Oh, but New York has always loved a good sport. Now, the current obsession with resort seems to have extended into spring with lots of beachcombing cottons in big, splashy floral prints from, among others, Oscar de la Renta, who played to all of his constituencies—power women, the luncheon set, pretty starlet types—in the week’s most diverse collection; von Furstenberg, who went “Under the Volcano” for savvy, controlled exotica with an orchid motif; and Tory Burch, for whom the sensibly jeweled tunic is a staple. Meanwhile, Donna Karan sojourned to Havana for cinch-waist, full-skirt dresses, and, in a terrific collection, Michael Kors went beachy and tennis-y, even mixing in some citified sport of the racy Studio 54 sort. Other designers worked a green angle, and not only John Patrick of Organic, but also Yigal Azrouel, who showed a knack for chic burlaps; Behnaz Sarafpour, who incorporated items from her environmentally friendly capsule group into a collection with an allover earthy attitude; and Karan, who used cork and raffia trims.
There were also runway comebacks of the celebrity sort—Gwen Stefani spiffed up her cute ska-girl fare for L.A.M.B., and Jennifer Lopez debuted Justsweet, her new, affordable juniors line. And in her second season, Anne Klein’s Isabel Toledo applied her artistic leanings to lovely, approachable clothes—or they will be, if the firm is able to translate those boho handpainted silks for the commercial market.
Yet with each passing season, the dramatic evolution of the industry here reveals itself with ever increasing clarity. Yes, the traditional powerhouses remain, but a generation of onetime upstarts—beyond Zac Posen and the Proenza Schouler boys, Lazaro Hernandez and Jack McCollough, who burst onto the scene on vast waves of hype—is now mainstream. This season Rodarte’s Kate and Laura Mulleavy tempered their gorgeous romantic designs with a clear attempt to develop a more commercial point of view, while those with less fanciful leanings shone with distinctive efforts. Among the highlights: Richard Chai, Phillip Lim, Thakoon Panichgul, Doo-Ri Chung, Maria Cornejo, Adam Lippes, Marchesa’s Georgina Chapman and Keren Craig, and Peter Som. Some of the newest kids on the block—Lyn Devon, Chris Benz and Naum’s Julia Jentzsch, now on her own—also showed promise.
Of course, promise shown and realized are two different matters. Perhaps 40 years hence, one among the pack will have emerged as an elder supernova, ready to celebrate the spoils at a fete in a major city landmark. Such aspirants might take a page from Lauren’s personal credo, one that has certainly served him well. Ask him how he orchestrated the ascent and has stayed so long, and he’ll answer, “Come on, you know, I do what I do.” •