Fashion Week: Breezy, racy and untraditional

Associated Press
NEW YORK: The Associated Press is all over New York Fashion Week from the runways to celebrities as eight days of spring previews entered their fourth day Sunday.

NONCOMFORMITY BECOMES UNIFORM AT HOOD BY AIRShayne Oliver, the adventurous designer behind the dystopian fashion line Hood by Air, said the inspiration for his show was school uniforms. But if you wore any of his outfits to a classroom, you’d likely get kicked out.

There was nothing straitlaced about the looks at Oliver’s show: The very first look was a metallic outfit with strings and fringes that in the back revealed the female models’ very toned (and bare) backside.

The rest of the show was as untraditional as you would expect from Hood by Air: There were denim looks with rips and zippers and shirts and pants that were layered with whimsical – and sometimes inexplicable – contrasting insets. There were men with platform shoes and long skirts or dresses; the most conservative looks for this show included a white dress with a crisscross bandage design that hugged the arms.

“I’m obsessed with uniforms. I really like the principal aspect of it too. That’s the kinky part of it to me,” Oliver said slyly backstage after the show. He said it drew from his West Indian background and the uniforms used in schools despite poor conditions.

While there was an androgynous bent to the collection, he downplayed its significance: “At this point, I’ve sort of dealt with gender issues within my perspective and I just feel like it’s part of the DNA of the family of the brand.”

Among the celebrities on hand were “Empire” creator Lee Daniels and actor Bryshere Y. Gray. There was an “Empire” influence: A couple of the models dragged what Oliver called the “Cookie” pillow, modeled after the pillow main character Cookie tried to smother Lucious last season.

Daniels raved about the show, and said he’d like to incorporate it in the show: “I’m 56, and so I know that if it’s over my head, then it belongs on my show, because it’s for America,” he said. “It’s the biggest compliment ever.”

BREEZY STYLE AT VICTORIA BECKHAMCall it an all new Victoria Beckham. Her latest collection, which debuted Sunday at New York Fashion Week, is an homage to her “carefree attitude.”

Bohemian flowing tops, skirts and dresses ruled the runway in knits, silk, leather and suede. And this time, no signature sky-high stilettos, but rather flats, kitten heels and sandals.

“It’s been really liberating and easy,” Beckham said about designing the collection.

A fashion forward gingham pattern also appeared on everything from jackets to skirts to dresses. One couldn’t help but wonder whether her son, Brooklyn, 16, who attended, and has made his own splash in the fashion world modeling for high-end brands, influences his mother’s taste.

“He doesn’t really,” Beckham said as her son looked on during backstage interviews.

“He is really supportive. He’s been with me the last few days because he’s here in New York. … It’s great to have young, fresh and cool people around.”

Husband David smiled proudly while taking in the runway looks. He was of course seated next to his usual front-row buddy: Vogue editor Anna Wintour.


DEEPER INTO WOMENSWEARCo-founders and designers Maxwell Osborne and Dao-Yi Chow have much to be on edge about this season.

As they push their brand deeper into womenswear they’re also facing down their first turn later in the week as creative directors for DKNY after the departure of Donna Karan from her namesake company. Sunday it was clear they had the evolving Public School woman on their minds.

“For us to really do our first almost full women’s show made us a little uneasy and took us to a new place,” Osborne explained backstage after the show.

“This girl has grown up, this girl has traveled a bit and has come back home. You see her picking up pieces on her travels and coming back home but she’s always the New York City girl at heart.”

So where has she been in her loose striped trousers of black and white, wrap skirts and sensible chunky sandals in black and white?

“She’s been around the world and back,” Chow said. “She has spent time in Europe and Asia but ultimately her home is here in New York City. She’s come back with a new perspective, enlightened and liberated in a way. That’s how we felt designing the collection.”

She’s got some great coats and jackets, including a loose trench and short skirts with delicate horizontal stripes of red. She has sheer overlays worn over comfy black pants and the same striped sheer in a flowing, roomy dress and coat set.

Founded as a menswear brand, this is the most revealing Osborne and Chow have allowed themselves to be for women – still modest when compared to other brands.

“It’s the most skin we’ve ever shown. It’s still covered up in a way but it’s more shoulders, more arm, more leg.

“That’s something new for us,” Osborne said.

So exactly how much sleep are these two getting, steering their own growing company while taking over at DKNY?

About four to five hours, a smiling Chow estimated.

Added Osborne: “We’re getting enough to survive.”

WANG THROWS A BLOWOUT PARTYAlexander Wang’s Fashion Week runway show was a LOT more than just a runway show.

First, it was an anniversary: the 10th of Wang’s namesake brand. It was also a homecoming, of sorts: Wang just ended his prestigious stint as creative director of Balenciaga in Paris after three years, and is turning his focus solely to his own company, rather than splitting his time between continents.

And it was a big party – as in, women pole-dancing the night away, while attendees sipped vodka and munched on mini sandwiches.

And, since this was Alexander Wang, it was a celebrity convention, too: The front row included Lady Gaga, Nicki Minaj, Kanye West, Kylie Jenner and The Weeknd.

The show, held Saturday night in a cavernous space on a pier on the Hudson River, began with Wang’s models – female and male – streaming down the runway in designs that emphasized the hard-edged streetwear he’s long been known for. There were big white T-shirts, lots of oversized jackets, ample hoodies, mesh tanks, low-slung striped trousers. There were bomber jackets, black leather bustiers, plenty of denim, roomy tennis-type sweaters, and lots of fringe.

Wang said in a backstage interview that the evening’s fashions were all about “the idea of going back to my girl, and saying, you know what, the everyday and the mundane is what we’re [focused on] … we’re rejecting innovation and we’re thinking about what’s right in front of us.”

Wang had plenty of support.

“Wang, man!” Lady Gaga replied when asked what had brought her to the show. “I love him, he is a good friend. I’m here to support him and I can’t wait to see the show and celebrate 10 years.”

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