NYFW: Ralph Lauren

(Images via NY Mag)

Of all the classical Americana brands showcasing their wares at New York Fashion Week, I think Ralph Lauren has long been my personal favourite.  While there isn’t the flash and glam of, say, a boundary-pushing Marc Jacobs presentation, the designer is nevertheless sublimely capable at showcasing an array of gorgeous clothes for the…shall we say more sophisticated, reserved lady? than some of the rest.

Anyway, for the F/W 2017 season, we got more of that, as might be expected, albeit with a little bit more sassiness and sensuality than, say, Michael Kors. Calling the showroom, where the collection was exhibited “transformed into a floral wonderland,” WWD went on to quote the designer as explaining that “It’s a little bit exotic,” as they themselves went on to reflect that “(t)he lineup’s opening palette drew from sand and dunes — off-whites, beiges, almost-golds — and set the mood of subtle sensuality borne as much from the models’ ownership of the clothes as from discreet displays of skin, whether bared shoulder or exposed midriff.”

Annoyingly (and I’m only quoting it here ’cause I want to slam it), USA Today wasted pixel space arguing that the collection was–grr–Mar-a-Lago ready: “Lauren refrained from sending any politically-charged garments down the runway, which was largely devoted to golden beachwear and billowing gowns with a Saharan vibe. With the Trumps firmly in the designer’s corner, it wouldn’t be a stretch to imagine Ivanka or Melania wearing items from his latest collection, particularly the silky formalwear.”

To which I rejoin: fuck that noise.  Mr. Lauren is always more conservative in his work than, again, the aforementioned Mr. Jacobs.  But that doesn’t mean anything, ultimately, about his politics. So in my mind, they’re simply gearing up the rest of us to hate him, because otherwise, they’re adopting a political mantra–or lack of one–for the designer that just isn’t there.

(See the full show video here)

NYFW: Anna Sui

(Images via Vogue)

I’ve long been a fan of designer Anna Sui–the brilliant colours, the embellishments, the trims and accessories which by all means should add up to entirely too much and read as ridiculous yet somehow instead flow together as sublimely high fashion: love it.  But I must admit that even those designers we most appreciate have their “off” seasons, and I was a little crushed in my soul to see this happening at Ms. Sui’s F/W 2017 presentation at New York Fashion Week.

I hasten to add that it wasn’t a bad show by any means; no, there were plenty of delights to keep us happy here for a long while, especially those elements, as noted by WWD, which derived “inspiration from the Forties, but it added in a modern touch.” The velvet-y pieces were also lovely, as were several of the looks framed in gold (or gold and black), which seemed ready and entirely appropriate to swagger down a red carpet somewhere.

However, I was less impressed by the striped pieces, which just felt a bit “off” (again), somehow.  They didn’t quite flow with the rest of the collection, feeling sportier and entirely off when otherwise Ms. Sui’s girl felt more glammed up than she has in seasons past (as with the longer skirts and dresses, the high-waisted Lauren Bacall/Katharine Hepburn trousers, and the fur coats.

The colour palette was lovely, though, with deep hunter green, merlot, gold, black, and medium blue a nice touch for fall in the face of all the khaki and grey we’ve been seeing elsewhere. The peep-toe pumps were era-fine, but I must admit to being intrigued by the boots, which felt like a marriage between high-end Victoriana and Dr. Martens (which we’ve seen The Row and Nicole Miller already embracing this season).

So you see? There’s plenty to be happy about, even if it didn’t jive as her hottest season on record. But I almost forgot to mention…those black lace pants worn by Kendall Jenner were indeed one of the best items I’ve seen thus far at NYFW (as well as getting in on the ground floor with everyone else on the planet about Julia Nobis’s yellow raincoat chez Calvin Klein).  So, like, there’s that, too.

(See the full video here)

NYFW: Michael Kors

(Images via Vogue)

If you’ve visited this blog in the past, you’re probably aware of OPT’s vaguely extending fingers on the subject of Michael Kors‘s collections as presented at New York Fashion Week.  I’ve always been a quirkier kid, looking for designers that incorporate something more playful into their shows.  And yet, the older I grow, the more I appreciate Mr. Kors’s work, the way he is able to channel classic Americana so masterfully, and the manner in which he can render such decadent pieces without making them appear overly frivolous somehow.

Anyway, for the F/W 2017 season, it was also nicer to see him expand the age range of his models, working with a handful of older girls (and ‘plus size’ model Ashley Graham, as well!) to his lineup, which, as with the case of The Row, just feels more appropriate when coats are well into the four-figure range.

Explaining that (with theme that has been running through the halls of this NYFW, with so many politically-minded protesting tough ladies), Vogue went on to reflect that “(s)trength was an essential part of his Fall message, alongside seduction. Those are clichéd notions, perhaps, but Kors approached them in less-than-predictable ways…His approach to tailoring was more playful—deconstructed, if not quite truly experimental. Jackets came with rounded shoulders and cocooning proportions, or the sleeves were chopped off above the biceps; skirts were tulip shaped. Kors said it was crucial to build an argument to buy into every single piece.”

Elsewhere, WWD, in addition to praising the casting of Ms. Graham (“she rocked”) as well as the older girls like Carolyn Murphy, Isabeli Fontana, Amber Valleta, and Iselin Steiro, quoted the designer as explaining that “I don’t want to sound like I’m Betty Friedan or Gloria [Steinem]…But listen, I grew with a lot of strong ladies and wanted this whole collection to be about strength and sensuality combined.”

Finally, the New York Times was there to reflect that “(i)n a notably covered-up show, itself a welcome relief after a week of seemingly endless side cutouts and under-boob, he offered voluminous camel and tweed coats, pleated trousers, tulip skirts caught up on one hip, and silver leopard devoré shirtdresses…Instead of crawling under the covers, he seemed to suggest, crawl into this. It’s not a bad option, really.”

Not bad?  That’s understating it, methinks. I read many of these looks as sublimely divine.

(Check out the full collection video here)

NYFW: Narciso Rodriguez

(Images via Vogue)

If you’ve spent any time browsing the pages of OPT, you’re probably already well aware of my appreciation for Narciso Rodriguez‘s work at New York Fashion week, and his stunning, minimalist collection for the F/W 2017 season was one of the more enticing jewels that sparkled quietly, but was all the more alluring for it (much like what we saw at The Row).

Like that house, too, Mr. Rodriguez’s work came in a fairly minimalist palette, with black, grey, white, and cream sometimes seasoned with one of this season’s favourite hues–a kind of yellow mustard-y saffron.  Although there were some terrific dresses (especially those gunmetal grey creations that shone under the light) for day and night, it was probably the separates that most spoke to me, such as a sheer black top with sharp lines demarcating a bra-like shape underneath several layers, as well as the skirts that featured a kind of garter-like strap peeking out from the high slits.

Also like The Row, there were delightful outerwear pieces, including a number of tailored, austere coats in the limited colour options, and although the just gently-flared trousers that barely grazed along the ankles, evoking the seventies just-so-slightly, suggested in one sense a rather straightforward, working woman’s collection, thanks to the carefully-crafted slits, v-necks that plunged nearly to the navel, and the aforementioned saucy slits and transparencies actually rendered Mr. Rodriguez’s woman a much more sensual creation for fall than one might initially have read.

And that’s the power of minimalism; it really makes the viewer take the time to respect things like cut and fabric without busily worrying about print, texture, and the rest.  To consider what the designer is saying, depending on so little. And really, isn’t that intellectual exercise more fun than just having it all spelled out for you before you’ve done more than give the clothes that most cursory of glances?

(Check out the collection video here)

NYFW: Oscar de la Renta

(Images via Vogue)

I think in the past I’ve expressed my love for Oscar de la Renta often enough I probably don’t have to do it again, but unfortunately, this blog has been on sabbatical since before the designer’s death in 2014.  As we sit, the label is co-helmed by designers Laura Kim and Fernando Garcia, who have their own, separate label, called Monse. According to the New York Times, the two showed together (although we’ll only be discussing OdlR here).

Anyway, for the upcoming F/W 2017 season, while the designs reminded me at times of what Raf Simons was offering when he decamped to Christian Dior, the Washington Post was busy opining that “Garcia and Kim are giving the house a new definition of pretty. It is one that is more contemporary, more in sync with the ways in which it is defined in the broader culture. Pretty is sexier, tougher, more coolly confident. At Oscar de la Renta, pretty is no longer epitomized by a frothy dress. The focus is on pants, punchy colors and a more relaxed sensibility….Slim trousers — in black, or in gumball shades of fuchsia and kelly green — dominated the runway.”

Elsewhere, Vogue was busy commenting on the little glitches that happened in terms of curtains and the like before getting to the clothes, which it was less impressed with, arguing that “t lacked in finesse and a certain degree of taste. The strappy sandals were painfully difficult to walk in. Colors were often garish. And some of the pieces, well, it was a real puzzle what they were doing on an Oscar runway—a multicolored diagonally striped sweater and matching leggings come to mind. Where Oscar’s parade of evening dresses used to surprise and delight in its variety, this failed to do so.”

While I’ve learned in my years of writing this site not to be unduly harsh, there is a certain part of me that agrees with them.  To be sure, there were a couple of stunning ball gowns (such as a black number that looked to be encrusted with gold, magenta, and purple jewels spilling from the bodice down to the skirt) and there were some well-tailored separates for day, but in the end, I’d kind of agree that there wasn’t nearly the flavour of Oscar seasons past.  And yes, while I realize a certain portion of that is probably just me missing the late designer, I’d also tend to argue that I’ve embraced some taking over when their predecessors past, such as designer Sarah Burton at Alexander McQueen.

(Watch the full collection video here)

NYFW: The Row

(Images via Vogue)

Although I have to admit to being kind of a snob where celebrity fashion lines are concerned, it can be kind of cutting off my own ear (or however the saying goes), because, just very occasionally, there are those celeb designers that actually produce some clothing worthy of a runway.  Ashley and Mary-Kate Olsen’s The Row is (with the exception of Gwen Stefani‘s L.A.M.B.) perhaps the only one of these I do believe are really worthy of more considered appreciation.  And I know on this blog I’ve expended a heavy dose of admiration for all things minimalist (and Helmut Lang in particular), and the Olsens’ sleek, sparingly-coloured, trim-free range for the F/W 2017 season at New York Fashion Week was a shining example of offering an exceptionally powerful collection in (what feels at first) a relatively quiet voice.

Declaring the show to be “(p)recious, in the best way,” Vogue also noted the diversity in age range of the cast, with a number of older girls making their way down the catwalk (I say ‘older’, but what that really means thirty and forty-something year-olds (Angela Lindvall, Kirsten Owen, Olga Sherer and was that Daria Werbowy?), it seems rather silly.  After all, whom do they think purchases the clothes?  Thus, it feels better (especially with the austerity The Row practices) to show clothes on the kinds of women the house is after advertising to.

And the clothes were as spectacular as the runway crew, with scores of desirable outerwear pieces (immaculately-rendered outerwear and sharp, crisply tailored shirting paired with sleek business suits, as well as the occasional foray into something a little more playful: a pair of eighties-tastic stonedwashed jeans worn by Katlin Aas and the kicky combat boots that recalled Dr. Martens (see at Nicole Miller, as well).