Alexander Wang (left) and Altuzarra (right)
I am secretly happy that I didn’t attend New York Fashion Week what with the artic temperatures. I guess the cold was on everyone’s minds as we saw an abundance of slouchy knits (The Row’s were scary), tailored coats (updated with a flash of colour or colour blocking), capes and puffer jackets on the catwalks.
What was more interesting, however, was watching many well-known designers and brands transition into new unexplored territory, while staying true to their style and aesthetic. Fashion after all is about change, but striking the right balance is tough. Here are some of my favourite collections of the week.
I have always been a fan of Altuzarra but this season he is really carving out his aesthetic which is designing beautifully crafted, but timeless classics. Some of the looks he sent out brought to mind Hermes (hopefully they won’t cost as much) especially the cosy yet elegant wrap coats in double-faced cashmere. They came with big collars and flashes of contrasting colour underneath. That’s not to say his sexy side has disappeared. Replacing his must-have skirts for spring are the fluid silver cocktail dresses with plunging necklines.
I was not thrilled when Alexander Wang joined Balenciaga (jury is still out on that one) because I really feel he does his best work when he sticks to what he knows. In this case it’s designing for cool, hip urbanites like himself. As such his collections under his own label feel more relevant and relaxed. This season is all about outerwear ranging from utilitarian styles with snap pockets to the more sporty duffels and parkas, with flashes of neon and colourful jacquards.
Hugo Boss (left) and Marc Jacobs (right)
Who would have thought that Francisco Costa, the king of minimalism, would venture into knitwear (it does make sense when you think he is obsessed with fabric). His take on sweater dressing is definitely more luxe although his styles were injected with a cool street vibe making it one of his more wearable collections. The only thing I didn’t like was some of his colour choices, which made some pieces appear too grungy. My must have piece? The tailored white mohair coat. It’s perfection.
Jason Wu may be associated with dressing Michelle Obama in pretty frocks but his new gig with Hugo Boss shows he has potential, especially in the daywear category. Hugo Boss isn’t exactly the most cutting edge fashion label but he managed to add a subtle fashion edge to the functional tailored separates, be it through grid patterns and sheer panels or simple details like snap buttons and contrasting linings. It was a solid debut but I am looking for him to do more next season.
Calvin Klein (left) and Narciso Rodriguez (right)
Life after Vuitton seems to suit Marc Jacobs, who sent out a serene but sensual collection. There was a 1970s vibe in the minimalist separates including scoop or v-neck tunics, trousers and long tank dresses, many of which featured colour blocking. It was the ultimate loungewear, Charlies Angels style. Things got a bit more disco with ombre fur and sequinned dresses, although the sheer dresses with handpainted organza ruffles were positively dreamy. The soft palette of cream, tan and blue only made it all the more alluring.
Narciso Rodriguez was another designer that embraced colourblocking this season but his 1970s colour palette was gorgeous with shades of rust, navy and coral. Like Altuzarra, the look was effortless and polished, with beautifully tailored shift dresses and jackets that fit like cardigans. Many pieces featured contrasting fabric combinations, while lapels of jackets came in different colours. At the end he played with beading which made the dresses look like molten lava. It was understated yet luxe.
Proenza Schouler (left) and Ralph Lauren (right)
The Proenza boys have really honed their aesthetic and the fall collection featured their recognisable signatures from the rounded shoulder jackets to collaging using different fabrics and textures. The patterns were in abundance with two to three mixed together in one look, ranging from marbling to other dizzying prints. The final effect was modern thanks to the sculptural silhouettes.
The Ralph Lauren show was refreshing this season because it was free of his usual gimmicks and themes (no Great Gatsby or Western Dramas). At the same time everything he sent down the catwalk was quintessentially Ralph, as seen in the long fluid skirts paired with chunky cashmere turtlenecks to the white suits a la Diane Keaton. There was an air of nonchalance in the collection, which seems to be the byword for fall/winter 2014 if the New York shows are anything to go by. The evening dresses were also gorgeous.
Sophie Theallet (left) and Victoria Beckham (right)
There’s been so much hype around CFDA winner Sophie Theallet but this was one of the first collections of hers that I really liked. The opening series of dresses came with asymmetrical necklines and different patchworks of fabrics and prints for fun, youthful look. There was also a hint of rock ‘n’ roll in the black and gold tweed separates. While her designs may not change fashion, they are a great addition to your wardrobe.
Who ever would have though Post Spice would be a fashion star? Her collections seem to grow from strength to strength each season as she continues to get to know her customer better. Her beautifully tailored jackets and vests came with feminine details such as a thick gold chain fastening while she experimented with pleats on skirts and some cartoonish prints on monochrome squiggles. But the winners continue to be the long and lean silhouettes as personified by her long tuxedo coat, which is top of my wish list.