NEW YORK — Fashion always reflects the times. So with the uncertainty in the economy, the popularity of The Hunger Games and interest in paranormal activity, many fall collections shown during Meredes-Benz Fashion Week were a little dark and unsettled. "It used to be happy endings. Now it's all about the dark side," Roseanne Morrison, fashion director at The Doneger Group, explained to me before one show.
Ever perennially sunny Tory Burch seemed a little moody. She based her fall collection on a prim girl who is obsessed with a bad boyfriend. "She's innocent, unaware of her own sex appeal," Burch wrote in the program notes. Influenced by the 2000 Hong Kong movie, In the Mood for Love, in which neighbors each suspect their spouses of being unfaithful, Burch created a collection that is polished and proper, but with subversive undertones.
Influenced by the 2000 Hong Kong movie, In the Mood for Love, in which neighbors each suspect their spouses of being unfaithful, Burch created a collection that is polished and proper, but with subversive undertones.
To evoke the mood, the designer, a big music fan, selected the hypnotic song, "Under Your Spell," by Desire. (It was featured in the movie Drive.) Models walked down the runway to the words, "I don't eat, I don't sleep, I do nothing but think of you. You keep me under your spell."
Burch has quickly built a worldwide brand by offering stylish clothing well below designer prices. Her latest collection rachets up the level of sophistication and sensuality, with snugger silhouettes and a mix of fabrics like tulle and leather.
Yet it still includes plenty of saleable separates, including cardigans trimmed with pearls (very Chanel), tweed blazers with fringe detail, sweaters trimmed in tulle appliques, crinkled leather coats, patent skirts and handpainted plaids with sequin detail.
A variety of handbags, which range in styles from boxy with a chain link strap to embellished clutches, and shoes (T-strap and spectator pumps) gave each look a polished touch.
It was only Burch's second full-scale runway show and when I caught up with her that night at the Narcisco Rodriguez show, she seemed exhausted by the rigors of putting it together. Later, on her website, she listed the numbers involved in creating the runway show. It entailed:
Racks of clothes: 10
Pairs of shoes: 500
Trips to fabric stores: 75
Sequins sewn by hand: 3,500
Hours to create custom hand-painted Gracie wallpaper: 1,200
Stores called for Fogal tights: 40
Pre-show food deliveries: 21
Boxes of Girl Scout cookies consumed: 12 (surprisingly, less than we expected)
Rather than get some rest, Burch and her boyfriend, record producer Lyor Cohen, sat in the front row of the Rodriguez show, alongside Gloria Estefan and Claire Danes. Burch and Rodriguez are close friends even though their design sensibilities couldn't be more different. In nearly 10 years of watching Rodriguez's shows, I don't recall ever seeing anything embellished. His designs are so pure and deceptively simple that it was surprising when several outfits in the fall collection were marked with T-shape fabric that looked a bit like flying birds.
Rodriguez's designs are so pure and deceptively simple that it was surprising when several outfits in the fall collection were marked with T-shape fabric that looked a bit like flying birds.
This collection is also populated with eye-assaulting colors of deep orange, chartreuse and wine in colorblock patterns as well as black and shades of gray. Eyecatching dresses in angular patterns and bell-shaped coats showcase Rodriguez's unique design style.