Summer’s not over just yet, and some designers at New York Fashion Week were clearly focused on the beach Friday, the second of eight days of spring previews for editors, stylists and retailers.
Peter Som said he was all about the “surfer girl,” while Carmen Marc Valvo took sportswear uptown, using athletic mesh and scuba stripes for fitted cocktail dresses.
“I’m a beach bum at heart,” Som said in an interview. “I cannot surf, though. I’m too accident prone.”
If Som has his way, his customers will be comfortable but sophisticated – and treated to luxury. His collection was bathed in ocean blues against white, with a touch of neoprene in bikini tops paired with skirts, along with some actual bathing suits.
Valvo, known for red carpet and evening wear, also availed himself of neoprene on a runway dominated by black and white at the Mercedes-Benz tents at Lincoln Center. Black dresses inspired by wetsuits fit snugly, with skin exposed through strategic slashes.
Desigual, the Spanish-based retailer that debuted on the New York catwalks Thursday, went with loose palazzo pants and breezy dresses in bold prints worthy of fun in the sand. Some looks were topped with floppy sun hats.
Other shows Friday included Jason Wu, Cushnie et Ochs, Rebecca Minkoff, Rag & Bone, Nicole Miller, Helmut Lang and Suno. The fashion world then moves on to previews in London, Milan and Paris.
There was a glamorous whiff of scandal – make that “Scandal” – with Emmy-nominated actress Kerry Washington as guest judge for the “Project Runway” season finale. Washington, who plays a wily political strategist in her red-hot series, is a fast-growing fashion luminary – a development she described as an “occupational hazard,” though a happy one. She joined regular judges Heidi Klum, Nina Garcia and Zac Posen at the Lincoln Center tents to watch eight final contestants display their wares. But actually, there remain only three finalists. Their names will remain a secret to the rest of us until the “Runway” finale airs Oct. 17.
Som paired the sportswear pieces with sateen tuxedo jackets, snakeskin coats and eyelet cocktail dresses. A blue wave pattern in a neoprene sweatshirt dress was worn with a crisp, white button-down tux shirt, showing how to cross that bridge in style. Floral prints were graphic, almost jarring, and tailored Bermuda shorts had unfinished edges. The juxtaposition of seemingly opposite themes – a slouchy shirt with a feminine eyelet back worn with a tweed skirt – is what makes fashion interesting. “That tension is sexy,” he said. “I’m never not interested then.”
This show was largely a media – and social media – frenzy. The collection wasn’t couture craftsmanship, and it wasn’t visionary. It was commercial, and there were plenty of bloggers taking selfies in the front row. But the clothes were cute, wearable and affordable in a price range similar to Top Shop or Zara. Dresses on its website, for example, are priced from $100 to $200.