Last February, Zac Posen held his show in the biggest of the Bryant Park tents. Five grand pianos lined the runway, in a spectacle that was riveting even before the first model emerged. One year later, he is showing at 9 a.m, in a venue whose catwalk would barely hold a glockenspiel.
So many pitfalls can besiege a designer — chancy financing, growing too fast too soon, too much media attention paid to all the wrong things, and last but certainly not least, out-of-control youthful hubris. It takes a remarkable amount of courage just to keep going, season after season. When I arrive at Posen’s morning show, I am thinking about those pianos and how he must feel. But when the show starts, and I see that he’s managed to put a violinist on his catwalk, I feel better, and still better when I see the jaunty flared skirts, the carefully seamed khakis, and especially the red velvet skating dresses, which is what I secretly wished people were wearing on the ice rink in Bryant Park earlier this winter. (Actually, the fact that the rink has to be dismantled to accommodate the tents is one of the reasons we’re moving to Lincoln Center.)
Let others content themselves with foxes and goats and lambs, inferior animals all. If you desire a genuine crocodile jacket (you don’t? Why ever not?), there is one for you at Carolina Herrera, along with a plethora of sables, and of course, the perfect ladies-who-lunch dresses, in case you find yourself eating at the sorts of places where people wear things like this. (Note to young designers who try to beat the queen at her own game: Please stop! I’m talking to you, Prabal Gurung! You are way too cool to be designing cocktail dresses!)
It is easy to be blinded by the female musculature at Donna Karan, and it’s not even on the runway. Demi Moore and Brooke Shields are together displaying four spectacular arms, and in Brooke’s case two wonderful bare legs, which end in a pair of gold platform sandals — the ultimate luxury on this freezing day. Demi and Brooke are sitting with Susan (Sarandon) and Marisa (Berenson), and Donna will kiss all four of them when she takes her walk at the end of the show, a collection that includes black cocoon coats, and a lot of tops, also black, made more cheerful with the addition of flower petal and even clown collars.
Like a wildly creative person in the grips of a full-on manic episode, Marc Jacobs starts his show even before it is eight o’clock. Or maybe he is just anxious to show us what he’s got? He’s built an installation out of what seems to be cardboard (an homage to Frank Gehry, maybe), and the models are literally unwrapped from a crate by longtime Jacobs business partner Robert Duffy.
And such is fashion, that five seconds after the first model walks the runway you forget all about all those tight leather leggings, all that Rick Owens manqué, all that sad bad-girl stuff you’ve been seeing all week. It turns out what you really wanted all along was a calf-length pleated skirt, a sequin-splattered cardigan, and a little coat, half–Edie Sedgwick, half-Gigi, to pull up high around your neck as you face an uncertain future.