Rodriguez at His Best, Lam Underwhelms, and the Rodarte Wearability Debate

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So many runway reviews! To save you time (can't be late for Zac, after all), we've been compiling critical response all week.

Narciso Rodriguez
Critics praised Narciso Rodriguez's show as an edgy, sexy departure from his minimalist style. "The collection was as fresh-looking as it was varied," asserted Cathy Horyn. Samantha Critchell of the Associated Press declared that Rodriguez "veered from his signature," and WWD agreed that he "let loose … to daringly brazen effect." Banded black-and-white-striped dresses were stand-outs — "It was all hot and sexy," affirmed WWD. But with the addition of flowing chiffon gowns and embroidered dresses, "the elevated sense of sexiness didn't come at the expense of pretty," Style.com noted, concluding, "this was Rodriguez at his loosest and best."

Watch a slideshow and video of the Narciso Rodriguez collection.

Derek Lam
Critics were mostly underwhelmed by Derek Lam's California-inspired collection of flowing, silky sportswear. Suzy Menkes called the collection "pleasant but characterless," adding "it was as if nothing had been quite developed creatively." "Flesh tones were a big story here," observed British Vogue, a palette that WWD thought underscored the "too-serene mood." Many reviewers praised the easy movement of the clothing: Fashion Week Daily called the styles "seductively fluid," and Eric Wilson of the New York Times found it "unusually casual and relaxed." But "[u]nfortunately the collection as a whole failed to generate enough heat to keep this crowd interested," Style.com concluded.

Watch a slideshow and video of the Derek Lam collection.

Betsey Johnson
Betsey Johnson unleashed a fanciful — and surprisingly sexy — show that included cupcakes, pirates, and clowns. The designer delivered a dose of her signature girlie glamour "which at this point she could provide in her sleep," Fashion Wire Daily observed. British Vogue called the collection of hoop skirts, nighties, rompers, and floral prints "joyful and exuberant," and WWD applauded Johnson's "delightful imagination." The playful theme didn't dampen the collection's sex appeal: Fashion Week Daily found the clothing "both Scarlett O'Hara-inspired and very Lolita looking," and Style.com agreed: "Although it was a romp, this was no Romper Room." Apart from denim jackets and the "wench-worthy" off-the-shoulder dresses, most reviewers pondered how some of the zany styles would translate to retail ("the Little Bo Peep dresses would make great sundresses if you took the hoops out," suggested Samantha Critchell of the Associated Press), "but arrrgh, it was just plain fun," shrugged WWD.

Watch a slideshow and video of the Betsey Johnson collection.

Rodarte
Rodarte presented a collection of vibrant goddess gowns, weathered knits, and leather jackets that Fashion Wire Daily declared "simply sensational." British Vogue called it tough and tender, noting many pieces felt like "something the model had tucked away in the furthest reaches of her closet." Several critics praised the Mulleavys' efforts to enhance the wearability of their collection while maintaining their wild originality. Suzy Menkes of the International Herald Tribune applauded the "attempt to broaden the range of this quirky brand," and sighed, "It is a relief to see designers bringing something from a wellspring of inspiration, rather than just making regular clothes." WWD concurred, calling the show a "beautiful, provocative trip" and asserting "these ladies will not allow merch madness to trump their vision." Style.com disagreed, however, carping, "more down-to-earth-wearable pieces would be welcome," and Cathy Horyn of the New York Times complained that the pair "didn’t seem to have a woman in mind when they put together these clothes." But nevertheless, Godfrey Deeny of Fashion Wire Daily loved it most, lauding the sisters' "creative fire power, sheer inventiveness and gutsy sense of innovation," and calling the show "the fashion moment of New York this season."

Watch a slideshow of the Rodarte collection.

Marc by Marc Jacobs
Critics applauded the youthful Marc by Marc Jacobs collection as "a compelling sort of coda" to his much-acclaimed Marc Jacobs show. "Jacobs's secondary line is all about color, optimism, and great American style," assessed British Vogue, calling the line "cute, fun, and young." The baby-doll dresses, denim, button-downs, and trenches had a "wrinkled, crinkled, just-out-of-bed ease," observed WWD, adding "there's a lot to be said for the rumpled look." Suzy Menkes particularly loved the accessories — from fez hats to beaded necklaces to seriously cool footwear — declaring the collection "both commercial and cool." WWD summed up the spring line's casual-chic style: "Think playful, through and through."

Watch a slideshow and video of the Marc by Marc Jacobs collection.