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:: Sunday, March 17, 2002 ::

Fall/Winter 2002- It's a Wrap!


Anna Who?:

While Anna Wintour may not have lost all her
celebrity star power, her status as a fashion icon
has been seriously challenged. Carine Roitfeld, the
editor in chief of French Vogue, who WWD recently
dubbed 'the muse of the moment', has decidedly
replaced sunglass clad Wintour as the most
photographed and closely watched front row editor.
Ahh, life's tough at the top!

Interestingly, back in December, during my 'Masters
of Fashion' interview with the well-respected New
York Times photographer Bill Cunningham, he singled
Carine out (whom he has been photographing for at
least 10 years), saying "she has her finger on the raw
nerve of fashion, just like Anna Wintour did in the late 80's,
90's", and he praised her incredible sense of style that relies
on a very French understanding and appreciation of cut, fit,
and proportion.

According to WWD, many of models
on the Fall runways even looked like Corine
- something that was also mentioned by
Ruth la Ferla in an article in the Style section of the
New York Times ("Do Straight-haired Women Have More
Fun?"). As she put it, "Carine Roitfeld has made dead -
straight hair her signature. Ms. Roitfeld's tresses,
which cover half her face, have lately been copied on
the runways."

According to Roitfeld, there is no great mystery to
her look, which she claims takes a mere 10 minutes each
morning to achieve. As she told WWD, "I'm always
wearing the same sort of things, a black coat, a skirt -
but I always put the accent on one exciting piece".
The one exciting piece is usually a killer pair of
heels. As she stated: "in a fashion shoot, shoes are
very important. Shoes give the look. That and the
hair." Good-bye, 'bob'.

Kal Ruttenstein, who not too long ago, admitted that
he would carefully scrutinize Anna Wintour from
head-to-toe during the collections (in order to
analyze her clothes, accessories, and grooming), told
WWD that Carine is his 'muse' now, adding "she has the
best legs and the best shoes."

It just so happens that those 'best legs and best
shoes' were captured this past Sunday by Bill
Cunningham in his 'On the Street' report on the Paris
collections. The layout included one shot of Anna
Wintour and three of Carine (one of which was a
close-up of the Cesare Paciotti fur trimmed sandals
that Kal Ruttenstein loved so much, he was driven to
track them down for Bloomingdales).

Putting It All in Perspective:

After the international round of shows ended,
the season can finally be put into perspective, and
the New York collections, which were first, can be
properly re-evaluated. While I haven't completely
changed my opinion on what I saw prior to Europe, I
have now re-focused:

The Costume Party May be Coming to an End:

Don't get me wrong, I still love ethnic/folkloric touches, but how
many more seasons can John Galliano stage the same
costume party? And while I loved Oscar de la Renta's
exotic rich peasants, this trend is already starting
to look passe. My feeling is that it has been played out
to the max, hitting its peak this season. I think we
can safely say that it will start to diminish next time
around.

'I am Michael' :

And the 'Aspen chic' collection shown by Michael
Kors, which relied on a very literal, almost one note
translation of apres ski, seemed at odds with the
prevailing sexy, dressed up, urban aesthetic storming
the runways. In retrospect, his show seemed more
like something that would be staged in front of a
moneyed clientele at a 'chi chi' ski resort like Aspen
or Vail.

Accessorizing with oversized fur hats (a little last
year, no?) and leg-warmers, does not a collection
make. And the shapeless long jersey dresses that
could do double duty as nightgowns (and pricey, to
boot) don't seem like the kinds of evening clothes his
chic Park Avenue princesses will want to don for
parties in town come next fall.

Is Michael lazily relying too heavily on the 'Michael'
mystique? On Metrochannel's Full Frontal Fashion,
he told Michael Verdi that he wanted the collection
to be "very Michael'' and boasted that he feels
'Michael' is now being used as an adjective, to
describe 'his' particular school of design.
Whereas he used to be the master of mixing 'hi/lo',
adding a subtle touch of humor, whimsy, 'irony' (a
favorite word of fashion journalists these days), to
spice up his luxe classics, he seems to be taking
himself and his clothes a bit too literally
and seriously these days.

And walking past his eponymous Madison Avenue
boutique recently, with the mannequins in the window
clad in somewhat matronly, studied, abstract brush
stroke patterned dresses, all I could think is that
they didn't look very 'Michael' at all - hello Halston!

Poor Michael. It looks like he may be having a tough
time of it lately: Cathy Horyn reduced the coverage
of his Celine show in Paris to one unfortunate
sentence and WWD reported, although it has not been
substantiated, that there has been some discontent
on the side of LVMH. Though Celine was more citified
and dressed up than his New York counterpart, it still
seemed to be lacking a spark - that 'je ne sais quois'
which makes a collection really come to life.
They were perfectly nice clothes, but you
need a bit more than that to get customers to part with
their big bucks these days.

A lot of it has to do with the way in which clothes are
presented and mixed together. Joan Kaner told WWD
"the important messages were the mix. Depending on
how an item is worn it can be young and stylish or
more mature". And Cathy Horyn alluded to this when
she wrote in a recent column that Alexander
McQueen ''understands how modern fashion is
supposed to work out: you take couture and you
treat it with the carelessness of street clothes; and
you take the street and raise it to the level of
couture". And in her review of Jean Paul Gaultier's
collection, she observed, "he kept showing you cool
ways to wear familiar clothes". Are you paying
attention Michael? Quite frankly, others could have
benefitted from the same advice: Donna Karan's show
could have used a little lightening up (rumors
abound about her status as designer of her own
collection).

Overrated, Underrated:

While Michael Kors may well be overrated these days,
the opposite is true of the team of Viktor & Rolf.
Though highly respected and known within the
fashion community, they are hardly a household
name. Yet, season after season, you can see how they
elevate, tweak, and add drama to familiar classics,
redefining and glamourizing them. And their
fall/winter 2002 collection was a winner as well!

Am I alone in the observation that if Tom Ford ever
loses his job as head of design at YSL, the team of
Viktor and Rolf could easily fill in? Known for their
impeccible attention to detail, couture-like
tailoring and fabulous color sense, they have put
their stamp on many of the same classic items
(fabulous pantsuits, tuxedos, great blouses, pea
jackets) that made up the vocabulary of Mr. Saint
Laurent.

'Bow'- Regard:

For Spring/Summer 2002, 'W' named Viktor & Rolf one of
the 'top 10 collections', and it was notable for it's
use of white, ruffles, knickers, bows. and volume.
Sound familiar? Six months later, bows showed up on
the Ferragamo pumps and oversized hats at Alice Roi,
and black satin bows appeared throughout Tom Ford's
Yves St. Laurent Rive Gauche collection.

It seems that each season, one item from the runway
is destined to be a big hit; something that will
immediately be worn and embraced by all those who
strive to be stylish, and something that will be
translated and copied at every price level. Tom Ford
seems to be the master of this. Let's face it, he
seemingly put an entire generation into snakeskin,
made peasant blouses chic, and said it was all right to
wear leopard again. His endorsement of black satin
bows at Yves St. Laurent Rive Gauche makes it
inevitable that bows will become one of the
hallmarks of the season.

The Price is Right:

Unlike the folks at Style.com, I like to inject some
reality and affordability into my columns. When the
Style.com home page announced: 'Classics Rock,
"Great Things that never go out of style"' and "Candy
Price Pratts finds the must-have items of the moment"
I wasn't expecting price tags well into the 5 figures.
I couldn't help but notice that one of her selections
was the Hermes kelly bag in shiny black patent
(Style.com did not list the price, but according to the
store, it runs around $4300). CPP is not only the proud
owner of that particular bag, but it is also a known
fact that she has almost all her bags made for her by
that hallowed leather emporium.

But you don't necessarily have to spend a king's
ransom or wait until the expensive designer versions
hit the stores. If you're intent on hunting down the trends this
season, these are some of my suggestions for getting
the 'look' for less, and getting it first:

Breathe new life into all black: Everyone has
tons of black clothes hanging in their
closets; it's how they are put together that adds the
excitement and drama. Take a cue from the way Ralph
Lauren
applied this to his fall/winter collection. He
mixed textures and fabrics, day with night, and added
elements of street and vintage. Using a favorite black
coat you already own, add a red cossack
boot or a colorful patchwork version (as seen at
Oscar de la Renta), sexy, edgy hair, killer shoes,
and smokey eye make-up, a la Tom Ford (who was able
to make black satin bows and black lace look 'fierce'
and of the moment rather than old fashioned, prim
and proper).

Military inspired coats and "Sargent Pepper" jackets:
Follow Marc Jacobs' lead and hit the local flea
markets, vintage shops, and frequent the vintage
shows around town.

Room at the Top: Why waste money on designer clothes
that are made to look as though the purposely don't fit?
The shift to volume at the top this season was seen at
Gucci, Prada, and Balenciaga, who all showed jackets
and coats that seemed to be a few sizes too big, often
pairing it with pants that were skintight and too
long. So, instead of spending money at the tailor,
having your clothes altered to fit to the 'nth'
degree - simply wear them loose, unbuttoned, and
hanging off the shoulder, and pair them with
unhemmed skinny pants that drag on the floor.

The cropped pant: If you're like me you probably have
several pairs of pants that never seemed long
enough. Instead of giving them away, make them even
shorter - midcalf or just below the knee - and pair
them with a tall boot.

Ignoring seasons: This is easy - don't put your
spring/summer things in storage once the calendar
says fall is here! With designers across the board
disregarding seasons, cotton and many other
lightweight fabrics are being used year-round, all
shades of white (from winter white to bright white)
and unexpected pastels abound, and designers are
having a love affair with toes. Helmut Lang exposed
the toe in his stocking boot, and open toed pumps
were all over - at Celine, Versace, and Ralph Lauren.

The plastic see thru raincoat: Seen on the Prada
runway, this practical 60's staple will probably set
you back in the 4 figures, but I have found them for
under $75 in most vintage shops, and thrift stores.

Bows:
Whether you use as decoration or tie as a belt, the
black satin bow is one of the quickest and easiest
ways to update your wardrobe (and update black
lace) inexpensively - it was a big statement at YSL. My
suggestion? Go to M & J Trimming, buy several yards
of black satin ribbon in varying widths.

And to duplicate the look of this season's eccentric
knits, many of which look like shaggy mops and rugs:

Buy a small throw rug or find one in a second hand
store. Don't laugh. During fashion week, one
enterprising and creative young man, who was
photographed by everybody, admitted he simply
bought a rug and cut the arms out so he could wear
it. It looked no more bizarre than many of the
versions seen parading on the runways recently.
:: Ernest Schmatolla Sunday, March 17, 2002 [+] ::
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