Sunday, September 21, 2014

New York Fashion Week 2014

It's Fashion Week in New York! All the designers are parading their upcoming lines for spring and summer of 2015. If you're anything like me, what you expect to see at the cutting-edge runway shows going on this week is wacky, unwearable, impractical or downright ugly designs. But as I browsed through the various designers' collections this year, I found an impressive number of beautiful, practical, and wearable outfits. Here are a few of my favorites.

Designer Juan Carlos Obanda's contribution to the continuing animal print trend is this striking outfit. A slim but long and flowing leopard skirt with paired front slits is lined with black satin, echoing the belted black halter top. Paired with sleek hair and strappy metallic sandals, this is an elegant but fun evening look that many of us could pull off.

Many of the pieces in designer Marc Jacobs' collection were obviously military-inspired, featuring boxy jackets, pleated and tabbed pockets, and "uniform" colors such as khaki and olive drab. This particular piece struck me by pairing square, utilitarian military styling with shiny satin fabric, a very short, very flared skirt, and an oversize cross-body bag. It's a bit short for ordinary wear, but paired with leggings it could be a very cute look for the under-25 set.

The J. Mendel collection featured large color blocks of pure white mixed with silvers, grays, black, and mustard yellow. Styles included everything from a swirly, full-skirted strapless dress with a swath of delicate print down the side, to a simple squared-off shirt paired with snug-fitting print cuffed ankle pants, to a white sheath dress with criss-cross bodice and silver detailing on the skirt. Not too fussy, not too plain, just feminine and flattering.

Ralph Lauren's collection had a very international feel to it, with a number of sari-inspired pieces and quite a few others with something of a "Banana Republic" vibe. The collection, as well as each individual look, blended tailored styling with softly draped pieces for a practical but fashionable look. The Casablanca-inspired safari suit with soft hat and draped belt, the swirling black skirt with belly-baring, fittted-to-the-wrist sleeved black jersey, and the snug leather leggings paired with a flowing top consisting of a long floating swath of chiffon, each combine fitted with flowing for an enviable look.


"Striking separates" is the term that comes to mind for Erin Featherston's designs. Some separates were perfectly matched, like the white lace crop top and pencil skirt; some matched colors while mixing textures, like the yellow lace top with matching brocade skirt; and some paired a print with a matching solid, like the white top with blue print and solid blue shorts. Crisp, tailored but interesting, and just unusual enough to feel like designer clothes but still wearable but we mere mortals.

The Elizabeth & James collection was almost too simple: clean lines, very little detailing or accents, solid or simple print fabrics. And yet, it all worked. Add a pop of interest with a bright bag, a great pair of shoes, or a statement necklace (or, in the case of that first blue suit, maybe a shirt), and you've got a great everyday look.

 Maybe fashion week isn't just for people with perfect figures and no credit limit. Maybe real people really can wear fashionable clothes! Just probably not any of these: