Are you ready for fashion week? If you aren’t, you’re a bit late, as it started a couple days ago. We’re in New York and seeing a lot of typical fashion that we see in during New York Fashion Week, but since I’m a loudmouth and value my own opinions (and so should you), I’m going to write about the lines that I either love or hate – anything in between would just lead to more word vomit than you’re already used to. Why should you read my reviews versus another? Well, I’m not saying you should, but considering I’ve never actually seen racks of luxury clothing in front of me and have never stood within four feet of Joan Smalls, my impressions might be more down-to-earth and realistic than, say, someone who is paid to say nice things in reviews all the time. Or, you know, I could just be full of it.
Gary Graham: One thing I always love about Gary Graham’s collections is his blatant adoration of romantic clothing that has an old-world touch. When I gaze at the delicate folds of textured silk or the sweetness of gem-embellished lace, I can’t help but feel like you’re looking at the wardrobe of a modern Brontë character (and I’m not even partial to that era, but damn these make me almost pick up that Willa Cather novel I never finished). Delicate, nearly transparent slips peek out from beneath leather dresses; frayed-edge chiffon draped upon satin, embellished with glittering beads; tantalizing puff-sleeve jackets and dresses nestled beneath digital brocade prints and ornate bead vesting; dramatically black and pointed high heels stabilized with a ribbon gently unravelling along the edge; a draped cape dress that is so light and fine-spun, it would make you feel like you were wrapped in air; it is an ornate collection that lends itself to versatility and closet transformation.
If it is a bit too froufrou for you, Graham has included looks with woven leather bodices, black silken cargo pants, and motorcycle jackets with tapestry fabric accents to cut the sugar with some spice. Old world sentimentalities with new world practicality, Graham’s collection is in essence about blending modern beauty with an antiquated style and layering pieces into your wardrobe that effortlessly craft charming ensembles. If I had the money, this would all be mine. After all, every girl needs impractically prissy clothes for everyday life, right?
Robert Rodriguez: Celebrating the tenth anniversary of eponymous collection, Robert Rodriguez is going lengths and bounds to convince us of his new minimalistic vision for his brand. Abandoning frills and excess fabric in favor of sculptural zips, pleats, and a-lines, Rodriguez debuted a new, streamlined logo to really nail the point home – gone is the designer of mod daywear and Grecian-style gowns fought after by red carpet starlets, here to stay is a young designer with a new brand direction. Sure, we have seen hints and glimpses of this new identity in his past couple collections – Resort 2014 was filled with chambray and sweatshirts melded with razor sharp hems and architectural sheer panels, and Pre-Fall 2014 had hoods mixed with officewear and ruffles with body-skimming silhouettes – but, this collection is really the first cohesive look into Rodriguez’ new era. Some might lament the loss of his blending of high and low fashion, however I’m not too sad about the lack of drawstring sweatpants in neon orange hues.
While it is difficult to think of New York City minimalism and not automatically envision Alexander Wang (and his subsequent work at Balenciaga), and the inspiration is blatantly apparent (I’m having a serious case of déjà vu when I espy the enviable marbleized prints and dichromatic color palette, Rodriguez might be Wang’s biggest fan), there are some very exciting design elements happening in this line that I think are really cool. With styling that makes it look like a wardrobe out of a ‘50s movie trying to guess what we’d wear in the year 2014, it’s a collection filled with pebbled bomber jackets, mesh inlays, and bizarre zipper placements, the biggest draw for me to this collection not the minimalistic seaming and color palette, but the fun essence of dressing like an estranged member of the Jetsons.
Red Valentino: I have never been one for sickly sweet dessert. Sure, every once in a while I indulge in a couple spare spoonfuls of ice cream, but overwhelmingly my mid-afternoon and after-dinner preferences, if I have any at all, rely heavily on the tastes and subtle nuances of the ingredients put into it. It must have been the influence of my German grandmother and the impossibly high bar she set for my taste palette – strawberry cakes tasted more like natural and sun kissed strawberries than cake, plum tarts had an earthy bite that complimented the accompanying mug of coffee, and the tastes of homemade Lebkuchen have forever tarnished other cookies, making even the most touted Girl Scout Cookie forgettable. I think it’s because a lot of more popular desserts have more sugar in it and after a while sugar, sugar, and more sugar just makes everything taste one-note and (surprise!) sugary, masking all of the understated undertones that would have been pleasing.
That is my issue with this line. The bones of the collection are wonderful; I am especially partial to the watercolors straight out of a bored princess’ botany textbook and Monet-esque landscape patterns, and even a little bit smitten when they are transformed into a-line shirt dresses and voluminous skirts. Then you have…the rest of the collection. Pierpaolo Picciolo and Maria Grazia Chiuri channeled their inner ballerinas and out came a heaping Disney movie wardrobe reject pile. When they thought “ballet” and “whimsy,” they didn’t think of flowing fabrics and near-inhuman grace, they thought of “My First Ballet Class,” where the sign-in sheet is mounted onto the board with a ladybug magnet and the sharp pencils are replaced with crayons. Since we’re there, let’s throw in pinks of all hues and bows. More bows! Bows on bows! Bows on ruffles! Bows on shoes! With polka dots! Polka dots on tutus! And butterflies! It leaves me with a bit of a stomach ache.
Honor: It would surprise to no one who knows me in the real world that I would fall in love with a collection with an abundance of sharp, poke-your-eye-out collars (I love my oxfords. In another life I was Wednesday Addams. Actually! Last Halloween I was Morticia. The more you know~). This collection is quite twee around the edges (floral pattern against floral pattern, scalloped lace edged shorts, prom dresses for the well-off prom-goer), and yet there is something about it that I find utterly irresistible.
Laser-cut embellished yolks on otherwise plain and boring collared shirts, illusion-style strapless dresses that are A-line and elegant, more laser-cut embellishments on everything really, organic prints reminiscent of knots in wood – holy hell I’m smitten. Have you ever had the sensation that you are utterly in love with a collection until the cold harsh reality of a price tag come and grab you from behind like a villain from a Victorian novel, complete with devilish train tracks? I don’t know why we fall in love with those collections. I mean, if you live a normal life that isn’t filled with galas and pinky-out situations where the only benefit of the evening is the free champagne, you’d really have no reason to wear something from a line like this, leaving it to sit in your closet like a diamond that you’re scared to wear outside on the chance that it will sparkle too brightly and be stolen from you, at yet…it’s just so pretty. That’s what this line is. Ridiculously pretty.
Jason Wu: When I first saw this collection, I thought it was a solid collection (sure), but a boring collection. It was a collection that embodied the essence of tapioca pudding. It was a beige hotel wall. It was okay, sure, but – snore – would I remember it three days from now? Probably not. It was typical Jason Wu. It was utterly and completely safe (for those of you not fashion-savvy in a way to know what safe means, when I – and the fashion world – say safe, they mean it will be commercially successful and that means that it somehow diminishes in quality in the eyes of fashion connoisseurs, because fashion is only worthy of appraising commentary when the designs are abstract and weird and are never suitable to be worn outside of a costume ball. Obviously.). And then…
and then I saw the detail shots. Holy hell, who thought that Jason Wu had a marginal sense of sex appeal? Behind these classic shapes and wardrobe stables, built into the designs of cascading and (as much as they can be) practical sequins, are hints of lingerie sexuality and corseted restraint. The more I looked at the collection, the more I respected the subtle influence of apparel only meant to be seen behind the curtain. Is it the best show ever? Nah, but it does have a bit of PG sexiness.