Before I left for Bryant Park this morning, I spent a moment with my husband, who was there at the World Trade Center when the planes hit 5 years ago. He didn’t really want to watch all the footage from the past, nor did he feel any solace from the “commemorations” going on around NYC and the country. But we did remember how fortunate we are to still be together, when so many couples and families were ripped apart from the tragedy. We will never forget and we really don’t need ceremonies, wreaths, or speeches to remind us.
I walked up the steps into the tents at Bryant Park, and I was immediately struck by how quiet it was. I looked around and saw the WE booth (Women’s Entertainment) booth was giving out their signature bag for this season: lime green with brown “pleather” trim (nice enough to actually keep and use again, I think). As I approached the desk, the pretty young woman who usually frowns and says “no bags” handed me one with a huge smile saying: “Hi, how are you?” I was pleasantly surprised. Did she really remember me and was she really happy to hear from me? Later that day she was wearing a post-it-note with “no bags” on it, and no smile. But the one I got early today. and her warm greeting, started my Fashion Week in a great way.
I wandered over to the Carolina Hererra line, because even that wasn’t long (yet) and got a standing room ticket. I didn’t have an invitation and I didn’t get into the show last year, so I was happy just to have a chance to see it. While I was waiting, I chatted with “Philip,” a Kent State Fashion Design/Marketing Junior who was volunteering to seat Olympus Fashion Week sponsors until mid-week. He was charming, and delighted to be able to experience fashion week. If only there were more like Philip (and less like the flamboyantly-dressed, portly man who pushed past me on the check-in line). “I guess that man thinks he’s more important than you,” snarked one of my favorites guys from security (all in black). “I am determined to be calm and zen-like this season,” I said. “Especially today” he replied. I looked at his lapel and saw a pin with the twin towers and 9/11. “My husband was there” I said. “My cousin…..” his voice trailed off. I never did get a chance to ask him what happened, but I already knew. All I could manage was: “I know. I’m sorry” The portly man who pushed past me pushed ahead in the standing room line, and then he pushed his way into someone’s seat while the rest of us stood. He seemed to be “indignant” that his seat was “inferior” to the front row, but of course I already knew he wasn’t entitled to any seat. Well, it’s all in the spirit of the good, the bad, and the ugly, during fashion week. In the end, I enjoyed talking to Philip and ended up sitting in a seat reserved for someone from Teen Vogue (or was that, Teen people?), who didn’t show.
The Carolina Herrera show was pretty much what I expected: classics, re-interpreted, for Spring. There were a number of beautfiful, flowing gowns with lots of tucks and details, and for Spring, lots of crisp, fresh, mini-dresses. The “for day” clothes reminded me of what pretty, young, rich girls wear to the country club or the family’s Hamptons’ home. Mostly, there were feminine and short, dresses in subdued colors such as beige, black, grey, and a few hits of bright colors, such as the rouge and blood orange matelasse grown with a ribbon sash…understated but obviously expensive. Odile Gilber for Aveda did the hair for show show–soft, loose, pretty updo/buns that reminded me of Greecian goddesses. Diane Kendal and the MAC pro team did the makeup, which was soft and softly glowy, with pink lips…very natural but polished. It’s a look that looks fresh and right for Spring, but women over a certain age will not be embracing this trend.
After Carolina Hererra, I went to check in for Cynthia Steffe. To my disappointment, instead of seat assingment for my invitation, I got a PST (Priority Standing Room) which pretty much appeared to me to be the same as plain old ST, since everyone with ST (standing room) and I got in at the same time. Honestly, the show didn’t bowl me over. The clothes were pretty, girly, classic, youthful, and rich-looking…but nothing sexy, sizzling, or very different. There were lots of mini-dresses, some of them worn over stovepipe length pants. The loose dresses arrived in soft, fluid fabrics such as cotton gauze and voile, filmy chiffon, jersey. There was little embellishment, and the “bling” was very minimal, featuring in just a very few fabrics shot through with threads of lurex. The colors were also subdued: light yellow, grey, navy, white piping. There was one piece that was (I think,) gold ostrich leather.
The hair, done by Peter Grey for Aveda was also a “casual knot” type of look, messy, but obviously, not. The makeup , buy Polly Osmond for MAC, featured pale complexions, with eyes that were deep and smoky, and pale pink lips. On most people this would be a cute look for casual wear or the beach, but not enough color for anyone over age 25. Then again, most of the collection, wi6th it’s San Tropez-in-the-60’s vibe, was not created for women over age 30.
Two shows down, I wandered around the perimeter of the tents, sitting for just a moment in the Delta Lounge area, wandering also into the Moet and Chandon Lounge (open, but no champagne until evening), visiting the Judith Ripka jewelry display, where I tried on thousands of dollars worth of baubles, and contemplated buying one for myself (but didn’t…at least not yet). I wandered outside and discovered that designer Sigrid Olsen was providing free pedi-cab service and I needed to get downtown to 19th Street. I hopped into one of these pedicabs and spent the necxt 15 minutes or so being cycled downtown by a personably “Driver,” Joe Maselli, obviously an actor who said he’s been cycling people around town in a pedicab for about 6 years. I have to say, it was absolutely a blast!
I had some time before the Daniel Franco show, so I went to see the Lewis Albert Show at the Metropolitan Pavillion, first. I met a woman who helps dress the MACY’s flagship windows, but we only had a few minutes to chat before the show started. This collection also, was what I’d simply categorize as “simple and safe.” The collection was supposed to “exude a Paraisian sensibility” but I didn’t really get that from what I saw. Insteda, there were nicely tailored, neat, simple styles with minimal embellishment except for some piping and buttons, with muted colors of grey, ecru, navy and chocolate …but no pizazz. The “chic” factor just wasn’t there, but to be sure, the clothes were pretty, (and the dresses, also quite mini). One below-the-knee chiffon had a bit of charm, and I liked the sleek, high ponytails that looked fresh, and hip.
Finally, I rushed around the block, to the Daniel Franco show. I really don’t follow Project Runway, watching it only when I’m turning channels, but I recognized some of the people who were former competitors, and sat in front of one of the women who was just recently kicked off the show. In back of me was a woman with three young children…all girls who are ardent fans of the show. She was there, she said, because her husband was writing a piece for USA today about bringing children to Fashion Week (which isn’t common). These girls were so excited that they had been taken out of school half a day, to see the fashion show. I remember my father, uncharacteristically, taking my sister and I out of school one afternoon to take us to lunch at Fraunces Tavern. He bought us pencils with pictures of the tavern on it from their gift shop which I had for decades. I never understood what motivated him to surprise us, but I never forgot it. I guarantee that anything these three young laides might have learned in class would never compare to the memories this wonderful mother and father, created for them today.
The show, sponsored by Nikon, featured each model holding a new, Nikon Cooplix, and taking a photo at the end of the runway where the photographers were. I liked the playfulness of this. I liked the clothes, too. Finally, something I could get excited about. The styles were a departure from the young, filmy, pretty, girly, mini-dresses I’d veen seeing. These clothes were for a a sexy, assertive woman. Then again, Mr. Franco is young, and now, a “star” by virtue of his victory in Project Runway, so this is his time to pull out all of the stops. The clothes were sexy, bare, cut low in back, with other cutouts on the sides. The gowns had long, flowing trains. The “day” clothes were body conscious, even the suits Some of the skirts were so tight even the models looked a bit “bottom heavy” in them, but the strong, modern designs and the dramatic cut-outs, made these clothes my favorites of the day and I think, most women could find something in Mr. Franco’s collection to flatter and delight them.
Backstage after the show, I was fortunate to speak briefly to Julien Farel, the lead hairstylist. Products used were from RUSK, and Mr. Farel also mentioned that he used Baybliss appliances including one that is ionic and ceramic all in one (makes hair shiny, dries it faster, smooths it better, too). As to the feel of the hair for the show, Mr. Farel admitted that with a younger designer Like Mr. Franco, he was allowed to do more avant garde looks. The task, according to Mr. Farel, was to create”the look of Chanel, but going downtown to the East Village,” in day, evening and nighttime looks. I got the sense that the charming Julien enjoyed having more freedom with the hair looks than he might, say, with a more established, older designer. As Mr. Farel but it himself: “the clothes (Daniel Franco’s) are strong, sexy, fitted, and Daniel wanted voluptuous hair (like the roots of a tree). ” Farel sugested that the look was “rock and roll,” but as with all of the seemingly wild and casual “do’s,” I seriously doubt that an amateur could create the same look at home easily, if at all. There is, in all of these styles, still a high lvel of sophistication and with it, control. But I really liked the hair, especially the long, loose waves (worn by a blonde in a beautiful, long, flowing black evening gown), to a number of “messy” updo/buns, and even one model (wearing an extremely form-fitting day suit) whose eye-catching “big hair” was a stunning, platinum.
Show over, I decided to do some shopping of my own. I wandered around, looking for pieces that would be suitable for the warmer weather we’re going to have for the rest of the week. I really didn’t find much that I liked, but snagged a black pantsuit and a deeply-cut, white knit blouse with a floating, asmetrical hem. They weren’t exactly the stuff of high fashion, but I like them and when you think about it, that’s what fashion, and style, really are all about.
Tomorrow I have to be at the tents at 7:am to be backstage for the TIBI show. I am not sure if I’m going to make it that early, but I”m going to try.