Veteran fashion critic Lynn Yaeger has been reporting for us from the front lines.
Are the miniature tote bags perched on the models’ heads at the Isaac Mizrahi show meant to symbolize our empty pocketbooks? It’s impossible to know if these are actual purses, plopped on at the last minute by some goofy stylist, or real hats — but either way, they are oddly jaunty, paired with Mizrahi’s floppy cocoon coats. Or maybe I’m just addlebrained after six full days of runway shows.
When they give me standing room at Ports 1961, I hear myself sputter, “But — I’m famous!” Guess not. I thought there’d be a million empty seats at this show, which I attend mainly because I’m intrigued by the name (1961? Why?), but the place is packed, probably because the company takes out full-page ads in many publications. There’s one surprise on the runway: the models’ longish skirts. Many knees are covered. This is either because (a) the company does a lot of business in the conservative Middle East or (b) we are witnessing the first indication of the Hemline Index, which alleges that skirt lengths vary in accordance with the stock market — high when times are good, droopy when things get rough. (It must be noted that so far the runways, replete with minuscule skirts, are still pretending that the Dow is over 14,000.)
Though the austerity of the Calvin Klein store next to Barneys has always scared me, the clothes this season are Lynnie-friendly, by which I mean dark and with weird cuts and folds, almost like old Comme des Garçons. (Or, as a colleague less charitably snorts after the show, like bad Matsuda from the eighties.) Practically everything is — no surprise — black, white or gray, except for a couple of dresses in the now ubiquitous (but one suspects soon to be crowding the 80-percent-off rack) chartreuse.
If I was excited to see Taylor Momsen at Anna Sui, imagine how overjoyed I am when Tori Spelling shows up at the Christian Siriano show. What would Donna Martin have made of Siriano’s floppy-sleeve coats, one-shoulder evening dresses (a lamentable trend this season), and models sporting bangs made out of what look like gold key chains?
With an hour to kill before Zac Posen, I hustle down to Lafayette Street for the Libertine installation. There’s hay on a floor, a trio of lutist, flutist, and violinist dressed in colonial costumes playing prettily, and the clothes, some of which are obviously newly embellished secondhand garments, are gussied up with fabric badges and painted portraits. If you’re going to wear fur, you could do worse than to settle for Libertine’s humorous stole made of four different shades of vintage mink and festooned with a giant eagle patch.
Five Steinways crowd the runway at Zac Posen, where the pianist siblings known as the Five Browns (the kind of act, and I mean this is the nicest possible way, that one used to see on the Ed Sullivan Show) will accompany the catwalk presentation. Maybe it's the music, maybe it’s the singularly of Posen’s vision — all those muted shades, those baby flowers, a trip to the moon on gossamer wings — but the show is mesmerizing.
On the way out a friend gasps, “It was like seeing clothes that would have been worn by the Mitford girls!” And in fact, you could easily envision those madcap English sisters, who delighted London society in the years between the wars, clad in these lovely limp frocks, tossing their pretty heads as if they didn’t have a care in the world, dancing in the dark.
Read Lynn's previous columns here.