Pre-Fall 2010 Recap

With a continued focus on craftsmanship and tailoring, designers are paying plenty of attention to how their modern female customer has evolved in these unstable times.

Alexander Wang’s grown-up collection zeroed in on sharp jackets and edgy separates ideal for work while Rag & Bone paired tailored jackets with ribbed leggings and versatile cardigans and Zero + Maria Cornejo showed menswear-inspired shapes and signature jumpsuits. Vera Wang focused on slick outerwear and suiting, as did Rachel Roy, whose Moroccan influences gave the power suit new life. Jason Wu also channeled the “9 to 5” grind, though there was nothing Dolly Parton-like about his leather-infused uniform looks, inspired by yesteryear’s Pan Am stewardesses.

Speaking of leather, textured sophistication was top of mind for designers, as luxe layering was an important trend, seen at Devi Kroell and VPL by Victoria Bartlett, whose jackets were piled on with double layers of pockets, collars and shoulders.

Never ones for excess, Doo.Ri showcased separates and prints alongside draped jersey dresses while at Calvin Klein Collection, Francisco Costa’s minimal palette focused on lean and long silhouettes. Donna Karan turned to Central Park for draped and sculptural shapes in rich autumnal hues while J. Mendel’s landscape of cities at night resulted in rich metallics to complement modern-day furs. Day dresses were on top of mind at Elie Tahari a la Madeleine Vionnet, while Thakoon’s dresses a la fringed scarf pieces were manipulated just so.

Tough times, however, don’t mean abandoning those dancing shoes. Carolina Herrera wowed with tango-infused designs accented by ribbons, paint strokes and stripes. Fiesta fever, too, hit Oscar de la Renta, whose fairytale romance translated into shades of crimson, canary yellow, turquoise and pale pink splashed across divine daywear and evening indulgences.

Trademark glitz continued at Naeem Khan (beaded and feathered cocktail concoctions inspired by “Nine”) while Nicole Miller went Native American with tribal-print dresses and feather trim tops and Tory Burch’s take on Louise Nevelson sculptures (think black, gold and ivory) was fused with an undercurrent of tribal African motifs. Also on a journey was Diane von Furstenberg, whose fields of Glastonbury party concept (pairing a vintage cocktail dress with a hunting jacket) equated to shark plaid suiting and branch print dresses, natch. Off on his own tangent, but decidedly on point with this spring’s “Alice in Wonderland” motif, Zac Posen’s “Lewis Carroll meets Paloma Picasso” delivered eclectic mushroom, rabbit and swan prints in signature ladylike sweetheart looks.

Ever the individualist, Narciso Rodriguez revisited his love for menswear proportions but amped them up a notch for shrunken blazers and second-skin knits for day and cigarette pants and sequin vests for night.

Last but not least, Michael Kors offered the hardest take on pre-fall thus far: Helmut Newton’s graphic body of work meant drama and strength. Architectural and sculptural were high on the mind for his urban gladiator, who wouldn’t think twice pairing a zipper-infused leather trench with a bow blouse. Leather peplum belt anyone?