NY Fashion Week: Kors, Delpozo, DKNY, Proenza Schouler
NEW YORK -- The Associated Press is all over New York Fashion Week, from the runway designs to the celebrity-filled front rows. Here are some recent highlights:
A MEDITATION ON CONTROL AND RELEASE, AT PROENZA SCHOULER
It was fitting in more than one way that Proenza Schouler managed to secure the venue of venues - the newly reopened, downtown Whitney Museum of American Art - for their fashion show Wednesday night.
First, the designing duo - Lazaro Hernandez and Jack McCollough - cite artist Frank Stella as one of the influences on their new collection, and the Whitney's exhibit of Stella's work just closed. In fact, the fashion show was held in the same beautiful room overlooking the Hudson River.
And second, each Proenza Schouler garment arguably resembles a Stella artwork - with colorful layers constructed together in ingenious ways.
The designers presented a runway show that was a meditation on control and release. The control was at the top of the body - with laces and knots and tight-fitting tops.
"And then it all falls into kind of a slouchier silhouette," McCollough said backstage. "The trousers are big, and the shoes are a bit lower, for a woman to be able to walk fast, with freedom and confidence."
Beyond the concept of control and release, the idea of process and materials was key, and it harked back to American art of the '60s and '70s.
"It's about the process, not the outcome," McCollough said.
Regardless, the outcome seemed pretty pleasing to the crowd, which included actress Liv Tyler. Especially appealing were figure-hugging knit dresses that appeared to display control, with their shape, and release, with their softness, at the same time.
MARCHESA, INSPIRED BY SARGENT'S PORTRAITS
Many designers get inspiration for their fashion collections from the art world. This season, Marchesa designers Georgina Chapman and Keren Craig chose the art of famed American portrait painter John Singer Sargent, who died in 1925, to inspire their always sumptuous, red-carpet ready designs.
"Each girl is going to feel like her own portrait ... so we have different characters weaving through the collection," Chapman said in a backstage interview. "But they all tie together, they are all glamorous, ethereal, a Marchesa woman."
Specifically, the designers were aiming at capturing "the ultra-feminine strength " of the women that Sargent painted, and as always, the dresses and gowns were nothing if not ultra-feminine.
There were sleek, fitted silhouettes as well as princess-style gowns. There was lots of lace and intricate beading, of course, and brocades and silk flowers.
There were, as the designers described them, "pops of color," for example a dramatic red-to-black ombre tulle ballgown with a tiered skirt and laser-cut organza flowers. There were more casual cocktail dresses too, such as an amethyst-to-lilac ombre fringe dress with floral beading.
On the more fairy-tale side of things, there were a few dresses in filmy pastel tulle, such as a duck egg tulle Grecian gown with billowing sleeves.
Besides the ornate beading, the designers made use of feathers, too, as in a dusty blue ostrich feather cocktail dress with an organza sash.
With the Oscars coming up soon, the designers have yet to find out if their designs will make their way to the red carpet. "We hope!" they both said in unison.
-Gina Abdy and Jocelyn Noveck
A FEATHER FEST AT MICHAEL KORS
If you had to pick one adjective to sum up Michael Kors' latest collection, a good bet might be "feathery."
The designer was going for "the flirty freedom of things that move," to quote his production notes, and there were flirty feathers on at least 10 of the looks he sent down the runway - starting with feathers adorning a pair of jeans, and moving to feathers on a houndstooth tweed coat, on a denim or tweed skirt, and on black silk for ultimate evening effect.
There were also plenty of sequins, adding a very bright sheen to some of the fashions, especially a silver sequin embroidered "streamer" dress, with the hem cut into strips that indeed looked like streamers, and also a pair of seriously glistening silver metallic stretch tulle pants.
Kors always has a healthy celebrity contingent at his fashion shows, and Wednesday's event was no exception: Blake Lively and Jennifer Hudson were among the front-row guests. They were there to witness an anniversary of sorts for Kors.
"I'm not one for anniversaries and I'm really not a big kind of looking-over-my-shoulder kind of guy," Kors said in a backstage interview. "But when I started designing this I realized, oh my God, this is my 35th fall collection. That's crazy!"
Kors added that as he reflected on the milestone, he realized the most important thing was to keep his fashion fun.
"I wanted this to be full of fun and charm," he said. "So it's very flirty, short, leggy, not a gown in sight. All the rules are broken because stylish people break the rules ... The seasons are crazy anyway. So when the weather's terrible, don't you want to put on a fabulous apple green coat to change your spirits? Don't you want to wear tweed with flowers? Don't you want to put feathers on flannel? Wear flats at night? Wear metallic for a day?"
Lively had brought her mom along, a former model who, the actress said, used to make clothes for her kids when they were growing up.
"It's so nice," she said of attending a Kors show as a fan. "You sort of like high-five everyone when a great piece comes out, which is often. I'm excited to go hug him backstage afterward."
-Jocelyn Noveck and Nicole Evatt
NATURE AND FRITZ LANG'S FUTURE AT DELPOZO
Delpozo creative director Josep Font is nothing if not a romantic, even when he's honoring the lady robot of Fritz Lang's 1927 classic film "Metropolis."
But wait. There's more to this Spaniard's fall/winter collection. Blended with his severe geometry and his cool metallics of silver, gold and bronze is the powerful strength in nature of digital illustrator Daria Petrilli, in tiny-waisted Victorian coats and beautifully sequined evening gloves in riots of three-dimensional flowers.
Both Lang and Petrilli are more than a little evident in the details. The Madrid-based brand is known for volume, which Font said in an interview poses a slight challenge in the United States. Not everybody will be drawn to his huge bows at the neck and overly rounded shapes.
But here, he used volume daintily in spots. Some dresses had large block leaf motifs in fabrics that offer the same soft but structured curves as the scuba material so popular on runways in years past.
Font also speaks fluently in pleats, putting a soft version on a long tulle train on a finale gown in black, and razor-sharp pleats elsewhere, including a skirt where they stand on their own at the waist.
He carried flora and fauna detailing into embroidery, putting delicate orange stems on black evening looks. One of his appliques came in red leather squares and rectangles.
Font is a humble romantic, declaring in his spare English the outdoors as a major love.
"All weekends I am going to the country," he said. "I love my garden to connect with nature."
NARCISO RODRIGUEZ, PROSPECTING FOR MINERALS
For his new collection, Narciso Rodriguez went prospecting for minerals.
Mineral colors, that is. "I opened up and let much more color into the collection," said the designer, who often sticks to sleek black and white, in a backstage interview. "There are great mineral tones, of sulphur, chrome, aluminum, granite, onyx."
That onyx color showed up early on, in a lush cashmere handknit sweater and wrap scarf. Sulphur appeared in a "crushed paper" silk dress, and in a darker suede dress. The granite color graced a cashmere handknit sweater, paired with a silk skirt and top.
Another change for Rodriguez: the textures. "I found and developed very beautiful cashmere techniques, pleated fabrics, and distressed fabrics," he said. "I'd never worked with them before. They're traditional fabric techniques that were then converted into modern fabric. I left them unlined and a bit deconstructed."
Rodriguez has a loyal celebrity clientele, and sitting in the front row Tuesday night was actress Claire Danes, who said her TV shooting schedule for "Homeland" had prevented her from attending many of his shows in the past.
"I am a fan and a friend of Narciso's and I haven't been home for a really long time," Danes said. "So finally I get to show up. And yeah, his work is wonderful and I just want to support him. I feel most myself when I wear his clothes."
Backstage, Rodriguez was philosophical about the idea of "fast fashion," meaning designers having garments ready for sale right after they're shown on the runway, rather than months later.
"I think everything's too fast," Rodriguez said. "People lose sight of the fact that for a true designer, they need to create a very special very unique thing, whether it's luxurious or at any price point, to create things that are desirable. And whether you show them and ship them today or in a few months, if you create something that's very good someone will make it a part of their lives."
"And for me that's always a big part of the design process, how do you seduce a woman, how do you excite her about buying new things and get excited about fashion" he said. "And how do you keep her intrigued enough that when she saw it on the runway and bought it X amount of time later, and then in two years or 10 years still has the same feeling (about it), that's a great thing. I love things like that, that I've made a commitment to."
-Jocelyn Noveck and Nicole Evatt
SOPHOMORE SEASON FOR DKNY'S DESIGNERS
Dao-Yi Chow and Maxwell Osborne are two pretty happy guys.
The Public School founders unveiled their sophomore season as creative directors of DKNY after two fashion-week rounds for their own brand. And they had some fun.
The two used bright red shoe laces for lace-up detailing worthy of a '90s club on red and black satin skirts and dresses. They rocked out a nice red plaid for dresses, coats and jackets, and they warned the world: "Don't Knock New York" on a black sweatshirt as they played with messaging like their predecessor and mentor Donna Karan did years before them.
One of their outfits included: "Insert Logo Here."
So how does it feel to have all that behind them?
"Yeah the pressure's a bit off," Osborne said in a post-show interview of their second DKNY collection. "We had to get the first show out of the way for us to feel comfortable, get situated, feel everything out."
As they did the first time, they turned men's suiting into something else, cropping pinstripes for jackets, jumpsuits, shorts and trousers. They hung some oversized looks on straps with tails that fluttered down the runway. And they took "puffer" to a new level in jumpsuits and monstrous scarves some models wrangled as they walked.
The two felt loose, figuratively and literally, having in their minds the sexy tomboy bands of the '90s, along with their own New York City childhoods of the same era, especially in the heavy rubber-souled boots in black and brown that likely made their models just as happy as the designers.
"We wanted to play with those ideas of reappropriation that we had back in the 90s, of taking things that didn't necessarily belong to us or maybe fit in a city landscape. We wanted to inject that back into the collection," Chow said.
So about that one sweatshirt: Are people knocking New York?
"All the time," Osborne said.
"They do it all the time," Chow agreed.