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Minis reign at NY Fashion Week
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Get set for super-short miniskirts in autumn this year, if trends at last weekend's shows for New York Fashion Week are any guide for the fall season.

Along with chunky turtlenecks and peacoats, the leggy look was big at shows for Nicole Miller, Lacoste, BCBG Max Azria, Erin Fetherston, Abaete and Kimora Lee Simmons' Baby Phat line-among the early previews for editors, retailers and stylists at the tents at Bryant Park.

Most minis were paired with opaque tights and ballet flats, a good sign for women who bought into those trends last fall. Treat those things with care and you'll get another season out of them.

Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week still has plenty of time for new "it" items to emerge. Runway shows run until Friday with Oscar de la Renta, Diane von Furstenberg, Zac Posen and a new incarnation of Bill Blass yet to preview their collections.

Nicole Miller reversed course with her fall styles, ditching the Central American and Moroccan themes she has favored in the recent past and adopting an edgy, rock 'n' roll tone.

With Joan Jett sitting in Miller's front row last Friday night, the designer showed super-skinny black pants-some with patches of satin-paired with boxier jackets or cozy cocooning sweaters. She also hit on the miniskirt and the yin-and-yang dynamic that seems to be emerging as a trend, with either loose tops and tight bottoms or vice versa.

Outside Miller's traditional comfort zone of cute cocktail dresses were a black, zip-front catsuit and draped silk dresses in chain-mail or fleur-de-lys prints.

Lacoste's golfing and tennis fans will have new options for the ski slopes.

The French brand made its case on a gigantic bear rug on Saturday, opening with cozy jumpsuits in sweatshirt material for women and chunky turtleneck sweaters for men.

Next came some more fashion-forward looks-shorts with tights, and flat-weave sweaters with geometric patterns.

There were plenty of menswear influences in the women's styles, including skinny ties and traditional blazers with country club-style emblems. There also were gray flannel pants in every possible silhouette-gaucho pants, wide-leg palazzo pants, slim trousers and capris.

The finale was an apres-ski disco party with a dress code of striped sweaters and knit minidresses in blue and purple worn with legwarmers.

Rag & Bone declared itself a serious player with a fall collection that was equally somber and stylish.

The label, known mostly for its denim just a few seasons ago, showed serious clothes for men and women on Friday-clothes worthy of the buzz designers David Neville and Marcus Wainwright have been generating and of their up-and-comer award last year from the Council of Fashion Designers of America.

A packed house that included Gisele Bundchen and Julianne Moore saw a parade of gray, black and navy clothes that seemed loosely military-inspired.

One of the best men's looks was a Navy officer's coat worn with a slim cashmere trouser, while a fitted "cigarette" minidress with chunky black beads forming a vertical stripe down the front and back was one of the few pieces with any adornment.

For the first half of Kimora Lee Simmons' fashion show for Baby Phat, the men were dressed in classic suits and the women were in cropped jackets with tiny shorts and shiny leggings. The female version of the three-piece suit was low-rise knickers with a belly-baring top and jacket.

Eventually Simmons started sending out her more expensive KLS Collection, which had references to the 1920s and '30s, and seemed a better match for a crowd that included Tyra Banks, Vivica Fox, the designer's ex-husband Russell Simmons and current companion Djimon Hounsou.

Medieval met Madame Gres at the Abaete fall collection preview.

Designer Laura Poretzky alternated the dresses on her runway between black wool pieces with armorlike silver studs and chiffon ones with beautifully intricate braided fronts that were graceful and delicate.

In between, there were touches of color-blocking-which is already expected to be a trend for this spring - and tailoring, especially wide-leg pants worthy of 1940s film stars like Lauren Bacall and Katharine Hepburn.

Poretzky also gave a nod to the short skirts and dresses that are proving popular for next season, but many of hers were in a bouncy circle shape.

There were no men in black on the Perry Ellis runway. Instead, navies, greens, browns, burgundies, grays and even splashes of purple dominated the show.

The collection had an outdoorsy feel with cargo-like pants, cardigans and cashmere turtlenecks. Creative director John Crocco experimented with wool blends, flannels and slick nylons and added paisley, medallion and plaid shirts and neckwear.

The clothes ranged from a navy turtleneck sweater with a large snowflake on the front and burgundy storm pants to a charcoal blazer topping a yellow, V-neck sweater over a paisley shirt.

It's possible to be a free spirit without wearing-or creating-frivolous clothes.

Erin Fetherston, the young designer who recently had a limited-edition run at Target, took her bow on Friday night in a floral minidress that was representative of her whole fall collection: It was ethereal thanks to its loose, floaty shape and feminine print, but the colors, including purple and yellow, were not at all flimsy.

She titled her show "Love Sprung," maybe a sign that she also has bought into the idea that fashion is seasonless-she alternated her fall collection between coats and sleeveless dresses.

(Shanghai Daily February 4, 2008)

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