A Jolt of Caffeine, Much Needed

Staff Writer
Columbus Monthly

c.2014 New York Times News Service

NEW YORK — Sleep. Sleep of the evening, beautiful sleep. With apologies to the Mock Turtle of “Alice in Wonderland,” this is what most participants are craving by the midpoint of this elaborately constructed house of cards called New York Fashion Week.

But sleep would not be granted by Marcus Wainwright and David Neville of Rag & Bone on Monday night. Their staging was an absolute aural assault, with an “original soundtrack” by Thom Yorke and Nigel Godrich of Radiohead so loud that it was hard to even look at the clothes, since one’s attention was concentrated on not vibrating off one’s bench (under which, at a certain point, cool air suddenly began mysteriously whooshing, as if a button had been pressed by an atmosphere consultant, and no doubt those are now on some fashion companies’ payrolls).

When this critic’s ears stopped ringing, she managed to appreciate a utilitarian collection in blasé noncolors, in which even a spruce print looked rather desiccated and dystopic. With flat, sturdily strapped-on sandals and bags slung intrepid-tourist style around necks, it seemed ideal for a trip across multiple time zones. Maybe next time the duo could throw in noise-cancelling headphones.

To inform his show on West Street a few hours earlier, Phillip Lim claimed to have traveled no further than his bedroom, to which he’s been confined during an apartment renovation. Perhaps, like the classic Charlotte Perkins Gilman story about a woman going slowly mad, this chamber has yellow wallpaper? Different shades of the color (“canary,” “mimosa,” “light gold”) wended through 39 disparate outfits, including tapered trousers, an asymmetrical open-weave skirt and thick embroidery on tops curved like sea creatures.

Though inspired by accessories of slumber — robes, tap pants, even (in all seriousness) mattresses — they did not seem particularly comfortable, a pair of sheer organza trousers bringing to mind the black loungewear in which Barbra Streisand collected her Oscar for “Funny Girl” in 1969.

If Hollywood were to make a movie about Tory Burch, it might be called “Serious Girl.” An efficient branding behemoth, Burch shows in Avery Fisher Hall. She, too, was fond of yellow this season, mustard in this case, spreading it on her signature tunics, a schoolgirl sweater and an uncharacteristically goofy handbag printed with what looked like a Miró painting. The many patterns in the show suggested a jumble of gift wrap under a Christmas tree, and it was hard to glimpse spring in blanketlike fringing, despite the obvious nap benefits.

The optics were stronger at J. Crew’s presentation, where Jenna Lyons swanned in Bermuda shorts and heels before a semicircle of young women in perky jewel tones, relaxed waistbands and sunglasses. Such were these togs’ apparent power of suggestion that one model, wearing a pajama jacket over jeans, stifled a yawn.