Oscar fashion: the best, the worst, the meh

Add me to the list of cranky-pants fashion critics who think the Oscars red carpet was as boring as ever last night. So few standouts, so few risk takers, so many ill-fitting strapless dresses. While this year's attendees deserve some props for being on trend (red, nude), only a few gowns made me put down my glass of rosé and Tweet words of praise (or vitrol). And so, here are the good, the bad, and the otherwise noteworthy.

Best Dress
Hands down, my favorite dress was Gwyneth Paltrow's Calvin Klein. It fit her like a glove, it was sparkly and glamorous yet interesting (a nod to the minimalism trend for spring), and to put it simply, she looked damn hot. Granted, I am a flag-waving GOOPer (yes, please, tell me more about your organic diaper delivery service and vegan juice cleanses, Gwynnie), but she nailed it.

Honorable Mention
Year after year, I complain about actresses not taking any risks, but I have to hand it to Cate Blanchett, in Givenchy Haute Couture. This dress was another crowd-divider, and, okay, maybe the front cutout was a bit odd, but this was by far the most interesting dress on the red carpet, and that's good enough for me.

Most Age Appropriate
When you are a woman d'un certain age, you want a dress with sleeves. Trust me. Kathryn Bigelow's YSL has them, but it also has mega-sexy cutouts at the shoulder (the one part of a woman's body that never ages/sags/gets fat) and a daring yet tasteful slit. She looked warm and comfortable and, most importantly, hot.

Best Hair
I'm going to refrain from commenting on Scarlett Johansson's Dolce & Gabbana dress and instead focus on her hair. I don't know who her mystery date was, but based on the sexy, disheveled look of her bob, I have an idea of what they were doing in the limo on the way over. Or at least her hair was meant to look like it. Regardless, win.
Best Dressed Man
I admit, I was pulling for Jesse Eisenberg to win best actor--having seen him in Roger Dodger nearly 10 years ago, I was glad to see his angsty-geek act reach its pinnacle in The Social Network. And while winner Colin Firth wore Tom Ford, Eisenberg played to his generation with a tux by Band of Outsiders. Slim young dudes with money to spend, take note: this is one good-looking suit (shaggy hipster hair optional).

Baywatch Award
Jennifer Lawrence is young and talented and looks like she actually eats on occasion-- all good things. She also has a smart stylist: Claire Danes and Emma Stone earned props for their brightly colored minimalist Calvin Klein gowns at the Golden Globes, so putting her in this bold red Calvin probably seemed like a no-brainer. Except for one thing: I saw this and instantly thought Baywatch. All that's missing is a buoy.

Dishonorable Mention
I wondered on Twitter whether any actresses would wear Dior, in light of the recent John Galliano situation; it turns out both Nicole Kidman and Sharon Stone, longtime Dior loyalists, did. Knowing how talented Galliano is, my inner optimist wanted his designs to triumph over his personal problems. Sadly, neither of these gowns are going to help his case.

Worst Dress
She may have dropped an F-bomb during her acceptance speech, but Melissa Leo's Marc Bouwer dress offended me even more. I have no idea what the intent was--vintage? futuristic?--but the execution was stiff, outdated, and just plain weird, kind of like if Liberace put a doily on top of a gold sequined tablecloth. Just yuck.

Boy Meets Girl Fall 2011

Where & When: Tuesday, February 15 at 7:00 p.m., Metropolitan Pavillion
Runway Recap: I arrived at the venue thinking I was attending the Daniel Vosovic show. After waiting in a huge line and hustling my way through the second press line, I found myself on the photo riser staring at a Boy Meets Girl logo at the other end of the runway...I ended up at the wrong show! Vosovic was somewhere upstairs in the complex, but clearly the entrance was not well marked. I decided to roll with it and shoot while I had this prime riser spot. The looks - designed by Stacy Igel - were very accessible, consisting of pieces I'm surprised I don't already have in my closet. Hoodies, t-shirts, shorts, and printed jersey tops, with the models sporting Polaroid sunglasses. (I snagged two pairs of promotional sunglasses that night, but when I try to read my iPhone screen through them they make me feel like I'm hallucinating.) Predominantly neutrals, with dashes of hot pink or red print. Snooping around the internet, I came across a modeling contest tied to the show, which explains why some of the girls were either awkward or unprofessional (smiling sheepishly at their friends in the audience). I guess in the end, models making crazy gestures at the end of the runway are more interesting than those that do nothing.
Standout Look: Giant fur cuffs adorning a couple of the hoodies, paired with gorgeous Boy Meets Girl emblem tights.
Bonus Points: Natasha Bedingfield opened with a song!

Where To Buy: Some Boy Meets World tote bags for sale here. Otherwise, their site doesn't have any other vendors listed.

Sample Sale of the Week: Tina Tang

There comes a point in a woman's life where she realizes that she can't keep buying costume jewelry at Forever 21. (Yes, this happened to me recently, after a ring I bought there left a suspicious green band around my middle finger.) When you are ready for an upgrade, I suggest starting out at Tina Tang, who makes lovely, organic-inspired trinkets. They're chic but accessible, and range from entry-level sterling silver pieces to more investment-worthy 14k and 18k gold. You can get a head start on your new collection at her one-day-only sample sale this Thursday, where you can find her baubles for 40%-70% off; many items are well under $100. (Bonus: pay cash and get an extra 5% off.) You won't miss any of your old mock-metal jewelry, trust me. 3/3; 11-7; 54 W. 21st St. (5th & 6th Aves.), room 1006.

TheFind Guest Post: Embrace Spring with Beautiful Embroidered Dresses From Judith March!

Other than the beautiful weather and longer sunny days, I look forward to the springtime for the excuse to wear pretty springy sundresses. While I was never much of a girlie-girl growing up, I've definitely come to embrace my figure with flirty frocks, especially when they put you in a good mood and you can't help but adopt that carefree, spring-festive feeling. Stephanie Nichols, creator and head designer of Judith March, knows all about the love for the perfect feminine spring dress, and her Spring 2011 collection is hard to resist. The collection of carefully embroidered mini dresses embraces the season head-on with fun, bright colors, festive florals, and other bold, cheery prints that are the perfect mix of romantic but casual and easy-to-wear. Though bohemian and vintage-inspired, the collection still has plenty of modern updates like asymmetrical necklines, bright patterns, and appliques that keep the looks fresh and unique. Wear with a contrasting cardigan to beat the pre-Spring chill and a pair of this season's ultra-high platform wedges and you've got yourself a cute go-to look to carry you from spring to summer!

- Alex Gambardella

Fall 2011 New York Fashion Week in Review: Top Trends

Bright Colors
Scarlet red and cobalt blue were especially popular, but everything from magenta to jade green brightened up the fall runways. (Tibi, below)

Some qualified as capes, some were more poncho-esque, but fall's top coats kept the arms under wraps. (Rebecca Minkoff, below)

Printed Pants
This trend might be the hardest sell, but many of the flowy, printed pants evoked maxi skirts while others looked cool layered under tunics.  (Rebecca Taylor, below)

Designers upped the sexy factor of fall's longer skirts with leg-baring slits on evening looks.  (Trias, below)

Tartan Plaid
A fall mainstay, reinvented in bolder colors and on a more oversized scale.  (Nicholas K, below)

Lady Bow-Ners
A nod to The Man Repeller: tie-neck blouses with a '70s YSL le smoking vibe.  (Yigal Azrouel, below)

Midcalf Skirts
Not the sexiest silhouette that comes to mind, but fall's styles were slim, fitted, and slightly slinky. (Nanette Lepore, below)

At this point, it can barely be called a trend anymore--it's clearly here to stay--but fur played a starring role in nearly every show I saw. (Son Jung Wan, below)

Fall 2011 New York Fashion Week in Review: Favorite Shows

In no particular order, here are my favorite shows of the season.

Chado Ralph Rucci
Slightly sexier—and more colorful—for fall, but as exquisitely made and luxurious as always.

 Tory Burch
One of the strongest points of view, with a polished, British-inspired take on the '70s trend and must-have palazzo pants. 

Yigal Azrouel
An abrupt silhouette change toward tailored pieces mixed with neon brights, completely well-executed and fresh. 

Rebecca Taylor
A pretty, wearable take on the '70s trend, complete with bright colors, soft textures and an all-around feminine look. 

Christian Siriano
A more restrained, grown-up collection designed to sell, sell, sell (and that's good news).

Nanette Lepore 
After days of exciting color, she made neutrals look irresistible again, with a pretty mixture of ethereal dresses and cozy knits.

Joy Cioci
A promising debut with interesting coats, sexy dresses, and a mix of textures for the modern girl.

Fall 2011 New York Fashion Week in Review: By the Numbers

Shows I attended: 34
Shows Mina attended: 5
Shows we didn't quite make it to: 28
Shows attended that we have yet to write reviews for: 8
Tent shows: 27
Off-site shows: 12
Presentations: 10
Shows with swag: 7
Percentage increase in swag from last season: +6%
Official Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week press bags received: 0
Free manicures received in the tents: 1
Free Maybelline products received in the tents: 1
Free Tres Semmé products received in the tents: 2
Parties attended: 3
Parties where food was served: 0
Minimum alcoholic beverages deemed necessary for shows 7 p.m. or later: 2
8 p.m. or later shows invited to in tents: 4
8 p.m. or later shows attended in tents: 0
Alcoholic beverages consumed in the tents: approximately 8
Alcoholic beverages consumed off-site: 0
Caffeinated beverages consumed in the tents: approximately 12 Diet Cokes
Probiotic yogurt beverages consumed in the tents: 0
Actual food available for consumption in tents: 0
Pounds gained/lost: -3
Day on which MW was diagnosed with strep throat: 6
Ailments caught: 0

Sample Sale of the Week: Barneys New York Warehouse Sale

The semi-annual Barneys New York Warehouse Sale started last week, and while I was too busy running around to fashion shows to report on it last week anyway, I always advise waiting until the second week to hit it. This is because when the sale first starts, prices aren't marked down any further than in the stores at the end of the season, so why subject yourself to the craziness of the warehouse sale when you can have fitting rooms and non-final sales? But sometime around Thursday of the second week, prices get marked down, and that, if you ask me, is the best time to go (unless you are patient and are skilled at finding needles in haystacks, in which case, go on the very last day, when the markdowns--and crowds--are insanity-inducing). For a preview of the event, Sample Sally and Racked NY have both been providing in-depth coverage; among this year's bombshells: the women's section has moved downstairs! I'm planning on a Thursday lunchtime trip; follow me on Twitter for the latest. Through 3/6; 10-9 weekdays, 10-7 weekends; 255 W. 17th St. (7th & 8th Aves.).

Nanette Lepore Fall 2011

When & Where: Wednesday, February 16 at 11 a.m., the Stage, Lincoln Center
Runway Recap: As happy as I've been to see so much color on the fall runways (especially after so many recession-borne seasons of black, gray, and white), there's a certain density and heaviness to fall colors. So when the first batch of creamy white and gray looks came down the runway at Nanette Lepore, I was ready for neutrals all over again. She layered cozy-looking sweaters with wispy chiffon dresses, and flounce hems on everything from skirts to jackets gave the collection a feminine feel. A series of teal tweed coats and beaded black velvet looks were more seasonal (and, one would argue, practical), but even these were done with a light hand and with a femininity that's sure to please Lepore devotees.
Standout Look: This was the first look in the show and it was totally indicative of the airiness I mentioned earlier. I love the combination of the handknit-looking cardigan and the pretty, silky maxi dress. It's romantic and lovely and a nice change of pace for fall.
Bonus Points: Nanette Lepore has awesome friends who all come to her show--so much so that I kind of want to be her friend too! This included Aida Turturro, John Slattery and his wife Talia Balsam, Lili Taylor, Kelly MacDonald, Kelly Rutherford, and Patricia Clarkson. Seriously, it was the best front row I saw all week (and, even better, I was sitting directly across from them).
Where to Buy: Click here for stores.

Yigal Azrouel Fall 2011

When & Where: Wednesday, February 16 at 9 a.m., the Studio, Lincoln Center
Runway Recap: Yigal Azrouel has built a strong following on his sexy little draped dresses, so at first I was a bit surprised by his fall collection, which leaned heavily on tailored, menswear-inspired pieces. But with each look that came out, I was won over by this major change in silhouette--Azrouel deftly mixed tailored jackets and coats in neutral colors with bright jade green, orange, cobalt blue, and hot pink. The combination was so unexpected, it was one of the most refreshing, modern ways of dressing that I saw all week.
Standout Look: Sorry for the bad picture--I ended up standing and did not have the best view--but this was one of my favorite examples of the overall look: a wool knit jacket, leather vest, mink infinity scarf, tuxedo shirt, and bright pink wool pants. Note to self: Go buy brightly colored pants ASAP.
Bonus Points: The attendance for 9 a.m. shows tend to be sparse, but every seat was taken--and the standing section was packed--at this show. It was also on Vanessa Hudgens' must-hit list, and indie darling Greta Gerwig was in the front row as well (and went virtually unnoticed by the paparazzi).
Where to Buy: Click here to find a store.

Tibi Fall 2011

When & Where: Tuesday, February 15 at 7 p.m., the Stage, Lincoln Center
Runway Recap: Tibi's show notes described the looks as a mixture of '90s minimalism and Rococo-inspired prints, two things that couldn't be more unalike. And yet, it worked. The show began with daytime looks, chiefly in black and gray but styled with neon pink accessories in kind of a cute, post-grunge way. Once the prints started popping up, the nighttime looks began entering the runway, with party-friendly frocks in glittery brocades and ornate prints. As someone who relies heavily on Tibi for my own nighttime wardrobe, I started making a virtual shopping list for next fall's events, day and night.
Standout Look: My favorite Tibi silhouette tends to be of the shift variety, but this look really caught my eye--a gold jacquard dress with a silk chiffon overlay at the bust. The shape is much more fitted, and the overlay gives it a sexy, boudoir-ish quality.
Bonus Points: Vanessa Hudgens and Olivia Palermo sat in the front row, and, amusingly, once I tweeted that, several Vanessa Hudgens auto-bots retweeted it. Ah, technology.
Where to Buy: Click here to find a store.

Badgley Mischka Fall 2011

When & Where: Tuesday, February 15 at 10 a.m., the Theatre, Lincoln Center
Runway Recap: The general m.o. for fashion shows is to start with daytime looks and transition into evening, ending with a showstopping gown or two. Badgley Mischka, who've never been short on glamour, put the daytime looks in the middle, instead starting and ending with their signature red-carpet looks. The fall collection carried a strong '20s Art Deco vibe with rich jewel tones, flapper-esque beaded fringe, and slim, pencil-skirted silhouettes. This is the second season in a row that they've done this, but Badgley Mischka mixed pieces from all three of their lines--collection, couture, and the contemporary Mark + James--throughout, and in spite of the price differences, all blended seamlessly together, reflecting a unity in vision.
Standout Look: This was my favorite dress, because it's somewhat of a departure for the duo. Yes, it's made for the red carpet, but it draws strongly from the flapper period instead of their usual Golden Hollywood era, but the detailing was exquisite, as always. I hope some smart star picks it for the Oscars in a few weeks.
Bonus Points: Kellie Pickler, Rumer Willis, and Kelly Osbourne sat in the front row.
Where to Buy: Click here for stores.

Chado Ralph Rucci Fall 2011

When & Where: Monday, February 14 at 6 p.m., Chado Ralph Rucci Atelier
Runway Recap: Of all the words I'd use to describe Chado Ralph Rucci--visionary, extraordinary, otherworldly--sexy is not the first to come to mind. However, on Rucci's Valentine's Day show, there was definitely a come-hitherness that pervaded the show, with a series of vivid scarlet-red looks bookending such usual Chado signature pieces as cutout jackets backed in horsehair, perfectly fitted little black jersey dresses, and the most beautiful fur coats you can imagine. There was a certain relaxed air to the collection--not necessarily in Rucci's technique, which was as precise and well-executed as always--but in its overall mood. It was intoxicating. I think everyone in the audience fell in love with Rucci a little bit more with each look; I was seated amongst his clients, one of whom charmingly predicted the prices of the pieces she loved, and another of whom was constantly on the verge of what I'll just call a When Harry Met Sally moment. The final look (below) garnered applause; Rucci himself received a well-earned standing ovation.
 Standout Looks: Because I have a hard time choosing between Rucci's luxe day and dramatic evening looks, I picked one of each. First, this feathered fox cardigan, which was the first to draw my seatmate's unique expression of approval, and which looks so soft and relaxed, I think I'd never take it off between the months of November and March. Second, the closing look, a quilted satin jacket with sculpted sleeves and a matching gown. It drew gasps of joy from most of the audience.
Bonus Points: I say this every season, but it's an honor just to be invited to this intimate presentation. The audience was a mixture of loyal clientele, celebrities (Whoopi Goldberg, Fran Leibowitz), and fashion legends (Iris Apfel, Carmen Dell'Orefice, Andre Leon Talley). No Martha Stewart this time but there's always next season...
Where to Buy: Bergdorf Goodman, Saks Fifth Avenue, and select Neiman Marcus stores.

Monique Lhuillier Fall 2011

When & Where: Monday, February 14 at 3 p.m., the Stage, Lincoln Center
Runway Recap: Monique Lhuillier may be best known for her wedding gowns, something usually associated with joy and prettiness, but when it comes to her runway shows, she tends to have a darker point of view--which, as someone who loves seeing the beauty in not-so-beautiful things, I find quite appealing. Of course, most everything that Lhuillier sent down the runway was still beautiful, albeit darker and more moody. The collection was heavy on black, with bits of cheetah print, nude, and brown to break it up; the only color present was a deep scarlet red, and used sparingly against all of those neutrals, it made quite an impact.
Standout Look: As this gown went down the runway, I was a bit worried about it falling off the model's shoulders, but as I got a closer look, I realized that was exactly the point--with slightly dangerous implications and a can't-take-your-eyes-off-it shade of red, this is a gown that's made to draw attention. Starlets, take note.
Bonus Points: Julia Stiles, Brittany Snow, and Ms. Jay Alexander (a.k.a. America's Next Top Model's Runway Diva Coach Extraordinare) were all front row. Also, it should be noted, my seat was right on the aisle at the end of the runway, a nice alternative to my usual crammed-in mid-row spot.
Where to Buy: Visit moniquelhuillier.com for stores.

Carlos Miele Fall 2011

When & Where: Monday, February 14 at 11 a.m., the Stage, Lincoln Center
Runway Recap: Maybe I've been reading too many fashion blogs, but I'm starting to think some designers must be getting inspired by them. Case in point: with so many hoods, capes, harem pants (and jumpsuits!), and ruching details evocative of, well, one's ladyflower, I couldn't help but think that Carlos Miele must be reading the Man Repeller. It was still sexy--Miele's shows always are--but the silhouette was much more voluminous and '80s-inspired than usual, from the aforementioned harem pants to paperbag-waist styling. Miele did, however, return to familiar territory with a series of bright gowns, many ruched, draped, and shirred to perfection.
Standout Look: This look bridged the gap between the '80s inspired looks in the first half of the show and the glam, socialite-friendly gowns of the second half. It also represents two of fall's major trends thus far: brights (cobalt blue has been especially popular) and thigh-high slits. That aside, I thought it was just plain sexy.
Bonus Points: It's always good to see a familiar face in the tents; at Carlos Miele, I sat with Adrianne, who I run into every season, and the always-dapper The Shophound, and we all traded Fashion Week war stories while waiting for the show to start.
Where to Buy: Carlos Miele boutique, 408 W. 14th Street (9th Ave. & Washington St.), Meatpacking District.

Jenny Packham Fall 2011

When & Where: Monday, February 14 at 9 a.m., the Studio, Lincoln Center
Runway Recap: Known primarily for her bridal designs in the U.S. (which can be found at the likes of Saks and Bergdorf's), Packham has also been appearing up on the red carpet for years; I tend to associate her with a sparkly yet romantic look. What she showed this morning, however, was all sex--not that I'm complaining. Inspired by a Marlene Dietrich quote ("Men cluster to me/Like moths around a flame..."), nearly everything was metallic--primarily silver and gold--from liquid lamé one-shoulder gowns to intricately beaded dresses over leggings. Many looks had spiderweb or moth-patterned motifs done in beading on silk chiffon or tulle, something that should in theory be heavy, but under Packham's hand, looked light and airy. So think of Packham's evening looks as the prequel to her wedding dresses--snag a man in one of these sexy looks, then wed him in something of hers as well.
Standout Look: Short, fun, sparkly...do I need any other reasons for choosing this one? Really, though, while the gowns were gorgeous--and should likely be hitting red carpets soon--the short cocktail dresses were what really got my blood pumping.
Bonus Points: In most runway shows, as soon as a model reaches the end of the runway (or sometimes halfway down), another model enters the runway; factor in the music and you'll understand why most fashion shows are no longer than 10 minutes. At Packham's show, there was only one model on the runway at a time, which made for a slightly slower pace but allowed me enough time to actually observe and take notes on each look, in addition to photographing it.
Where to Buy: Visit JennyPackham.com for store locations (note: only bridal is available in the U.S. at the moment).

Tory Burch Fall 2011

When & Where: Sunday, February 13 at 2:15 p.m., the Studio, Lincoln Center
Runway Recap: For fall, Tory Burch continued the jaunt through the '70s that she began for spring, but this time it was by way of merry old England, as evidenced by a rich mix of patterns, plaid, tweed, and velvet, sometimes all in one look. The collection was more polished and dressed up than last season, but everything still retained that eclectic, carefree vibe that Tory is known for. In silhouette news,  her skirts hovered between the knee and midcalf, and she showed multiple great pantsuit looks--fueling my hope that next fall will really mark the return of the trouser. After all, if anyone can bring pants back, it's Tory Burch.
Standout Look: I like a designer who takes a strong point of view, and what really made me take notice were several pairs of ultra-wide-leg pleated palazzo pants--some solid, some patterned, all very fluid and gorgeous. They almost look like maxi skirts while standing still, but in motion, they have a beautifully fluid movement. This particular look was my favorite instance of the pants--I like the casual jacket and the neck scarf, and, well, this just looks like something I'd wear.
Bonus Points: When I saw the superlong check-in line for this show, I thought, "Oh, no." But the presentation was actually quite innovative--it was a continuous loop of a runway show (it ran four times total; I was in the first group), and the audience could come or go as they wished (or as the security guards would allow). It was all the good parts of a runway show (like seeing the clothes in motion) with none of the bad parts (waiting 30 minutes for it to start, assigned seating). And after I dashed out to my next show, apparently I missed Kanye West.
Where to Buy: Find a boutique near you.

Fashion Week Quickies: Norman Ambrose, Joy Cioci, Kaelen, and Yoana Baraschi

Norman Ambrose
Presenting his debut collection at New York Fashion Week, Norman Ambrose has already earned comparisons to Geoffrey Beene and Norman Norell for his ladylike, well-constructed womenswear. I sensed a somewhat decadent vibe, with a '70s sportswear inspiration; the daytime looks, particularly the patterned sheath dress and belted fur-trim coat, seemed a bit more in tune with the times than his extravagant evening looks, one of which featured a totally sheer--and thus completely unwearable--chiffon blouse.

Joy Cioci
Formerly the designer of contemporary line Wink, Joy Cioci's promising New York Fashion Week debut played with textures, combining sheer layers with ruffled jackets, fur vests, and blousy sleeves. While the parts weren't exactly new, her way of putting them together was, and the result was a series of covetable head-to-toe looks.

Designer Kaelen Farncombe moved her minimalist aesthetic forward from spring with a True Grit–esque presentation, complete with a mechanical bull. The beautifully stark grays were still present, but she spruced things up with a little lime green, teal, and even tomato red. Especially appealing: the cozy-looking knits and languid maxi dresses.

Yoana Baraschi
Bizarre program notes aside ("an emotional journey through Virtualand"), Yoana Baraschi interpreted flora and fauna through a high-tech lens, creating things like a digital-print floral sheath dress and a shift with a snake wrapping around the front. It definitely bridged a gap between nature and technology; I found the more subtle experiments, such as a textured trench coat and strong-shouldered sheath dress, the most appealing.

Lela Rose Fall 2011

When & Where: Sunday, February 13 at 11 a.m., the Studio, Lincoln Center
Runway Recap: At a Lela Rose show, one can expect several things: ladylike day dresses, chic cocktail sheaths, and glamorous evening looks. The question is in what way she'll present all of this, but undoubtedly, it will all be feminine and pretty. This season, Rose was inspired by contemporary artist Gerhard Richter, who's known for hazy, obscured images, and the result was a layered effect, with soft edges, dip-dyed prints and veil-like layers of sheer fabrics. Rose's famed sheath dresses were present, of course, but they and the daytime separates were enhanced with beautiful folds and draping, both of which added to the overall veiled theme. The effect throughout was soft and beautiful, and judging by the packed audience's reaction, sure to please die-hard Lela Rose clients.
Standout Look: The series of evening dresses at the end were all stunning, but this was my favorite, an ombré silk dress brushed with silver to create an iridescent effect. It looked ethereal, and the fit was impeccable.
Bonus Points: Lela Rose always has great gift bags; today's were filled with useful items like Commando underwear, Stila tinted moisturizer, and homemade cookies!
Where to Buy: Visit lelarose.com for retailers.

Pierre-Henri Mattout Fall 2011

Where & When: Sunday, February 13 at 3:30-5:00 p.m., 70 Thomas St.
Presentation Recap: The presentation ended a bit early, so by the time I arrived the models were enjoying a glass of wine. This was probably for the best; I didn't notice any special lighting or production in the room so I assume the models were simply standing still in a row the entire time. Mattout's fall line is dressy-casual - sweaters and pants with piping detail, a corduroy blazer, a houndstooth suit and casual vests layered in. Colors were mostly charcoal grey with few variations.
Standout Look: The most notable piece was a bright red jacket with light grey material sewn into the back of the collar (above).
Bonus Points: Zany French models making photobombing faces for my photos (see above and below, and no they are not the same guy). I don't think this is a common phenomenon so it made me pretty happy.

Official Website: Browse HPM's collections further here.

G-Star Raw Fall 2011

When & Where: Saturday, February 12 at 7 p.m., the Theatre, Lincoln Center
Runway Recap: There is regular denim, and then there is G-Star Raw. Knowing this show tends to draw notice for its front row (see below) more than anything else, I was a bit skeptical going in. However, the combined men's and women's runway show carried a strong military theme throughout, combining tweeds and utility details with innovative denim treatments and construction. Many of the women's jeans were slouchy, in a slightly androgynous way, and while there were several skirts and dresses in the collection, they were designed with functionality in mind. It was all very tough and utilitarian, and with a strong point of view, which, with so many denim labels out there, is key to standing out from the pack.
Standout Look: This was my favorite example of the show's overall look: a rough (or Raw, if you will) patchwork-like blazer with extra-slouchy denim pants. It looks vintage and modern at the same time, and it's something that could work for either gender.
Bonus Points: There were so many celebrities in the front row, I didn't notice them all until halfway through the show: Rosario Dawson, Jared Leto, Mena Suvari, Yaya DaCosta, Frederique Van Der Wal, Elsa Pataky, Alan Cumming, and half the cast of MTV's Skins.
Where to Buy: Click here for stores.

Vivienne Tam Fall 2011

When & Where: Saturday, February 12 at 3 p.m., the Theatre, Lincoln Center
Runway Recap: This was my first-ever invite to Vivienne Tam's show, which, after years covering Fashion Week, still manages to excite me (and even better--when I have an assigned seat, which now happens more often than not). For fall, Tam was inspired by the Kun Opera in China, which is known for elaborate, dramatic costumes. This translated into very strong, almost warrior-inspired suits in tweed with broad shoulders and intricate finishes. There were great glittery dresses, dragon motifs, and intricate guipure lace overlays, but the daytime looks, wearable yet exciting, made the most lasting impression on me.
Standout Look: This look is so refined, but I think it conveys the theme of the collection so well. The cropped vest evokes a pagoda with its shoulder detail, and the cropped trousers had a subtle tonal applique. It shows that one's clothes don't always have to shout to get the point across.
Bonus Points: It's somewhat sad that this is even worthy of bonus points, but Tam had the most diverse lineup of models I've seen yet this week--not just Asian, but with darker-skinned girls too.
Where to Buy: Click here for store locations.