LADIES FIRST

The Quiet Strength of Tory’s Lady Di Moment and Mary Kate & Ashley’s The Row BY CONSTANCE WHITE


Tory Burch

A lot’s changed since the mo’money Eighties. Princess Diana is gone. One of the era’s most popular socialites Marjorie Gubelmann, sitting front row at Tory Burch’s impressive show, alongside the designer’s other socialite friends and family, has transformed herself into a DJ who goes by the name Mad Marj.

The Eighties were a time when royal princesses like Diana, upon whom Burch based her collection, and social lights like Gubelmann were the IG girls of their day.

Channeling an era of pouf dresses and excess that only a Reagan republican perhaps could love is tricky business. But Burch deftly went beyond the obvious. She captured the sweet spirit of her muse and added a dollop of American Park Avenue swag.

“We didn’t want it to be too literal,” Burch told us after the show.
“We were constantly checking ourselves.”
The result was blouses and dresses sporting the high necklines Lady Diana favored, but sans the hideous ruffles and questionable cardigans. There were floral prints on enchanting dresses that evoked a pretty outdoor tea party rather than odious British wallpaper.

You could imagine Lady Diana Spencer peeking out shyly from under her bangs in a strapless number or in low-heeled pumps, breast-pocketed suits or bow-tie blouses. With bragging rights to putting caftans and tunic dresses on the backs of a new generation of fashionable young women, Burch hit on some dewy new takes.

“I grew up in the Eighties,” said Burch “and it was not the best time” but I wanted to focus on her “before she was a princess. That’s when I love her best.”
Burch stamped her signature all over a collection that might easily have gone south into mimicry and di-saster.

Sies Marjan

Sander Lak, creative director of Sies Marjan, had one of the best outings around. How do we know this with a number of heavy hitters still set to present? It was that good. Lak was that sure footed.

Lak has something he wants to get off his chest. In officious line notes, he laid out what his collection was NOT: Irony, bad taste, satire, reality TV and kitsch.

Ironically, a few reality stars would adore his shimmering periwinkle evening look – give or take a few inches from the décolletage. But there’ll be no ersatz bosoms popping out of Lak’s V-necks if he has his way.

Polished and sophisticated, the clothes vibrated on their own frequency with crocodile embossed jackets in sunflower yellow or rich patent red and softly tailored denim jackets and pants.

If you’ve lately wanted to stitch shut every ripped denim pant you see on the street, this collection is the antidote to your distress.

Khaite

Khaite’s in a romantic mood. The brand’s only three years old. Creative director Catherine Holstein designed fanciful pouf sleeves on plaid dresses, some of them floor sweepers lifted by crinoline underskirts.

Two of the best pieces were fringed suede jackets and printed sarong skirts. It doesn’t sound like these two things belong in the same book. It was a gambit with more long-term than short term payoffs.

Western motifs are cropping up all over. It could be the country music effect as country and hip hop cross pollinate with singers like Post Malone. Holstein’s approach was inventive.

No doubt she has plenty of pieces to stoke commercial fires yet Holstein proved herself a flame thrower.

R13

A recent caller to Reverend Al Sharpton’s Sunday radio show uttered one of those Yoda like sayings that makes you scratch your head until you apply it. “By the time the fools learn the rules, the players have left the game.”
A few weeks ago, the customer line for Supreme snaked down the block as people waited to get into the relatively empty store, a fake exclusivity tactic and frankly inauthentic. Original players in streetwear are moving on, looking for brands with authenticity, innovation and a personal viewpoint.

They’re clearly finding alternatives in labels like R13 with its blazing animal prints for men, patchwork sneakers and briefs rising above the waistline for women. Skater and rock references aside, the real news (versus fake lines) is in the gender- bender locomotive gathering steam with shirt-as-skirt and menswear motifs for all comers.

Tommy Hilfiger | TOMMYXZENDAYA

Rock Steady Tommy. Aretha Franklin, Little Richard, Shaft, Tamara Dobson, Foxy Brown, were just some of the African-American Seventies iconography used to create Tommy Now, Tommy x Zendaya. By the time the actress and the designer were done there was no one left in the cemetery.

An exuberant, sensual frolic, Tommy Now featured a parade of beautiful models of every size, shape, age and skin tone. Led by trailblazer Alek Wek, they strutted through a street mise en scene set up behind the historic Apollo Theater in a range of styles to suit every taste.

Python-print suits, scarf-tie blouses, leather jackets often showed up in men’s wear patterns and black and white. Black and white and menswear are like fashion shorthand. People get it and everyone can wear it.

The Row

Some clothes cannot stand up to the spotlight. They take a big production to lift them up. Others shine when just the opposite is true. They’re naked before you, up close and personal. You can see the refinement of the fabric. You can appreciate the honesty of a seam and contemplate if a woman would actually show up in this and be about her empowered self.
With a presentation stripped down to essentials, The Row, left no doubt as to what it’s all about.

The woman’s essence is an essential part of the power of the clothes. Working in a limited palette of white, black, caramel and blue, the designers chose easy tailored trousers paired with a no-fuss shirt as one leitmotif.

A long black coat layered over black pants and white top was lean and elongating. It could be armor or cocoon depending what the woman needed on any given day.

Everything was exquisitely executed, made approachable by its seeming simplicity. Crochet slippers shaped like water shoes didn’t hurt the cause either. And nothing was harsh though you imagined a severe taskmaster admonishing “cut once, measure twice” to ensure every seam lays right, every fabric falls effortlessly. Designed by the twins Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen, The Row, spans generations; from their own(millennial) to socialite Deeda Blair (the greatest generation), who was seated in the audience and who has worn and supported high-end designer fashions since, well since she could afford it, which is to say, most of her life.