Sometimes fashion people are accused of not being patriotic—something about looking to the French for guidance—but yesterday, what better way to celebrate the country and Presidents’ Day than by visiting this city’s parks and landmarks to watch style in the making?
Here’s a little history lesson for you: The land on which Bryant Park sits was designated as public space back in 1686—at that time called Resvoir Square and was given its present name 1884 in honor recently deceased poet and editor William Cullen Bryan.
Even though there were no fireworks to mark the day, there was an explosion of color at Carlos Miele that morning. Most designers stick to subdued hues for the fall/winter collections—and there were those classic gray and black pieces here too, but for the most part, the collection stuck out for its vibrancy. Dyed silk in color-blocked neon made a statement as both a dress and skirt/blouse separates. Overall, the clothes were sophisticated—the kind of pieces a woman in her 30’s would buy and still be able to wear twenty years later.
Now, what national holiday would be complete without a stop at one of our great country’s most prestigious monuments: The New York Public Library. Just on the other side of Bryant Park, the NYPL is a beacon of literacy. Yesterday, the grand space was transformed into a fashion spectacle for the runway show of Jill Stuart. Dismayed tourists were turned away at the door in favor of well-heeled fashionistas and the parade of B-list celebrities like Michelle Trachtenberg, Mena Suvari (who really needs a day job because that girl has been at every show this week), Kelly Bensimon, and that girl from 90210.
As for the clothes, Jill’s collection had that “umph” of bellicose patriotism that sometimes us fashion people seem to lack. Models were prepared for battle with thigh-high boots, cargo pockets on pants and jackets, and ammo belts slung sexily around their thin hips. The strongest pieces, literally, were the chunky knits that could keep any woman in fighting shape as she trudges through urban terrain. A favorite piece was a plum sweater dress with constructed shoulders and hips that gave a sexy platoon commander feel.
Now of course, you can’t be patriotic without supporting the country’s young, so I came back to the tents later that day for the Ecco Domani fashion show. Each year, the Ecco Domani Fashion Foundation awards a $25,000 grant to seven fashion designers to present a runway show at New York Fashion Week. Because seven collections is a lot to deconstruct right now, I’ll just let you know my favorite: The Blondes. They routinely dress pop stars like Rihanna and Katy Perry for performances, outfitting them in glittery corsets that had a long romp in bed with Swarovski crystals.
Perry Ellis was the last show of the day and the crop of young male models soldiered down the runway in clothes that you could easily imagine on your local congressman (there were even suspenders). With the exception of a few pieces like a quilted leather bomber, most of the clothes exuded a classic masculinity in staid suiting with a sense of quiet luxury. It wasn’t anything to start a war over, but it was a strong collection in its own way.
Oh, it was a beautiful day to be an American. —Adrien Field