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Fashion Week

Posted: February 16, 2011

Fall Fashion Week's second year at New York's Lincoln Center continues to be more exclusive than its Bryant Park years (its high-tech security actually keeps out gate-crashers), but the fashion - although simple and minimalist - is inviting, not to mention glittery. Still, that sparkle doesn't evoke a party-all-the-time vibe: Skirts are longer. Gauchos abound. Layering is important. And designers such as Tracy Reese, Diane von Furstenberg, and even Philadelphia's Ralph Rucci are offering sleeveless fur vests. Yes, this looks like an extension of fall 2010 trends, but instead of dreary grays, we're seeing fire-engine reds, kelly greens, and cobalt blues. Here is a look at some of my favorite Fashion Week shows so far.

Strong, yet soft as a rose

One of the first shows I saw was Lela Rose's sensibly colored collection for next fall. She stayed away from the monochromatic, but used muted fabrics to create sleek sheaths. She wrapped models' shoulders in gauzy fabrics, and she wasn't afraid to pair knee-length socks with closed-toe wedges - to great effect. She mixed metallics to give simple silhouettes an extra punch, and the models' Marcel hairstyles really finished things off. Will these styles be big next fall? Looks like it, as so many collections for 2011 are simple, ladylike, and demure. The days of over-construction appear to be over.

DVF does glitter chic

Diane von Furstenberg's American Legends collection is full of sparkly, classy pieces in bold shades. Usually I am a fan of red - of which she showed a lot - but my favorite shade in her presentation was mint. The green in this dress is bold and yummy (it's easy to wear and pairable with leggings or jeggings) and I love the off-the-shoulder sparkle. She even featured a mint fur vest with evergreen wool pants. Furstenberg kept with the mood of the season - covered up and minimalistic - but she gave her runway looks a spicy feel.

Ralph Rucci wows

Philadelphia-born Ralph Rucci always gets a star-studded crowd for New York Fashion Week, and his Monday night show was no different. Actress Whoopi Goldberg sat front and center next to Vogue editor Andre Leon Talley. Ken Doonan, buyer from Neiman Marcus, was in the house, as was fashion doyenne Iris Apfel - such a big deal that New York's Peabody Essex Museum showed more than 80 dramatic ensembles last year from her personal collections.

Rucci presented a series of shocking red ensembles: a red Mongolian lamb coat over skinny pants, a red chinchilla tunic over black pants, a red quilted satin pagoda jacket and gown. This 61-piece collection was so great, I waited with bated breath as each outfit rounded the corner and down the runway. The audience agreed, as three pieces drew applause, including a Spanish embroidered silk gown. Rucci also worked matte jersey into his line in a beyond-classy way - I'm eyeing a gray dress. And no Rucci collection is complete without sheaths that feature what he calls "suspension" - pieces of fabric that look like they're floating within his clothing cutouts. Phenomenal. Artistic. Fashion at its best.

Marc Jacobs: Socks and pumps

My favorite trend to come out of Fashion Week is the socks/pumps combo. It takes the 1970s and 1990s minimalist trends and gives them a little more pizzazz. Marc Jacobs used the look to complement his collection of slim monochromatic pantsuits with matching cloche hats. Very yesteryear. Boutique faves Rose and Jill Stuart also worked the sock-shoe thing. I'd wear it.

Who does a gown like Carolina Herrera?

The answer is no one. This season her gowns nearly danced off the runway. And the sleek suits, especially a red, wide-collar wool one featuring amazing tailoring, were striking. But the gown with the beautiful arm detail made me look twice. I loved the striped ombre effect of the blouse. It's demure, yet exciting. Maybe it has a chance of seeing the inside of the Academy Ball next year?

Tracy Reese does fur, Swiss dots

Tracy Reese always brings out the glitterati - this time, actress Gabrielle Union was in the audience. But even without the stars, Reese's collection is rocking out. She incorporated elements of the 1970s in her clothes, with long pleated skirts, touches of fur, sparkles (looks like this trend will be popular well into next fall) and sheer polka dots.

Tory Burch presents prissy plaids

As usual, Tory Burch shunned a runway show for a presentation where fashion insiders file past models wearing her collection. And the tunic-loving mother of three must be assuming that her customers are spending a lot of time in the library, wrapped up and serious. Burch presented long skirts, some A-line, some plaid, and some ombre with floral patterns. She layered chunky sweaters and vests over her looks. A black pantsuit trimmed in silver sparkle was a fave. Is Burch giving up casual? Maybe so.


this for ladylike?

I like the way Jason Wu toned down the froufrou but still gave us something special. Wu, best known for designing Michelle Obama's inaugural ball gown, focuses on tailoring and ladylike details. A strapless, honeysuckle, crystal-belted gown was the most dramatic - an example of baring a lot but leaving most to the imagination.

Mirror, Mirror:

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Contact fashion writer Elizabeth Wellington at 215-854-2704 or ewellington@phillynews.com.

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