Dispatches from New York: DVF, DKNY, Coach & more

Opening Ceremony’s chocolate, Vevers at Coach & Thakoon's medley of everything

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By: Rebecca Lowthorpe Follow @Rebecca_ELLE

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Bohemian Wrapsody: DVF A/W 2014

The wrap dress made Diane Von Furstenberg an overnight fashion sensation in 1972. Back then, it signalled liberation and the then revolutionary concept that you could look hot and still get ahead in a man’s world. Incredibly, over 40 years later, the DVF wrap dress is still sending out ‘you can if you think you can’ vibes, even if the idea is no longer a revolutionary one. You only had to see Karen Elson and Karlie Kloss prancing down the runway yesterday in power-print wrap dresses to see its timeless allure in action. The designer called her collection Bohemian Wrapsody and paid homage to ‘a glamorous vagabond’ who dressed in optical prints with a free and easy spirit. Von Furstenberg’s front row disciples, in their flirty dresses, high heels and bare legs (so what if it was snowing yesterday in New York) provided a timely reminder that not every woman out there wants to wear androgynous, tough-girl modernism.

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Leave that to Carol Lim and Humberto Leon, the designers behind Opening Ceremony, who had been inspired by Belgium, specifically Antwerp. The Belgian waffle was loosely translated into quilted fabrics and prints. Antwerp’s waterways and architecture were rendered in bold silhouettes, cut-outs, exposed zips and linings. The pair also worked with food scientists to produce the familiar smell of Belgian chocolate, which, by the end of the show, was literally trickling down the walls – surely a catwalk first?

1. Three looks from Opening Ceremony. 2. Left to Right: Coach, DKNY, Thakoon

Over at Coach, the American leather goods label, Stuart Vevers also talked about wanting a sense of the familiar. In his debut collection for the house, the British designer said he’d been looking at authentic everyday pieces like the denim jacket, cowboy boot, sneaker and T-shirt, and reworking them with a sense of now-appeal. ‘I want Coach to be a genuine alternative to the luxury European brands, I’ve worked for,’ said the designer of his former posts at Loewe, Mulberry and Louis Vuitton. It’s impressive how effective Vevers has been in the accessory world; he has a knack for immersing himself in a company and giving it a strong identity. And this collection looked right on the money. Highlights included supple shearling-lined sneakers and big, soft, easy bags that looked like a proper tribute to the American brand and its trustworthy heritage.

How to keep an American heritage brand crisp and relevant, that’s the question facing Donna Karan’s DKNY collection. OK, so the ‘heritage’ is only 25 yearsold, but this is a label founded in New York, about New Yorkers, their diversity and energy – and this collection was a eulogy to all that. Through the lens of streetwear, then, Karan put forth fur-blocked parkas, oversized baseball jackets, sweatshirts with paillette sleeves, and flatform sneakers. Then came sections of prints and intarsias, houndstooth and fur, masculine tailoring and feminine lace. There were some strong looks out there, but the diverseness of New York didn’t make for the clearest of messages.

Thakoon Panichgul also went for the medley approach. There were bold florals, dippy hems, checked wools, knitted shoulder wraps, loose boy-tailoring, quilted outerwear, polka dots and intarsia panels on coats and dresses. Actually, the effect was charming, if in disarray. And nobody can deny, he makes a very pretty dress.

See all our coverage of Autumn/Winter 2014

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