Marissa Webb is the first one to admit that she’s repeating herself. “I’m sticking to the brand’s DNA of masculine-feminine, soft and hard, menswear tailoring, and feminine elements,” she said backstage. “It’s a spin-off of every other season.”
But good things often bear repeating. Webb has found her sweet spot of street-style-ready fare that young ladies who want to be cool will understand. They’re classic pieces that are styled differently and tweaked just a bit to set them apart from the wardrobe staples on the next rack. Take Fall’s gray suit, done here as a strapless double-breasted top, worn over a buttoned-up black shirt and fluid pants. Or the shirtdress rendered in see-me-now fire-engine red silk. The most interesting looks were a curved bomber and shell, both red felted and layered over silk skirts—a hint that perhaps there is more than just the status quo ahead.
A heavy dose of ’70s shapes and a palette inspired by ’60s interior design: merlot, sea foam, tangerine, dove grey, rust… the list goes on.
“Nobody dresses like that anymore”
The collection certainly had a distinctive look that took cues from the late 1960s and early ’70s, though Rowley didn’t feel beholden to a certain style or era.
Lhuillier said she was thinking about the ’20s when she started designing the collection, but the most interesting looks had a hint of ’70s glam rock. See the draped silk charmeuse dresses in teal, amethyst, and saffron; the jeweled black tights; the star-embroidered bodysuits layered under tailored coats; and a whole crop of colorful shearlings and mink chubbies. They didn’t really jell with the more ladylike dresses that opened the show, but when Lhuillier revealed her muse for the season—Kate Moss—it all made perfect sense.
The clothes were soft. So many pieces included some kind of fur or fuzz detail. There were tufted patches on cream shearling coats and jackets, as well as intarsia and mohair sweaters—kind of like caribou when they shed, but elegantly executed. Those items were paired with bouclé culottes, fluid color-blocked skirts, sweatpants, wrap suede skirts, and a belled-shorts silhouette also seen in Pre-Fall.
It doesn’t matter what time of year it is: Christian Siriano’s client wants color. And lots of it! So that’s what he gave her, inspired by a dream trip to the Congo rain forest. (Siriano hasn’t made it there just yet.) “She’s not shopping for another black coat,” he said backstage before the show. “It has to be something that she almost hasn’t seen before.”
To achieve that, Siriano worked quite a bit with patterns and texture. His fancy-lady day looks were heavy on the animal print: There was a sleeveless sheath dress in tiger cashmere, and a flouncy number in zebra crepe. He also used fuzzy alpaca in wine-red and camel to create cozy, multidimensional turtleneck dresses and topcoats.
As the collections pass, Altuzarra fine-tunes things. For Fall he ladled in more menswear tropes than in recent seasons. There was a lot of Prince of Wales check here. Beforehand he said he was thinking about 18th-century dandies and Truman Capote’s “swans” (Gloria Vanderbilt, Babe Paley, Slim Keith), the unifying factor being both parties’ predilections for dressing up. And so the coats on which he used that Prince of Wales check came with a deep flounce at the hem and were paired with delicate lace dresses. Or a jacket in the stuff that featured a generous fox collar (fox is absolutely everywhere this season) topped a baby pink pencil skirt boasting ruffled trim on the hip pockets and that signature Altuzarra slit.
“I don’t do years,” Carolina Herrera said before her show, explaining that she doesn’t like looking to the past for inspiration these days. “I’m trying to go to the future.”
T.H. staged the show at the Park Avenue Armory, which was transformed into a football stadium, with a Jumbotron capturing the fashion plays as models walked the AstroTurf runway in Ali MacGraw-inspired ’70s-prep silhouettes. They were wearing faux-fur stadium jackets with red-stitched toggles, wool cashmere ponchos, and several looks in bouclé plaid. The jacket of a shorts suit, for instance, was decorated with a knitted striped collar. Those athletic stripes added a sporty detail to just about every item, many of which were decorated with little pins and stars reminiscent of 1940s football paraphernalia.
Except that somewhere amongst all that, there were some pretty good-looking clothes that showed Posen is thinking about the business and the red carpet. “I draped most of the clothes myself on the weekends, so it’s very personal,” he said preshow, possibly referring to the hours he keeps at his other gig as creative director at Brooks Brothers. “I wanted to find a balance between the elegance of Grace Kelly and the fierceness of Chaka Khan,” he said. So, glamour meets attitude? There was that in a cinched plum fur chubby and pencil skirt; a dandified cashmere coat, cardigan, and bonded trouser; or a snug secretary-style sweater tucked into a sequined skirt. There were also a ton of wearable day looks: swingy jersey dresses in black, plum, and orange, and those skinny pants that, if you can fit into them, make legs look perfect. And the gowns—these were obviously primed for Oscar season, especially a beautifully simple cinched column with vertical green bugle beading, and a minimalist-leaning teal jersey gown worn under a gray cashmere coat.
The show closed with Posen and Naomi Campbell doing their best prom king and queen walk up and down the entire length of the runway. It was a little bit like watching an amusing movie about fashion.
Illustrations by Nadine Samarina