c.2015 New York Times News Service
c.2015 New York Times News Service
NEW YORK — There’s nothing like extreme weather to focus the mind. When you are freezing, or thinking about the fact that you are about to be freezing, or defrosting from being freezing, suddenly clothes take on whole new meaning. It’s cold outside! Where’s the design proposition to solve that?
It should be on the runway. These are the autumn/winter shows, after all.
Yet the combined forces of global warming and globalization have thrown fashion for a loop. Seasons increasingly seem less like seasons than abstract ideas. Grit your chattering teeth and follow the bouncing train of thought.
Sometimes it is easier than at others.
Tommy Hilfiger, for example, had the Super Bowl on his mind (and the New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft in his audience), even though it was more than two weeks ago — practically pre-fall in today’s fashion terms.
Still, he not only constructed an entire football-field-cum-catwalk for his show but put leather football jersey dresses on it, a move that was wincingly obvious.
But because football made him think of college, which made him think of Ali MacGraw in “Love Story,” which made him think of the 1970s, there were also striped polo shirts and tweed trousers, oversize scarves with football helmet appliqués and one mega-faux fur with giant sequin-trimmed patch denim pockets that worked perfectly well on its own, no stadium context required.
For her part, Carolina Herrera turned to “the water element,” as realized in iridescent moiré-swirled jacquard dresses and floor-sweeping gowns, perfect LGFDs (little gray flannel dresses) with inset waves of contrasting fabrics. They were echoed by the raised seams on skirt suits, and red-carpet numbers waving sea anemone fronds — as well as some cherry-red alligator separates (reptiles, you know), while at The Row, the designers Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen went Zen in a different way, with geometry on the mind and on the runway.
Slim trousers came under diagonal kimono-wrap tunics in supple skins with obi belts; slim-shouldered coats appeared in silk and shaved mink, often without even a collar or button to interrupt the flow; rich knits swaddled the torso; and the mood was entirely soothing and restrained — snow falling on Mount Fuji.
By contrast, Thakoon Panichgul got to musing on 19th-century dandies, which led to tapestry, which led to nubby textures and muddy 1970s shades in cool cross-striped knit skirts and tops, which segued into an odd peplum/waist tie around an ankle-sweeping skirt and artisanal ruglike mega-scarves, often over his signature white shirting, and then went farther off-piste into unicorn-print velvets, lace, and florals and sparkles.
Even with some magical thinking, the aesthetic journey from A to Z was hard to parse.
Harder, anyway, than at Diane von Furstenberg, who entitled her collection “Seduction” (well, you know, winter = hibernation = hanging out under the covers) but filled it with elements that ranged from the boardroom to the bedroom in a veritable blizzard of offerings.
There were cream-colored wrap dresses with black lace inserts in back, an elegant update of the frock that made her name, as well as 1980s-esque pinstriped pinafores over sheer black blouses; abstract expressionist tailored day coats; knit mink sweatshirts; lace-insert rompers under tuxedo jackets (rompers?); lip-print shirtdresses; and a whole lot of crimson slip dresses.
If it took some effort to plow through, it was also possible to understand the rationale: These days, who knows what you are going to find when you open the door? This way there’s something for everyone, no matter the hemisphere or temperature.
It’s one way to address the issue, although perhaps a more effective approach came from Prabal Gurung, who mined inspiration in the Adirondacks. He has something of a thing for cloudy peaks, a penchant expressed in the past with nods to his native Nepal, home of Mount Everest, but staying closer to home proved a smart move, resulting in his most coherent, and convincing, collection in seasons.
Almost entirely in shades of black, white, navy and orange, it married enveloping but never over-the-top outerwear — intarsia furs in complex Native American patterns; cashmere duffels with sharp silver toggles; hand-knit Fair Isle sweater dresses — with easy crepe sheaths. Black pleated leather skirts came under thick two-tone knits, and even the crystal and jet-embroidered evening wear had the relaxed simplicity of a T-shirt. Complete, in the last dress, with long sleeves.
Long sleeves! Whatever the origin of the idea (and truth be told, once clothes make it into the stores, the why and wherefore of their creation in the designer mind is essentially beside the point), to a viewer shivering on the benches by the catwalk, it suddenly made a whole lot of sense.