Neither snow nor rain nor cold nor gloom can stop the crop tops, the mini dresses, and those very precarious heels from slogging down the ice-covered sidewalks at New York Fashion Week as designers show their Fall/Winter 2014 collections. With so many shows fanned out across Manhattan, and even Brooklyn, this year’s fashionable crowd has adapted — albeit slightly. “Last year I didn’t bother with a coat, because it would have obscured my dresses,” said one show attendee. “This year I’ve compromised. I’m wearing it half the time.”
There was a dystopian feel to the beginning of Prabal Gurung’s Fall/Winter 2014 collection. His models arrived in waffle-knit sweaters topped with mink and Mongolian lamb jackets, but with chiffon and satin poking out from underneath and exposing a lot of leg. Envision
an apocalyptic film where women grab clothes randomly from a high-end boutique and then flee in panic, but look fabulous doing it. A tomato-red wool mélange sweater was paired with burgundy and salmon details.
It was a color disaster that somehow looked natural. This feeling of glam “Mad Max” continued with thick fox furs and draped shirts that appeared to be woven from wide strips of silk. But Gurung can’t resist glamour, and thus arrived the evening gowns for a stunning finale.
It was easy to read the masculine details of Jason Wu’s Fall/Winter collection as a harbinger of things to come in his new role as creative director of Hugo Boss’s women’s collection. But Wu has always had a soft spot for strong women, and he’s been down this road before. He’s an expert at feminine gowns, but he also knows that women can’t live on cocktail dresses alone. This collection, filled with wide-leg trousers and multiple heavy coats (some even thrown over evening gowns), was dark and monochromatic. There was sex appeal in its strength, and in what it left to the imagination.
Jason Wu wasn’t the only designer tapping into menswear for Fall/Winter 2014. Rebecca Minkoff played with the fine balance between masculine and feminine, going heavy on overcoats and pants, but rendering these boyish classics in soft gray, pink, and red. Men’s suiting patterns found their way onto dresses and cigarette pants. Minkoff playfully layered chiffon skirts under her heavy coats. It was simple and smart, but at times with just a bit too much gold and silver lamé to properly convey her message.
Every season the ski and outerwear company faces the challenge of making heavy winter coats and ski pants look sexy and interesting. And every year they pull off one of the most talked about events of the week. On Saturday night, Moncler created a grid of 49 boxes in a Broadway ballroom and filled each with a model wearing a coat. Even so, the attention was focused on the Pendulum Choir, a handful of opera singers on pendulums who swayed around disconcertingly in front of the grid while singing modern opera. The clothes were mere set decoration. Attendees walked away talking about the event as if they had just witnessed a nervy Broadway show.
Rag & Bone
While everyone attending fashion shows in New York this week has looked cold (except those brave enough to endure the wrath of PETA by wearing fur), the models on the Rag & Bone runway looked cozy in layers. Rag & Bone’s Marcus Wainwright and David Neville put their women in cargo shorts, dresses, and skirts, but under those garments were thick, ribbed leggings. Those sock-like leggings (sleggings?) looked as if they would be quite helpful on 20-degree days that absolutely require wearing shorts or leather skirts. The theme of this show was that there was no theme, but with pants, blazers, and even a satin crepe bowling shirt, it seemed like Wainwright and Neville took some of their inspiration from their own closets, except these knit hats left room for a ponytail.
Herve Leger by Max Azria
Herve Leger creative director Lubov Azria said the inspiration for the brand’s Fall/Winter 2014 collection was about blurring the line between fantasy and reality. But the Herve Leger bandage dress — in all its incarnations — has always been about fantasy. It’s the dress that keeps everything in the right place and hugs just the right curves. But much like Diane von Furstenberg’s wrap dress, the bandage dress needs constant reinvention. The latest retooling includes an exterior corset, and a lot of exposed skin through keyhole cutouts. Even the boots exposed toes. These keyholes, and much larger holes, are a fantastic idea for summer ventilation. For winter, they ring of chest colds and frostbite.
Her named is often mentioned on the red carpet thanks to the incredible gowns she creates with remarkable consistency. But it appears that Lhuillier can design futuristic and cutting-edge pieces just as well. Her Fall/Winter 2014 collection began with Neoprene and stayed with it. Lhuillier envisioned a very alluring and dangerous future universe filled with rubberized jackets, leather studded pants, and mesh dresses. This wasn’t a kooky Pierre Cardin futuristic perspective. These are clothes that women will want to wear. For the traditionalists, she ended with a series of gowns that will be snatched up by actresses very, very soon.
Diane von Furstenberg
In a New York Fashion Week first, a 40th birthday was celebrated without shame, binge drinking, or Botox. Diane von Furstenberg’s wrap dress, the closet staple that can make nearly any woman look chic, turns 40 this year. Fresh off a starring role in “American Hustle,” the DVF dress was shown on the runway with Squiggles, waves, and dotted patterns piled over one another. Dresses were layered on top of trousers. In the midst of her “Bohemian wrapsody,” which ended with explosions of gold glitter raining upon the star-studded audience, von Furstenberg brought out stunning cocoon coats and maxi dresses. But it was the innovative wrap that commanded the night’s attention.Christopher Muther can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @Chris_Muther.