NEW YORK — Michael Kors often says that “Fashion is not for sissies,” and his prophecy held true as New York Fashion Week began with wind-driven sleet and snow. There were no cancellations, only gazelle-like editors submitting to seasonally appropriate footwear (at long last). The weather forecast began to moderate over the weekend, but so far, the fashion forecast for Fall/Winter 2013-2014 is dark with an edge. Here’s a glimpse:
The Marblehead designer has grown from indie-Goth downtown designer to a favorite of Lady Gaga and Carrie Underwood. LaPointe continued her winning streak with a collection that delicately balanced her edge sensibility with mature evening pieces. She loosened her previously snug silhouettes. Instead of tightly enveloping the body in stretch jersey, LaPointe’s vaporous pieces, in black, red, camel, and sophisticated burgundy, teased with glimpses — and promises — of skin. Backs were cut and hemlines rose. But LaPointe was not entirely ready to abandon her love of the dark side. Leather leggings, or “gators” in LaPointe speak, were prominent. Beneath it all was a hint of her future as a designer who has the ability to design eveningwear without abandoning her beloved dark shadows.
After Jason Wu created the 2009 inaugural gown for first lady Michelle Obama, there was considerable buzz that she would turn up in the audience for Wu’s show that year (she didn’t). But even without those rumors swirling this year — there was only sleet — there was a palpable sense of excitement at the Feb. 8 show. The now two-time inaugural gown designer showed a collection dripping with sophistication. It was fitting for a historically important designer who has captured the eyes of American women of all ages. Thick winter coats and blouses were luxuriously trimmed with fur and leather. Lighter silk dresses swayed seductively. Sparing use of color made the occasional cardinal red silk pleated dress command even more attention. Wu was not trying to make a statement with a theme such as channeling fairy tales (that was 2009). The only theme that emerged from this collection was his confidence in crafting beautifully mature clothing that speaks to women of all ages.
If there was ever a moment for Prabal Gurung to bare his teeth and flex his fashion muscle, this was it. His collaboration with Target arrived in stores yesterday, and unlike recent high-low retail pairings, his is showing signs of life. Gurung did not miss his moment. At his Feb. 9 show, an army of Amazons stormed the catwalk. At times it was hard to look away from the strappy leg gear. These hybrid boot-shoes, covered in buckles and showing slits of skin, gave the loden green dresses a militaristic quality. But there was a hint of sex in Gurung’s militia, with high slits and silk folds. Even in softer moments, Gurung’s women never let down their guard. The one-shoulder silk dresses with gold trim were still belted with thick black leather.
If Alexander Wang was feeling pressure, he was not showing it. He looked triumphant as he took his final bow. Moving his runway out of its usual industrial surroundings and into a more refined setting was the first indication that the darling of downtown street fashion was setting his sights on bigger things. Wang was named design director of the storied French fashion house Balenciaga last year, and style watchers dusted off their opera glasses and monocles (not really, but it’s a fun visual) to see if any Balenciagian structure appeared in his ensembles. Fashion is so subjective that any onlooker could have pointed to the wool jackets and helmet-like hats to declare, “Why, yes, those molded shoulders are just like the fall 1968 Balenciaga collection.” Trust me, some of them did toss off these pretentious observations. But what Wang showed was entirely his own. Oversize coats eventually eased into shimmery eveningwear. Austere colors helped focus the eye on details. The pieces shined almost as brightly as Wang’s smile.