c.2013 New York Times News Service

c.2013 New York Times News Service

NEW YORK — Naturally, Rachel Comey sought advice about having her spring show in Red Hook and, naturally, the word was: Forget about it. Fashion people will not come to that remote part of Brooklyn during such a busy time, even with the succor of free booze and dinner.

“I was kind of bummed,” Comey said when she heard that.

It was Wednesday evening before sunset on the Brooklyn waterfront, and the designer, dressed in a cream jumpsuit, was in the garden of Pioneer Works, the artist studio and event space that occupies a 19th-century factory. About 50 guests were standing about or sitting at picnic tables, tranquilized by the liquor or the light or the remoteness now of Manhattan.

Comey shrugged and said, “But I really wanted to do this, and so I did.”

In spirit, the shows are at some kind of low point, so Comey’s decision, while personal, seemed a reproach to those all-too-familiar runway shows, with the same staged hoopla, and the same underwhelming clothes. If there was anything to regret about Comey’s Red Hook excursion, it was that it may be our only escape this week.

Comey, who has been in business a dozen years, isn’t a big enough name to affect a change to the system. But at the same time, one doesn’t have to conform. Her show drew a bunch of celebrities, and without the maul of photographers, they didn’t stick out like sore thumbs. They included artist Cindy Sherman and actresses Maggie Gyllenhaal, Greta Gerwig, Parker Posey and Zosia Mamet.

Instead of a show, Comey served a light dinner (prepared by Julia Ziegler-Haynes of the Dinner Bell) while the models walked around the tables. Everything ran late, and nobody seemed to care. Justin Vivian Bond, a friend of the designer, sang several songs. Dessert was a big fat cake layered with fruit and served with Scotch. At my table, where the guests included Sherman, Todd Thomas and Alexandra Auder, everyone dug in.

And here’s a genius idea: Comey’s show notes doubled as a personal order form for the collection. “No pressure,” the form said, but if you wanted, you could check off any look, leave your order and someone from Comey’s staff would follow up with size and price details. Again, anyone could have had this idea.

As for her fashion, Comey has long had a reputation for going her own way and for being inventive but not ridiculous with fabrics. But this collection was especially strong, with shorts and palazzo pants in bleached or carefully distressed denim (these were fantastic), jackets in mud cloth, some lovely cotton parachute dresses and a marble-print sweatshirt with a matching skirt.

For some reason, New York has become the nursery for a lot of crafty, painfully sensitive collections, beginning years back with Rodarte. We really should rename Fashion Week Tender Buttons and then hide out in Red Hook until it’s over.

Just kidding. The Creatures of the Wind designers, Shane Gabier and Chris Peters, are still doing their awkward thing, with patchwork and frumpy secretarial delicacy, but the good news is, there is a clearer relationship between the textures and patterns and the intent of the designs. Their collection also had a nice downbeat sophistication, evident in a nubby black cashmere-blend sweatshirt and a pair of a wide-leg gold jersey pants.

On Friday, Peter Som threw a lot of clothes at his audience: bulky sweatshirts in blue wave-print neoprene, neat tweed jackets with frayed edges and a gray striped raffia peacoat, to mention a few things. You get used to seeing novel fabric combinations from him, like neoprene and stiff cotton eyelet, but it’s hard to see the point. And there’s the problem of how such a garment will look on a normal person.

What you want from Som isn’t better editing, although that would help, but a real enthusiasm for a specific design. Only one dress clearly had that: a black and white striped, draped-front dress with short sleeves. It was a winner.

With its side-laced pencil skirts and blousons in anemic khaki, Jason Wu’s show Friday seemed less “A Dialogue Between Construction and Ease,” as it was called, than a cross between Tom Ford in his slinky safari Gucci days and BCBG. Wearable the clothes were, but also conventional.