Globe Style’s Amy Verner is in New York covering Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week until Sept. 15. Look for her reports daily.
Only a few seasons ago, Prabal Gurung was considered an “emerging designer.” He’s undoubtedly assumed a place in New York’s fashion firmament since then. Such a speedy ascent is a testament to the Nepalese-born talent’s eye for elegant, sculpted silhouettes, cut impeccably and iced with dramatic flair. In the curving, architectural lobby of the Frank Gehry-designed InterActiveCorp headquarters on the west side, models first emerged wearing dresses with dropped waists or fluted skirts printed with pixelated flowers. These were pretty enough, but Gurung went one step further and added black crisscrossed harness-like straps and twisted rope holsters for edge. The drama continued with patterned, softly kaleidoscopic shorts, ostrich feathers and tulle petals budding off hemlines. He even tried his hand at Latex, airbrushing it in glossy electric purple so that it looked like half-painted molded plastic. Totally slick. What wowed me most was the way he lightly folded a type of tulle around shoulders so that it fluttered like transparent coral.
Two different interpretations of Brigitte Bardot appeared in Saturday’s shows. The first was at Pink Tartan where Kimberley Newport-Mimran staged her first presentation at Lincoln Center; if the hair wasn’t evocative enough, the sixties mod aesthetic – a white pea coat, flouncy short skirts and cropped red pants – sealed the deal. This was an abridged collection – 18 looks versus the 40-plus that will be shown in Toronto next month – but it was more than enough to give New Yorkers a glimpse of Newport-Mimran’s sporty chic style.
Vivienne Tam has been riffing off Asian themes since 1994, playing off her heritage without exploiting it. Her “zen garden” theme, for instance, sounded more cliché than it proved to be. There was a lot of white, black and red – a timeless combo – and a print that assumed characteristics of fish and dragon, as well as another that was more classic chinoiserie. But slim-cut “Bardot” trousers and diaphanous dresses are the reason why she maintains a loyal – and surprisingly downtown – following.
High performance from Alexander Wang
Not until the 17th look in Alexander Wang’s collection did models remove their hands from their pockets. This wouldn’t be all that remarkable except that the opening outfits boasted mesh pockets, which created a neat concealed-revealed limbo. Incidentally, the first grouping of his coveted bags was also hands-free; think knapsacks or shoulder slung satchels (they got bigger – golf club-sized – by the end of the show).
The venue was a cavernous pier on the west side, where risers in a square formation looked out at an axis of four massive mirrors blocks, establishing another duality, this time of amplifying and restricting space (I spotted Courtney Love and Alicia Keys but Linda Evangelista was in another quadrant).
Perhaps the venue allowed Wang to further reinforce the utilitarian sensibility he returns to in one form or another each season. This time around, however, he introduced shots of bold colour – tangerine, aqua and “acai” (the superfruit translated as vivid purple) – underneath the black, in addition to a digitized botanical print and an arrow-like pattern that looked like airport-runway markings.
Lacoste’s new designer downplays le crocodile
Lacoste wants the world to know it has a new design director helming its fashion ship. His name is Felipe Oliveira Baptista and he has wasted no time putting his own stamp on the storied tennis brand. A couturier formerly of MaxMara and Cerruti, Oliviera offered a wide range of haute sportif separates but most of all, he played around with shirtdresses, broadening out from the expected pique cotton to include silk georgette and canvas. His is a brand vision that downplays the crocodile logo and takes the pieces beyond country club and onto Paris streets. If the goal is to attract more women to Lacoste, he has started off well. And there was one fun twist: swooping armholes, which had the effect of making the side ribcage a new erogenous zone.
Fast’s Faster footwear
The models showing off Canadian Mark Fast’s Faster line stood stiff like mannequins on a slightly elevated revolving pedestal last night. Their body-skimming jumpsuits and dresses were shades of sherbet and showed off the same strategically cob-webby panels as his now-famous signature knit collection. Fast has not strayed much from this original idea but with the support of Aldo this season, he was also able to play around with sock boots and pumps, both boasting sexy cutout patterns. Like at Helmut Lang where sports bras were also a staple, Faster is limited to a woman who has either perfected her body to mannequin proportions or has the guts to not care about any jiggly bits on display. Which is why the footwear (which Aldo will produce; the boots in limited numbers) is a clever addition; you can get the look without the grief. Just one caveat: With heels that perilous, don’t expect to get around any faster.