Members / Press Market Report :
The Fall/Winter 2015 Collections

Ben Stiller and Owen Wilson (as Derek Zoolander and Hansel) with Valentino's Maria Grazia Chiuri and Pierpaolo Piccioli (The fact that this was hailed by many as the "highlight" of Paris Fashion Week says it all).

- by Marilyn Kirschner

Past articles:

Spring/Summer2015 Report
Fall/Winter 2014 Report
Spring/Summer2014 Report
Fall/Winter2013 Report
Spring/Summer2013 Report
Fall/Winter2012 Report
Spring/Summer2012 Report
Fall/Winter 2011 Report
Spring/Summer 2011 Report
Fall/Winter 2010 Report
Spring/Summer 2010 Report
Fall/Winter 2009 Report
Spring/Summer 2009 Report
Fall/Winter 2008 Report
Spring/Summer 2008 Report
Fall/Winter 2007 Report
Spring/Summer 2007 Report
Fall/Winter 2006 Report
Spring/Summer 2006 Report
Bernadine Morris "Ten Best Looks" of the Spring 2006 Season
Fall/Winter 2005 Report
Bernadine Morris's "10 Best Looks" of the Fall 2005 Season
Sprijng/Summer 2005 Report
Bernadine Morris's "10 Best Looks" of the Spring 2005 Season
Fall/Winter 2004 Report
Bernadine Morris's "10 Best Looks" of the Fall 2004 Season
Spring/Summer 2004 Report
Bernadine Morris's "10 Best Looks" of the Spring 2004 Season

Fall/Winter 2003 Report
Spring/Summer 2003 Report

All photos by &

Finally, the collections have come to an end. But not before Ben Stiller and Owen Wilson reprieved their roles as Derek Zoolander and male model rival Hansel, bringing much needed levity and comedy to the month long marathon of winter 2015 shows (they ‘crashed’ Valentino as a publicity ploy for the Zoolander sequel, which will be out next year). Even Anna Wintour got into the playful mood of things and smiled while posing with the duo.

By the way, did you ever notice how almost nobody cracks a smile during the course of a runway show, unless they are mugging for a camera, that is? It’s as if they are finding a cure for cancer, or ridding the world of evil, rather than traveling to New York, London, Milan and Paris and spending their waking hours looking at clothing. There are always exceptions to every rule, but by and large, it’s almost impossible not to notice how humorless the fashion flock is and how so many take themselves way too seriously.

And it’s impossible to look back on the shows, and not make the observation that they were literally all over the place; or without coming to the conclusion that there is really not much new under the sun (fashion’s version of “Groundhog Day”). While some designers unabashedly looked to the future (you can’t get any more literally futuristic than sci fi inspired Iris Van Herpen whose 3D fabric innovation is akin to terraforming), many others looked back to go forward and revisited the early 1900’s, the 50’s, the 60’s, 70’s, the 80’s, and the 90’s (and appeared to raid the local vintage and thrift shops in the process). Among other things, there were vestiges of Victoriana (Givenchy, Altuzarra, Thom Browne), punk (Saint Laurent), grunge (Gucci), and space age mod (Moncler Gamme Rouge, Lisa Perry, Calvin Klein. FYI, Lisa is known for her love of mod, while Calvin Klein’s Francisco Costa? Not so much!). But of course, the best collections did not reference anything or anyone and if they did, it was done in a covert way.

Not only aren’t there any rules anymore, but long gone are the days when a few BIG trends define a season. This is nothing new, but it seems more exaggerated each year. Sure there were themes that kept repeating themselves, but they went from one end of the spectrum to another at breakneck speed, in a way that can best be described as contradictory if not schizophrenic (one could argue that it’s perfectly in sync with the way fickle customers bore and tire easily). Let’s face it, man (or woman) does not live by bread alone, and the beauty of fashion is that it allows us to tap into our different sides. It is clichéd, but yes, there is truly something for everyone (everyone who can afford the high prices, because let’s face it, none of this will come cheap).

Looking back on the month, it was a dizzying blur of long, short, and everything in between (while a long, attenuated silhouette happened to look especially good, so did short and leggy, and if you’ve got the legs, go for it.) It was a season that was seemingly all about fabric: leather, suede, cashmere, alpaca, felt, nubby tweed (it was a veritable tweed fest at Chanel), wool and silk jersey, silk chiffon, lace, etc. Generally speaking, the more fuzzy, wuzzy, textural, tactile, touchy feely, the better. And the more of it, the better. It was hard not to notice all the patchwork and collaging, which brought to mind the late, Koos Van Den Akker, the King of Collage. The designer, who was inspired by fabrics all his life, coincidentally passed away last month at the age of 75.

Outerwear was particularly stellar this time around. There were baseball jackets, slouchy blousons (very 80’s, as seen at Loewe), and coats of all shapes, sizes, and lengths. And while abbreviated coats are inherently practical, you can’t beat maxi coats in terms of drama. There were color blocked coats, coats made of pieced together leather, and coats with artful appliques 1 2,. There were menswear and military inspired coats 3, 4. There were also cocoon coats, trench coats, blanket coats, cape coats, and ponchos. And there were camel coats, which never lose their appeal. They were shown in amazing variety, from the timelessly classic to the decidedly unclassic 5,6,7,. Outerwear is a category unto itself, much like knitwear, which has benefitted from technical innovation and could not have looked better or more appealing (especially the rib knits).

Let’s not forget furs (fox, shearling, astrakhan, loopy Mongolian, mink, broadtail, skunk, pony skin, etc.) 8,9,10,11,12 Flat furs, long haired furs, shaggy furs, fluffy furs; full on fur coats and jackets, fur trims, fur shawls, fur scarves, fur muffs, fur bags, and fur shoes. There were furs left in their natural state, and furs that were dyed, and patterned, and were about as unnatural as could be. And what would a season be without leopard? Leopard printed furs and faux furs were all over the runways in a variety of incarnations. And of course, there were exotic skins (ostrich, snake, python, crocodile, and alligator) which were used for clothing and accessories.

Head-to-toe black is back in a big way (not that it ever went away), and luxurious fabric mixes and decorative embellishments, helped to add surface interest, as at Thom Browne and Alexander Wang, who appeared to raid the local Ace hardware store for his industrial studs, grommets, nail heads 13. I suppose you could say he hit the ‘nail’ on the head. Silver is the new black by the way. Or in any case, it’s the new gold. Patent leather’s gleaming surface positively cries out for black and it’s a perfect way to add slick shine (whether used for outerwear or accessories).

On the other side of the coin, there was plenty of winter white, ivory, and cream, and the graphic combination of black and white never gets old (it looked great at Valentino and Pucci). 14 Quite frankly, every color under the rainbow was shown on recent runways, from classic neutrals like tan and camel, to greens, blues, grays, pinks, yellow, orange, and vivid reds. Pastels also made a surprising appearance (at Prada for instance) 15. Here and elsewhere, colors were mixed and clashed. And so were patterns (florals, plaids, herringbones, abstract geometrics, stripes, dots, etc.) Forget mix and match, now it’s all about mix and NOT match, as exemplified at Miu Miu (Miuccia Prada even added bright exotic skins to the eclectic mix). 16

And speaking of eclectic mixes, it was all about unexpected mixes which on paper, one might think would not work. For example, Tom Ford’s long narrow skirts were made of pieced together distressed denim, colorful swirly prints in velvet, and leopard patterns, and he paired them with black velvet prairie like tops or abbreviated jean jackets, and accessorized them with shoulder sweeping black tasseled earrings and wide chokers made of braided leather.

There continues to be a free spirited bohemian undercurrent (massive fringe trim has not dissipated, as exemplified at Burberry), and an ongoing obsession with cross cultural references. Alber Elbaz took the road to Morocco, Dries Van Noten traveled to the Far East, and Stella Jean trekked to the Himalayas. But Karl Lagerfeld didn’t need to trek too far for his inspiration (France), nor did Donna Karan (Manhattan). Some designers were inspired by specific people (Marc Jacobs paid homage to Diana Vreeland), others by architecture (Rick Owens looked to Frank Lloyd Wright’s Mayan influenced architecture), and still others were inspired by art and artists (Valentino, Delpozo, Zero + Maria Cornejo, Proenza Schouler). In the case of the latter, Jack McCullough and Lazaro Hernandez went a step further and actually presented their abstract expressionist inspired collection at a museum (the former Whitney on Madison Avenue). 17 And, in a case of life imitating art, Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana (whose fall 2015 menswear collection was an homage to love and family, and whose women's collection was a celebration of mothers), have just come under fire for their criticism of fertility treatment and same sex parenting. "Mamma Mia!"

There were garcons inspired designs (Michael Kors), those that were hard edged and tough (Saint Laurent) 18, as well as designs that were achingly romantic and feminine to the core: Alexander McQueen’s Sarah Burton was inspired by the rose. 19 (The future is also ‘rosey’ at Oscar de la Renta and Marchesa). There were clothes that were immediately relatable and understandable: elevated wardrobe basics at J. Crew, A.P.C, and Nina Ricci; and Junya Watanabe 20 reminded us that you can’t improve upon the timeless combination of a crisp white shirt and black pant, or shirt, (both of which served as the basis for his collection). On the flip side, there were clothes that were so un- basic (as in, “huh?”), they required a run of show and the designer’s commentary in order to decipher, and not even then (Comme des Garcons). 21

There were designs that were urban to the core, functional, and minimal (Vera Wang), and there were designs that were made for special occasions and red carpets (Marchesa). There were clothes that were luxurious in an out there, made to be noticed sort of way (Balmain), there were clothes that were luxuriously toned down and understated (The Row, Hermes). And then there were clothes that while expensive, were made to look believably streetwise (Gucci) 22, lived in and distressed: down to the wrinkles, holes, loose threads (Kanye West + Adidas). Pronounced holes in fishnet stockings on Hedi Slimane’s Saint Laurent runway proved that need not be an excuse to toss your ripped hose in the garbage. (“Rich Man, Poor Man”? Or perhaps, is it, rich man trying to look like a poor man?) And designers are not only challenging existing notions of what constitutes modern luxury, but beauty (they are both in the eyes of the beholder). 23

Skirts and pants equally shared the spotlight this time around, with endless incarnations (lengths, shapes, silhouettes) in each camp. That being said, the knife pleated skirt was a recurring theme on many runways. And while leggings, narrow pants, and wide cropped culottes have not disappeared, it was hard not to notice that full legged high- wasted trousers have really made a comeback (some are so long, they literally sweep the floor). Regardless of the incarnation, pants were shown under coats (the new suit?), paired with jackets, and layered beneath tunics, dresses, and skirts. Speaking of which, it’s all about layering nowadays (as seen on the runway), and it makes perfect sense given our extreme weather patterns.

Accessories are always key, and this season, it was all about the boot. Boots (many with pointy toes) literally stormed the runways for day and especially, for evening (the combination of a sturdy leather boot with a delicate evening dress looked especially fresh, if not necessarily new). 24 There were ankle boots, classic riding boots, knee high boots, and over the knee boots (pancake flats, chunky mid heels, high stilettos). In some instances, the boots were so leg hugging, they resembled second skins. Sneakers, which were THE shoe of last season, have not disappeared, nor have menswear inspired loafers, brogues and oxfords, sandals, or classic (or not so classic) pumps.

Speaking of classic, you can’t get more classic (or iconic for that matter), than the Chanel cap toe sling back pump on a low blocked heel in nude and black: the only shoe Karl Lagerfeld showed on his Chanel runway. It was the essence of Coco Chanel herself, and is bound to be highly sought after. 25 And the sighting of red shoes and boots on several runways was not only proof that red is a perfect neutral, but that sometimes, that is all you need to make a statement. 26

As for bags, teeny tiny bags have been getting a lot of play as of late, but let’s face it, mini bags might look great but they are not practical for every day. Thankfully, many designers have been scaling up (Phoebe Philo’s large graphic totes at Celine were especially statement making and chic). 27 And while the hand held satchel shows no sign of letting up, some creators have figured out that perhaps not needing to use one’s hands at all is the most modern way to go (“Look ma, no hands!”) Hence, there was a plethora of good looking cross body bags and shoulder bags (Joseph Altuzarra’s were sensational). 28 Newest perhaps, are those bags that are designed to look as though they are built into the coat (as seen at Marni) 29. Come to think of it, they are not new at all, because some 50 years ago, Bonnie Cashin designed her smart and chic coats with built in bags (when you’ve been around as long as I have, everything tends to remind you of something else LOL).

That being said, as creative director for Louis Vuitton, Nicolas Guesquiere is busily creating some of the most highly sought after bags. He trotted out his mini trunks a few seasons ago, but this time around, he made them larger and hand held. They give new meaning to “trunk- ated”. 30 As for necklaces, there were sculptural pearl chokers at Stella McCartney; exotic feather and fabric flower necklaces, and necklaces made of wide gold or silver twisted metal at Dries Van Noten (the two were sometimes combined) 31. A similar version of the latter was also seen at Lanvin, and is a sure bet to be widely copied. There were chain and flower chokers made of metal at Chanel, and Karl’s new black and white CC compact bag is likely to replace last year’s Chanel No 5 Plexiglas perfume bottle as the next coveted must have.

And who could ignore all the exotic tassels? Black tassels showed up as necklaces and shoulder dusting earrings, and they also accented bags and boots. I am always reminded of Yves Saint Laurent when I think of tassels, and they were prevalent on the runways of both Alber Elbaz at Lanvin, and Tom Ford, both of whom, coincidentally (or not) held positions as creative director of Yves Saint Laurent. 32

And speaking of designers’ musical chairs, this was a season of comings and goings. Peter Copping showed his first complete collection as Creative Director for Oscar de la Renta; his replacement at Nina Ricci, Giullaume Henry (who had previously been at Carven) staged his first show in Paris, and so did Jonathan Anderson who is now at the helm of Loewe. In Milan, Alessandro Michele staged his first womenswear show as creative director for Gucci, and saying “Ciao” to Pucci after 6 years, was Peter Dundas. The designer, who brought a high dose of rock n roll chic to the famed jet set label, showed graphic black and white abstracts, and bold astrological prints instead of the house’s signature colorful swirls. But they were not absent from the runways, having made appearances at Tom Ford, Dior, and Roksanda, among others.

Finally, we bid adieu to Lincoln Center as the “centralized” location for New York Fashion Week. I realize it’s not hip to be comfortable; there is exclusivity in the inaccessible, if not the downright painful; and for many, the more out of the way, uncomfortable, and hard to get to the better. But I, for one, was not exactly unhappy to have go to some shows held in the warm tents, located smack dab in the middle of civilization (as opposed to the far reaches of no man’s land), especially given the frightful weather this past season. And let’s face it, where else can you immediately exit a fashion show, and head straight to the opera or the ballet; or decide to blow a show off in favor of the latter, after quickly realizing said designer should never have staged one in the first place (which alas, has happened all too often).

While we don’t yet know what’s next, what does seem obvious is that the location will be somewhere on the far west side, where everything seems to be happening anyway (yup, it’s a “West Side Story”). Let’s just hope there aren’t a few too many designers who are inspired to go where Tom Ford did when he presented his fall 2015 collection just days before the Academy Awards: WAY out west in Los Angeles. This would give new meaning to “Go West Young Man” (or woman).

- end