Sleeve-Separates @ New York Fashion Week…

If you invested in a leather sleeved coat this winter, you don’t have to worry about contemplating subsequent purchases in order to save up for a new styled outerwear essential for next winter because the fashion-fixation that is contrasting sleeves is set to remain on top form, at least for now, as the opposing fabric started out as being limited more or less to leather (not that there’s anything wrong with adding a little edginess & rock glamour in our prim & preppy lives!). This season it broadens it’s horizons…

Since first appearing in Ricardo Tisci’s Givenchy s/s 2009 collection in the form of crocodile leather on cotton jackets, numerous designers (Alexander Wang, Philip Lim, and Christopher Bailey for Burberry – to name a few) have been proponents of the trend – upping the ante each season and producing their own interpretations to incorporate everything from raffia, lurex, to suede. It took it’s extreme form in Dries Van Noten’s 2010 collection – having filled almost the entire show with visions of contrast sleeves in every which way and form (adorning jeweled sleeves to cargo jackets and bombers, bold yellow sleeves to leopard print blouses, and oversized mohair sleeves to cropped sweaters – I could go on!).

Given the industry’s constant (and understandable) obsession with juxtaposition, the love affair with contrast sleeves is unsurprising. They are the perfect fashion paradox: allowing a woman to be edgy but soft, dressed up & dressed down all at once. To me, contrast sleeves ooze effortless chic — an accomplishment any fashion fanatic is in a constant competition for — they are a way to add a little light playfulness & fun to the often hard & heavy hitting autumn/winter outfits, as most outerwear pieces stick to one colour and one fabric, covering up anything exciting which may be lurking beneath.

Prominently displayed on the New York catwalks, favourites included: the ever-traditional leather sleeves seen at New York staple brand DKNY (love the deep red crocodile leather!); long knit & transparent-sleeved throw-overs at Philip Lim; Altuzarra’s contrasting black-fur & Moroccan-inspired gold coin sleeved coats; bold juxtaposing fur sleeves at BCBG & Custo Barcelona; bolder fur on the awe-inspiring belted military jackets at Jason Wu, and daringly blue-furred bomber jackets at Prabal Gurung (i think it’s fair to say that fur has replaced last season’s leather, no?).

Whether soft and overflowing on dresses & tops or bright and bold for maximum impact coats & cropped jackets, this emerging obsession of contrasting sleeves has worked its way up the hierarchy of trends throughout the past seasons (one sleeve at a time, ha!) and has earned the top spot being a must-have item included on everyone’s wish-lists. These sleeves are here to stay…

Cultural-Crossover Journey Collections @ New York Fashion Week: Altuzarra a/w 12 + Rag & Bone a/w

There was a jet-setting sense of glamour to the collections of both Altuzarra and Rag & Bone as they displayed a beautiful array of travel-inspired elements: simple dresses, embroidery, masterly-tailored outerwear, pleated & tulip skirts, knitted fur sweaters (sleek & chunky), minimalist/maximalist… They were both too much, yet just right, as every aspect of the outfits could be deconstructed & every element of clothing able to be taken out and worn on its own – absolutely wearable.

Joseph Altuzarra added panoptic romanticism & exoticism to his first collection after his CFDA Fashion Fund win. Seeking to present “the wardrobe of a well-travelled woman”, he began with the idea of a woman with very french & straight base pieces, adding to them little elements of what she had picked up in Mongolia, Morocco and India – thereby creating a woman of a “Worldy Mystique” – confident and strong… yet with an approachable poise.

The dense knit dresses with gold coin embellishments were sensual, yet loud and confident; the military coats and outerwear displayed tailoring done to an expert degree of talent, the thigh-high leather boots and textural patterns were very rare – different, yet identifiable, flared pants, velvet jackets, fur pea-coats, contrasting sleeves, vermillion… I could go on…. Tightly edited and very well-styled… they were clothes real women would love (and love is an understatement!) to wear.

Having said all that, how could we forget Markus Wainwright and David Neville’s move away from the beachy sentiments of Rag & Bone’s spring/summer collection towards one with packed on layers of patterns and rich colouring for autumn/winter?! Having always had a type of “outsider” fashion, they have enabled themselves to gather more dispersed elements of design, fusing this with their ancestral sense of Englishness & fun to create the very looks which define them.

Markus Wainwright, after having visited India and upon seeing the beauty behind the contrasts of wealth & poverty, between the very rich textures and the extremely expensive, delicate and embroidered textiles and base cloths, decided to present a collection showcasing the impact of England on India and vice versa — creating a journey within which there was an element of urban sensibility

Provocative & opulent with a colour palette of royal navy and deep violets with light patterns on grey hues, and of course pops of maroon (these shades of deep reds & burgundy which no NYFW catwalk went without!); beautifully understated Indian influences with jodhpurs and floral tapestries teamed with straight goat-hair gilets  – keeping texture plays central – gave the audience something to lust after and again – womenswear which was wearable – in the chicest and trendiest of ways.

If you asked me to choose between these 2 brilliant collections I wouldn’t be able to — But that’s the beauty of fashion isn’t it? Why would you ever have to choose, when you could simply take parts of both collections, blend them into one outfit & have it all.

New York Fashion Week Favourite: Marc Jacobs a/w 2012

For my first fashion week review I thought it would be appropriate to deviate from ordering the shows as to the date they were shown and jump straight to New York’s darling: Marc Jacobs — he’s always been an absolute favourite designer of mine as he, alone, sparked my initial interest in fashion & was the first luxury designer handbag I ever invested in.. I guess you could say he sort of has a sentimental value in my heart.

His autumn/winter collection more than proves himself worthy of such admiration and talent; starting off with an outer-worldy set of an icy, warped, wintry village – designed by renowned artist friend Rachel Feinstein (who is one of the features in the latest LOVE Magazine) – Marc restored the subversive elements to the world of fairy tales.

It was like being Alice in a Marc Jacobs Wonderland (complete with mad-hatters and exaggerated everything) mixed with Little Red Riding Hood, lost in an enchanted forest.

The colourful parade of furry Dr Seuss hats (designed by Stephen Jones) combined with holographic-looking appliqués, paisley-prints (which are continuing to be on trend so it’s a perfect time to invest now for both spring and fall!), oversized safety pins holding in place the draped fur shrugs with chunky crocheted stoles around the shoulders, and unique Ostrich shoes gave the audience a less traditional Disney-esque feel of fables

Layered wraps & capes reigned supreme with a piled combination of textures, colours, and patchwork present in every outfit. Silhouettes included hourglass shapes and exaggerated hips, and were bulkier and looser with expert box pleating for cropped jackets & loose dresses worn over cropped pants.

I loved the Oliver Twist sentiments of basic fabrics and colours contrasted with rich and luxurious embellishments and embroidery (another ongoing trend seen on the New York catwalks — see Altuzarra for example). The juxtaposition of the most elemental fabrics with the most affluent produced dramatic and absolutely beautiful, albeit unconventional, looks and is seen as a continuation of the past 2 season’s fascination of contrasting fabrications…

Although it wasn’t his usual kind of beautiful, this collection showed something else — it was a somewhat daring and ornate kind of beauty, which evoked a sense of curiosity and fun into fashion… poetic & magical — Master Marc does it again!

French Vogue Fashion Week Journal – New York #1

This is such a cool alternative video showcasing New York fashion week so far… models off-duty, street-style looks of the moment as seen on socialites, editors and style ambassadors, and great shots of the action on the runway and behind the scenes…

The runway set design at Lacoste was wintery and exciting, Prabal Gurung names Joan Smalls as his model of the moment and his colour Blue, and the video also features one of my favourite shows of the season – Moroccan inspired Altuzarra – providing a preview of my upcoming post talking about one of the recurring trends hitting the runways in the Big Apple this autumn season… Can you guess what it is!?

I know the anticipation may be too much to bare…. Stay tuned!

French Vogue Fashion Week Journal – New York #1