An inspiring week in the Big Apple
Text and Photographs by Lisa Arnold
As the plane touches down at NY's LaGuardia airport I am filled with excitement to be fortunate enough to be here reporting on Fashion Week. I’ve done much wardrobe planning and happily, my luggage arrives. The driver pulls up to my friend Lynn's fabulous apartment in Chelsea and as he removes three suitcases from the car Lynn laughs and asks if I plan to move to NYC. I giggle and agree it’s a little excessive. I unpack and change for dinner at Nomad.
Since this is Lynn's first time attending FW I share past experiences and history...
"Fashion week was held at Bryant Park but now Lincoln Center is the hub of most activity, however many designers choose to rent out art studios and other venues to host their shows."
"People watching is truly one of the best parts of being at FW. Celebrities, fashion magazine editors, models, buyers; you never know who you’ll see or what they will be wearing. It is always fun to take your seat and watch the people arrive."
Later, I can’t sleep thinking about how much work and how many talented people are required to put a fashion show together. Yes, of course there are the models, but behind the scenes there are also hair stylists, makeup artists, manicurists, lighting and music/sound technicians, staging crews, public relations agencies, photographers, casting directors and producers. Then, I think about how months of a designer’s vision, talent and hard work is articulated, not with words, but instead, on a runway in about five minutes.
It’s an unusually warm day in New York as we head over to Highline Stages on W. 14th Street and stand in the blazing sun, waiting to go in.
Tibi has mastered the art of modern dressing, with looks that are easy to wear but convey refined ease. According to Amy Smilovic, Tibi's designer, the color palette in the Spring 2015 collection is based on the, "ornamental Koi fish and its pond." Think stone greys, white and sand touched with shades of watery blue, fire oranges and dark green; neutral but potent. The collection includes a series of beautifully draped dresses, culottes (yes it's true), summer knits, and easy jackets. Hats reappear, dip-dyed by hand with gently frayed edges. Shoes are sporty and modern and look easy to wear. Many have raffia detailing.
As I watch the models walk by, I mentally choose pieces I want for next season; the blue dress for the beach, the culottes for Columbia. The collection is modern and refined and can easily be worn both in the city and on the coast.
Lynn and I grab a quick bite at Fig and Olive then head back to get ready for Altuzarra. I love the Altuzarra dress I'e chosen for tonight; it's a body skimming sleeveless grey dress with cognac colored leather piping and detail on the waist and has Joseph Altuzarra's signature high side slit in the front.
(Joseph Altuzarra won the 2014 CFDA Womenswear Designer of the Year. Even fashion insiders comment on what a coveted ticket I have.) I ask Eddie to bring us to Lincoln Center and we arrive early to stand outside and people watch. At 7:40 we head to the door and I hand my ticket to the security guard who says, "Altuzarra is showing at Spring Studios on Varick Street." A quick call and our driver returns. Blazing through the streets, we miraculously pull up at 8:05, run the half block to the door, and are the last to get on the elevator with the staff.
I almost cry as I take my seat in the front row – it’s a miracle that we made it. Rihanna, a huge fan of Altuzarra, was nearby.
Models with tightly pulled back hair in low buns descend the runway wearing pink and blue gingham suits and dresses which sounds a bit "saccharin" until you look at the thigh high slits and blouses that were held together by a ribbon. The jackets are perfectly tailored and the dresses are body skimming, with each look revealing flashes of skin – a look that’s become synonymous with the designer. Next come the black and white striped dresses and suits popped off with just a touch of rich cognac. This is followed by articulated lattice looking leather tops, skirts and dresses in both cognac and black. The show closes with a series of delicate tulle slip dresses and floral print pieces in soft pink and vibrant red, inspired by vintage Japanese textiles.
Joseph Altuzarra described his inspiration: "Rosemary's Baby and Barry Lyndon were the starting points for this collection. I became interested in the idea of a sinister and undone prettiness and romance, ill-fated and doomed." As I observe each model I keep thinking that each look represents both strength and femininity simultaneously, a feat not easily achieved. Altuzarra's collection is a representation of the modern woman in every facet: sophisticated, smart and sexy. It’s no surprise that at 32, this talented designer has achieved so much success.
Yigal's show is scheduled for 2pm at a studio on West 22nd Street in Chelsea. It's no secret that I love the designer and his work. I dress in head to toe Yigal, wearing a black sleeveless dress that I had modeled in his show this past March, a beautiful croc-embossed leather biker jacket and a pair of his gorgeous (but impossible to wear for long periods of time) booties.
We arrive early so I can catch up with Yigal's gorgeous assistant Chelsea. We hug and I comment on how calm she is. The doors open and I take my seat in the front row. I think about what a fabulous space to have the show: open, airy, lots of natural light. Both Yigal's Facebook and Instagram had alluded to an image of a Palm Tree as a prelude to the show.
From the minute the show begins it’s visibly noticeable how Yigal's love of nature and surfing played into his Spring 2015 collection; the designs are relaxed and effortless but also architectural and utilitarian. There are reappearing palm leaf prints (not the kitschy kind) and embroidery and colors synonymous with nature (pale pinks, crisp blues) but also army green and garnet.
The pieces seem more relaxed and the silhouettes less body-con than his past collections but he does throw a few of his signature bomber jackets in both silk and lambskin in the collection. There are cool, casual twill pieces but also airy georgette dresses and blouses with plunging necklines.
The collection make me think of endless summer days on the Carolina coast with palm trees swaying in the wind and the smell of salt in the air.
I arrive at Lincoln Center and sit down in what’s referred to as the "hub" of fashion week. It’s a large area with an information both, bottled waters, access to ipads and computers, all of the daily fashion publications hot off the press and multiple vendors set up with information about the latest trends in the fashion and beauty industries – perfect to soak in the day’s happenings and of course, people watch.
Angel's show is scheduled for 12pm at Lincoln Center. After I sit down in my seat in the front row, I look around at the configuration of the seats and the five intersecting runways and wonder how the show will be orchestrated. The lights dim and the models come out, one after the other, walking straight down the center runway and then taking a right turn and walking the other four runways and then another right turn and back down the center, just the way they came on. Timing is impeccable as the models cross each other as they enter and exit down the center runway.
The show opens with light grey neoprene dresses, pants and separates. My favorite is a v-neck dress with a handkerchief skirt. Angel then moves into a series of what I refer to as "Barbie Pink" double-faced canvas pieces and then onto a group of citrus yellow pieces, many having an open weave (think more fishing net than mesh). Next comes the printed organza dresses and gowns, many with a bit of exposed midriff (yes, that’s back again this season) or back. The show closes with a series of beautiful silk mikado and crepe dresses and gowns.
Angel comes out to take his bow in the humblest of ways and walks around the entire perimeter, hugging many individuals along the way. I leave the show with a list of pieces that I covet; now I just need somewhere to wear them.
I head back to change for Reem Acra's show this evening.
The show is scheduled for 6pm at Lincoln Center. Reem Acra is a designer known for an eponymous bridal gown line, a Haute Couture collection, and her ready to wear collection of cocktail dresses and evening gowns. I hope an invitation that requires a formal dress appears in my mailbox so I can order one of her dresses. Reem's Spring 2015 collection is synonymous with the distinctive tailoring for which she’s known. Many dresses are in shades of blush, ivory and gold with meticulous beading or metallic details. The sweetness of the pale color is juxtaposed with exposed midriffs (yes, this again), deep v-necks or high slits.
Reem has mastered the art of making celebrities around the world red carpet ready and after seeing her show, I understand why.
We arrive at Lincoln Center a bit early and head back to the Salon, the room in which the show is being held, and see a long line. I’m not surprised as this is Zang Toi's 25th year anniversary show. Veve, Zang's assistant, spots me because I’m wearing a fedora and glen plaid jacket and leggings (the original samples from Zang's Fall 2014 collection) that Zang sent me to wear to the show.
The show is scheduled for 7pm. The room buzzes with energy and there must be 150 photographers. After going through the fabulous goody bag on my chair I turn my attention back towards the runway in front of me and notice Perez Hilton speaking with a group of ladies. Lynn leans over and says, "That’s the entire cast of the Real Housewives of NYC." Then, some cast members from Real Housewives of Atlanta come in and I spot Whoopi Goldberg sitting in the front row.
Having met Zang a few times, I expect this show to be nothing short of fabulous. Zang titled the Spring 2015 collection, "A Privileged Life: The American Dream," when I saw Zang a few weeks prior to the show he told me that he "felt lucky to be living the dream," hence the title for the collection. The lights dim and the DJ plays "American Woman" by Lenny Kravitz. The collection opens with black and ivory pieces, which include tunics, blouses, jackets and riding pants and a Zang Toi 25 year anniversary t-shirt. Next is the coral, black and ivory striped "league" collection followed by a series of solid coral pieces including the Loro Piana jackets and trousers for which Zang is famous. Then, gorgeous color blocked wool dresses strut down the catwalk and an absolutely breathtaking scarlet hued hand-loomed wool "Vogue" suit with 25th anniversary silver orchid buttons (which he used on many pieces). A collection of cocktail dresses comes next including the aptly titled, "Modern Day American Heiress," dress which is worn with lace medallion stockings. One of the (many) things that I love about this show is that the models, all with their long luscious locks cascading down their backs in retro waves, walk one at a time and stop at the end of the runway and hold a pose, thus giving the audience a chance to really look at each piece.
Zang walks out looking fabulous in a tuxedo (he typically wears a kilt) with one of his models to take his bow and the audience stands to give him a much-deserved standing ovation.
We hop in the car and head back to change into cocktail attire for the after party.
Zang Toi Afterparty
We arrive at The Skylark, on W 39th St. around 10:45pm. Security checks our tickets at the door then we’re ushered inside and brought to the 30th floor, where we’re greeted with a glass of champagne. The lounge has amazing views and a sexy vibe. Photographers swarm, snapping photos of celebrities and models and awaiting Zang's arrival. He comes in and makes his way around the room, hugging many of the guests. I get a quick hug and congratulate him on the show, remembering something he had said to me when I interviewed him, "You treat everyone – buyers, editors and clients – with respect because they are the ones who hold the real power when it comes to your success."
Driving to the airport early the next morning, I am both energized and exhausted. I know everyone will ask which show was my favorite and after much thought, decide I loved every collection and have a deep appreciation of the fact that each show is a reflection of both seasons past and the designer's vision of how they see Spring 2015. Before leaving for Fashion Week, I was excited that Fall was finally here and I was able to wear the new clothes that I had purchased for the season. As I head home, I admit that I can't stop thinking about the warm Spring ahead and find myself making a list of the pieces that I want for the upcoming season. Later that evening while unpacking my suitcase and hanging up my (Fall) clothes, it occurs to me that while looking forward to the future is important, it is of equal importance to appreciate all that we already have and to live in the (current) moment and I smile as I put my vintage Judith Leiber bag back in the drawer.