New York Fashion Week

Designers keep it chic, but realistic on New York runways

CorrespondentFebruary 13, 2013 

Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night, nor even a Nor’easter named Nemo could stop New York Fashion Week.

Yes, Mercedes-Benz New York Fashion Week made its usual splash, literally this time around, as the Fall Winter 2013 collections – which began Feb. 7 and are scheduled through Thursday at special tents at Lincoln Center and dozens of other venues around New York City – coincided with this winter’s biggest snowstorm.

But what’s a little snow and slush among friends? Casualties of the big storm seemed few. Only one designer seemed hampered by the storm – Marc Jacobs, who rescheduled his big show from Monday night to Thursday because his shipment of fabrics and accessories from overseas was delayed.

For most designers, the outdoor goings-on provided a picture-perfect tableau to the indoor fashion catwalks.

Designers continued to show that they’re trying to cater more to their audiences. The tougher-tinged, streamlined trend so noticeable during the Spring 2013 collections became an even more dominant theme for the Fall Winter 2013.

Overall, the look is a tough brand of urban utilitarian chic with dollops of relaxed and roomy (but not slouchy) sweaters, jackets, capes and coats. Leggings and jeggings have given way to traditional pants, mostly slim but not overly skinny. But the jury is still out on the shorter, flood-zone-length pants shown by several designers. Sure, you can see the fabulous shoes – lots of interesting ankle straps, ladies. But floods? Really?

Turtlenecks, black ribbed knits and sweaters with extra room through the shoulders were the perfect definition of cozy chic. Meanwhile, dresses and skirts continued to ride to just above the knee, save for the ubiquitous shorter black leather flared skirts and sheath dresses that seemed to be everywhere. Apparently, when one wears black leather, designers have determined it’s time to show off the gams. Interestingly, a few designers even took the hemline to a prim and proper neighborhood just below the knee.

The collections from London, Paris and Milan are still to come, and each of those scenes influences what ultimately hits the local boutique. But the message from New York, long known for its imprint on sportswear, seems clear: It’s time to get real.

Here’s a brief look at some of the other trends seen for Fall Winter 2013:

Darkness on the edge of town

If you want to paint it black, this is your season. Where past falls have seen designers play up color, the Fall Winter 2013 runways have been remarkable for the amount of black. Part of this is fashion’s love affair with black, but there also seems to be a determination to focus on design details.

This meant plenty of black leather, which while sexy, wasn’t scary dominatrix stuff. Black leather jumpers from designers included some terrific perforated black leather dresses seen in the collections of LaQuan Smith, and a version by Chado Ralph Rucci so superbly rendered it moved like silk.

Design details and texture were also part of the black trend, as designers like Carmen Marc Valvo and Catherine Malandrino presented alluring pieces that used sheer black or lace over nude material (or skin) to show off intricate designs. Reem Acra skillfully used black fishnet, artfully showing the way to reveal the body without giving all of one’s secrets away.

Pops of color and patterns

Of course there was some color on the runway. Designers seemed especially enamored of shades of red – from cranberry to scarlet to reddish orange. Tracy Reese dazzled with a hot pink leather motorcycle jacket. Marc Jacobs’ Marc by Marc Jacobs ’70s-tinted collection turned up the heat on several pieces in a bright hue he called Crush Orange. Other pieces came in Corvette Red and Madder Carmine and Cabernet.

Many designers used patterns to show off color. The Jacobs collection, for example, showed a graphic floral print in several color combinations. Tracy Reese played with animal prints, showing them to wonderful impact in a variety of sizes and hues, including teal and bits of orange.

Leave it to the masterful Michael Kors to put his stamp on the color parade with a collection bursting with boldness – orange, cobalt blue, goldenrod – all outlined and accented with black leather and shiny patent. And for patterns, Kors was among several designers who turned to camouflage. Of course, since this is Michael Kors, that meant something with a little bit of American attitude, as in royal blue camouflage. In silk. And mink.

The Luxe factor – fur and beaded gowns

Glamazons will certainly have plenty of options, including lots of fur, from the traditional sable, fox and chinchilla to a new, popular kid on the block – goat hair, dyed to bright, fun colors like ruby red and purple. Chado Ralph Rucci actually showed a jazzy black and white coat in Zurino, aka skunk!

While most of the fur action was seen with full coats, fur cuffs and big collars were almost as prevalent. Interestingly, the big furry vests so popular in the last couple of fall collections were practically nonexistent this time around. Sorry ladies, that fur vest you’re sporting right now is out, out, out for next year.

The glitz is also evident in eveningwear, with beaded and sequined gowns that show off the curves. A number of designers showed fully beaded long-sleeved gowns with dangerously low-cut backs, including Naeem Khan and a gorgeous green gown by Badgley Mischka that looked like a million bucks. And Khan celebrated his Indian heritage with a series of intricately embroidered pieces that recalled sumptuous saris.

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