Reviews from New York Fashion Week: Red carpets and race tracks

A model walks the runway at the Rebecca Minkoff  Spring 2013 fashion show.

1. Prabal Gurung: Ladies, keep your Spanx in the drawer. Prabal Gurung wants you to eat all the pie you want this spring. He feels there are bigger things than waistlines to fret about (read his thoughts in our Q&A below). Taking a left turn from all the sexy silhouettes he sent down the runway the past few seasons, Gurung kept things loose and flowy this time around. He championed comfort — there were slouchy trousers, drop-waist dresses and even sweatpants! (OK — silk skinny pants with elastic bands, but still.) For inspiration, the designer looked to his Eastern roots. Artist Anish Kapoor influenced the collection’s red, grey and black color palette, and the traditional Indian salwar kameez was the impetus behind the layered looks: tunics in silk and chiffon came over cotton cropped pants and were topped with jackets with long diaphanous trains. Despite the relaxed ethos, models looked far from sloppy. It’s hard to when you’re wearing ostrich feathers, sequins and python.  Tina Chadha

2. Altuzarra: Despite tornado warnings, editors and bold face names (Jessica Chastain, Kate Bosworth and Tyson Chandler) filed into Joseph Altuzarra’s spring show. After last season’s breakout collection, no one wanted to miss out. And lucky for them, he didn’t disappoint. The recent CFDA Swarovski womens­wear winner wowed with his exceptionally tailored — and inventive — series of outerwear. Cool, tough and feminine coats were constructed to also be worn as capes — a bonus for the unpredictable weather we’ve been facing of late. Other standouts: his equestrian-meets-corporate separates and gorgeous fringed and bejeweled party numbers.  TC

3. Rag and Bone: Prep goes techno biker babe at Rag and Bone. Inspired by the Paris-Dakar Rally, David Neville and Marcus Wainwright started their sporty spring outing with a variety of seersucker stripes. They came on jackets, lace-trimmed shorts and breezy knee-length shirt dresses. But this was no New England clam bake — the looks, heavily layered with separates mostly in black, had a distinct urban edge. Then the engines started to rev as models with slicked back hair and hands in their pockets rallied by in cool moto jackets, tough-guy leather pants (complete with racing stripes) and oversized shorts. Really bringing the motorcross theme over the finish line: jolts of neon green, cobalt blue and shades designed with Oakley.  TC

4. Herve Leger:  Leave it to Herve Leger to find a way to make Southern quilts sexy. Inspired by the quilters in Gee’s Bend, Ala., designer Max Azria reimagined the house’s signature bandage dress as patchwork couture. Think stretchy fabrics arranged in geometric patterns, flared knits interwoven with chains, dresses with plisse pleats and ornate embroidered applique. (Not to mention leather harnesses and snakeskin booties for extra oomph.) Over the top? Definitely. But Azria had the good sense to keep the palette subdued, and the workmanship was breathtaking.  Raquel Laneri

5. Suno: Voluminous couture shapes showed up at the print-happy label Suno, which launched in 2009 with a collection of mish-mashed vintage Kenyan textiles. Think full-length gowns in floral jacquard with oh-so-easy pockets, or a ruffled butter-yellow floor-sweeper with delicate violet stem prints. Of course, designers Max Osterweis and Erin Beatty offered plenty of their usual riotous daywear, including folky embroidered cotton skirts paired with metallic florals and striped linens.

6. Tadashi Shoji: All that buzz from Octavia Spencer shining in Tadashi Shoji at the Oscars might have prompted the designer to re-create red carpet gold. His floor-length gowns felt like they were trying a bit too hard: a white Grecian with plunging neck and open sides straddled the line between sexy and raunchy. His eye-catching Ikat-printed summer dresses, however, were the night’s big winner. Carefree, pretty and comfortable — just what a woman wants to slip into when the pressure is on.  TC

7. Cushnie Et Ochs: White  sexy dresses done 10 different ways — with sporty midriff cutouts, plunging necklines or structured shoulders — and two teeny tiny white bikinis kicked off the spring effort of Carly Cushnie and Michelle Ochs. The ladies have femme fatale body-con down to a science. This season, inspired by Ochs’ native Philippines, they added embroidery and two stunning shades of island blue to the mix. And while the duo keep evolving their signature vampy aesthetic (cutouts around the decolletage were more artful then ever), one problem persists: Who, besides super svelte starlets such as Kate Bosworth, sitting front row, can pull these off?  TC

8. Yigal Azrouel: Azrouel has been slipping further and further into a minimalist trance over the past few seasons. Spring found him in a full-on stupor. He concentrated on clean lines for his collection of mostly lightweight, relaxed cotton dresses and knits in neutral colors. The simple seeming frocks–in apron, eyelet and maxi styles– flowed gracefully when the models took the runway. There was almost a quiet, monk-like quality to them — maybe that’s why Azrouel styled models in what felt like urban nun habits.   TC

9. Honor: The romantic braided updos, lace prints and the sheer girly-ness of Giovanna Randall’s collection recalled Valentino’s Spring 2012 show — or it would have, if only the designer didn’t already own ladylike dressing since starting her label in 2009. For spring, her gamine cut through an enchanted forest — the runway surrounded by greenery — to get to a tea party, secret rendezvous or OkCupid meet-up. Models came down the runway in feminine full skirts, floral prints in neon green, cutesy high-waist shorts, dreamy organza blouses (most with high ruffle collars), and some star-of-the-party jumpsuits.  TC

10. Rebecca Minkoff: Rebecca Minkoff went poolside this spring, citing Slim Aarons’ 1960s and ’70s snapshots of glamorous jetsetters and celebrities lounging in the sun as inspiration. Her girls wore more laidback, tomboyish versions of Aarons’ haute subjects: embroidered white bootcut jeans, woven poncho dresses, on-trend track pants with flowered stripes, faded motorcycle vests and super-short, tweed shorts suits. But at least one look was high-wattage Aarons fabulous: an orange-red paisley print sweater dress paired with flowing floral pajama pants in the same hue.  RL

11. Lacoste: Lacoste designer Felipe Oliveira Baptista found himself rifling through the house’s archives from the 1980s, where he found inspiration for asymmetrical color blocks applied to oversized T-shirts, wide-legged pants and matching anoraks in wild prints. Yes, he even resurrected the fanny pack. There were also plastic raincoats with welded seams and a sexier version of the classic polo dress, made with crocodile-embossed white nappa leather. Back to the prints: they were adorable — tennis balls, rackets or little crocodiles arranged in crazy patterns. RL

12. Nonoo: Michael Eastman’s patina photos of Havana, Cuba, provided the jumping off point for Misha Nonoo’s Spring collection — an irresistible mix of crisp cotton dresses, easy pajama trousers and filmy blouses in vibrant tropical colors: flamingo pink, jungle green, marine blue. The young designer, who won the Fashion Group International Rising Star award this year, also found herself playing more with prints — something she just started dabbling in for Resort — with adorable flamingos and palm fronds adding a jolt of quirk to this love letter to Latin glamour.  RL


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