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.