The Best of Mercedes Benz Fashion Week pt. 1

Lauren Burns

Day 1:

Maybe it was the upcoming anniversary of 9/11 or the odd syncope of models and cops at Lincoln Square—each group proudly honoring this city in its own way—but this year, in particular, Fashion Week Spring/ Summer 2012 made New York feel like the center of the world. The day started early with everyone in anticipation of what was to come. The photographers and journalists had arrived in droves and were surrounding Lincoln Center snapping pictures of the fashionistas on the street and interviewing aspiring young mavens. The inside was a hive of activity; the buzz was palpable, everyone eager to get a glimpse of the trends that would define Spring/Summer 2012. We had big plans to see the new color blocking silhouettes, the reinvention of bohemian for this decade, and the mix of inspirations, from far-flung ethnic to supremely American Great Gatsby-retro. We got more than we wanted or expected over the course of the week. This is how it all played out…

Nicholas K began the day with a men’s and women’s show that reveled in all natural earth tones set off by bright whites, all draped in different, multiple layers with uneven hems. He put an emphasis on asymmetry, abstract shapes and natural movement. Nicholas never forgets the utilitarian details such as and they were miraculously worked into these looks in spades.

Next up, the Porter Grey sisters provided a tantalizing show for all the girly girls, with lovely floral prints and pronounced feminine elements, inspired in part by their mother’s annual garden parties. The fabrics were gorgeous, featuring many shades of natural and dusty blues. They looked soft with a delicate sheen and the details were executed with clever tailoring.

BCBGMaxazria introduced an entirely new look to their timeless style. The models walked out onto the runway to the heavy drum beats of My House (Stopmakingme Remix) by Hercules & Love Affair. The tribal-themed music set the atmosphere for women with natural makeup and hair slicked down in the front and wild, wavy, and utterly natural in the back. BCBGMaxazria pushed color blocking to the front of their lineup, but with a creative twist. They started the show with fresh, original pieces of never-before-seen color combinations, which they slowly mixed back to prints. The print direction for Spring/Summer is also exciting, inspired by Native American traditions. Far from looking conventional or dated, these pieces manage to draw on ancient inspiration while conveying an extremely modern feel. BCBGMaxazria has developed a whole new way of piecing together sheer layers to create fluid silhouettes, with some opaque banding, to give freshness and definition to the weightless fabrics and a floating nonchalance to the heavily designed pieces. Every piece in the line could transition easily from the office to a night on the town, allowing BCBGMaxazria to hold its reign as the go-to for a dress for any occasion.

Richard Chai chose Aztec prints, vintage florals and skinny multi-color stripes to give shape to his men’s and women’s lines and filled them in with bold and bright colors. There was a sophistication to the menswear inspired details for the women’s pieces, and exquisite tailoring all around.

Candela provided an abundance of detail work with embroideries, prints and tailoring. There was a relaxed feel to their styles, brought to the next level with fun, pop colors.

Day 2:

The second day started with a refined and sophisticated show by the label Emerson. They featured sleek silhouettes with simple tailoring in classic prints and timeless colors. Their mix of sheer and opaque fabrics created a sense of cultured luxury.

The Project Runway show was highly anticipated as usual and the winner this year was Laura Kathleen. Laura’s inspiration seemed to draw heavily from ancient Greece with a “goddess look” achieved by wrapping and twisting fabrics, though the drapery managed to bridge ancient and contemporary styles, by featuring heavy details and strong prints.

Electric Feathers presented draped layers held against the body with kimono closures and rope features in natural earth tones with hints of red and turquoise. Luca Luca displayed a fine attention to detail with their exquisite tailoring in feminine styles and slim silhouettes accessible in garden florals mixed with color and stripes.

Rebecca Taylor offered a fresh and ethereal modern line that mixed neutral colors back to unexpected citrus tones and sprinkled their pieces with edgy details of embellishments, leather, and snakeskin.

Mara Hoffman was inspired by traditional African sensibilities, showcasing long, lean silhouettes in hectic prints and an ambitious use of color. Nicole Miller designed luxe pieces filled with saturated vivid colors of red, violet, cobalt, hot pink and hot pink in intense prints in feminine forms. Nicole also continued the running themes of stripes, banding and color blocking. Cynthia Rowley ended the day with flirty, slim and ladylike pieces that showed their retro side with true waists and flare skirts. She chose ivory, black and gold to work back to brighter colors.

Day 3:

Ruffian started the day with a superior use of tailoring in their highly decorative pieces and another burst of color blocking; using black and white with simple rainbow brights of red, blue, green, pink, teal and yellow. This was followed by Lacoste’s classic, modern prep procession, which held fast to their brand, with neutral colors and simple pieces dominating the line, though peppered with bits of pop colors for newness.

Pink Tartan brought out the retro fun with cigarette pants, flare skirts and a well-timed dose of androgyny. Saturated colors that were not too bright worked in some outfits even from head to toe.

But, Jill Stuart dominated the day in color with a strong statement, mixing orange and peach back to soft teals and yellows with darker gold, all while showcasing new shades of neutral. Each of her pieces was well thought through and had beautiful details.

ADAM evoked a strong feeling of the 1920’s with a soft palette of pink, lavender, and sorbet colors mixed into grey, white and chambray. The prints were lovely florals in sheer floating styles. He had a different feel completely with the black and white geometric prints near the end of the show but it came together well rounded and new.

Vivienne Tam displayed strong designs with an East-meets-West sensitivity. With stunning color, original art deco print mixing and three dimensional details in cut out Appliqué work, sequins and fringe, Tam made small details work for the bigger picture in sheath dresses, cropped pleated waist trousers, and boxy jackets.

Honor had a strong mod mood in each stencil, sheer construction, Peter Pan collar and straight fit. Monique Lhuillier finished the evening with sophistication and used black back to robust colors in well constructed and vixenish pieces. She also dabbled in the overtly sexual with lace, sheer fabrics and cut out segments.

Day 4:

Lela Rose presented a line of cool sophistication Sunday morning with shades of white and grey paired with subdued lemon and sherbet orange. The deliberately feminine silhouettes, set off by simple and clean lines, were thrilling in bright surreal prints with pops of blue and orange and were balanced well with simple neutrals and polka dots.

Derek Lam displayed an interesting mix of color with rusty hues and white together for his decidedly feminine bodies. There were full body Art Deco prints, geometric prints and color blocked styles that the audience adored.

DKNY, true to form, was simple and sleek; the models floated down the runway with clean lines and modern silhouettes of seemingly one piece draping and hidden seams. The color palette was simple with black, white, poppy, indigo, and pops of pink.

Tracy Reese surprised with androgynous styles, retro silhouettes, stripes and floral prints. She continued the theme of East-meets-West and carefully mixed warm and cool color tones, such as turquoise and coral.

L.A.M.B. kept it simple by displaying androgynous looks, a palette of primarily black and white, optical prints and bold stripes. They showed more ¾ length rompers and short shorts as basic styling. Diane Von Furstenburg brought her usual train of feminine dresses that were draped perfectly across an hourglass frame. There was an abundance of white, sheer and 2 color basic floral prints. Von Furstenburg displayed new color families of grey, camel, and turquoise or black, white and Kelly green.

Timo Weiland brought forward boxy silhouettes with trim tailoring pieces mixed in. He was not afraid of bringing back the midriff and carried on the new tradition of retro flare skirts in an interesting balance.