Heading down to Milk Studios for a bevy of presentations, I have to admit I had my worries. Last season, I wound up caught in the wall-to-wall fashion traffic jam down in the lobby and wound up missing my scheduled shows. Thankfully, things ran much more smoothly this time around–perhaps due to thoughtful planning, and perhaps due to the fact that I arrived extra early to enjoy cocktails at the eighth-floor Kanon Vodka bar. But on to the clothes!
Faster by Mark Fast: At his first-ever presentation on this side of the Atlantic, master of body-con knitwear Mark Fast showed looks from his diffusion line Faster on a slowly rotating circular platform. Trimmed with fringe and heavy on mesh, the skin-baring frocks, catsuits, and bra-tops came in unexpectedly soft pastels–think lilac, powder blue, and pale tangerine. “I’ve collaborated with Aldo,” Fast told me when I asked how his label came to show stateside. “I’m making shoes with them, and in turn they sponsored this show. It’s a great opportunity to get my work to go global.” And with so many textural and thematic similarities between his two different collections, I had to ask what differentiated the two in the designer’s mind. “Well,” he laughed, “my main collection is not so fast! It takes hours and hours to hand-make, but this is more accessible and easier to produce. I was thinking about the concept of industrial, mechanical machines that create this new hybrid of women who are almost alienistic…living in a new futuristic world that still has a human quality to it.”
Erin Fetherston: Next door at Erin Fetherston’s presentation of her contemporary Erin collection, things took a turn for the mod. There were neat Sixties-style sleeveless sheaths, jeweled necklines, and plenty of satin. The looks were predominantly black and white, save for several prominent pops of orange (surprised? You shouldn’t be–the color’s been everywhere at the tents this season). I especially loved the graphic, monochromatic floral pattern that popped up on several A-line frocks. In keeping with the pajama-dressing trend, there were also tapered pants splashed with multicolored butterflies. We spied that same whimsical print on Tennessee Thomas, who was cheerfully playing deejay for the evening.
Pamela Love: From the second we walked into Pamela Love’s presentation, we checked those girlish sensibilities at the door. Pamela was inspired by the precise details of Moroccan architecture as well as Western-style red jasper and bold turquoise; meanwhile, she modeled many of her elliptical pendants and rings after similar shapes favored by North African Berber tribes. A multi-cultural mix indeed, but it all meshed beautifully. Less obviously tough than her previous collections, Love’s spring pieces mixed colorful stones and geometric lines to great effect. The chunky, cylindrical pendants and rings in rich lapis and turquoise were definite highlights. Said fellow bohemian-minded designer (and Project Runway’s eighth-season winner) Gretchen Jones, “I feel like we think of turquoise as being only Southwestern-style and vintage, but Pam’s brought it back in a way that’s new and fresh, outside of the context of silver and squash blossoms.” She added that the most risky, bold pieces Love had included were actually her personal favorites. “I love the hand pieces,” she said of the attached bracelet-ring combos, “and I really want the guts to wear the attached necklace-and-earrings.”
Duro Olowu: We capped off our evening with a stop at Jamaican/Nigerian designer Duro Olowu’s presentation–his second showing in New York, and one of the most cheerful displays of print and pattern we’ve seen all week. An A-line number in black-and-white snakeskin made the generally sultry print seem downright ladylike, while a white maxidress splashed with scarlet pinwheels had me smiling ear to ear. Equally impressive was a white day dress accented with a blue-and-olive brushstroke print, and a red peplumed number splashed with vintage florals. But the best part of the proceedings? Every one of Olowu’s 15 or so models seemed to be having a blast in those clothes. After seeing so many straight-faced catwalkers strut down the runway, it’s a joy to see these girls having a little fun–isn’t that what fashion is supposed to be, after all?
**All images: Imaxtree