NY Fashion Week: Mourning becomes Browne, Wang mum on Oscars
Feb. 18, 2015
NEW YORK (AP) — The Associated Press is all over New York Fashion Week, from its runway fashions to celebrity-packed events. Here's what some AP writers are seeing:
A NEW ERA AT OSCAR DE LA RENTA
The Oscar de la Renta luxury label held its first fashion week show since the designer's death in October, with his successor, Peter Copping, sending a bevy of luxurious, ultra-feminine looks down the runway Tuesday on what he called "an emotional day for the house."
De la Renta's widow, Annette, as well as his many clients and fans — among them, singer Taylor Swift and supermodel Karlie Kloss — packed into the late designer's showroom to see Copping's debut collection. They applauded it warmly at the end, though it was clear that all missed the familiar sight of de la Renta emerging from the wings, on a model's arm, with a huge grin on his face.
De la Renta died of cancer at age 82, ending a career in which he dressed first ladies, socialites and Hollywood stars for more than four decades. Only days earlier, he had hired Copping as artistic director, and a week before that, first lady Michelle Obama had worn one of his dresses for the first time.
"It obviously was a tough situation," Copping told reporters backstage Tuesday after taking a shy bow, "but Oscar is a designer that I really respected, and we share a lot in terms of aesthetic." He added that the fact that de la Renta had personally chosen him "gave me a certain amount of confidence." Particularly, Copping has said he shares his predecessor's romantic sensibility.
In a note distributed with the program, Copping, who is British, wrote that he was "immensely proud" to be in his new position. "Unfortunately things did not go according to our plans," he said, "and I never had the chance to work with Oscar, which is something I deeply regret." He spoke of beginning "a new chapter for the house" while still honoring de la Renta's legacy.
The Dominican-born de la Renta was best known for glamorous gowns featuring intricate embroidery and made of the most luxurious materials. Copping, who previously was artistic director at the Nina Ricci fashion house, featured a number of those, but also showed an affinity for shorter lengths and daytime attire. His final garment down the runway was not a ballgown but a short cocktail dress, in black and peridot green, paired with elbow-length gloves in lilac leather.
For daywear, Copping favored multi-patterned tweed suits — he has said he got the idea from looking outside his office window. Both day and evening wear featured vivid colors like violet, magenta and Bordeaux, though there was lots of navy and black, too. Jewelry included colorful chunky necklaces. One striking navy cocktail dress was made with ribboned organza for a beaded effect.
THOM BROWNE: MOURNING BECOMES HIM
If you're going to be in mourning, you might as well wear something to die for.
That was the theory behind Thom Browne's darkly beautiful fashion show, and we do mean dark — every item was black. And if you were close enough to see the intricate fabric work and tailoring on his 40 mourning outfits, you knew instantly that no funeral could possibly be this exquisite.
And that's even before you got to the models' heads, which bore the audaciously creative handiwork of star milliner Stephen Jones.
But before the mourning came the death. Browne placed his story in an old-fashioned, wood-paneled operating theater, perhaps in the 18th century. The audience, which included singer Nicki Minaj, sat in what felt like church pews, looking down. On three gurneys lay three young women, all in white. Each was attended by two doctors, who examined them, not sadly but with a sense of caring, for some 30 minutes before the show actually started.
Then, a chord in the music signaled the doctors to begin their transformation. They removed their medical coats to reveal jackets with angel's wings on the backs. As snow started to fall, the angels slowly escorted their corpses, now sitting up and facing heaven — these women had died of broken hearts, you see — out of the theater.
And then came their fashionable friends, one by one, in their mourning attire: capes, coats, jackets and cardigans, skirts and dresses — in lace, cashmere, mohair, flannel, silk, satin and everything else you could think of, with intricately detailed embroidery and Browne's impeccable tailoring, of course.
Browne is known for huge theatrical productions like this, and perhaps his best was his recent spring/summer collection, featuring a fairytale (by Browne) narrated by Diane Keaton. Monday evening's show could have perhaps used just a bit of narration or explanation, but the craftsmanship on view needed none at all.
To die for, indeed.
VERA WANG'S WORLD OF BLACK
Vera Wang is known for a lot of things. Black clothes are one of them. So how does she keep the mainstay color fresh?
"I don't think it's challenging to make black contemporary," Wang said Tuesday backstage after her show of mostly, you guessed it, black.
"I think there's too much black in contemporary, and I love black. ... but I think to make black look elevated is a much bigger challenge because there is so much black clothing, particularly for fall. So to try and create black on a more, you know, couture level of sewing and detailing, and that it be visible and representational of that level of sewing, is a challenge. No question."
She wasn't the only designer to lean heavily on black. Thom Browne and Alexander Wang went to the dark side as well.
On Vera Wang's runway, details did make the difference. She sent out both useful rain boots and towering high heels, used a flash of under-white at the seam of a long dress and put hand-sewn petals on vinyl, corset lace-ups on several pieces and canvas straps on a velvet gown.
Vera's world of black included an oversized cashmere fisherman's sweater, a cotton men's shirt with big felted wool sleeves and silver sequins, and a vinyl wrap miniskirt with black sequin flowers.
It also came with a touch of ivory, including a crepe shift dress with asymmetrical draped sleeves that carried into other pieces.
Like other designers, Wang wouldn't discuss the upcoming Oscars red carpet, because she doesn't know anything yet! But, after all these years, she still sweats out celebrity dressing.
"Yes. I stress about everything. There's pretty much nothing I don't stress about, you know, but that kind of comes with the turf, I think, for us designers today because everything that you show reflects on your brand."
—Leanne Italie and Nicole Evatt
RODARTE: AN AVIAN MIGRATION
The Mulleavey sisters of Rodarte often turn to the outdoors for inspiration. They've done tide pools, they've done outer space (if you count "Star Wars") and this Fashion Week, they drew inspiration from migrating birds.
"It just felt like a natural," Laura Mulleavy said backstage. "We weren't thinking of anywhere specific, just birds migrating from one place to another. Maybe leaving the city and going to a place that's more pastoral."
The show began with more neutral colors — outdoorsy hues, you might say — and included hearty items like a taupe wool tweed and leather anorak. But the coat came paired with a crystal-embedded skirt, lending it more flash. There were similar juxtapositions elsewhere, for instance a trim blazer topping a pair of lacy pants that actually looked like shorts with hosiery.
Later in the show, the sisters seemed to set aside the woodsy theme for a series of elaborately sequined, beaded, feathered dresses in electric colors. Was that birds, too? "It all was, in a weird way," Laura Mulleavy said. "We wanted to use things like sequins and tons of embroidery and feathers and then we were just feeling bolder colors to contrast with the things that were more neutral in the beginning."
Kate Mulleavy pointed out that in nature itself, there are often startling color contrasts.
"There's such an interesting juxtaposition of colors that you wouldn't imagine," Kate said.
Often, the sisters take their inspirations from northern California, where they grew up. But this time, they said, the geography wasn't specific,
"This one could be anywhere," Laura said.
Tori Burch's latest collection is all about that bias — from pattern to cut.
Her Tuesday show featured richly patterned pants, dresses and sweaters in shades of wine, cream and caramel — a Middle Eastern bazaar of body-skimming womenswear so designed around a theme you could practically smell the spices.
The vibe was inspired by a sweet memory, Burch said.
"It's a big point of reference for me. My parents honeymooned there almost 60 years ago. I just love the rich history and the details and the culture," Burch said.
In the front row: Anna Wintour, spread out over three seats of prime real estate, and waiflike model-of-the moment Gigi Hadid, barely filling a single seat.
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