We're at the week's psychic midpoint, and the critics are somewhat divided on the offerings.
The reviews for Derek Lam’s boardwalk-inspired spring collection were mostly positive, with some objections. "Everything about this collection felt bolder than its predecessor," asserted Style.com. Perhaps a little too bold: It "felt a bit – how to put this? – all over the place," ventured British Vogue. But! "That wasn’t necessarily a bad thing." In particular, The Wall Street Journal admired a pair of high-waisted floral skirts, while Cathy Horyn of the Times declared that a black-and-white poplin dress with a leather belt "shouldn’t be served to minors." A few critics grappled with the wearability and longevity of the looks. WWD called a series of pinup-esque swimsuit rompers "less reality-based, though plenty charming," while The Wall Street Journal cautioned buyers of the eighties-inspired power suits to "wear 'em hard, because they’ll look quickly out of date." (Not to mention the frilly jumpsuits with pantaloons: "Erm. I’m not actually able to conjure up an image of where a grown woman should – or even could – wear one.") Suzy Menkes of the International Herald Tribune found "something backward-looking in the suggestion that these boardwalk summer clothes needed a man on the arm to complete the look." Though the show itself could have used "a little more cohesion," according to British Vogue, the nostalgic, beachy summer styles offer an "emotional hook that will lure the gals into Lam’s store," predicted Style.com.
Watch a slideshow of the Derek Lam collection.
Donna Karan earned reserved praise for her sporty, flower-decked collection. The Wall Street Journal felt the clothes "channeled DKNY’s classic downtown edge with an unabashed cheerfulness," admiring a sequined, floral romper and peony-print trousers. Style.com agreed that the peony prints were "charming," though the floral camo and graffiti prints "were decidedly less so." WWD called the wearable showing "downright perky," but noted that it "bordered on being too busy at times." The critics were most divided on the neon and nude bike shorts – called "DKNY smoothies" – that peeked out from beneath dresses and shorts (though most all agreed that they were "unfortunately named"). "Runway worthy? Perhaps not," shrugged Style.com, while Suzy Menkes of the International Herald Tribune countered that the look "enhanced the concept of illuminating urban basics." (Though she admitted that "perhaps only a female bike messenger would choose to [wear them] under a tailored shorts suit.") British Vogue liked it least, balking at a perceived lack of originality. "Boyfriend jackets? Neon bike shorts? Chain draped leather bags? Wait a minute, is this DKNY or Alexander Wang?"
Watch a slideshow of the DKNY collection.
Diane Von Furstenberg's flashy, layered collection elicited strong reactions on both ends of the sartorial scale. British Vogue was most appreciative, calling it a "spectacular treat for the senses," and WWD dubbed it "a collection rich with bohemian beauty." Cathy Horyn wasn’t quite as enthusiastic: "It was not a stretch of the imagination, not as crisp and clear as her fall show," but praised the appealingly loose cuts, smirkingly adding, "I love a sack, now and then." With a flurry of floral hairpieces, stacks of neon bangles, chunky beaded necklaces, and glimmering metallic handbags, several critics worried that the accessories – or "pilings," as WWD called them – were a bit much. "The extras were over-the-top," noted Style.com, and the International Herald Tribune agreed that "[s]ometimes the color, pattern, and texture seemed too complex for comfort." But most critics also allowed that the wearability of the clothes was the collection’s saving grace. That is, apart from Fashion Wire Daily's Godfrey Deeny, who deemed Von Furstenberg's collection "easily her least distinguished of the century, a garish, gaudy mish mash of prints and glitz that was toe curlingly befuddled." "The result," he concluded, "ends up looking like the kitchen sink."
Watch a slideshow of the Diane Von Furstenberg collection.
Relative newcomer Joseph Altuzarra impressed the critics with his daring, seventies-tinged spring collection. The show was a surprise for attendees who expected the same ruched dresses and smart tailoring of previous seasons, noted Cathy Horyn, but "jolt or not, it was a fascinating show." Though he drew inspiration from a groovy decade, the influence was thankfully constrained. "Bohemian, yes — but a citified, modern version," assessed WWD. "What’s such a turn-on about him is his confidence," asserted Style.com, swooning over a pair of "gutsy" diamond-stenciled white ponchos. British Vogue added that a short leather overall set paired with tall boots was "jaw-droppingly good." In all, the modern, inventive clothes "had a fresh feeling of nostalgia and a do-it-yourself quality that has been lurking at fashion’s edges," declared Horyn.
Watch a slideshow of the Altuzarra collection.
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