Alice + Olivia Spring 2019

Alice + Olivia’s Stacey Bendet used international locations as inspiration for the brand’s spring 2019. Entitled “Wonderland,” Bendet takes her consumer to Paris, Marrakech, Positano, Tokyo, Provence, Careyes, and the fairytale location of “Wonderland.” And Bendet built sets that highlighted all these international locations with garments also reflecting said locations.

Bendet has partnered with other companies in previous collections, and for spring 2019 collection Bendet partnered with Booking.com. This collaboration vibes with Bendet’s use of international locations as inspiration for the brand’s spring 2019 collection.

True to form, Bendet stayed with the Boho chic signature design aesthetic of Alice + Olivia. Bendet expands this signature design aesthetic to that of an international jet setter whose wardrobe is very travel friendly. There are lots of shirt dresses with lace trimmings, handkerchief skirts, halter dresses, and crop tops. Additionally, Bendet digitally printed classic monuments and cultural iconography from some of the international locations on skirts, tops and some jackets.

Though Bendet kind of stuck with basic silhouettes in this outing, she did brilliantly combine these basic silhouettes with interesting embellishments that referenced the international locations that were endemic to this spring 2019 outing. There were feathers and beaded added to the basic silhouettes that conjured up images of Marrakech; Geisha iconography that referenced Japan, and the kaleidoscope prints that could fit in anywhere.

Photos courtesy of pinterest.com

And Bendet continues with this spring 2019 collection to produce collections that lots of young consumers will want to wear, with separates that can be easily mixed and matched with garments within the collection and with garments from other brands; a very smart strategy. This mixing and matching keeps Alice + Olivia very consumer-friendly and is relevant to the brand’s youthful demographic that does not have as much disposable income as consumers of a decade ago.—William S. Gooch

Marcel Ostertag Spring 2019

Marcel Ostertag has presented his collections six times at New York Fashion Week: The Shows (NYFWS). Unlike many designers from across the Big Pond that show one or two times at NYFWS and for some reason don’t get the market traction that’s expected and then call it quits, Marcel Ostertag has stayed the course. And this strategy is starting to pay off.

Marcel Ostertag’s ‘MUSE’ collection is a bold, colorful journey with Marcel Ostertag with the muses in his life and the things that inspire him. Feeling “kissed by his muses,” Ostertags biggest muse or influence in this collection is his mother. “My mother’s love and guidance are always present in my heart.  Her unwavering support allows me to design freely and to follow my creative dreams.”  

In this spring 2019 collection, Ostertag was also inspired by the music and fashion style of the 1970s. The high-waisted, pleated pants and sequined bell sleeve tops, as well as the various takes on the ubiquitous wrap-dress in particular give a nod to 70’s silhouette throughout the collection. Although this 70s reference is very strong and quite dominant throughout the spring 2019 collection, Ostertag makes this collection fresh and very current while touches of Ostertag’s signature aesthetic.

‘MUSE’ is a joyful explosion of yellows, blues, lavenders, oranges and nudes that was summed up perfectly in his Rainbow sweater; a cashmere crew comprising of over 24 shades of brightly colored yarn.  Other highlights of the show were the over embroidered and beaded pants, Iris printed charmeuse ruffle tiered gown, and the blush sequined mesh top.  Standouts from the men’s capsule collection were the oversized color-blocked cashmere hoodie and Fuji silk jumpsuit (as well as a wildly editorial, but ultimately niche version in blush micro sequins).  

If there is one drawback to this collection, it would be that this spring 2019 collection is heavy on garments that are more of an industry professionals’ love or aesthetic, particularly fashion stylists, than something that translates well to American consumers. While a decade ago that was a good thing with fashion editors and fashion industry professionals have more of an influence over consumers’ taste, those days have long past!!

Images courtesy of the Bromley Group

Unfortunately, consumers are now left to their path with some direction being given by social media influencers. Still, this was a very interesting spring 2019 collection and if Ostertag can continue to hang in there, market traction is assured.—William S. Gooch

Libertine Spring 2019

Libertine creative director, Johnson Hartig has made his feelings on the current state of politics clear. He’s no fan of the current political administration, and he even once said that the state of the fashion industry reminds him of Trumpism, less than promising. However, Hartig has not let that stop him from churning out his usual maximalist, colorful, eye-popping collections. For his spring 2019 collection, Hartig didn’t leave his fans disappointed.

While Libertine is no stranger to sequins and embellishments, this season Hartig brought us something new with hand-painted and hand-beaded coats in a blue and white color palette. He also looked to the past to give us inspiration, as he also created a 60s–inspired Balenciaga coat with a pleated back.

There is something that sees almost universal about Libertine’s collections and the brand’s coterie of followers; followers that be easily spotted in Libertine’s eclectic mix of fabrications and silhouettes. Libertine’s collections are not for those shrinking violets or self-conscious folks looking to hide their fashion glory under a bush.

Each season at the brand’s runway shows, Libertine gifts all their seated attendees a kit of stickers, often used to adorned things like cellphones and electronics. These same stickers appeared on the models arms and legs this season, with Hartig showing us a way to wear his sticker art alongside his fashion creations.

It’s always a statement at Libertine, from the mixed-maxi patterns, to the heavily decorated jackets, and even the smoking baby print featured on jackets and blazers. Hartig has this approach about making a statement about consumerism without really making a statement about consumerism. For Hartig, particularly in this spring 2019 collection, more is more, a comment on capitalist excessiveness.

As we currently have a reality TV star with a gold-plated penthouse in the White House, so has the culture of flaunting your wealth returned. Moderation is over. In 2018, Libertine emphasis on excess fits right into the cultural landscape better than ever.

Images courtesy of the Krupp Group

While the end of goal of fashion is to always sell clothes, this collection was also a cathartic exercise for Hartig as he explored his cultural and political observations expressed through fashion, from capitalist consumerism to anti-Trumpism. Fashion is his form of rebellion, and onward Hartig marches.—Kristopher Fraser

The Academy of The Arts Spring 2019

If you are scouting for that new, innovative fashion designer that is not afraid to take risks, The Academy of the Arts has a slew of young creatives that fit the bill. Once a year the San Francisco–based fashion design school presents some of their most talented design MFA students during New York Fashion Week: The Shows (NYFWS), usually occurring during the spring collections shows. Though it is a long-extended show, showcasing 5 or 6 garments from each selected MFA student, the show is definitely worth it.

Some years there is some great fashion, reflecting now or next, and some seasons not so much. This season the selected MFA students delivered!!

“The collections reflect the designers’ abilities to explore their individual spirit while mastering their craft. They’ve honored the essence of the industry and carry conscientious practices into textile design, three-dimensional design, tailoring, and construction techniques; at the same time, they’ve intelligently integrated the use of technology and sustainable concepts into their work,” explained Simon Ungless, Executive Director of the School of Fashion.

Some of the standouts for the spring 2019 season were Yoonsuk Lee inspired by the visual associations of the ‘walk of shame,’ the surrealist black and white photography of Vivian Maier and Irving Penn, and his grandfather’s custom-tailored suits; Snezana Anicic-Van Pelt inspired by observations of the ways our society has been shifting; different qualities (identifies) that can coexist as a whole; Mark Kazu Mekaru, Katy Fang Liu, and Yu Ling Chou collaboratively inspired by Miyako Ishiuchi’s photograph of a disintegrated garment destroyed during WWII, along with some elements of the Japanese art of origami, representations of disintegration, peeling, and falling away are incorporated in the garment shapes, textiles and knits; Zhihan Liu inspired by the movie “Shutter Island” with scenes evoking feelings of hurt, pain and darkness, austerity, and purity, and lastly Changsheng Yu inspired by compositions, contrasts and shapes created by natural light and shadows in San Francisco, the black and white photography of Andres Canal and Horst P. Horst, and long-exposure photos of dancers.

Coincidentally, many of The Academy of the Arts selected fashion design students are inspired by film, movement and photography. Hopefully, as these aspiring fashion design transition from their studies to the real world of fashion design they maintain their incredible skill and craftsmanship, never compromising their design acumen for market traction and viability.

Images courtesy of zimbio.com

The Academy of the Arts should continue to be commended for its brilliant assemblage curriculum that enables its student to mine the craft that sets them on a path to greatness. Which is particularly significant in an industry that continues to sacrifice the art of fashion for commercial success. The Academy of the Arts demonstrates the commercial viability and artistic brilliance can be compatible bedfellows!!—William S. Gooch

CHOCHENG Spring 2019

It’s true that classics never go out of style, and can still have relevance for modern audiences. For her spring 2019 collection, designer Cho Cho Cheng of CHOCHENG was inspired by late fifties and sixties movies, and television series, namely “The Best of Everything,” “Sex and the Single Girl,” and “That Girl,” in addition to classic movie icons including Elizabeth Taylor, Doris Day, Natalie Wood, Yvette Mimieux, Joan Collins, Sandra Dee, and others.

As a result of the classic Hollywood inspiration, classic style of the late 50s and 60s ruled supreme with this spring 2019 collection. Her most notable looks were these Jackie Kennedy inspired skirt suits, one of which came in a beautiful blush pink, reminiscent of the former First Lady’s iconic Chanel replica tweed suit. This collection wasn’t just about dressing the fashionable women who are a part of the ‘First Wives Club’, but also about those ladies who have to work for a living.

Long before we had “The Mary Tyler Moore Show,” there were the female prototypes found in “The Best of Everything,” three ambitious working girls of the 1950s who shared their secretarial work and home. These women all knew the power of good tailoring and would have quite enjoyed CHOCHENG’s statement-making shoulder pads, cinched waist bodices, and pencil skirts.

Other silhouettes displayed caped, curved and streamlined design aesthetics conjuring up hints of Elizabeth Taylor and Diana Ross projections seen in “Butterfield 8,” ”Lady Sings the Blues,” and “Mahogany.” Certain pieces seemed to float down the runway, like the mauve cotton knitted lace dress and a coral cotton ribbed and knitted dress. The color palette had a modern femininity that included pink, violet, coral, black, and white. There were moments for women to be understated with approachable black and white and to be a bit adventurous with bolder colors.

Photos courtesy of Purple PR

CHOCHENG’s consumer is easily more of a minimalist, but this spring 2019 demonstrates that CHOCHENG is expanding her base to that woman who wants to be noticed for her fashion choices. She’ll grace the streets with all the class of classic Hollywood actresses, but has no interest in being loud about it. Remember, sometimes subtlety is the best kind of attention, which was the end goal of CHOCHENG this season.— Kristopher Fraser

Son Jung Wan Spring 2019

Sometimes, with Son Jung Wan it is hit or miss. Son Jung Wan has made a name for herself in the New York fashion market as a fashion designer that pushes the proverbial fashion envelope with leanings toward a Korean version of Japanese Harajuku. Lots of bold color, a mix of fabrics, a hodgepodge of silhouettes and lots of cultural influences; that is Song Jung Wan.

All these mixes of color, fabrications and silhouettes apply to the brand’s spring 2019 collection. However, where some seasons, Son Jung Wan was able to make this collage of perspectives work for her collection, for spring 2019 the brand’s kaleidoscope of influences produced a disjointed collection.

This “dramatic moves” collection was highlighted by glamour and exaggerated silhouettes. Son Jung Wan conjured up influences from the 1970s and 80s with also a glance backward to the 1940s and 60s.

Son Jung Wan attempted in this collection to marry the heightened volume found in silhouettes from the 70s and 80s with romantic fashion elements from the 40s and 60s; all seen through a modern lens of minimalism. Puff sleeves rendered in prints of Green Flash and Liberty florals meet fuschia rose A-lines wrapped in dandelions. Throughout the collection are bold, passionate pops of poppy contrasted by stark clean white. Finishes of 3D laces and holographic fabrics projected onto to vintage-inspired tailored shapes keep the collection contemporary; while spangle and beading evoke glamour as florals bring a sense of luxury.  These romantic and chic silhouettes, through draping and tailoring, produce a vibrant rhythm for spring 2019.

Though Son Jung Wan’s intention for this collection should be honored, in real time the collection was all over the place, rendering little retail value in the States. Then again, Son Jung Wan’s major consumers are not really in the US, with most of her consumers in Korea and other Asian markets. So, perhaps, US tastes don’t really matter that much.

Photos courtesy of Deborah Hughes, Inc.

Still, there were some standout looks. This spring 2019 collection’s best looks were those looks in neutral or off-white tones which included the brand’s multi-color one shoulder dress, dandelion yellow sleeveless top with ling skirt and gold-sequined shorts, nude beige silk tulle dress with floral lace and gold-sequined shorts and nude beige silk tulle sleeveless dress with floral lace details.

—William S. Gooch

Self-Portrait Spring 2019

The stylish sixties were given a modern update by designer Han Chong of Self-Portrait. The man known on Instagram as Mr. Self-Portrait, created a collection that was inspired by the spirit of the 1960s, but was for the modern, confident woman. Where many designers look to the more hippie style/bohemian mood of the 1960s when being inspired by the 60s, Chong created a wardrobe for a woman who was the modern urbanite who is sun-kissed and liberated at work.

In contrast to the “borrowed from the boys” or standard secretary dress that would be so popular among women of that era, Hong created a collection that was both cosmopolitan, but also resort ready. Texture is one of the trademarks of Self-Portrait, as evidenced by the brand’s signature lace cocktail dresses, which never fail to disappoint. For spring 2019, the collection also featured pleated silk gowns, poplin blouses, and mixed-media coats.

This is a collection for women who want to make a statement and it is on trend with the maximalism we have been seeing for the past several years. No, it does not push the envelope of maximalism in the realm of brands like Gucci or Comme Des Garçons, but this was a collection for the woman who wants to be noticed for her fashion choices.

Chong did step outside of his comfort zone for this collection though by using a lot of prints. In the past, he never strayed beyond stripes or polka dots, but this time around Chong went for geometric florals, with patterns spliced and combined together, and paired with crochet and lace. This collection was a lesson in the importance of movement in clothing, especially as contemporary women have no desire to feel restricted in their clothes.

Images courtesy of pinterest.com

The Self-Portrait world is also expanding. This season, the brand introduced swimwear. As their fan base has grown, they are able to stay true to their old customers, while bringing in new ones. Those women who wanted Chong’s minimalist approach to color the brand’s appreciation for texture will help to continue consumer’s affectation for Self-Portrait. However, with the spring 2019 collection, Chong has pinpointed the consumer who wants to be in head-to-toe graphic prints and even pick up a swimsuit for resort season. It’s a newer, expanding portrait for Self-Portrait.— Kristopher Fraser

Fushá Spring 2019

Marie Claudinette Jean is back!! Well, her fashion brand Fushá Designs is. After an absence of over ten years, Marie Claudinette Jean has reinvented Fushá from a brand that centered mostly on urban street wear to a brand that is all about glamorous luxury. In other word, bling without the bling; well, almost.

Originally launched in 2000, Fushá had a sizable celebrity following. Marie Claudinette Jean could count Mary J. Blige, Patti Labelle, and the late great Whitney Houston among her celebrity fan base. And after showing for four consecutive seasons at Bryant Park during New York Fashion Week, Marie Claudinette Jean took a long, extended break to raise her daughter. Now, she is back in the fashion fold, and if not with a vengeance, then with a particular fashion point of view.

For spring 2017, Marie Claudinette Jean sought inspiration from a magical forest, which was made evident in the lush, glittering foliage that decorated the background to the brand’s spring 2019 presentation. That said; there were a few carryovers from the Fushá Designs that fans of the brand from the early 2000s grew to love. They bling is still in place, but more understated in this iteration; the collection contains several statement-making garments—something that was always front and center in prior collection, and there is still lots of bold color.

One thing that was worth taking note of in this collection is that Marie Claudinette Jean recognizes that her woman has changed. Gone are the days of blatant in your face glam. Perhaps, the Fushá consumer has matured.

Photos courtesy of Paul Bruinooge

This time around Marie Claudinette Jean has opted for looks, though still glamorous, that are more subdued with the emphasis being placed on the fabrication and silhouette. And this is exactly the right direction that the brand needs to project to. Though most of the silhouettes and fabrications have been seen before, Marie Claudinette Jean aptly understands that she must update her brand with changing fashion trends. And the change in Fushá is refreshing.Bling without the garishness, who could ask for anything better!!

—William S. Gooch

The Blonds Spring 2019

 

The Blonds runway show is one of the most sought-after and highly anticipated shows of New York Fashion Week: The Shows (NYFWS). Always entertaining, with just the right amount of theatrical dynamism and fashion next, The Blonds, for the most part delivers the goods. Unfortunately, their spring 2019 collection was another matter.

As a critical mass, many fashion designers are suffering. Retail sales are low, investment dollars are hard to come by, and traditional ways of marketing, advertising and reaching consumers has lost traction. In other words, the fashion industry is in real trouble. And some designers/brands, unfortunately, are looking to gimmicks, hoping to attract consumers, particularly youthful consumers with deep pockets.

The Blonds spring 2019 collection, particularly as it was presented during NYFWS, seemed like a desperate attempt to maintain consumer and media interest in the brand. Inspired by Disney villains, Cruella de Vil, Ursula the Sea Witch, the Queen of Hearts, Maleficent, and others, The Blonds’ spring 2019 collection appeared to be more in the tradition of a Halloween fashion show—with a few celebs thrown in for good measure—than a legitimate fashion collection.

That said; The Blonds’ collections have always been on the side of phantasmagorical glam; still, this season the theatrics of the runway show overshadowed the collection. And there was some good fashion in the collection in the tradition of The Blonds’s design aesthetic—heavy embellishment, bedazzled bustiers, and sex, sex, and more sex.

Where in past shows The Blonds addition of supermodels and celebs did not distract from the collection, this season, unfortunately, cast members from FX’s hit series “Pose” were the show, entertaining as all out, but adding nothing to the fashion. With the exception of “Pose” cast member Dominique Jackson, who demonstrated classic runway glamazon diva strutting, the rest of the celebs could have stayed at home or at least be given a front row seat. (Remember, the age of Heatherette bacchanalian self-indulgence on the runway expired 10 years ago.)

        Images courtesy of EB Consults

Phillipe and David Blond stick with what has worked and expand on that. Better luck next season!!—William S. Gooch

Pamella Roland Spring 2019

The late great Diana Vreeland once proclaimed that, “fashion is both now and next.” Almost fifty years later, Vreeland’s fashion prediction still applies.

For spring 2019, the flora and fauna and modern architecture of the tropical island of Bali inspired Pamella Roland for her red carpet–ready collection. True to form, Roland’s spring 2019 collection was stunningly beautiful, in the tradition that her die-hard fans have come to expect from her.

Roland conjured up images of Bali’s exquisite bold colors and textures in a collection that was rich in vibrant colors and embroideries. These bold color tones and textures aptly represented the modern architecture and lush flora and fauna of Bali as could be seen the collection’s fabric manipulation, sleek angles and silhouettes.

If there was a bit of next in this spring 2010 outing, that future projection was made evident in Roland’s use of 3D floral jacquard. And though Roland’s use of 3D floral jacquard was admirable, the combination of 3D techniques paired with floral jacquard did not come across as next, this pairing landed more in the area of matronly charm.

That said; unlike Vreeland’s eternal fashion prediction, Roland’s spring 2019 fashion collection, though now, definitely was not infused with a lot of next. And here lies the rub!! Perhaps, due to a rather staid retail market that doesn’t take much risk, for spring 2019 Rolland has stayed true to her established design aesthetic without pushing that aesthetic in a youthful or innovative direction. Her diehard fans will be pleased, but with this collection Roland will probably not expand her base, especially that youthful consumer who is always looking for something a little more avant-garde or unexpected.

        Images courtesy of Purple PR

There were several standout red-carpet looks in this spring 2019 collection. The most noteworthy looks include Roland’s yellow silk organza draped gown with tonal pearl seamed outline, gold metallic fringe and 3D sequin-embroidered cocktail, black satin and stretch crepe strapless cocktail with 3D petal-embroidered bodice, blush and yellow confetti-embroidered strapless cocktail and white ostrich feather hem, and blush and gold hand-painted ombré tulle ball gown with feather and crystal-embroidered bodice.—William S. Gooch

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