Tweeds with a twist at NYC Fashion Week

February 6, 2008 5:46:39 PM PST
Tweed's style icons aren't the most trendy bunch: Sherlock Holmes, college professors, your grandma. But at New York Fashion Week on Wednesday, the fall staple got a makeover: the fabric is sometimes made of unexpected materials, the pattern not always perfect and the shapes of the garments aren't restrictive.

Narciso Rodriguez made a gray and white tweed so soft it looked like fur. Isaac Mizrahi made a fur tweed gown - about as luxe an interpretation as you can find. And the British designer Matthew Williamson did tweed in an explosion of color with flashes of metallic.

Fashion editors, stylists and buyers also saw previews from Michael Kors, Anna Sui and Justin Timberlake's William Rast line.

Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week runs through Feb. 8, with shows still to come from designers including Marc Jacobs, Zac Posen and Calvin Klein.

NARCISO RODRIGUEZ There have been plenty of hard-edge, rock 'n' roll clothes on the runway here. Narciso Rodriguez offered the first grown-up version of that look.

If it takes a trendy young woman to pull off a black mini shift dress, it takes a chic woman - of any age - to wear a black structured corset dress.

This is a look Rodriguez, who is celebrating the 10th anniversary of his label, knows well. All of his signature black and white looks will be offered next season: cocktail dresses with clean lines but sometimes complicated straps, pantsuits with skinny-leg trousers and coats with flattering seams.

But Rodriguez also experimented with tweed, knits and the occasional bright color. Other trends that Rodriguez helped to confirm were exposed zippers, over-the-knee boots, metallics on daytime outfits and feathers - his were peacock on a black wool cocktail dress.

MICHAEL KORS Michael Kors knows how to please his crowd: He gave celebrities in the audience a bit of old-school glamour; for his socialite fans there were luxe furs and skirt suits; and for everybody else, there were great daytime sheath dresses for everyday living.

Kors had the most star-packed front row so far during New York Fashion Week. Debra Messing, Ellen Pompeo and husband Chris Ivery, "Gray's Anatomy" co-star Eric Dane and his wife Rebecca Gayheart, Sigourney Weaver, Eva Longoria, Pharrell, Natasha Richardson and Angie Harmon all saw Kors' interpretation of "reel life."

In his notes, the designer said he was aiming for clothes that were "camera candy." To emphasize his theme, Kors beamed live video footage of the photographers shooting the show onto the backdrop, so the camera crews were seeing an image of themselves in their viewfinders.

"These were clothes that make celebrities look like movie stars - the good kind," said Cindi Leive, Glamour magazine's editor in chief.

The look was retro - circa the Grace Kelly days of the 1950s - with the female models in tortoise-shell, cat-eye glasses, cardigans and pencil skirts, and the men in slim suits and fedoras.

NANETTE LEPORE The first sign that Nanette Lepore's fall collection targets the party girl was the flirty smiles the models wore as the made their way down the runway. Next was the tiaras on many of their heads.

"I liked the tiaras. If you've got them, why not?" Style Network commentator Finola Hughes said with a laugh.

She also liked when Lepore trotted out the bright colors, including a halter-neck, trumpet-hem striped dress with different shades of pink, purple and teal.

Lepore did a nice job hitting on many of the trends coming out of Fashion Week: Tweed was used for cocktail frocks, including a dress with black velvet straps that jumped a shawl collar to continue down the length of the dress.

Her version of "chunky knits" included a cozy shrug as well as burgundy-colored, spaghetti-strap dress with a jewel on the bustline - it was lovely but it would be unforgiving for the woman who wanted to have dessert and the party.

ISAAC MIZRAHI Isaac Mizrahi stands at the corner of art and commerce. The intimate fashion show of his new collection he presented Wednesday at his Manhattan studio was a marriage of those two driving forces of the fashion industry.

Stylists and editors got what they needed for interesting visuals, especially a series of striking dresses made of holographic prints covered with autumnal fruit, but retailers also had things for their racks, including a taupe silk-and-wool skirt suit and a better-than-it-sounds gray fisherman-knit sweater with herringbone trousers.

Everyone probably agreed on a red strapless gown decorated with black beaded flowers.

Mizrahi also took some liberties with classic fall looks and wove them into something new: a fair-isle mink jacket and a fur tweed gown were the best among them. Yes, fur tweed. The scoop-neck gown had a bodice woven with fur and wool, a beaded bra-style neckline and a tiered fur skirt.

WILLIAM RAST Justin Timberlake is trying to take sexy forward.

Timberlake described his fall collection for William Rast as "high-class, urban couture meets Americana old South." Utilitarian, military-inspired jackets for women were given feminine curves and kimono-style leather belts.

The overall look was deconstructed prep-school - the models would have been at home on the set of "Gossip Girl." They stood on risers in a downtown triplex apartment in front of party-goers including Russell Simmons, "Top Chef" host Padma Lakshmi, NASCAR driver Jeff Gordon and Duran Duran's Simon LeBon and Nick Rhodes.

The collection blends influences from Timberlake's roots in Tennessee and his life now in Hollywood - with the help of Swedish designer Johan Lindeberg and his Italian wife, Marcella.

"I've been wearing a lot of Johan's stuff anyway," Timberlake said.

MATTHEW WILLIAMSON British designer Matthew Williamson doesn't cross the Atlantic to show clothes that people could see elsewhere. When he comes, it's to show the colorful pop-art styles that have become his hallmark.

The fall collection, previewed Tuesday evening at a gallery space in Chelsea was bright, bold and for the girl who likes to have a good time. The closest thing to a serious look were parka-style jackets that looked warm - many had fur trim - but they were hardly ordinary thanks to their crinkly metallic fabric.

Williamson did the all-important fall trend of a tweed coat but his was an explosion of color with flashes of metallic.


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