Lela Rose can get me out of bed before noon on a Sunday. It might be a slight exaggeration, but her collections are always so beautiful, she makes the trek up to Lincoln Center completely worth it. For fall 2013, Rose was inspired by Brothers Grimm fairy tales, which if you've ever read the real thing, are actually quite dark, so I was prepared for moody atmospherics. Rose started with a series of textured, rusty-colored separates with a folksy bent, but after dabbling in some abstract plaids and dramatic jacquards, she focused on a series of day dresses, each more beautiful than the last. No one cuts a sheath dress like Lela Rose—her seams are strategically placed to shape the body, peplums became sculptural, and black lace detail along the sides of one dress was both breathtaking and ultra-flattering. When the sun set on Rose's fairy-tale world, the feathers, embroidery, lace, and pearls came out, swirling around the models and transforming them into princesses. Whatever fairy tale Lela Rose has been reading, I want to live in it.
Tracy Reese, in spite of the fact that I love her clothes. (Note to Tracy: Next season, book a bigger venue!) But Mina's beginner's luck continued and she secured a spot on the photo riser, albeit one where she was packed in like a sardine. It was worth it, though—inspired by New York City girls (ahem, the best girls in the world!), Reese mixed floral and animal prints in dresses for day and night, and even managed to send a cat down the runway. No wonder Michelle Obama loves her dresses—they're made for girls who run the world.
Chado Ralph Rucci
By the time the 8 p.m. show rolled around, I had been in the tents for nine hours straight and was ready to eat just about anything in my path. But before I could sink my teeth into a bacon cheeseburger, I had to make it through Chado Ralph Rucci, which, in a way, is more nourishing, at least to one's soul. For fall, Rucci, who perhaps loves neutrals more than the average designer, served up (okay, I'll stop with the food references) a primarily black palette with shocks of a royal purple and super-bright yellow, sometimes together. His familiar elements were in play—dresses and jackets spit apart, then reconstructed with horsehair backing, allowing the pieces to breathe at the seams—but he turned up the embellishment factor for evening, with feathers, pailettes, and the sexiest lace I've seen this season, coated in latex for a hint of danger. I always love Rucci's fall-winter shows for their copious amounts of fur, and while he went a bit easier on the pelts than in past years, there were a series of colored mink coats that came down the runway together—violet, nude, orange, pink, yellow—that I wanted to pop in my mouth like bits of candy. (Sorry, couldn't resist.) But Rucci's clothes aren't sugary-sweet quick hits—they're wearable works of art made even more beautiful by colors that seem to come straight from your dreams.
Lela Rose and Tracy Reese photos by Mina Kim.