Even as talk had turned on Wednesday from favorite looks to the impending snowstorm—“Is your flight canceled?” and “When are you leaving?” becoming the chief topics—Bibhu Mohapatra’s morning show at Lincoln Center offered up an accessory that had people buzzing upon exit, black-leather gloves he showed with several looks. Abbreviated (they didn’t reach the wrist) and extending across the top of the hand in a crescent shape, the skintight gloves made the hands look as though the models had dipped them in black paint. At the time of Mohapatra’s show it was exactly 14 degrees in New York, so the gloves seemed far from practical, but they looked quite good with the metallics and ombre-like “Dawn” and “Dusk” prints in his Tibet-themed collection. Another accessory woven throughout the collection was Mohapatra’s Pangden-print sling scarves, which were wrapped around the body in various ways (a pangden is a traditional apron-like wrap in a striped fabric, worn by married women in Tibet). While I wondered about the fit in some of the clothes—in several cases they just seemed a bit big on the models—both the gloves and scarves were spot-on.
Celebs have not been as plentiful as past seasons during New York Fashion Week—I’m not counting you, Anna Kendrick, you’re fabulous and have been everywhere—but Wednesday’s shows changed all that. Michael Douglas, Rose Byrne and Freida Pinto sat side-by-side at Michael Kors’ 10 a.m. show and were soon joined by Blake Lively once she had finished what looked like the most animated conversation with Anna Wintour. Speculation immediately kicked in that perhaps talks were underway for Lively to appear on Vogue’s September cover, but she has no projects set for release until 2015, so I’m not placing bets there. A few hours later, at Jason Wu’s debut as creative director for Hugo Boss’ women’s collection, more heavyhitters: Diane Kruger, Reese Witherspoon and Gwyneth Paltrow (the latter two were seen taking a selfie with duck faces, I’m hoping with irony) were joined by Diane Kruger; nearby sat Gerard Butler, son-of-Clint Scott Eastwood and, in the catbird seat next to Wintour, everyone’s secret boyfriend, Benedict Cumberbatch. Fold in his strong debut at Boss, and Wu essentially wins Fashion Week.
Loved Nanette Lepore’s collection Wednesday morning, not only for its mix of tailored pieces and comfy knits, but also because she made a point of highlighting another of her passions on the runway: All of the pieces, from the handloom print dress to the alpaca turtleneck and the gold-beaded gray flannel V-neck dress that closed the show, were made in New York. That was the reason for the #HandCraftedinNY Lepore was encouraging guests to use, a nod to her passion for preserving the Garment District. (You can check out the work Lepore and other designers are doing for the cause here.) The show also coincided with daughter Violet’s sweet-16 birthday—Violet always walks the runway with Lepore for the finale, and for the past few seasons, it’s been such fun to see her sprout up, now taller than her mom.
Speaking of birthdays: “Happy Birthday, Kelly Rowland!” was shouted in unison by several fans across the runway at Kaufman Franco’s Wednesday-afternoon presentation. The day before, the former Destiny’s Child member turned 33 (when Beyonce comes to your birthday dinner, it’s a great birthday), and it was clear she loved the pre-show wish. The duo of Isaac Franco and Ken Kaufman soon followed with a collection that felt just as celebratory, slim evening gowns in black or navy featuring slivers of slim cut-outs and, at show’s end, a quartet of high-shine silver gowns bestowed with names like “aluminum crystallized” and “mercury liquid.” Please get the halter gown from this grouping to Lupita Nyong’o, stat.
At Betsey Johnson Wednesday afternoon, we sat and sat, and sat some more, thinking, Why isn’t the show starting? Empty runway (except, unusually, for a couple of photographers), everyone in his or her seat, the lights go down, and still nothing. Finally, after a few moments, a figure emerges from backstage, the cameras flash: It’s Paris Hilton. Sigh. She’s a good match celeb-wise for Johnson’s label, but more than a few journalists were perturbed by the spectacle. Then again, Betsey does nothing if not put on a boisterous show: Themed simply “Hot” for the season, Johnson’s Fall 2014 collection was filled with bright, bold colors and just as much texture. And just in case you thought there might be anything subtle about this presentation, a pair of shirtless firefighters emerged at show’s end, firehoses in hand—because, you know, Betsey’s show was hot hot hot. And then Johnson took her bow and didn’t make us wait long to see whether she would attempt her traditional cartwheel; before you knew it, the 71-year-old designer had not only executed it flawlessly, landing in a split on the runway, she was matched in the act by her 7-year-old granddaughter, Layla. A fantastic, fun moment. OK, all is forgiven about Paris.