Fashion Week: Kors' earthy elegance, Marchesa's opulence

Staff Writer
Columbus Monthly

NEW YORK (AP) — The Associated Press is all over New York Fashion Week, from the runways to celebrities as eight days of spring previews entered their seventh day Wednesday.

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EARTHY ELEGANCE AT MICHAEL KORS

Elegance, the Michael Kors way for spring, doesn't mean kid gloves, boning and tight dresses.

The designer had a more "earthy elegance" on his mind for the feminine Michael Kors Collection — a more creative, artistic energy like Georgia O'Keeffe and Elsa Peretti, the Italian model turned jewelry designer.

He sewed fluttery petaled flowers on dresses and offered sheer kicky pleats on dresses in classic red, blue, black and white. Wide black leather belts and grommets along skirts and hems provided strength.

"I wanted to have that balance of the two things, think about things that were in fact very soft and romantic and feminine, but take them down-to-earth and make them work in a modern way," Kors said in an interview. "It's all about things that move with the wind, and juxtapose all of that with sort of borrowed from the boys kind of tailoring that feels easy."

Hence his ruffles, slits and slashes to catch the breeze.

It hasn't been an easy year for the lovable Kors. His competition is amped up, discounting is deep and his stock was down. How is he holding up?

"I'm an optimistic guy, you know? I think that's how I approach fashion. I still believe that when people put the right thing on it changes them," Kors said. "It changes your spirit, it changes your step. I've seen a woman try on a dress and suddenly stand up straight."

He acknowledges fashion is fast and furious now and customers are shopping lots of different ways.

"I think we're all adjusting to the fact that it is a new world," Kors said.

Among his front row guests were Naomi Watts and Olivia Wilde. And Kendall Jenner was among his walkers.

"I always love the drama in the front row in the shows and seeing how they're presenting their new ideas. It's fun," Watts said.

Sitting in the front row, Wilde said, is always fun, but a little stressful.

"I just focus the whole time on not tripping the models," she said. "Don't trip them! Don't trip them! You know, it's a lot like sitting courtside at a basketball game, you just can't believe how tall they are."

—Leanne Italie and Nicole Evatt

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RED-CARPET OPULENCE AT MARCHESA

Walking into the Marchesa show at the St. Regis Hotel off Fifth Avenue, a guest in a cocktail dress balanced a martini with her purse. And why not? The Marchesa show is all about luxury.

Designers Georgina Chapman and Keren Craig never shy away from full-on glamour — after all, they're aiming squarely for the red carpet — and their show was full of opulent gowns heavy on tulle, feathers, sequins, jeweled beading, lace and embroidery. A few of the most glamorous ballgowns had large trains — one of them in particular, in ombre pastels, so long that it presented a runway challenge for even the most experienced of models.

The theme, according to the show notes, was an aviary garden, or "a botanical menagerie of caged birds and cascading florals placed under a cascading midnight sky."

"Step into a garden," the designers wrote, "of hand-dipped dyed ombre tulle and organza in dusty mint, soft yellows and coral offset by smoky blue grays, charcoal hues, and bursts of fuchsia ..."

Also making an appearance at Wednesday's show: Marchesa's new footwear line, with shoes made of materials like alligator and python leathers, some with Swarovski crystals or laser cut detailing.

It's no surprise that celebrities are fans of Marchesa, and guests at the show included Bette Midler (sitting next to Chapman's husband, Harvey Weinstein), Jennifer Hudson, Christina Hendricks of "Mad Men," Alyssa Milano and AnnaSophia Robb, among others.

"Oh it is just so romantic," said Hendricks of the ballgowns. "I think it is every girl's fantasy."

Robb said the clothes made her feel "like I'm in a fairytale. It is just everything I would dream of if I was a little kid. What would I want to wear? Sparkles, lace, silk..."

—Jocelyn Noveck and Gina Abdy

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KANYE RETURNS TO FASHION WEEK

Kanye West's presentation united Vogue editor Anna Wintour, Lorde and Kim Kardashian — holding baby North West — in the front row.

West's Yeezy Season 2 collection was launched in four sets: First a woman entered the stage wearing tan, and yelled, "First row, fall in. Second row, fall in." Others models followed, sporting the same color and blond ponytails.

The clothes ranged from loose jackets to high-waisted pants to tank tops. The leader wore a hoodie. Kim Kardashian and North West matched the models with their own tan ensembles.

The next set, which also featured a model yelling orders, featured army green, followed by deeper brown and then black. Most of the pants on the men were loose. There were tighter items on the women, including leggings and bathing suits. And some of the models wore baseball caps that covered their eyes.

Kourtney and Khloe Kardashian, Courtney Love, Common, Michael Strahan, Seth Meyers and former Vogue editor-at-large Andre Leon Talley watched from the front row while Jaden Smith, R&B singer Miguel and rapper Pusha T watched from the second row.

All the models entered during the finale as a song blasted in the background. One of the models even started smoking.

West appeared, earning loud applause as he walked in between four rows of models.

Earlier this year, when West debuted his Yeezy Boost shoe line for Adidas during Fashion Week, Beyonce, Jay Z, Rihanna and Diddy sat in the front show. At that show, North West made headlines when she cried, but the 2-year-old was calm and relaxed for most of West's presentation Wednesday: As she sat on her mother's lap, she said "Mommy" a few times and licked a lollipop.

—Mesfin Fekadu

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NEW DESIGN DUO DEBUT FOR DKNY

Donna Karan turned out to support Public School's Maxwell Osborne and Dao-Yi Chow, the new creative directors of her namesake DKNY, as they debuted their first collection for the brand since her departure from the company she founded 31 years ago.

There were no radical leaps in style as models made their way down a 250-foot runway set up under a ceiling of exposed industrial pipes in a gleaming white underpass at the PATH train station at the National September 11 Memorial & Museum.

The designers, with New York roots as strong as Karan's, honored the hallowed location in deconstructed cityscapes on some outfits, and they held tight to the DKNY look in playful pinstripes in asymmetrical wool wrap dresses, jackets and coats, a familiar play on classic tailored suiting.

So what did Karan think of the collection done in gray, white and black, with a touch of blue?

"She liked it. She was happy," Chow said backstage after the show.

Osborne added: "She's been so supportive, you know, throughout the process. It means a lot to us for her to be present and supportive like that. It's been amazing. ... Hopefully it's in good hands and we'll take care of it."

This is a big moment for Osborne and Chow. They've always had Karan's blessing, but where do their voices join with the brand's creative foundation? Karan stepped down in June.

"Funny enough, we entitled this season Missing Pieces, knowing that it's a journey. ... We still don't really know this girl altogether. We're still putting the pieces together," Chow said. "We're still trying to find ourselves, but we know that it's a long journey and we left ourselves enough leverage to have some fun in the future."

The two chose the location to honor the site and the city where they grew up, and where Karan made her name. And they chose to tinker with tailoring as a nod to DKNY's DNA, using pieces of photos taken by Peter Lindbergh in a 1990s ad campaign for the brand.

One black-and-white coat included part of the face of Rosemary McGrotha in sunglasses from a DKNY video of the same era.

The designers said their DKNY girl will remain a New Yorker. She'll be determined and focused and comfortable in the rest of the world as well as the two hope to foster a younger customer base.

"She wants to be taken seriously," Osborne said, "and she wants her clothes to reflect that without taking herself too seriously."

— Leanne Italie and Nicole Evatt