New York Fashion Diary
Von Furstenberg and most designers agree: It's gray daze at Fashion Week
Things are getting chillier—and grayer—at Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week in Manhattan, and I’m not just talking about the skies.
Gray is shaping up to be a major color for next fall, in every shade imaginable, from charcoal to slate to chalk dust. It’s popping up on the runways of Alexander Wang, Calvin Klein, Diane von Furstenberg, and pretty much every other designer showing here this week—with the exception of vivid vixen Betsey Johnson, who always goes (and cartwheels) in her own direction.
Alexander Wang’s runway stretched out inside a hangar at Pier 94, on the Hudson River. And his show takes us back to Art 101. If you’ve ever seen or heard of Marcel Duchamp’s painting “Nude Descending a Staircase,” you know there’s a nude in there, though with no standard anatomy. What you get is more glimpses of her in motion. Wang’s fall line is a bit like that; like seeing a film montage of a woman getting dressed.
His deconstructed looks combined pieces in unexpected ways: A gray pinstripe dress has a lacey lingerie top, as if we’ve caught her in the midst of pulling her dress on. A gray shrug criss-crosses a half-there vest, allowing peeks at skin. Minis sport blazer tails. Jackets come collarless, sleeveless, or with extra sleeves, so even though you’ve slipped your arms through one pair of discreet armholes there are sleeves that dangle alongside, as if you’ve just tossed the blazer over your shoulders. Pinstripe backpacks and frames the size of movie 3-D glasses complete the look.
For men, Calvin Klein has all the gray you’ll ever need, in suits, sport jackets, pants, leather, trenches and more. And not just any ole gray. The line is peppered with arresting textures and prints—blazers come in zig-zagging lines, pixilated squares, or an iridescent hologram pattern. There were also eye-catchers in seaweed green (a crinkly patent suit and windbreaker) and a brown sweater with wrinkled hood. Some of the fabrics seemed a little stiff—or maybe it’s just these models. Dudes, loosen up!
Diane von Furstenberg’s first look should be first on any smart-dressing woman’s must-have list. And, no—not a wrap dress. The designer branched into the look of menswear, but there’s no risk of androgyny here. She jazzed up a simple woman’s double-breasted felted wool suit with cuffed cropped trousers by putting another jacket layer on top—this one a light, cropped overlay bursting with gray roses. A steel corduroy jacket balanced a sweet chiffon ruffle dress. A metallic tweed blazer anchored a feather-light cream organza number.
“I always wanted to live a man’s life in a woman’s body,” she explained, in her program notes. Given how great she looks, I’d say most people would want to live in HER body—man, woman or otherwise.
And if we’re inhabiting bodies, how can we pass up Betsey Johnson? The woman is as energetic as ever and her show—the usual raucous delight. Miss Betsey time-warped us back to the wild, wild west, littering her runway with hay and dust. You’d swear a stagecoach was about to gallop through. But no, it’s her first model, sporting a “bandito” look, complete with bank robber mask and plastic guns. The model whips off the mask—a big smile—and we see it’s Kelly Osbourne. The place erupts in cheers.
Besides the banditos, there were gamblers (one in a dice bodysuit, another in red striped long-johns and corset), then rangers, vagabonds and—this being Betsey—madames and “brothelettes,” in various floral peasant dresses.
It’s not just all costumes. There are actually some wearable looks here. Like a great floor-length, herringbone duster lined in turquoise, a purple lace coat; an off-the-shoulder party dress in acid green, worn with a gray—yes, she touched on it, too—cardigan adorned in pompoms.
Osbourne returned in a Chaplin-esque get-up, then as a wicked widow in a frilly black strapless. The finale included a parade of models tossing into the air massive balloons in the shape of lips. And then came Betsey, in inmate-striped long-johns, who did her signature cartwheel down the runway—revealing a bright pink sequined heart sewn on her butt. Well, after all—it was Valentine’s Day.