The Week in Fashion: A Conglomeration

February 20, 2011 § Leave a comment

Ok, I’ll admit it. I got a little burnt out on fashion towards the middle of this week. I have no idea how it happened. Maybe it was the stress of the other myriad responsibilities I face as an average, society-dwelling human, or maybe I just suddenly hate fashion. All I know is, confronted with the possibility of deferring my daily recap a day, I watched a live stream of Proenza Schouler and felt nothing. I genuinely considered whether or not I had somehow damaged my frontal lobe. But I’m back, ready to make use of the short gap between New York and London. This is going to be a less thorough recap than I’d probably do if I were going through each day individually, but I’ll try to give fair breakdowns of the essential shows before I move on to London.

Proenza Schouler

If you were slightly confused by Proenza Schouler this season, you’re not alone. Those prints seemed to dominate the collection, but what were they? Were they tech-inspired pixels, or traditional “heritage” patterns? Well, it’s both, evidently. Jack McCollough and Lazaro Hernandez began their conceptualization for the collection with some Native American blankets they collected, but they didn’t stop there. Part of what makes them such interesting, modern designers is that they never take the obvious route. They manipulated those patterns digitally to the point that they became saturated, striking designs. And, with their re-envisioned take on classic silhouettes as a backdrop, it made for one of the most interesting, accomplished outings to come out of New York this season.

Yigal Azrouel

If Yigal Azrouel has one thing he needs to work on, it’s consistency. Every now and then he presents a sharp, focused collection chock full of relevant, wearable clothing. In his off seasons, however, and there are many, he can get swept up in the very opposite of all those traits that make him interesting as a designer. This season, he was back at his best. There was an abundance of bright, useful clothing that looked perfectly primed to be adopted by the intrepid but stylish city-dwelling woman. Though history would tell us otherwise, one hopes Azrouel has found a new focus.

Michael Kors

Let’s take a minute to proclaim something: minimalism is dead. But Michael Kors, like the necrophiliac he is, is still flirting with it. One can hardly blame him, however; minimalism suits him. If ever there is an inconsistency in his work, it’s when he tries to take on a big concept and ends up with a less wearable, highfalutin offering. So a general acceptance for something less flashy seems like a good opportunity for him, and I’ll be damned if he isn’t going to take it. So, with all that considered, he made another date with minimalism for his fall collection, and the results were still worthwhile. Perhaps it’s because it comes so naturally to Kors; making the generic seem luxe and the luxe seem approachable and easy. Fur detailing abounded in New York this season, but it might seem like too much for the inconspicuous woman. In comes Kors, whose fur will look right at home on the slopes at Aspen or the streets in New York. Sure, I’d like to see minimalism downplayed this season as much as possible, but this is a notable exception.

3.1 Phillip Lim

Maybe the reason Phillip Lim’s designs are popular among the younger crowd is that they’re so noncommittal. Never do you see him give in to glamour or deliberate femininity. You never look at his clothes and see them as tied in to a particular occasion or setting. Sure, they can be worn to work, but they can also be perfectly casual. That’s the attitude that a lot of young people have about clothes these days. Formality is generally shunned. Jeans aren’t just for casual fridays anymore. Lim makes the perfect clothes for that attitude. His collections don’t necessarily stand out or receive much attention from the editorial crowd, but they’re certainly valuable on a commercial level. You’d be a bad buyer to miss one of his shows. This season went right along with that note, and it seemed to be a good follow-up to his spring offering. The clothes are, in some ways, nondescript, but that’s exactly what he’s going for.

Ralph Lauren

Ralph Lauren loves America. Seriously, he’s been mining the American West for inspiration since before the Rodarte sisters were born. So when he does something that’s decidedly un-American, it’s pretty significant. Look out, Donald Trump, the Chinese are even coming for our Ralph Lauren! Sure, there’s been a plethora of homages to the Orient-made (still waiting on the black, white, beige, Chola descent) in recent memory, but designers owe a lot to them. They’re keeping fashion afloat in a time of great uncertainty. Whether or not they’re really interested in wearing pieces reflective of their cultural past remains to be seen, but surely they appreciate the gesture. Unlike last season’s kitschy output, however, Ralph does everything with a certain subtlety. The overt glamour and strictness of traditional Chinese fashion was mixed with a certain American ease and light-handedness. All in all, it was a very interesting and seemingly significant collection from one of the most enduring designers in the field.

Calvin Klein

Francisco Costa has done a lot to undermine the role of his Calvin Klein shows in the grand scheme of New York Fashion Week. Once, they were one of the hottest tickets, right up there with Marc Jacobs. In recent years, however, his collections have lost the focus and precision that have made them so relevant. In that sense, this season’s offering was a return to form of sorts, one that had Costa returning to his more memorable works in both tangible and intangible senses. His slate grey pieces, generally some of his best, returned and made a big impression. His seamless mixture of materials, like leather and wool, had a notable resurgence. Perhaps Costa has been, understandably, afraid of repeating himself. But there’s something to be said for the type of work he showed this season. Unlike some recent collections, it doesn’t fade away in the abyss of shows once the season is over.

Well, that about does it for New York this season. It’s interesting; there wasn’t a lot of cohesion, but this season was fruitful in that it gave us a lot to think about. Where is fashion going? It’s anyone’s guess, but the possibilities seem limitless at this point, and that’s a very good thing. Now, barring any more existential crises on my behalf, I should be up and running with the daily format for the London shows very soon. So stick around for that, and I hope you’ve enjoyed my coverage of the season so far, delayed as it may have been at the end there.

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