In this weekly feature, InStyle’s Fashion News Director Eric Wilson shares his favorite fashion moment of the week, and explains how it could shape styles to come. Look for it on What’s Right Now every Friday.
The Moment: The scene for a runway show on the 11th floor of the Seagram Building overlooking Park Avenue at dusk on Thursday was ultramodern. A long runway made of gleaming white plastic that ran the length of the building under hospital-bright lights, with the audience facing on only one side, actually recalled some of the futuristic sets of Balenciaga in Paris. But this show was for Lane Bryant, the first in the plus-size retailer’s history, to highlight its new collection designed by Isabel Toledo that is now in stores.
And Toledo, as most everyone expected, delivered a substantial and sophisticated collection of fancy lace dresses and richly textured jackets, most in a palette of black, pale gold, and white, reflecting many styles she has been known for in her signature ready-to-wear collection. “I’m not just designing for plus sizes, I’m doing my own thing,” Toledo says. These were smart clothes, designed with impressive designer details, like eyelet fabrics, mesh panels and seams exposed on the outside. I adored Toledo’s deconstructed version of a safari jacket, in dove gray with frayed edges on the pockets, the summery, versatile cocktail dresses, and also, for fun, a T-shirt adorned with an illustration of a woman’s face by her husband, the artist Ruben Toledo. (Backstage, he had sketched images of each model as a parting gift.)
Why It’s a Wow: The market for plus-size fashion has improved dramatically over the last few years, with new contemporary offerings from retailers like ASOS and Evans, and the designer Eden Miller’s debut at New York Fashion Week last year. But when Lane Bryant announced its collaboration with Toledo, it brought a sense of acknowledgement from high fashion. Toledo is among the most rigorous and creative designers in New York. What’s more, Lane Bryant just announced a partnership with Sophie Theallet for a collection of lingerie coming this fall. And the prices aren’t bad – Toledo’s dresses cost around $98 to $178.
“I felt very at ease because Lane Bryant had the right production for a plus-size line,” Toledo says. “I didn’t feel any restraint as a designer. If you look, you will see signatures of mine, which was important for me because I didn’t want to compromise.”
Learn More: Isabel Toledo, a 2005 winner of the Cooper-Hewitt National Design Award for fashion, was the subject of a 2009 retrospective by the Museum at the Fashion Institute of Technology, shortly after she dressed First Lady Michelle Obama in lemongrass yellow lace for her husband’s inauguration.