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New York Fashion Week Roundup

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After a decade at Calvin Klein, designer Francisco Costa decides to take the label in a more avant-garde direction, but minimalism still reigns at the renowned house of Klein.

We’ve come to expect extremely scaled-back looks from Calvin Klein in tones of nude and neutral, but this time the unexpected occurred – the palette moved fluidly from neutral to brighter hues like Kelly green and blush pink. There were even looks collaged together from overlapping swaths of printed fabric.

The collection was livelier because of the color, but also because of the wild texture choices. It’s as if Costa took the collection and zapped it with exposed electrical wire, causing hems to fray and fringe to sprout in unusual places. It was Calvin Klein, but deconstructed. Costa smartly accented the presentation with a variety of visual hooks like asymmetrical hemlines, exposed seams, origami folds, and oversized/boxy silhouettes. Like most designers at New York Fashion Week, Costa showed bandeau tops and high-waisted skirt pairings, but his skirts were so high that they came up past the ribs and bumped up against the bottom portion of the bandeaus. There were also skirts made of netting enhanced by colorful fringe, candy-colored accents on neutral knit tops, and trousers with side panels of frayed fabric. Calvin Klein’s déshabillé, chic adventure brilliantly allowed the designer to keep within the lines of the brand’s blueprints while experimenting with new and exciting ways to bring creativity to the collection.

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For Spring/Summer 2014, Ralph Lauren channels the swinging sixties, with a neon twist.

Since its inception in 1968, the Ralph Lauren brand has become a global empire, with Lauren’s design signatures, which favor classic, tailored looks, reminding us of the blue-blooded American elite. Over the years, Lauren has created collections around iconic cultural American themes. As such, his tribute to the sixties-inspired mod trend today was about as undeniably noticeable as the bright neon colors that Lauren experimented with for his Spring 2014 collection.

The show kicked off with black-and-white striped jackets, trench coats, and knit dresses paired with black patent booties. The majority of the collection, over twenty looks, were devoted to a lineup of black and white variations, from solids separates, such as a white leather mini skirt and black knit top, to black-and-white patterns on peplum tops and cricket vests. Lauren accentuated the mod look with knee socks and oversized round sunglasses. The black-and-white procession was followed by a monochrome movement, which took the form of searing neon numbers in a fluorescent palette of oranges, yellows, and greens.
This season, it’s easy to forget the red, forget the white, and keep the blue, as we pledge allegiance to Lauren’s awe-inspiring cobalt-blue gown worn by Karlie Kloss, which was by far the star (and the stripes) of his Spring 2014 collection.

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Proenza Schouler transcends trends for a self-possessed collection that brings artistic expression to wearable activewear.

Looks on the Schouler runway are polished and sophisticated, but imbued with a touch of artisan craft. Jackets and overcoats are finished with closures that resemble marching band uniforms – a tidy way to tie up the orderliness of the clothes. Jack McColloughand Lazaro Hernandez repeat the use of wide pants similar in style to a samurai’s hakama throughout the show, trading them in occasionally for suede skirting and gorgeous maxi skirts shot through with metallic threads. At times, tops are voluminous and slightly bulky, featuring exaggerated, sloped shoulders, but the silhouette is consistently tight around the waist. Instead of a racy crop top, Proenza Schouler’s version is wrapped and controlled, showing the design duo’s intelligent approach to spring’s favorite trend. Many of the looks are given vivid allure when presented in a blown-up fiber print that resembles haphazard slashes of paint on a canvas, inspired by the Arte Povera movement, and the brand’s suiting sports hand-painted lines that work like a reflective trompe l’oeil. Suede is also a favored fabric, and looks especially chic on a bow-fronted sleeveless tunic with cropped oversized trousers in dark red. Eveningwear features starry gowns that gently sparkle and swish, providing a dreamy counterpoint to the sturdier daywear garments shown. Though Proenza Schouler is typically strong in the accessories department, the duo scales back its presentation to reveal only a few bronze sculptured statement necklaces and chunky shoes. With a take on fashion that’s reliably forward-looking, Proenza Schouler can always be counted on to keep us pointed toward the future.

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Cheerful colors and feminine silhouettes floated down the Oscar de la Renta runway, reminding us that “pretty” always has a place in fashion.

Oscar de la Renta’s Spring/Summer 2014 collection takes us on a journey from black-and-white wearable basics to voluminous eveningwear, which blossoms with eye-popping prints and graceful decorative touches. Chic gingham checks take center stage for the first portion of the show, accenting scarf-like collars and wide cuffs. Even though the outfits and ultra-feminine silhouettes of the collection are reminiscent of Betty Draper’s early wardrobe on Mad Men, there is a certain Spanish flair at work in the off-shoulder looks and wide, sheer sleeves similar to the peasant cut of a trajes de faralaes. Princess-cut frocks feature tropical florals against polka-dot backgrounds and rose prints presented in shingled layers. An elegant jewel-trimmed sheath dress could have been pulled straight out of Jackie O’s closet, while a high-necked, long-sleeved frock in lime green printed with daisy puffballs was a Twiggy-esque tribute. It’s easy to namecheck ladylike style muses when clothes are this iconic. Though the 1950s were present in the hourglass silhouettes and the 1960s could be found in the bright, happy prints and cheerful palette, de la Renta also called on the Art Deco era in the form of artsy embroidery on crocheted white and glittering champagne. Smashing show closers included printed gowns with rounded tulip hems that showed opaque silk linings and sleek gowns with frothy organza skirts.

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