Seven days of chic in New York

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From supermodels to supernatural models, the New York shows brought with them structured sportswear and eclectic layering, says Agata Belcen

Kicking off the autumn/winter 2012 show schedule in suitably bold fashion, the New York collections were awash with shades of red, from pillar-box to oxblood.

There was lacquered leather, too, knee-high boots, supermodels and, as always, plenty of fur – on the streets as well as the runways. The wind cut through coats on the way to the shows on the pier: a quick, cold gust to catch your attention and sharpen your senses for the coming season.

Marc Jacobs

The shoes looked Pilgrimesque, apart from the rhinestone buckle and flowers; the calf-length skirts and A-line wool coats matronly were it not for psychedelic print. The construction of each ensemble was a triumph of the imagination at Marc Jacobs. Contained within the collection – leather and lace, print and sparkle, cropped, long and oversized.

Calvin Klein

Klein's models had their hair slicked down with a reflective sheen, and there were a few black, short-cropped styles also worn close to the head, reminiscent of early Yohji Yamamoto. Metal bands, worn as belts, gathered voluminous dresses in at the waist to create feminine shapes in a beautiful, minimal approach to romance, with simple evening dresses drawing attention to the hips and breasts.

Marc By Marc Jacobs

Stern caps and heavy boots became the upper and lower borders of a cathode ray tube within which all manner of prints flickered: florals, chequerboards, polka dots and tartans gave the feel of a cocktail party at a Russian military research facility in some alternative 1993, where the USSR had yet to fall. Comrade Jacobs' own federal union has never been mightier or more ubiquitous.

Proenza Schouler

New York has revelled in sportswear this season, with designers engrossed in knee-high boots and outerwear. At Proenza, narrow strips of the fabric were woven into a grid on skirts and dresses or cut-out to form an exoskeleton jacket. But what made this collection their own was the textures and detailing in their brocades.

Jason Wu

New York loves Jason Wu and, although he has yet make the same impact in Europe, tastes are warming to his style. He showed his increasing presence by sending down a veritable army of models and they marched to his tripartite vision of China: Mao-inspired uniform, the embellished shine of the Qing Dynasty and 1940s Sino-Hollywood.

Victoria Beckham

Although there was none of the corsetry of previous seasons, there was so much constriction in Beckham's collection you felt short of breath just watching it: where there weren't tight double belts, there were stripes that looked like them and black tromp l'oeil panels that repainted the silhouette into an even more striking hourglass.

Ralph Lauren

Opening with the Downton Abbey theme tune, Lauren explored women's rights and appropriate antebellum modes of behaviour, dressing the lady as country gentleman. There was a series of professionals: the lawyer in herringbone tweed; a bowler-hatted banker; the doctor with a mini-alligator medical case, all adorned with caps and peacock feathers.

Alexander Wang

Wang's show commenced with a hullaballoo around South African band Die Antwoord and ended with cheers for the finale ensemble of models, which included Carmen Kass, Shalom Harlow and Gisele. The collection comprised fabrics that Wang had himself custom developed – lacquered tweed, waxed suede, vinyl, shrink-wrap jacquard knits – all cut with precision and compiled in a restrained palette.


The Mulleavy sisters draw deeply from film history, often titles that convey a sense of wonder and magical romance, such as The Wizard of Oz or Sleeping Beauty. Romance manifested itself in dropped waists and lace collars that looked like they were floating. An early 20th century look in the double-breasted coats, jackets and loose sleeves gave the collection a strong vintage feel.

Donna Karan

Thirties gangsters and Marlene Dietrich were a welcome, flamboyant and cartoonish presence in Donna Karan's collection. Wide lapels and shoulders on reworked double-breasted suit jackets brought to mind urban fat cats. Citing architecture as one of her references, it's clear that Karan's well-documented association with New York City hasn't disappeared – merely re-imagined into one with Gotham City.

Manhattan Moments

Thom Browne

This presentation was a Tim Burton-esque affair. Performed to the theme tune from Edward Scissorhands, it was an ode to 10 fictional women who had died for fashion. Ten suits lay in 10 coffins, but when the music started, they stood up and more models looped around them wearing a sculptural collection of voluminous proportions.

Diane Von Furstenberg

Yvan Mispelaere is now in his second year at Diane von Furstenberg and the collections have become more and more compelling with each season. Particularly delightful, seen later at the showroom appointment, were handbags embellished with surrealist motifs such as eyes and keyholes.

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