Fashion designers began showing their collections of clothes for next spring and summer on Thursday, and the big question is how Phoebe Philo's influential fall collection for Celine, which put minimalism back in fashion's vocabulary, will reverberate now. The answer so far is more about ease of dressing and feel-good clothes than uniform-like simplicity.
The setting was New York Fashion Week, which continues for the next several days and will be followed by designer showings in other major fashion hubs (such as Milan and Paris) over the next few weeks.
Lisa Mayock and Sophie Buhai went back to their roots in Southern California, marrying color-blocked geometric motifs inspired by the Memphis design school with West Coast ease. It was all about the everyday made interesting — a greige pants suit that a young woman would actually wear, in a soft-tailored knit with tapered pants finished with zippers at the hips and ankles; culottes and long pleated skirts tied with leather cord belts; and a Mexican-style hooded poncho done in a metallic knit.
The result proved why their label, Vena Cava, is becoming an important player. (The designers were tapped by Bloomingdale's to do a collection for the store's private label, Aqua, which is in stores now.)
Kimberley Ovitz, also a native Southern Californian, continues to succeed in creating the kinds of collections that a woman can live in from dawn to dusk — a fluid white trench coat that could double as a dress, a white stretch tank dress with pleated front details that is office-appropriate with a jacket but sexy enough for a night on the town on its own.
For other designers, ease meant escapism.
Peter Som knocked it out of the park with his sweet-as-candy, 1960s-era beach girls, who were all legs coming down the runway in sky-high platform sandals, dressed in a pink postcard-print tank top and malachite print shorts, a flamingo-pink snakeskin shift dress, and a sleeveless dress with "popsicle" tweed appliqués.
L.A. designer Gregory Parkinson's fanciful collection was another tropical vacation in the making, with pleated mixed-print skirts, wrap-front kimono tops and duster coats hand-dyed in every color of the rainbow, made to emerge from a suitcase in a rumpled state of perfection.
Trina Turk brought her sunny image of SoCal to New York, with maxi-dresses, breezy tops and dresses in "Laguna plaid," "tiger leaf" and "cactus flower" prints. She mixed in tailored pieces, including a crisp, white sleeveless jumpsuit with cropped pants, and a pleated white skirt that hit below the knee. (Longer skirts are most surely going to be a trend.)
At Bensoni, Benjamin Channing Clyburn and Sonia Yoon added romantic details and neon pops of color to wearable classics. Standout pieces included a lace-print denim jacket, a botanical-print button-front blouse and a swishy floor-length skirt with neon-pink eyelash fringe.
Carly Cushnie and Michelle Ochs weren't quite so optimistic; you had to look only at the killer heels in their show, designed by Alejandro Ingelmo, with rubber spikes jutting from the toe and back of the heel, to know that.
Their Cushnie and Ochs collection was enchanting all the same, with a black short-sleeved "destroyed" chiffon top; a "twisted floral" silk georgette dress with pleated leather side panel, and a papery black leather four-point dress.
Because nobody said life was always going to be easy.