Welcome to the first installment of Notes from the Second Row! The title is a tongue-in-cheek reference to my seat at so many shows during New York Fashion Week; I like to say that I might be in the second row, but that just means I try harder…
The Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week tents at Lincoln Center kicked off Thursday morning with a celebration: Max and Lubov Azria’s 25th-anniversary collection for BCBG. Giada De Laurentiis was in the front row for the Azrias' thoughtful take on the signatures of their label, from the graphic prints and colorblocking that opened the show to the artful seaming and structure seen in the loose, mid-calf dresses with asymmetrical hems. I always like to gauge whether clear trends emerge on NYFW’s first day, and based on both BCBG and other Thursday shows, I’m going out on a limb and calling it: Look for graphic prints and gray tones to play key roles this Fall.
A quick dash just a few blocks away to catch the first collection from Coach’s new creative director, British-born Stuart Vevers. The iconic leather-goods label doesn’t normally opt for the full-on presentation during Fashion Week, but execs wanted to make a splash to give editors a clear sense that this is a new Coach. Indeed, that was apparent from the moment you entered the black-box space on 58th Street: A still-life presentation showcased pieces with a youthful, edgier vibe, from oversized studded leather top-handle totes to Mary Janes with chunky heels and cropped leather jackets with shearling collars. After viewing the still-life looks, you were invited to sit for a short runway presentation, another hint about Coach’s forward movement: ready-to-wear will become more important. Favorites here were the oversized coats in a red and black blanket cloth and a couple of shoulder bags working some serious fringe. Vevers says he was inspired by certain girls of 70s American cinema—think Sissy Spacek in Badlands, for example.
Back to Lincoln Center in time for Tadashi Shoji: The Japanese designer has emerged as a favorite on red carpets, seen on Helen Mirren, Kate Beckinsale and Octavia Spencer (she was wearing Shoji when she won her Oscar for The Help), so if you cover awards shows, this is a collection on your must list. The strongest—and most red carpet-worthy—looks in the show consisted of a grouping of delicate, flowing gowns in chiffon and some really artful plays on lace that we might see come Oscar night. Shoji said he was thinking of “wandering [in] a moonlit Moorish palace,” and that ethereal idea was seen in the details here, especially the lush embroideries on tulle. The finale gown, an auburn velvet, long-sleeved gown with velvet-paillette insets and frayed silk-chiffon details, seemed a bit Game of Thrones-esque, and I said as much on Twitter, which immediately caused my Twitter to blow up. Great mental note: Looking to engage with your followers? Mention GoT.
Speaking of Twitter, it’s a great tool for gauging a label’s popularity, measured in the reaction to your runway tweets. By that yardstick, Barcelona-based Desigual is enjoying a white-hot moment. Here’s another label that loves graphics, and for Fall/Winter 2014, looked to its hometown to weave a “Love in the City” collection that offered up an unabashed mix of prints: a great jersey graphic-print long-sleeve top mixed with an alpaca miniskirt in ombre stripes, for example. Candice Swanepoel opened and closed the show, and mid-show worked one of the collection’s best looks, a “Kaleidoscope” wrap coat in shades of gray.
My cab and Uber bills are quickly adding up: Across Central Park to Oscar de la Renta’s Madison Avenue boutique for a book party to celebrate the legendary designer’s latest, an eponymous coffee-table tome for Assouline. Oscar, alas, has the flu so wasn’t in attendance (they’re conserving his energy for his Tuesday show, says @OscarPRGirl Erika Bearman), so the event really centered on editors and socialites waxing rhapsodic about what makes Oscar so fabulous. “The ultimate gentleman, and you see that in every one of his designs,” In Style’s Hal Rubinstein said.
A cab back to Lincoln Center for the last show of the night, always a favorite: The Red Dress Collection, presented by the Heart Truth campaign to raise awareness about women and heart disease. This year’s slate of celebrity models included Ireland Baldwin (gorgeous in Donna Karan), Nene Leakes (enjoying every moment in Dolce & Gabbana), and Joan Jett (who indeed rocked a jumpsuit by Catherine Malandrino). Serious lump-in-the-throat moment, though, was Lindsey Vonn, who walked the runway in crutches (remember, she should be at the Olympics but had to bow out due to injury). Vonn wore a crimson dress by Cynthia Rowley and, amid a sea of inspirational women, topped the list effortlessly. We departed NYFW’s first night with smiles on our faces—and a little smarter about heart disease, as well. [Note: check out our full coverage and backstage interviews from the show later today!]
P.S. Keep up with my second row journey throughout the day on theFashionSpot Instagram!