Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week saved the best for last, with a packed day of major collections and major personalities — and a little boy who stole the final show. Some random observations as fashion week concluded:
On the fringe at Ralph Lauren
Ralph Lauren may have been born in the Bronx, but he's a cowpoke at heart.
Lauren never strays too far from his love for upscale western wear, but his spring 2011 collection was a full-on mash note to cowgirl chic.
Using a palate of ivory, brown, pale blue and shiny silver beading, Lauren added a western touch to every piece. He belted a gold Longhorn buckle around an beaded evening gown, threw a serape shawl over another beaded gown, mixed satin shorts with a deerskin vest and couldn't get enough suede fringe. It's on leather jackets, deerskin shorts, pants, skirts, coats, vests — even sandals.
In the ultimate mix of high/low fashion, he paired a plaid shirt with a spangly skirt. At times, the collection even exhibited a bit of a Deadwood theme, with a redingote coat and lace saloon dresses.
Lauren, who acknowledged the audience afterward in brown leather jeans and a white shirt, does western chic better than anyone, even if this collection had a bit of a been-there, done-that feeling
Talk about timing for Houston fans. The collection will hit stores just about rodeo time next March.
Drop dead gorgeous gowns at Oscar de la Renta
I've never seen Vogue magazine editor Anna Wintour arrive late for a fashion show. She's almost always the first one in the room (and the first to leave, as she dashes out the second a designer finishes the runway walk). But the always punctual Wintour slipped into her front row seat for the Oscar de la Renta show, next to actress Sarah Jessica Parker, about 20 minutes late, just seconds before the show started. (I suspect de la Renta held it for Wintour.)
They saw a polished collection that was split into two parts. The first half featured chic daytime wear, including a silk coat embroidered with jonquils, two-piece suits in window-pane patterns, dresses that fell at or below the knee, and even a jump suit. Then the collection made a dramatic shift to glamorous evening gowns that are a de la Renta specialty.
With 50s hits like "The Great Pretender" and "Only You" playing in the background during the evening gown segment, de la Renta was obviously trying to evoke a retro theme. The selection ranged from a rather demure gown of embroidered peonies to a full-on Marilyn Monroe look with a slinky black gown accentuated with an ivory swansdown stole.
Top model Coco Rocha flashed a Mona Lisa smile as she appeared in a black silk faille gown with a gigantic skirt. A couple of other models, in equally big ballgown skirts, had to be helped up several stairs onto the runway.
I can already think of a couple of Houston women who will be (politely) fighting over several of the showstoppers for next year's arts balls.
Gwen Stefani is in like a L.A.M.B.
Singers don't often make good designers. Or they get bored and move on to something else. Remember J. Lo's clothing line? Didn't think so.
But Gwen Stefani might be an exception; her L.A.M.B. clothing line has thrived since it debuted in 2004. The spring 2011 collection featured some nice pieces made of African-inspired prints and beading, eye-catching ensembles like plaid pants with a matching bustier and Ikat totes. There were so many midriff-baring items, though, that anyone buying her collection has to visit the gym first. No muffin tops allowed.
Even the fittest specimens can't compete with Stefani, who when taking her bow to the No Doubt song, "Hey Baby," looked better in an oufit from her collections — a bold African print jacket and patterned skirt/pants combo —than the models.
Cheering Stefani on from the front row were her husband, Gavin Rossdale, with the couple's young son Kingston on his lap (their younger son, Zuma, was being tended to on the second row), reality star and former Spice Girl Mel B, and singer Deborah Harry, in a white mop wig that made her look like an elder Raggedy Ann.
When Stefani came out for her bow, Kingston broke away from his dad and ran toward his mom, who took his hand. The spontaneous moment earned a standing ovation.
A Weir-d moment at Isaac Mizrahi