Perhaps it’s the fact that I attended the Westminster Kennel Club just prior to the beginning of New York’s Fall/Winter 2009 Fashion Week, but I can’t help but draw the comparison. The difference is that to win Best in Show, Stump, the 10 year old Sussex Spaniel, had to first beat out the best of his kind – as the most beautiful, the best trained, and the best behaved. If only fashion week were similar. Instead, anyone with the resources seems to be able to produce a show, hire a PR firm, and send out invites. The problem is that they don’t necessarily have to design clothes worth seeing in a runway show – or, in some cases, at all. For yet another season, my fellow editors bemoaned the fact that the shows are not juried, despite the consensus that some so-called â€œdesignersâ€ should not be allowed to show.
In seven days, I attended over 60 fashion shows and presentations. To be truthful, only about half of what I saw was interesting to me as â€œfashionâ€. The rest were just â€œclothesâ€. We all expected most designers to play it safe again this retail season, designing clothes that were sure to sell, but even the buyers seated around me seemed disappointed. Perhaps it was the new year or the new political administration, but I think we were all looking for that proverbial ray of hope to shine through American fashion.
The week officially kicked off with the Heart Truth Red Dress fashion show, where film actresses and television personalities vamped the runway and hammed it up for the enthusiastically cheering audience. The clothes were good, particularly the Carolina Herrera that Linda Carter wore, but I couldn’t help but think it was all like a dog show – without the appropriate restraint or the obedience training. By the end, I was really looking forward to settling into the serious business of fashion with a more disciplined runway show. Thankfully, Yigal Azrouel delivered. The goth/rocker chick vibe on real models was exactly what I wanted to see right then and, hopefully, will see six months from now on real people in the streets.
Christian Cota‘s name had been on everyone’s lips since the Fashion Group International named him a Rising Star for 2009 a few weeks earlier. We all expected the clothes to be fantastically avant garde, but the real â€œpleasant surpriseâ€ of it was that it was the first highly anticipated â€œpresentationâ€ of the week. By the end of the week, most working fashion industry people agreed. Presentations are simply that much more â€œcivilizedâ€. There are no chaotic check-in scenes, no being herded like cattle, and, most importantly, no waiting – and no shoving. On a good day, I was able to hit three presentations in the hour between two runway shows – all without running anyone over.
The week was honestly a blur for me, and not a particularly glorious one. Some seasons I find myself overwhelmed with all the gorgeous things I see. This season, I feel like I swam – against the current – through a sea of mediocre collections to tiny glorious oases of beautiful clothes thankfully overflowing with perfectly chilled champagne, but these were few and far between. One such presentation was Naeem Khan. The clothes literally transported me to the 1960s, at the dawn of jet travel when excruciatingly chic tourists explored India and brought the influence home with them. While many reviewers referenced Jackie Kennedy, I had conjured images of the even more perfectly dressed women of the time, Babe Paley and Gloria Guiness. One could imagine them today, wearing these clothes to lunch at Le Cirque, the new one.
The week ended with the most amazing clothes of the week. The Chado Ralph Rucci show at Bryant Park was the perfect cap to New York Fashion Week – and the perfect precursor to the European shows. He really is the best that America has to offer. Every one of the 60 looks he presented was more breathtaking than the next. Not one made you think he could have left it out. His tailored day suits were perfection, but the evening looks definitely stole the show. I am not one for fashion hyperbole, but the caviar beaded body suit under a â€œfeather cageâ€ was such haute fashion that I very nearly channeled Gloria Guiness when she famously slipped out of her seat in a dead faint at a Balenciaga show, overwhelmed by the sheer gorgeousness of it all.
Many other designers showed beautiful collections and I look forward to telling you about them when those collections hit stores. Until then, here’s hoping that you take best in show – fashion-wise – every day!
1. Stump the Sussex Spaniel, Westminster Dog Show 2000
2. Lynda Carter, Heart Truth’s Fashion Show 2009
3. Yigal Azrouel Fall 2009 RTW
4. Christian Cota Fall 2009 RTW
5. Naeem Khan Fall 2009 RTW
6. Naeem Khan Fall 2009 RTW
7. Chado Ralph Rucci Fall 2009 RTW
8. Chado Ralph Rucci Fall 2009 RTW
Image Layout: Allison Merzel