Vera Wang explores yin and yang at NY fashion week

NEW YORK, Robert MacPherson- Feather-light layers of organza and chiffon spilling over Bermuda shorts? It sounds like an odd combination, but Vera Wang pulled it off with panache Tuesday at New York fashion week.
Wang, a native New Yorker whose wedding gowns are coveted by brides-to-be, celebrated the polar opposites of yin and yang with a structured yet feminine collection of ready-to-wear looks for next fall and winter.

Vera Wang explores yin and yang at NY fashion week
Her "techno-stretch" Bermuda shorts, resembling cycling shorts to the layman's eye, appeared under light tan Melton wool coats and jackets, tangerine chiffon V-neck gowns, and dark silk cape tops with necks enveloped in raccoon.
Backstage, Wang cited Gothic cathedrals as a design influence, as she described how decorative elements had been carefully cut as part of each garment rather than just being "slapped on" afterwards.
"We always like tension," she told AFP, referring to her team. "I like a boyishness next to something sensual. I like transparency next to something strict. I like the mix. It's that tension that makes it fashion for me."
Wang matched each outfit with uncompromisingly chunky platform shoes, while models sported rigid, blown-back jetstream hairstyles.
Anybody who saw Marc Jacobs' collection for Louis Vuitton in Paris a year ago could have been excused for having a sense of deja vu at his Marc by Marc Jacobs diffusion-line show at the New York National Guard's Lexington Armory.
Taking a cue from that show's kinky grand-hotel theme, Jacobs topped many of his outfits for men and women with bell-captain hats, and put handbags in the hands of several of his models.
But in lieu of brazen sexuality, he tipped more towards a teasing prudishness with pleated plaid dresses and prim white blouses that could have come from the wardrobe of a young New York secretary in the early 1960s.
Geeky black glasses only reinforced the message -- but lest it all look too retro, every one of the dozens of looks was shod with boots: biker boots, lace-up boots, buckle boots, mostly in black but sometimes in burgundy.
Appealing to a totally different fashion crowd, dashing Lebanese designer Jad Ghandour used perhaps more supple leather than anyone else showing in New York this season for his latest range of red-carpet-ready formal wear.
Showing in Cipriani, a one-time bank turned luxury restaurant, Ghandour ditched the femininity of his previous collection for an Amazonian look best represented by a jet-black strapless evening gown that instantly appealed to reality TV star Cynthia Bailey, one of the front-row guests.
"I felt I was seeing something I haven't seen before," Bailey, who appears in "The Real Housewives of Atlanta," told AFP, adding that she preferred a more cutting-edge look -- not least to avoid looking like any other celebrity.
Just in time for its ambitious multicountry expansion overseas, US brand J. Crew -- a favorite of First Lady Michelle Obama -- presented a colorful range of separates in custom-dyed Italian cashmere.
Eye-catchers included a preppy pullover tucked into a snakeskin pencil skirt, a glittering cable-knit sweater, and a bold orange smock dress that an Asian model jazzed up with a radiant smile -- a rare sight on fashion catwalks.
Layers of wool defined J. Crew's fall-winter menswear, so it came as no surprise when the label's chief men's designer Frank Muytjens cited old photos of Antarctic explorer Ernest Shackleton as a source of inspiration.
"I think it's great to look at historical references," said Muytjens, a Dutchman now living in Brooklyn and a key figure in J. Crew's efforts to offer shoppers more style and color in otherwise Gap-dominated retail malls.

Thursday, February 16th 2012
Robert MacPherson

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