The Oscars make an appearance on New York’s Fall runway

By Marriam M Mossalli

This season, it seems we’re not the only ones with the golden statuette on our minds — designers at New York’s Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week also appeared to have Oscar fever, and consequently, extracted design inspiration from these acclaimed productions.
Thankfully for us, these praiseworthy films produced equally as praiseworthy looks. With designers using Hollywood’s performers as their muses, this year’s fall wardrobe borrows from the Studios. The result is a return of pure Americana fashion that is reminiscent of Ralph Lauren circa 1983-1984 and at times satirically referential to “My Little House on the Prairie.”
From blockbuster hits, True Grit, to critically acclaimed surprises, Winter’s Bone, this year’s trends of New York Fashion Week provided a visual journey through the respective sets of late 1800s Fort Smith, Arkansas to a blue-collar town nestled in the Ozarks of southwestern Missouri.

Ponchos, blanket coats and frontier dresses made this year’s Fashion Week cozy with American nostalgia. By far the most recurring trend on the runway, the Country Girl was a revisited muse, from Y-3’s “pioneering” twist on plaid skirts to Chris Benz’s simple, sleeveless, dolman-shaped, plaid creation.
Rodarte channeled the young heroin of True Grit, as the designers, Kate and Laura Mulleavy, presented a romantic interpretation with prairie coats and Western boots, which although heavy in theme, were still whimsical and feminine enough to covet right off the runway. Coincidentally, this rural look mimics the overwhelming “Amish minimalism” seen at Men’s Fashion Week just a month before.

The strong, empowered woman is what this season is all about! Menswear-inspired looks have long been a trend classic — from YSL and Dior to Chanel. Although it’s difficult to take your eyes off Dior’s sultry Marion Cotillard in the psychological thriller, Inception, the men’s wardrobe must be praised for their Tom Ford-polished worthy looks. The dapper suits were repeated on the runway, starting with Tommy Hilfiger’s modern interpretation of a classic to many others following “suit.” While conservative and sophisticated, Prabal Gurung’s ultra-flattering gray trench is also alluring with a sensual silhouette that isn’t hidden underneath the fine wool, but rather celebrated!

Fur strutted down the runways in all forms this season — from minimal collars and cuff accents to full-fledged parkas. Helena Bonham Carter, who plays the role of Queen Elizabeth in this year’s leading Oscar film, The King’s Speech, does so, both exquisitely and fashionably. Her wardrobe may be envy inducing with its perfectly draped fabrics and flawlessly cut, but its Her Majesty’s luxurious furs that makes her thrown so coveted.
Caroline Herrera and Michael Kors reintroduce a regal sophistication into the fur coat. Once again,  wearing one feels like a deserved indulgence, rather than a guilty pleasure that will place you under PETA’s red-paint throwing scorn. These classic pieces are life-long investments and every lady of any statue needs to own this piece of pure decadence.

Ken Downing, the fashion director of Neiman Marcus, stated that certain collections presented were “steeped in a sportswear sensibility.” That “sensibility” was first projected over a million times on movie screens worldwide in the visual medium of The Social Network, the sure-to-be cult classic for all Facebook users.
The film epitomized the sporty casualness often found at preppy institutions of higher learning — in this instance, Harvard University — as did the runways of Rag & Bone and Marc by Marc Jacobs. The designers schooled us on varsity chic, with Rag & Bone presenting various modern re-interpretations (à la Balenciaga) of the traditional varsity jacket (thankfully sans  the pretentious lettering!), while retaining its trademark cuff and collar. Marc by Marc Jacobs added his characteristic BANG of glam to the iconic piece in the form of “Patrtridge” limelight metallic leather jacket.

Blue Valentine was all about love at first sight and sentimental flashbacks — and so was this fall! Jacobs and Galliano (circa the Nineties) made a reappearance in Joseph Altuzarra’s Fall collection, which reminded us why we fell in love with grunge in the first place!
Mismatched layering and lots of attitude seduced us at Altuzzarra’s show, while Charlotte Ronson added ripped leggings and Seventies’ knitwear to bring us a Nirvana —  à la silk slip dresses worn with chunky, oversize grandpa cardigans. Altuzarra’s plaid dresses, with the fraying edges worn under giant army parkas, made utilitarian sexy just as Kate Moss did in the Nineties when she sported the heavy outwear over feminine gowns and a pre-Pirates of the Caribbean Johnny Depp.

Winter’s Bone’s Ree has a tattered, second-hand wardrobe that shows the unfortunate “rips and snags” of a blue-collar life. More preoccupied with scavenging her family’s next meal from her generous neighbor than the latest fashion trend, Ree’s clothes emphasize a nonchalant fashion sense of an outdoorsy mountain girl whose effortless chic and tomboy demeanor make her both blithe and fierce.
From Alexander Wang’s quilted and padded version to Vera Wang’s fur trimmed alternative, designers flooded the runways with luxurious variations of the standard-issue parka. Heavy outwear and plaid-presented fashion proved strong enough to brave the harsh elements of winter — and the fashion critics. Peter Som showed us it’s possible to look feminine and beautiful (incase you ever find yourself on a date with lumberjack, Paul Bunyan) with a stunning silk dress under a mink trimmed parka.

The mix-match element stayed in tune with the 90’s inspired trend of this season, while the Band of Outsiders’ combination of a flannel top under a navy-dyed fur peacoat, cargo olive green cargos and a casually placed Bordeaux-colored knit beanie, finally gives the Rees of the world some designer “cred.”

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