I flew into bleak New York weather and raced to one of the most-highly-anticipated, must-see shows; Alexander Wang. He's one of the hottest boys in town – incredible seeing as he's only 25.
The models emerged from a dramatic, white smoked tunnel with a very strong Varsity sports theme. With his signature mix of tough versus sexy, he showed tinsel-inspired textured knits contrasted against floaty chiffon tunics and rugby sweats with leather patches. Leather, quilted or lingerie-inspired hot pants were key, worn with knee-high socks and leopard print, peep-toe wedges. The Eighties-style exaggerated shoulder has taken on an even fresher theme. Who would have thought American footballer chic could appear so sexy and modern?
Diane Von Furstenberg
Diane Von Furstenberg showed a soft, feminine collection of macramé and print dresses, from tropical-island-inspired long styles, through to a new take on her signature wrap dresses and draping. Vivid bright colours and tie-dye prints were worn with multicoloured woven bracelets piled in triplicate along the arm. Large shell-beaded shoulder bags inspired visions of a modern hula girl.
As always Derek Lam's collection is the epitome of classic luxury. With a quiet Forties theme, his use of double-layer fabrics was predominant, especially in soft, flirty A-line skirts and bodysuits. Prints were strong, clashing top against bottom, while leather and suede corset T-shirts and jackets completed a softly indulgent wardrobe.
DKNY oozed urban cool at its best. In amongst her signature draped pieces and harem pants, the DKNY girl showed a new sassy sportswear side. One of the strong themes coming out of New York is the juxtaposition of mismatching prints, seen here and at Derek Lam and Rebecca Taylor. Short lengths are also key and the Eighties is still in effect although with a sportswear emphasis rather than statement glamour. Cycling shorts worn under dresses appeared here at DKNY, while Duran Duran-style stripey yachting tops cropped up at Rebecca Taylor.
Monday was hectic but exciting. In between showroom appointments to see Alexander Wang up close and choose our exclusive pieces, we felt inspired to be back in New York. Mark Ronson's Seventies-inspired tunes set the scene perfectly at Zac Posen. Plastic macs and girly shift dresses and skirts with cut-out backs came in ice cream colours. Wide leg, high-waisted trousers teamed with apple and plum blouses, and draped black dresses made for a very chic collection. Stylist Rachel Zoe and New York it girl Genevieve Jones were in the front row. Impressive for 10am!
Donna Karan gave good show, with her inspiration coming from the elements. It was as light as a feather; beautiful and airy, yet sexy. She was at her best, taking her past inspirations to create a thoroughly modern version of her classic woman. This time, Karan's signature jackets came in leather and crushed linen with grosgrain ribbons used as belts. These were matched with lean pencil pants or double-layer, knee-length "body" skirts in the lightest jerseys. As always her dresses were standout – simply wrapped and draped.
Thakoon has established himself as a leading member of America's new guard, and this time he added plissé and draping to his roster. Worn with streamlined techno-style ninja pants, these added a gladiator feel. Silhouettes, prints and colours had a sporty, aquatic theme but romanticism was key.
For the highlight of the week, we raced to the New York State Armory. Marc Jacobs now begins shows within a heartbeat of the start time. We had the rare treat of having Madonna and Jesus Luz sit down virtually next to us, opposite Anna Wintour. To the music of Malcolm McLaren's "Madame Butterfly" the lights went down.
The show was a beautiful combination of styles and genres, from Zandra Rhodes-esque prints to vintage Comme des Garçons-inspired styling all worn by models in Kabuki make-up. This was Jacobs' interpretation of the modern geisha. The clothing was intricately detailed and decorated, using swirls and flounces, ruffles and ruches, sequins and pearls. Light chiffon and heavy brocade, short and long, bustiers, pantaloons, and bras over shirts and shorts: the latter being a small nod to his guest of honour.
Is it me or does the venue seem to double in size every season as the visionary Kate and Laura Mulleavy go from strength to strength? Dramatic music set the scene, as eerie smoke billowed around us. Although inspired by Californian condors, their research watching horror movies (for six months!) has paid off. Urban vampires emerged with black lips, matted hair and tribal war paint. Burnt and painted lace fabrics were interspersed with patchwork floral and plaid prints, intricate leather peplums were overlaid like armoured tabards on knitted skirts and dresses.
Marc by Marc Jacobs
The styling is always effortlessly cool at Marc by Marc Jacobs. He showed an eclectic Seventies-style mix of colour with mismatching Aztec and patchwork prints on dresses, culottes and lurex jumpsuits, all worn with fun, logo-ed accessories.
Accompanied by hard techno beats, Kors delivered a cool urban collection, with sleek architectural shapes in the form of asymmetric dresses and polished tailoring. He counterbalanced crisp and soft textures, using crinkled and sheer fabrics in a cool colour palette of pale blues, greens and violets. Beautiful knits with slashed openings were worn over ink-splatter prints, and zips galore decorated shifts. For Kors' finale, transparency ruled supreme as he used a clever cut-out technique in Perspex to create the sexiest of dresses. Kors knows who his customer is.
3.1 Phillip Lim
To a strong bass beat and dramatic backdrop of red, Phillip Lim sent out a polished, sleek collection. He began with lipstick-red, tailored separates before quickly toning down the mood to detailed dresses. Lim said this collection was inspired by Picasso, and that he wanted to convey craftsmanship and individualism. The collection brimmed with texture from crocodile to sequins to plissé silks. In a tongue-in-cheek twist, the final look was a "compilation" dress combining all his trends.
With the themes of Aztec and tribal coming out of New York, Proenza Schouler delivered the wow factor. There were decorated mini-tank and babydoll dresses and fluted A-line skirts in vibrant medleys of black, white, tie-dye blues and greens. Matt and gloss combinations made for a spectacular show.
The Ralph Lauren business in Europe is on fire and you can see why. The show started with a strong denim and workwear message to recall American pioneer women on the prairies living through challenging times.
Lauren has interpreted the new recession friendly clothing as dressing down with weathered jeans, sturdy dungarees and the classic jean jacket. These were juxtaposed with naive floral printed dresses.
This was simplicity at its most sophisticated. Not forgetting the classic sharp pinstripe, pure white tailoring and separates for which Lauren is legendary, the collection came to an end with contemporary eveningwear, again heavily inspired by the denim theme, in particular shredded, beaded, cropped jeans with an indigo striped blazer.