Standing outside the empty storefront at 408 Broadway at a quarter to noon on Sunday, we wonder for a moment if we have the wrong address for the Band of Outsiders and Boy Fall 2009 presentation. A stylish young man with a red bowtie ushers us upstairs to the second floor, and suddenly it’s as though we’ve gone back in time to the ’60s–and, in fact, we have. Inspired by the 1967 Jean-Luc Godard film La Chinoise, about young revolutionaries in Paris, designer Scott Sternberg has his models posing at about 10 different sets, playing classic board games, watching black-and-white television, and talking at antique wooden phone booths.
Luddites that we are, we immediately felt right at home and fall in love with Sternberg’s line, which is preppy with a good sense of humor and playfulness to it. Bowties and newsboy hats are all over the place.
As we lean in to get a better look at a model’s coat (is that real chinchilla?), a photographer leaps in our way to snap a stylish gentleman. Wait a second–is that? Remember when we were sad that the biggest star in the universe wasn’t at United Bamboo like everyone said he’d be? Well, Kanye West is here, two feet away, dressed in a ripped denim jacket, grey overcoat, and green military pants and toting a Louis Vuitton camo duffel bag.
Our photographer takes his portrait. “Get me from the side, man,” he says. He turns to show us his faux hawk and takes a few seconds to fluff up the bottom a bit with his fingers.
Kanye was on his way to the Calvin Klein men’s show in the tents, but wanted to come to Band of Outsiders because he’s a fan.
“Scott’s the best,” he says matter-of-factly. “He’s one of the best American designers.” A fashion footwear designer himself (he’s collaborating with Louis Vuitton on a line due out this summer), he says he likes the men’s rubber boat shoes with the two very back-to-school prints on them: one is called “walnut desk” and the other is a black-and-white-speckled “composition book” print, both designed by Band of Outsiders for Sperry Top-Sider. We like those too! Good eye, Kanye!
If we can spot Kanye, maybe we’ll run into Kirsten Dunst or Michelle Williams, who both model for Boy. But alas, we only see–you guessed it–Cory Kennedy again. She looks like she just rolled out of bed and the photographer for Vogue, who we’re talking to, is not at all interested in getting a bedraggled Cory photo. We, on the other hand, think she looks even cuter this way.
Besides Kanye’s picks of course, highlights of the Band of Outsiders collection (which is Sternberg’s men’s line; Boy is the name of the women’s line) include a grey wool patchwork suit (only to be pulled off by the most daring of men) and a charcoal-grey worsted wool double-breasted suit with grosgrain taping. For the women, grey knee-length wool military shorts, striped mohair sweaters, and the most drool-worthy spiky-heeled lace-ups that look like what would happen if Manolo Blahnik and Converse had a baby (and in fact, the shoes are a special collaboration with Manolo Blahnik for Band of Outsiders).
Forget the tents–we leave feeling as though we’ve already died and gone to fashion heaven and can therefore go home and be content never seeing another fashion show again. But a few hours later we find ourselves checking out the sleek body and sexy curves of . . . a yellow classic Porsche 911. We’re inside the Classic Car Club on Hudson Street for the Twinkle By Wenlan show. Roman Holiday, starring Audrey Hepburn as a bored princess who escapes her handlers to slum it with a newspaperman, plays on a screen. Hepburn’s character is designer Wenlan Chia’s inspiration for fall.
While the standing audience eats popcorn and drinks champagne (we’re supposed to feel like we’re at the drive-in), the models do a lap around the cars and then pose beside them as the audience wanders around for a closer look. Wenlan is famous for her knitwear (she has three books about the subject) and the pieces we love include a chunky wool grey funnel hat and big taupe sweater that would be perfect for a cold wintry day like today. But because we are not princesses, we take the subway home to Brooklyn pondering the possibility of knitting ourselves a chunky sweater by October.
On Monday morning, we arrive at the Zero + Maria Cornejo runway show at 11 a.m. at the Robert Altman Gallery on West 26th Street. Michelle Obama has been mixing Zero pieces into her wardrobe lately and so, of course, today’s show is packed with curious fashionistas. Cornejo seems to perfectly understand our hatred of feeling cold during the winter. She has blanket jackets and eccentric leggings in tartan mohair and felted knit hoodies that fit tight on the head and cover the chin. We wish we could show you photos, but we only had our tiny point-and-shoot camera and the models were walking rather fast. And then, after the show, we go backstage and see the reason why–a sign is taped to the door with the following direction for the models: