Akiko Ogawa-This mid week show offered much of what appears to be a la mode in New York: asymmetrical structured jackets (in this case juxtaposed with draped skirts of the sarong sort). Akiko Ogawa presented an edgy take on Fall favoring fitted jackets with bold shapes and tailoring coupled with nubby sweaters and lean trousers. The collection reflected a sleeker take for the designer who in earlier seasons displayed a penchant for feminine overtures.
The most noteworthy element of the collection was the tension Ogawa was able to create both in fabric combinations as well as in combining structured jackets with delicately draped pieces. She paired nubby cardigans, and sweaters with lean trousers. The overall look was youthful but edgy. The show opened with a nubby cardigan in a tealy blue belted and paired with sarong style skirt. Ogawa demonstrated a flare for construction creating asymmetrical jackets that while daring retained a figure flattering shape. Ogawa took a stab at the ever so tricky jauper showing it in wool paired with a matching bolero style jacket in an admiral navy. Of the many jackets shown a favorite was a winter white version with large lapels.
The palette further reinforced Ogawa’s moody fall musing; constrained to a moody range of navy and black offset by ivory, a rose quartz tone and an ombre that slipped between the three. While ombres were all the rage just last Fall Ogawa’s version seemed worthy of note, perhaps because of the note of softness it added to the otherwise aggressively shaped jackets.
In moments the show became repetitive but the take away collection anecdote was lean and but not mean. In a season of tepid shows, Ogawa presented a collection with a spirited point of view that was worthy of consideration. Ogawa remains a talent to watch. Her command of balance and tension is worth keeping an eye on.
Carolina Herrera-‘The show must go on’ could easily have served as an epigraph for Mrs. Herrera’s Fall collection. The maven of glamour delivered a noteworthy collection of spectacular evening dresses, desirable cocktail dresses and enviable day looks. For Fall Herrera gave way to a new awakening of Victorian chic. It seems imperative to set the stage for this collection, and why it resonated so strongly. Dimly lit throughout the models seemed to stream from a single portal of light and then returned into that light. I couldn’t help but consider the poetic implications of the lighting- it seemed to speak to an awakening of sorts- or an enlightenment. Could it be that Herrera was suggesting that in these dire times we have been offered an opportunity to tap into a greater awareness? One couldn’t be totally sure but it does seem interesting that the collection was partly inspired by an era well notated for its social awakening. Context aside this collection did speak to the great hallmark of the Herrera aesthetic: understated womanly distinction.
With a graceful genuflect to the era of feminine awakening, Herrera gestured to a new kind of romantic glamour. In a time where showing more is often favored, Herrera suggested a new kind of sensuality- one that incites the imagination. Instead of lots of skin the designer sent out form fitting sheaths with sleeves that emoted sensuality instead tawdry vulgarity. The absence of skin made it that much more intriguing when it did appear through slit of an bell shaped sleeve or a flash of decollate between the matching bolero cover up thrown over a sweetheart cocktail dress. Coincidentally (or perhaps not) Ms. Herrera was recently written up by Vogue’s Plum Sykes for ability to make covered arms covetable. The designer’s signature white blouse was transmuted and rendered in metallic gazar paired with one the collection key items- the high waisted skirt. Herrera has not looked so herself in seasons. The collection had a very clear, fanciful yet relatable sensibility that was slightly lacking in recent collections. Herrera played to her legendary strengths showing a bevy of gowns one more intriguing than the next. One particular stand out that spoke most clearly to the mood of the season was a green gown with corset and bell sleeved bolero- positively enviable. This collection was overrun with all the great Herrera clothing I remember revering- this season ampt up- the sharp cut was still there but this season the clothes looked edgier more cool (for the Mrs. Herreras and Herrera Juniors of the world a like). This collection is what I hoped designers would do: a clear succinct slice of a label’s sensibility.
One welcome continuation from prior seasons was a continued exploration of textiles. Herrera has any eye for great fabrics. Before the designer was urged to design a ready to wear line she considered designing fabrics. This season she turned to gilded gazars, velvets and metallic tweeds to add a luxurious depth to the clothing. The palette was comprised of sumptuous autumnal tones grounded by black. Bronze, purples, and deep emeralds hues played to the darker sensibility of the season.
The show will certainly go on… and things will improve. I can’t help but consider that in these tumultuous times that we all could stand to take a little time to do some introspection- and re-awaken a greater appreciation for life and all it has to offer. In the meantime perhaps we would all be wise to take a page from Mrs. Herrera’s book and face these dire times with style.
Chado- There are those who set trends, there are those who follow trends, and then there are the rare few who are always true to who they are- Ralph Rucci is one of those rarefied creatures. Once again the designer was slated to close Mercedes Benz Fashion week, and did he ever close it with thunder and awe.
Ralph Rucci presented a collection that was as visceral and tangibly heart felt as it gets. This was more than pretty clothing; this was an artist going deep within to a personal place and exposing it for all to see. One couldn’t help but feel a sense of privilege, as though you had been inducted into a scared sect- and this show was its code and secrets.
The thing to remember about Rucci is that his work deserves to be ranked with the Monet’s of art. Monet didn’t paint in the impressionist mode one day and cubist style the next- the work of an artist is more often than not a studied exploration of certain themes. In Rucci’s case: weightlessness. Rucci is not a man concerned with trends; his focus is rooted in pushing the boundaries of innovation and technique. For the past two seasons Rucci has been meditating on weightlessness. Using tulle as his foundation the designer has employed various applications to create the illusion of buoyancy. Tulle work continued this time it took the form inserts in knife pleated jersey dresses, it also was used as the foundation for fur strips pieced together for a coat. This season Rucci abandoned his favored ornamentations instead he focused more on simplicity and line. The increasingly important bold shoulder took on an ultra luxe look in this collection. Atelier Chado constructed the shoulder by building it from the center back then warping the fabric forward and draping it around the arm. The result of this manipulation is a bold shoulder that retains a gesture of fluidity.
What I found mystifying about Rucci’s collection was his ability to create vibrancy using very little color. That ability to create visual texture and intrigue is only another layer of the genius that is Rucci. The color palette was limited to a few tonal shades of sand, brown, black and a very methodical use of purple and orange.
Last season Rucci showed what at the time seemed to be his most consumer friendly collection, a collection that was clearly vying for a younger client. This collection was the fruition of last season’s aims, it was at once wearable, ageless and utterly true to the spirit of Chado. The collection began with a strong line of up very wearable looks including a considerable representation of trouser suits, knit dresses and rain coats. There was less in the way of gowns though there were several cocktail frocks. Audience favorites included a crystal studded cat suit worn under a feathered, chiffon gown. There were also a few of Rucci signature Zen gowns featuring the images of Eastern idols. While Rucci always marches to his own drum, he did offer some of the season must haves: leather trousers, a bold shoulder and fair dose of fur. In a moment of economic peril it will really be those can’t-leave-without pieces that sell. Rucci’s collection was chalk full of such pieces.
In a sea of trends and must haves it’s refreshing to see an artist who stays his course and remains true to his esthetic. At the end of the day Rucci is one of the great American designers of our generation and he deserves a degree of note for his continued contribution to elevating notion of American workmanship, quality and style.
- A. Coelho
Photos by Stevyn Llewellyn
See more images from the event below
For Fall Yigal Azrouel offered an intriguing take on Romanticism, one that is decidedly dark and moody and yet true to the designer’s downtown sensibility. This modern take on romanticism embraces a strong edgy woman, the kind of woman who is certainly the mistress of her own destiny (and probably lives below 14th street). She defines her femininity not in conventional ruffles and flowers but in a dirtier more visceral take on those themes.
This season Azrouel attempted to marry takes on streamline structured pieces with softer draped looks. In the past the designer has showed an interest in tailoring and he has certainly received note for his way with draping. This season he offered a bit of both. There were dresses with strong sculptural elements, be it peplumed waists or sculpted shoulders. There were also soft draped moments in the way of diaphanous blouses and dresses. The key silhouette appeared to be a narrow leg with a voluminous top: narrow trousers were paired with blouson blouses, Fair Isle cardigans and roomy coats.
In the days of Monsieur Dior it was the designer who dictated la mode, nowadays it is a far more collaborative effort with designers bending an ear to the whims of their clientele. Azourel made no apologies for catering to desires of his wanton followers: offering her leather jackets with stud detailing, wearable trousers both lean and roomy and sensual dresses both draped and structured that were nothing short of the cool she demands. Take the putty colored draped mini dress or the lean, architectural dresses offered for day- all of which oozed an air of modern femininity. This was a well balanced collection that addresses all the dressing needs of the contemporary woman from day to evening. It is promising to see when a designer can hold two thoughts at once- in this collection Azourel toys with the tension between opposites- romantic interludes v.s. renegade barriers and more practically draping v.s. tailored structure.
The palette consisted of shadowy tones ranging from gray to purple with a few shots of vibrant color. Where the range in color was limited Azourel embraced textures. He showed ring spun knits with mink and pin-studded leather with tweed. The mix of elements and textures gave the collection a more luxurious feel. The clothes looked like they would feel good and take you just about anywhere.
What you have to love about Azrouel is that he is relatively young, certainly still in the beginning of his career. One can’t help wonder how far this designer will go as he continues to define his voice and builds a relationship with his audience.
- Alexander Coelho
Canadian born designer llana Sunderland comes from a long line of tailors. For two centuries the Sunderland family has passed down the tradition of fine tailoring. So it should come as no surprise that Ilana Sunderland seems most at ease in this ever-so precise realm of constructing clothing.
Sunderland’s Savile Row roots betray her, in a collection that emphasizes cut and construction. Her approach to tailoring is obviously based in a clear understanding of construction. Before launching her own signature line the designer had stints had several renowned fashion houses were she able hone her design voice. Sunderland says,
“My goal is to create the ultimate fit. Wearing a perfectly tailored dress or suit is the epitome of luxury, sophistication and sexiness. I want my designs to convey those qualities”.
For her sophomore presentation, the designer showed a strong range of women’s and men’s tailored suiting with a sprinkling of dresses. Sunderland was inspired by modern architecture. (Perhaps, an homage to her father, the noted architect). It’s always interesting to hear where a designer draws inspiration from; it’s even more interesting to see whether they will take their inspiration too literally. Sunderland showed great restraint, there was a clear nod to linear forms and sleek shapes but it was overly indulgent. Sunderland showcased her favored pleating technique to great affect in a myriad of ways. The pleating appeared as detailing and in some cases an entire garment was comprised of tiny pleats. The collection showed Sunderland’s ability to address all the needs of clientele from work wear to evening wear to overcoats. Notable looks included a double breasted midnight (navy) suit, a brown full length pleated coat for women and structured coats with pleat detailing for both sexes.
Where Sunderland’s attention to tailoring and detailing sung her color palette fell flat the haphazard, restrained palette included Ruby (red), Midnight (navy), Heaven (light blue), black and a leopard print. But one could clearly see that any of these looks would translate in basic black for more metro-focused look (its fairly certain the entire collection will be available in black).
Overall this was a promising second showing. Sunderland is sure to make a name for herself with the minimalist set, with work that features some of the hallmarks of a certain 7th avenue minimalist and yet uniquely her own. It will be interesting to see where Sunderland takes us next season.