New York Fashion Week came to a splendid finish with chic and cool designs by Calvin Klein and Ralph Lauren, before twisting into an elaborate Gothic dream fantasy as Marc Jacobs dealt the final blow. With the end of the event, the fashion world shifts its attention to London where Alexander McQueen makes its return on the runway.
Ralph Lauren created a playful tri-partite collection. Initial associations called to mind Oxford academics, Holmes-ian detectives and headmistresses, as opening looks featured tweed trousers, button-down cardigans, fishermen’s sweaters and double breasted blazers. But this 1970s nostalgia, or a style “effortless and sophisticated in languid menswear” gave way to what Lauren described as “the bold spirit of a cool rocker imbued with a modern romanticism”. Somber olive greens, greys and beiges segued into glimmering black, and later explosions of shiny blues and golds. It somehow bloomed as a mixture of cowboy and pirate queen. By the final transformation, the whole lineup had changed into dignified ballroom and red-carpet attire items featuring a pleated red slip dress and a satin green fishtail number, finishing with a Mikado evening dress of gold. Lauren melded glamorous masculinity with delicate femininity in a startling display.
The typically unfussy Calvin Klein, on the other hand, went with less of a linear narrative than usual while still preserving his status as a pioneer of contemporary urban fashion. Notable to the designs were fur collars (faux, so animal-lovers can rest easy, as seen below), shiny blacks and belts, different check patterns of plaid, and animal print in white and yellow. There was a contrast between the minimalistic and the showy as sleeker designs were placed next to ornamentations of said furs, oversized tribal pendant necklaces, and large jewels sewn on the front of silk dresses. All this was due to the vision of Brazilian creative director Francisco Costa.
Marc Jacobs’s collection stood for the most eclectic marriage of design elements. A quick scan would give the general idea of ‘Goth’, but the designer aimed to live up to an ideal of having “each girl, a show unto herself”. Even well-known shock dresser Lady Gaga was just one among many others. Some designs spoke like the swirling inks of an Aubrey Beardsley drawing. Others spoke like the madcap designs of Tim Burton. Some spoke in Victorian formalism, others spoke punk, and still others spoke court-jester, with somewhat impressive shoes (standouts in the whole collection really). Many of the outfits were oversized, like Gaga’s herself, which was a greyish-black coat with huge fur patches on the sleeve. Black feathers bloomed; some had lace; or even a leather jacket… Yes, even I’m grasping hard for a way to characterize exactly what kind of magic went on. It all finished off with a regal checkered fur cape worn by the eternally-pouting Queen Goth – Molly Bair.
Even so, the show has to move on. After London, the fashion world will shift to Milan, and then Paris. Still, these three rest their laurels on this victorious display for now.