NYFW Day 4: Carolina Herrera and Palomo Spain
A Hispanic influenced day in New York with two bold shows by Carolina Herrera and Palomo Spain, underlying an immense disparity in vision.
Carolina Herrera: Empress Sissi on Fifth Avenue
This season at Carolina Herrera, creative director Wes Gordon was inspired by Sissi, the Empress of Austria Hungary, a beautiful and tragic figure whose life has stimulated many designers before.
Not that there was anything wrong in following in a path already trod by the likes of Karl Lagerfeld, especially as Gordon skilfully weaved in multiple aristocratic elements into his classy collection.
An imperial collection, presented in the ballroom of the Plaza Hotel, created to capture the blend of discipline and grandeur, for which Sissi was famed.
Sisi spent her youth in rural Austria, before becoming empress at just 16, where she was forced to live with the rigorous formality of the court in Vienna. A regime not unlike the strict social hierarchy of the past century on the Upper East Side. If you doubt that then read the novels of Edith Wharton.
That said, happily there was nothing literal about Gordon’s approach. Sending out calico gowns completed with bolero jacket tops held together with blooming fabric roses. Or ideally ruched black and white silk dresses, finished with trains – perfect grand ball looks. Wes also evoked the baroque indulgence of the Habsburgs with Swarovski crystal encrusted oatmeal suits and bouffant dresses.
In effect, with the disappearance of Oscar de la Renta from the New York runway calendar the house of Carolina Herrera has become the de facto go to brand for ladies in search of fashion that has poise, polish and a pizzica of pizzazz.
Gordon dreamed up some wonderful Photoshop floral prints, seen in grand gowns with portrait necklines; curvy cocktail dresses; flared pants and silk blouses.
Before suddenly going into overdrive with stupendous tulle concoctions, tiered dresses in canary yellow or black and white. Befitting Sisi, the color palette was vivid jewel-toned – imperial Roman purple, gold macaroon and emerald green.
The subject of recent hit German TV series The Empress, Sisi, a Bavarian princess, married Emperor Franz Joseph when she was just 16 in 1854. And the grandeur of Habsburg Vienna was recalled in sumptuous black velvet and taffeta gowns and jackets, gilded in gold embroidery.
In his program notes, Gordon said his goal was to transform the Carolina Herrera woman “into a modern Empress this season, celebrating her unabashed appreciation of beauty and glamour, like Sisi centuries before her.”
Hopefully leading a less tragic life than Sissi, who was stabbed to death by an Italian anarchist on the shores of Lake Geneva when she was 60.
Palomo Spain: Eat your heart our Ron DeSantis
Transgender people are under constant attack in today’s America. Eight states have introduced laws prohibiting “drag” performances. In Florida, Governor Ron DeSantis’ “Don’t Say Gay,” law prevents teachers from even talking about LGBTQ issues or rights.
Which made the latest Palomo Spain show – which was all about young men trying on their mother’s clothes -seem powerfully prescient. Though not made with any political agenda, it seemed a telling statement by designer Alejandro Gómez Palomo.
Presented inside a Chelsea art gallery and accompanied by a trio playing medieval lutes and guitars, it was delicate, daffy, dainty and defiant.
Young men circling the space in silk bloomers, baby caps, gather cotton blouses, jacquard frocks, and mum’s cotton shirts worn as long trains under bomber jackets.
“Going back to my mum’s wardrobe or making a dress out of a sheet. It’s all about that moment when you are innocent about fashion, and you don’t have any prejudice about gender,” Palomo explained post-show.
Eccentricity did dominate throughout, like jean jackets and pants were made of seafoam sequins, tops laced with feathers or cast members with rabbit ears. Plus, Palomo loves a giant coat – either pink knubby terylene dressing gowns for the Red Carpet or Yeti like faux bearskin great coats worn with matching boots on a model attired in a ribbed cotton body stocking. Alejandro even invented a new mortar shaped hat, made of padded striped cotton.
Not that it was all wacky, as the Spanish born designer also wove in cool satin puffers; big collar volume pea-coats; or ginormous volume trenches. He also showed his latest sneaker, a thick-laced or thick strap shoe in lime green or kissing pink, part of a continuing partnership with Puma. And some great new leather boots and shoes finished with rolled leather straps.
“My clothes really speak about freedom and living in a world where we can be what we want to be. There is no violence in these clothes,” he added.
Unlike in today’s American politics.
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