The roving reporters who wander around the Lincoln Center venue, shoving microphones in your face and asking questions like, “Which designers should sleep with each other?” and “Who’s the last person you saw topless?” have also taken to soliciting opinions on the tendency to mount smaller, more intimate shows, a new notion of old-fashioned exclusivity promulgated by Tom Ford last season.
Though lots of people in the fashion industry seem to think this is a fine idea (especially the ones who make it on to the limited guest lists), I have never been a fan of this sort of thing. If Twitter and Facebook can foster a revolution in the Middle East, shouldn’t those same phenomena be universally embraced by people who sell clothes for a living?
I’m in favor of everyone on earth being able to see shows live-streamed as they happen, and so I love the idea of the Derek Lam + eBay collection. I have never heretofore been a particular fan of Lam’s lady-lady sensibility, but the dresses he shows in his eBay presentation, in Alice Tully Hall, are surprisingly winsome and appealing. (Maybe that’s because they will retail for from $125 to $295?) Five of the sixteen frocks on display will be produced (the flowered one, please!) based on how people vote for their favorites on eBay (go to http://dereklam.ebay.com). And unlike a lot of other stuff you see on the runways, at least you know what these will cost you. (Just wondering — for most people, is $300 a lot or a little for a dress? Discuss.)
Is all that color-blocking on the runways this season a delayed reaction to the recent Yves Saint Laurent museum retrospective in Paris? At Narciso Rodriguez, a typical jacket combines large swaths of red, white, and black. The clothes have a surprising, and most welcome, cool edge — but not as cool as the Rodriguez model with the giant tattoo of what looks like a fish skeleton covering a major portion of her bare back.
Phillip Lim manages to combine two trends — he shows floppy trousers in blocks of lavender and beige. His show, held in a dull gray garage in a massively inconvenient location on West Street, zeros in on another unheralded development of the season — namely, the desire to attach sleeves of a different fabric or color to an item Richard Nixon once described as “a respectable Republican cloth coat” — as if the garment is saying, “I may be a bit of a dud, but my sleeves like to party.” In Lim’s case, this manifests as a scarf dress with vinyl arms, and a Wang-ish coat (Alexander, not Vera) that offers neoprene appendages.
Lady Marchmain, the frosty matriarch in Brideshead Revisited, once described some of the less rational tenets of her faith as “the fairy tale side of religion.” Substitute fashion for religion, and this is how I feel about Rodarte: If the clothes can sometimes resemble theatrical costumes, if the prices are insane, the distribution maddeningly limited, the quality widely varying — none of this matters when you are sitting at their show, always one of the longed-for highlights of the week. A floor-grazing nipped-waist neo-Victorian coat with diamond cutouts may have little in common with a pair of rubbery drainpipes, but like Marc Jacobs, the Mulleavy sisters can be counted on to inject a frisson of excitement in what are often painfully conservative proceedings.