Inside New York Fashion Week, Pt. 3

Share


Guest Grit by Cator Sparks 
 
{Cator Sparks is a freelance journalist from Atlanta who has been based in New York City for the past 13 years. He has covered fashion, art, design, and events for The New York TimesVanity FairThe Huffington Post and W.com. Keep an eye out for Mr. Sparks as he is planning on spending more time in Charleston soon along with his Scottie, Fergus Dingwall. www.catorsparks.com}
 
Photos courtesy of Giuliano Correia
 
 
Y’all need to grab yourself a big chalice of iced tea (bourbon optional) and settle in, because we have a lot of ground to cover in our final wrap-up from Fashion Week.
 
Ladies first. One of the bigger shows we attended at the tents was Naeem Khan’s. If you don’t know him, you need to get steppin’. He is the go-to for glamour for everyone from Queen Noor to Mrs. Obama and Eva Longoria. This season he was loosely inspired by Wallis Simpson and her refined, but easy elegance, as if she and the ‘Dook’ (as she called the Duke of Windsor) were lulling on Cap d’Antibes. He threw in a couple of caftans, too, that only an Indian designer can do to perfection.
 


 
The darling Tawfik Mounayer, creative director of Tribune Standard, took his gals to the Sahara for spring ’13. A Moroccan tile digital print inspired by artist Elvira Wersh was a personal favorite. We always love his shows as they are full of good people and, of course, on-point pieces for ‘that’ girl.
 


 
We high-tailed it uptown to that iconic jewel box of a boutique, Verdura. There, we found a gaggle of well-heeled women cooing over Norman Ambrose’s made-to-order collection. Born in San Francisco but living here in New York, Norman worked under master tailors for years before venturing out on his own. From the clients we met here, he ain’t doing too bad. I don’t know if I have ever seen so many women buying jewels and ordering clothes at once. Trays of Maltese cross cuffs, diamond brooches, and ruby clusters were getting confused with trays of canapés. Careful ladies! One woman we met bought a diamond mouse with an opal head. Where are you wearing this little creature? “To bed, darling!” Of course.
 


 
For one of the more old-school and over-the-top presentations, we rode to the rooftop of the St. Regis hotel for Dennis Basso’s presentation. We ran into Star Jones, Ivana Trump, and Susan Lucci. Dang, Dennis! His gowns were nothing short of show stopping and since he is a furrier, there was broadtail, chinchilla, and featherweight sable. I asked him how a woman in the hot and humid South could pull off a sheered sable caplet. “Southern women are more ready for glamour than Northern women! They are happy to wear a little piece of fur,” he bellowed. You be the judge!
 


 
We hope you added bourbon to that tea by now because you will need it for this collection. Thom Browne took his womenswear to the most abstract place yet. Inspired by 1920s choreographer Oskar Schlemmer, his girls were places on swirling discs that were turned by male models in silver bubble hats. But take a careful look at these pieces, and you will see the perfect whale print for a yachting excursion or the divine embroidered seahorses on pants or blazers for a garden party on The Battery.
 




 
Finally we met up with our amusant friend from Paris, Yaz Bukey. Her family stretches back to Egypt’s royalty, but her accessories are all ultra modern, witty, and playful. Working with plexiglass, she creates necklaces, earring, belts, and even key chains that add a surrealist touch to the wardrobe. This season, she was inspired by a trip to California. “I am ready to relocate, Cheri!” she told us with a giggle. Wait, you haven’t been to Charleston yet, Yaz!
 


 
Now for the boys. I was honored to host a breakfast for the Swedish menswear designer, Niklas Ankar. His concept is everyday clothes with a little bit of luxe. “You can go to Paris for the week and bring just five pieces to mix and match,” he explained. Held across from Lincoln Center with models posing in the windows of P.J. Clarke’s, he had many menswear editors doing a double take.
 


 
We always love Antonio Azzuolo’s menswear show. Everybody attends. Why? Because the clothes are tailored to perfection and Antonio simply knows everyone. He is loveable and terribly talented. These floral-print blazers are on the menu for next spring.
 

 
This year Michael Bastian took his Gant collection to the Galapagos. Has he ever been to the Galapagos? “No, but my boyfriend and I watched a BBC documentary on the islands narrated by Tilda Swinton. We fell in love!” he laughed. Clearly he had fun designing this colorful collection, and the models had a blast wearing the pieces. It was a full-blown dance party at that presentation. Although it could have been the Appleton Estate rum drinks being served....
 



 
Brooks Brothers is always a favorite—one, because, well, it’s affordable! But every season they take more and more chances, and this spring collection was no exception. Nautical references abound, and if we don’t have the sailboat-printed pants with matching flask, we don’t know how we will cope. There was also a great 1910 Palm Beach theme with navy seersucker blazers, a fantastic knitted blazer (perfect for flying), and a ‘funfetti’ tie that goes with every shirt in your closet.
 




 
For the Brooks Brothers Black Fleece collection, Thom Browne was inspired by palm frond wallpaper as well as mosaic tiles he eyed last summer. Of course, the ‘Mad for Madras’ suiting is over-the-top but we may just have to take a chance on it for next summer's BBQ. Hey, you won't find sauce stains with all that going on!
 




 
J. Press York Street dusted off their rep ties and decided to show for the first time in a long while. The reason for a presentation? They recently hired Ariel and Shimon Ovadia of the hot-to-trot menswear line, Ovadia & Sons, as their creative directors. “The decision was a no-brainer,” Shimon told us. “We used to shop there and we were really thrilled they would consider us!” They played with iconic garments such as the sack suit and raincoat and tweaked their cuts to give them a more modern feel.
 

 
Always the eco-friendly designer, John Bartlett designed his entire collection in linen. “It is the most sustainable fabric that still has an air of luxury to it,” he told me. Eco-Lux! The look is Mykonos meets Mumbai: beachy, arid, exotic. We love the ‘Ohm’ print for the more spiritually inclined man. 
 


 
Last but not least, Perry Ellis was another brand in need of a good shake-up. They found their answer in the Duckie Brown boys who decided to focus on variations of khaki for the entire collection. Steven Cox told us, “We knew exactly what we would do as soon as we signed on. It’s an army of khaki soldiers! It’s simple, very chic, streamlined and not like Duckie, although you can feel Duckie in it.” The results are a fresh take on an American classic.
 




 
And that was the thread through most of the shows: Americana after a couple of drinks.
 
New York designers are continually taking risks, yet showing collections that are, for the most part, wearable. This is where we steal the gold medal from Paris and Milan and how we will continue to be the leaders in the sportswear market.
 
I hope you all have gleamed a tad of knowledge from these posts. I look forward to covering more for you, dear reader, in the future. For now, keep on sailing, cocktailing, and shopping. And most importantly, please buy American! Our designers will thank you.