NEW YORK — It was only the second day of Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week, and already the tired, stylish masses were complaining about long days (and longer, party-filled nights). Although all seemed to perk up when Ryan Lochte was spotted next to Lauren Conrad at the Rebecca Minkoff show. The Friday runway shows for Spring/Summer 2013 found designers mixing feminine and fierce, and, in true Stevie Nicks style, leather and lace.
It’s generally easy to pick out the three finalists at the “Project Runway” shows, and sometimes there’s even a clear winner. But this year, the eight designers who showed (there were five decoys and three finalists), offered a surprising mix. The winner will be announced on Oct. 18. Boston native and Lasell graduate Sonjia Williams showed a collection that she said is “based off of me, a bold, strong collection for confident women.” Her interpretation blended 1940s prints and yards of bordello-esque lace. As celebrity judge Jennifer Hudson looked on, contestant Gunnar Deatherage offered a parade of tribal earth-tone prints and Elena Slivnyak’s two-tone dresses recalled Pierre Cardin.
Marblehead native Sally LaPointe’s show Friday was her most mature to date, and some pieces that she showed — an intricate moss green lace dress and a deceptively simple pale rust Georgette dress — will appeal to a wide range of women. LaPointe has maintained her creativity but softened her edge over the past four seasons. The designer, who made a name for herself thanks in part to Lady Gaga’s support, stayed with some of her trademarks, such as black, form-fitting, full-length skirts. But LaPointe’s spring 2013 collection, which was inspired by “a secret submarine base in Russia,” allowed the designer to play with materials like lambskin and sueded charmeuse in luxuriously feminine new ways. Linda Fargo , senior vice president at Bergdorf Goodman, was headed backstage immediately after the show. It looks like Gaga isn’t the only one buying LaPointe’s designs anymore.
Designer Jason Wu took his inspiration from the erotic photography of Helmut Newton and the dream-like photos of Lillian Bassman . That combination resulted in pieces such as a leather harness with an otherwise dainty lace and chiffon dress. The less couth might call it “upscale dominatrix.” Elsewhere, a black leather bustier harness dress was softened with sheer, flesh-tone jersey fabric. Wu ended with sparkly tulle gowns, but even at his most feminine, Wu kept the edge going.