For release Sunday, March 10 () -
For release Sunday, March 10 () —
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(On the Runway)
c.2013 New York Times News Service
It's over. You can rest now. No more volleys of pencil skirts and models in static-fuzz wigs (easily the hottest accessory during the four-week run of fall fashion shows).
Actually, for as much as people complain about the terrible pace — and the pressures on designers to create at a high level — there should be more seasons like this one. Marc Jacobs clapped and made the sun appear, and then, for Louis Vuitton, mustered the supermodels to look as if they had no strength left to wear anything more than a slip and an overcoat, as they tumbled into their hotel rooms. Pleasure seemed to be the defining mood of the fall collections, whether it was in the sensual textures, the cocooning coats or the unfittedness of the clothes. Some of the more elegant designs may look retro, but they are not predictable.
Despite the number of shows, it's easy to pick out the winners. These are the ones that, more than being modern and wearable, looked beautifully resolved, like Dior and Hermes. There are the collections that stand out for being restrained or, in the case of Lanvin, for refusing to take the rules of a fashion show seriously. Certainly in the instance of Miuccia Prada's show, the clothes slyly get under your skin.
You could love a lot about the New York collections, like Phillip Lim's shaggy coats and Derek Lam's cool sportswear. But Narciso Rodriguez is that rare kind of designer in whose work you could happily spend an hour staring at the fused folds of a T-shirt hem or the shoulder line of a coat, because he's so good at what he does. This season he got a lot out of his minimalist shapes, largely by asymmetry and an unexpectedly hearty blend of warm colors.
That soft roundness in Rodriguez's clothes anticipated a big fall trend. Though some Proenza Schouler clothes recalled the reductive modernity of early Givenchy, the collection of Jack McCollough and Lazaro Hernandez was a step up. For once their novel fabrics were in harmony with the designs. Four weeks after they showed rounded jackets and nip-waist coats in compacted boucle over modest, side-buttoned dresses, they are hard to forget.
Louise Goldin, a transplanted British designer, also makes the final cut in New York, for her solid bundle of technical skills that yielded distinctive clothes, especially the great coats.
After years of being the playground of fashion hotheads, London now plays host to new talent conditioned by post-recession austerity. Well, they're a smart, unpretentious bunch. Christopher Kane, who recently sold 51 percent of his company to the French luxury group PPR, remains the leader, with a super-appealing collection that combined kilts and camouflage, and finished off with a riff on elegant velvet.
Despite the sugary lift of Simone Rocha's clothes, they are grounded in common sense. This stuff has to sell. That's the delicate balance displayed among London's new revolutionaries, who include J.W. Anderson and Thomas Tait. Is it an accident that these three designers, as well as Kane, live and work in the same East London neighborhood?
In Milan, Prada hooked her audience within the first few outfits: dark tweed sheaths or black beaded chiffon dresses worn with indifference over drab knits. OK, we can go home now. Prada's designs stem from an inner vision of herself, and plainly it's filled with images from Italian films and conflicts involving beauty. But the upshot is a tangled, what-a-woman sexiness.
As often happens, the Paris collections were in another class. Paris fashion gets its weight from ideas, whether from the past or the street, and its authority from the way designers like Raf Simons of Dior can reorient your thinking about notions such as modernity and good taste. That's especially true this season.
Alexander Wang surprised many observers this season (including me) with a Balenciaga debut that seemed attuned to those values. Although he called the mostly black and white collection "a prelude," he and his team clearly understood that Balenciaga's volumes look better when minimized. And although the label has been a cult of the young, as Wang's own fashion is, these clothes could easily be worn by women of any age.
Such open-mindedness also set apart Alber Elbaz's collection for Lanvin. In its energized mix of styles, the show felt almost old-fashioned, or insurrectionary.
With so many designers dipping into Dior's midcentury silhouette, Simons shrewdly showed how in command he is of the shapes even as he redefines them. In this dazzling collection of new suits and streamlined evening dresses with surrealist embroidery, the clothes were in sync with the movement of the body. That's less common than you might think. His asymmetrical skirts, in silk or wool denim, could be almost Japanese in simplicity, yet they are buoyantly Parisian.
At Celine, Phoebe Philo also made a powerful statement with skirts. Shown with oversize sweaters in cream-to-pink tones, or a lanky version of a Mary Poppins jacket, the flirty skirts made a great silhouette. And, surprisingly, they were knits — extremely compacted silk, rayon or wool boucle and without waistbands or fasteners. Philo's clothes may be eminently beautiful, but they also have slob appeal (at least for unreformed slobs).
Finally, there is Hermes. Even if you are not in that price league, this was an inspired lesson in good taste, a worldly femininity and, maybe, how not to run with the fashion pack.