“I wonder what the job description was for this?” says a guy strolling by the window of Partners & Spade on Great Jones Street, where a pair of legs are gyrating in a single gigantic white penny loafer, the work of artist Jessica Sofia Mitrani, who is having a show of her spooky humongous shoes during Fashion Week, just one of the may nutty exhibits timed to coincide with the shows. The footwear may be disturbing, but is it really any odder than the collection presented by Joseph Altuzarra, arguably the most buzzed-about show of the week thus far, which relies heavily on punched-out beige leather, patchwork, and pink dotted Swiss, a fabric formerly relegated, perhaps unfairly, to a 4-year-old’s pinafore? These elements are combined in shorty overalls, seventies peasant frocks, and gold breast-plated dresses with trains, the appeal of which completely eludes me. In fact, I think this may be the “Moose Murders” of Fashion Week, but after the show lots of other people appear to feel differently. Then again, when I first saw Christophe Decarnin’s Captain Mergatroyd jackets for Balmain I thought they were totally heinous, and now they’re the hottest things in Hollywood. So go figure.
If you don’t want to look like Elly May Clampett on crack, many less ambitious designers suggest abbreviated pants in lengths varying from Bermuda to Daisy Duke as the proper garb for whatever tribulations await next spring. At Richard Chai they are crisply pleated and striped; at Jeremy Laing they are narrow and serve as foils for origami-inspired tops; at Derek Lam they form the bottom of a sort of romper suit the run-of-show calls a “corset deck side one piece.” No deck? Then consider Erin Fetherston’s kickers, paired with one of her frothy proto-transparent blouses. (On the other hand, have you ever taken a really long, hard look at yourself in knickers?)
When Emily Dickinson wrote, “Hope is the thing with feathers,” she was obviously talking not only about Jason Wu but also Prabal Gurung, whose impressive installation (cocktail dresses, sometimes flouting giant bows, like a human birthday present) manages to rehabilitate the formerly irredeemable shade known as Barbara Bush blue. Adam Lippes has the good idea of undermining his plumage by pairing a black feather skirt charmingly, if sloppily, with a green and black striped polo.
There may well be quills at Diane Von Furstenberg among the spangles and garden prints, but I don’t see them. My seat is so bad that I can only analyze the outfits from the waist up, leaving me to amuse myself by searching for famous people in the audience — is that Graydon Carter? (Got to be, because that’s Fran Lebowitz next to him!) Do Pat Field and Rachel Roy count as celebrities? Which one of those bald guys in the front row is Barry Diller?
Models emerge from a square of light and trip through a puff of smoke at Alexander Wang’s winning (if highly derivative) show, like characters descending from heaven in an old movie, only here they have shed their wings in favor of skirts with sleeves and tatty multicolored sweaters, blatant rip-offs — or loving homages — to Comme des Garçons and Rodarte, respectively, depending on the generosity of your spirit. Still, the quilted black leather shorts, like a Chanel bag for your heinie, are all his own.