NEW YORK — It was difficult to be weary of the more than 30 New York Fashion Week shows that took place here on Monday, followed by another 30 on Tuesday, if for no other reason than the caliber of talent showing had the elixir-like quality of Red Bull.
You could almost hear “Absolutely Fabulous” character Edina Monsoon ticking off her famous line “Everybody’s there, everybody! Big names, you know, Chanel, Dior, Lagerfeld, Givenchy, Gaultier, darling. Names, names, names.” Only it wasn’t the French ateliers showing, but instead the biggest names in American fashion: Thom Browne, Rodarte, Marc Jacobs, Vera Wang. Yes, names, names, names, darlings. Here’s a look at some of the names that made the start of the week exciting.
With little warning, Marc Jacobs moved his Monday night women’s wear show to Thursday, and bumped his Marc by Marc collection to fill the Monday night gap. He cited shipping delays for the last minute sleight-of-hand. There was grumbling, but the decidedly less theatrical Marc by Marc show still provided a satisfying air of excitement. There were subtle references to the 1970s sprinkled throughout his runway.
Men’s pants were wide, slouchy, and falling well below the ankle (beware skinny jean!). Women’s looks were influenced by the paintings of Otto Dix, and prints were plentiful. And leave it to Jacobs to be brazen enough to slip gauchos into his collection.
It didn’t matter what the clothes looked like. Betsey Johnson could have showed toilet paper dresses and her runway would still be a party. Her Monday night show was decidedly the kookiest and most joyful of the week. The 70-year-old designer showed her new line of active wear, called “BJ Kicks A,” as she led a cheeky exercise class of her models on the runway. Champagne bottles as dumbbells? Yes please. Perhaps it was all done for the sake of the reality show she’s now filming. But after filing for bankruptcy protection last year, it was comforting to still see her cartwheeling down the catwalk.
Was it “Downton Abbey” inspired? Were those prints William Morris? No, as it turns out, Tory Burch’s lovely presentation was inspired by the work of Gustav Klimt. Dragonflies and scarabs darted across her art nouveau dresses, and prints were piled upon textures. It was all insanely romantic. It did run the risk of falling into granny territory, but Burch skillfully updated her influences, paying tribute to the past through an entirely fresh perspective.
What was once an anomaly at New York Fashion Week — a mass market retailer presenting at Lincoln Center — has blossomed into a can’t-miss event, boosted no doubt by Michelle Obama. While other brands abandoned color for Fall/Winter 2013, J.Crew exploded with it. Women’s jackets and slacks in blaring blues, purples, oranges, and yellows felt as if they were ready to leapfrog clear over winter and go straight into spring. The men’s offerings were more in line with traditional J.Crew product, which made it all the more difficult to stop ogling over the women’s line.Christopher Muther can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @chris_muther.