Fall 2014

Fashion Week: Burch, Packham, Rodarte, Badgley Mischka

Wednesday, Feb 12, 2014  |  Updated 6:24 PM EDT
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    Jenny Packham offered a runway ode to '70s glam and Bianca Jagger. Tory Burch cited inspiration from the suits of armor her family collected. And Rodarte put "Star Wars" motifs on glamorous gowns as New York Fashion Week continued Tuesday.

    The city continued to shiver under a blanket of cold weather as designers offered their fall-winter collections on the sixth day of the shows held at the Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week tents at Lincoln Center and at other locations. Actresses Dakota Fanning and Anna Kendrick were among the celebrities dropping by.

    STRANGE IT WAS: RODARTE CHANNELS YODA

    If you were going to buy a silk charmeuse designer gown for thousands and thousands of dollars, would you want it to be emblazoned with the image of Luke Skywalker, C-3PO or Yoda?

    That's just how Rodarte ended its runway show on Tuesday, with one gown devoted to each of those "Star Wars" icons. High-end fashion, or pop culture kitsch? As always, the verdict was a study in subjectivity.

    Growing up in California, "Star Wars" was a "big obsession" for Rodarte designer-sisters Kate and Laura Mulleavy, according to Kate.

    "Growing up when we did, I think that's kind of one of the huge things that really influenced our culture and I just thought it was an important thing to put in it," she added. "I also feel like those films are all about imagination ... so I felt like it was a kind of a really beautiful way to end what the collection was for us."

    In a nutshell, the sisters said, the collection was about childhood nostalgia.

    "It's kind of all our memories coming together in something that's expressive," Kate said. "So it wasn't about a specific place, 'cause I think memory is so disjunctive. It was more about kind of piecing together the things that we wanted to build this world out of."

    Another Rodarte garment destined to result in seriously divided opinions: the shoulder-less coat, which is exactly what it sounds like — coats with cutouts where the shoulders would be. It came in gray and black wool, but also in fuchsia glitter. There was also a "death star" gown in black.

    On the subtler side, there were some truly lovely striped lace gowns in appealing colors, demonstrating the Mulleavys' talent for craftsmanship.

    Rodarte perennial fan Dakota Fanning was in the audience. "I thought it was amazing ... I'm happy for Kate and Laura," she said.

    BADGLEY MISCHKA: OPULENT GOWNS, LIGHT AS A FEATHER

    Designers Mark Badgley and James Mischka sent sparkly sparkly gold gowns and floral blue brocades down the runway Tuesday with warm fur hats and cozy tweeds in a mix of red-carpet dazzle and clothes for everyday wear.

    "We gold-washed the fabrics, we took tweeds and bronzed them," Badgley said. The evening gowns, he added, are "weightless, they weigh just literally ounces but the fabrics are extremely rich and opulent."

    A silk brocade was light as a feather, "but we cut big voluminous shapes in it," he said. "We usually do things close to the body, but our fabrics were so light this season, it allowed us to cut big flowy silhouettes with a lot of sweep, which was fun for a change."

    At the show was actress Katrina Bowden of "30 Rock," who said said the pair "make such beautiful dresses that have really lovely shapes for women, and they also make some really cool edgy styles as well, and also some very normal wearable styles."

    Badgley said backstage that they love the variety of women they dress, including the "new young ingenue that's completely hysterical and doesn't know what she wants to look like."

    QUICKQUOTE: Elie Tahari

    "It's so difficult, this industry. Make sure you're working with truth and love and enjoy what you do. Have passion for the fashion because fashion is compassion." — Designer Elie Tahari, asked at his New York Fashion Week presentation Tuesday how he perseveres after 40 years in the business.

    TORY BURCH INSPIRED BY SUITS OF ARMOR AND MEDIEVAL TAPESTRY

    How's this for an original fashion show theme? Tory Burch says both her parents and her grandparents collected suits of armor when she was a child.

    And so she was inspired to create a line of clothing inspired by armor, but to make it light enough — in both the actual and atmospheric senses of the word — for women's clothing.

    What resulted was an appealing and unified collection, one that reflected her stated theme in virtually every piece, but still felt highly wearable. This was one of those shows where the clothes actually seemed destined for the department store, rather than a theatrical stage or an art museum.

    Armor was evoked both in fabrics and in accessories, like wide metallic belts. A pleated lame skirt, a foil-embossed leather top, or a boucle skirt all looked like they could have been part of a suit of armor — albeit a fairly chic one.

    "We did lots of fabric manipulation, playing with techniques and proportions," Burch said in a pre-show interview.

    Another theme for the collection, which favored colors like gray, olive and red, was medieval tapestry. That made for some of the prettiest outfits — like a tapestry knot turtleneck paired with a tapestry print brocade skirt. There was a nice tapestry-covered purse, worn like a winter muff, and the show closed with a tapestry-inspired silk dress.

    As for footwear, many of the models wore Burch's version of Ghillies — a Scottish shoe with laces — with a thicker heel than most runway shoes. "They're really comfortable," said the designer, who wore a pair herself. And there were some over-the-knee boots that looked perfect for that suit of armor that's no doubt hanging out in your hallway at home — in a nice black leather, though. Much easier to walk in than armor.

    VERA WANG —CAUGHT IN A DARK ROMANCE FOR HER FALL COLLECTION

    Designer Vera Wang says she never imagined she would be designing clothes for the Super Bowl.

    It wasn't uniforms, of course, but opera singer Renee Fleming's dramatic, black-and-white gown that Wang designed. Fleming sang the national anthem at the football game Feb. 2.

    "I was thrilled," Wang said in an interview before displaying her fall collection on Tuesday. "She's a very dear friend, and she's also one of the greatest operatic stars in the world, and you know it's a very big honor for me to dress her for something as amazing as the Super Bowl."

    For her fall collection, shown Tuesday for the first year in a Chelsea gallery rather than the Lincoln Center tents, Wang went to a darker color palette, featuring lots of black and charcoal, along with slightly more muted colors like pewter and bronze. Tartan was big — in coats, cloaks, skirts and jackets, and printed on lighter fabrics like chiffon, too, in blouses. There were also argyle sweaters and vests, long and roomy.

    Wang said she was trying to portray "the tension of a boy meets girl — I mean tomboy and central female. There's still the play on sheer and opaque. There's a toughness, but there's still, I like to think, a sensuality. So it's all those things that have I think come to define our brand, but this time certainly I wanted to fully explore a darker sense of romance. "

    That dark romance was projected best in flowing, silky items like an evening robe in a blurry floral print. The robe was paired with drawstring pants, and, for accessories, a fringe necklace wit tangled jeweled insects.

    That's right, insects — but not live ones, thankfully. One jacket bore a large printed bug on the back. In front, it said: "You Bug Me."

    JENNY PACKHAM LOOKS TO '70S GLAM — AND EVEN FARTHER BACK TO THE '30S

    What will it be on the Oscars red carpet from Jenny Packham? The gold gown with the sparkly diamond pattern up top or one of her cherry reds with crystals?

    If Anna Kendrick had a preference watching from Packham's front row Tuesday, she wasn't giving it away. The "Pitch Perfect" star has developed a poker face as she makes the rounds at New York Fashion Week.

    Packham, the Londoner who has dressed Angelina Jolie, Amy Adams and Kate Winslet, said in a backstage interview the collection was partly inspired by Bianca Jagger's ease and elegance in flowing one-shoulder gowns and silk kaftans during the 1970s.

    Her runway ode to Mick's ex included loose satin jumpsuits with chunky jewel accents.

    Packham trimmed beaded cocktail dresses with feathers at the hem and sent out a long ostrich-feather coat in blue. Her silky satins came in soft caramel, bluebird blue and rose pink, in contrast to metallic glitter on tulle and Swaravski crystals scattered on mesh.

    The mood was playful disco in spots and old glamour in others, thanks to another era in fashion Packham admires: the 1930s.

    "I play with those two eras a lot," she said. "The '70s did actually take quite a lot inspiration from the '30s. I love the '70s, the bold color. There's something very sophisticated about it now, looking back."

    Packham has been a growing presence on the red carpet and her phone will likely start ringing ahead of the Academy Awards now that she's revealed her latest gowns. "We've got pieces being held for people," she said, declining to name names.

    One of her most famous customers turned up in headlines Tuesday in England though: Kate Middleton attended an event in one of her black gowns.

    MARC BY MARC JACOBS: TURTLENECKS AND COMBAT BOOTS

    Teenage mutant ninja model? Well, minus the mutant.

    The Marc by Marc Jacobs fall/winter collection featured models covered head to toe — the rippled turtleneck was the staple, giving the tall models a more heightened look.

    Combat boots and high, thick sneakers walked on the wooden runway Tuesday, and some models wore bandanas over their mouths; others sported headbands. And their waists were tightened with thick black belts. It was like they were ready for battle.

    The standouts were large shawls folded into bowties over the neck and shoulders, and a pink pencil skirt that shined outside of the mostly black, gray and red suits and skirts that fit loosely.

    The show during New York Fashion Week was a held at Pier 36, and the large venue and space allowed the models to walk as if they were on an oval train track. It felt like an indoor skate park.

    Marc Jacobs sat in the center of it all, and toward the end the models stood on two separate pillars and were still as dramatic music played on. While they were serious, there was still an element of cute: They were all in pigtails.

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