A Fitting Finale for Fashion Week
This article is from the archive of The New York Sun before the launch of its new website in 2022. The Sun has neither altered nor updated such articles but will seek to correct any errors, mis-categorizations or other problems introduced during transfer.
The spring 2009 installment of Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week in New York concluded Friday much the way it began a week ago today — drenched in the downpour brought on by powerful storms (first Hanna, then Ike). But the interminable rain was no match for the exuberance of devoted fans of Ralph Lauren and Donna Karan, who presented runway shows at separate, downtown venues.
Mr. Lauren’s collection conjured an African safari: Imagine the British primatologist Jane Goodall in her early years trekking through Tanzania — but with an emphatically glamorous outlook. There were strong-shouldered jackets in khaki cotton poplin or olive silk, paired with full-leg cropped trousers that hit just below the calves and tapered at the hem. A palette largely made up of sandy hues, including tan, ivory, taupe, and pale blonde, was often matched to stunning effect with fabrics cast in metallic bronze, platinum, or dark gold.
Mr. Lauren’s bronze silk cotton beaded shorts, paired with a short-sleeve sweater of a slightly darker hue, was outstanding for day, but one could easily imagine taking the same look after-hours with enviable results. The gala-ready gowns came in several winning iterations, including floor-grazing lamé jacquard; metallic beaded tulle, and incredibly, a bronze silk linen number that was as expertly gathered and draped as those constructed, for instance, from the perhaps less difficult to maneuver silk.
Much has been made of the jumpsuit, including in these pages, with spring’s one-piece inspiring its detractors and ardent supporters. Mr. Lauren pared down his solid black version for a finish that was modern and terribly chic. The collection was vintage American opulence — with a nod to exotic safaris, fashion of the early 1980s, the Arabian tales of the “One Thousand and One Nights,” and a dash of disco gold dust. Just a few pieces should have been left on the showroom floor, particularly the overly masculine suit ensembles, complete with gold neckties, as well as a black silk jacket that was for all intents a blazer when viewed from the front — but regrettably a low-cut, cowl-like opening from the back.
Ms. Karan’s skill with draping is first-rate, and she put it to good use with a collection that was everything Donna Karan clothes always promise to be: beautiful, fluid, but mainly attentive to the female form. Like Mr. Lauren, Ms. Karan opted for a largely neutral palette, showing jersey dresses and cascading wrap tunics in colors such as almond, citron, nude, olive, parchment. As did Mr. Lauren, the designer also showed airy blazers that were paired with peg-leg trousers or wrap skirts. Evening dresses cast in matte charmeuse abandoned the glitter, but not the glam. The emphasis here was on movement and the effect was a Grecian mood. Several dresses of viscose satin featured swirled knots of fabric just below the waist; those served ably as the sole embellishment.