NEW YORK — A big sign in the middle of the plaza at Lincoln Center affirms that Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week is "Where Spring Begins," but with muggy temperatures approaching Texas levels, it sure doesn't feel like spring — or fall, for that matter, here in the Big Apple. It's no wonder that tennis players at the nearby U.S. Open are asking for breaks because the heat is so oppressive.
Thus far, the collections designers have shown on the runways don't look very spring-like either.
Spring/summer fashion is traditionally the time when designers unleash eye-popping colors that shoppers love. But black, white, beige and shades of grey have dominated the catwalk, with pastel pinks, pale greens and a few low-key floral prints thrown in. Of course, it's early, so I'll withhold judgment on what will eventually end up in stores next spring. But right now things are awfully subdued.
"I would love to rock that closing outfit (a brown double breasted dinner jacket trimmed in black) at one of those cocktail parties from hell," said Revenge star Gabriel Mann.
Fortunately, the attitude at the Billy Reid show Friday night was anything but dour, with an excited Gabriel Mann, who plays tech genius Nolan Ross on the ABC hit series Revenge, on the front row, along with Boardwalk Empire's Jack Huston, actress/singer Mandy Moore, and Oklahoma City Thunder basketball star Russell Westbrook.
Backstage after the show, Mann said he's a big fan of Reid's style. "It just a relaxed elegance. It's exactly what I want to be wearing because it's so comfortable and so sharp," said the actor, who flew in from Los Angeles (the show is filmed there despite being set in The Hamptons) to catch a few fashion shows.
"I really appreciate designers when they are pushing a little bit and taking us on a new adventure," Mann said. "Who would not wear every single piece of this collection? I would wear it for me and I would wear it for my character on television. I would love to rock that closing outfit (a brown double breasted dinner jacket trimmed in black) at one of those cocktail parties from hell."
(Revenge, which comes back for a second season on Sept. 30, has been moved to the important Sunday at 8 p.m. time slot vacated by Desperate Housewives. "That's a big show of support from the network and we want to deliver, so we'll see what happens," Mann said.)
Indeed, Reid's spring/summer collection has a tailored, almost Great Gatsby feeling, with sharp double breasted suits in oatmeal and tan featuring a "roped shoulder" that peaks slightly, crisp linen shirts, pleated pants, white tennis shorts — yes, men's shorts are getting shorter — and casual lambskin jackets.
"I really wanted to relax things a little bit with fuller shirts, a little fuller pant and jackets having this relaxed shoulder. But I didn't want to get it sloppy, so I took some tailored elements to kind of mix back into that," Reid explained.
White is the predominate shade in the collection because "it felt right," Reid said. But the designer, who was raised in Louisiana and is based in Alabama, couldn't resist adding pelicans in shades of brown and gold. The beach birds show up on in a print on men's shorts and sweaters and ladies' dresses.
"It reminds me of summer. You go to the beach and can sit for hours an watch pelicans. I've always loved them," Reid said.
Reid, who recently relocated his Houston store to a bungalow in Upper Kirby and just opened an Austin store on Sixth Street, is thrilled with his Texas business (he also has a Dallas store in Highland Park Village).
"We've been trying to open in Austin for four years but we couldn't find the right spot. Like in Houston, the place came open and it's perfect. The customer loves it, our staff loves it. Everyone who comes in (to the Houston store) says, 'Thank God you moved,'" Reid said.