Biker Chick Leather and '60s Futurism: Highlights From New York Fashion Week

Biker Chick Leather and '60s Futurism: Highlights From New York Fashion Week
From left: Looks from Rodarte, Marc Jacobs, and Wes Gordon's Spring/Summer 2013 Collections.
((l-r) Fernanda Calfat/Peter Michael Dills/Earl Gibson III/Getty Images)

Well, we’re off. The month-long marathon of international runway romps during which we’ll decide what to wear, and what kind of women we might want to be, next spring has begun. So what did we learn after nine days of fashion shows in New York? It would seem that spring may conjure the rebellious biker chick within. Leather was the material of choice for everyone from newcomer Marissa Web (the former design director at J. Crew), whose best leather look came in a form of a black skirt trimmed in tulle, to Rodarte, whose fringed leather jackets and vests, which balanced out strong, urban goddess silhouettes and digital coral and botanical prints, will without a doubt end up being some of the most coveted items of the season. Proenza Schouler showed structured leather zip front dresses, skirts, and jackets in shades like high-gloss red and neon, often working python into their sharp visions.

Jason Wu also jumped on the bad girl bandwagon with leather pants, bras, and flirty lace-trimmed skirts and dresses en cuir, as well as some subtle but suggestive harness accents. But the designer picked up on another emerging trend with his sheer peekaboo detailing. Yes, judging by Wu’s lace panels and skirts that revealed glimpses of what lies beneath, newcomer Wes Gordon’s eyelash chiffon pants (which were lined with a pair of black shorts for modesty), and Calvin Klein’s see-through new age pinup girls, it appears that sheer is here to stay.

Sixties futurism also reared its head. Thom Browne’s collection of sculpted gray and Easter-plaid looks may have had Bauhaus roots, but his silhouettes and palette had a decidedly Jetson vibe. Surprise, surprise – Marc Jacobs worked the trend best with his Edie Sedgwick inspired collection. His spring looks – like optical illusion black and white column gowns, some of whose skirts were shredded into paneled fringe, demure skirts paired with belly-baring tops, and striped everything – were simple and sophisticated, and felt incredibly fresh, particularly after his extravagant outing for fall.

Some designers peered into the actual future, rather than vintage fantasies about the Space Age, through their collections. Diane Von Furstenberg sent her spring girls down the runway wearing high-tech Google glasses, which filmed the show from the models’ perspective. (A short film created via said Google specs allows the viewer to see DVF’s show through the eyes of the designer, stylists, and models. It is available for view on YouTube now.) Mandy Coon also had a techno-edge to her collection, translating digital music files into prints and leather cut outs. It should also be mentioned that the up-and-comer’s collection, with it’s constructed blossoming leather bustiers, marked a pivotal point of maturity for the designer.

But Coon wasn’t the only downtown darling who seemed to have evolved this season. Joseph Altuzarra’s spring offering, which fused baroque extravagance with work wear elements like denim, engineer-stripe jackets, and skirts, was arguably his best collection to date. And then, of course, there was the inaugural Parsons MFA show, which presented a visual feast of young designers’ beautifully constructed, high concept clothes. Although less high-tech than Von Furstenberg’s show, the Parsons production also gave us a glimpse into the future. These 18 graduates showed us what the next generation of New York designers has to offer. After the show – which counted Central Saint Martins’ Louise Wilson, Donna Karan, and Fern Mallis amongst it’s front row guests – the grads came out clapping and smiling like excited little kids. But from the looks of their collections, it was clear that these designers are all grown up. 

Click on the slide show to see spring/summer 2013 looks from New York York Fashion Week.  

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