DAILY REPORTS FROM THE FALL/WINTER 2008-09 NEW YORK COLLECTIONS: 3.1 PHILLIP LIM, MARC BY MARC JACOBS, JOHN VARVATOS AND MORE.

FRIDAY, FEB. 8

MARC JACOBS

What happens when the biggest show of the week actually starts on time? Half the invitees miss it, that’s what. Marc has built himself something of a reputation for starting sometimes infuriatingly late – last season’s famously delayed show left even his most adoring of critics embittered – which is why it felt like he was messing with us a little in starting less than half an hour after the official start of 7pm (in the fashion world that’s positively early). Thank goodness I got the insiders call (“come right now, we’re starting on time!!!”) yet still a race to the door of the New York Armory was met with a fight to get through – “the show’s already started, you’re not coming in” – and when even the most influential editors and buyers had wrestled their way past the first lot of security, actually getting to ones seat was but a pipe dream. As such, I spent the duration peering at the runway over the heads of a horde of others who were cut short at the ropes, trying to get a glimpse of what appeared to be a Jacobs collection that was a return to form. A muted pastel palette was deceptively calm, the clothes themselves an innovation, focusing on the blouson with dropped waists, voluminous coats and fluted fabric, broad shoulders, neat collars and trousers loose and wide: just exquisite. Oh, and in need of a mention of course, the typically extravagant production this time around consisted of Sonic Youth’s Kim Gordon playing live throughout, on a vast set of towering scaffolding and steeling smoke. I love you Marc.

SEAN JOHN

Perhaps its not surprising that in a season where Prada put men in tutus, Sean Combs dressed his in shrunken bolero jackets. Still, coming from a guy who usually combines classic menswear with a large dose of urban credibility, these rather feminine-looking jackets, which dominated the collection, seemed especially off. (And the longer frock-coat models didn’t fare much better.) While some of the inventive layering and the mostly somber color palette were pleasing, the final glittery looks, including a crystal-decorated turtleneck and jackets that looked like they were constructed from disco-ball mirror squares, did not make this Sean John collection – the first to be shown at NYFW in five years – one of the best. However, major kudos to Combs for dedicating the collection to “all the great African-American designers who paved the way for me to realize my own dream to be a fashion designer” and for making a great statement by casting the show entirely with nonwhite models. As one onlooker put it, “No one ever questions it when there’s just white models in a show, so this shouldn’t be a big deal either.”

TONY MELILLO

There was no run of show or designer’s notes on the seats at Melillo’s menswear show in the West Village. Instead, there was a card with a quotation from the late comedian Gilda Radner: “I base my fashion taste on what doesn’t itch.” That simple and practical view was evident in the designer’s extremely handsome and welcomingly unflashy collection, which aside from two cool-looking shiny black, baggy drawstring vinyl bottoms that resembled snowpants, consisted of traditional solid-colored men’s must-haves such as chinos, suit button-down shirts, jackets and jeans in a mostly neutral palette. The occasional bright yellow or orange scarf and other layering items added refreshing color pops to the beautiful, easy-to-wear and easy-to-understand clothes that were obviously made from high quality fabrics. Simple without being minimalist or boring, Melillo’s collection proved that dressing casually and looking well put together are not mutually exclusive. And also that less is usually more.

THURSDAY, FEB. 7

CUSTO BARCELONA

While some of Custo Dalmau’s previous collections have drowned in gaudy over-the-top prints and embellishments, this one was a welcome exception that looked great thanks to its use of interesting, usual (but non-garish) fabrics, innovative volume and silhouettes and appealing multicolor palette that was actually refreshing in a season where so many others favored black and gray. For the most part, the pairs of female and male models who graced the runway (another nice touch) wore some great clothes that although somewhat hippie-like at times, were most certainly not clownish or overdone.

WEDNESDAY, FEB. 6

3.1 PHILLIP LIM

Lim's opening number, a mouse gray sueded duster worn over a silver bib-collar shell with a pinwheel raglan sleeve and a postal blue tiered ribbon skirt, underscored the quiet femininity of this collection with flourishes of Art Nouveau (think a bronze matelasse/brocade trench coat, a chocolate hand-embroidered kimono robe and raffia crystal pockets). Overall, this was a safe collection for the mix-master; thus various pieces such as an almond white double fan cocktail dress with a constellation of Swarovkis or a vermillion crepe back satin gown seemed at odds on the catwalk. In the end, Lim's emerald wool crepe ribbon dress and blouses with poet sleeves and a felted heather gray ribbon coat might have resonated more with the audience. Meanwhile, menswear stayed snappy, from a pair of clover green velvet cropped "messenger" pants to a gray suede trompe l'oeil jacket with knit sleeves.

TUESDAY, FEB. 5

MARC BY MARC JACOBS

As everyone agreed, it was pretty odd to be attending “little marc” ahead of the “big” Marc Jacobs show rather than afterwards, as is the norm each season. As such, many were left wondering if this girly collection of bow-covered dresses, short and swinging hoop-skirts and a grown-up cheerleader aesthetic was a sign of things to come at Friday’s imminent event. Time will tell. The Marc by Marc Jacobs was a largely (and characteristically) salable collection of separates and although heavy on the dresses for girls, good men’s pieces included a box-biker-jacket, striped mohair sweater and a rather modish, albeit a little dull, three-piece suit.

DIESEL

The Italian megabrand’s new Black Gold collection made a notable debut in New York with lots of on-trend, super-layered gothy guys’ looks (including one with the season’s must-have, a long black super-shiny vinyl coat) and hip womenswear that offered all kinds of shapes, from skinny pants to mutton-leg denim jeans and brown leather sack-like dress. With its moody but attractive mostly gray, black, white and cream palette (which was enhanced by great accessories such as fur shrugs and turned-down ankle boots), Black Gold generally wowed – and is a most welcome addition to the Diesel family.

G-STAR

In an impressive and theatrical show that had Dennis Hopper reciting a poem as he walked down the catwalk, G-Star served up a fantastic collection of innovative denim pieces and denim-friendly offerings such as a long leather and knit coat, puffer jackets and killer shoes. This, the brand’s third show in NYC, was definitely its best yet.

WILLIAM RAST

Husband and wife designer team Johan and Marcella Lindeberg, who recently signed on to design the William Rast men’s and women’s collections respectively, hosted an intimate party at their private SoHo apartment to unveil their new look for the brand. Attended by a handful of journalists, brand founders Trace Ayala and Justin Timberlake and other celebrities, the party showed how the Lindebergs’ touch has already elevated this onetime denim brand to new fashionable heights. Military and preppy influences were visible in the sophisticated and appealing sportwear pieces worn by the models. As Timberlake told Sportswear International there, “Johan basically brings Europe [to the collection], and by that I mean the cut.” He added that he especially loved the women’s pieces as they captured “that tomboy thing” that he says he has always found attractive in a woman.

MONDAY, FEB. 4

ADIDAS ORIGINALS DENIM BY DIESEL LAUNCH

Adidas Originals' store on Wooster Street unveiled its new look, showcasing the new denim collaboration with Diesel along with cool concept corners, a Mi Adidas area, interactive photo wall and a back area featuring footwear in 360 degree rotation. Notably cheerful, Andrea Rosso, in town for the Diesel show the following afternoon, said he was thrilled with the initial results of the sports giant's first collaboration with Diesel.

TIM HAMILTON

Sporty elegance was the theme of Tim Hamilton's collection, which offered a study in contrasts, particularly with black on black ensembles as in a black smoking jacket with grosgrain trimmed lapels with peaks moved up toward the neck paired with a tuxedo pant and bow-front loafers to a gray velvet-trimmed wool suit with quilted jersey/fleece sleeve and pant hems. Hamilton's fabrics and materials remain his strong point: this season he offered a leather shearling coat, fur trim cardigan and intriguing treatments to knits and suit jackets. But he also showed a keen sense of proportion, from a high one-button suit jacket and an egg-shaped trouser.

IODICE

Valdemar Iodice's Stateside debut at the Tents showed his keen sense of sensuality that has resulted in the brand's 20 year success in Brazil. Offering a graffiti-inspired collection for fall, Iodice opened his show with a sheer orchid blue pleated tunic-dress worn over black leggings and platforms. Zipper detailing on a silky jumpsuit and faux croc mini-dresses gave the collection a more punky street edge while gray on black sequined flowers and bubblegum pink offered a romantic twist.

JOHN VARVATOS

Varvatos's overall silhouette may have been more gray, leaner and younger than in previous seasons, with pants sporting a slight bootcut, but that didn't mean he had abandoned his signature rugged aesthetic in favor of foppish ensembles. About the strongest part of this show were contrasting textures and sporty, cropped and luxurious jackets as in a ponyskin biker jacket, an asymmetrical-fastened motocross leather jacket with a quilted pattern, and uber-long knit scarves.

SUNDAY, FEB. 3

ULURU

Designer Caroline Priebe’s luxurious and sustainable basics, ranging from a bamboo denim circle skirt to a handspun honeycomb alpaca vest in ivory worn over a cashmere waffle knit tunic and hemp twill dresses co-designed by Alabama Chanin of Project Alabama, were refreshingly breezy, modern and finished enough to make this line one to watch.

BUILT BY WENDY

Designer Wendy Mullin’s informal, candle-lit gathering of close friends and slideshow presentation of snappy separates including three-quarter sleeve coats and ruffled blouses and lots of plaid in NoLIta made for one of the most endearing events this week, including a surprise performance by American harpist Joanna Newsom.

MISS SIXTY

1960s rock a la Janis Joplin is the inspiration for Miss Sixty next fall, which explained the slew of retro-inspired flowy dresses, bell-bottom jeans, psychedelic-print tights and furry coats, vests and boots that came down the runway. While the Miss Sixty girl will undoubtedly eat up these pieces, we liked the less Woodstock-inspired ones better, such as the sophisticated solid neon yellow belted panel coat and the shorter version of it with a shawl collar, which looked great with a striped twill vest and skinny metallic silver jeans.

SATURDAY, FEB. 2

PATRIK ERVELL
Ervell's precision, subtlety and polish reminded me of another great designer: Raf Simons. Why Ervell isn't larger than he is Stateside is an enigma. Almost every cut and detail in this presentation felt right for the moment, from Ervell's one-button suiting and subtle contrasting fabrications for the lapels to a button-down collared blouson to the designer's lighthanded approach to tweedy sportswear and even a gold foil windbreaker.

THREEASFOUR

Whilst the once over-eccentric Threeasfour has not lost this side of its personality entirely, designers Gabi, Adi, and Ange have developed their collaborative label into one that errs towards a welcome maturity and sophistication. Instead of cut-out after layered cut-out, these signature details were minimized to stunning effect – still present, but cleverly so - exposing shoulders and cascading down the body, teamed with the likes of wide-legs trousers, simple tanks and a black woolen tuxedo jacket – the opening look that set the tone, as pictured above.

ALEXANDER WANG

New York fashion-darling Alexander Wang continues to be one of the week’s hot tickets, and once again won over the expectant crowd with a typically sexy boy/girl collection that was an opus of varying proportions and mixed fabrications. Black-on-black (a running theme this week) and gray tones were a mainstay, while skinny woolen tights met with oversized blazers, sheer tanks with baggy slacks and out-sized knits with battered denim cut-offs, all executed with a savvy well deserving of Wang’s star status.

LODEN DAGER

The Loden Dager collective always put on a good “do,” this time around setting up show within the grounds of the Hoffman Refectory and General Theological Seminary, a hidden retreat that met with all the idiosyncrasies of this unwavering menswear brand (“follow the stone path up and to the left of the chapel,” the invite said). Within a grand hall space models were perched precariously on the sills of vast windows, allowing a great view for all. And the collection? The usual fare of easy prep wear, beiges and gray slacks and great blazers and jackets, with welcome pops of color in the form of a mustard mac, orange slacks, a purple/pink anorak, and fetching cobalt blue suit, as well as a peppering of plaid.

TOM SCOTT

Scott's designs ranging from a draping coat-cardigan to an oversized handknit scarf suspended from the ceiling of Open House Gallery in SoHo seemed appropriate for showcasing upclose his signature ludic approach to womenswear. Offering heavy knits with sheer panels and mixing transparent nylon with silk tulle and plastic-coated cotton, Scott said he felt that this was his most cohesive and accomplished collection to date and it showed.

LACOSTE

A three-part show inspired by the ski slopes of Megeve and consisting of heather gray luxe boilersuits, turtlenecks, parkas and carrot-shaped trousers for women to variations of argyll knits and dusty pastel (think rose and plum) striped sweaters paired with skinny chinos.

FRIDAY, FEB. 1

RAG & BONE

Arguably the first big show of the week, with Anna, Julianne Moore and Gisele Bundchen in the audience, Rag & Bone made a powerful statement on black on black being a key trend for the season. But for all the regal and military pieces, this was an entirely commercial collection about tailored elegance and details from brass shanks on jacket vents to double-breasted waistcoats and Napoleonic collars on duffel coats.

ROBERT GELLER

Did Geller intend for the brief 21 exits to foreground this collection's theme of soul-searching and discovery? Whatever the case, talk of Cloak post-show threatened to overshadow the complexity of Geller's media (think felted wools, cotton-canvas handpainted polyurethane, washed leathers, a handcoated duffle bomber) and fine knitwear throughout.

PERRY ELLIS

Though the huntsman theme wasn't groundbreaking, this collection nailed the season's key color palette of brown and plum and showed several snappy pieces including a wool blend exploded Fair Isle cardigan in teal and a poly/nylon quilted work shirt in purple velvet.

NAUTICA

Inspired by the sport of ice sailing, this collection had more daring in its presentation than in previous seasons. The highlight of the show, however, was the brand's jackets and outerwear, from a silver nylon reversible raincoat to a sail white cashmere peacoat with horn buttons, and an intriguing nod to workwear with a black twill jacket with twill pockets.