It’s not often you see dozens of small children in the front row at Fashion Week. But at Elise Øverland, which was open to the public at the Standard Hotel’s outdoor ice rink, kids were elbowing us out of the way to get up close–or attempting to, at least (no one under four feet messes with intrepid Voice reporters!). What we were all so eagerly waiting for was a special performance by bad-boy figure skater Johnny Weir. And wait, in the freezing cold, we did.
First, a handler escorted about 10 models in sky-high heels (very, very slowly) one by one to little mats on the ice, where they patiently stood perfectly still for an hour in front of a large ice-castle sculpture, giving them ample time to reflect very hard on their career choice. Zooming around the models were skaters from the Ice Theatre of New York, who hammed it up for the cameras and appeared to be the only ones having any fun.
Unfortunately, the pretty spectacle wasn’t enough to make us fall in love with the clothes, which looked as though they’d been heavily influenced by the Bed Bath & Beyond catalog. There were scarves made of transparent colored plastic that could have been cut from a shower curtain; garments with patches of shiny, iridescent tiling similar to a bathroom floor; and coats as fuzzy and wooly as our bathmat. And why did Øverland, who has designed costumes for Aerosmith, choose so many pastels? What woman wants to wear a big fur coat that makes her look like a lavender Easter egg?
Over an hour later (did we mention it was freezing?), Weir took the ice in a fabulous furry black-and-gold number. Done up in Black Swan-inspired makeup, he flew around the rink, seductively rubbing his body and pumping his fist in the air. However, by that point, we were too cold to care.
Oh, if only every show could be like Alexander Wang‘s at Pier 94. Wang, who is soon to launch his flagship store at 103 Grand Street, crafted a stunning collection that was both sophisticated and gritty. Seated in the front row were Kanye West and Alicia Keys. But we were unfortunately nowhere near them.
Somehow our front-row seat must have accidentally been given away, so we instead watched the show not from the second row or even the last row, but on our knees, on the floor, under the bleachers, right where the models walk out from backstage (don’t even ask how we found this spot). As a parade of women in black glittery drainpipe jeans, crepe skirts sliced into long streamers, and sunglasses with mink-fur goggle straps passed in front of us, we came to the conclusion that perhaps we really did have the best seat in the house. Though if Kanye would like to trade with us next season, we guess we’d accept. Maybe.
Yes, during Fashion Week you really get to see parts of the city you’d never see otherwise. For instance, over at United Bamboo, the line by Miho Aoki and Thuy Pham, we took a sketchy service elevator up to Studio 450 (in no man’s land at 450 West 31st Street and Tenth Avenue), where we spotted UB friends Sean Lennon and James Iha.
Aoki and Pham have always been masters of the well-constructed winter coat and this collection, which was roomy and masculine, was no exception. Highlights included a beige-and-orange plaid knit coat, a grey crepe bomber jacket, and a thick, long gray trench perfect for surviving arctic temperatures in style.
And speaking of excellent ways to survive the cold, “Futuristic Eskimo” was the theme at the Rag & Bone show, which was held in a loft in Soho. Though, with all the tartan and tweed, it was more like the Eskimos had migrated to Scotland. Models wore their hair in messy braids; long skirts wrapped around the waist like blankets; and fringe was everywhere. And once again, designers David Neville and Marcus Wainwright combined colorful layers (capelets thrown over jackets, legwarmers paired with shorts) to keep their fans warm, comfortable, and happy to be a part of their tribe.
A year ago, Rachel Comey showed a fall collection heavy on lightweight pieces that looked ready for a tropical vacation, not a winter in Manhattan (especially not this winter). But for 2011 (at the Pier 59 Studios), she returned to giving us exactly what we wanted: cozy sweater dresses, heavy fitted coats, and gorgeous, gorgeous prints and bold colors (tangerine and rust zigzag!). And, of course, no one makes a more sturdy, elegant ankle boot for the tough city streets than Comey. Bravo!