New York has rarely been busier with small shows and presentations. FashionNetwork.com takes a look at five spread across lower Manhattan this weekend: Kate Spade, Alejandra Alonso Rojas, KitchenAid, Tara Babylon and Melke.
Kate Spade: Color Field Fashion
Technically the first event on the NYFW calendar was the Kate Spade presentation inside the Whitney, and it made for an impressive and thoughtful debut.
The house’s current creative team of Tom Mora and Jennifer Lyu picked bright colors and punchy graphics, to fete the brand’s 30th anniversary.
Their cast of 20 models posing in a large tableau, attired in patent leather skirts in UK post box red; polka dot mid-calf skirts, or very handsome mannish duchess satin blazers – all monochromatic looks inspired by the art movement Color Field Painting.
Sequined chic too: from cobalt blue pant suits to De Stijl worthy cocktails and parakeet green party frocks. All accessorised with faux fur striped scarves and a strong new series of clutches and handbags.
“In order to move forward, we felt we had to look back. And see the journey of this very special brand that is loved by so many. A brand of today for women who love color, and get dressed up to have fun with fashion,” said Mora.
With a flautist playing in the background, the TikTok influence peddler Charles Gross wandered around being filming by a camera crew acting all emotional, as if he were a real live TV reporter.
“It’s about a vibe, about coming back into the city from summer, and strategizing where I am going to eat and where I am going to go, what music I want to hear, going to ballets or new art exhibits,” added Lyu.
Alejandra Alonso Rojas: Casino royale
One of the mysteries of the New York fashion industry is why more Hispanic designers have not achieved greater success.
With the obvious exception of Carolina Herrera and Oscar de la Renta, few have made enormous impact. That may change with the gradual emergence of Alejandra Alonso Rojas, who unveiled a succinct and stylish collection on Sunday afternoon.
Presented to barely 150 people inside Casino, a hipster Italian Riviera style restaurant in the Lower East Side. Models sliding between tables, guests sipping Prosecco or Barbera.
Rojas is a first-rate knitwear designer, who showed a rich selection of clinging knit dresses, and a series of really superb broken pattern cable sweaters. Though her opening looks were all about using Spanish tobacco-hued leather in authoritative cocktails and trimmed hand-crocheted Japanese silk yarn panels in black and gold lame.
Halter neck evening dresses in wool mesh, beautiful traditional crochet or anthracite satin were very flattering on a cast, done up with chignon haircuts and some beautiful jewelry, curtesy of Jennifer Fisher.
Abstract expressionist ice-dyed cashmere mohair V-necks and lace sheath frocks looked classy and commercial.
“This season is about self-expression, from the concept to the design, to the maker and the wearer – and it’s a shield, it’s a superpower,” read the program notes from Rojas, who took an extended tour of the restaurant among extended applause, accompanied by her daughter.
KitchenAid: Hibiscus happening
New York Fashion Week throws up all sorts of unlikely alliances, few more so than KitchenAid’s fifth annual Color of The Year: Hibiscus.
To celebrate the kitchen ware brand’s pick, KitchenAid’s called on kicky stylist Marta Del Rio, to select a small group of young New York avant-garde designs to develop a single look inspired by the company’s Artisan Stand Mixer and K400 Blender. It could have been a recipe for absurdity, but it turned into a quirky yet clever affair. All washed down by some delicious hibiscus margaritas served inside its 23rd Street store.
Del Rio’s roster of designers included Jackson Wiederhoeft, Tara Babylon, Tia Adeola, Bach Mai, and Man Made Skins. With the most exciting look being by Tara Babylon, of whom we expect to hear plenty in future.
Tara Babylon: Funky luxe on Ludlow Street
If the late great Vivienne Westwood had a daughter, rather than two sons, she might have been a designer like Tara Babylon.
Tara’s clothes are a mad mash-up and all the better for that. Her goal: turning old rock band T-shirts into luxury items. Achieved by fusing elastic weave, safety pins and carpet pegs to combine into a grungy winter wonderland.
The collection featured T-shirts of Bob Marley, Nirvana, The Clash, Prince, Metallica and Kiss mingled up with tartan swatches, fiery embroidery, African beading and chains to make some great rebel tops, rock legend bomber jackets and outrageous crinolines.
Topped by flower encrusted pirate hats and anchored by fishnet tights and stilettos. Not for the faint-hearted but if a gal has the requisite chutzpah, she will break a lot of boys’ hearts in Tara Babylon.
“I call this collection Winter Babylonia, which is why I have my pole dancers inside wearing my ballgowns,” enthused Babylon, who staged an enthusiastic presentation inside an art gallery on Ludlow Street.
This Sheffield-born designer studied in Saint Martin’s and New York Parsons and made her first steps out of college as an intern with Gareth Pugh. Now she lives on 147th street in Harlem and looks set to write a few memorable pages in fashion.
Melke: A messy mesh
Eccentricity is a quality one traditionally associates with UK designers, but it has its champions in the USA too.
Notably at Melke, where designer Emma Gage was inspired by the Roald Dahl classic James and the Giant Peach and Tim Burton’s 1996 film adaptation.
The latest show to reference decay this season, it was staged on an inclusive cast in the mezzanine seventh floor of Spring Studios before an enthusiastic gang of fans.
Unfortunately, the mode didn’t remotely live up to the muse.
Odd mesh tops from which dangled strips of wool; patchwork check jackets; frankly absurd crocheted bras made to look like oranges. A series of pretty groovy dusters made with contrasting slashes of fabric helped matter but did not save this show.
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