A distinct powdery scent coats the air inside Prabal Gurung’s show. Is it an olfactory trick intended to make us feel like we’re in a boudoir or just the result of way too much hairspray being used backstage? Regardless, I feel like we’re trapped in the perfume section of a department store — we can’t shake the smell.
Attendees are chatting away, waiting for the house lights to dim signaling the start of show when the models catch us by surprise. Kenya and I are so busy catching up that that we don’t even notice the girls in vibrant satiny pastels filing onto the runway. They stand behind a plastic curtain that separates them from the audience and messes up our Instagram game. Then, one by one, they exit the plastic veil to walk the runway. The staging is beautiful and striking. Finally, A New York designer, other than Marc Jacobs, is daring to go beyond the conventional setup. It’s usually the Paris runways that bring all the fun theatrics. Speaking of, Prabal’s couture-like construction would look at home there. His poplin blouses and bombers feature bold, rounded shoulders, while his satin dresses are hand draped, some with cascading ruffles. There are a lot of details to take in — hand embroidery, Swarovski crystal work, laminated tulle — if you can get past the selection of eye candy colors. High voltage pink, lavender and mint evening dresses demand attention like an impatient debutante. Meanwhile, the fifties flavored pencil skirts, wiggle dresses and a sexy rose colored strapless number instantly make me think of Marilyn Monroe, who appears on Gurung’s inspiration board. The vintage silhouettes are juxtaposed with modern flourishes — PVC layered hems, mesh backs, digital printing— in this dazzling take on retro glamour through a futuristic lens. — Tina Chadha
Corsets are turning out to be a big idea for Spring/Summer ’14 in New York. Max and Lubov Azria seem to be exploring the fetishistic side of that idea for Herve Leger, constricting the models’ waists in all manner of boning and leather work (the laser-cut harnesses were particularly memorable) that are a bit equestrian, a bit S&M. I have to give them credit for taking the brand’s house codes (specifically: those body-con bandage dresses that L.A. actresses love to wear) to a more unpredictable place. The graphic knit dresses that follow, however, cover familiar ground. Though, this ‘go round, the bandages come decorated with tribal-esque strips of fringe.– Kenya Hunt
Christian Siriano is already 30 minutes late and the venue feels like a sauna. There goes the blow-out. On the bright side, at least I’m not wearing a fully sequined blazer like Jay Manuel. My current front-row seat mate has already rifled through four goodie bags for free cans of hair spay — he’s one of those fidgety types who keeps bumping me with his sweaty arm. This show really needs to start. The packed crowd, all fanning themselves with their invitations, feels the same. — TC
When the models finally hit the runway, I’m impressed by all the practical daywear: a brocade short suit covered in luscious dahlias, a dreamy circle dress with French knot detailing and a sparkly raffia two piece with comfy pockets. But like every person in the room, I’m still waiting for the real show, the red-carpet stunners the designer has built his brand on. Siriano recently announced that he’s expanding his business, and if the other ventures are like his covetable Payless collection, currently on the runway, sign me up. OK, back to the evening wear: A series of cream ostrich feather gowns is elegant without seeming costume-y. You could tell Siriano held back on the over-the-top antics, but a few dresses slipped past the editing round: All of the capes needed to go. And one coral sheath with wing sleeves covered in floral appliques looked like something Mrs. Roper from “Three’s Company” would wear on vacation. — TC