Style & Fashion

New York Fashion Week

New York Fashion Week show reviews: Rachel Zoe and DVF go disco

The Daily Beast

February 15, 2016

Rachel Zoe

Two seemingly straight male photographers were chatting as Rachel Zoe’s presentation was winding down Sunday.

“Pretty girls, huh?” one said of the models they had been snapping.

“Fashion Week always makes me so horny,” said the other, laughing. It didn’t sound as creepy as it maybe reads; in fact they both went a little quiet afterwards.

Horniness seemed like a luxury concept at the beginning of the show, when fashion’s finest were made to queue, Disneyland-style, for entry into Zoe’s show.

The theory, as explained to the restless fashion folk—who like to wait even less than they like to be photographed in last season’s tapered trousers—was that they were going to ferry people out, so we could see the presentation of Zoe’s designs “fresh.”

But the last batch of people didn’t leave.

So, entering the show imagine a fashion pile-up—a similar crazy vibe as Zoe’s last NYFW show. Ruffled collars at dawn. Glittery sneakers being stepped on by the sharpest stilettos.

The other slight issue was the photographers. Their horniness was neither a problem or benefit.

We and they were all vying for the same space to see the models wearing Zoe’s clothes. Gone was a dedicated area for the snappers: we were all roaming and getting in each other’s way.

This was a ‘presentation’ that was also a scrum, its own (very fun, actually) fashion frenzy, where one false move could see the unfortunate fashionista felled by a photographer’s (horny) lens.

No-one wanted to be fashion roadkill, but there were also invisible cordons sanitaire being set up by zealous security guards around Zoe and her entourage.

The only thing to do was dive in, try to work around the madness around Zoe and her husband Rodger, and former Miss USA Olivia Culpo and the ever-present other ubiquitous Olivia (Palermo)—and hope for the best.

This paid dividends: Zoe’s brilliant, dramatic collection was its own successful collision, and slightly less messy than the one unfolding in the room.

The collection married hippy and sharp, vintage and contemporary—a perfect encapsulation of Zoe’s design sweet spot.

The designs, Zoe’s press notes said, was “inspired by the glamor of the 1930s and the deviance of the 1990s,” embracing both Marlene Dietrich’s confidence and sexiness and the “iconic supermodels of the 1990s.”

The 1970s seemed to be making its presence felt too, with Zoe designing an impressive series of shimmering, and wittily gussied-up gowns and trouser and lounge suits featuring clashing designs and materials including silk, velvet, lace, and pearls.

One of the memorable trouser suits came in soft black leather, the trousers flared, while Culpo looked stunning in long white coat over flared white trousers and white chemise.

White also found itself the signature of a lovely snowball of a furry, feathery coat, and a deliciously warm-looking lounging sweater, with pearls sewn on to it.

A slim white blazer was paired with a shredded-silver dress; a boxier white blazer, buttoned at its top, came atop a tiered white long dress.

Darker colors bought drama: Zoe likes jackets cut tight in a traditional shape, then cut away from being straight as the garment heads towards the knee.

Another gorgeous coat—longer, with black and grey stripes—was both glamorous and casual.

The glitter and shimmer came in dresses long and short, some sleeved, others with spaghetti straps. A longer flared silver trouser suit was cut severely in a V-shape across the chest, and felt like it had beamed directly in from Studio 54.

A blouse and flared trousers in black and gold silk also shot us back decades, although a woolen coat using the same colors, although in muddled and clever grid design, felt utterly of the moment. A tight black coat, cut again in and out to the knee, overlaid a filmy long black skirt.

Breaking away from disco, a leather jacket came with seams bursting with white fur, and there was a gorgeous burgundy, yellow and swirly patterned longer coat—next to it a tight long dress with a black base color, and more swirliness all over it.

If not Studio 54, this felt more a nod to the world of legendary sixties design house Biba. Zoe’s accomplished collection moved as fluidly between day and night, as it did between decades.

The mood in the room, with little children also running about, was so vibrant, the crush of people soon found the best way round each other.

Wherever Zoe walked, a circle of admirers surrounded her, like its very own moving spotlight. It may not have made you horny, but the hullabaloo certainly raised a smile.



More disco, so much disco, awaited attendees at Diane von Furstenberg’s HQ in the Meatpacking District.

And this was another ‘presentation,’ so no runway, but a series of areas, with models popping in and out of view from closed doors, halls of mirrors, and a mock-up of an office.

Von Furstenberg (disclosure: the designer is married to Barry Diller, who is Chairman of IAC, the parent company of The Daily Beast) had called the collection ‘Love Power.’ It was, she said inspired by the movement of dancing, its wearer “graceful and strong, empowered by love.”

Von Furstenberg, as other designers are doing this season, has made some of the dresses immediately available—no waiting till the autumn. The economics of fashion don’t respect the traditional nine-month wait between show and sell.

Upstairs was disco central: von Furstenberg sat on a lips-shaped sofa, surrounded by supermodels involved in a dance-and sing-off, including Kendall Jenner, Gigi Hadid, Karlie Kloss, Jourdan Dunn, Lily Aldridge, and Irina Shayk.

It was quite the performance, made all the cheerier by the copious champagne.

A thrilled audience watched the models—”Is that Irina?”—serenade von Furstenberg herself, who when this correspondent alighted upon the scene was joyously mouthing the words to ‘We Are Family,’ culminating in her throwing flowers into the audience. Morrissey had nothing on her.

On the ground floor, the redoubtable New York Times photographer Bill Cunningham was catching the prettiest guests as they descended the staircase.

The clothes matched the mood: if von Furstenberg will be forever known for the wrap dress, it was present here too, updated, redesigned, and as assertively sexy as ever.

Appearing from in and out of doors the models came in black (a long shirt-dress, flared trousers, a short jacket, tight patterned jersey, cute hat, a spaghetti strap dress with slashes of white). A short blue patterned dress came with high black boots, a gorgeous short patterned jersey dress with ankle boots.

Layering, clever styling (chiffon embroidered in metallic jacquard) and witty clashing played their parts too, as with a black patterned short dress, featuring a warm-looking striped coat draped over the shoulders. There was custom dyeing, hand beading, bustier tops, and leather skirts.

In the hall of mirrors the boho-styled models were weaving in and out in dresses of indigo, blue and aqua stripes (a variation also came in black and grey), with black leather jacket furnished with a rust-red fur stole. A purple patterned shirt was partnered with a grey jersey, and black lounge pants.

In the DVF ‘office space’ were sharper silhouettes—short trousers, short skirts, and tight leather jackets—while in two more halls of mirrors darting models wore ensembles with the best kinds of material and color clashes: sleeved dresses with geometric designs; brown suede skirts and boots; a peasant dress that was both fitted and flowing; and a light brown and blue woolen skirt paired with a chiffon blouse.

The supermodels serenading von Furstenberg had, of course, the most gorgeous disco-era tribute dresses: in red glitter, gold glitter, sheer black pantsuit, black and white short evening dress, and a black and gold halterneck.

Impressively, the songs and dancing didn’t slow—and it was a nice touch to have two handsome waiters with trays standing sentry. Every disco night at home should have them.

Another unexpected treat was seeing Cunningham in his natural habitat, in blue anorak, darting here and there, to get the best pictures of the party guests.

Outside were hordes of onlookers and paparazzi: a jostling, chaotic Fashion Week scene utterly in keeping with the ‘happening’ happening inside.

Somewhere, hopefully, Warhol, Halston, and Elizabeth Taylor were watching and smiling.