by Beth Hammarlund
So much has happened at NYFW that I can’t begin to address it all in a single column. At least not without losing my mind entirely, so I’ll be posting my thoughts on the shows in a series of columns. I’ll try to keep it short and sweet, but…I won’t. I’m going to write these columns about clusters of designers that make sense together, at least to me. In the first installment of my NYFW reviews, I’m going to address four collections that reference sex, politics, and the state of the American woman. That’s not to broad, right?
Mr. Jacobs presented a collection of black and white retro-wear that has everyone talking about Andy Warhol and The Factory. And yeah, he did the ’60s throwback in a way that felt, ironically, fresh and new. (Wait, that’s irony, right?) But what really piqued my interest were the multiple commentaries on the current political climate.
This year, his political references were all over the place. He captured our current American political bipolarity in his straight-edged black and white. (Getting pretty literal there, Marc. But no worries.) But even more interestingly, he reinterpreted the classic ’60s conservative work suit, still a staple in the wardrobe of many a political trophy wife, by dropping skirt waists down past jutting hipbones, cutting a swath of bare skin low enough to recall Alexander McQueen’s bumsters of the ’90s. It recalled an era in which women first entered the office, while also incorporating a bold sexiness that was less about sex appeal and more about sexual empowerment. Prim collars and dainty scallops daintied up crotch-grazing minidresses, and a reference to nostalgic Americana popped up in and an old school Mickey Mouse cropped top. (The black and white Mickey, suddenly looking quite sinister.) The whole shebang was sex on a carrot stick. A pleasant and unnerving combination of Edie Sedgwick and, shudder, Ann Romney, a woman who hasn’t quite caught up to that whole sexual liberation thing quite yet. Oh, and most important of all: Beetlejuice. Beetlejuice. Beetlejuice.
Thakoon Panichgul’s spring collection may not seem particularly political, but you’d be hard-pressed to argue that the theme of birds in gilded cages doesn’t resonate with the current debate on women’s rights. I mean, come on, the opening dress was edged in golden bars, an elegantly structured prison. Perhaps by accident, Thakoon addresses the state of the American woman in the gentlest way possible. And damn, these clothes are pretty. Duchess satin, floral knits, and delicate prints of birds were a refreshing change of pace from all of the dark leathers that dominated last season’s runways. And you guys, he clearly watches Portlandia. He put a bird on it.
I couldn’t talk politics and fashion without referencing Jason Wu, he of the beloved Michelle Obama inaugural gown of ye olde 2008. But this year, Wu stepped away from the restrained girlishness that he’s known for, and went full-tilt dominatrix. So. Much. Leather. He found a great little dichotomy in one particular number, an apron dress, backless and black. Clevah, Wu. The theme of the show was one of sex sex sex, and the designer succeeded more than I would have expected considering he completely disregarded his own comfort zone.
In a collection as pleasantly surprising as Jason Wu’s, Altuzarra placed his personal stamp on a new generation of American workwear. Blazers were vented for more freedom of motion and an incredibly pleasing line. Railroad coverall stripes were reborn as couture daywear, and a Gordon Gekko-style shirt made an appearance, though this version plunged to the waist. And as several reviewers before me have already pointed out, his easy-to-step-into zippered cocktail dresses guaranteed that his customers won’t need a husband to zip them up.
Stay tuned for more reviews this week. I’ll touch on as many designers as possible, so help me god.
Click HERE for Beth’s Spring 2013 NYFW reviews of Richard Chai Love, Peter Som, Lela Rose, Rebecca Minkoff and Suno.
Click hERE for Beth’s Spring 2013 NYFW reviews of Calvin Klein, Oscar de la Renta, Narcisco Rodriguez and Ralph Lauren.
Click HERE for previous installments of String Theory.