As many of you know, I spent Sept. 9-16 in New York City, navigating my way through the tents at Bryant Park attending top name shows, emerging designer shows and admittedly getting rejected from several shows because of our “new magazine” status. It was an amazing, whirlwind trip. From taking in the Vera Wang show (my first) and Bill Blass to seeing my analysis covered on the New York Magazine Web site (another first), all in all it was a very gratifying experience. Below is the comprehensive wrap-up coverage of the most notable shows I attended, as well as some insights into the experience of fashion week itself.
Michael Wesetly: The first show I saw at Fashion Week was Michael Wesetly’s Spring 2006 Men’s Collection. The collection included mostly suits and formal wear in pastels and cheerful patterns. There was even a bright pink blazer that was a novelty to see on a man, but the model carried it off quite well. Overall, the show was well organized and the clothing was crisp and attractive. Our men have potential to be lookin’ good next spring!
Joanna Mastroianni: This show remains one of my very favorites of the season. Many designers were displaying clothing in solids and whites. But Mastroianni was not afraid to show us a few bursts of sunshine-bright color. Many of her pieces used shades of orange and yellow. Forget the pantone color guides for a second. Forget the muted trends. Mastroianni’s line was throwing convention out the window and showing gorgeous colors. I almost want to skip the upcoming fall season. There were also plenty of pastels and flowing skirts with multiple layers and chiffon, which added a feminine touch. The statement being made was “here I am, look at me: bright, beautiful and bold!”
Another reason I really appreciated this show is because the clothing is surprisingly wearable. Many of the gowns, skirts and tops were body-skimming and flattering, giving the impression that many young women could pull off these looks, not just the runway models.
Cynthia Steffe: Steffe’s show displayed more muted colors including a lot of black, and was a bit edgier than other shows I attended. The whole feel of the show was a bit darker although there were some hints of white and red tones in a few pieces. Her dresses had textured patterns in darker tones that gave the pieces a heavier, weighted look. The designs presented also had a predominantly boxier shape, with less movement and flow than other designers. The cropped pants looked sharp in spring-like white, but many of the pieces were oddly dark for a spring collection.
Bill Blass: This show presented some beautiful evening gowns as well as sundresses in pale, shimmery colors and body-skimming, comfortable designs. Blass’ line also showcased some office-wear, including fitted jackets paired with flowing knee-length skirts or skinny capri-length pants. Although the colors were mostly muted tones of beige, light silver and pastels, the beauty of the designs was in the detailing. Many of the pieces had intricate prints and subtle sparkle, which added glamour to the designs. And the best part of attending this show was that I got a front row seat!
Vera Wang: Wang’s spring 2006 collection was pretty extraordinary to see in person. Although she used predominantly dark colors, she managed to keep the look of her evening gowns and daywear pieces very spring-like by using long, piecey splices of fabric that flowed as the models walked the runway. There was an ethereal tone to the show, created by Wang’s use of shimmer combined with light, flowing layers. The most striking element of the show was her use of shiny royal purple for two of her evening gowns. This was the only show that I saw (yeah I know I didn’t see that many shows, but I’ve been to a few) that used this color, and it really stood out among the other designs for the season.
Vlassis Holevas: This show was surprisingly pleasing to the eye. This was my first experience with this designer so I didn’t know what to expect. The majority of the show consisted of beautifully flowing evening gowns with flattering cutouts, gorgeous beadwork and glittering sequins. The colors were mostly bright, with lots of pink, sparkly black and eye-catching prints. Other than a few eighties inspired pieces that went a little wild with the hot pink, the dresses were pretty awe-inspiring. Think prom night or a fancy Las Vegas party and you get the feel of the show.
Although this is not an exhaustive list of shows we saw(Michelle Bell will be posting more on the other designers from NYC fashion week) , these are the designers whose work, in my humble opinion, most stood out on the New York runway. These were the shows where the combination of lights, music, models and clothing came together to create an impressive, memorable impression. Looking back at the Fashion Week experience as a whole, there are a few things I learned being a first-time reporter that benefit not only me, but anyone who has a love for the fashion world.
First, believe it or not, being behind the scenes at the Bryant Park tents is actually much less glamorous than it looks. On television the runway glows, celebrities are everywhere, reporters look pristine and background noise is kept to a minimum. What you’re not seeing, however, is the eight takes a reporter does to make sure her speech is perfect and the angle is right on camera, and the temporary, almost flimsy feel of the tents themselves. On TV it all looks so huge and solidly constructed, but in reality its just tents with models and media running around frantically backstage and throughout the venue, constantly preparing for the brief moments when they walk the catwalk and get that perfectly choreographed photo. Even during a show, photographers are yelling at each other to move out of the way, and there’s a whole lot of pushing going on. Basically, behind the scenes it’s a raucous mess.
The other, and possibly most important insight gained is that the key to truly enjoying the shows for what they are is feeling good about yourself. Many times throughout my days at the tents I would hear women complain about themselves after seeing the models strut their stuff. They would complain about their hair, height and especially their weight. It struck me as normal female conversation at first, but after some thought I realized how wasteful this type of thinking is. To many, models may seem intimidating, but the key is to recognize that the way they look has no impact on your own physical prowess. Although their height brings about a natural elegance to the clothing, in person these women are so thin that they look as though they might shatter from the touch of a fingerprint. Models are lovely, make no mistake, but it was a damn shame to hear the beautiful women seated in the chairs near me complain about themselves, most of whom looked absolutely fantastic. So I made a point of saying to several people I heard degrading themselves, “You don’t need to lose any weight, those models need to eat some cake!” Truly, the hottest fashion accessory for any season is a good old dose of self confidence. Wear your clothes with pride, and don’t be afraid to put a little strut in your step.