Designers left and right this week have been talking about the uplifting nature of fashion, but nobody’s left us feeling quite as uplifted as Michael Kors. With his old pal Rufus Wainwright on the mic, crooning Judy Garland’s “Get Happy,” the crowd, which included Sienna Miller and Emily Blunt, was fairly bopping in its seats.
The clothes matched the upbeat mood of the music. Kors gave his signature feminine/masculine plot line a ’40s-by-way-of-the-‘80s twist, conjuring “dames” (his word) from Barbara Stanwyck and Katharine Hepburn, to Kim Basinger. “They were women,” he said backstage, “who were very provocative, very flirty, but also in control.” On the one hand, he had little nipped-waist dresses and peephole-neck jumpsuits in vivid floral prints. And on the other: belted pant suits, a twill trench, and boyish argyle knits. Colors were juicy, like grapefruit pink and lime green, or they were streamlined black, white, and navy. Kors is an equal opportunity optimist, spreading his glass-half-full perspective worldwide. He sent out two versions of a “Love” sweater, a slouchy one for girls, and a snug one for boys; the former is one of a handful of items available for sale now. Among the others was a plunge-front, ruffle-sleeved little black dress—again that dichotomy.
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.