Style & Fashion

New York Fashion Week

New York Fashion Week Reviews: Alice and Olivia

The Daily Beast

February 18, 2016

The stage for Alice and Olivia’s presentation was a mocked-up set of artfully scarred cityscapes. This was apposite and atmospheric for label designer Stacey Bendet’s delightful takes on seventies rock music, and her overall intention to evoke the cultural cauldron of seventies downtown New York, “where rock and roll edge meets geek chic glamor.”

In order to fetishize this “bleak and dangerous, financially bankrupt but culturally rich metropolis” Bendet deployed mocked-up subway platforms, and racks of old Life magazines. There were even signs stuck to walls requesting help to find lost pets, but thankfully no discarded syringes.

The models too seemed not as grungy as some of those Downtown-ers of yesteryear may have been: I’m not sure those folks’ harem pants always swished so perfectly beneath cute vest-tops back in the day–but general aesthetic point taken.

Perched in scenic backdrops or on ladders and platforms models lounged, posed, and pouted, and would drift off to be replaced by other models.

A belted pink dress came with pussycat bow and camel, fur-trimmed jacket. A gold lame top also came with a red pussycat bow, a hat, and a slinky blazer.

There were long and short patterned dresses, gussied up with sparkle, hot pink and black flared jumpsuits; a long, leather-print jacket; a short dress with fur and thigh-high boots, and a classic rocker’s outfit of stacked heels, thin-striped trousers and thicker-striped jacket.

Next to that: a patterned long dress, with high slit topped with a floppy hat, and then a pair of embellished jeans with peach-colored silk top.

Bendet’s command of pattern and shape was exquisite, with dresses that were embroidered and embellished subtly and strikingly: the color palette, Bendet said, was inspired by the artist Frank Stella.

There was bold brocade on jackets, and a beautiful dress that was a kaleidoscopic riot of clashing shapes. A ruffled, long striped dress—in blue, yellow, and red—came with my favorite boots of the week thus far, heeled with red, blue, purple and yellow stripes. (You’d worry about them anywhere near a puddle, though.)

Bendet’s flower children are not completely lost in the moment—there is a sharpness and overt sexiness to them too. And oh, the soundtrack: standout was Bob Dylan’s “Mr. Tambourine Man.”

In one scene, a male model clad only in black boxer trunks was being sketched by an artist in a simple black dress (thoughtfully he eventually stood up for the audience to see). A pair of red and black shorts came with a similarly patterned boxy jacket and more thigh high boots.

The same boots even partnered floaty dress, with stars and planets and a red, black and white-striped jacket.

Bendet’s partnering of contrasting structures and shapes was again apparent in a short, patterned black dress, with thigh high boots (you sense there will never be enough boots for Bendet’s liking), and another floppy hat. The riot of patterns continued over long and short dresses, with a simple blue denim jacket over one of them.

Away from the minxiness was a lush pair of pink bell bottoms, with skinny maroon sweater, a long, richly detailed jacket over black trousers, and simple clay-colored T-shirt with maroon skirt. On some models demure heels replaced thigh-high boots, when partnered with a bead-encrusted mini-dress, or with a long patterned skirt and short, fur-trimmed jacket. The message: you could rock out, or peace out, or even both.

The music was so good you may have stayed longer than you intended. If you’d been around in the seventies and if you hadn’t been around in the seventies, this was still the coolest seventies disco you’d ever been to.