Sunday, September 21, 2008

The Future’s So Bright, I Gotta Wear It

The number one word heard at this year’s New York Fashion week was “optimism”. Literally looking into the future, designers were oft quoted saying they took their inspiration from the presidential election (see Michael Kors’ collection) and all the hope that it inspires.

Whatever happened to living in the moment? Fashion, by its very nature, is constantly looking ahead, making us dream big dreams of wearing bathing suits when we are packing them away in September, and fur lined hats when the only suitable accessory is a bottle of suntan lotion. After all, the present is bleak, and it is much more interesting to idealize the future, with fashion being the perfect means for doing so. Indeed, looking at Carolina Herrera’s luxurious reds and elegant cocktail gowns, who could really believe we are in a recession?

This season, more than ever, such blind idealism was magnified on a tremendous scale, as dazzling colors dominated even more than they usually do, and the future was not only bright, it threw the present day into oblivion.

Although some of these collections were complete flops- one Elie Tahari dress actually looked as if a wave had thrust her skirt into her underwear- there were still some well-done collections that managed to go beyond the clichéd message of a promising spring, and create something worthwhile.

L’Wren Scott, for example, though still playing on the Grecian theme, which for me at least, is getting a tad dull, created beautifully tailored and delicate pieces that at their best seem to be floating down the runway. My favorite was a tight-fitting white dress with black lace detailing, which managed to be both delicate and businesslike at the same time.

Diane von Furstenberg certainly bought into the whole optimistic scene, with long, flowery dresses that would be appropriate for a May Day celebration (the ribbons in the model’s hair didn’t help). Yet, there is still something very interesting in her designs, which conjure up not only the sanguinity of the hippies, but the circumstances in which they were fighting. There is a rebellious spirit in her dresses that makes them more than just pretty; they are positively subversive.

But the real stand out this season would have to be Marc Jacobs, who took a truly unique approach to the wide-eyed hopefulness that seems to have captivated designers this fall. His collection is artfully layered, and thus incredibly complex; it is not easy to pick out any one aspect of his designs, because each piece is completely connected to another. Like so many things in life, there is no easy exit. His collection is, essentially, a brilliant reminder that a bright future is not as easy to achieve as zipping up a sundress. Or making a campaign promise. 00050m.jpg

Images provided by