Sunday, February 19, 2012

My first big show at New York Fashion Week: Derek Lam's fall 2012 collection

As part of the Camera-Ready Style Contest presented by Estée Lauder and Vanity Fair, I won two tickets to a New York fashion week show.  This is my experience attending the Derek Lam fall 2012 show.  If you’re just interested in the clothes, then la ti da, skip the witty details and run along to “The collection.”

The preparation

I found out in mid-January that I would be attending the Derek Lam show.  For more information about his style visit this previous post here.  I had no idea what to wear to this extraordinary and extraordinarily fashionable event.  I scavenged my closet, combed street style and personal style blogs, went shopping, searched on Pinterest, shopped some more, Googled, shopped again…  I was freaking out about what to wear.  One of the tips I stumbled upon when preparing for fashion week is to step it up several notches.  Ask yourself, “Would Scott Schuman of The Sartorialist take your picture?”  Ugh too much pressure!  Eventually I got my nerves under control and remembered how casual the people appeared outside of the shows in so many street style blogs.  I packed multiple options because I usually dress depending on how I feel and who knows how I would feel that day.  (I’ve noticed that I’ll often wear the same color for days in row because that’s the hue that matches my current mood.  Hey, I’m a Cancer, ruled by the moon, my moods are always changing!)  Anywho, the day of the show I was feeling the contrast of pretty white lace paired with harder black.  Lately, I’m drawn to girly pieces paired with edgier ones.

I chose a lace dress that I just got at… dare I tell you?  I was shocked to find such an adorable dress at Wet Seal for $15.  I paired it with a black blazer I acquired at a consignment shop in Chicago.  Then I added a black skinny belt, my favorite black booties and my new gold earrings from TopShop.  It wasn’t perfect.  It wasn’t overly dramatic.  But it was flattering, chic and me, at the moment.

The scene

Of course my mother came with me to the fashion show as she was my partner in fashion for the entire trip.  The black sedan was waiting for us when I rushed down the escalator at 11 a.m. on Sunday, February 12.  Thank you to Ben from Vanity Fair for arranging the car and coordinating the whole fabulous trip.  He was such a pleasure.  Later I heard he was a valuable asset to Condé Nast and wise beyond his years.  Someone I’ve recorded to pick his brain if I ever decide to move to the city.

We arrived at St. John's Center on this particularly bitter and blustery day.  The event and studio space seemed to be off the beaten path as it faces the Hudson River.  But later we discovered we were in the West Village, just north of Soho, where we had wandered the day before.  The space was a large open room with benches on both sides and rectangular structures, some with mirrors, flanking a long straight path I assumed was the runway.  It was not elevated but on the same level as the first row of benches.  Our seats were at the very beginning of the runway, which began with a ramp.  I debated on sharing this, but I'm sure you'll see the humor in it... The first "model" to grace the runway was a rat!  He scampered down the ramp and under the benches to my left, soliciting squeals and raised feet from the guests.  Mom and I thought it was hilarious.  Welcome to New York!

The people

We sat next to a lady from Denmark who is in the fur business.  She travels to every major fashion week in the world each season.  She was sweet and I imagine just overflowing with interesting information only available to insiders.  As we were waiting for the show to begin, she pointed out John Wilder, a very important decision maker in the world of fashion buying, sitting two rows ahead of us.  We also spotted Anna Wintour walking up the runway, probably to greet Derek Lam backstage.  It’s hard to miss the trademark bob and large sunglasses of the iconic editor in chief of Vogue.

Also in attendance were Rachel Zoe, Miroslava Duma, Sofia Sanchez and Garance Doré.  Zoe is a celebrity stylist who has her own reality TV show called The Rachel Zoe Project, published a style book called style A to Zoe: The art of Fashion, Beauty and Everything Glamour and recently debuted her own line of apparel, shoes and handbags.  She is credited for creating the boho chic look with friend, Nicole Richie.  Duma is a former editor of Harper’s Bazaar Russia and currently a freelance writer.  She’s internationally renowned for her fashion sense and a fixture at fashion weeks all over the world.  Sanchez is a model turned art director turned entrepreneur known for her unique style influenced by her homeland of Argentina.  Doré publishes a blog of photos of street style fashion and other musings.  She is also the girlfriend of The Sartorialist's Scott Schuman.  I can only imagine how beautiful their family photo album will be...

The show was delayed reportedly because Susy Menkes, the respected International Herald Tribune fashion writer, was running late.  After she arrived the show began with violin music, followed by a thumping bass line and an unfamiliar melody.

Anna Wintour walking to the backstage
Anna Wintour - Photo courtesy of Getty
Rachel Zoe - Photo courtesy of Getty
Miroslava Duma - Photo courtesy of Getty
Sofia Sanchez - Photo courtesy of Getty

The collection

Placed at every seat was a bookmark that read “The Library,” suggesting the theme for Derek Lam’s fall 2012 collection.  The first look was a grey doubleface wool pullover, black lambskin skirt with Persian floral embroidery and grey leather ankle boots with a black tip and gold stripe.  Later I learned that the pretty floral print was inspired by the frontispiece of an old book Lam discovered.  But as puts it “you’d hardly call his Fall girl bookish.”

This hip collegian channeled the sixties with a bouffant hairstyle and smoky cat eye makeup.  Tom Pecheux of Estée Lauder created the look to emphasize heavy lashes with Sumptuous Two Tone Eye-Opening Mascara in Bold Black/Rich Brown.  Read more about backstage here.  The mod decade appeared in full skirts, oxford shoes and blouses, my favorite being the silk georgette necktie blouse.  The pretty yet sporty style also included floral silk outerwear, paisley jacquard layered over floral embroidered collared shirts, trousers and cozy sweaters.

To give a little modern edge, Lam kicked it up a notch with gold, leather and sequins, in particular gold shoes, a black lambskin pencil skirt, wine lambskin pants and sequined tweed that glittered shyly under the lights.  Here, I’d like to note that the leather turtlenecks peeking from tops and dresses were laser cut with delicate patterns and scalloped edges.  This beautiful detail was easily missed from my seat and I didn’t want you to miss it as well.  As for the accessories I fancied the silver ID necklaces, the “Alfie” platform pumps with an ankle strap and the white nubuck “Emmett” oxford.  I actually just picked up a clunky silver ID bracelet from an antique shop in Florida and I’ve been wearing it faithfully since I saw this show.

It has to be improper to not mention the outerwear when reviewing a Derek Lam show as it’s one of the things he does so well and he offers so many choices.  There were ladylike ivory satin floral coats.  I can imagine wearing the shorter jacket with skinny jeans and great pumps on a Saturday night.  There were also a white wool drill peacoat, black and white tweed jacquard coat and fur stoles that stood out in luxury.

Toward the end of the show were three long skirts of silk georgette that were light, flowy and oh so feminine.  The last two were unexpectedly paired with chunky handknit nylon tulle sweaters.  They created a lovely and cozy end to a comforting collection.

Noteworthy trends from Lam’s collection that are sure to be rampant this fall are leather: wine or black pants, pencil skirts, dresses and trim; fur; T-strap heels from the twenties; chunky sweaters; flowing long skirts; shades of white and ivory and menswear in coats and trousers.

As I analyzed the pieces of Lam’s collection, noticed the details and textures, I liked it more and more.  Most everyone is drawn to red carpet gowns and out on the town ensembles.  But now I have a deeper appreciation for Lam’s ability to interpret his current inspiration (a book and a coed from the sixties) into covetable pieces of luxurious fabrics and spectacular tailoring.

Photos courtesy of myself, Monica Feudi/ and Gianni Pucci/