Fashion week wraps up

New York’s fashion week collections were very aggressive. Most of the runways were reactionary – portals for venting against fear produced by the recession. It was as if with cut and intellect, designers flipped the economy off with a well-tailored finger. What was most appreciated was how covert this message was transmitted. There were no screen-printed blasphemies on T-shirts which is a too frequently used panacea for inexperienced designers, but the approach was like the French Marquis of World War II, blindsiding, subtle and pungent.

Chado Ralph Rucci concluded the week with a stellar collection. His vision took yet another dynamic approach to linear thought. He approaches fashion with the precision of a Cartesian plane – each point as intentional as the last and demands more left-brained thought from his audience than most designers.

The reinterpretation of infamous silhouettes was another strategy that translated well. Designers Jack McCollough and Lazaro Hernandez of Proenza Schouler and Kate and Laura Mulleavy of Rodarte both saluted to Cristobal Balenciaga’s spherical construction, a technique that gave both their collections more relevance and chic bite. Proenza Schouler’s outerwear picked up where other parts of the collection were lacking. The opening look – a hemp double-breasted coat with an obtuse collar and rounded sleeves over a sheer black turtleneck – was a favorite.

The Rodarte sisters have slowly made their woman tougher. Their most recent collection was a far cry from last year’s Japanese horror ballerinas. This time the focus was on building materials and collaged mini-dresses. The models glided in thigh-high, cement colored bondage boots by Nicholas Kirkwood with some models’ hair coated in cinnamon dye.

Marc Jacobs unfortunately retreated back to the 1980s. It is collections like these that lean him closer to being a clichéd designer. After a conceptual rendering for spring, he’s back to his old ways, this time with a florescent jellybean pallet. It’s much preferred when he experiments and stumbles than to be a magician with only one trick.

Philip Lim took his style and threw it in a blender with 1960s London and a pinch of Lacroix’s exuberance. The result: Modern black and blond bobbed partygirls all in sharply tailored pantsuits, ruffles, prints and fur. Although the set was stunning its grandeur was trumped by the personality of Lim’s garments.

If Paris has Stefano Pilati and Nicolas Ghesqui?re as their forward thinking coalition, Francisco Costa for Calvin Klein in definitely America’s equivalent. Keeping with his usual monochromatic pallet and use of engineered fabrics, Costa played with asymmetry and the reflective quality of fabric. He used various shades of gray strips – charcoal, cement, anthracite, graphite – and constructed light-reflecting garments with more movement and greater aesthetic value. Francisco Costa is truly in full stride.

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