New York Fashion Week: Tommy Hilfiger, Donna Karan, Ohne Titel and more

Monday

Tommy Hilfiger  Credit: Getty Images
Tommy Hilfiger
Credit: Getty Images

Tommy Hilfiger’s show is way west on 12th Avenue and 55th Street, which is basically the other side of the world.  I didn’t realize yet just how far west he was taking us. The good news is that inside, waiters are walking around with trays of fruity drinks. The not-so-great news: The runway is set up to resemble a beach, complete with mounds of sand — my new Ferragamos are not happy. With sandy toes and the Beach Boys playing, we’re off to California.

11:15
Right from the opening series of leather scuba dresses, Hilfiger’s message is clear: Move over boys — girls do more on the beach than just tan. These Cali babes have a sporty spirit that evokes surfing (color blocked dresses, skirts in neoprene and beach-to-taco stand swim shorts); skating (heather gray cropped hoodies, boxy chambray jackets and Hawaiian print bowling shirts); and bonfires, my personal fave (frayed knit tunics and chunky ribbed sweaters). The sunset color palette of washed-out oranges and pale pinks add just the right amount of femininity to the line. - Tina Chadha

1:oo
A few random thoughts while waiting for Ohne Titel to start: Valentino Rockstuds seem to be about as inescapable as Robin Thicke’s “Blurred Lines.” Song of summer. Shoe of spring/summer. What’s up with all the beanies? Women are wearing the winter hat like it’s not 80 degrees outside. The atmosphere here at Milk studios, which has become the unofficial headquarters for showweek, is so much more tolerable than Lincoln Center. It’s free of all the tacky promotions, plus it’s right across the street from Chelsea Market’s oasis of good eats. A win-win. - Kenya Hunt

Alex Adams and Flora Gill Credit: Getty Images
Alex Adams and Flora Gill
Credit: Getty Images

1:20
It just hit me that skirt hemlines have risen noticeably this season, hiking up as much as four, five and six inches higher than the fall/winter offerings in stores right now. The shapes have become curvier, too. Alexa Adams and Flora Gill, masters at knitwear, have always been good at rendering vaguely body-con, dressing cool and intelligent rather than just merely being sexy in a one-note way — and there’s more of that here today. Their graphic, body-skimming skirts and dresses are just as technically impressive as always, with new optical illusory prints added to give that obligatory element of newness. But is there enough “new” there? Flora and Alexa seem to cook up their house codes on a slow burn, refining the look a little bit each season, rather than changing dramatically for change’s sake. That’s a refreshing quality. But their work from season to season is beginning to blur together, which makes me think it’s time for them to take more creative risks. - KH

2:00
Before we can enter Karen Walker’s show, security divides everyone up by row number, making everyone stand and wait in various areas of the lobby before our sections are called. I feel like I’m boarding a flight. “The set must be really spectacular,” one writer says, trying to make sense of the unusual process for entry. We take turns imagining what the set-up could be like inside, only to be ushered to find your typical runway in a white box… Um, okay. - KH

Karen Walker Credit: Getty Images
Karen Walker
Credit: Getty Images

2:20
“Eastern meets urban” is how Walker describes her spring/summer ’14 work, which is a mixed bag of really strong, slouchy trouser suits and dhoti pants in warm, beachy colors inspired by India, and collegiate references (again, what’s with the knit beanies for summer?) that feel a bit weak and tired. - KH

3:10
The day started off with a walk through sand at Tommy Hilfiger and now editors in their best skinny stilettos are precariously treading through a salt crystal covered floor at 3.1 Phillip Lim. Is there a hidden camera somewhere? I quickly hurry to my seat to pick out the crystals currently stuck in my shoes. —TC

3:20
Who knew Phillip Lim was such a geology buff? The designer cited geode-formations and raw landscapes as inspiration for Spring. And so far, the looks coming down the runway are a pretty literal translation. There are prints inspired by geode, splattered mud and abstract wood grains on roomy knee-length skirts, breezy blouses with sheer panels and kimono style moto jackets. The color palette of pearly whites, deep blues and earthy tans echo the elements, too. As do cracked metallic separates with foil, which remind me of wet rocks glistening in the sun? But the theme also seems to run a bit deeper. For Lim, whose line for mass retailer Target launches on September 15, it’s also about pairing down to the basics. Any one of his trousers from the striped jacquard pencil to the cuffed wide leg could work for a modern career girl’s wardrobe. —TC

4:00
Donna Karan has become a bit of an earth mother; her clothes increasingly reference nature in some form or another. This collection works with a similar theme as Karen Walker’s — New York meets India — but the end result is completely different. Whereas Karen was dressing the hipster on that quarter-life crisis, self-discovery mission out East, Karan is speaking to the older woman who considers far-flung places a second home, whose wardrobe reflects her travels and worldview. There are sinewy dresses and sarong skirts, airy shirts am languorous outerwear. It’s not the most ground-breaking collection from Donna, but her loyalists shopping for work and play will probably not even care. - KH

Maria Cornejo Credit: Getty Images
Maria Cornejo
Credit: Getty Images

5:10
Designer Stacey Bendet always brings a party style presentation to Fashion Week. Inside the packed Alice + Olivia outing waiters are passing out cocktails and mini tequila lime popsicles as show goers circulate the various vignettes trying to snag the best shots of models for their social media followers. Among the mix are Kelly Bensimon’s adorable daughters. Man, they’ve grown up so much since RHONY. I also spot Kristen Connolly from Netflix’s “House of Cards” walking around unnoticed. Seriously, people are too busy Instagraming. —TC

5:15
Maybe it’s the mostly neutral palette, but Bendet’s spring collection feels more polished then her recent outings. She plays with proportion and shows a mix of flirty minis worn with button downs, sweaters and shrunken jackets and full voluminous ball gown skirts paired with casual crop tops or polos. The theme of the collection, according to show notes, is “prep meets pretty,” and so tailored blazers and skinny pleated trousers are thrown in the mix. For the Alice+ Olivia party girl, there are feminie lace shorts, a crystal encrusted bustier and flapper-esque looks. —TC

6:00
So it’s been a day of women designers for me and it’s interesting to note the differences in the way women see themselves dressing versus the way men do. For one, most of the women designers I’ve ever interviewed, including Donna Karan, admit that they create clothes with themselves in mind. I’d guess that Maria Cornejo does the same. There’s an unfussy easiness to her collections that work for real life. The construction is complex, but the shapes are flattering and low-maintenance. The shoes, while provocative, aren’t so high that you can’t pound the pavement in them. There aren’t any vamps wiggling their way down the runway in constricting skirts or corsets or waifs looking exposed and dead in the eyes here. I point all this out to say that men dominate the creative direction of fashion, but women designers are still the best at addressing the function of fashion. - KH


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