Real meets surreal in autumn-winter 2014 collections in New York

Michael Kors went romantic, Marc Jacobs channelled motocross and tutus, while Phillip Lim tried urban and two-tone as autumn-winter 2014 collections hit the runways at New York Fashion Week

PUBLISHED : Monday, 17 February, 2014, 11:16am
UPDATED : Monday, 17 February, 2014, 5:37pm

There was the real as well as the surreal at last week's New York Fashion Week, as designers unveiled their collections for autumn-winter 2014.

Billionaire New York designer Michael Kors mixed California ease with urbane romance, unveiling a soft, laid-back collection in front of Hollywood stars like actresses Blake Lively and Freida Pinto.

They sat in the front row next to Michael Douglas as models powered down the runway in floaty blouses and full skirts, diaphanous chiffon, and fringed sweaters.

"Soft, fluid skirts, dresses and blouses juxtaposed with borrowed from the boys tailoring," Kors said in his notes. He offered artisanal embellishment for the day and sleek simplicity for the night, a mix of plaids, tweeds and python.

There were peasant blouses with scooped neck lines, floaty printed dresses, sequined skirts and oversized sweaters. Looks were cinched at the waist with circular buckle belts.

In one of the most anticipated collections, Jason Wu - making his debut for Hugo Boss - sent out a suit-heavy collection of fitted tops paired with flowing skirts, and outfits were made of cropped jackets over longer vests or vice versa. The waist was accentuated with precision tailoring and belts galore.

At Alexander Wang, a series of 1960s utility tunics opened the show. Each came with multiple pockets, designed to carry everything from a Moleskine notebook and smartphone to a lighter and lipstick.

For his collection, he wanted to create pieces that will see women through some extreme weather conditions.

That's why his outerwear pieces were the stars of the show, especially his printed parka jackets, raw-hemmed suede puffas and laser-cut leather jackets. Wang sent models down the runway in temperature-sensitive outfits that changed colour when worn in front of heat vents.

Marc Jacobs un

veiled a collection inspired by Japanese school uniforms, motocross and tutus during the Marc By Marc Jacobs show. Jacobs sat in the front row to watch British designers Katie Hillier and Luella Bartley, recruited last May, unveil a brand that Jacobs has said he would like to rename.

It was a spectacle of mixed silhouettes and Ninja Power Rangers in big moon boots and sneakers. There were models in braids and tight skirts of bright pink or blue plastic.

Rodarte's Mulleavy sisters plunged into the fantasy world of cult film series Star Wars for their collection. A print of Luke Skywalker appeared on the side of a grey and beige silk dress, which was embellished with Swarovski crystals. The likable droid R2-D2 was printed on a skirt and Jedi master Yoda appeared on a black silk dress.

"It's ... just kind of the culture of who we are," said Kate Mulleavy. "The collection for us is about childhood and nostalgia. The Star Wars elements of it are just kind of a poetic interpretation of what we loved then and we love now."

At 75, Carolina Herrera is showing no sign of slowing down or wallowing in nostalgia, unveiling her 2014 autumn-winter collection for the contemporary woman looking to the future.

The doyenne of New York Fashion Week, the Venezuelan-born designer known for her elegance and sophistication has dressed first ladies, society women and film stars all over the world.

Top model Karlie Kloss opened the show in a black boiled wool coat, pony skirt and cashmere turtleneck, and closed it in a red silk embroidered evening gown.

Herrera said her collection had been designed "for the woman of today but looking to the future."

Her jackets and sweaters were cape-like, with wide collars and cowl necks, while skirts were tight and fitted, creating a different silhouette to much of those seen on the catwalk.

Jackets were embellished with fur in the lower sleeves and from the chest down, or with leather panels. There were geometric, African-inspired printed dresses and skirts.

Flowing floor-length gowns in georgette and organza were cinched with big, bold-coloured belts.

Bold prints and gold metallic wrap dresses were shining lights at the Diane von Furstenberg show. It was a big event - the appointment of Michael Herz was announced after the show, which itself followed the celebrations for the 40-year anniversary of the label's iconic wrap dress.

Meanwhile, Tory Burch went for a more subtle look with drapey knits in subdued hues while Tommy Hilfiger transported his audience to a winter wonderland with a ski lift, chalet, boulders and artificial snow.

His collection was inspired by the conquest of the American West, and the great American outdoors. There were ruffled prairie skirts, fringed plaid, cowboy boots, faux fur jackets, Alpine sweaters, ponchos, huge parkas lined with sheepskin and bobble hats. There was a Scottish influence: a small kilt worn with a green fur jacket, tartan on jacket lapels and pockets, then fringed dresses and turtleneck mohair sweaters.

Oscar de la Renta presented a unique mix of workwear, outerwear and chic red carpet frocks.

Phillip Lim cut a totally different dash designing for the "culturally curious, worldly woman who lives in a world and context of instant pop and culture".

"This season, in particular, was like kind of returning and looking at everything I've done. It's going to be our 10th year actually," he said of his ultra urban collection. He showed oversized trousers, quilted jackets and patchwork leather coats and trousers, the bulk cinched in at the waist with chunky belts.

Outfits were two-tone and patchworks of dual fabrics, cut on the vertical or the diagonal.

Standouts included a black leather jacket with brown fur collar, an oversized pink fur gilet, pocketed fur coats that mimicked blazers and a smattering of summery colours.