Rodarte, Ready-to-Wear (Fall 2011), New York Fashion Week

The breakdown of New York Fashion Week

'Strong and interesting all round', says Harriet Quick, Fashion Features Director at Vogue UK

Fashion as fetish? It’s a concept that Marc Jacobs mused on for his Autumn/Winter collection that finely fused old-world Parisian couture with futuristic high shine latex in severely contoured tailoring that cinched waspie waists on hobble skirts and neat little cropped jackets over demure white shirts. Marry that with mid-calf wedge wader boots, miniature berets and you get a glimpse of his complex, multi layered picture. It was not only the cut but the repetitive coin dot patterning rendered everywhere on tulle, as cut-out on latex and as spangly sparkles on long wool evening skirts that brought home the fetish idea. 

Talking long evening skirts, they are the tip for winter. Olivier Theyskens, in his first runway show for the mid-market label Theory (he debuted a capsule last season), created some lovely tailored ones in thick silk, topped with loose cropped cable sweaters. He has an elegant etiolated signature silhouette. Think of a Whistler woman hurtled into 2011. A four month pregnant Victoria Beckham went long too, away from her trademark va va voom retro look and into cocoon dresses (perfect for a bump) in rich brocades, slim silk gowns with hand pleated skirts falling from a dropped waist and trapeze coats in the colour of the season - crimson red. Her star is rising with recognition from the industry’s buyers and press and success on the shop floor. VB is building a discerning fan club who can afford the price tags and appreciate the grown up look and fit. 

New York’s young guard, still young (late twenties, early thirties) but with booming businesses, delivered accomplished collections full of urban spirit and a young working woman in their mind. These designers - Alexander Wang, Jason Wu, Thakoon - make up the Asian American brotherhood who have been raised in the US with  a ‘can do’ attitude but share an extraordinary work discipline. Couple that with serious financial backing and manufacturing (largely in the Far East) and here’s a formula to make big news and deliver the goods. Wang has just opened a huge flagship in SoHo on Grand Street. Marble floors, a cage like installation create his urban universe. This season think zippered parkas, combat pants in silk nylons and pretty sheer chiffons and deluxe devore mohair capes.  Wu combined intense baroque handiwork -  brocade, embroideries - on classically elegant shifts and neat tailored coats which might boast a lace trim on the sleeve, or gold frogging embroidery on a pleat crimson evening gown. With prices that hit below the “ help!” mark, Philip Lim’s designs have a buy me, wear me appeal. Scarf neck tweed jackets and leather culottes, splashes of emerald and ochre created a quirky take on his chic workwear. 

The old guard who created their businesses in the 80s were also on fine form relishing in fashion’s return to the glam and polished. Michael Kors' grey flannel suits and crystal strewn gowns looked ultra slick as did Ralph Lauren’s take on old world glamour (velvet floor length bias cut gowns and tux suits) and Donna Karan’s lovely wrap cardie jackets and slim skirts in grey and honey cashmeres.  

Back to fetish and a fetish with fabrics. Proenza Schouler were inspired by the Native American tradition taking blanket patterns into devore and rich jacquards in wrap dresses and luscious pieces that you want to reach out and touch. Rodarte, aka Kate and Laura Mulleavy, are the newly anointed stars of NYC fashion week. They have art school cred and a film/design world fan club. Most recently creating costumes for Natalie Portman in the film, Black Swan. They mused on American’s pastoral agrarian past with wheat sheaf prints on silk and crochet lace circle skirts topped with applique pony skin aprons.  Little House on the Praire but with an eco awareness and dark emotional undercurrent. Strong and interesting all round. 


Harriet Quick is the Fashion Features Director at Vogue UK