Feb. 8 marked the conclusion of Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week, and, as always, it was a fabulous seven days. Some new and some unexpected names were in New York City’s Bryant Park to steal the show, and many fashion insiders are seriously excited about the future of American design.
Even though in February it’s a bit of a tease to see – and consequently fall in love with – fashions for October and November, Fashion Week always feels like such a treat. While in reality, American designers are working on lines at least three to four seasons in advance, I always feel like I am getting this exclusive vision of the future as I watch Fall Fashion Week in February and Spring Fashion Week in September. And by “watch,” I mean of course that I watch excerpts of the designer’s shows on the Style Network, which, sadly, may be as close as I will ever get to the real thing.
Although I don’t want to go too deeply into specifics on clothes none of us will wear for at least seven months, I will say that the fall season is very detail-oriented. Of course some of it works beautifully, and some of it is an absolute train-wreck.
My favorite piece was a bauble bracelet that looked like an oversized wedding ring, designed by Oscar de la Renta. It was beautiful and intricate, creative but classic.
Anna Sui’s bright blue boots were a strange hybrid of rain and cowboy, and had leather fringe that was just too much. Isaac Mizrahi, my favorite designer to hate, outdid himself this year with a rhinestone garden headband.
Other designers who disappointed were Vera Wang, whose entire collection looked frumpy, and Cynthia Rowley, whose runway looks were completely devoid of originality.
My vote for the absolute worst showing, however, goes to Betsey Johnson. Fun, colorful, risky Betsey was nowhere to be seen last week. It seemed like I was looking at a parade of public school teachers from my elementary years in Connecticut as her models walked down the runway.
But not all veterans fell into a slump: Donna Karan, Michael Kors, Carolina Herrera and Diane von Furstenberg all gave respectable showings. Max Azria and Ralph Lauren shined.
Younger houses like Tuleh, Carmen Marc Valvo and Lela Rose showed innovative and glamorous designs. Even pieces I couldn’t see wearing lent inspiration for real-life style.
Totally out of left field came Miss Sixty with a mix of old and new silhouettes, lengths and colors. Mini-dresses, bohemian prints, ruffle-tiered coats and leather came together in unimaginable ways. For a label that was never considered really high-fashion, to me, Miss Sixty stole Fashion Week.
While Marc Jacobs went a little too far to the left for my taste this season, I always appreciate his style. And if imitation really is the greatest form of flattery, up-and-coming designer Alexandre Herchcovitch must think a lot of Mr. Jacobs too. His new ankle boot draws heavily on last spring’s Marc by Marc Jacobs inverted heel, but maintains a unique, edgy feel.
As many of our more established fashion houses fell a little flat this fall, they opened the door for new American designers. I know I am excited to see what these new names and next seasons will bring.
Mary C. Schell can be reached at email@example.com.