A Twenties twist

Fashion Week ends with a roar, swell and spiffy looks saluting that bee's-knees decade.

Posted: February 18, 2012

NEW YORK - This year's New York Fashion Week ended on a decidedly flapperish note.

Designers dotted their collections with cloches, menswear styling, plush furs, and velvet gowns with a chicness that hasn't been appreciated since the Roaring Twenties.

Maybe it's the subliminal influence of HBO's hit Boardwalk Empire. Coincidentally, I ran into the show's Michael Kenneth Williams in front of Lincoln Center this week.

Or it could be fashion's constant preoccupation with everything Coco Chanel - right now we are in an early-Chanel phase, focusing on the corset-free, pared-down looks Chanel introduced to women in the mid-teens, forever changing our style of dress.

However, as New York Fashion Week wrapped up Thursday, it was clear that Ralph Lauren's interpretation of 1920s chic was the best. His show was so good he received a standing ovation from fashion front-rowers, including Vogue editors Anna Wintour and Andre Leon Talley and Elle creative director Joe Zee.

Lauren, Fashion Week's longtime czar, started his 57-look fall runway presentation with a bevy of trouser looks, but instead of grays, olives, and tans, the preferred hues of the old-school era, Lauren electrified his ensembles with shimmering cobalts and burgundies.

The Fall 2012 Ralph Lauren woman isn't afraid to don a top hat or suiting with jodhpurs and a checked vest.

One of his most memorable looks was a sleek-haired model wearing a fluid smoking robe with a contrasting red shearling collar. The flannel wide-legged trouser gave an aura of soft seriousness.

And the handbags he paired with these looks are a signal to me that bags are finally taking a turn toward the tiny.

Lauren's entire collection wasn't all smoking-jacket and manly. Like many designers this week, he felt the pull of femininity in a beautiful group of long-sleeved gowns in jerseys, silks, and velvets.

The body-skimming eveningwear is luscious and sultry. And the best part isn't just the confidence that comes from covered arms, but also the reverse views that expose toned backs. Talk about strong and girly.

American sportswear designer Michael Kors also began his luxe collection with a menswear theme, but his was louder, in chunky plaids and herringbone prints.

Kors made fashion financial news when his company's stock surged 27 percent on Tuesday. So maybe channeling the mood of his festive finances, he did his gowns in glitter-exposing cleavage with keyholes in the bodice.

I predict a persimmon gown that closed the grouping will be on the Academy Awards' red carpet next weekend.

While the 1920s was definitely the celebrated decade of the week, 1960s Mod was an important part, too.

Michelle Smith did cocktail frocks in cobalt blue and punchy pinks for her Milly line, and Anna Sui followed suit with a womens-wear collection that layered bold print over bold print in orange and greenish-blue hues.

Francisco Costa officially ended the week with a mod collection of dresses for Calvin Klein that celebrated volume and were body-skimming.

For fall, however, Costa's palette was a sharper red, black, and cream. The looks were edgier, too, the textiles a mix of leather and wool.

Costa sent out dresses that were belted at the natural waist, and worked sheer detailing into the bodices, which also featured pleating and deep V's.

Breasts may have been bared on the runways, but we suggest you hold onto this year's turtlenecks. If you don't want to err on the side of too much cleavage, layering is a must.

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

comments powered by Disqus