Unordered List

Saturday, 18 February 2012

NYFW Fall 2012: Ralph Lauren, Alexander Wang, Badgley Mischka, Creatures of the Wind, and more.

Ralph Lauren
As someone on twitter put it, this is like looking into my brain. Ralph Lauren's Fall 2012 show was heavily influenced by pre-war British menswear, included multiple flavours of tweed, and was soundtracked by the Downton Abbey theme music. At least half the collection was made up of Edwardian/1920s trouser suits for ladies, about which I could not be happier.
catwalk pics from
This was one of those situations where objective criticism falls by the wayside. I love early 20th Century suits, especially on women; I love knee-length trousers; I love Downton Abbey and continue to masochistically watch it despite the fact that I spend most of each episode shouting obscenities at Julian Fellowes' soap-opera hack style of screenwriting. Yes, this is something of a pastiche collection, but I think it plays around enough with 1910s/20s style (plus being genderswitched) that it doesn't fall into the category of directly-copied period costume.

Ralph Lauren isn't one of those labels I get pre-emptively excited over, unlike Mary Katrantzou, Alexander McQueen, Haider Ackerman, or Gareth Pugh. However, I've come to realise that every season, Lauren turns out the largest number of "conventional" outfits that I unequivocably adore. None of what we're looking at today is a product of groundbreaking design experimentation, but instead is the result of years of detail-work and attention to the ultimate goal of creating perfect tailoring for extremely rich people who want to look stylish and adult without making a statement.
This collection ranged from more working-class inspired suits with cloth caps and brown tweeds, to the glossy aristocracy of top-hat-and-cane suits. Also noticeably present were some riffs on the early women's suits -- ie, pantaloon-like short trousers, brown lace-up shoes, cloche hats, and the ubiquitous grey-brown patterned jumpers.

This is where the modern touch comes in.
There was something about this three-piece suit that screamed Ralph Lauren, to me.
After a moment, I realised that it was the fabric, which reminded me of this Ralph Lauren Purple Label ad from (I think?) 2009. Am I concerned that this level of fashion pattern-recognition is eventually going to take over my brain and fill up all my memory space with clothing and costume knowledge to the detriment of everything else? (Answer: yes.)
The latter half of the collection concentrated on more traditionally feminine eveningwear, which to my eyes paled in comparison to the suits. Thankfully they didn't go particulalarly heavy-handed on the 1920s influence, presumably because the designers were aware of just how many Jazz Age gowns the fashion world has in store for us this year already.

Alice + Olivia
Retro-cheesy mod style? Yes please. I hope someone wears this on a red carpet at some point -- it's very eye-catching. 
Anna Sui
Alexander Wang
This season's focus was fabric, specifically laminated fabric and plastic fibres. Everything was waterproof, artificial, and vaccuum-sealed to within an inch of its life, although without the aid of Wang's design notes I don't know if I would have picked up on much of that. With a few exceptions, this collection was a bit of a miss with me. I couldn't really work out what his goal was, or his audience, especially since he seemed to have traded in his usual ultra-modern American comfort for rigid, armour-like jackets that looked like they'd behead the wearer if she tried to bend her neck.
I wish we could have seen more of the plastic mesh turtlenecks most of the models wore beneath their coats, because I think they might have been the most saleable item in the collection. Odd-looking and probably not all that comfortable against the skin -- they looked like they were made of unwoven, moulded plastic -- but undeniably Alexander Wang, and perfect for layering into an outfit for a hint of early-2000s cyber style.
The alien-like detail on this dress, continuing directly from sleeve to glove, was one of my favourite parts of this collection. A sterile and eye-catching look.
Badgley Mischka
Yet another Metropolis-inspired collection, hot on the heels of at least two during Couture Fashion Week last month. I give this one more credit, though, because instead of running directly into the 1920s they went more thematic, with dull-sheen greens and golds, and the wild hair of all silent-movie madwomen. Also, I have a soft-spot for anything that reminds me of the green/gold motifs of the costumes of the movie Thor.

Creatures of the Wind
This has got to be one of the most eclectic collections I've ever seen. At first I was intrigued, because the inspiration was supposedly the 17th Century Scottish mythological text, The Secret Commonwealth of Elves, Fauns, and Fairies by Robert Kirk. In case anyone was in any doubt about how much of a nerd I am, at the age of 11 or 12 I had an obsession with fairy myth and legend that was so intense I got a reader's pass to a local university library so I could go to the archive and handle an original copy of this book, cementing forever my slightly unsettling fixation with white book-handling gloves.
It's unclear to me just what part The Secret Commonwealth... played in the creation of this show. There were certain elements of peasant-skirts and so on but in general it seemed like a randomly flung-together selection of Etsy-wear. I have no doubt that it would receive a high rating from Tavi Gevinson, but aside from that I'm rather puzzled by its lack of cohesive structure.


  1. Yes! The Ralph Lauren collection is very nearly what I want in terms of 1920s inspired clothing - I do wish it had more of an edge and some contemporary fabrics amongst the traditional tweeds.

  2. I need that first Lauren suit like I need breathing! Gorgeous collection!

  3. WHAT is that final outfit meant to be? Trashcan meets the upcycled old kitchen table oilcloth? Primary school recycling project third prize?

  4. ;) i actually thought of what you said about the earlier 1920s collection when i saw this one. thank god someone did trouser suits! and i note that tumblr is full of people reblogging various ralph lauren pics, so others must agree.

  5. This man Ralph Lauren is an American Fashion Designer and i really like his designing, fabric he use and the style he gives to men's suit> and to Women's clothing. Gorgeous collection!

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