1. Diane von Furstenberg
The models walked out to Tina Turner’s cover of Al Green’s “Let’s Stay Together” for the finale. Then Diane von Furstenberg and her creative partner, Gucci alumnus Yvan Mispelaere, took their bow. He kept his arm wrapped around her waist as they walked the runway, von Furstenberg stopping to hug and kiss well-wishers. Perhaps the song was meant to send a message. Mispelaere has only been in his current role for three seasons, but he’s already made a noticeable mark, evolving von Furstenberg’s girl about town to a more grown-up place complete with slicked back buns; sophisticated, streamlined, body-skimming dresses; and elbow-length gloves. But was it too subdued for DVF die-hards? They may find themselves missing her trademark youthful prints when the collection hits stores.
Ethnic prints, while great poolside, are rarely seen mixed in a cold weather wardrobe — that is until now. Joseph Altuzarra, the fashion darling who was championed by Carine Roitfeld early on in his career and won CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund award last year, headed to the Far East and Morocco for the first part of his strong fall collection. Traditional red Indian prints covered dresses, and jodhpurs were embellished with gypsy-esque gold coins. Long knit sweaters with wispy fringe trimmings and neon pink pom-poms added to the bohemian undercurrent. Sound a little too hippie for your taste? Altuzarra grounded the looks with sleek tailoring, tough skinny cargo pants, chic black structured dresses, and ridiculously cool outerwear (there were black shearlings, fur-lined peacoats and luxe toggle options). Despite these different elements there was cohesiveness to the collection: maybe it’s just that its cosmopolitan free spirit vibe is a seductive look for any girl. Sign us up for one of everything.
Donna Karan’s team drew inspiration from the beat generation, but the reference wasn’t literal in the Jack Kerouac at a coffee shop sense. Rather, it surfaced in the nearly all black and navy color palette; trim, tailored jackets and trousers; and flouncy miniskirts. The clothes had a certain youthful seriousness about it that will work well for twentysomethings shopping for their first real job. And trend watchers, take note: The waist line seems to be a big focal point for next fall. The DKNY collection pushed this idea forward with wide bandeau leather belts that cinched jackets, coats and dresses.
Set in the ornate grand ballroom of the Plaza Hotel, Thakoon Panichgul seemed to have created a collection for the ladies who lunch there. There was a polished sophistication to the clothes, best exemplified in the shift dresses and ruffled coats. But there were twists: a structured coatdress pinched at the waist seemed prim until the model turned the corner and sexy black leather cutouts in the back were revealed. Panichgul then kicked the feminine and playful factor into high gear with sweet peacock feather embroidery, bow details, and a palette of fuschia and cranberry. A few pieces even featured a pattern of anatomical hearts and lips. If you’re getting a toothache from just reading this, rest assured — the tailoring, beautiful construction and cheeky details saved the clothes from looking too girly or uptight.
5. Tommy Hilfiger
Though the fall collection began with strong outerwear — handsome double-breasted coats, a burgundy patent leather trench and dark yellow moto jacket — it’s the second half of the show that wowed. Warning: If you don’t have access to a stable, the equestrian wears, such as the cable-knit sweaters with suede patches, jewel tone silky dresses printed with graphic reins and tweed separates, will make you consider going for a ride — or at least dress that way.
6. Derek Lam
It can be tricky making sportswear basics read high fashion. They can’t be too earnest or simple. They need some kind of subversion, a sort of sartorial wink to let the world know that the wearer knows exactly what kind of statement she’s making. Lam did this in a way that fashion-obsessed career girls will love, ticking off all the boxes on both the list of office wardrobe needs and trends — a minimalist sweatshirt done in black leather; a streamlined dress covered in a black and white print that contrasted with its red graphic collar; or a skirt suit in florals with a bomber jacket instead of the requisite blazer. Like the large white frames that were arranged at contrasting angles on the runway, the clothes were clean and polished, with just the right amount of off-kilter.
7. Herve Leger by Max Azria
For fall, Azria made the classic bandage dress, which he reworks every season, a little less Kim Kardashian and more Naomi Campbell. In short, the bombshell factor was still there but slightly less overt. The clothes had a sense of restrained wildness and intrigue thanks to equestrian-like harnesses that came strapped around the dresses, longer hemlines and a darker color palette. Granted, this was an extension of the gladiator warrior queen collection Azria did for spring. But those body-hugging metallic dresses were still Hollywood Lite at heart. This season’s effort was more fully realized. kh
8. Tracy Reese
It would be nice to see Reese’s nice girl go bad. Azealia Banks’ raunchy “212” (the song is everywhere this week) played throughout the soundtrack, but the clothes were more sweet than hard. Reese turned out much to keep her loyal fan base happy: fun, upbeat separates in a variety of jewel tones, luxe coats, covetable shoes and a series of richly embroidered dresses. It was classic, feminine, pretty Reese that will most likely do well on the sales floor. But a little edge to contrast the sweet could do much to broaden Reese’s audience even further.