by Beth Hammarlund
First thing’s first! Last week I wrote up eleven NYFW shows, but there are a few more that I’d still like to touch on. Then, on to London!
I’ve been worried about Rodarte over the past several years. As much as I adore their work, the past few seasons haven’t inspired me the way that they used to. And then there was that whole thing where their PR team was pushing for them to be nominated for an Oscar for Best Costume Design for Black Swan, even though they weren’t the film’s costume designers and they only created several – kind of a slap in the face to costume designers everywhere. And then they named a nail lacquer from their collaboration with MAC “Juarez.” I get that the collection was inspired by Mexico, and, you know, super dark and stuff, but let’s maybe not name a fucking nail polish after a town where women are constantly being murdered or just disappearing altogether. So yeah, I’ve been disappointed with them several times as of late.
Fortunately, their Spring 2013 had plenty to get excited about. It was a collection that will be appreciated by D&D nerds across the world. Medieval warrior woman references dominated the collection, though several gowns eschewed the breast plate for a more delicate bodice.
Great-shouldered black leather vests dripping in fringe would have been a hit with Khal Drogo if he ever wore a shirt. Hopefully the sisters Mulleavy won’t design one piece for Game of Thrones and then have their PR team start pushing for a costume design Emmy.
Nothing new here. Pretty, pretty excess. Absolutely nothing groundbreaking. But soooo pretty. Especially this garnet fringe gown.
Zac Posen knows what works for him. His work rarely takes me by surprise, but it is consistently elegant and thoughtful. He’ll never be my favorite designer, but I will also always be hard-pressed to find anything negative to say about him.
His Spring 2013 collection featured plenty of well-cut delicate dresses in playful prints, but as usual, it was the gowns that stole the show. The man knows how to work organza and satin, and he makes a killer bodice.
I think Proenza Schouler’s been around long enough that we can stop calling Jack McCullough and Lazaro Hernandez wünderkinds. Please? These two very established designers showed another trend-making collection. This spring? Vests!!
After winning the CFDA award for Womenswear Designer of the Year, expectations were pretty high for Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen’s spring line. As usual, they went elegant and understated in filmy silks, whites, creams and pale mauves. As the looks gradually became more evening, the palette transitioned to red, navy and black.
The lines were clean, and the fabrics truly luscious. I once read that the Olsens start their design process with the textile, and you can certainly see the advantages of such a strategy in this collection. It translates to understated luxury.
Hard to believe that no one knew who this guy was a few years ago. Prabal Gurung presented a collection in moody black and white, with dashes of red and blue. His pieces showcased ruffles that were decidedly ungirly, while his feathery pieces were unapologetically so.
This collection wasn’t a huge hit with critics, and it’s true that he didn’t offer anything particularly groundbreaking. However there were plenty of separates that will easily work their way in to the closets of off-duty models and Hollywood cool kids.
All right, let’s move on from New York once and for all. London!
Christopher Kane has quickly become the most anticipated designer of London Fashion Week. He’s found mainstream success with plenty of young starlets eager to wear his pieces at photo calls and on talk shows, but he’s managed this without sacrificing his particular vision and dark inspirations. The collection began in monotone white, but still managed to convey an undercurrent of creepiness. Pastel dresses that appeared to have bolted together came down the runway.
A pink and white suit looked as if it had been constructed with black electrical tape, but artfully so, of course. By the time a blouse emblazoned with a portrait of Frankenstein made its appearance, it made total sense.
Though Preen has successfully shown collections during New York Fashion Week over the past several years, the company made the smart choice to move back to London this year. London’s a great spot for designers whose work still feels fresh and young, and Preen fits right in. Unfortunately, the design duo’s Spring 2013 collection was one of my least favorite of their collections to date. Though many of the incorporated prints were lovely on their own, they did not play well with others.
It was a relief when the visual barrage gave way to a series of English rose prints and stark whites. There was still plenty to love: relaxed day dresses, funky separates, edgy cocktail dresses. But it lacked the youthful vision that London Fashion Week is known for.
Alice Temperley has always been a little hit or miss for me, but her name and boho appeal have been successfully folded into the Anglo-London cultural lexicon. Fortunately, at least for me, her spring collection veered away from the bohemian influence that has won her a devoted following, leaving her free to explore new aesthetics and shapes outside of her comfort zone.
The collection was surprisingly glam, weaving in sheer panels and floral appliqués. The separates felt very “Grace Kelly on holiday,” while her peek-a-boo dresses were practically sex kittenish.
Hope you like metallics, because they were everywhere at Burberry Prorsum. No one does, or ever will do, the trench coat like Burberry. After all of these years, the house is still committed to reinventing its classic piece. For Spring 2013, designer Christopher Bailey went more glam than usual (what with the metallics), with several looks channeling a 1940s vibe, and others experimenting with color in a way that we’re not used to seeing from the brand.
One trench in particular, half lipstick red and half hot pink, would make for a showstopping walk down city streets. Another surpRise was the abundance of corsetry in the show’s cocktail dresses. Most were paired with coats and boleros, so I’m curious to see how they’ll look on their own when they make their inevitable red carpet debuts.
Roksanda Ilincic has become London’s go-to designer for unique color-blocking palettes and ladylike dresses that balance structure and fluidity. Her collections grow stronger with each season, and this relatively new designer is on her way to becoming a cornerstone of London Fashion Week.
She continued to play with the female form this week, raising waists and dropping hemlines. Billowy sleeves and high collars were both chaste and edgy, and the aggressive palette of royal blue, burnt orange, neon red and yellow, black, white and taupe was unexpectedly chic, considering the combinations of colors played against one another in a way that was instinctively off-putting. Somehow, she makes it work.
Mulberry is the ultimate brand of the London cool girl. At least, the London cool girl that can afford Mulberry. Nothing new to report here either, but there were some great little florals and, as usual, the bags rocked.
Where the hell did Erdem come from? Five years ago, the brand wasn’t even on my radar. Now, when I think prints, I immediately think Suno and Erdem. When I think Michelle Williams, I think Erdem. The line certainly owns floral, but this season, the designer drew his inspiration from science fiction, showing a collection with enough futuristic python print to appease even our Reptoid Overlords.
There were still plenty of pretty flowers, but they made appearances in shades of acidic yellow, neon orange and hot pink. It’ll be a fantastic change of pace for his usual customers, many of whom teeter on the edge of twee.
Peter Pilotto, another King of Prints. Dresses and separates came down the runway in detailed digital prints, stripes, precise beadwork, body-wrapping ruffles, and geometric cut-outs. Minimalist, it was not. But no one goes to Pilotto for minimalism. We expect him to deliver forward-thinking excess, and his Spring 2013 collection has excess in spades.
You want color? Well, I’m pretty sure he used all of them. The result was somehow both jarring without being overwhelming.
Another designer known for her prints. I’m starting to think someone should open a shop that sells only Mary Katrantzou, Peter Pilotto, Erdem and Suno. We could call it “Seizure.” Katrantzou tried something new this time around, creating prints based on vintage stamps. The effect was stunning, a beguiling collection by a talented designer who doesn’t take herself to seriously.
Katrantzou balanced the prints with basic structures and clean lines, transforming her whimsical adventure into something completely wearable. This is one of my favorite collections of the Spring 2013 season so far.
What Michelle Obama did for Jason Wu, Kate Middleton is still in the progress of doing for Issa. But it will be curious to see how much wear the princess gets out of Issa’s new collection. The brand is typically pretty safe, so this spring’s foray into digital tropic prints and brightly colored ’70s era jumpsuits, might fall a bit out of the Middleton’s comfort zone.
However, it would be pretty fantastic to see her at a royal dinner wearing a toucan-printed blouse and matching trousers. Here’s hoping.