Diane von Furstenberg Commits to Sparkle Motion, Betsey Johnson Shoots and Scores


Discussed: Diane von Furstenberg, Rachel Roy, Betsey Johnson

In Diane von Furstenberg‘s Fall 2010 line program, she explains her inspiration thusly: “I always wanted to live a man’s life in a woman’s body.” And in that man’s life, there will be glamour–oh, endless glitz. In his life, scores of celebrities will jam into his Bryant Park front row: Molly Sims, Anna Wintour and daughter Bee, Peaches Geldof, French Vogue EIC Carine Roitfeld, Salman Rushdie (recruiting new girlfriends?), Rachel Zoe, Sophia Bush. And in his life, no one will laugh at gilded butterflies, because everyone will be dressed as them.

Von Furstenberg, president of the CFDA (Council of Fashion Designers of America), is no stranger to Bryant Park nor the runway; since creating her iconic knit jersey wrap dress in the early ’70s, the regal businesswoman (born in Brussels) has offered consistently beautiful collections of tailored officewear and party garb, often in floral prints and shimmering accents. This season’s looks are more dramatic than in the recent past, with muted neutral bases topped in influx of sequins and extra-bold prints–a tan and grey rosette bolero, a forest-green open-knit sweater with metallic accents, chain-accented black dresses for both cocktails and formals. A big shift from the mod leanings of a few years back, and a welcome change; not every woman could rock these glittery get-ups, but not every woman is the business icon that is von Furstenberg, either.

Over at Cedar Lake in Chelsea, Rachel Roy revealed a split personality. Her exhibition and reception featured two runway shows of two drastically different aesthetics; the first group included bright sherbet wrap dresses and long-sleeved separates of same hue/contrasting fabric (very Isaac Mizrahi), and the second batch was full of ornate sequined gowns, lace-back tops, and metallic knits. A few were standouts, but the contrast was never explained–perhaps some were for her Macy’s diffusion line? It was enough to bring out Miss J of America’s Next Top Model, fashion photographer Patrick McMullen, The City‘s Whitney Port, and Victoria’s Secret model Selita Ebanks (who was heard exclaiming, devoid of context, “And I was like, who are all these little bitches on the runway?”).

Betsey Johnson knew she had a tall order, packing a crowd into the Altman 7 p.m. on Valentine’s Day–it was her first runway show in several seasons (before, it’d been installations at the Plaza and her Garment District workspace), and a reliably bubbly one. Who knows what she tells her models, or if she’s just funneling them extra Prosecco, but the catwalk crop at a Betsey show always seem to genuinely have fun, in contrast to the surly Amazons at Bryant Park who clomp to the bread lines. Johnson went for a “Kiss Kiss Bang Bang” Western theme this season, and her collection was indeed fit for a punk saloon girl: a fuchsia coat with matching cloche, tight Wild West-print long johns (for both man and lady; regardless, you’d need some balls to wear them in public), layered flouncy bodices, and calico puffed peasant dresses. Kelly Osbourne modeled a amazing black ruffled gown fit for a madame; the endlessly trendy Johnson’s soundtrack included the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Johnny Cash, and Dolly Parton.

And yet, it took fashion’s eternal raver to pay proper respect to Alexander McQueen’s passing; Johnson’s final model strutted slowly in front of a man holding a sign: “Long Live McQueen.” The audience applauded wildly and Johnson herself appeared (in those brazen long johns) to cartwheel down the runway and dance wildly with Sex and the City costume designer Patricia Field, who was sporting a pointy witch cap over her trademark pink hair. Overall, a fun and successful line that didn’t stray far from her aesthetic, and didn’t need to; Johnson can do this in her sleep, but chooses to give us a party instead.


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