The styles shown over the last eight days at New York Fashion Week are meant for next spring – not that you’d know it.The collections in previews wrapping up Thursday have been more covered-up than usual. Leather, suede, long sleeves and black have been all over the runways.There were nods to the season – leather was lightened up to be more luxurious and buttery than the rock-star looks in stores for fall, often in caramels, yellow, silver or white. Proenza Schouler showed a leather mesh style, similar to the material golfers use for their gloves.But the clothes speak to the idea of seasonless dressing, which is all the buzz among retailers since the weather – and the economy – are so unpredictable.
Ralph LaurenBasic means something else when you’re Ralph Lauren. It means silver-sequined slashed jeans, organza “work-shirt dresses and even a metallic blue-lame gown with all the trademark details of coveralls.Lauren, who embodies the classic American sportswear look, said he wanted to craft spring-season clothes that reflected the “resilient spirit of the nation – and its work ethic.The simplest looks on the catwalk, which was lined with the Lauren clan and Janet Jackson, were the floral dresses that featured sweet, delicate floral prints reminiscent of those farm wives wore in the 1930s. Denim was more dominant than usual with silhouettes ranging from a tailored, suit-style jacket to rolled-ankle work jeans.The real highlights were the outfits that somehow seamlessly mixed the two worlds of luxury and the everywoman, like a pink gauze gown with silver embroidery worn with an indigo-colored striped jacket.
Isaac MizrahiForget clothes for a minute: Isaac Mizrahi knows how to put on a show.With a rain spray, wind machine, spotlights and a staircase incorporated into his catwalk, Mizrahi even sent out one model in a golf cart wearing a black-sequin shorts suit – and a white top hat, of course.The eveningwear is what sparkled: A strapless black cocktail dress with a giant white rose on the bustline, and a fluted gown covered in black lace and tufts of tulle, both captured classic Mizrahi and his theme of a retro country club.Mizrahi also needs a fix of kookiness, though, and this go around he accomplished that with an iridescent lava lamp-fringe coat. He always sends off his audience with a smile.
Proenza SchoulerFeathers or tinsel? Take your pick from the Proenza Schouler runway.The design duo of Jack McCollough and Lazaro Hernandez had plenty to keep the fashion flock – including Leighton Meester and Courtney Love – buzzing. The first set of skirts and dresses had the jacket-tied-around-the-waist look with the silhouettes permanently fixed with zippers and buttons on the backside.Skirts were often paired with navy tailored jackets with very sculptured shoulders, an evolution of a current trend.Next up were short shift dresses that alternated feathers and tinsel at the hemline. Some had a feather print to boot, others had a variety of prints that looked like tropical fish or reptiles in unexpected and brighter-than-normal colors for this label.Then came the lingerie-inspired cocktail dresses, some with bra tops and cutout midriffs – another Fashion Week trend – and tiers of mini ruffles as the skirt.
Anna SuiIt took some guts to put band majorette hats on the runway, but the glory in the faces of a clearly entertained audience must have made it worthwhile for Anna Sui.The bouncy, youthful dresses in the spring collection Sui presented Wednesday were born from the designer’s love of the 1967 movie “Doctor Dolittle. The Victorian circus was the most inspirational part of the film, she said. That came through in bow blouses, and cropped-pants and shorts suits, albeit shrunken ones.A handful of preppy cableknit tennis sweater looks didn’t seem to quite fit the theme, but they were cute anyway.Anyone who follows Sui’s look knows she is a bit of a 1960s’ junkie – it came through this season in mod-shaped shift dresses and psychedelic colors, especially purples, yellows, greens and turquoise blue. Most of the outfits captured the optimistic vibe that Sui said she thinks the industry – and consumers – are ready for now.
MarchesaMarchesa turned out some real showstoppers, dresses tailor-made for the label’s red-carpet fans.The greatest feat was a black-and-white duchesse satin strapless gown folded like a fan in the front and with a fully laser-cut skirt.Designer Georgina Chapman said the late Anthony Minghella’s production of “Madame Butterfly served as her inspiration: “The music is so beautiful. I listened to it recently and thought about how feminine and fragile it was, and that it was about love. The Asian aesthetic was carried throughout most of the collection, including an oyster-colored, hand-painted floral obi coat and an embroidered obi jacket, worn with black evening shorts. Chapman also played with some sheer fabrics, often in a nude color, which ended up a game of strategic peek-a-boo.Unfortunately, if you’re not an Oscar-nominated actress, there might not be many occasions to wear any of the dresses.