10 Best Shows of New York Fashion Week

by Alex R. Travers

MBFW-Fall-2014-NYFWThe hot topic for New York Fashion Week: Trekking to Brooklyn to see Alexander Wang. Yes, it seemed like everyone was bitter about going to Brooklyn. Well, almost everyone. Backstage at Vivienne Tam, I spoke to a technology editor from the New York Observer who told me about how she snuck into Alex Wang’s show at the Brooklyn Navy Yard, which, Wang said, was inspired by extreme conditions and survival. I liked that editor’s enthusiasm and thought it was interesting that a tech writer would be sent to cover that show since it was…well…quite technical.

“We were looking at temperature graphs, heat charts,” said Wang. “But then this idea of sartorial characters, too: something not so extreme, something a little bit more precious—the idea of brining those two worlds together with the idea of function.” Maybe that’s why his purses and coats had pockets for cigarettes, lighters, iPhones, Kindles…whatever. “What our girl needs to survive the urban landscape.” And with today’s technology-obsessed world, that meant a lot of pockets—too many pockets.

No doubt, Wang’s clothes are advanced, smart, and cool (everyone calls them cool). He even pushed the heat-sensitive technology (clothes that change colors depending on the temperature) by embroidering, laser cutting, and printing the fabrics made of the stuff. “Fun,” he said. Fun, sure, but his clothes weren’t sexy or alluring.

That’s why you’ll hear me praise New York–based designers like Joseph Altuzarra, Jason Wu…and even Wes Gordon who rehashed his popular camisole dress into something spectacular. What these three guys do well is combine luxury with the pleasures of the provocative. Their wardrobes are modern, too, and allow women to combine signature pieces with smart outerwear and, in some cases, great accessories.

“Simple volume that can be worn a lot of different ways,” was how Altuzarra summed up his collection. “There’s something so subversive about doing something so simple.” But perhaps simple is the wrong word. There is, after all, much work and fine-tuning that goes into their “simple” pieces. Attractive. That’s what I’d call them. At Jason Wu, for example, you could feel a certain Old Hollywood glamour in the air. In fact, a lot of designers—Jason Wu, Ralph Lauren, Narciso Rodriguez, Monique Lhuillier—were dipping into that Hitchcockian territory of fashion as fantasy.

For me, especially, Delpozo’s fall outing was sublimely romantic and fantastical. Like Altuzarra, Delpozo’s creative director, Josep Font, used color to great effect. His colors were expressive yet subtle, somehow bold and delicate at the same time.

There was even a new delicacy at Francisco Costa’s Calvin Klein, which was almost entirely knitwear based. “There’s a real comfort about it,” said Costa. It was one of the designer’s best for the label.

Two of my favorite collections this season came from Jack McCollough and Lazaro Hernandez at Proenza Schouler and, of course, from Marc Jacobs. Both designers excelled at injecting a bit of perverse humor into their outfits.

At Proenza, there was a special type of go-fast energy. Models sped down the runway in fabrics—“strange materials we couldn’t quite figure out how to develop at the beginning of the season,” said McCollugh—that almost clashed. But their experimentation worked. Their knit pencil skirts were phenomenal, as well. “Energy: That’s what we were going for,” said Hernandez.

And energy is something you’ll always find at a Marc Jacobs show. This time, it came in the form of color manipulation: “The coloring of Barbara Streisand, Faye Dunaway, Lauren Bacall, Meryl Streep, all those greige-y, beige-y women…it was just psychedelic beige in a way,” was how Jacobs explained it. Whatever it was, it was beautiful. You couldn’t help but fall in love with the many tank dresses in the color. Or the hand-painted organza numbers that were as light as a feather. For me, the show felt like a valentine to New York.

Alex’s top 10 shows (in alphabetical order): Altuzarra; Calvin Klein; DELPOZO; Jason Wu; Marc by Marc Jacobs; Marc Jacobs; Narciso Rodriguez; Proenza Schouler; Public School; Ralph Lauren Collection.

Also noteworthy: Carolina Herrera; Coach; Diane von Furstenberg; Hugo Boss; Monique Lhuillier; rag & bone; Wes Gordon.