Naeem Khan, the go-to designer for feminine, striking evening wear, is certainly reaching out to a new audience for Fall 2017: one whose embellished Louboutin boots would sooner be spotted strutting around Soho’s hottest bar than on Tinsel Town’s hottest red carpet. Khan was inspired by boudoir dressing, offering up a series of uber-glamorous pajama sets in pinstripe embellishments and floral lace. These were all worn open to reveal see-through bras- a styling trick for the Gigi, Bella, and Kendall tribe. As per usual, Khan’s dresses walked the runway with commanding presence. A cape-like feathered gown, a tiered ruffled midi in sumptuous gold, and two decadent fringe flapper numbers were all highlights. Decadence is no doubt a trademark of Khan’s, but here it was met with a more louche attitude, striking a desirable tension.
Sarah Julia LeBlanc, founder of the new Mémère line, knows how to set a mood. As soon as I walked into her show space to preview the Fall/Winter 2017 collection, LeBlanc’s design ethos immediately became apparent. One thousand white roses were strewn across the white floor of Pier 59 studios while Stevie Nicks’ greatest hits played in the background. I felt as though I had entered into a sepia-toned world where perfectly tousled hair is the standard and vintage lace frills are the thrills of choice. LeBlanc was primarily inspired by Wabi Sabi, the Japanese tradition of appreciating the beauty in imperfections, to create her desirably effortless pieces. From a gathered tulle top and lace midi skirt to a victorian sleeve baby doll dress, every ensemble had an unfinished quality, one where the work of the human hand added to the visual intrigue. LeBlanc has mastered the French-girl chic aesthetic that fashion magazines have studied with a careful eye for countless years. Slip into a Mémère slip dress, a soon to be signature of the label, and you’ll seemingly slip right into the Mémère world.
Essential oils and alchemy are not typically inspirations that come to mind when you think of a Fall ready-to-wear collection. Jill Stuart, however, took these peculiar interests and spun them into fashion gold…or at least varying shades of maroon and navy. Like any good alchemist, Stuart is an expert mix-master; her tiered empire waist skirts and bishop sleeve tops were a nod to Victoriana, but perfectly offset by 70’s references. This could be jarring in the wrong hands, but in Stuart’s, they felt fresh. Mixing pieces from two distinct eras, made for an interesting take on the way we dress today: with disregard for where or when our pieces came. The collection as a whole had a vampy, mystic sort of quality. Spiderweb embroidery and a myriad of rich fabrics from satin, to velvet, to brocade fulfilled all of our cold-weather fantasies.
Noon by Noor:
The combination of elements both masculine and feminine is an old one when it comes to fashion; designers have been inspired by these for so long that, simply put, it has become tired. The Noon by Noor cousin duo, Shaikha Noor Al Khalifa and Shaikha Haya Al Khalifa took the idea of mixing male and female elements and made it feel exciting again. They turned out a collection filled with serene, monochromatic looks that juxtapose soft tailoring and draped silhouettes. The individual pieces were classic in nature- the kind of clothes you want to live your life in: a shearling jacket and matching camel pants as well as a bodice-hugging navy cocktail dress were subtle, but undeniably beautiful. All the models wore either flats or sneakers, demonstrating how practical the collection is for real girls to wear. Amid the cheesy gimmicks abused by New York designers to get attention from the press, the Khalifa cousins’ focus on exquisitely made clothes that are actually meant to be worn and not just displayed is refreshing.