Herrera, Posen, Fraser-Swan make it work at Fashion Week

Jackie Fraser-Swan’s Emerson Spring/Summer 2013 collection.
Andrew Burton/REUTERS
Jackie Fraser-Swan’s Emerson Spring/Summer 2013 collection.

NEW YORK — On Monday, New York Fashion Week chatter was squarely focused on obtaining a ticket for that evening’s Marc Jacobs show, always the hottest catwalk of the week, and one of the most difficult to see in person. Still, there were enough big names showing earlier in the day to appease the masses who could not gain entry to Jacobs’s extravaganza.

Designer Carolina Herrera’s calm and refined style is always a draw for heavy hitters such as Vogue editor Anna Wintour and designer Ivanka Trump, who were perched front row at Lincoln Center Monday for Herrera’s collection of flirty citrus lace dresses, and, of course, her immaculate evening gowns. She employed what is quickly becoming a major color for Spring/Summer 2013 — lemon chiffon — in sophisticated new ways for both youthful separates and cocktail attire. Remarkably, the seasoned designer manages to hit both ends of the generational market consistently, and beautifully, each year.

The moments leading up to Zac Posen’s Spring/Summer 2013 runway show on Sunday were anything but calm. A near stampede took place as guests bottle-necked at check-in. The show started late — even by New York Fashion Week standards. But once it did start, Posen again demonstrated his talent for making dresses that are both beautiful and technically daring. Set to a languid soundtrack of 1940s and 1950s ballads, his models sauntered serenely down the terrace of Avery Fisher Hall overlooking the plaza at Lincoln Center in ’40s-inspired day dresses that were effortlessly executed in chiffon. The models wearing the dresses — Naomi Campbell, Angela Lindvall, Karolina Kurkova — were equally classic.


In fact, the combination of the pacing, the music, and the dresses made the scene feel like a Douglas Sirk movie come to life. But it was Posen’s gowns that enraptured. Ball gowns fit for red carpet royalty and fashioned in triple-layered chiffon, organza, and taffeta gently floated by boldface spectators such as Gina Gershon and Madonna’s daughter Lourdes Leon. As the sun set over this glamorous scene, those pre-show complaints disappeared as well.

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Elsewhere: There are times when a designer’s inspiration can derail a collection. After reading Jackie Fraser-Swan’s inspiration for her Spring/Summer 2013 line, called Emerson, there were hints that things might go horribly wrong. In her description, the East Bridgewater designer wrote that the show was inspired by 1970s horror movies such as “Carrie” and “The Amityville Horror,” as well as more modern offerings such as “American Horror Story.” Cue the models wearing “Walking Dead” makeup.

But Fraser-Swan’s show only made subtle nods to these references. A patterned dress with a red print alluded to tiny sprays of splattered blood, but not obviously so. Abstract prints on dresses with pleated silk skirts could have been tissue samples sandwiched between glass plates and examined under a microscope — or not. Regardless of inspiration, Fraser-Swan is quickly growing her line, introducing a line of handbags and joining with a shoe designer to create wedges to match the dresses. Her varsity jacket paired with a two-tier camisole dress will go far to win over younger customers, even those uninterested in horror movies.

Christopher Muther can be reached at