Even though one could say that the bad boy of fashion Jeremy Scott threw toys out of the pram at his autumn/winter 2015 runway show in New York this week, one had the feeling that for the most part such childish pranks were the exception and that the dresses and outfits on display at New York Fashion Week were for a girl that was all grown up.
Scott featured baby talk on his sound track, and he created colorful outfits that looked like clothing from the nursery from yesteryear, but made large enough to fit daring grown ups and given some sort of psychedelic make over enhanced by make up inspired by crayons.
Some other designers like Tommy Hilfiger, with his pleated schoolgirl outfits or American Football styled coats, were not far behind Scott.
And at Marc by Marc Jacobs, a youthful aesthetic was created by the British design duo, Katie Hillier and Luella Bartley, who seemed to draw from an American lexicon of street clothing, including a design that looked like a cheerleader had created a dress from a flag wrapped around her on the football pitch, to a girl with dreads who seemed to be towing the line between Sunday best behavior and Berkley rebellion, by wearing a smart green woolen coat worn with floral trousers, sporting the motif, Solidarity. She played it safe and made a statement at the same time.
New York Fashion Week has long been home to grown-up fashion players like Donna Karan or Oscar de la Renta, Carolina Herrera or Hugo Boss. This season, more of the younger designers like Rodarte, but not all, seemed to have grown up.
Rodarte was celebrated by none other than the fashion critic Suzy Menkes for leaving the likes of their previous Star Wars-type influences behind in favor of presenting more wearable, tailored daywear. Gone too was an edge from the streets of Los Angeles, she said.
The label's designers Kate and Laura Mulleavy presented instead a woman who mixed tailored coats with sexy figure-hugging trousers and see-through lace tops, and more lace used to tie up boots which looked like something from the boudoir for these sexy spirits.
Over at Oscar de la Renta, under the guidance of designer Peter Copping who has joined the brand from Nina Ricci, there was a blend of elegance and grown up sensual womanliness, mixed with a more girly set of looks, albeit ones that looked rather high-end and luxurious. One outfit combined a patterned above-the-knee skirt with a white shirt with oversized sleeves.
Tory Burch put the rugs back into fashion this season, with her Moroccan-inspired collection. She too brought out finely tailored pieces, but some of the outfits looked a bit like walking magic carpets starched into a pair of trousers and matched with an overcoat made from the rest of the material.
Other ensembles were more delicate-looking, like a beautiful silvery coat that might indeed resemble the intricate handwork found on one of the hand woven creations found throughout the bustling Marrakech souk, but worn with black socks and manly shoes, giving the look a masculine twist.
Rag & Bone, meanwhile, managed to mix up a combination of bedroom-inspired lingerie layers, with shiny looking sportswear paired with larger than life velvet jackets, in an ensemble that could have been dreamed up by a hippie rummaging through a thrift store. A canary yellow top was worn with silken black sports inspired trousers and a blue velvet jacket combined with a brown silk skirt for good measure.
Thom Browne created an almost clownish-looking aesthetic, inspired by widows at a hospital (dressed in black and veiled to boot), contrasted with the white uniforms of the nurses. The black pieces looked almost like something from a camp farce in which skinny boys were asked to dress as women: it seemed a play on being frumpy and formal.
There was a masculine/feminine dynamic at play at The Row from Kate and Ashley Olson. In a panoply of no-risks dressing for boring grown-ups, there were long lean silhouettes wrought by elongated, dressing gown coats, paired with sharply created, crisply ironed trousers and long sweaters, that worked like Roman tunics, and wraparound leather tops that looked a tad boyish.
Donna Karan, in contrast, was brilliantly all about a big, glamorous New York night out, with her beautifully-dressed women in rich black coats and layered outfits or figure-hugging black dresses out for a night on the town, with bright lights as the dazzling backdrop for these glamorous looks.
Over at Suno, the designers spoke of Jane Eyre and the mad woman in the attic as their inspiration, but the collection looked quite the opposite and made an interesting play on creating boyish, lean silhouettes. Some of Suno’s other designs echoed Proenza Schouler, where the designers interpretation of the work of sculptor Robert Morris felt tribal in parts. Think an African dancer's colorful red pom-poms and jewelry made of bones mixed into a dress worn with fishnet stockings with extra large holes.
The designers also made a play on modernity, and used the tying of materials as a motif. Some were cut in large dimensions, or joined around the waist or used as a decorative element that ran down the back or across the shoe.
From what looked like the Wild West, Anna Sui showed cowgirl-hippy inspired outfits: her headpieces even featured horns. More mature were Ralph Lauren (beige luxury) and Derek Lam’s (70s New York meets disco and retro) collections. Carolina Herrera created some of the most refined pieces of the week, which were inspired by water: think waves splashing through a swishy dress.
New York never seems quite as daring as London, or quite as beautiful in its workmanship perhaps as Paris or Milan. It seems instead to strike a middle ground and speak to what women in New York want from fashion (traffic-stopping glamor meets practicality), rather than reaching for a creative distinctiveness, as with some of the London designers, or an exceptional level of craftsmanship as can more often than not be seen in Paris.