Sep 18, 2009
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NY Fashion Week stands firm in tough times

Sep 18, 2009

NEW YORK, Sept 18, 2009 (AFP) - New York Fashion Week's Spring-Summer 2010 collection closed with a symbolic and optimistic nod from iconic US designer Ralph Lauren to the virtues of hard work in hard times.

DKNY, Diane von Furstenberg, Narciso Rodriguez, Derek Lam, Rosa Chá, Jason Wu
Diane von Furstenberg spring-summer 2010 - Photo : Pixel Formula

Models in denim and newsboy caps paraded Ralph Lauren's 1930s Depression chic, declaring that today's economic troubles -- which have hammered the fashion industry -- are something the country has survived before and can survive again.

Strutting to banjo and harmonica tunes, models left behind the Ralph Lauren country club vision for something earthier.

Denim reigned with stone-washed, ripped jeans in salopette form and over-size trousers held up with cowgirl belts.

Contrasting to that rough-hewn hint were the exquisitely tailored, sometimes sleeveless, striped jackets.

Fantasy farm girls, their long, mostly blonde hair flowing in the wind, strode down the catwalk wearing felt bowlers or caps to top off the retro look.

"The only theme-appropriate touches missing from Ralph Lauren's show on Thursday 17 September were a dilapidated truck and a heartfelt Henry Fonda voice-over," fashion watcher Women's Wear Daily declared, cheekily dubbing the show "The Grapes of Ralph."

In this idealized version of the Midwest, everything came blue, and even evening wear was in denim, albeit under transparent, pearl-bordered muslin jackets.

"I believe in the resilient spirit of America. Hard times seem to sharpen our capacity for idealism and our optimism that tomorrow will be a better day," Lauren said in his program notes.

"I am inspired by the character of the worker, the farmer, the cowboy, the pioneer women of the prairies living authentically through challenging times."

Of course, even a cowgirl needs to let her hair down and what could be more appropriate after a hard day working the land than Ralph Lauren's naive, flowery dresses and tulle skirts? With stiletto heels, of course.

Calvin Klein took a different tack, with creative director Francisco Costa dispatching models in ultra-feminine, minimalist neutrals and pastels -- white, beige, pearl grey.

Wet-haired, barely combed, the models looked as if they'd just come from chilling out at the pool.

The message from planet fashion was that the show goes on.

Certainly the industry could use a morale perk. Big stores like Macy's and smaller, luxury boutiques have had a miserable year and consumer spending remains anemic.

And although this year's spring-summer week was visibly short on the razzmatazz of more prosperous times, fashionistas have not lost their self-belief.

Fashion is something that "transforms your life, which makes people look at you, notice you, that's what fashion is about," said Fern Mallis, senior vice president of IMG Fashion, which produces the annual New York fashion weeks.

The show literally does go on, with London Fashion Week starting Friday 18 September, followed by Milan and Paris.by Paola Messana

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