Members / Press Market Report :
New York Spring/Summer 2013 Collections

50 Shades of Fashion
From the Sublime to the Ridiculous

Photos: Left: Comme des Garcons Right: Louis Vuitton

- by Marilyn Kirschner

Past articles:

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

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I'm always surprised to hear women say that they can't find anything to wear, or complain that the designers are not addressing their needs. I can, however, understand their complaints about the high cost of fashion, notwithstanding moderate priced chains like H&M, Top shop, J. Crew, etc. Because, the truth is, the "best of the best" ain't coming cheap - even if, as Cathy Horyn pointed out, it sometimes looks that way. (But that's another story).

Looking back at the international round of fashion shows for spring 2013, which officially ended in Paris last week, it was one of the strongest seasons in recent memory. (Disclaimer: I did not attend the European collections, but I did follow them on line, and granted, that is not the ideal scenario, but one must make due). Many themes emerged (again and again and again; 'think' "Groundhog Day"), and they truly went from one end of the fashion spectrum to another. There are clear and abundant (if not dizzying) choices and options available, and it seems to be even more exaggerated each season.

Just consider the following. There was a palpable sexual undertone that pervaded the season, not to mention a kinky nod to bondage with suggestive S&M references here and there. I'm sick of saying "Fifty Shades of Grey", but you get my point. While there were no whips or handcuffs, there was lots of leather, some of it quite fetishistic. There were leather harnesses, clothing, and fetching boots with suggestive leather cut outs 1, and there WERE shoes with such exaggeratedly pointy toes and stiletto heels, they not only looked dangerous but painful to boot (not only to the wearer but literally capable of inflicting pain to another). Best example: Hedi Slimane’s platform T-strap stilettos, for Saint Laurent, which boasted a row of metal teeth resembling a chain saw’s, lining the sharp heel 2. But the flip side of the coin was the appearance of comfy cozy footwear as innocent as a child’s favorite fuzzy bedroom slippers 3. There were also sensible men’s inspired lace up oxfords, platform sandals with a Far Eastern vibe, all manner of athletic infused designs, decorated and embellished museum worthy offerings, those that are sculptural, graphic, and architectural, and classic high heeled pumps.

Yes, there were bare midriffs, belly buttons, and miles of leg on display, but THE erogenous zone of the moment is indisputably the breast, which was the focus of many collections, thanks to 50's inspired push up bras, bustiers, corsets, and plunging necklines. In some cases, this was subtle and refined, and at other times, it was unapologetic ally costumey, campy, and exaggerated. Needless to say, the most successful examples were the former, which could best be described as "chicly suggestive" (sexual but elegantly so), with designers respectfully paying homage to the female form. This was perfectly illustrated by Narciso Rodriguez 4, Nicolas Guesquiere, and especially, Francisco Costa with his beautiful and restrained collection for Calvin Klein.5