And so it begins! The shows are in full swing, and the critics are weighing in. We'll be compiling the general consensus throughout the week.
Rag & Bone
After opening their first rag & bone boutique on Christopher Street last week to a flurry of eager shoppers, David Neville and Marcus Wainwright wooed the rest of the fashion world with a tough and rough-around-the-edges collection inspired by England's music scene. The critics were divided on the parade of punkish denim and leather jackets, exposed zippers, checked button-downs, and miniskirts. Style.com sighed over the theme, complaining "it's all been done before," and even venturing that "the fit on one or two of their double-breasted jackets looked off." WWD agreed, writing that the designs "felt repetitive and at times lacked personality," though it allowed that the rock-inspired zippers and studs added edge to rag & bone's classic suits. But British Vogue championed the show as "one of the strongest Rag & Bone collections we've yet seen" — particularly loving the floral accents mixed with leather — and asserted that Neville and Wainwright "remain true their English roots and they always get it right." Celeb fan Kelly Osbourne agreed, declaring to The Daily, "They are masters at androgynous wear."
Watch a slideshow of the Rag & Bone collection.
Touting a voodoo-inspired collection after a trip to Haiti, Nicole Miller's boldly patterned runway could easily have piqued the critics' curiosity even before the first model hit the catwalk. But any nervousness about Miller's "'anything goes' philosophy" for spring quickly faded. "Sound dark? It was anything but," WWD enthused. Style.com thought Miller properly "grounded the magical with the practical," praising menswear-inflected blazers made of a "decidedly unstuffy" chalk-stripe linen. British Vogue asserted that the ensembles "had an exotic resonance," and that the prints "screamed warmth and springtime." While the collection received mostly positive responses, some called out a few missteps. "You could barely fault the designer for the conceptual exuberance in awkward dresses that looked like suiting wools twirled around a man's shirt," Style.com noted, rather sympathetically, and Fashion Wire Daily derided the "overemphasis on idiosyncratic prints" — the same bold prints that "charmed" WWD. But the critics lined up on both sides of the catwalk when assessing Miller's inventive "winged" dresses, with pleated swathes of fabric fanning out from the back straps. Fashion Week Daily called the look a standout, maintaining that the wings were "gorgeous and intricate but still wearable," while Style.com found them "overly dramatic."
Watch a slideshow of the Nicole Miller collection.
BCBG Max Azria
Crowd-pleaser BCBG Max Azria did not disappoint, presenting a pretty collection of "easy, sexy, silk and jersey dresses" that evoked the image of a goddess for several reviewers. Fashion Wire Daily praised the "sense of movement," and the Associated Press adored the collection's "casual elegance." Several looks included a subtle, sexy edge, with "plenty of deep armholes, plunging necklines and up-to-there slits," but the sexy details didn't detract from the breezy wearability of the dresses, which critics unanimously praised. British Vogue praised the "undeniably showstopping" use of color and noted that the smart handbags "added some sensibility to designs for the workplace." A few critics, however, were taken aback by Azria's foray into full-length and thigh-grazing jumpsuits, which created a jarring contrast to the feminine, flowing frocks. Fashion Wire Daily pounced on a "rather silly-looking mauve short jumpsuit draped in a way that could only be described as looking like diapers," and Style.com thought the look smacked of "a late-disco-era conception of liberation." After witnessing the lovely array of gowns, WWD scoffed at the jumpsuits, declaring, "It's hard to imagine the girl who goes to BCBG for cocktail frocks climbing into those anytime soon."
Watch a slideshow of the BCBG Max Azria collection.
Fashion Week Daily called Alexander Wang a "successful ready-to-wear translator of the downtown archetype," and British Vogue christened him "the industry's most reliable cutting-edge trendsetter," so the bar was set undeniably high for his collection this Fashion Week. British Vogue pondered which of the looks breezing down the runway would spark next downtown trend: "The ginormous jean shirt?... The hot pink, open back Miami Vice blazer?... We're praying it's not the belly baring cropped leather pullover." Cathy Horyn of the Times called it a tough, hip, muscular collection, and Style.com noted that Wang's "familiar grunge girl" muse was still alive and kicking — "her toughness heightened by pierced and fringed black leather platform sandals." Several critics noticed a slightly sportier slant in this season's looks, which was largely deemed a success — with the exception of a few "cropped muscle tees and Swarovski-laden sweatpants," said Style.com. WWD lusted after the clingy, slinky gowns, remarking, "Sexy? You bet. The whole lineup was." And when former show stylist Erin Wasson started a standing ovation, Fashion Week Daily conceded, "She certainly won't be the only one at the admiration station."
Watch a video and slideshow of the Alexander Wang collection.