Michael Kors, Ralph Lauren and Calvin Klein

  • Michael Kors Fall/Winter '16
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  • Ralph Lauren Fall/Winter '16
  • Ralph Lauren Fall/Winter '16
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  • Calvin Klein Fall/Winter '16
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  • Calvin Klein Fall/Winter '16
Leandra Medine | February 18, 2016

Hope you’re hungry

There’s something to be said about a designer who gives you exactly what you think you’ll get. It’s like eating your favorite dish off a menu, right? If you were to order the avocado toast but instead received an açai bowl because someone in the kitchen decided this was a better fit for the craving you expressed, wouldn’t you feel somewhat enraged?

That’s a messy mix up of sweet and savory.

So I’ve got to say, even though many designers have been conditioned to follow the Marc Jacobs model (that is, to make something new every season and definitively forget the plot line that informed the previous collection), there is something uniquely satisfying about getting exactly what you expect from three of the designers — American pillars — who routinely show on the tail end of New York Fashion Week.

Yesterday, Michael Kors surprised me pleasantly, the way a poached egg atop my toast might with his opening look: a pair of flared denim trousers replete with feather ankles and a double breast peacoat that fell just below waist length. A lot of the rest of the collection invoked nostalgia for holiday party season: loud embellishments, sequins and shiny details. I liked the mini skirts, too. Those seemed kind of new. But it was ye good old cashmere sweatsuits and extravagant fur coats, wool pants and suiting that brought it right back home.

Ralph Lauren may have had one too many pairs of culottes on his runway, but that’s okay. The teetering-on-tacky metallic denim coupled with the brocade double-breast jacket completely compensated for it. There were neck ties and Victorian collars and one really attractive black velvet mini dress with an exaggerated Peter Pan collar that followed the regular format before the liquid gold lamé skirts and dresses — fit to hug these models bodies so stunningly — emerged to close the show. But as is always the case at Ralph, it was his post-show wave, outfitted in a houndstooth jacket and vest, tie and belt and the greatest cowboy boots that said it all: this life can be yours, too. All you’ve got to do is buy it.

Among this breakfast buffet of American designers, Calvin Klein at the hand of Francisco Costa is perhaps the most interesting case study. It’s rare to see these clothes attempt much more than a convicted and powerful whisper. So how is it that season after season, they scream? And why is it that we so infrequently see the wears, time and again some of the best-made on the New York calendar, in the wild following fashion week? There’s a difference between challenging yourself within the constraints of the image you’ve built, which I think Costa does, and just going off the rails, or repeating yourself verbatim over and over and over again.

I was particularly drawn to the big pants. Proportionally, they looked great with the skimpy silk tank tops, a former staple of The Calvin Girl. I suppose that further with those wide fur lapels and the forgiving nature of the tailoring at large, she’s transformed quite a bit in Costa’s decade-and-change at the house. Maybe that’s what makes it so special. It’s evolution that happens slowly and succinctly, without provoking whiplash. Like a welcome fresh fruit bowl next to your toast.

Photographs via Vogue Runway and NowFashion.com; collage by Emily Zirimis.

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  • Dana

    hey MR–loving the coverage as usz. I was recently doing a little catching up on SS16 and came across the Junya Watanabe show. I’d love to read an editorial on that show from you. Topic of convo–is the offensiveness of race/culture exploitation in fashion only reserved for American designers? This collection is inspired at best, but how it showed up on runway is in such poor taste. White models in clearly African inspired dreadlocks, prosthetic scarification, exaggerated Burmese neck rings and voodoo dolls as accessories–WTF! Did I miss any backlash? Would love your thoughts.

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  • La mode pour tous
  • Living Paula Blog

    Love all of these looks!

    Paula- http://www.livingpaula.com

  • stinevincent

    I don’t get how Michael Kors is a thing. I sold the Michael Michael Kors bags and they were always the cheapest quality in the department. We had to take back bags on a weekly basis that were bleeding color or simply falling apart. They were dime store bags at a coach price point. I have no idea what the designer collection is like but I have a hard time imagining it isn’t similarly cutting corners on quality.