Much of what's on designer runways is for the limousine lifestyle, or that half of 1 percent that doesn't have to worry or doesn't want to worry about the whipping gusts and negative wind chills we experienced Sunday at New York Fashion Week. It's impractical, and it's fashion for fashion's sake, not function.
But not Public School, the CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund and Swarovski Menswear Award winning label designed by Dao-Yi Chow and Maxwell Osborne, which has expanded into women's wear as well.
In their terrific fall collection, the designers blurred the lines between masculine and feminine, Eastern and Western dress, street wear and tailoring. The result was modern, versatile and dynamic.
The look might be described as urban nomad, and it was all about layering (for men and women, though almost everything looked like it could be unisex). What was in the mix? A red brushstroke patterned sweater over a long, flannel check tunic over track pants; a black nylon, side-zip shirt resembling a sports jersey, over a white pique tunic and jeans; and a black leather dress with a long pleated skirt, under a shrunken jacket that was half blazer, half bomber.
But the most covetable piece may have been a cream jacquard parka-poncho, the perfect thing for surviving the cold, mean streets.
Also on the runway, Public School debuted sports-inspired bags with Tumi, sunglasses with Oliver Peoples, and a second collaborative style of Nike Air Jordan sneakers, proving that everyone wants a piece of these cool kids, who seem destined for lifestyle brandom, just not limousine lifestyle brandom.
For that, there's Victoria Beckham, celebrity-turned-legit designer, whose family (soccer star hottie David, budding models Romeo and Brooklyn, Cruz and baby blond Harper) couldn't have been any more picture perfect in the front row.
On the runway, Beckham showed chic jumper dresses, swingy coats, calf-grazing skirts and twist-front knits. But some pieces had so much going on (back vents, sculptural folds, oversized buttons) it was difficult to figure out how a woman would pull them off in real life.
At Derek Lam, the inspiration was Yankee practicality and Libertarian cool, according to the show notes, as embodied by such hearty New York women as Diane Keaton, Mia Farrow and Stockard Channing. So the height of practical chic, or so it seemed.
Instead, the clothes were a too-literal, 1970s throwback — tunics over flared trousers, belted coats, pleated patent leather skirts, boxy sweaters with leather elbow patches, lots of camel — and a little dreary.
Also, I'm not sure where any Yankee pragmatist is going in those clunky patent leather mules. Maybe she's not traveling in a limo, but for sure she's in a cab.