New York fashion week 2011

A bitter cold chill wraps its way around the streets and avenues whilst frenzied fashion media, models and designers all vie to miss the mounds of snow and slush in their efforts to get in the back of a yellow cab for the next show and which is almost guaranteed to run late anyway. Welcome to New York Fashion Week, in association with Mercedes-Benz, whose cars provided a brief respite between points and bun fights.

The week was a showcase for the very best in design and craftsmanship. One of the highlights came via BCBG, the women’s clothing line created by French fashion designer Max Azria and famed for its shimmering party dresses. The look on the New York runway, however, was all about restraint via a sweep through the 70’s in dark earthy tones bar the odd shout of strikingly vivid red and royal blue.

Long skinny box pleats made a strong feature, kicking out from under grey tunics and layers of jersey. The running theme seemed to be the use of the turtleneck, slinky and super light jersey – almost transparent but for the seams. They featured in winter white underneath multi-strapped evening dresses. This could be the return of the bodysuit, albeit with modern twist – the bodythong.

BCBG, an acronym for ‘bon chic, bon genre’, has set to redefine the designer category by offering innovative, high-quality clothing at contemporary price points. In New York it delivered chic, elegant separates wearable day and night, with some likely to appear on the red carpet.

It was left, though, to two marques set up in New York but under British design direction to truly steel the show. David Neville and Marcus Wainwright, the duo behind Rag & Bone, lit the space on Mercer Street with their vibrant menswear show sponsored by Land Rover.

The collection was a tale of barrow boy meets dandy trustafarian presented within a riot of colours: electric blues and reds fighting against creams and earth tones. A mix of tartan and sporting pursuits dominated the collection with kilts layered over three-quarter length trousers complete with sporrans, tweed overcoats and bowler hats.

Rag & Bone’s womenswear took from the menswear tailoring to create a theme of city girl embracing the country. Here loud tartan leggings were paired with suit jackets topped off with huge shearling hoods and biker boots that had echoes of 60’s Carnaby Street.

Add to this the tomboyish varsity jackets cut shorter and narrow, capes and shaggy outer layers over vintage ski-look pants, and equestrian-style boots. Neat tailoring, trim and piping, as well as clever use of fabric negated any chance of bulk throughout the womenswear collection.

A small collection of exquisite gowns was the exhibit at the sublimely beautiful static show from British designers Georgina Chapman and Keren Craig of Marchesa, also sponsored by Land Rover. This is a label founded in 2004 and famed for its beautifully designed evening dresses.

For the New York collection the team took on a more theatrical approach inspired by David Lean’s Great Expectations. Here opulence, decadence and decay were echoed through these delicately crafted dresses revealing heavy layering of nude tulle, intricate beading and lace, occasionally atop the narrowest of python pants.

Finely cut red lace stitched onto nude tulle on one plinth, full length black lace was finished off with a nod to a Spanish Mantilla on another. The gowns at Marchesa were beautifully dramatic with just a hint of theatre.

Fashion is cyclical – fresh eyes and new blood is vital to its evolvement and these three labels proved just that. It all now continues in London and Milan.

Guest blogger Victoria Macmillan Bell

Design Talks | 5 – 25 Scrutton Street | Old Street | Shoreditch | London | EC2A 4HJ?W | | Bookshop | Published by Banksthomas

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