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Critics Bow at the Altar of Marc, Oscar, Anna, and Carolina

From left, Oscar de la Renta, Anna Sui, Marc Jacobs.Photos: imaxtree.com

As Fashion Week draws to a close, it's time to talk about the big guns, those wonders who need no surname. Did Marc's intellectual show ultimately please? Did Oscar and Carolina meet expectations? And what does Anna Sui have up her sleeve?

Marc Jacobs
Oh, Marc Jacobs, how you captivate, mystify, and woo the masses! There's no way to address this spectacle in brief, so let's just roll with it: Monday night's epically late show at the Armory was presented in reverse order, with the designer taking his bow before presenting his evening gowns, the clothes then progressing backward from his finale. Despite the two-hour wait, even WWD knew it was seeing "something special." They fell for Jacobs's "delightfully costumed experimental sexcapade," also praising combinations like slipdresses appliquéd with bras and panties, a stringy dress, and "haute florals and adorable animalia." Style.com praised the designs as "off-kilter and knock your socks off," such as the show's opener, a silly-string guipure gown that featured a peek of satin lingerie. The "bonkers surrealist streak" worked, with cashmere sweaters featuring sheer panels and a black beaded evening dress suspended from nude lining. "Gimmicky?" they asked. "You bet. But also fascinating." But perhaps a bit too fascinating? Even the Associated Press weighed in on the show, complaining that the half-finished looks were hardly wearable (despite the two-hour delay, Jacobs "looked like he could have used a little more time"), but they admit that the collection nevertheless fell in step with spring trends: "color-blocking, sheer overlays, sequins, and nude and natural colors with bright pops from purple, pink and orange." And finally, Cathy Horyn was nothing short of smitten, heralding the collection as Jacobs's redefinition of sexy, "an antidote to the cartoonish Jessica Rabbit sexuality that has dominated women's fashion for more than 20 years." She also complimented the "something special" label, applauding Jacobs's quirky eroticism found in tweed skirts that reveal undergarments with sheer panels at the side or the back. Wearable? For some, Horyn said, but there's a bigger picture at hand: "Because of the sensibility of the designer, [the clothes are] respectful of women in a way that Britney Spears's fishnets are not."

View a slideshow of the Marc Jacobs collection.
Watch a video of the Marc Jacobs show.

Oscar de la Renta
Besides abandoning the tents in favor of a Georgian church on Park Avenue, and, you know, having the Polyphonic Spree play live — oh, and hosting Roger Federer in his front row — Oscar de la Renta put out a lovely show, too. Style.com noted that despite the rarefied atmosphere, the collection "more than lived up to any heightened expectations," taking spring trends and making them feel classic (most notably, such as a red wool sheath or an ethnic-printed tent dress). Horyn concurred that the line hits on the season's high notes (like the nipped waist) and commented on the collection's "great" embellishments, as a short pleated dress that "amplified an olive mosaic-patterned coat." Fashion Wire Daily reminded us that "Oscar is still king of Park Avenue," thanks to polished, belted safari suits, "sophisticated cable knit sweaters," and pencil skirts. On the other hand, Style.com thought the cable knits "came off wrong." But what's a few sweaters to Oscar's evening gowns?

View a slideshow of the Oscar de la Renta collection.
Watch a video of the Oscar de la Renta show.

Anna Sui
Anna Sui surprised her audience with a seventies glam collection, when they were instead expecting forties swinging fun. The music and stage set were the main culprits. But the mix worked. "This was the designer at her most playful and festive," WWD raved. The Berkeley musical and punk-hair mix "produced one of her most dressed-up collections in seasons," Style.com agreed. Noting the soft dresses, Lucite heels, and high-waisted trousers, Fashion Wire Daily said "this was classic Sui with all the vampish, fun details she's known for." Her bright, rainbow hair was the big winner of the week, which WWD said was "perfect for the feisty fashion gal who can page her inner showgirl — and glitter kid."

View a slideshow of the Anna Sui collection.
Watch a video of the Anna Sui show.

Carolina Herrera
Carolina Herrera's collection, inspired by the watercolors of Jeremiah Goodman, was full of bold, bright colors and graphic floral prints. Style.com called the mood "refreshing," and observed that "Herrera's heart was in her eveningwear." WWD gleefully noted that "Herrera delivered oodles of fashion, primarily via elaborate embroideries and upbeat prints." British Vogue dubbed the show "spectacular," and particularly loved the "unexpected touches of color" that added "drama and contrast to the looks they topped." Style.com singled out one look — "a cream crinkle chiffon top and black dévoré ball skirt with a coral belt" which "best captured the show's lighthearted yet still soigné look."

View a slideshow of the Carolina Herrera collection.
Watch a video of the Carolina Herrera show.

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Copyright © 2013, New York Media LLC.
All Rights Reserved.

Copyright © 2013, New York Media LLC. All Rights Reserved.

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