Jason Wu kicked off the "real" first day of New York Fashion Week Friday afternoon, which, instead of being held at the Lincoln Center circus was shown in an intimate viewing loft on Mercer Street in Soho. The scene was elegant, yet also relaxed, a nod at the designer's latest collection. A busty Adriana Lima opened the show — which the designer described as "unflustered beauty" — in a black fitted blazer, semi-sheer turtleneck, and trousers, serving as a starting point for a series of pieces that channeled a woman's inner-power. The flirty frocks and splashes of colors were replaced with a more serious aesthetic: the color palette was dark and romantic, the evening wear more sexified, the fabrics and textures even more luxurious than past seasons. What's most interesting, however, is the slight criticism Wu has received for his outerwear, which, to me, seemed like the most notable part of the collection. "His coats, in a mix of leather, fur, and shearling, are oversize and luxurious but without very much grace," fashion critic Robin Givhan wrote for The Cut. "Everything was just so very big — and with adornment to boot." Booth Moore, the Los Angeles Times's style critic, agreed with Givhan, writing, "The opening pieces, tailored in wool crepe, or a combination of jacquard, silk and astrakhan fur, were clunky." Yet, the utilitarian parkas or menswear-inspired coats adorned with bits of furs were seemingly what some of the silky slip dresses needed for balance. Plus, if the scene outside the venue was any indication, oversized — and clad in fur — is exactly what women want.
Later that afternoon, Rag and Bone showed something equally as aesthetically pleasing, yet incomparably different in both theme and execution. The brand, moreso this season than last, delivered what it has become most widely recognized for: wearability. Marcus Wainwright and David Neville presented a collection that was straight Americana, with mohair coats and thicker leggings, citing the fifties (with bowling shirts) and the eighties, as inspiration behind the collection. It was the subtle, cool touches, like the splashes of red throughout an otherwise monochromatic collection, or the models' names emblazoned across certain pieces — the bomber jacket that read Georgia May, the crew neck sweatshirt embroidered with Joan — that proved Rag and Bone have found their niche in the high-fashion meets accessible realm.
One show gave us something we dreamed of wearing. The other, something we could easily wear right out the door. It's this juxtaposition that allows relatively "new" designers to flourish in an industry that is continuously testing visual boundaries. Wu proved that developing aesthetic comes with risk, albeit, in this instance, a comparatively successful one. While Wainwright and Neville showed that sticking to what you know may also provide reward. Like anything else, there's more than one direction to go this week. That's fashion.