Fashion Week: Cynthia Rowley Dots the Scene


Fashion Week and food do not often intersect — the grand Lincoln Center lobby is overrun with editorialistas sipping free Fiji water and 100-calorie frappuccinos, but try to find one gnawing a turkey sub — yet Cynthia Rowley’s Saturday-morning runway presentation left me with an insatiable hunger. Namely, for the candy wax-paper dots of bygone youth, as those seemed to be her muse — and unfortunately, those left a sweeter impression.

The Chicago designer and Perry Ellis Award winner, returning to Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week after considerable seasons spent offsite, stayed true to her penchant for diaphanous materials and saturated petal hues. They’ve worked since her ’80s launch, after all (and propelled her robust home décor line for Target and foray designing for United Airlines), and Friday’s presentation on the Stage seemed focused on a maturing, but literally active, clientele. Iridescent cream shirtdresses were piped with broad aqua racing stripes (a sporty nod to last season’s emphasis on tassels), classic shift dresses were perforated with overlapping mod rows of round cutouts, and exaggerated, broad square necklaces bobbed on pronounced collarbones. (Bob Dylan did the latter better when he braced a harmonica on the end.)

The real anchor of Rowley’s spring 2011 line was the aforementioned candy-dot motif, replicated in matte and boldly patterned plastic circles stuck symmetrically on otherwise chaste, romantic shapes. These buttons spread out in wide swaths across the fronts of her shell tops and shifts, most offering tiny peeks of underutilized tribal floral patterns. Indistinct, cloudy discs of earthy brown and chartreuse spread from one model’s navel like radii of a Mayan calendar. The effect wasn’t becoming, with limited wearability — unless those dots really are edible, in which case, the endless, roiling sugar rush would be worth every penny.