Wendy Sy, Runway Reporter: #NYFW Notes (Pt. 4)

by Wendy Sy Photographed by Dan Lecca, Henry Lopez, David Prutting/BFA, Charles Roussel/BFA and Joe Schildhorn/BFA
Thursday, February 15, 2018

This season’s New York Fashion Week has officially come to a close. With iPhone batteries drained and energy levels running low, it’s safe to say that we can all use a nap! We’ll be dreaming of the fall/winter 2018 collections seen throughout the past week. Here’s our take on the final few.


Location: Spring Studios, Gallery I, 50 Varick Street.

Spotted: Taking photos at fashion shows is second nature for most of us. But Badgley Mischka’s show isn’t merely a snap and share on Instagram type of situation. As models walk down the runway, guests rate whether they “Like” or “Love” the look through the new Badgley Mischka app. Created by Apple and global software provider SAP, the platform allows guests to provide feedback to the designers in real-time. The poll results are used to tailor future designs to what people are responding to most.

Collection: Caravaggio may have died some 400 years ago, but his legacy is still alive and burning. The Italian painter, known as one of the early pioneers of the Baroque style, is the core source of inspiration for Badgley Mischka’s latest collection. Excelling at their recognized category of evening wear, pieces range from a tobacco silk velvet and mocha silk/lurex brocade gown to a rose silk/lurex brocade dress. Then, there are more unexpected looks, from a deep red chenille jacquard pantsuit to daring snow leopard and cheetah prints (seen in a chiffon gown, wide leg tweed trousers and a dress and jacket two-piece).

On the Record: “We started off by showing dark and moody looks then had the light burst through at the end, like Caravaggio’s paintings,” Mischka tells AVENUE after the show. “We also thought about our customer and how we can make her feel comfortable and powerful.” On what surprised them the most during the app creation: “I think the fact that people are true romantics,” says Badgley. “Look #12 is the audience’s favorite, which is probably the most classic Grace Kelly gown of all time. I think that traditional beauty lives on. It’s not all always about what’s cutting edge.”

J. MENDEL Presentation

Location: Ladurée, 76 Thompson Street.

Spotted: Paris is always a good idea. And if you can’t make it out there, there’s always Ladurée in Soho. In the back room and garden of the French bakery synonymous with pastel colored macarons, the J. Mendel fall/winter 2018 collection is displayed on mannequins all around. Editors as well as friends of Gilles Mendel, designer and CEO of the brand, gather to see the collection up close and personal.

Collection: Retro Hollywood. On Mendel’s mood board, there are photos of Katharine Hepburn, Louise Brooks and landscape paintings by 20th-century artist Tom Thomson. The collection is a mix of these ideas with a gown of fine micro-pleating to a houndstooth trouser paired with a turtleneck. In 1870, J. Mendel was established in St. Petersburg, Russia (before moving to Paris in 1920), as a boutique focusing on furs. The fifth-general atelier, helmed by Mendel for the past 37 years, has been continually producing pieces which use fur like fabric. Staying true to that tradition, the current lineup includes a mink trench coat with a striking resemblance to corduroy.

On the Record: “There are strong coats and pants in my collection that give off a real boyish moment. It’s very powerful and feminine at the same time,” says Mendel. “The collection is a celebration of women. Strength doesn’t take away from the femininity and seductiveness of a woman.” On where he would love to travel: “I don’t go away often but if I were to, I would love to go to the mountains in Switzerland, someplace where the air is fresh. I could sit down on the terrace and sketch. That would be the dream.”


Location: Spring Studios, Gallery II, 50 Varick Street.

Spotted: Cake, lots of cake. Oh, and hard boiled eggs and crepes, too. Food was readily available at Rosie Assoulin’s presentation, perfect for 10:30 am to 12:30 pm on Tuesday. Providing more than just a sugar rush, the artful presentation of the snackscolorful and decorated in marbled printscomplemented the collection to a T.

Collection: COLOR. That’s what Assoulin is known for, along with the fact that she can translate the category of evening wear expertly into practical daywear. This season, she took the idea of marbling and ran with it. The natural swirls of the metamorphic stone are expressed in pieces such as breezy, long length dresses, a blouse tucked under a bright blue pantsuit and a A-line coat in a number of eye-catching hues. There are also solid pieces (think: a white blouse and emerald green bell bottoms), with voluminous twists. Very Rosie Assoulin. Having learned from fashion greats including Roxanne Assoulin (who later became her mother-in-law), the late Oscar de la Renta and Lanvin’s Alber Elbaz, the designer has, over the years, created a style that’s all her own.

On the Record: “Her creativity and vision is so unique,” says fashion illustrator Bil Donovan, who was once again commissioned to create artwork during the presentation. Piles of illustrations with his signature watercolor are laid out, each of which took about three minutes to create. “Her work is alive and so vibrant. With the beautiful textures and shapes, it’s a fashion illustrator’s dream to draw.” Donovan met Assoulin in 2013, when he was hired by New York magazine to draw backstage during NYFW. Although he isn’t working with the publication at the moment, he’s been invited to come back to illustrate every season since, becoming a regular fixture at Assoulin’s show.


Location: Industria, 775 Washington Street.

Spotted: In the form of a report card, the invitations to Alice + Olivia’s presentation hinted to what this season’s collection is all about. The venue is decked out as a bright, cheerful women’s university. The first sight is of two oversized books with the words, “Empower Women” and “Knowledge Is Power”. Inside the venue, there are several mini spaces including the Rainbow Library, the American Revolution Room, the Bill of Rights Room, the Rococo Rock ‘N Roll Room, the Education Garden and the Chinoiserie Black and Gold Rooms.

Collection: This season, Bendet wants to start a revolution. The collection delves into the past to understand the present and to change the future. In the mix: leopard prints, rainbow stripes, floral motifs, plaids and gem tone hues on ready-to-wear separates. Looks coordinated with each room, drawing attention to a different subject. Let’s put it this way: it’s the most fashionable (albeit fictitious) women’s university there is. A+ for the campus tour.

On the Record: “I wanted to take part in some of the themes that are important to women right now. From equal rights, equal pay to reproductive rights, and turn them into something that we can use to show our message,” says Bendet during the presentation. On her favorite school subject: “I had an International Relations major and a French minor. I actually did like history and my mom was a teacher. So, I’ve always liked storytelling.”


Location: Spring Studios, Gallery II, 50 Varick Street.

Spotted: Sitting next to Chiara Boni during the final run-through pre-show says a lot about her character. She’s attentive, passionate and mentally taking notes. She later says, “Looking at beauty is always inspiringyour mind is connected all the time, you see something and you think of something else.” Every so often, a friend comes up and greets her with a light kiss-kiss and a hug. Models are practicing their walk one last time before the show begins. An hour later, among those in the front row is stylist and creative director Freddie Leiba. “The collections are always charming and feminine,” he says of Chiara Boni La Petite Robe.“That’s the DNA of the brand.

Collection: Boni took us back to Hollywood’s golden age of the ‘30s. Her iconic jersey dresses are refreshed in fluid floor-length gowns with soft tulle and taffeta to mini dresses with organza embellishments. The color palette spanned from midnight blue, black, baby blue, red to soft pink. As for the beauty aspect (done by Aveda), imagine smokey eyes, finger waves and short curled bobs pinned with barrettes. With each look, the essence of the decade is portrayed effortlessly.

On the Record: “We have many muses, from Carole Lombard, Marlene Dietrich to Joan Crawford,” says Boni, who flew in to New York last Thursday for the model casting, fitting and show. By now, she’s back to her native country, Italy. On memorable behind-the-scenes moments: “Everything happens at every moment. Some things come up and some disappear.” Boni quips, “We’re always having magicians and fairies with us backstage.”


Location: Spring Studios, Gallery I, 50 Varick Street.

Spotted: Hanging on a garment rack backstage is a black parka jacket with a large embroidered dragon print on the back. “There’s a detachable power source inside, so it keeps you warm,” Tam says as she holds out the cable to show how it works. “Sometimes, technology can be a bit boring. It’s just functional, but I wanted to make it more fashionable and cool. The dragon on the back is meant to give power to the person wearing it.”

Collection: An ivory and burgundy jacquard and shearling quilted coat, a knit wool fringe turtleneck sweater and a navy and red stripe patchwork lace maxi dress. These are just a few of the key pieces in Tam’s latest lineup. Like seasons past, the designer looked to travel for inspiration (take Hong Kong, Houston and outer space, for example). This time, an idea sparked from an expedition through the Himalayas to Tibet. Her muse? The buddha goddess, Green Tara. Staying consistent with her overall vision of the yin and yang concept, she paired oversized jackets with waist-cinching belts and blouson tops with long, pleated skirts. Handcrafted embroideries representing universal mandalas are also shown throughout.

On the Record: “It was so spiritualthe art, the culture, the people and the landscape,” says Tam on her trip to Tibet a couple years ago. “Since then, I’ve always wanted to do a collection on it and now just feels like the right time.”

For more NYFW coverage, click here for our Runway Recaps, Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3.


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