Nicholas K & Tadashi Shoji Spring 2012

Why am I putting Nicholas K and Tadashi Shoji together in one post? The long answer is that they pretty much run the gamut of what's shown during New York Fashion Week: Nicholas K makes grungy, casual, yet totally wearable and accessible sportswear while Tadashi Shoji makes equally accessible yet much fancier gowns for special occasions. The short answer is that these were the only two shows I went to on Thursday, the official start of Fashion Week. Aren't you glad you asked?

Nicholas K's layering-heavy look may be slightly formulaic, but its grunge ethos seems more aligned to fall/winter, so it's always interesting to see how they interpret their signature elements for warmer weather. In this case, it was lighter colors--ivory and cream, but also a dusty teal, a sea green, and even some tie-dyed indigo pieces. Transparency factored into the layers, making it all seem light in spite of the multiple components. Nicholas K's girl might put the plaid and leather away for the season, but her draped duster jackets and granny dresses are alive and well--albeit in more airy, diaphanous fabrics.

And while Nicholas K's slightly tomboyish customer is likely tuning her bass or challenging her cute downstairs neighbor to a game of pool at a bar somewhere in Williamsburg, Tadashi Shoji's is probably, at this moment, stepping out of her party dress, putting a piece of wedding cake under her pillow, and dreaming of the man she's going to marry. His ├╝ber-feminine collection was inspired by tulips, which translated into lovely hand-painted fabrics, many with unexpectedly modern striped motifs, and petal-like details. Many styles featured widely flattering asymmetrical necklines; several of the tiered and blouson looks, however, only look good on models (and in the case of the blouson styles, even that is debatable). With embroidered lace, tulle, and silk chiffon throughout, it was all very light and dreamy and romantic--nothing like real-life romance for most of us, but that's the fantasy Tadashi Shoji is selling, and I think a lot of women out there will be buying it.

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