Fall 2014

Fashion Week: Wang, DKNY, Beckham, Bono and Reese

Monday, Feb 10, 2014  |  Updated 1:57 PM EDT
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The Alexander Wang Fall 2014 collection is modeled during Fashion Week in New York, Saturday, Feb. 8, 2014.

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New York Fashion Week ended its fourth day Sunday with a celebration of Diane von Furstenberg's wrap dress, an appearance by Victoria Beckham's family, and Chelsea Clinton popping up at the show for Edun, the Africa-focused line founded by rocker Bono and his wife.

Donna Karan brought real, everyday New Yorkers onto the runway along with models showing her fall DKNY collection. And while some of the models at the Tracy Reese show were wearing gold glitter boots, heels and highly bedazzled outfits, the designer herself was resplendent in gold platform sneakers.

Meanwhile, the Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week tents at Lincoln Center were a welcome return to familiar Manhattan territory after many in the fashion world had trekked out to Brooklyn Saturday night for the must-see Alexander Wang show, held in the unlikely setting of the Brooklyn Navy Yard.

VICTORIA BECKHAM SHOW: IT'S A FAMILY AFFAIR

Those who come to fashion shows purely for the celebrity factor would not have been disappointed Sunday morning at Victoria Beckham's runway show. Her husband, soccer great David Beckham, accompanied by their four impeccably groomed children, snapped selfies of himself and his toddler daughter while waiting for Mom's big moment.

On the runway, Victoria Beckham presented a fall collection based on the idea, in her words, that "Everything is not what it seems."

"It's all 360 degrees — nothing is flat," she said in a post-show interview backstage. "You look at a structured coat from the front, and then from the back you see this beautiful pleat. Or you're looking at a dress, and then the whole back is missing."

The collection was almost entirely black and white, with an emphasis on ruffles and pleats, and a fondness for a single gold chain draped across a garment.

Beckham said she was trying to incorporate changes in her clothes, but not so much as to alienate her regular customer. "It's about satisfying my sense of creativity, but also giving our customer what she wants," she said.

After the show, Beckham spoke about building a stronger presence in New York. But she made clear that the couple won't be moving to Miami — even though David Beckham just confirmed a few days ago that he plans to become owner of a Major League Soccer expansion franchise there.

"Just because David has a club in Miami doesn't mean we are moving to Miami," she said. "We're based in London and that's where the kids go to school."

Seated next to the Beckham family were Vogue editor Anna Wintour, a familiar sight at New York Fashion Week shows, and her daughter Bee Shaffer.

BOHEMIAN WRAPSODY FROM DIANE VON FURSTENBERG

Diane von Furstenberg ended her runway show Sunday with a burst of golden confetti showering down from above, with her models — all dressed in shiny gold — dancing and cheering behind her.

It was a suitably celebratory atmosphere, enhanced by live music, for a designer who's enjoying a burst of attention this year because of the use of the wrap dress — a garment for which the word iconic is justified — in the '70s-themed Oscar-nominated film "American Hustle."

DVF has been marking the 40th anniversary of the dress this year, with an exhibition in Los Angeles, and there were a number of them on the runway Sunday, in all sorts of colors and fabrics.

"This year is the anniversary so it was nice to do something new," she said, explaining that she chose the name "Bohemian Wrapsody" for the collection, because of the anniversary and also because she was inspired by the Ballets Russe — a famous ballet company that performed throughout Europe and elsewhere in the early 20th century.

"And then it occurred to me that my wrap dress was originally inspired by the little sweaters that ballerinas wear," she said, referring to the pink sweaters that wrap with a ribbon above the waist. The finale of von Furstenberg's show, in which the models came out again, in shiny gold dresses, made clear reference to the little sweaters.

WHO'S THAT ON THE RUNWAY AT DKNY? REAL PEOPLE!

If you've ever watched a fashion show and said to yourself, "Those aren't real people out there on the runway," Donna Karan has an answer for that.

For her DKNY runway show Sunday, Karan presented — along with the models, of course — an assortment of non-models: A DJ. A TV presenter. A printmaker. A few students. A biologist, a "night life hostess," and, in the most intriguing entry in the show's written program, a "tattoo artist/ pro skateboarder."

They walked the runway with confidence and drew enthusiastic cheers. Some were built almost like models, others weren't. Some had (gasp) gray hair, but all looked great in Karan's colorful clothes.

Karan said she decided to display non-models because "DKNY really is about the streets. It's about the streets of New York, the energy of New York, the people of New York. "

The show began with a short film featuring the young New Yorkers about to walk the runway, speaking about where they live — Greenpoint in Brooklyn, for example, and Tribeca — and why they came to New York.

Angel Haze, a musician, wore a favorite DKNY look: a long black faux fur vest. Devan Mayfield, a painter and a health practitioner, wore a crepe houndstooth and lace shift dress. Daniel Bamdad, a TV presenter, wore slim black jeans and a black cotton cutoff shirt. Masha Korchagina, an actress and biologist, wore a black and white shearling "cape vest." Melissa Burns, the nightlife hostess, wore a striped shearling coat.

Some of the nice looks went to the models, too, including an edgy black vinyl pleated slip dress, a delicate gray lace dress with a pleated hem, and the filmy silk, lace and flannel long slip dress that closed the show — all in gray.

TRACY REESE: DIVERSITY IS AN ISSUE ON AND OFF THE RUNWAY

Diversity on the runway is only part of the race problem in fashion, said Reese. There's plenty to be done behind the scenes as well, she said.

Reese, a rare black female designer at New York Fashion Week, sees no single solution.

"There's so many things that need to change. There are a lot of designers of color but I think there's just a dearth of designers out front," she said Sunday as she dashed from runway walk-through to makeup re-touches for one of her models Sunday at a space in Manhattan's Chelsea neighborhood.

"Some of that is finance. But I think by saying that diversity is beautiful, that is a beginning, to look at all people and to see the beauty in each of us and their value is a very strong beginning. It's important to keep the conversation going, then people will start to broaden their vision."

During September's Fashion Week, supermodel Iman joined Naomi Campbell and veteran modeling agent Bethann Hardison talking loud and clear about race and runways.

They launched Balance Diversity, an effort to boost the number of black models. And they named names, calling out Donna Karan, Proenza Schouler, The Row, Victoria Beckham and Calvin Klein as among those who used nearly no black models the previous February.

The website Jezebel calculated that 82.7 percent of that season's New York Fashion Week models were white, 9.1 percent were Asian, 6 percent were black and 2 percent Latina.

Reese, known for diverse runways, said she mentors up-and-comers of all colors, including black women.

"Quite a few black women have interned for us over the years. I've hired a few of them on our team. That's important, too, to keep talking to young people and let them know what the possibilities are in the industry," she said.

But it's not all about the runway.

"There are so many amazing jobs in the fashion industry as a whole. It's not all about design," she said. "We need great PR people of color, for one. That's a very non-diverse group. It's all facets of the industry that have to be addressed."

CHELSEA CLINTON SALUTES EDUN AND AFRICA'S 'VITAL' FASHION

The Africa-focused clothing line founded by rocker Bono and his wife, Ali Hewson, has a fan in Chelsea Clinton.

Clinton, who works with the Clinton Foundation and the Clinton Global Initiative, chatted with the label's two visionaries Sunday night on the front row of Edun's fall runway show and saluted their "continued commitment to fabricating in Africa."

Clinton said that with "seven of 10 of the fastest-growing countries in most of the last 10 year" in sub-Saharan Africa, "there is already vital fashion happening in Africa," said the daughter of former President Bill Clinton and former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton.

Companies like Edun "will not only help bring African-made products to American consumers but will also, ultimately, help African designers come to the United States."

Clinton called the collection in earthy colors of charcoal, camel and rust "absolutely gorgeous."

The company, intended to promote trade and create jobs in Africa, was founded in 2005.

Aesthetically, Edun has honed its look, incorporating graphic elements through texture blocking and weaving. Other fabric manipulations produced hair-like and Astroturf textures, and she used faux fur.

DEREK LAM GOES TO HIS COZY PLACE

From roomy cashmere in pale lavender to nubby boucle in a pleasing blue, there was barely an outfit on Lam's runway Sunday that you wouldn't want to curl up in.

But not all. Open slits on several dresses were held together by gold beads in colors that included navy and marine blue. They were perhaps too risky for the average girly girl, though she remains the one he loves.

He offered her a lovely shade of "lake" blue (think deep robin's egg) in a sleeveless dress and roomy coat. A cashmere crewneck sweater and boucle coat came in a pale lavender.

Lam lacquered canvas and colored it a forest green for a stiff coat that would hold up to the autumn elements and used the same technique and color for a shorter jacket.

One of his standouts was a multicolored patchwork skirt showing both leather and suede.

Known for culottes, he didn't disappoint, splitting trousers well below the knee but just short enough to protect from rain and snow.

A FASHION SHOW GOES TO BROOKLYN

Brooklyn may be a hotbed of hipsters, but the fashion world is securely centered in Manhattan. So it took a designer of Alexander Wang's caliber to lure those fashionistas to the other side of the East River in freezing weather for a 15-minute fashion show.

Wang, 30, presented the fall collection of his signature line (he is also creative director of Balenciaga in Paris) at a 100,000-square-foot greenhouse at the Navy Yard. The Saturday night production involved a rotating stage and a futuristic-looking set that resembled some post-apocalyptic world.

Free ferry boat service and chartered buses helped get the Manhattan crowd to Brooklyn and back.

"Fashion is always evolving and changing, so why not have a location change?" Wang said in an interview, adding, "You want to create an experience. Clothes are clothes, at the end of the day. You're not reinventing the wheel there. So you want to be proposing an idea that entertains people — and gets them to come out to Brooklyn in the cold."

The clothes were an unusual mix of simple and elaborate, with a survival theme. "The great outdoors, camping, mountain climbing," Wang explained. But there was also a theme of sophisticated luxury. There were big and comfy jackets, for example, but in luxe fabrics, like cashmere. There were tunic dresses made with the silky fabric of men's ties. Many garments came with multiple pockets — the better to hold necessities. "What does our girl need to survive in an urban landscape?" Wang said. "Her cigs, her lighter, her flask, her notebook, her smartphone. In some of the bags we had a lipstick holder, a hand mirror and a compact."

"He wins the prize for the most out-of-the-way show, that's for sure," quipped Nina Garcia, longtime "Project Runway" judge, who was in the audience.

Actor Sam Worthington, of "Avatar," said he was happy to come out to Brooklyn. Wang, he said, is "at the forefront, pushing the limits of New York Fashion Week."

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