New York Fashion Week

The runways at New York Fashion Week have for the last day been awash with bright flowery prints and sporty anoraks, but then it all changed. The seemingly incessant grip of sporty gear on the next spring collections was suddenly released and, as Diane Van Furstenberg herself put it ‘Dawn has broken’.

Ms. Von Furstenburg strode down the runway at the Lincoln Center with Yvan Mispelaere distributing miniature American flags. It turns out that this maven of the industry takes an incredibly unsentimental view of the purpose of the runway, seeing it not as art and yet not as blunt commerce either.

In stark contrast, the Tommy Hilfiger show, which was on the same day, was a vibrant romp of prep meets pop. There were separates in green and pink checks, striped varsity sweaters and penny loafers with stacked heels. Sweet and cheerful as this all was, it was seemingly the merchandised view the designer had of the 1960’s.

While successful designers of Ms. Von Furstenberg’s caliber tend to produce a lot of pretention in their collections, and use phrases such as ‘iconic wrap dress with embellishments’, her spring collection is refreshingly grounded. Whether it is she or Mr. Mispelaere who is mainly responsible, the specific palette of pale blues and aqua with black and stone gray with a marigold splash was wonderfully grounded.

Another difference from what had been previously were the long and relaxed silhouettes, with dropped waist dresses and chemises. The classic appeal of such items as a sleeveless dress which has a pale gray top and skirt of aqua topped with black is that they are not beholding to any formula or trend and are both easy to wear  and extremely flattering.

Another designer who featured dropped hemlines in the their collection was Derek Lam, and his outfits also seemed to cover the arms a lot more than usual. No-one is sure whether this is a nod to older customers who adore his sportswear or part of the generally conservative shift within the industry as they try to maneuver women of all different ages to wear buttoned up blouses and dresses with long sleeves.

The collection as whole, however, comes across as too contrived and strategic and rather too stiff. A cotton jacket that zips to the neck in a hemp color, a diamond pattern embroidered peppermint skirt and a pair of shantung trousers in navy, until the bottom 5 inches where they turn white for some reason, fine if you want people to stare at your feet.