New York Fashion Week Fall 2010: Derek Lam, Vera Wang, Sophie Theallet, Jason Wu for Tse

Derek Lam
Inspired by Julie Christie in the '70s film McCabe & Mrs. Miller, where she plays a British expat in the Robert Altman Western, Derek Lam sought to tackle the Wild Wild West by churning out cowgirl style that was supremely refined and sleek (translation: a European vibe). There was nothing overtly kitschy despite the theme, save for some pieces that boasted fringe or Navajo print or embroidery. Lam, famous for his strong American sportswear, reinforced that image with everything from pleated kilts and georgette blouses to cable-knit sweaters. As has been omnipresent, outerwear was a key factor for Lam, with options galore trimmed with leather inserts that easily brings Pocahontas into the 21st century.

Vera Wang
If Vera Wang (and Donna Karan, the day before) have their ways, the city will be shrouded in chic darkness come fall. "The Bride Wore Black" was how Wang themed the show, and the film noir motif added an apropos seduction to Wang's trademark bohemian spirit. Sporting Brigitte Bardot-like coifs, Wang's models strutted out clad in a mélange of oversized collars, sleeves beyond sleeves, tulle corsages made of fluff or fur dollop. Multistrand seed pearls dominated the accessories, but for Vera, it's not about piling it; it's about getting it right the first time." A white linen voile draped top was sheer genius. The focus for fall was less on the glam of the red carpet gown, but for Wang loyalists, the stellar sporty lineup offered just the right amount of bohemian attitude.

Sophie Theallet
It may have been about lost girlhood memories, but the collection Sophie Theallet presented for fall was the definition of French bourgeois. With a French song playing on the soundtrack and enough French-speaking guests in attendance that the venue started to feel like the nation's consulate, it was evident Theallet had her hometown in mind. The flowy and floral dresses swung side to side as the models moved, many of them wrapped like aprons or draped off the shoulders. While the collection was overall softer than ones in year's past, this go-to designer for First Lady Michelle Obama proved she has the knack for romantic too. As for the show, a color blocked velvet cocktail dress was a true beauty. Having mentored under the great Alaïa, it's evident Theallet prefers fine design over frou and fluff.

Jason Wu for Tse
For Jason Wu, approaching his first collaboration with Tse was simple: use the opportunity as a Petri dish to explore your range as a designer. "It's untypically Wu," he admitted Tuesday afternoon as he showcased the fruits of his labor: 12 simply luxurious looks (for a total of 50 pieces) due out later this summer. It's not the first time Tse has collaborated with designers, but it is the first time in recent memory that the results were so memorable. Wu, for his part, turned to the work of artist Robert Ryman--best known for his monochromatic canvases--for creative inspiration, the results of which were sportswear but with a highly civilized twist and turn (witness the cashmere and canvas pieces). "There's a sense of minimalism about it all," said Wu. "There are no head-to-toe cashmere looks; I wanted to use other fabrics but incorporate cashmere and highlight it throughout." The results were a noticeably toned down collection compared to his namesake line--proving Wu's versatility as a designer. Hey, when you got it, you got it.