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Victoria Beckham Loosens Up, While Public School Grows More Approachable

Plus, highlights from Thakoon and Opening Ceremony.
Looks from Victoria Beckham, Public School and Thakoon. Photos: Imaxtree

Looks from Victoria Beckham, Public School and Thakoon. Photos: Imaxtree

Victoria Beckham's label has enjoyed tremendous critical — and, one would imagine, financial — success since the launch of her label in 2008, and yet the designer has never been afraid to push herself. This season brought an injection of more color, print and a (sometimes sporty) looseness we're not used to seeing from the former pop star, borrowed from surf culture and her own desire for "diverse and fluid" clothes. If last season had a bit of a Céline vibe, this season was more Marni with its low-slung, A-line midi skirts and platform sandals, though there was a cleanliness and precision that was entirely Beckham. Shoppers intimidated by Beckham's sharply tailored sheath dresses will find much to choose from with this collection.

Public School's star is ascending rapidly, and if you hadn't heard that designers Dao-Yi Chow and Maxwell Osborne had picked up an International Woolmark Prize, nabbed not one, but two CFDA Award nominations and became the head of an LVMH house all this year, you'd know it by its upgraded show venue this season, which saw the placement of big white blocks in bleachers that extended a full six or seven rows back. Public School is typically described as a streetwear brand, but what Chow and Osborne showed on the runway could hardly be called such: The women's clothes were elevated, dressy, minimalist, feminine and approachable — clothes you could reasonably expect to find on the designer floor of Bergdorf Goodman or Saks. There were streetwear touches in drawstring waistbands and hems, oversized bomber jackets in sporty twill and in a sleeveless white parka worn unzipped on the bottom, but they were merely touches. There was even a WASPy tennis vibe going on in a white ribbed knit dress sectioned with red and blue stripes, and an elongated silk polo with black trim. It will be interesting to see how this collection differs from their first for DKNY, which shares many of the same brand values.

Thakoon had not one but two billionaires sitting front row at his spring 2016 show later on Sunday: Silas Chou, the Chinese investor that carried Tommy Hilfiger and Michael Kors through two wildly successful IPOs, and Jessica Alba, actress and founder of The Honest Company. They were, fittingly, seated side by side; J.Crew CEO Mickey Drexler sat in another corner.

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Designer Thakoon Panichgul does some of my favorite clothes every season, but on the sales floor, it's not always easy to identify them. He doesn't pound out the same signatures season after season the way that Joseph Altuzarra and Alexander Wang do — but that fact has also, no doubt, given his creativity more rein. This season, he began with bleached denim and the traditional oxford shirt, cutting and elongating the latter into easy separates like shorts and skirts. Later, he began manipulating the pajama suit, transforming the shirt into a low-cut oxford and shortening the pants to culotte length, then refashioning the suit as a duster coat. Much of it was clever, tongue-in-cheek, but the real standouts were the dresses: a casual cocktail number in bleached indigo with a deep V-neck and angular ruffles that did not look at all frilly; and an ankle-length number with a white lace bodice that overlapped at the front, revealing just a bit of rib, before swiveling into a narrow black lace skirt. The penultimate look — a narrow, clingy tank dress that shimmered rainbow colors against a black background — was simply beautiful.

The day ended on a serene note with back-to-back shows at Prabal Gurung (where chanting monks set the stage for a serene, vividly hued collection inspired by the designer's native Nepal — more on that here), and Opening Ceremony, which transformed the raw concrete of 23 Wall Street into an earthy oasis inspired by the architect Frank Lloyd Wright, its runway broken up by mounds of plant-life and colored lanterns. The clothes were easy, geometric and relaxed; there were silky duster coats that looked more like sleeping robes, and dresses with deep U-shaped necklines, styled over charmeuse blouses for a '70s vibe, that gently flared below the knee. Large horn buttons were a recurring motif; so were shirts and dresses cut into wide, rectangular strips at the hems. But what had most people talking were the models. Alyssa and I gasped when the first one landed sharply on her knees; the second time, the model sprung into a dance after she fell, so we knew it was staged. The antics certainly kept us engaged — and rather tense — but when the models finished with a full dance during the finale, it all seemed worth it.