Naeem Khan Spring 2017 RTW

Given his propensity for embellished ball gowns and his mastery of embroidery, it’s easy to forget that Naeem Khan actually cut his teeth as a designer at Halston in the ’70s. Spring 2017 was a reminder of that fact. Drawing upon his experience under the master of American sportswear in the days of disco, Khan opened his show with a series of slinky gowns cut on the bias. It was a departure from his usual outings, but mostly a welcome one, and Khan is one of the few designers who can lay claim to a piece of the Halston heritage. The one-shouldered gown with billowing cape was particularly successful; others, like the monochromatic parachute dress felt like a slight reach for the brand. Many of these looks came in a refreshing palette of red, blue, black, and white—a color combination that appeared intermittently throughout the collection, including on a handful of crochet gowns and a joyful, voluminous ball gown.

But this is a Naeem Khan show, after all, and the early, streamlined looks gave way to embellishment and embroidery, sometimes ingeniously combined, as on a hand-embroidered floral gown that had a layer of tulle hand-beaded with sequins. These, and the romantic bohemian embroidered gowns at the end, were some of the highlights. No doubt we’ll be seeing these on the backs of A-listers soon—perhaps even at the Emmys this weekend. But Khan, who has already pretty much conquered the red carpet scene, also included a few separates that might suit (well-funded) commoners, such as an embroidered blouse with poet sleeves that, the designer pointed out, would look beautiful with jeans.

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Michael Kors Collection Spring 2017 RTW

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.

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Monique Lhuillier Spring 2017 RTW

As Monique Lhuillier prepared to celebrate her 20-year anniversary, she was feeling a sense of nostalgia, according to the show notes for her spring collection. Naturally, this made her revisit some of her signature silhouettes — but it also led her to explore a darker side. Looks from the former were far more abundant, as Lhuillier started her runway presentation with a floral embroidered jumpsuit with black ribbon belt and a blush embroidered gown with tulle bow straps — very familiar territory for the designer, whose love of fairy-tale eveningwear often leads her into romantic territory. She rooted Spring in a cotton candy palette. A teensy mink jacket was dyed a milky lavender; tulle, Chantilly lace, and chiffon gowns came fast and frequent in minty green, pale pink, and blue. That fantasy-princess element was also present elsewhere, as tiny heart sequins embroidered here and there, or bejeweled embellishments at the collar and down the back.

She did venture to more carnal places with a revealing allover oversize-sequin slip in rose gold, a deep-V Deco-inspired white and silver cutout-shoulder gown and a glitzy coatdress with a black sash belt, proving that nice and naughty are simply different sides of the same fashion coin.

 

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Brandon Maxwell Spring 2017 RTW

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.”

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