Fashion Week Dispatch: Prabal Gurung, Altuzarra, Alexander Wang
It's unfortunate that a leopard g-string-clad streaker crashed the Prabal Gurung runway early Saturday afternoon, as the audience then became more fixated on the nude man than what is possibly one of Gurung's most successful collections to date. The models didn’t miss a beat, however, and continued to parade down the runway alongside six oversized golden gongs. The décor—and collection—paid tribute to the Nepalese designer's heritage, particularly the Mustang region, which Gurung described as "one of the last remaining Shangri-Las." Straying away from the tight fitting pencil skirts, closely-tailored trousers, and vibrant neons of last season, Gurung made even the most chunky knits elegant, pairing oversized sweaters with chiffon or silk skirts that hit just at the knee and strappy sandals with tiny bells attached at the heels, creating a soft jingle alongside the powerfully robust soundtrack. Gurung particularly focused on elaborate drapery this season, showing off his abilities—and versatility—in a range of sleeveless tops and cocktail dresses. The show closed with four flowing chiffon gowns—in orange, red, crimson, and navy—all featuring slight embellishments, a high neck, and, except for the closing look on Joan Smalls, subtle cut-outs along the midriff. It was Gurung's use of warm hues that provided a refreshing breath of air amid the mostly monochromatic palette thus far.
Joseph Altuzarra, like Gurung, is young and highly regarded in the industry (both are, as the front row proves, Anna Wintour approved). Later Saturday afternoon, Altuzarra also delivered a collection filled with an array of bold colors scattered among his more classic cuts in neutral tones. This show, however, seemed to be one of the first times this fashion week that coats were designed as an ensemble, rather than just simply a piece of outerwear. The designer focused on classic sportswear cuts with fitted blazers, belted coats, and pencil skirts. Although the collection was not as glamorous as some of the previous seasons, it was obvious that the designer was inspired by "comfort, infused with simplicity and ease," as he described. To Altuzarra, the gilded gowns of his Spring/Summer 2014 line were replaced with a new idea of luxury. "I was really interested in the idea of what luxury means—to me, this collection is as much about what something looks like on the outside as what it looks like on the inside," the designer said. "It is a lot about joy, a lot about freedom, but also about finding restraint within that freedom." Craftsmanship, also an important aspect of Altuzarra's collection, was most obvious in the hand-woven knits—be it a sleeveless tank or hip-hugging fringe dress. Beyond the knitwear, colors radiated in the collection mostly through outerwear. While the furry technicolor, quilt-like coat may be a bit on the outrageous side, pieces like the army green belted jacket with a magenta collar, or the opening look, a cobalt and navy robe-like jacket, were practical, easy replacements for this season's statement powder pink outerwear trend.
The evening ended with a spectacle that proved that venue can be just as important as the collection itself. Alexander Wang’s announcement that he was moving his show to Brooklyn caused a fashion-world frenzy, but, despite traffic woes post-show, it seems that most agree the presentation was worth the trek across the river. If only the space itself was worth the journey. Although a breath-taking skyline of Manhattan awaited guests outside, inside the Duggel Greenhouse at the Brooklyn Navy Yard was more of an oversized, dark cube. A similar, warehouse style space could have been easily found at a more accessible venue. Regardless of complaints by countless show-goers, the collection itself was exactly what everyone was hoping for: classically Wang with a futuristic twist. Wang's models were strong, powerful women, who all sported that cool, urban style that the young designer has become widely praised for. Oversized knits were paired with leather turtlenecks, black and white mules were shown in boot form, and colorful parkas with large, industrial pockets were layered over tailored and neutral shorts suit sets. Even Wang's highly-coveted handbags had a utilitarian twist, with neon leather thermos holders and other pouches shown among the standard pieces. For the finale, a selection of models reentered the runway, took their spots as mannequins, and were rotated on a Lazy Susan-like runway as their all-black ensembles transformed into bright colors, thanks to thermal technology. Only at Alexander Wang. And in this case, I suppose, only in Brooklyn.