Lacoste is all about sportswear, yes? Just checking, because what really drew the eye were some refined, modernist dresses near the end of the Saturday-morning presentation at Lincoln Center. Creative director Felipe Oliveira Baptista worked the DNA of Lacoste into this collection via the inspiration of Chantaco, a Basque Country golf course realized in 1928 by Rene Lacoste’s father-in-law, René Thion de la Chaume (the course remains all the in the family, with Camille Lacoste, Rene Lacoste’s grandniece, as its current president). With this idyllic vision as his jumping-off point, Baptista crafted a collection of sportive pieces—zipped jackets, sweaters over slim skirts or suiting, all often in monochromatic tones of navy, gray, camel, as well as a tomato red men’s suit that popped nicely. And there were plenty of techno fabrics that are fast becoming a big story of this week. But it was those watercolor-like graphics toward the end of the show best defined the polish Baptista was feeling about this season—that and the fact that there was nary a croc in sight (unless you count the oversized digital version on the show’s backdrop) proved that Baptista was wanting to highlight that sleek and sophisticated are also a part of this label’s sporty heritage.
Was he really a streaker if he didn’t go full Monty? That was the between-shows debate Sunday afternoon after Prabal Gurung’s presentation was briefly disrupted by a sprinter in a leopard-print G-string, some regrettable red socks with Gucci loafers, an overcoat he threw open with glee, and of course, because whimsy, a gold crown. By contrast, in June a streaker dashed up a Dolce & Gabbana men’s runway wearing not a stitch other than running shoes, so I’m calling the guy at Prabal not only a troublemaker but a bit of a coward as well. Go big or go home, as the saying goes. Thankfully Gurung’s collection was strong enough so as not to be overpowered in post-show dialogue: The designer worked his Nepalese roots into the collection via the giant gongs that greeted you upon arrival, while much of the collection was inspired, he said, by Mustang, a tiny neighboring republic in the Himalayas. There were some gorgeous prints here, but most striking were the layered and wrapped looks in mixes of tangerine and red, meant to evoke the robes worn by Buddhist monks. Gorgeous. Now that’s a scene-stealer.
Max and Lubov Azria wanted to add a tech edge to their Herve Léger collection, which upon consideration is quite perfect for a label that’s forever rooted in zero-body-fat dressing. You felt the edge in the mesh treatments, especially a mesh jacquard long-sleeve crop top in black and gray with a matching high-waisted skirt, a marriage of the tech idea with the label’s signature bandage styling, all of which resulted in a look that called to mind Katniss Everdeen. “Hunger Games!” people kept tweeting back to me, which makes sense, as that's a worthy successor to Milla Jovovich in The Fifth Element as a Leger-friendly style muse. And while the collection was also all about the black we’re seeing on every Fall 2014 runway, the Azrias also added a couple of lively punches of color, including a great coral jacquard dress that skimmed the body and sparkled with geometric beading along the neck and slithering down the sides.
By contrast, Mara Hoffman was all about easy, breezy flow, seen most in the maxi dresses that floated down her runway. Hoffman knows how to work a graphic print, and this season was inspired by North Africa, the patterns found in Moroccan rugs and the luxe textures in Bedouin jewelry. While her prints were signature Hoffman, you could also discern a more polished air about many of these pieces, a greater use of black than in past seasons (it was a great pairing with some of those prints), and one standout flowing gown in cobalt and black, divine in its simplicity.
Every season, one celeb seems to become the front-row face at multiple shows, and this time around that’s Anna Kendrick, previously seen at Rebecca Minkoff and Jill Stuart, and front and center Saturday evening next to Emmy Rossum at Monique Lhuillier (we’re not counting Joe Jonas in this discussion, as he’s “on assignment,” writing a blog for New York magazine’s The Cut and pretty much everywhere). Kendrick and Rossum are perfect for Lhuillier’s romantic red carpet looks, and this season the designer wants to be part of the futurism fray, infusing her refined aesthetic with fabrications like neoprene and techno leather. It was easier to discern the tech edge in her day pieces, including one stunner of a noir and nude midi dress in an open lace net over a slip dress. For evening, we’re sure the tech theme also was there, we were just too busy heavy-sighing over the gowns, many of them with high-low hems (the better to show off shoes, such as Lhullier’s lace booties), in fabrications like tulle or silk taffeta and lush with petal or baroque embroidery. Lhuillier said she her desire was to fuse new fabrics and techniques with the idea of Parisian couture, and under her sure hand, it was a marriage made in heaven.