Heroes. Marc Jacobs SS23

Marc Jacobs held his latest fashion show in the Park Avenue Armony, a week before New York Fashion Week officially begins. Even if the king of New York’s fashion scene doesn’t return to the event, the entire outing felt very New York. The giant room was pitch dark and almost empty, save for a single row of chairs and spotlights illuminating the space in front of them. A solo violinist, Jennifer Koh, played a portion of Philip Glass’s “Einstein on the Beach.” Jacobs gave the collection a name – “Heroes” – and included a Vivienne Westwood quote in his show notes more earnest than irreverent: “Fashion is life-enhancing, and I think it’s a lovely, generous thing to do for other people.Westwood died in December at 81, and when she passed Jacobs posted a black-and-white photo of the legendary designer as a young woman. In it, she wears her bleached blond hair in spikes and a button-down stenciled with the words: “Be reasonable, demand the impossible.” At the time, Jacobs wrote that he was heartbroken, saying, “I continue to learn from your words, and all of your extraordinary creations.” This collection was an emotionally charged homage to the “godmother of punk,” from the top of the models’ peroxide wigs to the bottom of their platform shoes. Naomi Campbell, you’ll remember, famously fell in her platforms at Westwood’s autumn 1993 show. But Jacobs has learned much more than that from the late designer. The “tit tops” of Westwood’s Pirate collection circa 1981, in which she twisted t-shirt fabric into nipples, were reinterpreted as casual knit leotards and nipped and tucked sheath dresses. Here, the romantic silhouettes that Westwood lifted from old master paintings, with their bustles and bustiers, got a dressing down in military surplus, heavy on the cargo pockets. Jacobs recreated her signature volumes by turning a shirt into a skirt and tying its sleeves in the back, or by dressing models in upside-down jackets, hems dramatically framing their faces. A few of the models walked past with their arms crossed, pantomiming Westwood’s defiant audacity. Long-line coats with the geometric patchworks of quilts may not be of direct lineage, but their DIY-ness chimes with Westwood’s punk ethos. They’re special pieces, not precious because of the materials Jacobs used – they actually looked quite humble – but because of their remarkable handwork. Tinged with sadness, but also with moving, creative expression, this collection proves again that no one does it like Marc.

Collage by Edward Kanarecki.
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Harbor of Fineness. The Row AW23

The Row‘s intensely refined autumn-winter 2023 read-to-wear collection matched the couture ambience of the last week. Mary-Kate Olsen and Ashley Olsen didn’t show in Paris, but dropping a new collection in such specific time-frame speaks for itself. The craft, the tailoring, the materials, the silhouettes. The ultra-luxurious and elegantly-understated vision of the The Row woman (and man) is absolutely haute. The new season offering sees the Olsens’ timeless regulars (masculine boxy suits, cashmere coats with shawl-like capes, over-sized crisp cotton shirts – very Lydia Tár!) combined with an ease of flowing shapes (see the floor-sweeping black skirt styled with a boyish blazer) and chic, Armani-like narrowings at the waist. The colors are all about earthy neutrals – another The Row favorite. Trends come and go, but The Row is a peaceful harbor of eternal fineness.

Collage by Edward Kanarecki.
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Off To The Races. Rosie Assoulin AW23

Rosie Assoulin dropped her autumn-winter 2023 look-book yesterday, and it feels like a New Year vibe shift. Usually, you would see Assoulin’s gorgeous gowns and smart daywear in an equally chic surroundings, say, a charming New York park or on the streets of a Parisian arrondissement. This time, she took us to the racetracks of New Jersey’s RPM Raceway. Inspired by her childhood memories of Delia’s catalogues (the most literal interpretation is a two-piece blue halter and maxi skirt inspired by a tankini that Assoulin vividly remembers seeing) and her grandparents’ sportswear looks, the collection orbits between the 1990s cool (cargo pants, done the Rosie way), old-school racing chic (the finale statuesque silk gown feels very Tamara Lempicka in her green Bugatti) and a signature level of sophistication that blurs the line between day and evening style (the eye-candy sequinned coat is a great example). A stripe motif appears throughout the collection – on mini skirts and matching jackets, on a semi-transparent blue and black gown – and it reads as a hybrid between ’70s graphic design and motocross. But it’s the black maxi skirt with a champagne dinner jacket with a cropped cape that is the standout: pure elegance with a wink. Assoulin’s style is multi-faceted, and this collection delivers that with a twist.

Collage by Edward Kanarecki.
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It’s My Party And I’ll Cry If I Want To. Christopher John Rogers Pre-Fall 2023

Christopher John Rogers, a designer for whom rainbow stripes are a defining signature, put together half a dozen looks for pre-fall 2023 devoid of color. The title he gave the collection, “It’s My Party and I’ll Cry if I Want to,” offers a hint about his new direction. Having captured the fashion world’s attention, Rogers seems to have set out to upend expectations. “What I’m after is autonomy, the ability to do what I want,” he said. “The idea of play is paramount.” Cue the plastic clown noses and the towering silk clown hats created in collaboration with the milliner Piers Atkinson. There’s even a Pierrot jumpsuit in the first grouping, with silk flowers in place of the characteristic pompons, though this isn’t so much a novelty as it is a callback. A pre-pandemic runway show closed with a different take on the look. In the end, this wasn’t the volta face that those first looks augured. It’s just as colorful as any other CJR lineup, just as extroverted, but there is a commitment to pushing at the limits of his well-known signatures. In the studio, Rogers pointed out the porthole cutout in a boxy knit top bordered with the rainbow stripes – “it takes a lot of work to get it to lay flat,” he explained. Also complex: the sweaters that hybridized two crewnecks into one, and a sweater dress with both long sleeves and arm slits. The playfulness has a purpose; those knits can be worn in multiple ways. And the experimentation is balanced by an easy-wearing sensibility. Rogers’s new suits are oversized and unstructured; cut from recycled polyester in zesty shades of grape and crawfish, they’re the fresh, modern flipside of the more formal tailoring on his June runway. Rogers doesn’t want to get boxed into any one category, but evening wear, inevitably, is his calling card. With award season ramping up, there’s bound to be some incoming calls for the tulip gown in floral printed faille and a harlequin embroidered black column with pouf sleeves, both of which nod with flair back to mid-century couture shapes.

Collage by Edward Kanarecki.
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Personal. Bode SS23

For spring-summer 2023, Emily Adams Bode Aujla continued to explore 29 Clinton Street – the apartment in the Lower East Side where she founded her brand. But whereas last season she had sought inspiration in the memories of the space, the things she collected, and the parties she threw, this time she focused on something more abstract: the feeling of home itself. “We really honed in on more of the concept of the interior, the feeling of comfort from the old apartment,” she said on a frigid morning in her studio in Brooklyn. “There’s a lot more knits, crochets, and pajamas.” Not actually meant to be worn while sleeping, the pajama sets have become something of a staple for the designer for a few seasons. “I have always made pajamas, but I feel like people really started gravitating towards them after the wedding collection,” she said. A set in cream came adorned with white piping cord embroidery detail, and was worn with a white and cream crochet vest over it. Other versions in lavender (worn with a purple striped crochet polo) and a white-on-black windowpane check (worn with Bode’s take on a souvenir shirt, emblazoned with a map print) showed the versatility of the idea. Another set in the form of a hunter green velvet track-style jacket and matching trousers had the same ease as pajamas, but was made for those who may need to actually dress up for work. It was worn with a shirt and tie underneath. Adams Bode Aujla’s knitwear was a standout this season, especially the floral intarsia cardigans with latticed edges, and the breezy open crochet navy polo with red and white stripes, and another crochet cardigan in orange with white crochet appliqué flowers. Many of these were inspired by pieces from the designer’s vintage archive, but remade with comfortable, breathable yarns, “so they won’t itch and won’t combust.” She embraced her love of novelty items with a sweater that read EVERYONE NEEDS SOMETHING TO BELIEVE IN RIGHT NOW I BELIEVE I’LL HAVE ANOTHER BEER, alongside a variety of horse-themed items: a short-sleeve button-down shirt with red piping, and an intarsia knit sweater and pants set in royal blue with yellow stripes. It makes sense that she is indulging in all the things that are so close and personal to her; next season she will return to Paris to stage a show, her first one since 2020.

Collage by Edward Kanarecki.
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