We've been doing a lot of whining at the pace and scale of fashion in this day and age of globalism and an unsteady economy. Fashion today has become a world-wide beast, it's everywhere, and isn't that a good thing? Shouldn't this mean we are all sitting at home with a closet full of the best we can buy? Okay well, that is possible, but we think it's coming at a great cost in the long run. Most importantly, there is too much fashion too fast. Fashion is now rotating on a two month scale and frankly, by the time the items hit the shelves, we cannot even remember them. There was a time when we could spot something a mile away and tell you it's label. Today, we look at the calenders each season and cannot pronounce half of the names on it, and now you can supposedly buy "fashion" on the Home Shopping Network & at J.Crew. This was not possible ten years ago and it's hardly the case today. People are confusing each other by trying to claim everything as fashion. And while globalism has given everyone at least one brand they can identify with, at this point, nothing new can possibly keep on coming at you in that now idyllic speed in which it once did. Fear not, we aren't saying High Fashion has been obliterated, it's just that it's more about escaping the mundane and monotonous than ever. Last month Tom Ford made a bold move and denied his show's photos to go live before the end of December, when they will actually be available for purchase.
For us, we take Ford's intentions as more of an open call not only to let the fashion world know it needs to slow down and let people digest a season, but to also return high fashion to that distinct level of luxurious elusiveness, importance, dignity and exclusivity it once held.
And all of the above is exactly why it's important for us to look back at Spring 2011's collections. It gives us a chance to look through the banalities and over-population of fashion today to find out what's best out there, because good stuff is and will always be out there, you just have to concentrate a little more, leave your A.D.D at the door and do your homework. Here's a look at what we thought were New York's most influential collections for next Spring.
Marc Jacobs Collection(and above)
Marc Jacobs has taken his fans down almost every sartorial road possible, from the too good to the very, very bad, his collections have become as polarizing to fashion folk as Lady Gagga has become to music afficienados. Another thing you could say the two have in common is how bad they want you to know they love fashion. The thing is, lucky for us, Marc Jacob's may have his ups & downs, but every now & then, he can still put on one hell of a good show. Two factors can make a good Marc Jacob's collection, one is when he returns to the mousy Sofia Coppola girl that he initially seduced the world with, the other being when he can use his flair for fashion history to come up with a well executed mix-in-match of the best from the past. For Spring 2011, an explosion of 70's inspired sexuality was sponsored in part by Jody Foster(Taxi Driver), Guy Bourdin, Catherine Baba, Yves Saint Laurent, Missoni and Sonia Rykiel. The thing is, Jacob's doesn't really have to make these themes his own, it's more that he has orchestrated a winning combination of what we may have already loved. And for Spring 2011, we liked the story he told. Sure we like our nerdy Marc Jacob's of the past with his mouse shoes, bobby socks and dolly dresses, but we also liked every look from his exotic scrapbook of the best of the 70's. Beyond the weight of the 70's, the color palette, the make-up, the clothes, the hair, perfection is the major thing that comes to our minds.
The quirky Mulleavy sisters behind Rodarte have built a considerable following with breathtaking sci-fi couture quality options that place them in an entirely different arena stateside. They do what they want with such conviction and stand apart with such indifference, we for one, can't look at the craftsmanship and ethereal wizardry of each past collection without thinking that at this point, it's a no-brainer that they are gifted designers and have moved well past the "young" detractor. Problem is, while they do what they do obviously well, many of the pieces have had such a one-of-a-kind heirloom appeal to them in the past that they almost seemed unapproachable. Well, the sisters delivered on that memo for Spring 2011 with a collection that was supposedly inspired by the interiors of the house they grew up in. This concept gave the duo a treasure trove of endearing prints to showcase, from a selection of wood-paneling prints to frothy ming vase inspired embroideries. Yet its genius factor came from its pieces patterns and silhouettes, making it their most wearable ever. Dotted high-waisted pants, layered skirts, cut-outs galore, are sure to lift the appeal of the label without overshadowing the distinct level of execution & the viewpoint these designers have made their own.
3.1 Phillip Lim
Phillip Lim, one of the only designers in New York that seemed to want to contemplate today's so-called need for minimalism, delivered another 100% viable, wearable and value-packed collection for Spring. Lim continues to tackle the everyday needs of the real-world girl with his accessibly priced 3.1 range. He managed to take the idea of layering aprons(a much copied notion this season now that everyone is looting the archives of minimalism's wunderkind Helmut Lang), mix it with optical grid pin-tucking, buttery leather, sheer chiffon and an oyster palette of nudes for a look that was enviably lightweight and airy. Here, his practical approach to the idea of layering with a mind set on the sometimes clinical sterility of minimalism is destined to give a lot of women a whole lot of options. We for one, can't wait to get our hands on his taupe leather apron and wear one of his sheer chiffon layers juxtaposed under a thick cable-knit sweater.
Thanks to Michelle Obama and his impeccably crafted, ladylike collections, Jason Wu is one young designer that has quickly risen in rank by offering a fresh alternative for the gentrified ladies who lunch. And now that those ladies go-to stand-by's Oscar De La Renta & Carolina Herrera's collections have become increasingly aged in repertoire and modernity, Wu's Spring 2011 collection puts him in a considerable position. His recent outing was a clean approach to glamorous hallmarks of celebrated sartorial moments of the past, all executed with a confident restraint. To put it simply, Jason Wu has exceptional taste when it comes to ageless American sportswear, reinterpreting some of fashion's finest moments and the need for easy dressing with a crisp elegance. And he proved his commitment even further with the kind of pieces every woman will always need. His fluid wide-leg high-waisted pleated pants, short suits with boyfriend jackets in delicate tonal damask and plaid, a-line coat-dresses, sheer pin tucked & lace-worked big bow blouses could look good on just about anyone and are destined to bring him new fans where it really matters, on the sales floor.
Donna Karan has always marched to her own beat and is one of the few women out there making clothes for other women. It says so proudly in her ads, and we for one, understand the importance of this in this day & age of aggressive body-con, studded leather and heels that were once reserved for ladies of the night. In fact, much of fashion has become so lurid, so beyond sex, that we continue to find the pragmatism of Stella McCartney, Phoebe Philo & Karan appealing. And it's not just that it's all real-world and no play, it's because these women have the basic advantage of knowing what they want to wear. From them, no matter what aesthetic road they travel, you can expect approachable luxury and an intense desirability in the ease of translation. So it came as a surprise that amidst all of the commotion around fashion's return to minimalism, Donna Karan celebrated her 25th anniversary with a collection that was everything but minimal and high on understated, artful glamor. No need to look back at those "Five Easy Pieces" that made Karan a household name in the 80's, for Spring 2011, she turned the page on American sportswear and offered what you could call wearable couture. A palette of soothing sand tones was highlighted with raw yet soft paper-bag crumpled fabrications with a masterful sensual lightness to them. A passage of tea-stained floral prints came as a novel yet welcome surprise from Karan, as did much of the collections major ideas. But at this point Karan doesn't have much to gamble, she's more than proven that no matter where her sartorial mind goes, she's always going to deliver relaxed, organic shapes that are easy on the fuss factor & the eye.