NEW YORK – There's more classic tailoring on the New York Fashion Week runways than in recent memory and there's also a lot of shine. Designers are still making the case that fall is about chunky knit sweaters, but they have slimmed down the overall silhouette after a few seasons of over-the-top volume.
"There's a lot of suiting, which is terrific, and a return to great tailoring," Nicole Fischelis, fashion director of Macy's East, said Monday from the front row at Carolina Herrera. "There's also a lot of day to evening, and evening to day. They're active clothes for a real lifestyle."
Fashion Week, attended by retailers, editors and stylists, continues through Friday.
-- Marc Jacobs: This is what the fashion crowd was waiting for: a definitive sign that the shape of fashion will be different next season.
More than any other American designer, Marc Jacobs is the bellwhether, and he treated his beyond-capacity crowd to long, lean clothes that were devoid of gimmicks but still had sparkle, thanks to several sequined pieces. Models, including Shalom Harlow making a rare appearance on the runway, wore 1920s-inspired hats to complement pleated shirtdresses that went below the knee and menswear-style vests and narrow-leg -- though not "skinny" -- pants. There was more than one jumpsuit, too, and while they normally look either dated or incredibly difficult to pull off, Jacobs' navy one covered with subtle embroidered bows actually worked.
(The jury is still out on the decision to put stirrups on the bottom of most pants.)
Eveningwear was either tailored tuxedos, or dropped-waist or draped dresses, with a teal strapless velvet gown with an oversized bow at the bustline as his finale piece.
Jacobs did tap into some already-emerging trends, including using teal and berry against a backdrop of gray, navy, beige and winter white, as well as mixing textures, almost ensuring that those looks will take off.
-- Oscar de la Renta: Oscar de la Renta hit on the idea of mixing fabrics and textures on a single garment right out of the gate, but he did it, of course, in the most luxurious way. He trimmed his chunky knit sweaters with fur. Expect to see those sweaters, worn with black satin tights and furry flat-heeled boots, in the apres-ski lounges in St. Moritz at Christmastime. There also was an outstanding hand-woven, full-length mink tweed coat that had that same snuggly look.
Cindi Leive, editor in chief of Glamour, said she particularly liked the way de la Renta paired brown-tone fur with gray. "When you wear fur with gray, it doesn't look as hard as it does with black. It's more natural. I say wear fur with brown and gray instead of black -- it's not so in your face," she said.
De la Renta's show wasn't without color, though. A silk column dress with a halter neck and belted waist came alive in bright fuchsia and an asymmetrical cowl-neck taffeta gown was simple in its structure but the print -- a mix of purple, yellow, red and green -- made it special.
The cocktail dresses mostly stuck to de la Renta's successful recipe of fitted bodices, flared skirts and touches of embellishment. Why mess with a winner?
-- Carolina Herrera: Carolina Herrera presented a rich, textured fall line, that will give her chic uptown customer something new and fresh to wear without stepping out of her comfort zone.
The first look, a black wool-felt top and skirt, was elegant and unfussy, but full of interesting cutout details. A gray cashmere textured sweater worn over an ivory blouse and super wide-leg pants showed that while Herrera is known for suits and eveningwear, she certainly holds her weight in the world of chunky, cozy knits.
And Herrera's fur-trimmed cashmere scarves -- complete with pockets -- looked particularly tempting on a frigid day. The wool coats and jackets had some swing and bounce which kept the overall outfit from looking too buttoned-up. There was also a touch of novelty on the opaque tights worn with the short skirts and dresses: chunky black jewels straight down the leg.
The designer said she had focused on a juxtaposition of texture, dimension and color. The palette, including a periwinkle-like "captain blue," purple, gray, poppy red and bark brown came from an Edvard Munch portrait of Hans Jaeger, according to Herrera.
She closed the show with a delicate organza gown with a ruffled collar and open back and a black and light-purple print Herrera described as "raindrops."
"Her play with embroidery for evening and the layering were hits. The tunic-shape sheath was so fresh," said Avril Graham, executive fashion director at Harper's Bazaar.
-- Luca Luca: Luca Orlandi, marking the 15th anniversary of his label, resisted the urge to mine the archives for his fall collection, instead looking ahead with a very futuristic edge.
He envisions skiers in trim white jumpsuits, quilted pants and parkas, and snow bunnies wear herringbone alpaca jackets and shiny lurex pants.
"White tones move into fine, luxe fabrics with an architectural structure in the clothes," Orlandi told The Associated Press, noting that he watched the Gary Cooper film "The Fountainhead," about an individualist architect, quite a few times when creating this line.
One of Orlandi's dressier looks combined a tight sheer metallic blouse covered in tiny pleats with a pencil skirt that had a zigzag of tucks at the waist. He also did the increasingly popular mixed-texture-and-material thing -- his best version was an ice blue silk and lurex strapless gown decorated with stones that looked like ice cubes.
"I used a very modern silhouette. We're definitely out of volume and going closer to the body -- pencil skirts, not wide skirts. Narrowness forces us to play with length," Orlandi said.
-- Matthew Williamson: The fashion flock often says that the European runway shows are more about spectacle, while their U.S. counterparts are more about business. On Sunday night, Londoner Matthew Williamson brought some of his colorful frivolity to these shores.
This collection is for the disco queens out there, and some models did indeed have miniature mirrored balls on their wrists as jewelry. Williamson's fans are women who like to wear purple and aqua sequins -- together. They'll wear argyle fur frocks and a dress with a rainbow leopard print.
They'll also have a good time wherever they are.