David Bowie Serenades New York Fashion Week: Show Reviews

At BCBG MaxAzria boho met the ’80s, harmoniously. Marissa Webb served up ‘cool cool girl,’ and Adam Selman a crazy Christmas.

BCBG MaxAzria by Tim Teeman

The music ushering the beginning of BCBG Max Azaria’s New York Fashion Week show was haunting, trance-y, church-y.

It was the start of NYFW, temperatures frigid outside, and inside—well, of course, a woman in a tight, fitted red silk cocktail dress took her seat. Practicality is not your friend this week.

The seat numbers are closely packed. You must be thin to stay in your compressed area. Man-spreading is a no-no. And, of course, it started 32 minutes late, with the familiar shout of the fashion photographers, "Front row, please cross your legs."

The show itself was a collision--and a very handsome one--between boho and ’80s chic. Visually that should be a comedy: peasanty prints, floaty dresses squaring off against shoulderpads, sharp angles and volume.

But it was all for serious, and all assuredly tailored.

What sounded like aircraft segued to David Bowie’s “Let's Dance,” and a parade of dresses that included a long blue striped jacket, a luxurious-looking cream knitted sweater, a dress that was a precisely rendered series of geometrics in white, purple, and black.

A gorgeous fitted navy dress came with ruffles down its front; there was a short black leather jacket and a longer black fur.

As “Is It Any Wonder?” played we saw quilted skirts, a chemise cut on the bias and with colored panels; a dress that really shouldn't work--a leather-strapped dress fitted like a butcher’s apron over a striped top—very much did, and wittily.

Layering was key: a long coat that looked like a smart bath-robe was worn over a simple tunic dress, while the final looks paired the boho and the power-dressed directly as separates. Again, a clash of opposites proved harmonious--and, before we headed out into the biting cold, Bowie was back with a repeated instruction to “Let’s dance.” For the next seven days, we will do our best.

Marissa Webb by Lizzie Crocker

While the Kardashians and New York’s fashion elite herded into Madison Square Garden to see Kanye West’s bombastic “Yeezy 3” spectacle, a dwindling number of people who attend fashion shows purely for the clothing were downtown applauding Marissa Webb’s label, now in its third year.

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There was much to cheer about the designer’s latest collection of masculine-feminine looks: high-waisted plaid trousers with a white ruffle-and-lace top; navy pinstripe wrap skirts layered over matching cropped pants; airy floral silk dresses with long scarves in pinstripes and plaids, as though Webb was making use of leftover fabric.

Contrasts have long defined Webb’s DNA, which makes for signature pairings of the the sweet with the edgy, the tailored menswear with the girly separates.

This season delivered exaggerated variations on these themes in a collection that could be described as “Wall Street exec meets femme fatale.” Leather pants and ankle boots laced at the back were topped with plaid wool overcoats and long trenches, often layered over flouncy blouses or turtleneck knits.

Apparently Webb developed her aesthetic at a young age: In a recent story for British Glamour, Webb describes her childhood self as part tomboy, part girly-girl (“One day I wore a baseball cap, the next a ballet tutu.”).

Having been head designer at both J.Crew and Banana Republic (she presented her final collection for the latter this past fall), Webb is now focusing solely on her own brand—and it shows. All 40 looks for Fall/Winter ’16 were fresh and inventive without being too trendy. The result was a collection of effortless, classic pieces for the understatedly cool “cool” girl.

Adam Selman by Allison McNearney

There was more than a dash of cool-girl angst at the Adam Selman Fall/Winter 2016 runway show at Milk Studios Thursday night.

The generously mustachioed Texas designer known for his love affair with denim and his high-profile fans like Rihanna, sent out a collection that was slightly darker, slightly edgier than his past looks.

Models strutted the runway in daywear that was fun and wearable, if a little non-cohesive: zip-up denim dresses topped oversized denim pants; striped knitwear formed cozy crop-top ensembles and accent pieces; and silk two-piece sets and flirty dresses were just the right side of pajama-fab. The looks were completed with a dash of ’90s nostalgia—wide, lacy black chokers, eyes rimmed with thick black liner, and loose, wavy tresses.

But where Selman really shined—quite literally—was in eveningwear. While a few looks bordered on tacky (I’m looking at you, metallic red lamé slip dresses), Selman’s statement pieces will be the envy of every party girl next holiday season.

Using a thick, tinsel-like material, he sent out a shiny red-and-black sweater with tinsel strands flying and a fitted black “V” dress that ended in a giant whirl of festive fun.

Then, turning to a black-and-silver palette, Selman constructed a wild statement dress entirely out of the material. The looks can only be described as crazy Christmas present chic, but somehow, it worked.

With an eclectic front row—Amy Sedaris, Todd Oldham, Charli XCX, and Natasha Lyonne and Jackie Cruz from Orange Is the New Black—Selman continues to deliver an exciting and fun approach to fashion.