Friday, 8 March 2013


The designers of New York Fashion Week tend to lean towards a more cosmopolitan aesthetic, and this season iconic designers such as Phillip Lim, Vera Wang, Marc Jacobs, Carolina Herrera and Jason Wu all showed beautiful collections that fit the brief perfectly. Although they weren't the most innovative - fur and leather featured heavily and colour palettes were generally subdued, key progression was made via interesting fabric choice and a fresh twist on classic silhouettes.


Best-known for designing bridal couture, Wang showed that she is no one-trick-pony with a collection that focussed on jewel tones and sculptural, three-dimensional silhouettes. Embellishment was everywhere, lending an air of decadence to relaxed, oversized silhouettes, whereas a series of beautiful pieces subtly referenced the oriental trend that is set to be huge this year. The best looks of the collection came when Wang turned her attention to statement trousers - the cut was loose with a slightly-tapered ankle, whereas prints ranged from digitally-engineered brocade to one particularly magnificent pair that were completely decorated with dazzling silver jewels. When teamed with loose-fitting tops and fur shawls, the contrast between casual and elegant provided the perfect example of classic New York style.


At the other end of the spectrum was Phillip Lim, a designer renowned for his super-chic brand of sport-luxe. Lim's collection was by no means a departure from what we have previously seen from him, but why fix a formula that isn't broken? Subtle use of block colours and aztec prints helped lend a new dimension to his signature aesthetic, whereas quilted leather and soft mohair introduced a touch of luxury to the slouchy silhouettes. One look that was especially interesting saw khaki fur patchworked into a fragmented camoflauge print that presented a more elegant take on the military trend, and elsewhere the pairing of wide-leg leather trousers with a white leather coat shouldn't have worked on paper, but was surprisingly effective. Lim may have built himself a niche aesthetic, but when he does it so well it is hard to criticise. 


The true beauty of Herrera's collection was fully-realised in its dramatic use of conventional silhouettes. Frequently referencing the glamour of the 1940s, the finest looks of this collection were slim-fitting, full-length and made a dramatic impression despite their simplicity. Even the more relaxed looks were sharpened up with a nipped-in waist that was in stark contrast to the more relaxed or the more conceptual silhouettes being explored by her contemporaries. Beginning with a series of looks based on a neutral colour palette, the prints slowly became more interesting and the colours bolder - the first introduction of colour was a striking green stripe on a striped fur coat, and before long we were seeing a stunning floor-length look consisting of a high-waisted plum skirt and cap-sleeve red velvet tee. Later looks (in particular a beautiful white silk dress specked with sapphire-blue florals) once again referenced the oriental trend; subtle ruching around the midsection was reminiscent of the classic obi belt, and was an interesting flourish on an otherwise conventional collection.


Ever since gaining an extremely famous fan in the shape of America's First Lady, Michelle Obama, Wu has seen his popularity soar and, in turn, public expectation rise. Renowned for his reluctance to follow trends, Wu has created a mature, sophisticated collection that (unlike many collections) could truly flatter any woman of any age. Wu showed a new twist on the classic "power-suit" by teaming traditional trousers with cool leather jackets with a wrap-around waist, complete with fur épaulettes and slim leather belts that achieved a waspish silhouette. Sheer panelling was also included, with two slim-fitting striped jumpers that left little to the imagination but gave the provocative edge that the collection needed. A series of elegant colour-blocked cocktail dresses completed a show that also re-invented lace print by teaming it with gothic black accents to move away, making it look both different and thoroughly modern.


The final highlight of New York came courtesy of legendary designer and current creative director of Louis Vuitton, Marc Jacobs. Proving himself to be quite the showman, the collection was shown twice in order to place emphasis on the progressive use of colour. Reflective materials lent a futuristic sheen to a show that contained moments of drama, comedy and elegance - a feat that is rarely achieved in the world of fashion. For example, one look showed an extremely literal take on a fox chubby that gave a playful twist on the traditional fur scarf, whereas 18-year-old Lily McMenamy was sent down the runway in nothing but a pair of high-waisted tweed shorts and a pair of fishnet gloves to protect her modesty. Jacobs managed to give his own modern take on, amongst others, the classic smoking jacket, the skirtsuit and even culottes - the variety of the collection was breathtaking, displaying a versatility that truly set him aside from his peers. Perhaps one of the greatest looks was one of the simplest - a full-length fishnet gown worn over a magnolia silk slip added a touch of grunge to eveningwear, whilst also providing a nod to the nightwear trend that he would go on to explore further in his collection for Louis Vuitton (more on that later!) By combining an interesting concept, eye-catching concept and an incredible breadth of design, Jacobs managed to produce the undisputed highlight of New York Fashion Week.

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