Thursday, April 9, 2020
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Out of the comfort zone at New York Fashion Week

One of the most talked-about events of the week was Alexander Wang’s show scheduled on Saturday night in the Brooklyn Navy Yard. It’s an interesting venue but one that’s not familiar to most New Yorkers.

The Navy Yard is located on the Brooklyn waterfront, on the East River across from Manhattan. But the nearest bridge isn’t even the most famous of the three that connect the two boroughs. The Navy Yard is well north of the famous Brooklyn Bridge, located instead between the Williamsburg and Manhattan bridges.

And it’s not easy to get to — a 15-minute walk on snowy streets from the nearest subway station, in a section of Brooklyn that Manhattan-based taxi drivers don’t always know well. Fashionistas have been griping about making the trek, because despite Brooklyn’s reputation as a hotbed of hipsters, the fashion world remains very Manhattan-centric.

But Wang’s shows are must-sees and he often holds them in offbeat venues away from the tents at Lincoln Centre on Manhattan’s Upper West Side.

The Navy Yard has a remarkable history. The US Navy began using the site to build ships in 1806. The USS Arizona, which was sunk in the attack on Pearl Harbour, was among the many ships built there. During the Second World War, tens of thousands of people worked in the Navy Yard building ships around the clock.

Today the Navy Yard is an urban industrial park, with a few hundred small enterprises from design studios and manufacturers to storage and import businesses employing several thousand people. More growth is expected in the coming years thanks to millions of dollars in investment. Guided tours of the site are offered, and there’s also a museum called BLDG 92.

Monique Lhuillier shows off darker side

It’s hard to think of Monique Lhuillier as having a darker side, but there it was, though still playful and girlie.

Lhuillier used a grey skull print, for example, and she put out a black silk taffeta cape adorned with fuchsia baroque embroidery that was almost vampiress on Saturday at New York Fashion Week.

This Monique “is very dramatic this season, very mysterious. Lots of textures. Lots of different lengths and silhouettes and a lot of intricate details with a twist,” the designer said backstage.

Lhuillier said she was influenced by architecture and contemporary art merged with old world Parisian couture techniques she researched.

One fitted gown in white was covered in swirly black lace that exploded in ruffles at the bottom. For the cocktail hour, she sent out an ombre pink skull embroidered tulle dress paired with black lace booties.

Deep pink was used for the underside of an asymmetrical black beaded gown with short sleeves. Known for beadwork, she included short dresses in black and pink that glittered under the lights.

She used the same pink for a dress hemmed at the knee with black fishnet overlay.

Streaker disrupts Prabal Gurung show

There were opulent gongs, mood music and richly coloured coats on Prabal Gurung’s Himalayas-inspired runway on Saturday.

Oh, and something unusual: a streaker in an animal-print G-string, crown and bright red socks!

The vibe was briefly disrupted by the cheeky (and I do mean cheeky) guy in loafers and overcoat as he ran onstage at a cavernous space in a shuttered post office and knelt before one of Gurung’s models as she walked.

But she never broke her model stare. She simply walked around him as he was chased back to where he had come from, behind stage near risers where a throng of photographers snapped away, along with Twitter-crazed guests in the audience.

So, back to the lovely clothes, and that they were.

Opera coats came in deep crimson red and cantaloupe colours with mohair. Chunky turtleneck knit sweaters perfect for ski lodge or base camp had mixed patterns, high slits and embracing sleeves. One coat was a grey mink paired with snow white Mongolian lamb.

Gurung, a Nepalese American designer, embroidered organza for draped looks in blouses. He embellished chiffon with sequins and Swarovski crystals with more draped-detail in a Bordeaux red.

His finale was all about the gowns and more draping: in crimson, Bordeaux and midnight black. One dress had ostrich feathers embroidered on a tulle train.

Valentino apologises for Amy Adams bag-gate

The fashion house Valentino has apologised for touting in an email blast to journalists that one of their pricey bags was carried by Amy Adams as she stepped from a car at the wake of Philip Seymour Hoffman.

Much was made of the promotional email sent on Friday, complete with two photos of Adams outside the Thursday wake. Valentino said in a statement that quickly followed that the company didn’t realise the photos were snapped at the sad gathering of loved ones for Hoffman, who was found dead on February 2 of an apparent heroin overdose in his apartment.

Hoffman, 46, co-starred with Adams in The Master. His wake and funeral the next day, were attended by numerous celebrities, Adams included.

“We sincerely regret releasing a photo to the media… of Amy Adams with a Valentino Bag. We were not aware the photograph was taken while she was attending the wake of Philip Seymour Hoffman. It was an innocent mistake and we apologise to Ms Adams who was not aware, or a part of, our PR efforts,” said the regretful statement signed by Mona Swanson, vice president of communications for Valentino USA.

The New York Post splashed the Valentino-toting actress in sunglasses and a sad expression all over its front page on Saturday with the headline “Dead carpet” after putting up the gaffe online, apparently prompting the apology. The Daily News included the image of Adams with the red, $2,500 (Dh9,100) bag in a two-page spread inside the paper.

Christian Siriano borrows a model muse

Model Lisa Fonssagrives had one of those grand lives. Married to Parisian photographer Fernand Fonssagrives and later to Irving Penn, she graced many a Vogue cover — and now Christian Siriano’s runway at New York Fashion Week.

She posed for Fernand frequently in photos that “played on light and shadow on the body to create high contrast in prints and textures,” Siriano explained backstage before his show on Saturday in a downtown space adorned with old streetlights.

In checkers and dots, his looks evoked her life from the late 1940s through the early ‘60s, “but not in a mod way,” he said.

There were playful undertones in furry bell-sleeve blouses and other looks done in the same fuzzy fabric. There were flouncy dresses a la the 1950s, but there was sophistication in a beaded tulle embroidered gown and a more casual leather jacket in hunter green.

“The photographs are very graphic but I wanted the clothes to still be very wearable and very elegant,” Siriano said. “I felt like I wanted to be clean.”

Bandage dresses with feathers at Leger

How many ways can you make a bandage dress? There seems to be no finite answer to that question, as Herve Leger keeps coming up with new adornments — some more successful than others — to the label’s famous skintight garment.

At Saturday’s runway show at New York Fashion Week — packed, as usual — designers Max and Lubov Azria presented an autumn 2014 collection that added elements like geometric metal beading, feather trim and corset belts that resembled nothing so much as little cages (maybe that’s why they’re called cage-corsets). You could also find generous dollops of fur.

Many of the form-fitting garments were black, of course, but a few bright ones stood out: a bold coral and a nice champagne colour that gave the dresses a slightly more muted feel.

But often they weren’t muted at all. A bandage dress in dark blue with a mesh cutout and lots of encrusted beading looked like, well, a figure skating outfit. It came along with black over-the-knee boots, adding to the over-the-top effect.

On the other hand, a pale peachlike shade with similar encrusted beading, paired with nude leather booties, had a more subtle feel.

A split-hem dress was exactly what it sounds like: pleats, but broken into strips.

There were also big, boxy motorcycle jackets with huge fur sleeves. Good for fighting the winter chill, but the open toes on the over-the-knee boots? Perhaps not so much.

A number of dresses had long sleeves and achieved their allure through the tightness of the fabric. Azria, backstage, defined his view of “sexy” this way: “Something that shows nothing, but attracts everybody.”