Inside Fashion Week Fall/Winter 2009: Yohji Yamamoto Touched Me

I was one of two very lucky people to be granted an interview with Mr. Yamamoto backstage. For you non-fashion folk, this is like the Holy Grail of the industry. It's the pot at the end of the rainbow.
This post was published on the now-closed HuffPost Contributor platform. Contributors control their own work and posted freely to our site. If you need to flag this entry as abusive, send us an email.

I have never seen Fashion Week explode with such an intense array of powerhouse showings as it did this past Friday. The city was sent into an incredible state of frenzy over the designer collections shown that day which included Rag & Bone, Christian Cota, Shipley and Halmos, Zang Toi, Cushnie et Ochs, First Lady favorite Jason Wu, Yigal Azrouel and Peter Som. I didn't have time to see everything due to prior commitments but I did get to two of my favorites: Chadwick Bell and Costello Tagliapietra.

Chadwick Bell is a fairly new designer who's finding his place in the spotlight fairly quickly. Having worked under Ralph Rucci prior to starting his own line, the refinement for which Rucci is known is quite evident in Bell's work. For this collection, Bell looked to Luis Bunuel's 1967 French classic "Belle de Jour" starring Catherine Deneuve, but more specifically, it was the film's fantasy sequence in which the heroine dreams of being restrained and having mud thrown at her that inspired a series of cocktail dresses and gowns. Bell used various fabrications traditionally associated with menswear such as wool flannel, a herringbone print and mohair-cashmere blends, mixing them with alpaca-wool jersey and leather and mink to help convey the masculinity found in the film.


Costello Tagliapietra Fall Winter 2009

Conversely, Jeffrey Costello and Robert Tagliapietra have been rocking the industry since they started showing back in early 2005. With every mind-blowing collection, fashion's favorite furry bears expand on who they are and the incredible talent they possess. This season, they completely bucked the recession and the financial woes of an industry and gave us one of their most dramatic collections featuring incomparable Irving Penn exoticism as seen through their asymmetric pleating, the intricate draping and the perfectly mastered cowls. My favorite look was the dress with the fiercely angled jodhpur sleeves which worked with the show's vigorous pace and dramatic tone.

Later that night, we headed over to Shang, the new Chinese fused restaurant at the Thompson LES where Mercedes Benz was hosting the week's official launch party to celebrate their long-standing role in Mercedes Benz Fashion Week. The place was packed with fashion cuties looking to catch the much-anticipated performance by The Virgins, including Michelle Trachtenberg, Katie Lee Joel, Tyrese, Yigal Azrouel, Damien Fahey, contemporary artist Ryan McGinley, supermodel Jessica Stam and Spanish stunner Eugenia Silva.

Saturday was just as busy as the day before regardless of Valentine's Day. Love means nothing to the fashion industry...unless you're being gifted with luxury designer goods, in which case, love doesn't even come close to describing the emotion. Ruffian showed off-site in the garment district. Adam by Adam Lippes was received with rave reviews, and Lacoste's wool coats by Christophe Lemaire were all anyone could talk about.


Barbie Fall Winter 2009

I stopped by the tents midday to find it in a state of absolute mayhem. I couldn't even get inside to pick up my copy of Women's Wear Daily because Barbie was celebrating her 50th Birthday with a fashion show that had 50 of the most celebrated designers in the industry including Calvin Klein, Michael Kors, Alexander Wang and Bob Mackie creating their interpretation of her dream wardrobe. I hope that when I turn 50 someone throws a fashion show to celebrate the occasion. It goes without saying that they would have to skip the 80s. Those were unforgivable years, but I digress...

Vena Cava by Sophie Buhai and Lisa Mayock was next on the schedule with a presentation entitled "Crystalarium" which was inspired by the American Museum of Natural History's Hall of Gems and Minerals and which was presented on a triangular platform that was highly reminiscent of Judy Chicago's The Dinner Party. The collection was strong and heavily embellished to refer back to the jades, marbles, opals and granites that were the inspiration. In the center of the platform was an installation by artist Marisa Tesauro made from 30,000 recycled CDs.....holographic art at its finest.


Andrew Buckler Fall Winter 2009

One showing which we will never miss each season is that of our good friend Andrew Buckler who showed his current menswear collection in his SoHo store. The feeling of the collection was extreme romanticism intertwined with a notion of decay and mortality. "This collection is all based on Dorian Gray, the famous story by Oscar Wilde, and we thought it was very relevant this season," Buckler told us. "What we did was focus on the part of the story of aging and the way things grow old, and that's reflected through the collection." As I walked through the presentation, I noticed that the models started getting older in age, the clothes became more mature and more worn through, only reinforcing the idea of this wasting away and "decay", the focal creative concept the behind the collection. Buckler never fails in showing truly how fashion is an art form. Designers take note.

I had one more stop to make that night, and it was Elise Overland's presentation at Drive In Studios. Overland is the darling of the social set in Manhattan, so we expected to see all the girls in full-force and we did. Zani Gugelmann told me of her Fashion Week plans while Fabiola Beracasa chimed in about her new gig at Interview Magazine which I'm sure you will hear about shortly. My favorite downtown hostess, Allison Sarofim, was backstage as well, and I made sure I pointed out the black satin ruched pants which I thought would be amazing on her. Jewelry designer Waris Ahluwalia and documentary filmmaker Chiara Clemente were also there showing their support. Chiara looked beautifully fresh following the whirlwind opening this month of her latest tour de force entitled Our City Dreams. But hands down my favorite part of the evening was when I asked Overland about her inspiration for the collection, and she replied "It was a sushi book that my friend gave me, and I was like what am I going to do with it? But after looking through it and seeing all the cut up fish, I just sort of created this collection." Now, THAT's inspiration...

I only had a few things on my plate for Sunday, but they were important. I ran back to the Jonathan Adler designed American Express Skybox to catch the Herve Leger show. The room was filled with fashion anxious Platinum cardmembers who were more than happy to have spent their money on tickets to the Skybox knowing that $250,000 of the proceeds was going to the CFDA Vogue Fashion Fund. One couple told me that they "came up all the way from Pensacola, Florida to catch the shows as part of our Valentine's Day Weekend." That's more determination than I thought I had for Fashion Week.

After watching two models fall all over the runway at Herve Leger, I took off to catch my favorite show of the week which is Y-3 by Yohji Yamamoto for Adidas. The show had drawn a stellar group of people for their front row including Kanye West, Veronica Webb, five time Gold medal winning Olympian Ian Thorpe, rapper Lupe Fiasco, artist Tom Sachs, Rufus Wainwright and Milla Jovovich.


Y-3 by Yohji Yamamoto Fall Winter 2009

What I personally love about the Y-3 show is the extreme theatrics of the presentation. As I told you last season, New York Fashion Week is totally consumer-driven with the main focus of the shows being the sale of the collection. The shows are girls on white runways in designer gowns. Pretty uneventful as far as fashion shows go. But Y-3 is always over the top. Always!

This season Pier 40 was transformed by Brooklyn artist MOMO who covered the square floor of the cavernous garage with a multi-colored abstract painting he created by hand. The clothes were more streamlined than any collection shown stateside before, with the divide between Yamamoto's innovative design and Adidas' sports style closing in dramatically. Not only were the editors and buyers treated with a collection worthy of their combined praise, but they were all left speechless when a series of children's looks were sent out! Y-3 for kids! Never in my wildest dreams would I have thought.

After the show, I was one of two very lucky people to be granted an interview with Mr. Yamamoto backstage. For you non-fashion folk, this is like the Holy Grail of the industry. It's the pot at the end of the rainbow. It's relatively unheard of to be able to interview Mr. Yamamoto, and here I was sitting face to face with the man who changed the face of contemporary fashion in the 1980s. Mr. Yamamoto reached out and held my hands in his to greet me, and I almost hit the floor. Thank God I was already sitting down!

I congratulated him on another incredible showing and then immediately asked him why he decided to show children's looks this season. "Now, people are talking only about the economy," he said. "When we think about the future, naturally, we think about the boys and girls. They are our future." The humble simplicity in showing children's fashion as a nod to a better tomorrow is a genius move on the part of an artist. I also told Mr. Yamamoto how much I love his extravagant production design and how this is something we miss here in New York when compared to the European shows. He replied omnisciently "sportswear and showmanship started in America." I was expecting more, but what more was there to say? Arrigato.

The weekend ended with a party at Bungalow 8 hosted by Amy Sacco for TopMan, the men's collection by Sir Phillip Green's famed UK chain, TopShop. The small club was packed to the glass ceiling with the city's most fashionable including Julia Restoin Roitfeld, Paper Magazine's Mickey Boardman, Donna Karan, supermodel Patricia Velasquez and Zoe Saldana. While guests nibbled on mini grilled cheese sandwiches and filet mignon with creme fraiche served on potato crisps, Interview Magazine's Jay Errico was trying to get people to get their photo taken in front of the TopMan blow up, but I ddn't see any cameras nearby.

I hadn't seen Amy Sacco in forever, so when I asked her where she had been, she said, "I've been right here, baby! Where have YOU been?" I guess she was right. I hadn't been out since last Fashion Week and beyond. I didn't know where I had been, but I definitely knew where I was going and that was home! There are still five more days to go...

Popular in the Community


HuffPost Shopping’s Best Finds