After a leisurely, prosecco and bruschetta fueled brunch at nearby Donatella, District L braved the windy backstreets of Chelsea, arriving at Capsule NYC in rare form. The celebrated tradeshow plays host to a bevy of emerging designers and street-wear labels, however visiting IVANA Helsinki’s booth to get a closer look at their AW 2011 collection was the primary line-item on our agenda that afternoon. Fashion Week may have just finished, but we were far from done with our duties this past weekend.
Pirjo Suhonen, sister to IVANA designer Paola Suhonen, was on hand to fill us in on the details behind this season’s collection. A departure from Spring’s upbeat sailor theme, Paola’s romantic aesthetic and knack for prints (all of them, by the way, custom made for this collection) were still just as present - it was great to see the designer’s darker side for sure.
The inspiration this season was special in that Paola sought to capture not only a mood, but a moment in time - that moment being, in this case, the quickening of the air before a big frost (and being from Finland, she knows a thing or two about the cold). The print motifs were definitely the focus of this collection, exhibited on a series of coquettish yet demure silhouettes - frosty green and fuschia feathers, arranged like rime gathered on a windowpane, stood out as particularly creative uses of pattern.
This season’s lookbook, assembled as a series of postcards in a box sporting the aforementioned feather print, was very inspired as well - how fitting that a line that so successfully encapsulated a single, ephemeral moment in time be presented as a series of moments itself. IVANA Helsinki’s cohesion and creativity across all fronts, branding included, is admirable - needless to say, we can't wait for next Spring.
At the end of every fashion week, when all is said and done and we return to that featurless grey void known as the months of March through September, we can always rest a bit easier knowing that we've come away with three things - an amazing slew of runway reviews, a host of party pics to sift through, and some bangin' new tracks to add to our runway playlists.
When we aren't scribbling down notes, live-tweeting, video recording, or picture taking during shows, we're keeping our ears open for that other oh-so-important facet of show production: Music. So after firing up Shazam on my iPhone and giving everything we tagged a good listen through (and making the subsequent necessary purchases on iTunes), we've each picked out our favorites - check them out below!
Nicolas' Pick: The New Division - "Starfield"
Heard During: Mik Cire in The Lincoln Center Studio
Majestic and moving, with mildly washed-out vocals and a fantastic walking beat - perfect for Eric Kim's super-composed, almost romantic Fall collection for the label.
Amanda's Pick: Tiga - "Shoes"
Heard During: martinMARTIN at the Audi Forum
An edgy, sexy selection for martinMARTIN's no nonsense runway. Plus, may we add, probably the BEST music video we've ever seen - we're addicted.
Emerging menswear line ROCHAMBEAU has risen through the esteemed ranks rather quickly over the past few years since the fateful meeting of trio Michael Venker, Laurence Chandler, and Joshua Cooper back in 2007. With features in SURFACE, Nylon, and Gotham Magazines, among other accolades, under their belt, the label's mantra of "taking chances" certainly seems to have paid off. Having done our homework, it was with great enthusiasm that we returned to the Highline Room at The Standard for the ROCHAMBEAU A/W 2011 presentation.
The paradox surrounding the amount of effort required in order to appear effortless is a constant in the fashion industry, and a stumbling block for many designers - how do you craft a look that maintains the integrity of inspiration without coming across as affected? It's always a sign of true skill when you chance upon one of those collections where the inspiration is evident yet open to the kind of interpretation that gives pause - ROCHAMBEAU, for us, is one of these.
It's not easy juxtaposing deconstruction with structure. However, the blend of the two found throughout yesterday's presentation - most notably in a rich red jersey wrap top paired with a structured grey blazer and black sport pants, and a paneled twill overcoat in navy with a rigid black button up and drop-crotch jersey pants - we thought highly successful.
There was an air of mystery about the looks as well, in that all together they very much formed a collection but we knew very little about the man inhabiting them. Sunburnt, nomadic, and silent, there is still an ease about ROCHAMBEAU's boy conveyed by the line's well-edited deconstruction. The pieces themselves communicate volumes without divulging too many specifics - no easy feat, yet one that the designers achieved effortlessly.
After a round of Bee's Knees and Lady Lemons at the Boom Boom bar, the DL team elbowed their way through the throngs to The Standard Hotel's 3rd floor for Bensoni's A/W 2011 showing. Always a treat for the eyes, Bensoni's Channing Clyburn and Sonia Yoon delivered a vibrant 70's-inspired lineup last Spring. It was well received - said Style.com of the twosome in their review "It will be exciting to watch this pair continue to find their voice in seasons to come" and we were inclined to agree. Needless to say, their Fall collection didn't disappoint.
Framing their runway in the context of a Gothic Wedding Vignette, each of the 24 looks shown was a story unto itself. Expertly styled, Bensoni gave us dramatic fur vests and parkas, daring outerwear in metallic snake and raw scratched wool, plenty of lace net, and a few coquettish peplumed looks that demonstrated a flawless sense of color (bridesmaids?). Multiple prints were used in many individual looks, a skill that few designers can pull off - the sheer amount of detail in each outfit was impressive.
Clyburn and Yoon executed their Fall collection without taking their inspiration too literally, another ability that they were noted for possessing last Spring. It's easy to envision a "Gothic Wedding" as a parade of pure leather and fishnet, which tonight's runway decidedly was not. We came away from The Standard afterwards feeling supremely fulfilled, and we're already anxious to see what the gifted young duo will present next season.
There's something to be said about ireverent sophistication - the ability to exude elegance while maintaining an edge. With the societal devolution associated with trashy reality television, it's easy to lose hope and long for the days when true glamour triumphed. And, alas, confidence was restored Friday afternoon at Lincoln Center. The Box fervently welcomed in Norman Ambrose and his hoard of female exemplars. With rich wovens and luxuriant furs, the girls of Ambrose posed coolly and seductively for adoring onlookers.
Along with this revived sophistication, Ambrose returned a level of decadence we thought we had lost forever. Sequined body-skimming gowns with feather fringe detailing gave a subtle nod to the continuing 70s sex-glam theme, modernized by sheer bodices and unexpected fabric contrast.
View our gallery below for Norman Ambrose's awe-inspiring collection.
Vivienne Tam's girl this season is on the run. From bolting down damp Shanghai alleyways in the dead of the night to assiduously avoiding eye contact at an elegant Hong Kong gathering, she's hiding something and will stop at nothing to conceal it. Is she a spy? A fugitive? We'll never know. In an A-line dark wool peacoat, or a Huang-shan inspired opera gown, she has the power of disguise down to an art. Don't chase, you'll never catch her.
Last season, former Monarchy designer Eric Kim presented a slick collection of deconstructed menswear that set a new standard - we're contintually impressed with his ability to market high concept sportswear. When the lights dimmed at Eric Kim's Mik Cire A/W 2011 runway earlier this afternoon, we thought we knew what to expect - but the clever Kim threw us for a loop and gave us something even better.
The highly sartorial collection we were treated to was glaringly refined. Kim's boy has turned away from loose and jagged asymmetric for Spring to sharply tailored and super-constructed for Fall. Raw thermals, slouch jersey wraps, and mercerized linen jackets gave way to goat suede trousers, cashmere flannel trenches, and gabardine waistcoats. Certain looks however, such as a tartan suit worn with a black silk sash, and a series of lambskin leather jackets, reminded us that Kim's edgy sensibility was still very much present.
Turning to the notes I jotted down during the show, which are scant because it was near impossible to take my eyes off the runway, I see jet-set, elegant, tailored, a well composed nomad, romantic simplicity. This really sums the Mik Cire A/W 2011 line up; Kim's versatility never fails to enthuse.
After exploring and capturing model moments backstage, District L kicked off MBFW with another showing from Irina Shabayeva - this time under the auspices of MAO PR in the Lincoln Center Stage. We had seen the hair, the makeup, the nails, and caught glimpses of the collection in the pre-show sturm und drang - all that remained was how it would add up.
We first saw Irina back in A/W 2010 for her debut showing at SIR Stage. Fresh off of her Project Runway 6 win, the young designer flexed her muscles and took flight, literally, presenting an avian inspired collection full of imagination and minute attention to detail. Then, after seeing a preview of her conceptual INC diffusion line back in January, we had begun to see where Shabayeva was headed with her aesthetic.
The opposing elements of Fire & Ice, and an exploration of their contrasts, formed the backdrop for tonight's showing. What we've seen from Shabayeva so far has been very thematic, taking lots of raw inspiration and translating it into approachable, accessible forms.
Some designers forget that design is a solution to a problem, and allow their vision to become convuluted by their desire to be the ultimate creative. Remaining and objective and recognizing her customer, however, are clearly Shabayeva's greatest strengths. Sculptural jackets in crimson, black, and camel; nude geometric crystal detailed cocktail dresses; fiery, high-detail evening wear with conviction; slouchy knit wraps and cardigans in mossy gray and lichen green - these are all amazing staple pieces that balance function with creativity. Executed with flawless construction of course. Versatile, market-conscious, and creative without delusion, Irina Shabayeva has the chops to be a success in this industry.
Custo Barcelona lit up Lincoln Center with his tried-and-true recipe of vivid prints, pounding beats, and youthful silhouettes. Designer, Custo Dalmau, packed the house again with patterned party clothes and excitement during his Sunday evening show.
If 15 straight minutes of neon fabric fail to energize you after a long weekend partying at Don Hill's, the feeling of Custo's playlistvibrating through your bones will certainly do the trick. Wake up people, it's only day 5!