Perry Ellis;Porter Grey; Mara Hoffman; Jonathan Simkhai; NY Fashion Week Fall 2011

Perry Ellis: Texture for the Country Gentleman
Feb. 11 2011  
The Perry Ellis show had “zing” at Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week. It  was a dapper affair suited to the discerning man who loves texture and a strong collar. There was much of both to enjoy: shawl collars, suits and cable-knit sweaters in wool, twill, suede, and corduroy. Oh, and some herringbone and houndstooth in between.

Guests included several athletes–Vernon Davis (49ers), William Beatty (Giants)–which gives a hint as to who fits well into these clothes: men with broad shoulders, trim waists, long backs. They’re not metro or foppish, but they care about looking good.

Standout pieces included a suede quilted lamb vest, a spruce-green fairisle shawl collar sweater and wool herringbone striped trousers (above) and a laser quilted bomber vest with charcol trousers (left). 

Creative Director John Crocco was inspired by a “quiet nonchalance”–the idea of volume versus mass, he said. He also staged a cute ending – the models did their final walk clad in ivory longjohns and longsleeve henley t-shirts.

All photos taken by Daniel Cavazos



Thursday started off bright and early with our first collection of the day by the sister collaborative Porter Grey. The first glance at the clothes was like drinking a cup of coffee — invigorating. It’s like Brooklyn chic — everyday wear that pops. The sisters are known for their urban elegance and the detail feature to the backside of the garments. The line featured beautiful bold colors (maroons, forest greens, browns, blacks, and scattered touches of floral patterns) with dynamic cuts — boy jackets doubling as dresses, long skirts, tan coats, short shorts, and very short dresses with demure necklines and sophisticated hues. The presentation was flawless, and not just the clothes, but also the side-swept hair, red-wine lipstick, and black ankle boots.

The next show was Richard Chai’s Love. We were eagerly awaiting this show since it was our first time seeing his women’s line, and because we’re always impressed by his men’s collections. And by the look at the front-row seaters: Vogue‘s Virginia Smith, Elle‘s Joe Zee and the New York TimesCathy Horyn, we were in for a treat. Think again. First off, aside from the heavy-hitters, the show was half empty, only to be filled by the standing room crowd. Either people decided to skip this show, or the PR folks were clueless organizers. Second, the clothes were simply boring. What we saw was drab colors and outsized fits.

​ Sure his signature use of charcoals, evergreens, and cream colors work splendidly on men, but on women, it just washes them out. Like in Porter Grey we also saw long skirts, though with Love they were layered with coat vests and jackets. Lots of flowy bottoms with heavy tops. Chai did, at times, include the use of softer colors like lavender and rose with a dash of sparkly tops, but still the clothes felt heavy and dispirited. We’re not saying women can’t wear these tones or cuts, but women rarely like to wear clothes that make them look big and colorless.

Next up we went backstage for New York-based men’s fashion line Duckie Brown. Designers Steven Cox and Daniel Silver delivered a UK-inspired line full of baggy pants, tweed coats, loose-fitting cardigans, and even a pearl sweatshirt. This line was so refreshing and is a real look at city life, either that or perhaps we’re just tired of seeing dudes in tight jeans. Check out the backstage footage of this show, at least to see the male models hamming it up for the camera.

Porter Grey
A contemporary line found at the likes of Shopbop, Porter Grey has a slightly girly vibe, but with an interesting edge. There were a lot of sculpted coats, richly colored and printed silk dresses, and sexier fitted dresses with cutout details. It was kind of something-for-everyone, but when it all looks this good, who cares?

Mara Hoffman
Late start aside, a very pregnant Mara Hoffman herself presided over her Thursday-afternoon presentation, which included a live band and carried a very mystical-spiritual vibe. She complemented her signature kaleidoscopic prints with thick knits and detail like braiding, cutouts, and hoods. Fans will snap up the sexier maxi dresses and cozy sweater jackets.

Jonathan Simkhai
By the time I got to Jonathan Simkhai‘s presentation, I had had two glasses of wine and was eager to continue celebrating at the IFB Conference after-party. So it was fortunate that the models were rotating spots so quickly–I was able to see the entire collection in about 5 minutes. The problem was that I didn’t give the collection a proper look; thankfully, that’s why I take pictures of everything! Simkhai’s reform-school-girls of spring have evolved into a more sophisticated, refined level for fall. There are still beautifully tailored pieces and a strong preppy influence, but Simkhai added sexy cutout dresses and richer-looking fabrics to the mix.

Finally, on Tuesday evening, Dannijo held a roaring ’20s–meets–True Grit presentation to show their increasingly intricate and layered jewelry. Littered with Swarovski crystals and featuring bold Art Deco shapes, the line is evolving from its edgy, piled-on-chains roots. These are definitely statement pieces, but I liked that they showed them with not-so-basic clothing, proving that jewelry doesn’t have to overpower the rest of one’s outfit.


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