1. Marc by Marc Jacobs
Was it a mid-century Russian military moment? Or French student activists caught mid-protest? Or New York hipsters channeling ’80s Irish punks? It’s always an interesting exercise guessing which references go into a Marc Jacobs show. One thing we can say for sure, the austerity of his secondary line made quite a contrast from the evocative eccentricity he showed for his main line a few nights earlier. But the intelligent plays on volume and proportion were still there. His Marc by Marc Jacobs girls had an untouchable, buttoned-up seriousness to them with wide, knee-length skirts, oversized military jackets, boxy coats and crisp Oxford shirts that obscured the body to the point of almost de-sexualizing it. Hormonal club kids, they were not. Glossy officer’s drum hats; lace-up, high-top boots; and a color palette of mostly charcoal, black and white — with the occasional pops of red and blue — added to the overall intensity.
2. Tory Burch
Set in Alice Tully Hall’s floor-to-ceiling glass lobby, Tory Burch’s fall show stopped traffic on 65th Street yesterday morning. Commuters stood outside, mesmerized by the pretty young things and the lovely creations they wore. We suspect that’s the same reaction any woman wearing Burch’s ultra-feminine clothes will receive. Models with their hair pinned in French twists came down the runway in ladylike tweed cardigans; knee-length skirts; and dreamy chiffon, tulle and organza separates fit for a princess — or UES royalty. Maybe the Kate Middleton effect set into the subconscious of New York designers, because fall is all prim and proper. There were moments of this good girl gone bad, though — the show notes say Burch’s girl falls for the wrong kind of guy. Body-hugging silhouettes and skintight leather pants hinted at some naughty behavior — which is great, because nice girls like to have fun, too.
The room was so crowded that editors could hardly get close enough to the models to see the clothes. That’s how big of a draw the J.Crew presentation has become. The main attraction was — as is always the case with J.Crew — Jenna Lyons’ unique take on sportswear, which famously includes a modern, offbeat mix of print, texture, color and ideas. This season, it was produced under Tom Mora, Lyons’ new head of women’s design, with Manolo Blahnik creating the special capsule collection of pumps. It all came together to create a rich-looking mix for work and play. The best moments from the collection were the most unexpected, such as a Fair Isle sweater tied casually around the waist of a glittery sapphire colored dress, which was worn quirkily over a crisp white button down. On paper it sounds bizarre and wrong, but styled together it made for a cool, fresh take on fashion’s proverbial day-to-night dressing. Meanwhile, a pair of spotted, tailored, black-and-white trousers worn with a contrasting mint-colored zigzag sweater and trim tan coat was classic J.Crew at its best.
4. Sophie Theallet
Here’s a bright spot for fall: Sophie Theallet’s take on femininity played on a single Baroque print in a variety of rich colors and textures. The graphic appeared either as one layer of an ensemble or piled on with other pieces of the same print, such as a jade vest over a wine turtleneck with a purple satin pencil skirt — all in her Baroque pattern. It sounds a bit much, but looked artfully put together and yet carefree. You can see a quirky girl having fun and standing out among a sea of uniform grays and blacks. There were some noteworthy solid-color pieces, too: a bright red satin dress boasted sex appeal; cropped red or purple pants screamed “working girl’s best friend” (perfect with flats for the office or heels for after-hours); and an ivory halter dress played peek-a-boo, revealing red straps on an otherwise bare back.
5. Diesel Black Gold
The first look in Diesel’s high-end line was a black-and-white sweater with a print of a woman crying. What followed was a collection with an “I’m not taking any crap” attitude. Sophia Kokosalaki sent out menswear-inspired separates in sleek black leather, leopard print and pony hair. There were cropped vests, slouchy pants, a denim shirt, boxy blazers and low-slung leather skirts. Jeans, when they did make an appearance, came in prints and cropped at the ankle. It was a cool, edgy collection of looks that Alice from “Resident Evil” would totally wear in her downtime. Or, you know, you, when you want to feel a little badass.