New York Fashion Weekend Wrap-Up: Part Two

Sunday at NYFW was all about the ladies. Riffing off the SS12 sportswear trend, Kate Lanphear-favorite Katie Gallagher set the bar high by infusing her signature sportswear with dramatic details, like blood red separates that matched the bloody vials guarding her presentation platform. More girl power – and yet another super sartorial star encounter (hint: her initials are A.D.R.) – right this way.

image Gwen Stefani might have been MIA for her L.A.M.B. presentation at Lincoln Center, but her stylish spirit definitely infiltrated the room through her brand’s charming spring offerings. I’m lusting after the tough-collared babydoll dress above.

image In between shows, I spotted Anna Dello Russo, who we’re very obviously obsessed with. She was surprisingly open – excited, even – to get her photo snapped. image Like Gallagher, another rising star in the female fashion designer arena is Jen Kao, who turned out a captivating collection of delicate pieces with whimsical details in sherbet hues. I couldn’t take my eyes off the checkered crochet numbers. Photos: Style.com

image Finally, I couldn’t end this NYFWeekend recap without a shout-out to Kanon Vodka and their ingenious pop-up bar at Milk Studios this season. Complete with custom drinks inspired by collections from the likes of Jeremy Scott and the aforementioned Gallagher, fashion’s favorite organic booze kept us all fueled and festive.

Meet LA’s Avant-Garde Heroes

Every fashion city has its young designer rebels. In New York, there’s Katie Gallagher and Asher Levine. In London you have Gabriella Marina Gonzalez and Maria Francesca Pepe. And in Paris you have Rad Hourani and Raphael Young. What you may not know is that Los Angeles is also quite the innovative fashion incubator, home to a handful of designers making West Coast waves. We checked in with three emerging trailblazers to give you the scoop on their work and what’s next for LA fashion.

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Designer: Allysun Maria Dutra of KITTINHAWK

Brand concept: “Local handmade love and crystalline magic for darlings and dreamers, inspired by geology, ancient cultures, the animal kingdom, minerals, philosophy, sex, fine art, and fashion.”

Upcoming projects: “I’m obsessed with French new wave and film noir, so I’m working on a short black and white film for the release of the next KITTINHAWK jewelry collection. I’m also working on a new couture collection of avant-garde dresses and headpieces for Concept LA Fashion Week in October.”

LA fashion, now and next: “I adore the fashion scene in LA; there are so many different circles of people creating their own aesthetics. I have no idea where the scene is going next, as everything I thought I knew about people, culture and fashion in LA has shifted dramatically over the years, but I like the mystery and the adventure of not knowing.”

Avant-gardey extra: The brand is available at Gather – a retail and creative space for “slow fashion” (a movement focused on design integrity over fame) designers in LA. Allysun works out of a studio above the store. Also, peep the KITTINHAWK’s eerie short film, A Season in Hell and Illuminations, here.

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Designer: Shawn Owen of Shawn Owen Button

Brand concept: “A cosmic headrush mixed with a tidal wave of creative vomit inspired by David Attenbrough-narrated documentaries.”

Upcoming projects: “I’m getting ready for Concept LA Fashion Week.”

LA fashion, now and next: “Right now, LA fashion is like a ’70s tramp soaked in whiskey and smells like tobacco, but in the best way possible. In five years, hipsters will think segways are mad vintage.”

Avant-gardey extra: SOB’s earthy-futuristic promo video features a tune from the Swedish YouTube phenomenon known as iamamiwhoami. Watch the video here.

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Designer: Amanda Thomas of Luv AJ

Brand concept: “One part feminine and one part bad-ass, Luv AJ mixes unconventional silhouettes and tarnished chains to give a look that extra little something. I’m inspired by materials, whether it’s an amazing chunk of crystal quartz or a spool of vintage chain.”

Upcoming projects: “I’m currently working on my next collection that will include pierced sheet metal, ombré fringe chain, cuffs, and charm necklaces with a twist. I’m also launching a diffusion line with Urban Outfitters, but more on that soon.”

LA fashion, now and next: “I think LA is filled with fashion-forward shoppers that are looking for something totally unique that won’t break the bank. Consumers are getting more creative with the way they wear their accessories, like rocking bracelets as armbands or bodychains as belts, so in the next few years, I think designers will step it up to match that versatility.”

Avant-gardey extra: Luv AJ is available in the new e-shop for DNA (designers+artists) – a collective of emerging avant-garde and contemporary designers in SF, NYC, and LA.

The Full Fashion Report: Thakoon, Wang, Mandy Coon, & More

Only during Fashion Week do you see industry folk bright-eyed and dressed to the nines on sub-zero, it’s-so-early-it’s-still-dark-out weekend mornings — all in spite of hard-partying the night before. You can catch them dashing like trained athletes between shows at Lincoln Center, Milk Studios, and various other obscure venues for hours on end, fueled by copious amounts of caffeinated beverages (sometimes spiked – I mean, who’s really that chipper in the am?).

It’s all for good reason, though, since some of the most hotly anticipated FW11 collections showed on Saturday and Sunday, like Alex Wang (see the show recap here) and Thakoon. But in case you couldn’t bear to give up your sacred R&R for 48 hours of fashionable mayhem, me and my fleece-lined tights (they’re lifesavers, trust me) were there to brave all the shows, parties, and eerie doll encounters for you.

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Rachel Antonoff Stages the High School Dance We Always Wanted When someone invites you to a party that’s meant to remind you of being a teenager, your first instinct might be to cringe. Admittedly, I winced a few times before RSVPing, but only because I was jealous of the girls that have Rachel Antonoff in their lives to make them look way cooler in high school than I ever did. But unlike the lunch table-isolating mean girls from yesteryear, the designer filled her presentation in the Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School gym with happy, cool kids that just really like to dance. And she covered every last detail to make it as authentic as possible, from puppy love slow dancers (inspired by a still from Sofia Coppola’s The Virgin Suicides), to shy students observing from the bleachers, to a live chick band – all dressed in Antonoff’s whimsy-prep collection. This has to be one of my favorite themes for a presentation yet.

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Alexa Chung (who’s good friends with the designer) and two adorable looks from the collection.

The band couldn’t have been a better fit for Antonoff’s retro theme: The Like. The ’60s-inspired pop band, who performed playful tunes that got even the most straight-faced editors tapping their feet, includes the designer’s friend and the face of her recent footwear collab with Bass, Tennessee Williams. Here’s a moment I really liked:

Mandy Coon Dresses the Futuristic Globetrotter Next up was Mandy Coon at Lincoln Center. It was a looping presentation like last year, so new guests were able to see the complete collection at various times. And each time, French singer and composer Émilie Simon was behind the piano, performing the same beautifully haunting song, causing me to stick around for a few encores. Just as captivating were Coon’s highly-structural designs, which reminded me of some kind of nouveau crusader, complete with outerwear for the sequel to Blade Runner that I really wish was happening.

image A corseted leather tank, a jacket for the hard-edged Eskimo, and a tie-dye-to-die-for maxi dress.

image As proven by last season’s vivid splashes of print, Coon has an eye for introducing color in creative ways. Here, she adds a burst of unexpected hot pink to an otherwise muted color palette – a major theme for FW11.

Charlotte Ronson Throws it Back Again No one does recent retro like Charlotte Ronson. Last season was straight out of an episode of My So-Called Life, and this season edges into the same ’90s territory, but with a dash of inspiration from the ’60s. In addition to flowers, plaid, and holey tights (sometimes found all in one look), the designer introduced a collection of oversized angora knits that would blend right in at any vintage store. Another throwback I was delighted to see was Irina Lazareanu’s return to the runway for two looks, even linking arms with Ronson’s half-sister and nightlife fixture, Annabelle Dexter-Jones, during the end parade. The designer again commissioned her twin sister, Samantha, to direct the music for the show, which started with a tune by Adele.

image Irina’s finale look—and I spy a Man Repeller!

Belve and Baubles with Bijules Although I was spent by the end of Saturday, I couldn’t miss BlackBook friend and fierce jewelry designer Jules Kim’s presentation at Gramercy Park Hotel. Her latest line of fine jewelry pieces, called “The Seize Kind,” were circulated throughout the event (more party atmosphere than presentation) on silver platters held by suited men. From single ear pieces to edgy-elegant pendants, designer Jules Kim delivered another collection of covetable accessories. Combined with an open Belvedere Vodka bar and a packed after-after-party at Rose Bar downstairs, I couldn’t think of a better way to unwind after a marathon day of shows.

image Kim and some of her designs.

Art Imitating Life at VPL Sunday morning started with a trip to Chelsea Piers to see the always innovative Victoria Bartlett’s latest effort. The collection was inspired both by progressive artists Piero Manzoni and Joseph Beuys, and by the human form, evident in her stretch-and-constrict designs that shift with the body’s motion. For fall, the VPL girl is wearing layers upon layers, wrapped in a plethora of textures in a range of neutrals and well-chosen hues like vivid orange and bordeaux. As each look came down the runway, myself and everyone around me was quite and focused—as if we really were at a sculpture exhibit. We all started to clap as the music faded and the lights dimmed out, until suddenly the loud beat returned, the room went bright, and out walked an army of latex-clad models in classic VPL cutout bathing suits, culminating with a primitive finale piece that was a nod to her interest in evolution.

image Layers, suspension, latex, and a furry close to VPL.

Timeless Thakoon at the Historic Plaza Although Sunday night was jam-packed with NYFW events all over the city, there’s no doubt that Thakoon was not to be missed. As I entered The Plaza Hotel for the show, I felt the history within those walls. After all, it’s one of two hotels considered a National Historic Landmark (the other is Waldorf-Astoria), and it’s where The Beatles stayed during their first visit to the U.S. As a designer with a deep respect for the past, it makes sense that Thakoon Panichgul would select such a venue for his show, which drew an equally historic crowd of fashion influencers, there to witness Panichgul’s designs.

image This collection felt very Baroque for its more regal details, but also had a cultural feel, especially with this yellow bustle skirt in an eye-popping floral batik print.

image There was also some heavy pattern-clashing, mixing stripes with plaid or paisley printed separates—or even more stripes. Cigarette pants were also a big focus for him, which just might be the next pant style designers will start experimenting with.

image And then there were Thakoon’s signature ultra-feminine dresses, like this delicately innovative silk taffeta tie-waist style.

Katie Gallagher Designs Life-Sized Voodoo Dolls Katie Gallagher has been a designer to watch for quite some time, due to her limitless creativity and no-boundaries design approach. Held at Milk Studios, her latest collection is called “Gris-Gris,” after the tiny doll charms meant to ward off evil in Voodoo culture. And her models definitely looked the part. In haunting eye makeup and witch-like hair, the mood was dark and a little scary, though the actual designs were beautiful. Gallagher’s signature leggings were back, sliced and diced in various styles in shades of grey, black, and nude, with an expected pop of color—another example of the season’s trend. I can only describe the collection, with its capes, cloaks, and tunics in moveable fabrics, as sporty witchwear.

image The voodoo dolls in action, which most guests were too afraid to look in the eyes.

Ken Doll’s Great Dream Date Debate My second encounter with life-sized dolls occurred at Christie’s auction house, which was quite a contrast from the doll situation earlier. In an event hosted by Mattel, Ken’s “Dream Date” party was part of the big PR push the brand’s been focused on as of late, themed around Ken’s desperate attempt to win Barbie back by reviving his wardrobe. All I can say is: It’s about freakin’ time, Ken! I mean, have you even seen the range of looks Barbie attempts while you’ve been wearing those same damn Hawaiian print board shorts? Believe it or not, the event drew a massive crowd of supporters thoroughly concerned with Ken’s heartfelt dilemma—or they just really liked the idea of Christie’s, free drinks, cupcakes, and music by Paul Sevigny. Either way, it was a perfect ending to my fantastic two-day NYFW bender.

image Designers like Billy Reid, Nicholas K, and Simon Spurr were commissioned to dress the new Ken doll for his big night.

image Ken can learn a thing or two from the always-dapper DJ Paul Sevigny. When in doubt, just throw on a suit and dance.

Katie Gallagher’s Black and White Allure

Katie Gallgher is to fashion what Tim Burton is to cinema. Her dark yet quirky designs (she’s shown her eponymous line at New York Fashion Week just three times) evoke the same sort of whimsy present in the stop-motion animation of Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas. Their melancholy is spirited, and somehow ironically represented by a utilitarian or humorous twist. The fact that Katie herself reminds me of an NYC version of Lydia Deets has me drawing deep comparisons from all over, and calling her Burton-esque is about as close as I’ve come to putting my finger on her allure. Trust me, I’ve even asked her to dump out her makeup bag (white powder, black liner), and I’m no closer to clearing her air of mystery.

Katie’s Makeup Staples Chanel’s Blanc Universel De Chanel Sheer Illuminator Benefit’s Boi-ing 01 Make-Up For Ever’s High Definition Powder Nars Pencil Liner in Black Moon (any black pencil liner, really) Maybelline Liquid Liner in black

(Headshot Refinery29)

Top 3: Katie Gallagher

This NYFW, I attended Katie Gallagher’s (above, center) Fall/Winter 2010 presentation entitled “The Heart of the Woods and What I Found There” at the Soho Grand hotel. The collection was one part gothic—reminiscent of the NY-based designer’s Spring 2010 debut line—and one part whimsical, introducing a softer color palette with delicate textures. “Back in September right after my launch collection showed, I began a landscape painting on a piece of wood I found outside. The painting was to help me develop the color palette that I was imagining for FW10,” says Katie. “It’s a drippy, wintry image filled with soft greys, whites, creams and hints of pink and green. Alongside this palette, I couldn’t leave half of the collection in anything other than black.” Her talent brought to life a world of ethereal figures with messy hair and pale skin, like those that would appear in the atmosphere of the landscape. Demonstrating the relationship of geometry and volume in her construction, Katie cloaked these figures in garments that explored new dimensions in layering. Standout pieces were the vertical leggings in Lycra, leather and silk, and the warp coat in cashmere and treated leather.

As an RISD alum who has worked for Anna Sui and threeASFOUR respectively, Katie has been able to manage the entire production of her label with limited help. But as she continues to gain recognition (which will no doubt occur, considering the praise she has already received for her latest work), how will she cope with expansion? “It’s all very hard and I’m just trying to figure it all out the best I can. I’m very young, but I feel lucky to be in this spot at my age,” she says. “I do, do almost everything myself, with the help of a few friends. Although I make all of the samples (I’ve sewn over 200 pieces in the studio by myself in the last six months), the production for orders happens outside of my studio. We’re fortunate to work with some great manufacturers in New York.” For a designer in her early 20’s, there’s a calmness about Katie well beyond her years, but she also keeps it moving. “I’m already sketching out SS11! Very excited about my plans for it—it will be a much harder collection.” I can’t wait to see the world she takes us to next.

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1.The Curiosity ShoppePizza Zipper Pouch – “I had my wallet stolen, so this pizza slice does just the temporary trick.”

2.Katie Gallagher – Pastiche Zipper Pant – “My pastiche zipper pant is perfect either as a layering piece or just as a pant. They change the look of any outfit, but work easily anywhere! We’re still taking SS10 personal orders at sales@katiegallagher.com.”

3. Cire TrudonSpiritus Sancti Candle – “Smells are important! Aedes de Venustas scented my show this season, and this is my favorite candle they sell.”

[Presentation photo via Refinery29]