Lizzie Crocker at Monse
Amidst all the fur—rabbit, fox, mink—that is the uniform at New York Fashion Week in February, a diminutive, elegant woman in a red cocktail dress sat front row at the Monse show on Friday night, next to a man in a jean jacket who looked like he needed a shower.
It was an unlikely pairing: Alison Brie (Mad Men’s inimitable Trudy Campbell) and Fall Out Boy’s Pete Wentz, sporting frosted tips—a hairstyle ubiquitous among boy bands in the ’90s that surely precludes entry to fashion shows in 2016 unless your name is Pete Wentz.
In strolled another fixture of the ’90s: model-turned-actress Jaime King, who looked ravishing in a strapless royal blue jumpsuit from Monse’s debut Spring 2016 collection. The other guests promptly wet themselves. Even actress Emmy Rossum and her handsome male companion appeared transfixed as King posed for photographers in front of them.
The brainchild of Laura Kim and Fernando Garcia, who met while designing for Oscar de la Renta, Monse was The Brand To Watch even before it launched at NYFW in September. At that point, Amal Clooney and Sarah Jessica Parker were already wearing the label.
The designer duo’s debut show was a megahit with fashion critics. Mad Men’s Jessica Paré donned a fuschia Monse gown less than a week later at the 2015 Emmys, and the label was quickly picked up by high-fashion retailers Net-a-Porter and Bergdorf Goodman. Their clothes have since been worn on the red carpet by the likes of Sienna Miller and Allison Williams.
Little surprise, then, that the stars turned out for Monse’s Fall/Winter ’16 show on Friday night in the High Line Hotel’s Hoffman Hall, a dramatic Gothic-style venue that resembles the dining room at Hogwarts.
The collection seemed tailor-made for the celebrity set, with its show-stopping, evening wear shapes (thigh-high slit gowns, cut-out bubble dresses, one-shouldered blouses with puffy sleeves) and eccentric fabrics (pink crushed velvet, multicolored lurex, and black and silver laminated taffeta that evoked tinfoil and trash bags, respectively—albeit extremely well-cut tinfoil and trash bags).
Most looks were strapless, one-shouldered, or off-the-shoulder, from a strapless cocktail dress with tuxedo buttons and pinstripe details to several slouchy, shoulder-exposing silk blouses. There were gray and pink furs, too, draped across the body or carried neatly at the hip.
The shoes were simple but sexy as hell. I don’t normally go ape over heels, in part because I have weak ankles and unwieldy size 11 plank-feet. But my eyeballs nearly popped out when a model sauntered by in the most extraordinary pair of come-fuck-me black stilettos, with a single, elegant strap bridging the top of the foot.
Screw the Yeezy spectacle: This was a classy affair, the way fashion shows should be. Not too exclusive or overrun by bitchy celebs, I thought, as I stepped out into the courtyard and queued up in a small line that emptied out into the hotel lobby.
“Oh my god, look at this bottleneck!” Emmy Rossum muttered to her pretty male companion, who quietly promised they’d find a way around the plebs.
“Yeah,” she replied, “it’s called ‘pushing.’”
Tim Teeman at Hervé Léger
It was bitterly cold outside, but the glamorous and fashionable do not fret about temperature. Please. There's always a limousine or town car to make sure such trifles remain exactly so.
With nary a shiver did the serene-looking beautiful woman in the body-hugging, shoulder and boob-displaying short white dress, take her seat at Hervé Léger's show Saturday lunchtime, while the rest of us were reminding the tips of our fingers that they belonged to our body.
The front row is its own marvelous, strange vista, but the gaggles of beautiful young things always seem to be without coats, perfectly made up, and smiling.
They have not rushed from a subway.
Even before the runway show began Léger (for some time under the creative aegis of Max and Lubov Azria) had a welcome Fashion Week shot in the arm when Kylie Jenner was photographed in a black Léger jumpsuit on Friday night.
The sheerness of that jumpsuit is instructive: Léger is the apotheosis of body-con and body celebration. It was Léger who became famed for the (now much-imitated) “bandage dresses,” which fit the body--well, the clue’s in the name.
If you’ve huffed and puffed at a gym, and your idea of relaxation is to drop to a side plank for a minute, the Léger dress—sculpted to the body, sexy and also power-emanating, is your reward.
Saturday’s show began with a regimental-styled blazer, cut short and dramatic. That set the tone for a brisk and gorgeous parade: Long black fur-looking coats were worn as skinnily as the tight dresses beneath—sometimes the dresses were simple and one color, like a navy blue, and sometimes they themselves had ruffles or distressed detail.
The most familiarly tight Léger-looking dresses came with bold geometric and colored lines, again accentuating the shapes and angles of a model’s body and musculature.
They were both sleeved and sleeveless, and if they were not multi-colored (blues, yellows and oranges used to great effect), they came with their own panels and cutouts; one was white and its material was styled like cord or rope.
The suburban mother inside me thought, “You’d have to be have to be careful when you put that on the hanger.’ Complete disaster, or unraveling, might await those who caught the dress on a piece of wood or something.
One particularly lovely gown seemed to shimmer with a multitude of gold balls on a dark navy dress background: its very own planet and stars in space. Another was nude-colored, shimmering, and sleeveless.
At the end, the gently smiling Azrias poked their heads out from the end of the runway, rather than taking extravagant bows. If the customary polite applause seemed a little more passionate than usual, it was because Léger somehow balances the sexy and tasteful, the little-OTT with but-that-not-much.
You can go up and down town in a Léger dress: high and low, dive bar or fancy-schamncy, sexy and sensible. It’s quite the fashion balancing act.