Cue the choirs of angels: New York Fashion Week has ground momentarily to a halt. Until September rolls around, a look back at the 24 ethical designers who made the undereye bags and blistered feet worthwhile. Have a favorite? Vote in our poll below!
"Safari Punk," the label's Fall/Winter 2012 women's collection, puts the EDUN girl on a safari in—where else?—Africa, according to designer Sharon Wauchob, who wanted to pair the brand's African roots with a punk-rock aesthetic. Abstract silk prints, which flash hints of zebra and leopard, were originally photographs of the Serengeti that Wauchob scaled and manipulated beyond recognition. "I wanted to give it a youthful energy of a girl just back from a holiday," Wauchob tells Ecouterre backstage.
ORGANIC BY JOHN PATRICK
John Patrick of Organic doesn't usually identify his collections with one specific moment or image. He credits his Fall/Winter 2012 collection, however, to the work of 19th century British photographer Julia Margaret Cameron, in particular "A Beautiful Vision, Julia Duckworth," a carbon print of Cameron's niece and goddaughter and the future mother of author Virginia Woolf. The lineup of voluminous wool-herringbone watchcoats, digitally printed silk dresses, biodegradable cupro quilted vests, hand-loomed cashmere jumpers, and double-faced vegetable-tanned leather-on-leather ensembles shows Patrick at top form.
Borrowing cues from William Golding's Lord of the Flies and 2004 film The Life Aquatic, a href="http://www.ecouterre.com/john-bartlett-hits-the-docks-at-fall-2012-new-york-fashion-week/">John Bartlett's "future-rustic" lineup offers a mix of streamlined silhouettes and unfettered masculinity. The overall effect is one of outdoorsy, all-American appeal, with sailor stripes, lumberjack plaids, and refashioned Hudson's Bay point blankets coalescing into the first cruelty-free menswear collection to show at Fashion Week.
Gretchen Jones is in a dark place, both figuratively and literally. There's the cavernous, dimly lit interior of Root Drive-In in Chelsea, for one. But the Season 8 Project Runway winner is also mourning the recent loss of her father, Robert, whom Jones credits for shaping the woman she is today. Holding court on the periphery of a charcoal-drawn medicine wheel, the models bathe in light and shadow as if suspended between planes of existence. Jones's Southwestern roots run deep, from the basket-weave textures to the digital ikat prints, the entirety of which is produced in the United States.
The GreenShows marks its triumphant return to New York Fashion Week in the most prestigious addresses in town: The "tents" at Lincoln Center.
Despite earmarking it for fall, you won’t find a lick of wool in Leanne Marshall’s lineup; organza, chiffon, duchess satin, bamboo, shantung, and charmeuse have complete dominion, whether permeated with saturated color or dip-dyed to create a subtle ombre effect. The latter stems from satellite pictures of Greenland’s vast yet fragmented glaciers, a vision of bone-white ice melting into crystal blue water. “I loved the deep blues fading into the white,” she explains.
Who would have pegged two burly, bearded men in matching lumberjack shirts and suspenders as champions of femininity and womanhood? The world works in wonderful, mysterious ways, as do newlyweds Robert Costello and Jeffery Tagliapietra. Decked in abstract chrysanthemum prints and complementary solids, the parade of frocks (and one mustard trench coat) swished down the runway in a technicolor explosion of amethyst, cobalt, and coral hues, courtesy of AirDye's water-saving digital printing technology.
The Stage at Lincoln Center is stuffed to the rafters, but Mara Hoffman is doing more than presenting clothes. She's also using the occasion to debut her limited-edition collaboration with Proper Attire, a line of condoms clad in her signature eye-watering prints. Safer sex, it seems, has never been so chic, but neither have South American "shaman cowboys," whom Hoffman credits as her inspiration for her eclectic lineup of intarsia knits, chiffon gowns, and fitted mini-dresses with strategically positioned cutouts.
Shove a ruby-slippered Dorothy Gale into a time machine, direct her to Studio 54 at the height of its hedonism with a pit stop in 1960s Carnaby Street and, with a little bit of luck, you might end up with Libertine's Fall/Winter 2012 show. The lineup of vintage threads, retooled by L.A. designer Johnson Hartig into punk-edge designs for men and women, beams with a mischievous exuberance, a giddy procession of mother-of-pearl-studded biker jackets, Muppet-pelt boas, and metallic paillettes that throb like miniature disco balls under the house lights.
Samantha Pleet is noticeably hat-less but her models are all sporting wide, crown-less brims of burnished gold, looking like a cross between the haloed Madonnas of Renaissance art and a jejune Leslie Caron from the first act of Gigi. Her fall lineup, Pleet tells us later, is a “revival of Romanticism,” the artistic, literary, and intellectual movement that began as a backlash against the industrial revolution. It’s her way of fending off the harsh realities other people view as inevitable, she says; a candle held out in the darkness.
There's nothing wayward about <a href="">Lauren Moffatt's "School for Wayward Girls," which is in session for one day only at New York Fashion Week. No detail was spared, from the makeshift classrooms at St. Patrick's Old Cathedral School on Mott Street to the kaleidoscopic chevron prints and Peter Pan collars on the rapt students. Moffat, who produces her line entirely in New York's Garment District, infused her Fall/Winter 2012 collection with the "undone feel of the schoolgirl with just a touch of mischievousness," she tells Ecouterre.
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Burgundy, umber, burnt sienna, and other foliage-friendly neutrals aren't the sacred cows of fall fashion you might imagine. Marcia Patmos of M. Patmos could probably never resist a nice camel—who could?—but the knitwear designer isn't above a visual one-two punch of fuschia and scarlet for her Fall/Winter 2012 collection, either.
VPL BY VICTORIA BARTLETT
Against the stark white walls of Pier 59, VPL's procession of color-blocked skin tones, accented by splashes of turmeric, plum, and jet, offers a palate cleanser from the week's visual cacophony. But neutral doesn't have to mean boring. Gauzy toga tops, marled bouclé sweaters, VPL's signature patchwork pleather leggings, and a crocheted mini-hoopskirt—all made in the U.S. of A.—keep our eyes riveted to the catwalk.
If Titania Inglis's New York Fashion Week debut brings to mind a grown-up Angela Chase—the career-defining role Claire Danes played on My So-Called Life from 1994 to 1995—you wouldn't be far off the mark. The Brooklyn designer, who received the 2012 Ecco Domani Fashion Foundation Award for Sustainable Design, considers the teen drama series a "cultural touchstone." And indeed, the '90s are alive and well at the Eyebeam Art + Technology Center in midtown Manhattan, where Inglis dispatched crisp cut-outs, vertiginous angles, sheer fabrics, and enough plaid flannel to bring Kurt Cobain back from the dead.
Fronted by husband-and-wife team Sarah and Victor Lytvinenki, Raleigh Denim offers a mix of classic denims, button-down chambrays, wax blazers, pleated skirts, and Japanese twill dresses. Until manufacturing shifted overseas, the Tar Heel State used to be the mainstay of American denim. Today, Raleigh's nine-person team makes it its mission to resurrect a fallow industry, one handcrafted jean at a time.