What Reed Krakoff accomplished as executive creative director at Coach--transforming the sleepy $500 million leathergoods brand into a $3 billion behemoth--he's well on his way to doing with ready-to-wear. Krakoff is discerning, detail-oriented and has enough exquisite taste to spare--all of which reflected the carefully cultivated sportswear lineup he debuted at a gallery space in Chelsea. One of the week's most coveted tickets, the turnout was impressive: every top editor, retail chief and tastemaker sat front row, seemingly pleased with Krakoff's lineup of utilitarian designs cut in rich fabrics and filled with enticing details. No surprise that leather featured prominently in the lineup--an ode to Coach matriarch Bonnie Cashin, no doubt--but what lacked in the occasional overzealous cut or underlying whisper of Phoebe Philo's spring collection for Celine more than made up for in the absolutely stellar--and, come fall, must-have--outerwear pieces. Krakoff produced a collection any professional woman in any discipline--fashion, art or finance--would be at ease wearing. A long midnight blue coat paired with a gray cardigan and ivory moleskin pants was a gold standard look for the week, as were the chunky knits and shearling jackets. Short cocktail numbers cut in smooth leather were boxy in shape but skimmed the body just so. Keeping to a conservative palette of mostly navy, army green and gray, Krakoff's clever use of fur both intrigued and dazzled: a ribbed sweater with mink sleeves oozed Aspen and Gstaad. In fact, the use of fur was simply novel. Accessories, meanwhile, included some sleek carryalls and totes complementing sturdy, well-constructed boots. Simply put: these are some good looking clothes.
As with most fashion shows, there's often disconnect between the clothes on the runway and the music blasting from the speakers. Not at Tommy Hilfiger, where the soothing tunes of James Taylor, Neil Young and Bruce Springsteen complemented beautifully an equally stellar lineup of strong, all-American sportswear. "Preppy with a pop," said Hilfiger of the show's theme, citing a young Katharine Hepburn in the lean silhouettes. That translated into signature wide-cut trousers and sharp, narrow suits. Peter Som helped consult on the women's portion of the show. How else to explain a leather paillette skirt? Som was also responsible for the accessories, which meant high-heeled duck boots and long-strapped bags accompanied such flirty looks as shrunken cardigans and pleated A-line skirts in gorgeous colors like Kelly green and brocade orange. All in all, it made for a retail-friendly collection which, with its rich palette of camels, grays and reds, will resonate with consumers. While none of the looks were particularly groundbreaking, the finale pair of gowns--cut in a sumptuous grey silk jersey--was enough to command a second look.
In true form, Isaac Mizrahi delivered another simply charming collection. Inspired by New York's Central Park--not to mention the city's other landmark locales--Mizrahi playfully poked fun while paying respect with such irreverent terminologies as "Geoffrey L.L. Bean," "Buffalo Bill Blass," "Irving Penn Station" and "Avedon meets 'Avatar.'" "Parka Avenue" anybody? With a pronounced emphasis on the outdoors, Big Apple-style, cashmere coats were, for example, partially covered in polar fleece or shroud in camouflage. Quilting was aplenty (skirts, jackets and dresses) and kitsch and camp was achieved via the whimsical accessories: heels encased in plastic coverings and handbags refashioned as backpacks. All in all, the collection was heavy on sportswear. Among the standouts: the chiffon and sequin dresses classified under "Fish & Wildlife" as well as a cozy cable knit sweater. For his finale, Mizrahi sent out his version of the "Seven Winter Fairies"--based, no less, on Snow White's seven dwarves. Out they marched: Furry, Wooly, Sneezy, Copper, Lazy, Boom-Boom and Polypuff--offering an ideal mix of glamour and glitter in an otherwise hard knock life.