published Saturday, February 13th, 2010

Fur makes a comeback at New York Fashion Week

By SAMANTHA CRITCHELL

AP Fashion Writer

NEW YORK — Fur made a comeback Saturday at New York Fashion Week.

There were more fur coats on the runways of Peter Som, Prabal Gurung and Adam by Adam Lippes than in recent seasons. Alexander Wang had a cool leather trenchcoat with a strip of mink running entirely down the back.

“I believe people will buy fur in the fall. It keeps you warm,” said Bloomingdale’s fashion director Stephanie Solomon. “And for those who don’t like the idea of fur, there is great faux fur.”

Another option: Mongolian lambswool — a fuzzy, almost featherlike material — has emerged as a popular alternative.

Som showed almost muppet-like versions of the wool in hot pink and electric blue, but the fabric was also on display at Adam and as trim on dresses and shirts by other designers.

Fur has been more rare in recent seasons as luxury turned more discreet, so lambswool may be a more acceptable alternative. In Som’s rendering, it still makes a statement, without being in-your-face luxurious.

ALEXANDER WANG

Alexander Wang has already collected a slew of “young designer” awards, so it was time to present a more grown-up collection. He did that Saturday with forward-thinking fashion and an eye on a more luxe, sophisticated customer.

She’s still quite young, though, or at least willing to show some skin. Top models clearly don’t mind: Both Natalia Vodianova and Agyness Deyn walked in the show.

Inventive knits, tailoring and a touch of fur here and there put him in a different league than his athlete-inspired spring line. Men’s waistcoats and pinstripe vests transformed into sexy minidresses, especially those that mixed in some ultra-delicate lace, and his “caterpillar” chenille knit had a softness that’s new to Wang’s look.

Layering was key to the overall vibe — mixing textures of the wool, velvet, mohair and mink. Cutouts were strategically placed lest the wearer started to feel too wintry.

Black dominated the palette, as it has on most catwalks so far, but color isn’t the big takeaway from the Wang show. “I have a feeling layering is going to be the big message,” said Cindy Weber Cleary, InStyle magazine fashion director.

RAG & BONE

The cool girls will probably be wearing a lot of menswear styles in the fall.

Rag & Bone, which has become a bellwether brand for downtown hipsters, debuted a collection Friday that was rooted in tailored suits but stayed quirky and feminine thanks to tweaks in proportion and styling.

The first model on the runway wore a combination of waistcoat, workshirt and kilt, and she was followed by a camouflage anorak, a plaid shirtdress and what appeared to be an unfinished blazer. (Interestingly, this wasn’t the first literally thread-baring jacket shown during these previews.)

Designers Marcus Wainwright and David Neville showed a skill with sweaters that could turn into highly salable garments, and made a good case for leather leggings and purse pouches that hang from belts like a stylish fanny pack.

The designers also confirmed some of the trends that seem to be emerging, including layers and menswear, but also military-inspired styles, heavily textured garments and a dominant palette of black and gray.

“I thought Rag & Bone showed the designers have grown up in one season,” said Bloomingdale’s Solomon, who said the collection was her favorite so far.

PETER SOM

Peter Som took a hiatus from the runway to regroup his fashion label after a financial rough patch, and he was missed, judging by the crowd who came to watch his return on Saturday.

Heavy hitters from the major luxury department stores as well as healthy contingents from the magazines were treated to a fall collection unlike anything else they’ve seen so far during this round of style previews.

There was color — lots of purple, green and acid yellow! There were luxe furs! There was a vintage vibe and ladylike silhouettes!

The explosion of prints and exotic trims, including mink, feathers, pearlized-petal pailettes and distressed metallics, was dizzying at times, but also invigorating. It was like all the models got dressed in the dark and, in the process, broke all the fashion rules about what goes with what. Most of the time, the outfits showed why rules should be broken.

NICOLE MILLER

Nicole Miller must have always had a tough spirit inside her — how else could she have lasted so long in the fashion business? — but it’s only in her most recent collections that you see that aggressiveness in the clothes.

The scarf-print dresses of yesteryear are gone, replaced by body-hugging dresses, biker shorts and leather leggings. The fall styles previewed Friday were an extension of the look she offered for spring, using a lot of black, a strong-shoulder silhouette and asymmetrical necklines.

What was new were the leather-sleeve coats, apparently an emerging trend for next season, and the camo print, which hit the right note of sexy in a twisted front-pleat dress.

But while this is an evolved aesthetic for Miller, is it new to Miller’s customers or do they already have a bomber jacket-tunic-legging outfit from another label?

GEORGES CHAKRA

Georges Chakra designs his Edition collection for the party circuit, but using a more restrained hand served him well at the Saturday preview at New York Fashion Week.

Among the best looks were a black chiffon-and-satin gown with a beaded neckline worn with a red distressed trench-style opera coat, and a black lace pantsuit that was sexy with its champagne-colored illusion effect but with a silhouette loose enough to keep it from being a costume.

Sending some of the same messages as other designers at Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week, Chakra played with multiple fabrics and textures, and tweaked the leather-sleeve trend with long opera gloves.

But he overused the backward silhouette too much, enough to make you wonder if Chakra is coming or going as a player on the red carpet.

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