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New York Fashion Week went out on a bang last night! We were in the Ziegfeld Theatre, popcorn in hand, watching on a cinema screen as the first models emerged outside from the stage door and onto a red carpet, where they posed on a step-and-repeat for photographers before entering the theatre where guests were seated. As they did so, the on-stage big band launched into a rendition of the New York Dolls’ Trash. It was quite something. And so were the clothes: all-Americana in spirit, harking back to the glory days of Hollywood’s golden era. ‘I love New York! New York City has been my America all my life,’ said Jacobs after the show, which featured everything from deconstructed stars and stripes in shredded denim to varsity baseball jackets, dazzling satin sailor suits, glitzy majorette ensembles and showgirl eveningwear. The cast was as all-encompassing as the clothes, from Kendall Jenner and Bella Hadid to Alek Wek and Adriana Lima. Beth Ditto, a longtime Jacobs muse, also did her turn in plunging ivory satin and a feather boa. She looked fabulous. If there’s one way to swat the fashion critics’ anxiety, following his departure from Louis Vuitton in 2013, then the closure of the Marc by Marc Jacobs line earlier this year (now folded into one all-singing-and-all-dancing Marc Jacobs brand, which this was), it’s to put on a good show. That's what he did. And it looked brilliant rolled into one high-low, luxe-casual, precious-street extravaganza. The energy that came off those clothes and the visual thwack they produced may just be enough to entice the cool kids back into his stores. ‘It was confusing before with two different shows and two different messages,’ he said. Besides, squeezed between Sandra Bernhard and Bette Midler, when asked WTF had prompted the spectacle, he added, 'That’s entertainment, baby!’
It was the spring/summer 1994 show and the last exit was Kate Moss in a perfectly simple bone-coloured satin slip dress. Underwear as outerwear was big at the time, it spoke to the minimalism of the decade, its sheer basicness was a two fingers up to the decade’s previous ostentation, it telegraphed grunge-chic and it became synonymous with Calvin Klein. And yesterday, it was resurrected by Francisco Costa for SS16, titled The Morning After, as in the feel of slipping between satin sheets, or throwing on your lover’s jacket. First out, a perfectly simple bone-coloured satin slip. It had been modified, of course: slimmer straps, bra-shaped stitching over the bust, worn with fine chain details for evening and with satin sneakers throughout. But essentially, it was the same. And you know what? It looked right, 22 years on, which must say something about the current climes and our thirst for clarity, directness, purity and restraint. All of which was here, in the many slip dresses, all lovely, and fully explored in neutral tones, leather and knit, to the slip dress equivalent in pants (wide, loose, slit, hems left raggedy raw) and coats (long, fluid, slit sleeves). The big surprise was print, something not usually seen on the Calvin runway. Like abstract watercolours, these were in fact photographic prints of bouquets and blossom, sometimes layered to great effect. Even the black sequins, for evening, received the lightest of touch. This was Costa’s most sensitive and sensual collection to date. And timely, too.
He caught the current mood in New York for soft, relaxed, easy-breezy clothes, with all the requisite polish and chic you might expect from the brand. First out, an ivory shirt and silk trousers with big pleats that cuffed at the ankle for extra volume, worn with high cork platforms and a jaunty sailor’s cap. That’s right, Ralph’s woman was in nautical mode, sauntering to her luxury superyacht, moored somewhere fancy in the Med. She looked pristine yet carefree in a navy and white striped shirt, super-wide trousers, the occasional sweater tied around her shoulders or waist, and swinging a wide variety of canvas beach bags with retro Ralph branding. There was the occasional pop of red (a flirty summer knit dress, a summer mac) followed by an intense primary coloured bunting-fest of printed sails in yellow, orange blues and reds. It looked great, but especially as a giant triangular mast-sail that swooshed by on the side of those voluminous pants. Ralph’s woman was also pictured shoreside, in laid-back, urban-ready outifts: sharper shirt dresses cinched with a big tan belt, crisp shorts, poplin shirts, that kind of thing. And when she dropped anchor somewhere chilly, she had her range of buttersoft tan leather jackets to throw on. She was, of course, ready to party, cocktail and dinner somewhere fabulous in stunningly simple fluid evening pieces, in white, navy and red, some long dresses cut away at the side to reveal her bronzed, toned bod. But ultimately, she wanted to charm in less provocative attire and that meant a batch of weightless gowns in shirting cotton or silk georgette. The thing is with Ralph, he tells a simple story that transports you inside his universe. And it’s a happy place.