Ahhh, New York City, sunny and 80-something degrees, the streets of far west Chelsea clogged with sveltely women in searingly bright dresses, being careful to hold whatever cheap-o plastic shopping bag or scrap of paper they might be holding behind their backs anytime an equally outrageously dressed photographer asks them to stop and pose for a picture. It happens to be the first day of school for kids around the city, an occasion not without its apt parallels to the start of New York Fashion Week (namely, there is a lot of squealing). So I’m back to bring you all the latest news from the spring collections and noteworthy moments as I navigate my way through the increasingly strange, but eternally fabulous world of runway shows.
Not yet 9 a.m. and editors were piling into a darkened gallery space on West 22nd Street, close to the High Line, to see a presentation by the new Coach designer Stuart Vevers, who made a compelling case for buffalo-plaid and shearling coats in his debut fall collection that is now hitting stores. People seemed excited to see what would come next (for spring 2015) inside a gallery that had been decorated to look like a spot on a desert highway, somewhere off Route 66 between Amarillo and Tucumcari, with a minimalist rendering of a gas station, just some wood blocks, really, and waiters handing out cappuccinos that had been frosted in the colors of a desert-painted sky.
Something was a little eerie about the scene, and, in fact, Vevers, tasked with reinventing the iconic American brand, is taking it in a seductive new direction, adding a little edge to the edges. Coach’s signature turn-lock closures, for example, were featured as hardware on a leopard printed bag in which the spots appeared to have been applied with spray paint, which dripped here and there (pictured, top right). His oversize coats for spring—fluffy, hairy jackets rendered in pink, sky blue and mint green—somewhat resembled demented Easter chicks (pictured, top left). In fact, this was a look I suspect he was going for, as a major moment of the collection featured new drawings of some adorably scary critters (pictured, middle) by the California artist Gary Baseman. (Vevers cited a “beautiful oddness.”) A tote was emblazoned with a drawing of what appeared to be a gremlin, and, I believe I noticed a blindfolded bunny appearing as a print on a series of chiffon dresses.
Beautiful oddness, in fact, is the perfect description for the start of the collections, where you’ll be watching ethereally light apron dresses and lovely sun-bleached quilted jackets at BCBG Max Azria at one moment and then a tough-edged Richard Chai collection the next. There were echoes of grunge and skater style in the gray plaid dresses and brightly colored trench coats, worn super casually, even off the shoulder and with high-tops at Chai’s show, but there is usually a common thread that ties his disparate ideas together into a package that, in the end, comes off as as neat and polished. It couldn’t have been a coincidence that Chai’s celebrity pals Darren Criss, Hannah Simone and Mark Ronson were sitting side-by-side in the front row, color coordinated in maroon.