On Runways, Hippie Chick Meets '80s Lady
As Spirit of Escapism Rules,
Many Colorful Eras Clash;
Of Leather and Macramé
September 11, 2008
By CHRISTINA BINKLEY
We are preoccupied with war and a contentious presidential race.
Taxpayers are bailing out the mortgage industry, and Woody Allen is
directing Puccini. These are confusing times.
Little wonder that the fashion world, with its own economic worries,
is fleeing reality. The spring '09 collections that designers are
showing at New York's fashion week are romantic, flirty and laden
with doodads and detail, from Marc Jacobs's plaid, beaded and
gathered Americana to Diane von Furstenberg's Haight-Ashbury hippie dresses.
Working women who want subtlety next season will have to turn to
Michael Kors, or Oscar de la Renta if they can afford him -- or rely
on what's already in their closets.
"I think everyone's looking for escape," said Cynthia Steffe's new
creative director, Shaun Kearney, after his show Tuesday morning. The
collection he showed at Bryant Park was a "country club fantasy" of
cute print dresses and 1980s cropped-and-pleated pants.
There have been historical references this week to nearly every
fashion era since Queen Victoria ruled. Marc Jacobs gave us bustles.
Matthew Williamson provided tie-dye. The playful Betsey Johnson
marched out gingham hoopskirts and bloomers that could have made
their debut on "Little House on the Prairie."
So hoarders, take heart. Pull out your old clothes and wear them
again: Nothing is out of style, according to New York's runways.
We've seen long hemlines, micro-minis, pencil skirts and flouncy
skirts. Big-legged pants, skinny-legged pants. Lots of leather and
It's surprising that women's fashion is getting frilly, given that
other aspects of design and architecture are going minimalist. (Our
frocks will clash with our living rooms.) But fashion design has to
move fast to keep us shopping for new looks, and the cycle of new
looks now is so quick it's a blur.
The runways so far this week have major nods to two diametrically
opposed eras -- the romantic late 1960s-early 1970s and the go-getter
1980s -- often on the same runways. Alice + Olivia's hippy-dippy
collection (presented two days after Diane von Furstenberg's
hippy-dippy collection) included a 1980s-type yellow blouse with big
bows and cap sleeves alongside a Victorian white lacy dress whose
mother was worn to Woodstock.
Alice + Olivia designer Stacey Bendet, 31 years old, spoke of a link
between our times and the 1970s. She wanted to "mix up hippie and
hipster," she says, "because the hipsters are the modern version of
what our parents were."
"For [our parents], it was them going to war," Ms. Bendet said. But
in this war era, without a draft, "I don't think there's the same
passion," Ms. Bendet said. "I just want my clothes to be fun and make
Matthew Williamson, who is fearless with vivid color, offered a hot
pink patent-leather coat, a sequined go-go mini-dress, and a tailored
jacket with a busy pattern that reminded me of my old Spirograph set.
We saw a similarly psychedelic look at the show of Jonathan Saunders
-- another Brit. Carolina Herrera was all flutters and ruffles.
Nanette Lepore is going back to her Boho roots with floaty chiffon
blouses, leather skirts, layers of ruffles and -- you heard it here
first -- a touch of macramé.
Halston was pure '70s Halston -- featherweight silk gowns straight
from the archives and wearable only if you have the body of Twiggy.
Executives looking to inject some spring style into their wardrobes
can still turn to Michael Kors and Oscar de la Renta, two designers
who never lose sight of the needs of real-life women. Mr. Kors's
spring collection offered a number of solutions for the
business-casual dilemma many office workers face. The navy, black,
white and red color scheme and the clean lines of many dresses,
skirts and, in particular, pants walked that fine line between casual
Mr. de la Renta's elaborate collection will be priced several leagues
above Mr. Kors's, and it spoke to his clientele. There were prim
suits, elegant, wide-legged pants, and a host of knock-'em-dead evening items.
Marc Jacobs's show of Americana was accompanied by Gershwin's
"Rhapsody in Blue" and included references to the 1940s, 1960s, 1970s
and 1980s, including a return to Mr. Jacobs's early designer-grunge
plaid flannel-look shirts. There was only one look that could take a
female executive to work -- a perfectly tailored gray pantsuit -- but
what the heck.
"Right now people are feeling glum and depressed, and they need to be
reminded of [the country's] great heritage," said Stephanie Solomon,
Bloomingdale's fashion director, after Mr. Jacobs's star-studded catwalk.
Sixties summertime as Anna Sui does happy hippy shapes
By Laura Craik
11th September 2008
[photos on site]
Anna Sui has always ploughed her own furrow. Not for her any
dalliances with minimalism, body-consciousness or punk: her heart is
in the Sixties, the hippy spirit of which tends to pervade all her
collections in some way or another.
Happily for Sui, her aesthetic is having a bit of a moment: the folk
look is a big trend for the current autumn season, and looks set to
continue into spring.
Nobody does a folksy floral dress quite like Sui, and her collection
at New York fashion week was full of them.
First out on the catwalk was British model-of-the-moment Agyness
Deyn, in a black shorts suit decorated with white brocade, worn with
flat studded sandals and a trilby.
Fellow Brits Lily Donaldson and Jourdan Dunn also modelled, Dunn in a
black strapless linen dress decorated with a white and gold leaf print.
There was a Tyrolean flavour to Sui's collection, apparent in the
brightly embroidered peasant blouses and the models' braided hair.
Colours were bold - purple, kingfisher blue and emerald green - while
prints were whimsical and lifted from nature, as with a bold leaf
print dress or a jacket printed with outsized flowers.
Fabrics included broderie anglaise, heavy silk and linen.
As always with Sui, this was a very youthful collection, with a few
too many rompersuits and babydoll dresses to sit easily with the over-35s.
But the accessories, including statement necklaces and suede
gladiator sandals, added a grown-up edge.
Sui has been at the forefront of a campaign to save New York's
garment district, under threat due to rocketing rents.
Guests were given 'Save the Garment Center' T-shirts to highlight the
issue - not quite as glamorous as a ruffled boho minidress, but
certainly a more important statement.