Cho Cheng’s Fall 2009 presentation sings of Shanghai chic in the 1960s. Cheerful colors include turquoise, “cherry”, and “canary yellow”. There was heavy emphasis on luxurious suiting in the form of trim wool blazers with prim collars and French cuffs, velvet riding habits adorned with gold buttons, and jackets complete with satin lapels and lacy ruffles. The designer’s signature use of velvet is also seen in the cropped pleated pants and mini skirts. All looks were topped off with dapper blonde bobs, a chiseled appearance which brought an air of aristocracy.
The traditional qipao has also been translated into a more contemporary context, seen with the metallic tints and slinkier fit. Showstoppers include a series of “siren” gowns in champagne gold with sequins, baby pink complete with bow and train, and the white satin Sabrina gown. This statuesque silhouette was a vibrant throwback to old Hollywood glamour.
Canadian born designer llana Sunderland comes from a long line of tailors. For two centuries the Sunderland family has passed down the tradition of fine tailoring. So it should come as no surprise that Ilana Sunderland seems most at ease in this ever-so precise realm of constructing clothing.
Sunderland’s Savile Row roots betray her, in a collection that emphasizes cut and construction. Her approach to tailoring is obviously based in a clear understanding of construction. Before launching her own signature line the designer had stints had several renowned fashion houses were she able hone her design voice. Sunderland says,
“My goal is to create the ultimate fit. Wearing a perfectly tailored dress or suit is the epitome of luxury, sophistication and sexiness. I want my designs to convey those qualities”.
For her sophomore presentation, the designer showed a strong range of women’s and men’s tailored suiting with a sprinkling of dresses. Sunderland was inspired by modern architecture. (Perhaps, an homage to her father, the noted architect). It’s always interesting to hear where a designer draws inspiration from; it’s even more interesting to see whether they will take their inspiration too literally. Sunderland showed great restraint, there was a clear nod to linear forms and sleek shapes but it was overly indulgent. Sunderland showcased her favored pleating technique to great affect in a myriad of ways. The pleating appeared as detailing and in some cases an entire garment was comprised of tiny pleats. The collection showed Sunderland’s ability to address all the needs of clientele from work wear to evening wear to overcoats. Notable looks included a double breasted midnight (navy) suit, a brown full length pleated coat for women and structured coats with pleat detailing for both sexes.
Where Sunderland’s attention to tailoring and detailing sung her color palette fell flat the haphazard, restrained palette included Ruby (red), Midnight (navy), Heaven (light blue), black and a leopard print. But one could clearly see that any of these looks would translate in basic black for more metro-focused look (its fairly certain the entire collection will be available in black).
Overall this was a promising second showing. Sunderland is sure to make a name for herself with the minimalist set, with work that features some of the hallmarks of a certain 7th avenue minimalist and yet uniquely her own. It will be interesting to see where Sunderland takes us next season.
Always beautiful and feminine, Monique Lhuillier’s spring presentation did not disappoint. Softly sculpted gowns in colors inspired by a vacation in a tropical beach local flowed down the runway. The aptly named colors (azure, sand, summer, pacific blue) and back-to-nature prints such as wave and wheat stalk further exemplified the inspiration.
A silk tulle asymmetrically draped gown in a blue that Lhuiller dubbed “lagoon” appeared to stream along the runway exemplifying the water it was chosen to represent. Beading and tulle overlays further conveyed movement in a collection that was as relaxing and refreshing as a day at the beach.
Betsey Johnson has been a main stay in the retail and fashion world for over 40 years. Her whimsical, flirty, punk rock designs stand as a reminder to the fashion world that fashion can be fun. Betsey is now a proud grandmother for the second time and the new addition to her family obviously influenced her Spring Collection. The extremely theatrical show had three distinct groupings starting with floral maxi dresses and jumpers that if produced in miniature would be appropriate for a toddler. The somewhat silly frocks were worn by models with wigs of purple, pink and white cut blunt and short. Some girls even sucked on lollipops as they strutted down the runway to apropos songs such as “Be my Baby,” “Candy Girl,” and “Mr. Sandman.”
For the second act an actor clad as a pirate made mischief on the runway to the song “Wild Thing.” This was soon followed by mini dresses over striped or skeleton printed leggings, hot pants and bathing suits all influenced by the pirate theme. Next came signature Betsey pieces- floral prints in bright neon colors such as green, pink and blue. Good girls gone bad rounded out the theatrical show: models in white sheer petticoat dresses, hands cuffed behind their backs. Betsey took her customary cartwheel down the runway in a Peter Pan inspired green sequined dress and attendants left the show in high spirits.
– Lyndsay Skeegan
CHADO- He is back and in fighting form- on Friday night Ralph Rucci closed New York Fashion Week with all the fanfare and warm embrace of the returned prodigal son. Rucci is a prodigious talent and while he is often lost in the minutiae of the New York fashion set, his work stands as a testament to his great talent. As the world of haute couture skirts dangerously close to oblivion it is important that we uphold one of our most brilliant haute courtiers.
I must admit that I am partially biased; I have long been a Rucci enthusiast. For Spring ’09 Rucci sent out a strong line up of clothing suitable for every occasion- from smart day wear to gripping evening gowns. The couturier crystallized those hallmark Ruccisms and move them into a more approachable direction. He showed continued mastery over the art of construction.
Chado is a meditation on form, line and structure. Each season many designers attempt to redesign the wheel, but Rucci instead continues an exploration of his signature shapes enlisting new applications and techniques. Bold shoulders seemed particularly new for the designer who is known for a more gentle approach towards the shoulder and décolleté. He used various types of artistic fringe to great affect, inciting riotous applause as models turned on the runway to reveal the insets of fringe. Illusion with geometric cut outs were a strong motif in this season’s line up. The cutouts appeared on a tulle coat over an A-line dress and on a black sheer top paired with slouchy black satin trousers. Other moments of decadent indulgence included the gowns with Rothko inspired paielletes or the slinky floor length sequins skirt with sheer top and matching jacket.
Spring 09 marked a departure for Rucci who seemed to be courting a younger generation of fashion intellectuals. Though at moments the collection showed the wavering uncertainty of a babe horse gaining her sea legs, Rucci has the talent to address a younger audience and his Spring collection suggests the beginning this new courtship. The collection was proliferated with a plethora of coquettish dresses that remain true to the spirit of Chado. Rucci was careful to remain mindful of his faithful followers offering intriguing pant suits with jackets of rounded shoulders with detailing on tulle or crepe. This collection was an exercise in restrains and what I expect will be the blossoming of a new point of view at the house of Chado.