The 2012 CFDA Award Winners
WOMENSWEAR DESIGNER OF THE YEAR
Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen for The Row
Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen for The Row
The Row - Impressions about their latest collections
The Row Pre-Fall 2012 - After all, let’s consider pajama dressing, beaded flapper dresses, discreet Manolo Blahnik kitten heels . . . . The track record of these two demonstrates an uncanny ability to divine what might be fun/cool/interesting/desirable to wear at a given moment, and then watch while said look/idea/trend slowly wends its way into women’s wardrobes. Other ideas that were at The Row pre-fall and which are likely to appear in closets soon: turtleneck sweaters (theirs are in leather), velvet (love the skinny pantsuit in a gorgeous shade of brick red, worn with a patchwork fox stole) and a groovily casual way with evening (a scoop-necked white tee with metal-embroidered midnight-blue velvet pants).
As of now, there aren’t that many other designers or brands,Phoebe Philo at Céline immediately springs to mind, of course who so easily and intimately grasp how women want to dress in all of their subtleties and nuances. The Olsens share the same enviable understanding of what fashion can be when it’s at its best, which is in essence this: Treat the incredibly luxurious with a sense of playfulness, and elevate the everyday with a deadly seriousness. Out of this comes really great clothes, and more recently, brilliant accessories (the newest: a crocodile bucket bag). And if you’re culottes-clad later this year . . . you’ll know who was there first.
The Row Fall/Winter 2012/13 - It’s strange to think that designers as young as Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen might be the next successors to a great American tradition of super-luxe fashion, the culture of classy reductionism handed down from the likes of Bill Blass, Calvin Klein, and Michael Kors. That, though, is the way it was beginning to look as they showed their fall collection at the Bemelmans Bar at the Carlyle hotel, with a tinkling piano and tables set for breakfast. They had been thinking about the civilized polish of the way wealthy Americans dressed after the war. Poring over 1940s photographs of Nancy “Slim” Keith, they were electrified by her unerringly offhand way of wearing clean, precise couture pieces, almost as if they were casual day wear and often with Roman sandals.
The crisscross, ribbon-laced sandals (in a winter collection!) were the only remaining homage to the heiress in the presentation a chic surprise, certainly, to pair with pants and coats. (And not that improbable a look for cool-girl adoption, considering how many are running around the shows with bare legs and summer dresses in freezing New York). But really there was nothing at all about the show that overtly referenced the past. Once they had taken to slicing off the extraneous parts of a coat lapels, pocket flaps, buttons elongating pencil skirts, and thinking about how to rephrase a peacoat and pants (in navy chenille, woven with Lurex - amazing), it clearly became an exercise in modernizing classics yet not in a cold or overly solemn way. There’s a quirkiness in what they do, that causes the viewer to look twice at what’s going on-like the way they zip a zone of mink into the front of a garment, which might have started off on the drawing board as a motorbike jacket, or how they mix two shades of mink in a coat which is cut into a chevron pattern at the top, and into vertical stripes below.
Yet the skills demonstrated in these pieces are serious enough. The Olsens know how to cut a complex thing and make it look simple: An ecru all-in-one had an almost monastic presence about it; a tunic top, gathered in front, had a ballooned back, creating a superbly elegant silhouette in profile. Without pretension, these girls are beginning to scale some impressive heights. Ultimately, their quiet, considered, and impeccably finished clothes and accessories speak to the principles of ease, modernism, and quality, that used to lie at the heart of American design. It’s really refreshing to see two designers of their generation wanting to do that.
More 2012 CFDA Award Winners
MENSWEAR DESIGNER OF THE YEAR
ACCESSORY DESIGNER OF THE YEAR
SWAROVSKI AWARD FOR WOMENSWEAR
SWAROVSKI AWARD FOR MENSWEAR
SWAROVSKI AWARD FOR ACCESSORY DESIGN
GEOFFREY BEENE LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT AWARD
Rei Kawakubo for Comme des Garçons
Scott Schuman and Garance Doré
FASHION ICON AWARD
Selections by ANDREA JANKE Finest Accessories
Photo Credit/Source: CFDA, The Row
Sources: VOGUE, CFDA, Style.com