Handcrafted in New York was the theme of Nanette Lepore's show Wednesday, while Michael Kors got his audience California Dreamin' on a winter's day.
Lepore, Kors and other designers including Betsey Johnson and Reed Krakoff presented fall-winter collections on the seventh day of New York Fashion Week. Celebrity drop-ins included Michael Douglas and Katie Holmes.
The shows have been taking place both at Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week tents at Lincoln Center and at other locations around the city, as bone-chilling weather persisted and a winter storm was forecast for Thursday.
MICHAEL KORS: CALIFORNIA DREAMIN'
U.S. & World
Michael Kors' fall collection was inspired by the left coast, and it was hard not to think that the Mamas and the Papas, featured on the soundtrack, were absolutely right when they sang: "I'd be safe and warm if I was in LA."
But alas, all the guests at the show were bundled up for winter and gearing for Thursday's predicted storm, which threatened to wreak havoc on the final day of Fashion Week.
At least they had some A-list celebrities to look at: Michael Douglas, Blake Lively, Rose Byrne and Freida Pinto all came to pay their respects to one of the most successful designers in the business.
And they had the clothes to look at: Big, soft sweaters of every kind, and lots of wool, cashmere, alpaca, shearling, mohair, flannel and fur.
In a pre-show interview, Kors described his collection as "a hybrid — a little bit of the kind of easiness that you find in northern California in places like Big Sur where you just kind of ... unplug, mixed with something that's very polished and urbane and very big city."
Kors said he was designing for active, every day wear rather than special occasions. "You know nothing bothers me more than someone buying something magnificent and someone wearing it once," he said.
Kors is popular on the red carpet and had high praise for Sandra Bullock, nominated for "Gravity."
"Sandra Bullock, my God, bravo, hello! You know I think between Sandra and Mrs. Obama they've convinced every woman that life in fashion is definitely not over once you pass 45."
NANETTE LEPORE: A BOHEMIAN VIBE, MADE IN NEW YORK
Nanette Lepore, known for a bohemian vibe and youthful feminine designs, sent out sheer beaded tops, shaggy-collared alpaca coats with girlie geometric prints and dresses and flouncy skirts done in Bordeaux red, violet and a smoky rose.
She used netting to expose some skin in tops and dresses, and flannel for jackets and pants, along with a belted poncho and skirt. An alpaca turtleneck was paired with a trouser suit, and she used a black shag collar in a look featuring an embroidered strapless dress worn with a knit parka. There were a few asymmetrical below-the-knee hems.
Lepore's pop of color came in a bright violet shearling coat worn with a handloom print dress. Some of her coats included zip pockets on sleeves. Sleeves were leather on one hooded flannel coat.
Lepore has received some attention in recent months for her commitment to New York's garment industry. Chirlane McCray, the wife of New York's new mayor, Bill de Blasio, wore a Lepore outfit to her husband's inauguration in January, as did their daughter.
BETSEY JOHNSON'S HOT COLLECTION: MESH, MINIS AND BARELY THERE DRESSES
If the racy clothes at Betsey Johnson's runway show weren't enough to cause temperatures to rise, the designer added a surefire sizzle — two hunks (barely) dressed as firefighters.
The beefcake — complete with fake fire hoses — went with the theme of the "Hot" collection. For Johnson, being hot equates with mesh dresses paired only with bright underwear, mini-dresses, shirt dresses that barely covered one's assets, and lots and lots and lots of sequins.
Celebs such as Paris Hilton, Wendy Williams, and Zendaya Coleman were there to take it all in.
"This is the best (expletive) I've ever designed. This is my favorite, favorite stuff," Johnson said in an interview before the show began.
The brightly colored clothes seemed inspired by the late '70s-early '80s disco era, from the thigh-high multicolored socks paired with tight miniskirts to the shaggy faux fur coats, jumpsuits and sexy boots. Most of the models paired the outfits with Johnson's equally colorful bags, and there were eye-catching patterns, including a yellow shirt adorned with images of handguns.
"We see lots of sequins, shiny stretched satins, I don't know — fluorescent colors, gold-foiled velvets and just everything a Rockette has ever worn," she added (though it would be hard to imagine the Rockettes wearing any of these outfits for their family friendly shows).
The designer said she actually had other leggy beauties in mind when she came up with her clothes — Beyonce, Katy Perry and Rihanna.
"They really inspired me — I mean that's my kind of clothing," said Johnson. "It's devoted and dedicated to my rock 'n' roll girl."
The designer did her signature cartwheel at the end of the show, accompanied by two little granddaughters and her daughter.
REED KRAKOFF: INDIVIDUALISM FOR ALL SEASONS
Reed Krakoff presented effortless luxury in snakeskin wrap skirts and sleeveless cashmere coats during his first show since reclaiming his namesake brand from Coach, where he spent 16 years at the creative helm of the retail giant.
With a pop of bright yellow at the end in a python-print dress, easy elegance highlighted the collection for fall, though Krakoff said he wasn't much interested in the seasons.
"The show was all about the idea of individualism and kind of a seasonless collection," he said. "Even though it's fall we wanted to do something that addresses the way people really dress these days. It's less about just one solution for the season."
Krakoff used a touch of pony hair on the collar of a sleeveless shearling coat and again on a sleeveless vest. A hand-painted python wrap skirt came in a neutral color and three snake prints created a patchwork on another.
But it wasn't all about the snakes. A dotted collage overlay offered up texture in gold.
There were also bomber jackets and a curly shearling patchwork on the sleeves of a cardigan sweater.
In addition to the pop of yellow, Krakoff chose a cobalt blue for leather skirts and several other looks.
MARCHESA CHANNELS MISTY FOGGY FIELDS OF SCOTLAND
You'd think that designers would know way ahead of time if a movie star were planning to wear their designs to the Oscars. Not true. They find out the same way we do — watching the red carpet arrivals on TV. With fingers crossed.
Georgina Chapman, of the designing duo behind Marchesa, a label extremely popular on the red carpet, says she usually watches the arrivals on an iPad in the car on the way to the Oscars. Her husband is film mogul Harvey Weinstein, which is why she's always there.
"It always goes in and out," she said of the reception on the iPad, "and always cuts out at the (big) moment and I'm like, 'There! No, can't see!'"
Her co-designer, Keren Craig, watches at home. "Sometimes I'll have some friends over and we watch it together, but I sort of like to focus on the red carpet. I don't want too many people around because I'm really glued to that television," she said.
Hollywood's fondness for Marchesa's sumptuous gowns was evidenced on Wednesday by the stars in attendance at their runway show: Actresses Katie Holmes, Anna Kendrick, and Sarah Paulson, and supermodel Tyra Banks.
On the runway, Chapman and Craig presented a whimsical collection based on the theme of the Scottish Highlands — "the idea of those misty, foggy fields," Chapman said.
Craig added that they "have a lot of bonfires so we were looking at the fire and the smoke and we took a lot of the colors from the bonfires."
Fire was evoked in deep oranges, saffron and copper. Smoke was illustrated in grays and teals. The designers also had fun "deconstructing Scotland," in their words, by playing with tartan and the pleating in kilts.
Gowns in so-called tartan lace, in shades of gold and copper, shimmered on the runway and seemed perfect for awards season. One gown with a bright orange ostrich feather skirt looked quite literally like fire, perhaps too much. A black and white feather embroidered tulle gown did not seem to overtly reference fire or Scotland, but was one of the prettiest designs in the show.
BEAUTIFUL AND BIZARRE: THE COVETED INVITES
They're beautiful, bizarre and sometimes bewildering. The coveted invitations that grant admission to New York Fashion Week events range from ornate floral to felt to minimalist all-black.
But don't assume that information such as who the designer is — or even the location of the show — will be readily apparent. The shiny black cardboard invitation to Alexander Wang's show last weekend at the Brooklyn Navy Yard bore no details on place or time, but it did have a tiny sentence on the reverse: "Touch to reveal front." Letters became visible with the show details once a hand was placed on the card, presumably a chemical reaction from heat.
Diane von Furstenberg's invitations bore a colorful floral swirl on a black background, while an invite to an Oscar de la Renta party was pretty and romantic, covered with red, pink and beige roses. The invitation to the show for Edun, the label founded by rocker Bono and his wife to promote the fashion industry in Africa, was covered with soft gray felt.
The DKNY invite was hologram-like, showing different images — including the DKNY logo and the Statue of Liberty — depending which way you tilted it. Christian Siriano's invitation showed a body with a protruding breast, covered in black and white polka dots.
Manolo Blahnik, known for sexy high-end shoes, had a drawing of an old-fashioned side-buttoned ankle boot on his invitation — but with a stiletto heel.
NARCISO RODRIGUEZ CELEBRATES COLOR
Narciso Rodriguez says he's always been one to design in black and white. This time, he wanted to mix it up a little.
"The core of my life is black and white. I wanted to turn it around and celebrate color," he said after his runway show Tuesday night. "It's not a departure — it's an evolution."
He signaled that evolution by opening his show with four items in bright red — a couple of red wool coats, a couple of red wool dresses.
"There are so many beautiful shades of red," he said. "So many beautiful colors."
Rodriguez's well-received collection was full of easy-fitting garments — finely tailored, but with room to move in. "I wanted an easy, relaxed silhouette," he said.
The collection also featured subtly glamorous embroidered and beaded dresses — never too much to overtake the garment, though. They came in colors like bronze and silver.
"It's so great to celebrate the craft," he said of the delicate embroidery. "These are old-world traditions."