Thursday, February 25, 2010

New York Fashion Week in Review: Top Ten Trends for Fall

Black is the New Black
Camel and winter white both made strong showings, but on the runway, black is back for fall. Then again, did it ever go anywhere? [Leifsdottir, below]


Velvet
Designers are moving past the '80s (finally) and into the '90s. Case in point: velvet, which came out in numbers not seen since Clueless times. [Nanette Lepore, below]


Loose, Draped Dresses
For day and night, contemporary labels embraced a more relaxed, figure-forgiving draped shape. I'm all for it--pass the carbs! [Tibi, below]


Collarless Jackets
From classic and Chanel-inspired to architectural and minimalist, collars were in short supply, with designers instead favoring this clean-lined style. [Milly, below]


Fur (and Shearling Too)
PETA alert: Fur was back in full force, from cropped capelets to sleeveless shearling vests, to floor-length minks. Expect many great faux interpretations to hit the racks come fall. [Dennis Basso, below]


Pleated Skirts
There were many maxis, yes, but good-girl-gone-badass pleated skirts stole the show at Fashion Week. [DKNY, below]


Capes
Chicer, more dramatic, and potentially warmer than a boring old winter coat, 2010 may be the year that capes finally catch on. [Irina Shabayeva, below]


Piecework
Cooler than patchwork and more organic than colorblocking, designers pieced together an updated look for dresses, coats, wraps, and other fall staples. [Nicole Miller, below]


Digital Prints
It is the 21st century after all--perhaps it's time we start dressing like it. [Mara Hoffman, below]


Back Interest
Giving new meaning to the term "business in front, party in the back," designers played with peplums, watteaux, and other ways of adding volume in the back of a garment. [Chado Ralph Rucci, below]

TheFind Guest Post: A Neutral State for Spring


Go nude this spring. Pinky shades of beige are all the rage this season and make for the perfect warm weather wardrobe. Neutral shades of beige complement either an all nude shaded ensemble or a black and white combination. Add a nude-toned handbag, statement necklace or strappy tied sky high sandals to add a feminine touch of romance to your look.

For a glam grecian look, this Stella McCartney one-shouldered belted jersey dress ($845 at Net-a-Porter) whispers effortless style. Perfect for a night out on the town or a daytime wedding. The design can be slipped on easily and features a tulip hem with dramatic draping effect on the back. Draw some attention to your neckline with a pretty bejeweled necklace that oozes sweetness. This vintage inspired Sequin Crystal & Enamel Floral Necklace ($188 at Nordstrom.com) features muted pastel colors on a goldtone chain. The embellished flowers are made of crystal, glass, enamel and mother of pearl. Nude has gone glimmery with this Salvatore Ferragamo Miss Vara Metallic Leather Bow Tote, ($1,250.00 at Net-a-Porter). A feminine metallic leather tote that simply oozes charm. This bow embellished tote is roomy enough for all of your everyday essentials, the perfect daytime bag for this spring's neutral trend. For girls who love sky-high heels, Proenza Schouler's Perforated leather platform sandals, ($1,035 at Shop Bop) will kick your style factor up a notch. The perforated nude leather platform Proenza Shouler sandals make an ideal pairing with your modern daytime look. If you are adverse to towering platforms try these lovely Lanvin flats on for size. Below these Lanvin Patent leather ballerina flats ($515 at Net-a-Porter), you'll find a 1 inch heel hidden inside for a subtle lift. The elasticized trim on these classic flats that work perfectly with everything from skinny jeans to a summer shirt dress.

Save on your purchases at Shopbop from TheFind.com's coupon site

Content provided by TheFind in partnership with Cheryl Shops.

New York Fashion Week in Review: My Favorite Shows

Of the 34 shows I attended, here are my favorites, in no particular order.

Chado Ralph Rucci
Rucci is an artist, fabric is his medium, and watching his show felt like being in a living, breathing museum. His deconstructed and reconstructed pieces elevate fashion to a new level.


Christian Cota
This up-and-coming designer drew Anna Wintour herself with his assured collection of hand-painted patterns, a lovely mix of textures, and a strong cubist inspiration.


DKNY
The jackets of all shapes, the kicky pleated skirts, the colorblocked knits...Donna Karan's spot-on sportswear was equal parts Art Deco dame and Upper East Side schoolgirl, a mix evocative of the NYC streets from which Karan draws her inspiration.


Tony Cohen
The best draped dresses of the week, and some great asymmetrical coats too. Let's hope this Dutch designer's wares are easier to find in the U.S. by fall.


Michael Angel
An exploration of textures, silhouettes, and materials proves that this Australian designer can do far more than body-conscious digital prints.


Nicole Miller
Sexy dresses, strong coats, and lots of black: Nicole Miller knows what city women really want.


Irina Shabayeva
A thoroughly enjoyable collection of fantastic coats, rocker pants, and, oh yes, fur that's sure to delight your inner Russian. (And, yes, I was just as surprised as you are.)


Nanette Lepore
A coloful interlude amidst a sea of black collections, these are the clothes that inspire women to shop.

New York Fashion Week in Review: By the Numbers

Shows I attended: 34
Shows Mina attended: 8
Shows I didn't get into due to overcrowding: 2 (Tracy Reese and Ports 1961, for which I was quite late)
Shows we didn't quite make it to: 21
Parties attended: 2
Percentage increase over parties attended last season: 200%
Tent shows: 21
Off-site shows: 21
Presentations: 11
Shows with swag: 12
Percentage increase over swag received last season: 33%
Trips to the W Hotels backstage lounge: 1
Official Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week press bags received: 0
Seasons running in which I haven't received a press bag: 3
Alcoholic beverages consumed in the tents: 0
Alcoholic beverages consumed off-site: 1
Starbucks coffee beverages consumed in the tents: 1/8 (two sips was all I could tolerate of the god-awful Viva instant coffee)
Day on which I declared I missed McCafe, the tents' previous coffee sponsor: Friday
ZonePerfect bars consumed: Too many to count
Pounds gained/lost: 0
Ailments caught: 0 (yay!)

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

The week in shopping

Top 10 NYC
Samples and irregulars are $60 and under at the Theory sale at Clothingline. Coats are $60, dresses are $45, and separates are $15-$45. Through 2/27; 11-7 through Th, 11-6 F, 11-5 S; 261 W. 36th St. (7th & 8th Aves.), 2nd fl.

Prices have been further reduced at the Bally sample sale, where shoes & accessories for men and women are now upwards of 75% off. Through 2/24; 9-5; 317 W. 33rd St. (8th & 9th Aves.).

High-end designer vintage (think Pierre Cardin, Ungaro, Guy Laroche) is 40% off at Amarcord's Soho location. Through 2/28; noon-7:30, noon-7 Su; 252 Lafayette St. (Prince & Spring Sts.).

Amanda Uprichard's silky dresses are $15 and up. 2/24-2/26; 10-9; 226 W. 37th St. (7th & 8th Aves.). The sale moves downtown for the weekend. 2/27-2/28; noon-8; 5 Rivington St. (Bowery & Chrystie St.).

Give your home a preppy update with wares from the Ralph Lauren Home sale. Find furniture, lamps, pillows, gifts, and other accessories at discounted prices. Credit cards only; no strollers. 2/27-3/2; 10-6 Sa, 9-6 Su-M, 9-5 T; Metropolitan Pavilion, 110 W. 19th St. (6th & &th Aves).

Select eyeglasses and sunglasses for men & women are 50% off at Robert Marc's winter sale. Through 3/14; click here for stores.

Find wool coats for $175, skirts for $125, and silk tops for 470 (that's 50%-80% off) at Chloe & Reese's sample sale. 2/22–2/24; 11-7; 209 W. 38th St. (7th & 8th Aves.), ste 1207.

Wednesday is the last day for Domenico Vacca, where tailored clothing and accessories for men and women are 70% off. Through 2/24; 10-6; 14 E. 60th St. (5th & Madison Aves.).

Filene's Basement is closing its Chelsea location Friday. Merch is up to 90% off and deals abound, but be prepared to dig. Through 2/26; 9:30-9; 620 6th Ave. (at 18th St.).

Women's and children's clothes are up to 90% off at Oilily, plus take an extra 30% off when you buy 2 or more items. They might as well pay you to take the stuff away. Ongoing: 465 W. Broadway (Houston & Prince Sts.).

Top 5 online
Take $25 off a $150 order with code SAVER25, $50 off a $250 order with code SAVER50, or $100 off a $500 order with code SAVER100 at Pink Mascara through 2/25.

Take 30% off any purchase at New York & Company with code 2027 through 2/28.

Lord & Taylor is having One Big Sale, with savings sitewide (no code needed). Also available in stores.

Score a tote bag filled with samples & special offers with a $75 beauty purchase at Saks.com with code PURE at checkout while supplies last. Also available in stores.

Avelle, the new Bag, Borrow or Steal has marked 580 items down by 40% through 2/28 (I, for one, am seriously considering renting myself a new bag). If you're not a member, the $60 fee can be applied to your first rental.

Sales coming tomorrow

Please check back Tuesday night. Thanks!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Fashion Week: Finis!

So that concludes my Fashion Week reviews. I'll be back next week with my customary end-of-season trend recaps, as well as my favorite shows. And sales too--you've missed those, haven't you? I was a bit sentimental about this being the last season at Bryant Park, but I look forward to seeing the new venue in Lincoln Center in September, and I hope my next round of coverage is similarly new and exciting. In the meantime, I'm looking forward to catching up on my sleep and drinking water out of something other than a cardboard box (that's some inside-the-tents humor for you).

Fall 2010 contemporary quickie: Miele & Leifsdottir

Miele
I get the impression that for many designers, they realize the lithe, edgy girl they want to design for can't quite afford their prices, and so they create a contemporary line that's not quite as luxe but is a lot easier on the wallet, and thus they hook the hot young thing. Such is the case with Carlos Miele, who is debuting a contemporary line called Miele. The looks I saw were definitely evening-focused and while not as intricately constructed as Miele's signature line, were finished with nice details, like beading at the shoulders or a cascade of chains around the neck. (There were several more rotations of looks, but due to time constraints, I was unable to see them all.) While Miele could stand to amp up the sexiness a bit, especially compared to his main collection, this looked like a promising start, especially for evening looks.

Leifsdottir
The most high-end of the Urban Outfitters/Anthropologie/Free People family, Leifdottir is a contemporary collection that takes the bohemian, crafty aesthetic to a more luxe (but still quite affordable) level. For fall, the line is having a "Catalonian Affair," which translated into a very romantic flamenco inspiration with ruffles everywhere, vibrant reds, a lot of floral prints, high-waisted toreador pants, and one totally dramatic ruffled maxi skirt. (In case the motif wasn't clear enough, the models vamped it up with castanets and fans; I couldn't tell if they were genuinely enjoying themselves or if they were just punchy, this being the very end of Fashion Week.) While many of the pieces were a bit much all piled on together, I think they'd work well isolated and paired with something simpler, like a T-shirt or jeans; the dresses, on the other hand, were consistently adorable. Extra props to the styling--I loved the models' lace-patterned tights, as well as their braided updos--and the overall presentation, which included free champagne and cheese (food, of all things!), as well as saffron threads as a parting gift. All of a sudden I'm in the mood for paella...

Fall 2010 Spanish minimalist quickie: Toni Francesc, Trias & Davidelfin

Toni Francesc
I was a bit harsh on Toni Francesc last season, so I was surprised to be invited back this year. I am happy to report that this outing was a marked improvement--the garments fit the models, and I could actually see them this time, thanks to a better lighting design. The presentation overall was still a bit odd: The robot-like models, all decked out in wigs that made their heads look like those of aliens, stomped to an industrial track that sounded like digital heartbeats (the collection, after all, was titled "Artificial Life"). As for the clothes, there were some nice peak-shoulder jackets and fitted dresses; however, many of the looks veered a bit too far into Star Trek territory for my taste. Hey, maybe Francesc can work on costumes for the inevitable sequel!

Trias
Another high-concept Spanish designer, Joaquin Trias based his fall collection on "Vertical Strength," meaning, basically, vertical lines; his previous collection, "Lineal Study," was based on conical shapes and contained many dresses that evoked the Guggenheim Museum. The concept was apparent throughout every look, with strong vertical lines occurring in collarless jackets, A-line skirts, and apron-like dresses. While some of the garments had beautiful movement, such as front and back panels that floated away from the body while in motion, the 24-look collection seemed a bit narrow in focus--rather than show a handful of ideas in several colorways each, I would've preferred to see more exploration of such a strong, striking concept.

Davidelfin
Madrid-based designer Davidelfin is all about gender bending; he puts broad-shouldered suits on women, pleated miniskirts on men, and shocking pink on both. His collection today, a study in black, white, and gray (with a little neon thrown in) was a Jil Sander-esque study in minimalism. Some of the styling tricks gave a subtle nod to Michael Jackson: All models, male and female, wore white gloves to accent the hands, and the women wore skyscraper-high Louboutins that drew attention to their feet. And, like Jackson, Davidelfin carries an androgynous undercurrent that manages to be both sterile and sexy at the same time.

Milly by Michelle Smith Fall 2010

Where & When: Wednesday, February 17 at 3 p.m., the Promenade, Bryant Park
Runway Recap: Although her program notes claim her inspiration came from the Nouvelle Vague films of French director Jean-Luc Godard, I think Milly's Michelle Smith has been watching Gossip Girl, because nearly every look she sent down the runway yesterday looked like something Blair Waldorf and her band of Blair-bots would wear. There were brightly colored boxy cropped jackets paired with supershort miniskirts, pussy-bow blouses, ruffled skirts, and a prim yet pretty mix of black and gold party dresses. Driving the Blair point home was the fact that many of the looks were worn with headbands and/or bow belts at the waist, a sweet touch that read as youthful, but not necessarily young. Hem lengths aside (let's hope they're a bit longer when they hit the sales floor), there were many great items for Milly's core quirky career-girl customer: the aforementioned blouses, a great Chanel-inspired suit, and some tweedy separates.
Standout Look: Pieces like this are the bread and butter of Milly: a ladylike beaded cardigan and a brocade miniskirt, both of which carry a strong vintage inspiration but are cut in a flirty, fitted modern shape.
Bonus Points: A rather unorthodox combination of front-row celebrities: Julia Stiles and Elizabeth Hasselbeck. I wonder what they talked about.
Where to Buy: Find a store near you at MillyNY.com.

Elisa Palomino Fall 2010

Where & When: Wednesday, February 17 at 3:30 p.m., The General Society of Mechanics (20 W 44th St.)
Runway Recap: A singer opened the show and crooned throughout in Chinese, setting a somewhat haunting, mysterious tone. The models had massive hairdos garnished by large faux flowers obscuring parts of their faces. The line of flirty dresses was exploding in vibrant color & texture, which combined with the presentation made this a very exciting experience.
Standout Look: Hot pink wigs paired with hot pink dresses! No one could keep their eyes off the three or so models showcasing this combo.
Bonus Points: The paper lanterns hanging from the ceiling of the venue filled the space with a great ambiance.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Nanette Lepore Fall 2010

Where & When: Wednesday, February 17 at 11 a.m., the Promenade, Bryant Park
Runway Recap: This season, to trot out an old chestnut, black is the new black. Except, that is, on Nanette Lepore's runway where, refreshingly, there was barely a stitch of that ubiquitous neutral. Instead, she chose bright magenta, tomato red, and soft teal, with some olive and navy to temper the mix. Lepore worked in a sporty military influence with strong belted coats and anoraks, which nicely balanced the overtly feminine aesthetic that is her signature. Also notable was the looser silhouette seen throughout, from sparkly beaded cocktail dresses to the elegant velvet gowns that closed the show.
Standout Look: The beading in this dress was very detailed and expensive looking, yet the shape was utterly relaxed, with a blouson effect that ended in a closer fit through the hips. If this is the shape of things to come, pass me the carbs, please.
Bonus Points: The photographers were going crazy for Kelly Osbourne, who was in the front row, but I was far more excited about silver fox John Slattery (otherwise known as Roger Sterling on Mad Men), who was seated just across the runway. Also, in lieu of gifts, Lepore gave out postcards, stamped and addressed to Mayor Bloomberg, asking him to support the Garment Center, Lepore's pet cause (and a very worthy one).
Where to Buy: Click here to find a store.

Tibi Fall 2010

Where & When: Tuesday, February 16 at 7 p.m., the Promenade, Bryant Park
Runway Recap: Having attended my fair share of Tibi shows over the years, I know generally to expect the following things: colorful prints, very wearable dresses and separates, and models booking it down the runway at breakneck speeds. All three of those things were definitely in effect at last night's show, although in slightly unexpected quantities (except for the models, who were as speedy as ever). While designer Amy Smilovic's always-great prints tend toward vivid colors, she started out with a restrained series of military-inspired jackets worn belted over slightly slouchy pleated pants, tie-neck blouses or ladylike pencil skirts; what's different is that these opening looks were rendered in a mostly neutral color palette. Filigree prints slowly gave way to more vivid florals, finally bursting into a series of deep teal, rich aubergine, and gorgeously beaded or pailetted pieces. When looked at as a whole, the understated beginning and the more vivacious second half seemed a bit disparate (although, to her credit, Smilovic was inspired by Napoleon and Josephine and the idea of masculine-meets-feminine opposites), but perhaps even the Tibi girl needs to tone it down every now and again.
Standout Look: One of the most appealing aspects in this show was a new proportion for many of Tibi's dresses. Blousy but belted at the waist, the shape is more relaxed and romantic, and a definite antidote to the body-con dresses that have been popular for the last several seasons. I thought this print nicely incorporated all the colors of the show too.
Bonus Points: The models sported tightly curled, fairly frizzy hair, which is exactly how my hair looks in the dead of summer. If this hairstyle indeed takes off, I've got it down pat.
Where to Buy: Visit Tibi.com for store locations.

Christian Cota Fall 2010

Where & When: Tuesday, February 16 from 5-6 p.m., Metropolitan Pavilion
Runway Recap: In an industry that's constantly in search of the next big thing, sometimes you you end up pursuing proverbial fashion dead ends, and sometimes you happen upon a magical moment. I was really excited to be invited to Christian Cota's presentation; having won the Fashion Group International’s Rising Star Award last year, he's definitely one of the more buzzed-about designers of this season. Thankfully, that buzz is well-deserved: Cota's Cubism-inspired collection was a dazzling mixture of bronzed metallics, hand-painted geometric patterns, and interesting textures. The most compelling aspect of Cota's designs, however, is that they managed to look both softly draped and severely tailored at the same time; one could tell that he approached his collection with an intellectual understanding of construction, and not only were his clothes visually interesting, they were incredibly flattering on the body too. It may not take much to earn buzz, but Cota has proven that he deserves it.
Standout Look: This was the very first look I photographed; obviously I was drawn straight to it: The coat is python with ponte-knit inserts, the top is decorated with hand-painted stripes, and the silk faille skirt has box pleats, which have been turning up left and right this season. What makes these pieces work so well together is the mix of textures and the subtle harmony in motif and color.
Bonus Points: The designer himself was circulating around the presentation, talking about the collection and posing for photographs. Those two actions collided when none other than Anna Wintour showed up, and he explained his inspiration. (In case you're having trouble visualizing this, I'll include a photo.)
Where to Buy: See store listings here or shop online.

Dennis Basso Fall 2010

Where & When: Tuesday, February 16 at 3 p.m., the Promenade, Bryant Park
Runway Recap: I hate to break it to my anti-fur readers, but fur has been everywhere this season. Of course I was expecting it at Dennis Basso--for security purposes, my bag was searched twice before I even entered the Promenade--but it was all over the Basso runway, from broadtail and mink to sable and even crocodile (not a fur, I know, but an exotic skin nonetheless). The majority of the looks were either fur coats, evening gowns, or a mixture of the two; one gets the feeling that Basso's clients don't really have the need for daytime clothes--but, then again, with furs this fabulous, who's looking at what else you have on? Some of the furs were so overwhelmingly voluminous that they had a Chewbacca-like effect; I preferred the cropped and sheared numbers for their more subtle--but no less beautiful--shapes.
Standout Look: Granted, no one buys a fur to look thin (you buy a fur to look rich!), but this cropped version had a lovely tapered effect that emphasized the waist, thanks to a wide band of leather trim along the hem. Pairing it with a simple jersey sheath dress provided a chic blank canvas for showcasing the fur.
Bonus Points: The soundtrack featured a surprisingly hip (albeit several months old) mix of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs and Muse. Also, I was seated directly across from reality stars Nole Marin, Giuliana Rancic, and Carson Kressly; the Vogue crew, complete with Anna Wintour and Andre Leon Talley, was on the other side of the runway.
Where to Buy: Find a store at DennisBasso.com.

Boudoir D'huitres Fall 2010


Where & When: Tuesday, February 16 at 8:00 p.m., 475 10th Ave. (way the heck out west, near the Lincoln Tunnel entrance)
Runway Recap: A theatrical introduction by opera singer Sarah Callinan. Powdered bouffant hairdos. Knuckle rings topped with roses and studded boots. There was enough of a modern clash in Boudoir D'huitres' seemingly baroque presentation to jolt us forward into Fall 2010. The exhibit featured silks, lace, and leather clinging tightly to the body in crimson, black and white. These are not the outfits of warmth and approachability; rather, the air of a femme fatale.
Standout Look: The Sarah Jessica Parker (just below, second from right). Not the best in the line, but the combination of the model and the choice of outfit tickled me.
Bonus Points: This was a really enjoyable show for me as a photographer because I was granted permission to stand at the end of the runway on the media risers. It's amazing how much simpler runway photography becomes when you're in the right spot.
Where to Buy: Click here to experience Boudoir D'huitres' flash-tastic official site.

Badgley Mischka Fall 2010

Where & When: Tuesday, February 16 at 10 a.m., the Tent, Bryant Park
Runway Recap: Mark Badgley and James Mischka will perhaps always be known for their ultra-glamorous red carpet looks, and rightfully so--they're among the best in the business. The first half of their show this morning was a sparkly, ethereal affair, with 15 evening dresses (well, 14 dresses and one jumpsuit), starting with subdued black jersey and unfolding into petal-covered skirts and glittery georgette gowns, the shimmery effect of which was enhanced by the show's dramatic dark lighting. The dresses alternated between sweet and sultry, but all were showstoppers. The second half of the show was devoted to Mark + James, the duo's new contemporary line, which was heavy on nighttime looks and tended toward a more fashiony point of view, as evidenced by the models' faux-hawk hairdos. The layering was edgy and cool, with cape-sleeve jackets and coats over tissue-weight jersey tops paired with sleek faux leather or sequined pants. The dresses were mostly of the short and sparkly variety, but that's exactly the point--the contemporary customer needs dresses for dinner, clubbing, and the like; she's not quite ready for the red carpet...yet.
Standout Looks: This tulle "constellation" dress looked like it was spun from gold and sprinkled with fairy dust for good measure. It also looked effortless in its construction, with a strategically draped design; it's one thing to make a gorgeous dress and another to make one so flattering. For Mark + James, there were many great layered looks, but this sweater dress caught my eye. It, like many of the pieces in the collection, had a more exaggerated, fashion-forward shape with its slouchy dolman sleeves, and it looked so warm and cozy yet sexy too, it could become a new nighttime uniform.
Bonus Points: It was snowing like crazy outside, but a stellar turnout of TV stars, from high (Mad Men's Christina Hendricks) to medium (90210's AnnaLynne McCord) to low (Real Housewives Bethenny Frankel and Kelly Bensimon, and The City girls) warmed up the front row.
Where to Buy: Visit BadgleyMischka.com for stores.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Fall 2010 quickie: Buckler, Carlos Campos, Callula Lillibelle & Commonwealth Utilities

In the interest of saving time (and my own sanity), I present several quick takes on some of the smaller presentations I've seen.

Buckler
I have a male friend who claims he checks out guys more than girls--not because he's attracted to them but because he likes how they're dressed. For any guy who finds himself in a similar situation, I suggest marching yourself over to one of Buckler's two NYC stores and stocking up on everything from the slim-slouchy suits to the nice-looking parkas and perfectly aged jeans. Practical yet stylish and very all-American, this collection inspired by Kerouac's On the Road is exactly how cool guys like to dress. One quibble: I could understand why attendee (and noted woman-beater) Chris Brown would want to hitch his wagon to Buckler's; what's puzzling is why Buckler would want to hitch his wagon to Brown's.

Carlos Campos
Honduran designer Carlos Campos was inspired by charro suits (traditionally worn by mariachi bands) for his fall collection, but thankfully, aside from some high-waisted, snug-fitting trousers, the interpretation was not so literal. My favorite piece, which was a bit of an anomaly in the mostly tailored collection, was this low-V draped dress, which had a low-key sexy vibe.

Callula Lillibelle
Callula Lillibelle is a new label with a lot of L's in its name and a catchy talking point: It's a "desk to dinner" line meant to dress the modern working woman. With a respectable lineup of draped sheath dresses, peplum pencil skirts, and feminine ruffled blouses, the most appealing aspect of the collection is its prices, all of which will be under $400 retail.

Commonwealth Utilities
From what I could see from my third-row perch, which was from the waist up, Anthony Keegan and Richard Christansen (full disclosure: Richard is an acquaintance of mine) presented a sharp-looking lineup of military-inspired casual looks and polished geek-chic suits under the theme of "an officer and a gentleman" for their fledgling Commonwealth Utilities line. While the raw-space venue was a bit perilous, guests were compensated with hot cider and (empty) flasks, and after looking at other women all day, it was a refreshing change to see so many well-groomed, well-dressed, (presumably) straight men.

Carlos Miele Fall 2010

Where & When: Monday, February 15 at 11 a.m., the Promenade, Bryant Park
Runway Recap: While black has definitely been the new black so far this season, Carlos Miele bucked the trend with a very colorful collection, including enough sun-kissed, colorblocked dresses to make you forget the mounds of snow piling up outside. Because the Carlos Miele woman is sexy and urbane, however, there were plenty of neutrals to temper the mix, including swingy cropped fur jackets and capelets, paperbag-waist skirts and pants, and forever-chic black-and-white evening gowns with architectural details. Miele knows how to make a killer party dress, and some of the strongest looks were strapless column dresses detailed with zippers, sequins, and or intricately pieced designs. Even more luxe was a series of dresses in satins so fluid, they looked liquid.
Standout Look: Layering has been a key buzzword thus far this week, and when Miele does it, he makes it look damn sexy. One could wear this fitted, long-sleeve jersey top and draped satin skirt during the day, then add the sequined cropped jacket for an instant femme fatale nighttime look.
Bonus Points: French Vogue editor Carine Roitfeld was in the front row, as was model Maggie Rizer and everyone's favorite Noted Fashion Photographer, Nigel Barker. I was also digging the mellow Brazilian samba soundtrack.
Where to Buy: Carlos Miele Boutique, 408 W. 14th St. (9th Ave. & Washington St.).

Tony Cohen Fall 2010

Where & When: Sunday, February 14 at 5 p.m., the Salon, Bryant Park
Runway Recap: Draped dresses are a dime a dozen on the New York runways; it seems nearly every designer has one (or more). They're popular because they sell well, and they sell well because they're flattering on women of all shapes and sizes. Not to mention they can be quite beautiful when done well. Tony Cohen sent out quite an impressive series of draped frocks on Sunday, and they were by far the best I've seen this week. They came in mostly black wool jersey and gray silk, with some cream and bordeaux mixed in; the most interesting iterations had one long sleeve and were worn with a single leather glove on the opposite arm. For variety, some tough leather jackets and comfy-chic wrap coats were thrown in for layering purposes, and while all looked delectable (especially the buttery lambskin coats), the dresses were truly the stars of the show.
Standout Look: Maxi skirts and dresses have been quietly creeping onto designers' runways, and so I was quite happy to see the series of longer styles that closed out this show. I thought this dress had such a moody, dreamy print and a graceful fluidity, and the asymmetrical wool bouclé coat was draped just as beautifully as the dresses.
Bonus Points: Black rose petals were scattered along the runway, setting a Goth-romantic mood for this Valentine's Day show. Plus: a great gift bag stocked with Napoleon Perdis cosmetics.
Where to Buy: shopbop.com