New York Times
September 11, 2009, 7:25 am
On the First Day of Fashion ”¦
By Cathy Horyn
I got my Fashion Week outfit organized, an H & M black leather jacket and a pair of Marni trousers. I’m ready, girlfriends. Now what?
Last night I popped, belatedly, into the Oscar de la Renta boutique to hear Oscar sing as part of the Fashion’s Night Out festivities. In addition to being quite a good singer, Oscar is also an impatient person, and I should have known he’d want to get the show on the road early. Anyway, I caught some of the sing-a-long, with Bette Midler, Barbara Walters and Sarah Jessica Parker. The store was jammed, as were the sidewalks along Madison, the onlookers, the crooners, the editors, the extras of Circus Week.
It is New York’s peculiar duty to run its fashion week as a circus, a three-ring event beyond the runway, beyond new collections. There is a reason Milan and Paris are relatively stable and serious by comparison. That’s O.K., a colleague of mine said yesterday, but let’s just call it what it is.
Last week, in the course of working on a story about the economic impact on fashion and peoples’ changing perceptions about price and quality, I was struck by how much of a designer’s time is now absorbed by business concerns – getting good prices on fabrics, shaving margins, dealing with cranky department stores, looking for new production places.
“It’s definitely a juggling act,” said Maria Tomeo Borromeo, the chief executive of Thakoon. And, of course, it’s good experience for the long run. Maria and Thakoon told me they now meet three times a week to discuss the cost of clothes in production – something they used to be informal about. Big companies do costing on a regular basis, but small firms often don’t have the manpower or the time or the structure. I was also impressed with how Thakoon looked for fairly efficient ways to save on costs without compromising creativity. For instance, he asked one of his Italian mills for a large supply of crinkled jacquard and then had it printed in several different patterns. One fabric, many prints, lower costs. He can use the fabric for future collections – the prints are still distinctive – and reduce the cost from $80 a yard to $40.
Such thinking probably, in the end, makes you sharper as a designer.
I caught Prabal Gurung’s presentation yesterday, in Chelsea. All in all it was a good follow-up to his first collection – looser in attitude, with a slightly twisted femininity. The bows and the sense of “packaging” had something to do with that impression, I suppose. Prabal said he began with the thought of a 70s perfume box from Saint Laurent. Hence the abundance of deep royal blue: lovely as a knee-length silk dress with a loopy swirl of fabric on one shoulder. A number of dresses had a criss-cross effect, a trench coat dress in khaki silk looked polished yet sexy, and Prabal had more draping this time. So he showed more of his talent, and that’s the idea. He says he has lots of sales appointments lined up.