Yaeger: The Helmutization, Democratization, and B-Listing of the Runways

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From left: Diane Von Furstenberg, Malandrino, and Thakoon. Photo: Imaxtree

It is already the mid-sixties on Mad Men, which means that any minute now you can expect to see Joan, Peggy, and Betty in the kind of short, chic airline-stewardess-meets–Jackie Kennedy dresses that Victoria Beckham presented in a posh (though not at all spicy) marble-and-mirrored townhouse on the Upper East Side Sunday morning. Beckham narrated the show, and before it began, she came around and welcomed you. She’s so nice that you feel like you could even be friends, maybe, though when she describes one tiny, abbreviated pale number as having “an oversized feeling” you realize, if you had forgotten for a minute, that you and she inhabit entirely different planets.

Beckham isn’t the only one with a penchant for Pan-Am–esque pretenders. An hour later, Preen evinced a similar sensibility, beautifully rendered in a particularly pretty blue-gray. This collection, like many this week, also demonstrates a strong Langian tendency — as in Helmut, not R.D. The Helmutization of the runways continued at Thakoon, where there were flappy white jackets, plus a lot of dresses made from the kind of mesh — halfway between athletic and poetic — that H.L. used to favor.

There’s been a lot of chatter about the democratization of fashion of late — you can buy whatever you want straight off the runways from the Internet! You can get drunk for free on Fashion’s Night Out! — but it takes a Frenchwoman to put this into practice during Fashion Week. Catherine Malandrino takes over the plaza in front of Avery Fisher Hall yesterday, sticks her models on literal pedestals, and distributes them around a reflecting pool with a Henry Moore sculpture. Industry professionals are allowed inside the flimsy barrier, but anyone who happens to be strolling around Lincoln Center on this particular Sunday can see the C.M. models, too, resplendent, if shivering, clad in tiny leather and macramé tops, ankle-length tie-dyes, and a singular lacy white shirt that really is oversize.

If Malandrino represents the zenith of accessibility, Diane Von Furstenberg’s show in the Theater, the biggest of the tents at the new Lincoln Center venue, plays by the old rules — there are guaranteed to be celebrities in the audience, and photographers will fall over themselves in a snapping frenzy before the show begins.

Anderson Cooper and Sarah Jessica Parker are the biggest names in the front row, a far cry from past seasons, when Diana Ross was in attendance, but times, in case you haven’t noticed, have changed. The clothes include puzzle-printed draped affairs and classic DVF wraps that in some cases have sprouted legs and/or sport hoodies. Two beautifully lit staircases to nowhere decorate either side of the catwalk, but it’s easy to know where these fashions are destined: upscale department stores all over the world.

At the end of her show, the designer walks the entire length of the runway — though unlike Betsey Johnson, who will show later in the week and is four years older (at least according to Wikipedia — you never really know about these things), DVF does not execute a cartwheel. Instead, she strolls arm-in-arm with her creative director, Yvan Mispelaere (a nice thing to do), stops in front of whatever meager celebrities are in the house, and blows them kisses.

See the full collections here!
Diane Von Furstenberg
Malandrino
Preen
Thakoon