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Five Things We Liked at New York Fashion Week Fall/Winter 2011

Distilling New York Fashion Week into five easy to digest trends takes time, countless hours of thinking and ingenuity. That, or just enough space between you and the seeming infinite shows per day to reflect upon. It was season two at Lincoln Center (which was as commercial as ever), there were the off-site shows, and, for the downtown folk, MILK Studio’s schedule warranted a week unto itself. Corduroy’s fashion week correspondent Stefania Yarhi did the legwork and now, with no further blathering, presents her top five Fall 2011 stories from the city that never sleeps.

1. From the city of the black uniform, New York’s Fall 2011 runways were chockfull of pattern clashes. The theme ran straight through Fashion Week, from Proenza Schouler’s digitzed take on the Midwest with revamped Navajo blankets, to under-the-radar SUNO’s mash-up of Kenyan fabric that could stop traffic on Broadway. The story was loud, shocks of luscious colors. Thakoon mixed buffalo plaid and African-referenced paisley prints, and more African inspiration from Duro Olowu, who loves to mix-n-match prints straight from the bustling markets. PREEN from London (image at left) got caught up in geometric prints, so much so that they layered one against the other, with enough pizzazz to make Diana Vreeland weep a single tear.

2. Fur. Whether a pragmatic way to keep warm, or pinnacle of luxury, the runways were gaga for pelts. From Michael Kors to The Row there were fur accents on collars, feather-light cropped jackets and floor-grazing statement coats. Prabal Gurung (image below) mixed fox with mink—a modern take on a done-to-death classic, while fur added softness to Marc by Marc Jacobs’ masculine suiting and tailored lines.

3. In a year of record-breaking cold it was quite warming to see fashion you could actually walk outside in. NYFW was an army of anoraks, capes and a new breed of puffy. Alexander Wang (image above) took top honors with his unique mash-up of luxury and utility reworked into functional street wear. Then there was menswear designer Patrik Ervell who got his inspiration from flight suits. Band of Outsiders gave us New England prep, and for their fall collection, the heavy duty anoraks they showed are perfect for a misty morning on the coast. The same type of oversized industrial coats were shown at Rag and Bone and Altuzarra. 3.1 Phillip Lim, meantime, was about the statement puffer, the new layer of fashion, wherein the useful becomes fantasy.

4. Menswear in the Katherine Hepburn sense, not the melding of the sexes, crept fittingly into Fashion Week this year. Women now make up just over 50% of the workforce and it’s time for them to show their power suits, minus the 80s shoulder pads (at least for this season). There was traditional black and white pin stripe at Ralph Lauren to Olivier Theyskens for Theory’s use of tailoring with subtle accents of sheer fabrics (at left). Calvin Klein’s Francisco Costa has finally gotten into his groove at CK. channeling the brand’s effortless minimalism with separates that stood so stiff the models needn’t have worn them and turning menswear for women story on its head with a black calf hair pantsuit. Yigal Azrouel used pops of electrifying colour — think bright and airy à la Jil Sander — but paired with a masculine prep school base it was a fresh take on the winter blues.

5. Fashion so firmly planted on the ground looked to the stars and galaxies for Fall 2011. Canadian sweetheart Jeremy Laing (image at right) used astronomical shapes for reference in his prints and architectural geometric separates, while Ohne Titel cited being inspired by space suits, from utilitarian zipper embellishments to circular sleeves and rounded shoulders you’d see on any Apollo mission. Rad by Rad Hourani is andro, but his latest collection was beamed down to us from the future, where gender is irrelevant. Marc Jacobs showed a very prim and proper woman set against a white cushioned backdrop and reflective floor — call it New York in the winter — and as an insane asylum or the set for a sci-fi thriller, it was ingenious. As a venue for a fashion show, it was even better.

Other things we liked:
- J.Sabatino’s menswear presentation at a theater in the East Village which was inspired by a Midwest carnival with accordion accompaniment.
- Loden Dager’s painted brogues
- Pierre-Henri Mattou’s live photoshoot for his menswear collection, which depictd a beautiful French nautical story.
- Elise Overland’s show that took place on a skating rink outside the Standard Hotel, while guests sipped spiked cider to keep warm and figure skater Johnny Weir topped the evening off with his own fancy footwork.

- Stefania Yarhi

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