That said, there are lots of very good designers still showing there, among the madness and badness. These are some of my top picks (not necessarily ‘top,’ but rather most interesting):
1) Calvin Klein
I find I can never disagree with well-done minimalism. I mean, it is like a less exciting Jil Sander to an extent, but I still like it.
Rodarte was a touch disappointing this season… the techniques were still extraordinary, and obviously an enormous amount of work went into the collection, but it lacked the ‘wow factor’ of previous seasons somehow. Rodarte is at that point now where critics are starting to wonder if there is any viable brand that could emerge, with options that appeal to more than a tiny, adventurous set of consumers, or if they’ll be able to continue doing these very high-level, small scale ‘artisanal’ collections. Lynn Yaeger for New York Magazine said “it is hard to know how seriously to take the Mulleavy sisters’ clothes, with their sky-high price tags and the insane enthusiasm they elicit from the fashion flock, who would never approve of half these ideas if they saw them at a student presentation”. Her writing is really good actually - more here.
It was a shame that Joseph Altuzarra abandoned the interesting new direction he set last season (a light, airy 70s look, which still showcased his trademark sharp cuts and classy sex appeal), and instead went for an unoriginal vampy aesthetic, with a black, red and nude colour pallet. The black coloured part of the show looked well executed and well cut, but you don’t need a degree in fashion criticism to see that most of the red velvet at the end just looked… bad, and rather cheap. Altuzarra is a very accomplished young designer, and I think he could have done a lot better.
4) Oscar de la Renta
What else but Upper East Side chic from Oscar de la Renta? De la Renta was bold with colour this season, which was refreshing to see, and the gamble nearly always paid off (at times it got a bit Carrie Bradshaw, in a not so good way). His show is always one of my New York favourites just because it is so New York, and always has such old-school elegance. I see that Agyness Deyn was back on the runway, despite having made much of ‘retiring’ from modelling last year. I do love her, but not so much with the black bowl-cut...
5) Alexander Wang
Suffice to say I am not exactly enchanted by Alexander Wang yet; Alice Dellal, Pixie Geldof (why oh why) and Henry Holland all pouting away in the front row tells you all you need to know really. I can’t find much to like about this collection, but I’m sure my view is prejudiced and those who are into Wang (who are very numerous) can probably see something more than empty trendiness. I think Prada may be the only designer who can make bright red velvet look acceptable, while that camel coloured coat-cape was I suppose like the trendy cousin of Phoebe Philo’s similar, but luxe, version for Celine resort 2010.
6) Marc Jacobs
Marc Jacobs’ collection was simple, but deceptively so, and stylish in a slightly offbeat way. Skirts were all knee-length or longer… at times it was the sexy librarian, then it would get a bit folksy, then there would be lashings of fur…It was actually all rather awkward looking, but that’s what made it work oddly. Jacobs played it safe this season, and came up with a strong, subtly stylish collection.
7) Helmut Lang
I do love a bit of Helmut Lang… I know the brand is no longer at the forefront of cutting-edge fashion these days, but I can never resist a minimal aesthetic in dark colours with ‘architectural’ construction. As in previous seasons, there were strong prints too.
8) Victoria Beckham
I have to say, I am consistently impressed by Victoria Beckham’s collections, and I love how she holds small presentations and is on hand herself talking the editors through each outfit (not that I was there or anything!). She is the only celebrity turned designer I’m prepared to take seriously, partly because it sounds like she has a genuine passion for it, and it’s not just a money spinner/time filler for her. This season she experimented with draping, and there were more day wear options.
9) Patrik Ervell
Patrik Ervell is usually the strongest of the NY men’s collections, and this season was no exception. Everything he does always has a real lightness and fluidity to it… really liked this collection.
Marios Schwab did not disappoint with his first collection at Halston, which was cool, quite edgy, and sophisticated. I think Schwab is a really good choice for Halston: the perfect designer to inject some energy into their characteristic 70s-luxe aesthetic.
11) Michael Kors
Michael Kors’ FW10 collection was fun: part hot mess (vest and bikini bottoms under fur; gold; metallic silver puffer jackets), part great tailoring (in desert khakis), one hundred percent luxurious, this collection was not the most, ahem, tasteful, but I liked it. It's always hard to resist a collection which features what looked to be a chinchilla skirt...
12) Narciso Rodriguez
Narciso Rodriguez showed a strong, minimal collection, with a slightly futuristic (or, rather, 60s-futuristic) theme, which I really liked.
13) Alexandre Herchcovitch
I was impressed by Alexandre Herchcovitch’s collection with its U.S.S.R theme, apparently inspired by Georgian cinema. Themes, particularly regional fashion themes, are always prone to ending in kitsch disaster, but Herchcovitch handled it so gently the collection came through looking very cool and stylish.
The Threeasfour collection, part fantasy, part futuristic, was rather fantastic. Some of the techniques looked very impressive.
15) Jeremy Scott
It is not 2007 any more, and I feel like Castelbajac has done it all before, but I do still have a soft spot for Jeremy Scott’s bright, flashy aesthetic. This collection was fun.
16) Vera Wang
Dark elegance at Vera Wang…I liked this collection.
Stunning evening dresses from Marchesa. I know we’re *meant* to be a bit sniffy about Marchesa, for being rather flashy and for supplying Coleen Rooney with her £100k wedding dress, but the construction and everything always amazes me.
18) Proenza Schouler
Proenza Schouler's fall/winter 2010 collection was really good. At first glance it did not seem as exciting as some of their previous collections, but it has grown on me, and it’s one of the top collections from New York this time, I think. I loved the prints, and it all felt very stylish and modern and relevant.
What have you liked/disliked from New York?