NY Fashion Week Diary: Day 1 (BCBG, Richard Chai, La Perla)

Every season at the tents in Bryant Park there’s a theme to the décor. Over the past year we’ve had the election (Fall 2009) and travel (Spring 2010). This season, being the last one in Bryant Park before a decampment to Lincoln Center, is goodbye. 

I was sitting at BCBG Max Azria at 10AM waiting for the show to begin when I learned that the fashion world had prematurely said goodbye to one of its greatest luminaries—Alexander McQueen. The ripple of shock in the crowd was palpable and the Twitter wall inside the tents blew up with goodbye messages to the man who created some of the greatest couture we’ve seen in the past century.

It was hard to focus on the clothes after receiving such news, but the BCBG collection fit the somber mood with dark draped silks layered over knitwear for cocktail attire adapted to the cold. Dresses seemed to cascade over the body and were cinched with belts—a trend that here’s to stay for the foreseeable future. 

It was right to Richard Chai’s LOVE collection when BCBG ended. Richard Chai is one of the young designers to watch right now and his collections are generally right on the pulse of what’s happening in fashion. This season there was an unmistakable grunge feel to the clothes with only the heavy Timberland boots outweighing the irony in the collection. Layering was central to each look with so many clashing colors and overlapping textures that you’d think you had just been transported to Seattle, circa ’94.

It was via cab, that I later transported myself to Barney’s for Olivier Theysken’s book launch with Assouline. The ex-Nina Ricci designer—who himself looks like he just walked out of Seattle circa ’94 with flowing locks—partnered with Julien Claessens to create a compilation of backstage shots, all encompassed in a thick coffee table tome. He had time to weigh in on the quandary of the ever-heightening heel saying, “I don’t know if there’s a point to go higher and higher, but once a girl wears high heels, she doesn’t want to go lower.”  Sounds like there’s a corollary to note there.

It was a quick stop at La Perla afterwards, which we’ll include for the gratuitous models-in-lingerie shot. I ended the first day of fashion week at John Varvatos’ after party in his Bowery store, once the home of the notorious CBGBs where punk gave way to the grunge movement, revived and repackaged on the runway at Chai this morning. —Adrien Field

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