new-york-fashion-weekEarthy elegance at Michael Kors
Elegance, the Michael Kors way for spring, doesn’t mean kid gloves, boning and tight dresses. The designer had a more “earthy elegance” on his mind for the feminine Michael Kors Collection – a more creative, artistic energy like Georgia O’Keeffe and Elsa Peretti, the Italian model turned jewelry designer. He sewed fluttery petaled flowers on dresses and offered sheer kicky pleats on dresses in classic red, blue, black and white. Wide black leather belts and grommets along skirts and hems provided strength.

“I wanted to have that balance of the two things, think about things that were in fact very soft and romantic and feminine, but take them down-to-earth and make them work in a modern way,” Kors said in an interview. “It’s all about things that move with the wind, and juxtapose all of that with sort of borrowed from the boys kind of tailoring that feels easy.” Hence his ruffles, slits and slashes to catch the breeze. It hasn’t been an easy year for the lovable Kors. His competition is amped up, discounting is deep and his stock was down. How is he holding up? “I’m an optimistic guy, you know? I think that’s how I approach fashion. I still believe that when people put the right thing on it changes them,” Kors said. “It changes your spirit, it changes your step. I’ve seen a woman try on a dress and suddenly stand up straight.” He acknowledges fashion is fast and furious now and customers are shopping lots of different ways. “I think we’re all adjusting to the fact that it is a new world,” Kors said. Among his front row guests were Naomi Watts and Olivia Wilde. And Kendall Jenner was among his walkers.

“I always love the drama in the front row in the shows and seeing how they’re presenting their new ideas. It’s fun,” Watts said. Wilde grabbed one of the looks bound for the runway to wear herself, a loose red dress that sparkled and was outfitted with a white Peter Pan collar. It’s just the thing for a working mom, she said. She gave birth to her first child, Otis, in April. “I find that I like to look put together but I need to be able to move around and function and I can’t be kind of squeezing into something that’s not going to work, you know, running on cobblestones and jumping into the subway,” she said. “So I feel like his looks are always keeping women in mind – working women in mind, professional women who are powerful and sexy,” Wilde added. Sitting in the front row, Wilde said, is always fun, but a little stressful. “I just focus the whole time on not tripping the models,” she said. “Don’t trip them! Don’t trip them! You know, it’s a lot like sitting courtside at a basketball game, you just can’t believe how tall they are.”

New design duo debut for DKNY
Donna Karan turned out to support Public School’s Maxwell Osborne and Dao-Yi Chow, the new creative directors of her namesake DKNY, as they debuted their first collection for the brand since her departure from the company she founded 31 years ago. There were no radical leaps in style as models made their way down a long, 250-foot runway set up under a ceiling of exposed industrial pipes in a gleaming white underpass at the PATH train station at the National September 11 Memorial & Museum. The designers, with New York roots as strong as Karan’s, honored the hallowed location in deconstructed cityscapes on some outfits, and they held tight to the DKNY look in playful pinstripes in asymmetrical wool wrap dresses, jackets and coats, a familiar play on classic tailored suiting. So what did Karan think of the collection done in gray, white and black, with a touch of blue? “She liked it. She was happy,” Chow said backstage after the show.

Osborne added: “She’s been so supportive, you know, throughout the process. It means a lot to us for her to be present and supportive like that. It’s been amazing. … Hopefully it’s in good hands and we’ll take care of it.” This is a big moment for Osborne and Chow. They’ve always had Karan’s blessing, but where do their voices join with the brand’s creative foundation? Karan stepped down in June. “Funny enough, we entitled this season Missing Pieces, knowing that it’s a journey. … We still don’t really know this girl altogether. We’re still putting the pieces together,” Chow said. “We’re still trying to find ourselves, but we know that it’s a long journey and we left ourselves enough leverage to have some fun in the future.”

The two chose the location to honor the site and the city where they grew up, and where Karan made her name. And they chose to tinker with tailoring as a nod to DKNY’s DNA, using pieces of photos taken by Peter Lindbergh in a 1990s ad campaign for the brand. One black-and-white coat included part of the face of Rosemary McGrotha in sunglasses from a DKNY video of the same era. The designers said their DKNY girl will remain a New Yorker. She’ll be determined and focused and comfortable in the rest of the world as well as the two hope to foster a younger customer base. “She wants to be taken seriously,” Osborne said, “and she wants her clothes to reflect that without taking herself too seriously.”-AP