurung is a newshound — about the Pentagon's decision to open more on-the-ground options to women and also technological advances in women's body armour.
"They're redesigning the whole uniform for women because all this while they've been wearing men's uniform," he said backstage.
That led Gurung to think about women's empowerment, all the way to women he read about from the Ukraine who are coming together in self-defence against human trafficking.
There were smart jackets with gold hardware and some with red-and-black brocades, crisp navy suits, and leather harnesses over stretch-crepe dresses with sexy slashes on the bodice and asymmetric peplums and hemlines.
There had to be a little femininity mixed in with the aggressiveness, Gurung explained, because it's femininity that gives women their best tool "to rule a man's world."
BAND OF OUTSIDERS
Scott Sternberg's womenswear customer likes her jackets, especially blazers. For fall, they're getting them with a little 1940s flair.
The designer would like to see her wearing them with great trousers like the women of the era who knew how to work — with feminine wiles — the borrowed-from-the-boys look.
But, Sternberg said, he doesn't want her to be clichéd, either, so he tossed some 1980s videogame references for good measure.
He had been in contact with Atari to partner on some holiday menswear gifty items when the light bulb went off for more refined women's clothes, Sternberg explained.
"We're turning Atari images into really chic prints for women on things like cardigans with Swarovski crystals on top," he said. " Video games on top of the '40s: It's kind of insane but kind of cool."
Opulent Touches and intense tones of malachite green, oxblood red and amethyst were Lhuillier's red carpet calling cards.
With the Oscars around the corner, the drama on Lhuillier's runway was wrapped in beads on lace and punctuated by malachite, with illusion effects, plunging backs and strapless glamour.
Lhuillier has been lucky in Hollywood (Julianne Hough at the Golden Globes) and hopes these gowns will help continue her run.
"Well you know, every time I start a collection I always say, 'What haven't I don't before, what's exciting, what's new, what do I want to accomplish this season?' So I wanted this girl to be super sexy. It's dramatic, mixed in with a little Art Deco, and just really intense colour and intense structure."
While she didn't skimp on comfy, everyday looks for fall, sending out cable knit dresses in bone and shaggy fur coats, her gowns stole the show — though her roomy cocktail dresses with high-low hemlines and swingy sheer overlays were pleasers, too.
She used a digital feather print on crepe for a sheath dress and a crepe strapless gown. A burnished brocade was printed on a tweed, notched-collar coat paired with black pants. Another print was an abstract of butterflies.
Lhuillier said backstage she "wanted to be darker, more sensual, and a little stronger and more confident" on the runway this time around. And she wouldn't talk Oscars.
"You'll have to wait and see but, um, anything is possible," she smiled.
Connie Britton, who appears in "Nashville," wore a fitted black Lhuillier on the front row and said her gowns are "pretty fantastic." Actress Bridget Moynahan was in a red Lhuillier and calls the designer "a good friend to have."
It was that easy: Stuart woke up one day thinking about how stylish British model Stella Tennant and her friends were, so Stuart thought she would create a wardrobe just for them.
She aimed to dress an aristocratic fashion risk-taker for all those parties at castles in the English countryside.
"I was thinking about the beautiful dinners and the charades she and her friends play, and the great performances they see at the end of the night," Stuart said backstage.
Her offerings include a plum-colored halter dress covered in satin flowers, a more tailored dress in black wool with more sharply cut flowers, and a white sheer man-tailored shirt paired with black evening shorts and a full-cut long black coat.
Miller's collection was called "Menswear With a Twist: Raiding the Boyfriend's Closet."
It was the good girl meets bad boy, packing a wardrobe of tough leather jackets, pleated skirts and several fedoras for the adventure. No apologies to mom.
There were particularly short knit dresses and a skin-hugging corset dress in a print called "tatooage," which looked exactly as it sounds.
And there were outfits more in line with what's expected from Miller, including a long dress in a wallflower print with a ruffle front and a stretch-denim dress with sexy net inserts.
The black matte-jersey, floor-length dress, with a dropped leather waist and notched V neck, that closed the show was the right high note to leave on.
But where Miller saw "golf pants" on a pair of loose baggy trousers paired with a burned out velvet-and-georgette blouse, the audience might have seen glorified sweats.
Feminine beaded tops over boy shirts were paired with punky skinny pants adorned with zippers as Taylor explored Frank Lloyd Wright and the Lower East Side of the 1980s.
"I had been reading that book, 'Loving Frank,' and I wanted everything to feel a little bit more architectural," said the New Zealander based for years in New York. "It inspired me to look at his work because I hadn't been terribly aware of architecture, really."
A black tweed and leather T-shirt was shown with an olive green stretch leather pencil skirt to capture both inspirations. Taylor paired a black, box-pleat top with a girly peplum and a frayed design in a tweed skirt done in wine red.
A black pleated leather skirt was trimmed in a mesh-like lace and worn with a pleated top in plum.
The collection for fall, Taylor said, was definitely more structured and tailored than her work in the past, with help from a bonded stretch knit that created a delicate texture.
She patched colours together in an ode to Wright's famous stainglass windows, relying on petrol blue, ruby, lavender, violet and camel.
Max Azria wanted to infuse the metal sculptures of the artist duo Les Lalanne with the bandage silhouette of the Herve Leger line, but what he got was urban jungle-inspired armour.
Azria mixed studs, exposed zips, fur and beading with the bandage silhouette for which Leger and his namesake label are known, creating a riot of black, white and autumnal animal prints.
It all seemed demure, thanks to a below-the-knee hem and fur hooded goatskin sweatshirts that didn't seem out of place after the blizzard.
Demure isn't a word normally associated with Herve Leger, yet nary a knee peeked out of the collection. Whenever the lower hem wasn't covering up legs, tight black leggings made of bandage strips and knee-high boots covered up any skin.
The brand, long popular among club-going types, debuted a line of footwear during the show — boots that were, like the clothes, dark, sleek and skin tight.
Minkoff named her colours after planets and other spacey things.
A winter white was "Saturn" and used for a leather motocross jacket. The colour caramel became "eclipse" for a leather duffel coat.
Minkoff put a twist on the colorblocking trend that has been around now a few seasons by mixing chunks of different textures instead of contrasting hues. That technique was also seen on the runways of Jason Wu and Nicole Miller.
Minkoff's soft-line exaggerated shoulder, instead of the aggressive ones that were so popular on the runways a few years ago (and in the 1980s), also turned up elsewhere.
The collection "embarks on a voyage to the future, marrying modern, spacesuit-like construction details and a new sophisticated grunge attitude," Minkoff wrote in her notes.
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