So after all the glamour and divine fashion from Milan and Paris over the past few weeks, this weekend saw the beginning of Mercedes New York Fashion Week and even it was one of the coldest February days the fashion on offer sizzled and gave much food for thought about the current direction that a number of designers are heading with their current collections.

New York Fashion Week can be a mix of a range of different offerings and if you see my previous post you will see that this is the last time that some of the shows will be seen in their current location.  It is time for a refresh and it will be interesting to see what happens next and if they can get the new, the established and the avant-garde to embrace the move!

But from what I have seen, the fashion community is ready for this change!

So on to three      of my favourite parades from yesterday!

Victoria Beckham

This season has seen a return for Victoria Beckham, to listening to her clients and learning from the last collection that did not really feel true to the brand that she has so far created.  In the past few years since she launched her label, she has explored other avenues in terms of creativity and direction of the brand. Last season was a bit of a blip in an otherwise shining light for the brand. There were the boxy shapes of masculine, military-influenced jackets that did not feel right. So for her Autumn collection she went back to her beginnings.

Each collection has to have a new feel and look for it to work, whilst still staying true to the brand.  Beckham pays attention to this, and has seen her become more sophisticated. Her new dresses are sexy , but they do it in new ways. From the opening number, a clingy knit with a pair of big buttons below a deep V-neck and a gather of fabric hitched to one hip. Sexy personified. Then there was the  ribbed chenille tops twisted around the torso, and skirts wrapped and knotted like a sarong at the waist. A sleeveless  turtleneck dress was pieced together from swatches of chenille, silk, and plissé.

The other part of the collection on show here was the outerwear. With the contrast with the dresses which were all about accentuating the body, the coats were more about structure and form. From the stand-up collars and exaggerated storm flaps that buttoned in back; to the sculptural shapes at the hips. They all made a strong statement. Beckham has been listening to her customers and with this collection, it showed.

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Alexander Wang

Now for one of my favourite designers from New York who told his autumn story by just using shades of black. If you look back  fashion is scattered with collections devoted to the shade of black. We have seen it with Marc Jacobs at Louis Vuitton and at  Comme des Garçons circa Autumn 1992.  The reason for this is simple – the customer wants black so the decision was made to do an all black collection.

How refreshing to hear a designer talk about his customers, and that he was listening to them which seems to be a rarity. I suppose the only reason not to do an all black collection  is that it can look flat on the runway. Wang knew he’d have to be really creative it to make it work.  He did this by thinking about the many subcultures for whom black is a way of life.  He specifically acknowledged both Marilyn Manson and Kiss , and you could see them both in the models’ slicked, spiky hair and in their chunky sky high boots.

The clothes were less extreme than the styling, but they did have an edge. Wang gave the collection an energy by loading them up with hardware. Ball-chain trim decorated a tuxedo jacket and a silk jacquard robe, and lined the curving seams of willowy sleeveless dresses. Then there was the three columns of silver snaps marched across boxy jackets, and there was even the occasional wallet chain attached to the waistband of cropped trousers.  Kendall Jenner’s fitted top and long, flowing skirt trimmed with chain fringe was the most romantic evening look of Wang’s career.

Partly because there was so much black, it was the  fisherman sweaters with the  ball-chain detail and blue jeans really stood out. The same goes for  a hunter jacket in a grungy red and black plaid. This collection will connect with shoppers. All in all, and aside from those chunky, clunky boots, this looked like the most retail-friendly collection.

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Hood By Air

Hood by Air  designer Shayne Oliver likes to play with his designs, where things and people are neither this nor that and fuse and confuse the audience. He does not like to be known in any particular category with fashion, in a collection that essentially took on human evolution. His strategy was pretty much to take the most ordinary everyday items in our wardrobes—khakis, button-downs, puffer jackets, sweaters and tees—and  mess with their customary silhouettes to make them feel alien. It is not always easy to tell if  you are looking at a coat or a dress. The answer wasn’t always clear, the answer was often: It’s both.

What you can also do is  just appreciate the clothes, which Oliver said was his primary intention with the collection. His focus on wardrobe staples provide him an opportunity to fill his collection with  commercial pieces, like the pleated button-downs or the tailored black wool overcoats detailed with buckles and zips which should be a big hit. The jeans that extended over the foot to create the look of a denim boot, and the wool and puffer hybrids were inventive and fresh.  In general, though, this show proved that the designer is getting very good at distilling his keen and playful intellect into viable looks. All in all a fun range.

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Three very different collections that summed up the start of Mercedes New York Fashion Week Autumn 2015.