Though Brandon Maxwell is a cult newcomer (and Lady Gaga’s stylist) to New York’s eveningwear scene, it hasn’t stopped him from pulling out all the stops to frame his designs in exactly the kind of baroque environs his customers most certainly frequent. For his third season that meant staging his show in the Russian Tea Room, a gilded, mirrored box that provided all the decoration needed for his collection of monochrome suits, gowns, jumpsuits and cocktail frocks.
The clothes were energizing. Maxwell admitted to wanting “to make a bit more of a wearable collection,” and that this one in particular was inspired by “learning a lot of different types of love this year.” That goal was accomplished, that love shown (Naomi Campbell, in addition to Gaga, rose for a standing ovation). Where in the past Maxwell’s gowns and separates have been relatively covered-up and statement-making, tonight he offered more sexiness, more sharp silhouettes, and more general variation than before (though keep in mind that the before, here, is just one year—Maxwell started his business for Spring 2016). He noted the introduction of an olive colorway, and a new “petal pink,” which is “becoming a signature.”
News broke on the Friday before Labor Day that Laura Kim and Fernando Garcia of Monse are the new creative directors of Oscar de la Renta. The duo worked alongside Mr. de la Renta and launched their fledgling label after Peter Copping was selected as the late designer’s successor. Kim and Garcia, who will continue to design Monse alongside their new OdlR duties (not an easy task), took in the show from the front row; they’ll make their Oscar debut early next year. The Spring collection presented at the Morgan Library this afternoon was designed by the studio team, 10 members of which came out to take a bow at the finale. It was a feel-good moment for the brand ahead of Kim and Garcia’s homecoming.
There’s no substitute for a distinct point of view, but the design team has a fine handle on the house Oscar-isms. They touched on many of them here: the knit skirt suit, the safari jacket, the peasant dress. Of course, there was also a full complement of cocktail frocks and evening dresses. Not everything had the refinement of fit that we expect from this label; the safari shorts set comes to mind, as does the off-the-shoulder closing number in pintucked pink silk taffeta. But for a placeholder collection, this had some charmers—a cayenne red strapless silk faille number with a ruffled hem, and a black dress liberally stitched with pearls that looked particularly Oscar-y, among them. With flat, sometimes bejeweled, sandals for accessories, the show had a breezy, youthful, not-too-serious tone. The real business of renewing the house founder’s legacy will begin next February.
This season marks the tenth anniversary of Erin Fetherston’s New York Fashion Week debut (before that, she showed in Paris); it’s also her first collection since she became a mother.
“I have a more relaxed attitude because you just got to go with the flow,” she explained of her latest lineup. “That has translated in the best possible way to my designs this season.” Indeed, Fetherston’s signature flirty frocks were longer and looser for Spring; of note were the slouchy off-the-shoulder dresses that seemed tailor-made for a dinner party in Laurel Canyon or a casual beachside wedding. More surprising still, were the suits, which were slightly oversize and cut from a pliable crepe. Though at times they came across a little staid, the suits toward the end—which came with blouson sleeves—deserved a second look (the sleeves particularly provided a smart tweak for women who like to look put together, but not buttoned-up). These must have been what the designer was referring to when she spoke of striving for a “refined take on bohemian dressing.”
Despite these unexpected turns, Fetherston stayed true to her signature girlish romanticism. The iridescent opal looks—which shimmered like butterfly wings—felt particularly true to her brand. Of the offering, Fetherston said, “I feel like this is a perfect anniversary collection for me because it really reflects who I’ve been, but it’s also very much a look forward.”
Michelle Ochs and Carly Cushnie know their customer, and while subtlety may not be her strong suit, having fun sure is. For Spring, the pair sent out a collection that relied heavily on the slashed and split sexy-at-all-costs clinging silhouettes that party girls and paparazzi-bait alike have come to rely on them for—this time, in color-block pastels inspired by Miami, and Michelle Pfeiffer’s character from Brian De Palma’s Scarface. “We’re women designing clothes for women, and we’ve been doing it for eight years now, and it’s working,” said Ochs.
The slinky, sexy looks certainly seemed to resonate with the front row, which included at least two former CW stars and one former pageant queen, all of whom looked like they may have at any given point been photographed out on the town with the ever-growing groups surrounding the Hadids or younger Kardashian/Jenners.
And there was plenty here for that particular cohort to covet, from a cocktail frock that bared both flank and haunch to the flowing monochromatic jumpsuit that opened the show. For those with board meetings in their future, there was even some suiting, demurely slit at the shoulders. The disco-era Miami influence was most keenly felt in the sparkly Lurex cocktail frock and cutout jumpsuits, though one could make the argument for the final group of geometrically beaded gowns with pleated accents coming from that city’s architecture (Gianni Versace’s Miami mansion, maybe?). After all, as Pfeiffer’s character so famously said, “Nothing exceeds like excess.”