Fashioned to Shock: Jeremy Scott, Zac Posen, Tory Burch, Thom Browne, and Rag & Bone at NYFW
Tim Teeman at Jeremy Scott
We have seen the future of boots, and they are nearly knee-high, part-Wellington boot, part-cowboy boot, and part-stiletto. These boots may come encrusted with baubles. Because what is a boot if it cannot be pimped to the hilt.
The originator of this utterly joyful footwear is the designer Jeremy Scott (in collaboration with plastic shoe brand Melissa Shoes), who showed an impressive autumn/winter collection high on color and mischief.
Scott, whose last collection here was just as colorful and trippy, not only revels in the frivolity and fun of fashion but also shares the impeccable taste of the author of this article in being a fan of CBS’s magisterial daytime soap opera, The Young and The Restless.
Scott has even appeared on it, the lucky chap—as himself in Genoa City itself, selling his fashions to Lauren Fenmore and her eponymous boutique.
Lauren spends only sporadic patches of time at Fenmore’s department store—she is more memorable for her titanic enmity with the evil Sheila Carter, and has even been persecuted by an exact double who imprisoned her for months.
That ended with a shootout in a fairground hall of mirrors.
Sorry, you don’t want to hear about our shared soapy passion—although, lovely as Blondie’s “Hanging on the Telephone” was to begin and end Scott’s rock-and-roll show, perhaps “Nadia’s Theme” should feature the next time.
The socialite Nicky Hilton was there, as was model Coco Rocha, and gossip-monger turned reality TV star Perez Hilton in a shaggy white coat that twinkled with colored lights, his very own illuminated snowman.
As the music pumped, Scott sent out riotous pop-cultural mash-ups rendered in body-hugging dresses, sweaters and T-shirts. We saw Ren & Stimpy, cartoons, bright, clashing colors, and Pop Art-esque faces.
There were tiny, cropped-to-the-ribcage jackets in denim and leather, pink and black cow prints on coats, a figure-hugging dress with the design of a guitar emblazoned on it.
It was kitschy, for sure, but the deftness of the execution undercut the camp jokes. While there were cowboy-styled short dresses and bib skirts and fishnets—a show that comically broached the meeting point of hipster and down-home—there was also one stunning purple wool winter coat that was beautifully tailored and played not for laughs.
Mind you, a few seconds later, out came a more neon-purple, tinselly-looking jacket that shuffled and slinked so outrageously you heard sleigh bells ringing as it passed by.
Indeed, Scott must love Christmas, because other sweaters and shorts came with actual baubles placed all over them, like the Wellington boots—although a colleague noted that on his womenswear, the baubles were placed strategically over the nipples, which might make everyday wear a little too Christmassy.
Plain shirts came scored with colorful slashes, like mod zebras. Color zapped eyeballs loudly and unapologetically: There were pink and yellow satin shirts, pink bustiers, and pink leather trousers. A tight aqua-colored top came with a black leather skirt. If a model came out in anything like a neutral color, Scott gave her neon boots to finish the look.
The odd, chiseled male model wore corresponding designs in sweaters and T-shirts, even down to heavily beaded denim jacket and jeans.
Both men and women can enjoy Scott’s liking for such bead-encrusted garb, as well as metallics (in gold and silver) in trousers and short skirts. Should they be fans of space, they can invest in a mohair jumper or short mohair dress, both with colorful planetary design.
The supermodel Karlie Kloss opened and closed Scott’s show, smiling—a rare and welcome contravention of the typical model’s sullen runway mask.
Hers was the perfect expression for Scott’s brilliant parade. His clothes, after all, are meant to make you smile—and perfect for his restless fans, both young and old.
Zac Posen by Lizzie Crocker
Katie Holmes wasn’t talking to any press at Zac Posen’s show Monday night, and the ladies from E! were displeased.
“Why would you come to a show?” an agitated host asked her camera crew. “Just to have your picture taken?”
Well, yes—precisely that, and because either the designer is courting the celebrity or vice versa, depending on who has more cachet.
But Zac Posen and Katie Holmes, who attended the designer’s Fall 2016 show in a pale blue Grecian gown with sequins, are well beyond the courting stage.
Not only did the 37-year-old actress and Posen muse wear a custom navy silk dress to last week’s New York premiere of her movie, Touched by Fire, she also brought the designer along as her date.
On Monday night Holmes sat beside Scout Willis, who has mastered the art of the prune face, à la Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen. Also in the front row were Lucy Liu, Jennifer Hudson, and The Color Purple’s Cynthia Erivo.
Posen’s main muse for his latest collection was Princess Elizabeth of Toro. The Ugandan lawyer “gained a level of fame around the world in the 1960s for her kind nature, stunning appearance, and exceptional intellect,” the show’s program informed guests.
The designer sent a cast of predominantly black models down the runway, both as an homage to Princess Elizabeth and as a political statement (his mood board included a photo of Black Panther Kathleen Cleaver, Iman, and Donyale Luna, the first black model to land a Vogue cover).
Posen has been hinting at his statement-making show on Instagram with a picture of himself carrying a “Black Models Matter” tote, which first made waves last season on the arms of model-designer Ashley B. Chew.
Posen’s Fall 2016 collection was also a “study of couture geometrics of the 1930’s,” the program stated, which manifested in asymmetric cuts: black dresses with sharply angled and beaded hems for eveningwear and a midnight cashmere cape with velvet trim that evoked a famous photo of Naomi Sims by ’60s photographer Gosta Peterson.
There were also cashmere-and-wool blend jackets with oversized buttons, asymmetrical lapels, and more velvet trim in shades of burgundy, gray, and navy.
Shoes were flat with pointed toes and a strap over the bridge of the foot: the babouche (a Daily Beast favorite, as much to say as to wear).
I leaned forward in my middle-row seat to look for the tell-tale slipper heel, at which point my neighbor thought it appropriate to jab my right rib cage with her very pointy elbow. My reflexive apology was met with a glaring, silent rebuke.
Lizzie Crocker at Thom Browne and Rag & Bone
Thom Browne staged his womenswear collection on Monday in Washington Square Park, circa 1920—a haunting, playful theater piece that evoked The Great Depression and began where his menswear show left off last month.
Two male models dressed in Edwardian-style suits emerged from a door on a set sketched to resemble the facades of 19th-century buildings, one walking a Dachshund on wheels. They strolled through the snow-dusted park and around the garden perimeters at a mime-like pace, eventually settling on park benches to observe the ladies.
Here Browne de- and re-constructed his best-known item of clothing—the impeccably tailored suit—with frequently surreal effects: skirts fashioned from old jackets and pants or vice-versa; a white evening gown with a train constructed from sewn-together shirts; a suspender dress that doubled as a coat hanger, with a gray velvet outer garment sewn onto the front of the shift.
The coat’s sleeves protruded from the chest like another set of limbs—a subtle nod to man’s best friend, perhaps, another recurring theme in the show.
Indeed, women carried purses that resembled stuffed animal dogs. Oversized blazers were embroidered with Dachshunds or Cocker Spaniels or some other preppy household dog.
Browne revisited several of his classic WASP looks with a cabled tennis sweater that extended into a dress, and another piece that was part striped cotton shirt, part red-white-and-blue sports jacket, and part plaid pleated skirt. There were purses shaped like crabs and whales; whales sewn on jackets and dresses.
The more practical pieces harkened back to Coco Chanel: shin-length pleated skirts, tweed jackets, and fur stoles.
But the narrative was that of the Depression-era woman who managed to look stylish by making new use of old garments. It was an exquisite, challenging collection and a show unlike any other this week: a wildly inventive time capsule and a welcome change of pace from the usual hustle and madness.
Several hours later, Vogue editors were dashing around again at Rag & Bone, where British designers Marcus Wainwright and David Neville presented a significantly less esoteric collection than Thom Browne’s in a dark warehouse.
It was difficult to find your seat in the darkness, but Grace Coddington’s cloud of red hair was impossible to miss. Likewise Anna Wintour, making a rare public appearance with her longtime boyfriend, J. Shelby Bryan.
Mikhail Baryshnikov, the famed Russian ballet dancer (and Carrie’s boyfriend in Sex and the City), was there too, having starred in a film for Rag & Bone’s Fall 2015 collection alongside Lil Buck, a Los Angeles-based dancer.
Highlights from the women’s collection included bomber jackets in shearling and tartan; military trenches; off the shoulder chunky sweater dresses; and Doc Martens-inspired patent lace-up boots. There were also tracksuit pants and parkas with shearling-lined hoods on both men and women.
It was not a revolutionary or hard-to-grasp—and it was all the better as such. It was simply a fresh take on the hip sportswear that Rag & Bone has done so well over the years.
Tim Teeman at Tory Burch
New York Fashion Week gets a bit fancier in its old one-stop home of Lincoln Center. Here you sit on bistro-style wooden chairs, not benches, and the runway is airier, with the light flooding in via the windows facing Lincoln Plaza.
This felt appropriate for Tory Burch’s autumn/winter collection, aimed squarely at the Uptown Girl, or breezy, outdoorsy WASPs keen to pep up their conservative wardrobes just so. Not for nothing was a cover of “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun” playing as the models walked, and guests including Vogue’s Anna Wintour and Simon Doonan, Barney’s creative ambassador-at-large (best job title ever, right?) looked on.
Burch herself said that this collection was, in street-style terms, inspired by the café scene in Eric Rohmer’s L’amour l’après-midi, alongside Burch’s childhood love of horse-riding.
Indeed, there was a ghostly sound of hooves, although no signs of flying mud. There were short and chic navy blue jackets and skirts, and also bold jockey-silk patterned tops over jodhpurs, and a rainbow-striped leather dress, followed by a similarly striped jacket. Pants came in tweed, twill, moleskin, and wool.
Track pants from the ‘Tory Sport’ collection were paired with the jockey-silk patterned tops, sometimes livened up by sequins; a gorgeously soft-looking shearling bomber jacket came as weather protection for a cotton polo.
A nylon bomber coat was partnered with a wool turtleneck dress.
Away from the sporty, there was a soft, belted suede dress, a powder-pink trouser suit, contrast-stitched wool coats, and a vivid blue paisley-print silk knit peplum dress.
Other dresses and tops came with horse patterns and prints, and abstract swirls and geometrics, and then—should you be lulled into thinking this was just a collection of smart daywear—out came Burch’s more glamorous evening looks: a diamond-patterned sequin and satin dress, a lamé silk tunic and silk pant, and a horse-print quilted satin bomber jacket.
This was not Fashion Week at its most crazy, eccentric or confrontational, but smart clothing targeted just as smartly—Tory Burch is a label that knows its audience well enough to cater to it, while also gently prodding it to experiment.
It was such a civilized and precisely realized collection, it seemed quite the chaotic comedown to head out into the bucketing Manhattan rain afterward.