New York Fashion Week: J. Crew goes for utility, frivolity

New York Fashion Week: J. Crew goes for utility, frivolity
Models pose at the J. Crew presentation during New York Fashion Week Fall-Winter 2015. (Fernanda Calfat/Getty Images for Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week)

Both the J. Crew men's and women's fall 2015 collections reached across the pond and into the past for inspiration – but that's about where the similarities end.

The menswear collection, presented Tuesday morning at the Lincoln Center tents, was as dutifully executed as a military maneuver and grounded in the same color palette; a utilitarian assortment of cargo pants, suits, cardigan sweaters, diamond-quilted sweatpants, chunky sweaters, parkas and overcoats with shearling and faux fur trim in navy blues, olive greens, camel and khaki.

"I was inspired by this vintage army/navy show I'd been to in the south of England," Frank Muytjens, head of men's design, told us. "It was held outdoors  and there were all these old army tents – including an old Red Cross tent – and everything was so functional and utilitarian." Muytjens pointed out that one particular dark green turtleneck sweater with dark blue horizontal stripes was based on an army blanket he'd seen. He also explained that the military aesthetic wasn't the only influence that found its way into the collection. "That look right there," he said, pointing to a model clad in a nubbly gray car coat, blue trousers, blue patterned scarf and white sweater, "was inspired by a photograph I have of Montgomery Clift."

The fall winter 2015 women's collection being presented on the opposite side of the room at the same time seemed downright spring-like by comparison;  pops of eye-catching yellow that found its way into skirts, rib-knit turtlenecks, fuzzy scarves and faux-fur jacket trim, a pale pink pullover hooded sweatshirt paired with a fringe-tastic candy-colored skirt that barely fell to mid-thigh, and jackets and floor-length pleated skirts with piled-on paillettes that resembled the button drawer at the world's happiest haberdasher.

"Peter Schlesinger's book 'Checkered Past[:A Visual Diary of the '60s and '70s]' was my starting point," said Tom Mora, head of women's design, referring to a book of photos chronicling the colorful and stylish lives and of artist David Hockney and his friends (including Paloma Picasso and Cecil Beaton) in London of the late 1960s and early 1970s. "I wanted that super-classic ease of dressing and lots of color."

To which we're compelled to answer: "Mission accomplished."