Fashion week scoop: Nicki Minaj is tutu much at Prabal Gurung; Monique Lhuilliergets sporty
NEW YORK — You can usually gauge the popularity of a designer by the trendy celebrities who want to be seen on the front row. By that indicator, Prabal Gurung is at the head of the class at Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week.
The front row of his show at the IAC Center in Chelsea included Nicki Minaj, in a pink-tinged Afro and matching tutu, Little Red Riding Hood actress Amanda Seyfried, in a pink lace shift and her hair pulled back in a bun, model Ellettra Widemann (she's Isabella Rosellini's daughter) in a black lace pantsuit and former first daughter Jenna Bush, in skinny jeans and light blue cotton shirt.
There was reason for all the excitement as Gurung featured a crowd-pleasing lineup of ethereal looks with an edge.
Soft floral prints were toughed up with a black leather "holster" around the armholes and back or a knotted black rope belt that cinched the waist. Sheer netting along the back or up to the knees of a long dress lent an air of illusion. Gurung airbbrushed latex fabric in violet shades, dotted coats and skirts with rubber paillettes, crystal beading and ostrich feathers, and crafted laser cut lambskin into super-short track shorts.
It was bondage for the good girl.
It was also a departure for Gurug, who based the collection on Japanese artist Nobuyoshi Araki’s series of photographs called "Sensual Flowers," but one that top fashion magazine editors in the front row seemed to be lusting after, judging from their nods of approval. Expect to see the collection heavily touted in Vogue and Elle next spring.
Minaj, accompanied by a straight-faced Estée Lauder executive (Minaj will be featured in a new MAC ad campaign) and bodyguards in black T-shirts with the word "$wag" emblazoned on the front, seems like an unlikely fan of Gurung, who up to now has featured more ladylike looks.
But she told reporters that she liked the designer because he often features the color purple, her favorite.
Black and white at Carmen Marc Valvo
While Gurung stuck to a purple theme, it was nearly all black and white at Carmen Marc Valvo. The veteran designer featured a retro-tinged collection of feminine styles primarily in the two shades, with more separates than in previous collections for the woman who wants to mix and match a new style with something already in her closet.
Valvo is known for flashy evening wear, but this was a toned-down collection in keeping with the times. There was hardly a sequin or crystal among the 30 looks, although a sleeveless shift heavily beaded with white pearls drew applause from excited guests at the NASDQ Headquarters in Times Square.
Instead of heavy beading, Valvo relied on expert constuction techniques, with pleated chiffon gowns that moved effortlessly as models strolled the runway. He veered from the monochromatic theme only slightly at the end, closing with gowns in soft pastels, including colors called "lemon ice" and "pink lemonade."
The collection will be featured at Fashion Houston next month.
On hand was The View's Sherri Shepherd (her bridesmaids wore Valvo designs last month) and actress Vanessa Williams, who said she has been a friend for nearly 20 years. Williams said she is a big fan of Valvo's designs because "it fits....it's classic and it's very feminine and comfortable."
Williams jetted in from Los Angeles, where she is filming the final season of Desperate Housewives. "We just started episode five. The writing is great; there are three Betty writers," she said referring to her previous hit show, Ugly Betty. "It's nice to be part of another iconic T.V. show. Then we'll see what's next."
A sporty touch from Monique Lhuillier
Veering a bit from what you're known for seems to be a recurring theme at this fashion week. Take Monique Lhuillier as the latest example.
The Los Angeles-based designer is known for show-stopping red-carpet gowns and the closing numbers at her show at the tents at Lincoln Center certainly filled the bill, with princess ball gowns in brushstroke shades and draped in tulle.
But she also showed a more athletic diversity in her lineup, in a nod that women who work out a lot want to show off their toned bodies. The first third of the show featured form-fitting cobalt blue corset dresses that evoked Narcisco Rodriguez's trademark athletic look.
Like Gurung, Lhuillier incorporated black leather and lace insets into many of the pieces, making for a harder-edge than she is usually known for, but still sexy, and certainly one of her more memorable collections in recent years.
On the front row: Mandy Moore, Rose McGowan and Julianne Hough, along with tabloid favorites Leann Rimes and husband Eddie Ciprian. The couple set off a paparazzi frenzy as photographers nearly knocked over McGowan to snap their photo.