The menswear trend has been the dominating influencer thus far as the Fall 2010 New York collections get underway, and Alexander Wang -- always a barometer for what's cool and, more importantly, what's upcoming -- took the motif of masculinity to the apex. In a dramatic about turn from spring's athletic-inspired, sweatshirt-and-leather peppered football motif, one almost expected Michael Douglas and Martin Scorsese to be front row Saturday night, in an apparent homage to Gordon Gekko in the upcoming Wall Street 2. Not to be misconstrued, there was plenty of leather alright, perhaps most beautifully showcased in a black zip-away trench with mink back, but more on that later.
The first look -- modeled by Natalia Vodianova, who opened and closed the show -- set the theme for the rest of the 41-look stunner: a wool pinstripe Inverness blazer paired with a matching cropped vest and mini skirt with blazer detail cast in a black and Merlot (not burgundy, mind you) color combination and paired with a matching pinstripe backpack. Sorry Dolly, but these girls aren't working 9-to-5 boardroom jobs. That notion was dispelled as Wang continued to prove his creativity with this collection -- beautifully evident by a charcoal, wool, pinstripe minidress trimmed ever-so-delicately with lace detail (this time think less Michael Douglas and more Demi Moore in Disclosure). Back-to-back camel outerwear looks, meanwhile, both of which -- one a clergy cloak with cut-out sleeves and the other, a structured and boxy coat -- were right on point and utterly gorgeous, made for a refreshing momentary palette cleanser.
Accessories came in the form of chunky loafer boots, frame clutches, bondage-esque backpacks, velvet-trimmed sunglasses and charcoaled 18-Karat gold rings while peppered throughout were tailcoats, cropped blazers (some featuring a beautiful Swarovski pearl pinstripe), tiger face macramé tops (an ode to the Chinese Lunar calendar, perhaps?) and mohair shrugs -- all the essentials for a Master of the Universe in the making, natch -- that truly pushed the traditional banker's suit to the edge. Yes, there was plenty of skin exposed, juxtaposed with thigh-high legwarmers that left some things to the imagination. In contrast to the traditional menswear fabrics, leather notwithstanding, Wang also lobbied hard for velvet. That translated into a series of ruched LBDs perfect for masterminding the most stylish of hostile takeovers. Ever.
On an upward trajectory since his Spring show last September, Prabal Gurung has been methodically taking advantage of the opportunities that have come his way since he left Bill Blass to launch his line: there were the high-profile red carpet photo ops courtesy of Demi Moore and Thandie Newton, not to mention that cover of O, The Oprah Winfrey magazine. His debut runway show on Saturday -- easily one of this week's most coveted tickets (think Marc Jacobs and Alexander Wang level) -- proved he's got his head squarely set on his well-trained shoulders, not to mention well-tailored hands.
The first few looks captured the essence of Gurung's design aesthetic: minimal to no prints, but a focus on bold colors (to wit, the opening curvilinear coat was white in front but black in back). Color-blocking proved to be more than simply an afterthought here. Gurung cut a soft edge with his garments, focusing on asymmetry and body conscious motivations that equated to dynamic proportions suitable for both the downtown "It" girls he counts among his posse and their uptown mothers. The camel pieces were simply divine. Gurung, however, is best known for his eveningwear -- be it sleek cocktail dresses or Oscar-worthy gowns. On the runway and shown in motion, the fruits of his intense laboring were visible -- if not, at times, a tad too fussy. A black and white iridescent wool tweed coat with wool faille sleeves had front-row starlet Zoe Saldana's eyes all lit up; a sure sign of their appeal both on and off the runway. The finale -- a deep crimson strapless draped gazar gown with sculpted black ruffles -- was proof positive that Gurung knows how to wow a crowd with both his intellectual prowess and street smarts.
Short and sweet. That seemed to be the mantra of designer Christophe Lemaire this season, as the Frenchman sent out a collection that, while showcased fewer looks than in past seasons, didn't sacrifice quality or creative wit. A loose, slouchy mood prevailed for most of the show, color blocked from parchment shades through red and blues. As with all Lacoste shows, there was something there for everyone in the form of stylish and practical sportswear: long, wooly knits, a jumpsuit, a suede mini and cozy coats -- all paired with textured leggings. Lemaire morphed the brand's iconic polo into two inventive looks for fall: one, an oversized polo maxidress, and two, a cute cape that skirted the chest. Sweater dresses were among the standouts, as was the outerwear -- in particular the suede jackets with stand-up collars and a slightly voluminous felted wool overcoat with raglan sleeves.
Never one to rest on his laurels, Peter Som manages to find inventive ways in which to interject a boost of energy into his collections. For fall, that was evident by the prominent Seventies psychedelic "trip" he sent down his runway. Som has achieved a nice tempo when it comes to mastering the mix of melding his ladylike silhouettes with eccentric twists. A sparkly mélange of fabrics and prints emerged -- this being Som's comeback runway show -- in the form of tie-neck chiffon blouses, neat pencil skirts belted at the waist and gorgeous sheath dresses. While the templates were straightforward, their finish was anything but: acid yellow and green, marshmallow organza flowers, pearlized petal paillettes, leopard prints and electric plaids wildly intensified the separates. Also prominent was a serious venture into fur: minks, Mongolians and broadtails in a multitude of shades, including, but not limited to, bubble gum pink, vibrant blue, polished purple -- not just tie-dyed to perfection, but generously adorned with Swarovski crystals to boot.
Gant by Michael Bastian
This best thing to ever happen to Swedish clothing giant Gant, Michael Bastian delivered a terrific inaugural collection of men's sportswear, under the label "Gant by Michael Bastian," with the undercurrent of lacrosse in mind. Having never picked up a stick or even attended a game, Bastian was inspired by an article on the sport he read in The New Yorker -- one that provided for him a new insight into the game. Staged inside a gymnasium in SoHo, Bastian designed a collection that offered something for every stylish male -- and the aspiring. Working with a locker-room tableaux vivant, there were the ubiquitous plaid shirts, but beyond that, there were windowpane blazers, preppy topcoats, lace-up rugby shirts and slim trousers (including khakis in the brand's heritage) in a variety of fabrications. Athletic mesh detail on the lapels was indicative of Bastian's eye for detail -- all of which is priced at one-third of his namesake designer line. The buzz at the presentation was that what Ralph Lauren did for Rugby, Bastian is doing for lacrosse (note: Barneys has already bought the entire collection for all its Co-op stores nationwide). FOGO anyone? (That'd be "Face Off, Get Off.")
For more Fashion Week news, visit the Fashion Week Big News page.