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NY Fashion Week: Thom Browne on the art of repurposing

Modes present creations by Jeremy Scott.
Modes present creations by Jeremy Scott.

The Associated Press is all over New York Fashion Week, from the runway designs to the celebrity-filled front rows. Here are some recent highlights:

Thom Browne on the art Of repurposing
Guests at Thom Browne’s runway show entered a Chelsea gallery from the snow-dusted streets of New York. Inside they found, well, the snow-dusted streets of New York. But it was the New York of the 1920s, and the location was Washington Square Park, meticulously recreated down to the houses surrounding it, which were sketched on the gallery’s walls. A succession of intriguingly dressed women came to stroll under the streetlamps in this park. They wore elegant combinations of coats, jackets and skirts, all bearing the very detailed tailoring that Browne is famous for. But increasingly, it was obvious that these outfits had been deconstructed and then reconstructed as something else.

A jacket could be seen in its new incarnation as part of a skirt. The fur-trimmed arms of a coat became part of a dress. Sleeves could be seen hanging artfully from a waistline. Despite all the art involved, the theme was actually quite practical. “It’s really taking your existing clothing and making new clothing out of it,” Browne said afterward. “Really reappropriating. You buy beautiful clothes and they’re such good quality that you don’t want to throw them away, you just want to reappropriate them into something new.”

Like any Browne show, there was some wonderfully whimsical headgear, in this case repurposed neckties. Men’s ties were refashioned into tiny sculptures – much like fascinators – looping in different ways around the head. “So many people run away from wearing a tie, because they think it’s so constricting,” Browne said. “So I wanted to give it to the girl in a way that wasn’t constricting at all.” Since this was a park, of course, there were dogs, but these came in the form of handbags – actual canine-shaped bags – akin to Browne’s earlier whale bags. There was also a mechanical dog, and, actually, a few real dogs who made it into the showroom, too – though they stuck to the sidelines. One of them, a year-old dachshund, belonged to the designer himself.

Tommy Hilfiger sets sail
If you’re going to fill the cavernous, spectacular Park Avenue Armory wall to wall with guests, you’d better give ’em some pretty big scenery to look at. And Tommy Hilfiger always does just that, whether it’s building a winter wonderland, a beach, or a football stadium. At Monday’s nautical-themed runway show, his models strutted the decks of a steam liner, no less – with actual steam coming out of the stacks. The clothes displayed on the, er, T.H. Atlantic combined formal nautical wear – navy jackets with gold buttons and brocade – with more feminine elements, like delicate print dresses, or sheer navy skirts through which one could see sequined short shorts.

There were plenty of sailor coats and dresses, Breton striped tops, wide-legged pants with gold stripes down the side, even nautical overalls. Footwear included chunky-heeled loafers paired with ankle socks. A number of models wore tiaras in their hair. Tiaras? Well, Hilfiger’s production notes offered some help there, describing a sensibility where the designer’s “signature love of nautical” is “seen through a nostalgic filter where formal naval influences collide with the romance of a bygone era. It’s masculine and feminine …with unexpected combinations that offer a playful sense of irreverence and cinematic flair.” The show closed with some of that cinematic flair, sending its marquee model, Gigi Hadid, down the runway in a sparkling gold-sequined sailor dress.

Cowboys, poodles, and crazy plastic boots at Jeremy Scott
The designs are always eye-popping at a Jeremy Scott show, but on Monday, it was hard to decide whether to look at the models’ clothes or at their extremely interesting feet. On those feet were cowboy boots – in plastic – with high heels, in colors like bright pink and blue and yellow. Some were embellished with animal prints, sparkles or other shiny doodads. The overall theme of the show, said Scott backstage, was taking some “honky-tonk archetypes” and twisting them in his own way (the show was titled “Cowboys and Poodles.”) “There’s a punky kind of Debbie Harry take on this kind of cowboy and western vibe that I’ve done, and dripped it into candy colors,” he said.

The designer had fun – as he usually does – playing with fabrics and textures. “The boots are plastic, there’s some angora sweaters in candy colors, there’s sequins, there’s faux fur, there’s wools and fuzzy little bits and bobs,” Scott said. “There’s a little bit of everything.” Jeans were spruced up with brightly colored vinyl patches on the pockets. Tight leather pants were embellished with a fringe coming down the side, evoking a cowboy jacket. Prints were, as usual, bold and entertaining. One had a Betty Grable-style pinup girl. Another had a hairbrush and what looked like a shampoo bottle. And there was an electric-guitar print; supermodel Karlie Kloss seemed to be having a great time modeling a bright blue version of it in a tight knit dress, accompanied by plastic boots, of course, and a poufy hairdo.

Scott has many celebrity fans, and he had a hard time picking his favorites. “There’s so many, I mean from Rihanna, Miley and Katy (Perry), Nicki (Minaj) – there’s so many … obviously Madonna who has been wearing the creations throughout the concert tour that I did for her especially, which has been exciting to see … you know I love working with my musicians and my muses and my friends, and I’m thrilled to see them wearing my clothes. It makes me happy when they’re out there performing, doing what they do, and that I’m able to add and contribute to that. “

Carolina Herrera in 3D
Don’t let the soft palate, mod designs and ethereal feel of Carolina Herrera’s fall collection fool you: it is packed with techniques using modern technology. “The way I use the new technology is in embroideries that are just beneath the print of the collection,” Herrera, who introduced her first collection in 1980, said. “The embroideries are all floating. I call them 3D. I’m always fascinated by the new technology we find in fashion.” Along with those embroideries, textured layers were seen throughout the collection of cocktail dresses, pants, coats, skirts, sweaters and Herrera’s signature floor-length gowns. Despite the layering and intricate designs, the clothes still have a delicate feel. “This collection is my perception of beauty,” Herrera explained. “I think women should look beautiful and feminine with whatever they wear.”

Emmy Rossum was among the celebrities attending Monday’s show at The Frick Collection. “It always feels wonderful in Mrs. Herrera’s designs,” Rossum said. “They’re chic, elegant, beautifully made, feminine and she is such a wonderful, strong woman I admire and I have a lot of affection and respect for.” The show was also streamed online where viewers were invited to watch with virtual reality viewers for a 3D experience.-AP

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