News & Runway

Herrera’s Hat Trick, Basso’s Ladies and More Notes from the Second Row: Day Five of New York Fashion Week

This morning someone tweeted me that the fezzes on display at Carolina Herrera were crafted in Albertus Swanepoel’s studio here in New York (the tweeter in question is an assistant and milliner who helped work on them). Swanepoel (no relation to model Candice, btw) often collaborates with Herrera on her runway chapeaus. South Africa-born, Swanepoel also designs hats for Jason Wu, Alexander Wang, Thakoon, Diane von Furstenberg and several others, while his eponymous collection is available at Barneys. Ultimately, his fez for Herrera (which he also tweeted, follow him at @aqswanepoel) was the perfect sleek touch for her sublime exploration in volume and structure. 

I’ve never watched 30 seconds of any of the Real Housewives franchise, so the profusion of them at Dennis Basso needed to be pointed out to me—there was a Ramona and a LuAnn, among others, and pre-show in the Mercedes-Benz Star Lounge it was evidently a Very Big Deal that one of them crossed the room to hug the other. Um, OK. Basso did boast a front row of far more worthy mentions: Mary J. Blige and Debra Messing, who looked fantastic with her hair pulled back in a simple pony and wearing glasses (mental note: must buy tickets for her recently opened Broadway play, Outside Mullingar, immediately), while Brides Fashion Director Rachel Leonard and I were waxing rhapsodic over Carmen Dell’Orefice, who was sitting across from us next to Carol Alt (if you want your mind blown over images of the completely stunning 82-year-old Dell’Orefice, check out her under-construction website here). Forget about housewives, real or otherwise, someone please give Dell’Orefice a show of her own…

Feather alert: Designers who boast a healthy clientele in red carpet seem to be into a feather fetish this season, and Reem Acra’s Monday night show was among them, as she sent out a couple of looks in those greenish-black (blackish-green?) iridescent rooster feathers that have become ubiquitous this week. I think (am hoping?) they’re a runway affectation, and I loved many of the pieces she segued into, namely a cashmere sweater with flower blossoms trailing down the shoulder and dresses and gowns crafted in embellishments like lace or beading over nude. One strapless gown, of gold, black and white sequins rising flame-like up on the body, seemed tailor-made for Dita von Teese.



Every season there’s one presentation that’s a total mob scene, and this time around that was Alice & Olivia Monday night. I loved the location: the McKittrick Hotel, site of the theater experience Sleep No More. Here, Stacey Bendet offered up a sort of haunted-house-meets-Grey-Gardens collection, faded girls and fairytales melded together. You could spot great pieces throughout—a python-pint sheath with zipper detail, a to-the-floor red and gold floral brocade coat, and a bronze-sequin pencil skirt I’m totally coveting, among them. But at the height of the event (so many people wanting to get in and then get out so they could trek downtown for Donna Karan), there was such a crush that two things happened: not enough time to really take in the clothes, as the crowd sort of herded you along, or you’d find yourself running smack into a VIP, like when I was confronted head-on by Bendet’s father-in-law, former Disney CEO Michael Eisner, who smiled and moved along. Bendet, with butterflies in her hair (the show was dubbed “In Search of the Golden Monarch), took it all in stride. And why not? It’s when the crowds don’t show up that you should worry.

Everyone’s still buzzing about Donna Karan’s 30th-anniversary show today, roundly agreeing it’s a favorite of the week. Sure, we groused about the location (it’s not Brooklyn, but Wall Street is narrow and far from traffic-friendly), but in the end you couldn’t envision a more ideal spot for the New York-centric Karan to mount such a celebratory show. And true to her early desires to produce a collection built on the things she just couldn’t find for herself, there really was something for everyone here: fantastic jackets you’d wear with everything, dresses that were just as sexy if they covered everything up as they were if they were bare (and sometimes Karan effortlessly combined with two with a detail like illusion sleeves), and then those incredible goddess gowns of velvet devoré. Would love to see one of those on Oscar Night; Robin Wright, perhaps?

Finally, how do we start a campaign to get to add Carmen Marc Valvo to its review list? It’s a bit of a head-scratcher that he isn’t included. What’s the defining factor to make the cut? It can’t be price, reviews J. Crew and Banana Republic (and has reviewed Bebe in the past); it can’t be aesthetic, as his line easily is on par or surpasses others reviewed each season. His Warrior Women-themed Fall 2014 collection this year was reviewed favorably by Women’s Wear Daily and Associated Press (and yours truly), among others. I’ve got no dog in this hunt, I’m just confused by the exclusion. Regardless, come September, vote yes for Valvo!