New York Fashion Week has just ended, beginning fashion month for Fall/Winter 2011 and officially ending my very first experience with fashion week, during which I covered a variety of shows and events for Second City Style. Although most of the focus is on the big name shows being held at Lincoln Center (previously Bryant Park), there is a whole world of shows happening during fashion week that experiment with presentation outside of the traditional runway show. An exercise in conceptual re-invisioning, this year’s New York Fashion Week hosted a standout selection of designers whose off-the-runway presentations will definitely be remembered as some of this season’s greatest hits.
This was British designer Misha Nonoo’s first show at NYFW, and her elegant presentation at Milk Studios resonated strongly of England’s luxurious heritage, in everything from the designer’s impeccable, clean-lined tailoring, to the tea and biscuits served throughout. Simple, yet confident, Nonoo’s presentation allowed her gorgeous casual wear to spotlight, featuring a collection of asymmetrically-detailed military style jackets and a series of simple (yet eloquently detailed) cocktail dresses ideal for emphasizing a woman’s body. The presentation room was styled with old world trunks and shots from Nonoo’s editorial-style lookbook, and the designer happily greeted attendees in an outfit â€” wide-legged black pants and a cream blouse with lace embellishments down the sleeves â€” from her Fall collection. A refined presentation for a refined collection, Nonoo’s first go at NYFW was a definite success, and it will be a treat to see the designer’s clothing on display at fashion weeks in the future.
I have a special place in my heart for Gary Graham because we both have the same alma mater in the School of the Art Institute Chicago. Aside from that, I have a great respect for the ambiance he creates when presenting his clothing. There’s a rawness to his aesthetic, a consistent element of deconstruction, that really individualizes his point of view and the feel of his pieces. His presentation for NYFW was held at his Tribeca studio and boutique, a raw, exposed space reminiscent of a theatre’s backstage. Along an unshrouded backdrop of pulleys and a ceiling rigged with stage lighting, models emerged from a doorway to walk down a wooden runway (plank-like, in its construction). Styled with 1980’s black shag wigs, an array of Converse sneakers and slouchy, primary-colored athletic socks, Graham’s free-spirited bohemian collection featured a wide variety of prairie-inspired patterns, contrasting textures, and creative draping. Inventive from start to finish, experiencing Graham’s clothing is always a privilege, especially when encased in the designer’s world within the confines of his very own space.
Alice + Olivia
By far one of the best presentations at NYFW, Stacy Bendet’s lavish affair at the Plaza Hotel featured a bevy of gorgeous models styled in groups throughout the four rooms reserved for the event. Inspired by Auntie Mame, the clothes were a re-invisioning of the 1920s flapper, resplendent with sequins and modernized by a costume aesthetic that was perfect for the fete’s extravagant atmosphere. Feeling more like a party than a clothing presentation, roaming waiters circled the room with trays of champagne, martinis, cupcakes, Godiva chocolate lollipops, and little cookies with the label’s signature â€œa+oâ€ decorated in frosting. Undoubtedly, what made the Alice + Olivia presentation so wonderful was the way its atmosphere exuded the luxe, playful energy of the clothing. Even amidst endless flutes of bubbly and a burlesque presentation by dancer Hazel Honeysuckle, Bendet’s clothing remained the spotlight, setting the tone for a magical event that was perfected down to the most minute detail. Whoever said clothing was best shown on a runway? A party is just so much more fun.
If Stacy Bendet threw the greatest party-as-presentation, the Moncler Grenoble teams wins the award for most fabulous spectacle. The line’s presentation was scheduled to be held in the center of Grand Central Station, and the invitation requested that attendees be there at 7 p.m. sharp so as not to miss the ten minute presentation. Upon arrival, press and VIP were stationed along the staircase and upper level, where they sipped champagne and waited patiently to see what would unfold. At 7:25 p.m., a few models began to surreptitiously emerge from the sides â€” dressed in monochromatic ski outfits of burgundy, ochre and grey â€” eventually turning into a throbbing crowd of dancers, staging their very own eight minute flash mob/fashion show in the middle of Grand Central. Once the crowd realized what was going on, the performance was met with uproarious applause, and passersby unaffiliated with NYFW stopped to witness the commotion. Although it was difficult to see the clothing from where we were stationed (nay, impossible), the event itself was incredible â€” a live-art sartorial spectacle unparalleled by anything else that week. Not only did it appeal to those who had shown up knowing they were going to witness a fashion event, but the 363 dancers (163 of which were donned in looks from the Moncler F/W 11 collection, 200 of which were hired to appear as regular travelers) brought in the natural inhabitants of the space, as well. Pulling off the ultimate live-action fashion show experience for hundreds upon hundreds of people, it was a once-in-a-lifetime event.
Photos: Nonoo, WWD.com; Gary Graham, style.com; Alice + Olivia, NYMag.com; Moncler, style.com
Image Layout: Molly Murphy