Male Box: The ABCs of NYFW

September 26, 2011 • Magazine, Male Box

In the aftermath of the whirlwind of runway shows and presentations that was New York Fashion Week for Spring/Summer 2012, my fellow fashion editors and I agreed that American designers were playing it safe. Many carried this fall season’s must-have color palette of black-and-white into next year, occasionally punctuating their collections with bright monochrome pops of color. Silhouettes remained spare; embellishment seemed a long forgotten memory. Chalk this lack of directionality up to the recession. That said, there was an air of hopefulness for the future in the tents and some of the offsite venues.  Designers explored construction in all its forms from street-inspired fashion to haute couture.

With over 400 designers showing during the seven days of fashion week, many of us find it nearly impossible to distill an overall message, let alone discern solid trends. Come next spring, I’ll help you navigate the tepid waters of American fashion and remain stylish and fashionable. For now, I’ll walk you through a few of the most hotly anticipated collections.

A is for Alexander. All hail Alexander the Great!  Like the conquering warrior before him, Alexander Wang magically gets his subjects to obsessively support his design efforts, whether under his own name or the T by Alexander Wang line. He drew inspiration for this latest collection from the street, specifically from BMX and motocross. While designers like the Caten twins of D Squared have done this before, something about Wang’s collection seems infinitely more wearable today. The ethnic print inspired look executed entirely in leather was a standout.

B is for Bibhu. Bibhu Mohapatra, if you must know – and you MUST. Renowned for his evening wear designs, Mohapatra has made excellent use of his time in the CFDA designer incubator and makes a strong foray into daywear for Spring 2012. His use of luxury fabrics and his attention to detail extend faultlessly into his designs for day time. His high-low hemlines will be instantly recognizable on fashionable avenues everywhere next spring.

C is for Carlos Miele. Miele’s woman bring the party with her wherever she goes. For Spring 2012, Miele layered construction techniques over custom prints to glorious effect. Even simple black-and-white prints took on added complexity with round florette appliqués. For the fashionable woman on the go, clothing has to move, even when she’s standing still.

C is also for Chado. Chado Ralph Rucci never fails to disappoint and his latest collection earned him a standing ovation from those fashion insiders lucky enough to attend. Even the most jaded of fashion folk leapt to their feet to applaud the sheer artistry of his work. No wonder he is one of only two American born designer to ever be invited by the Chambre Syndicale de la Haute Couture to show in Paris. For those of you who aspire to be fashion historians, the other was Mainbocher. Rucci usually employs a spare color palette,  the better to showcase his luxury fabrics and couture level construction techniques. Horsehair and silk gazar are staples of his collections. This season, he dresses his lady in chic suits for ladies’ luncheons and in breathtaking gowns for charity balls. His cocoon sleeved silk matelasse skirt suit redefines the classic silhouette created by Madame Chanel. What really excited me was the return of the ball skirt to evening wear. Those of us who are old enough recall vividly Candice Bergen’s Murphy Brown looking excruciatingly chic in Ralph Lauren’s evening skirt. Rucci’s version employs the same lavender as the Christian Dior high-low hem one that SJP’s Carrie Bradshaw wore to explore the souk in Abu Dhabi, but Rucci’s with its obi-inspired high waist, overlap full length skirt, and perfectly proportioned color blocking is infinitely more chic.

I have so many more highlights from New York Fashion Week to share with you, but you’ll have to wait. Right now, you should be very busy changing your closets over to fall. It’s time to put away all the summer clothes and break out all your recent purchases for fall. Before you know it, you’ll be calling cold storage to send for your furs. Fashion never stops to rest – and neither do we!

— Joseph Ungoco


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