The top independent shows—so far—for New York Fashion Week.
With more independent fashion shows taking place this season than ever, Refinery29 made sure to take in as much of the action as we could. Here are the highlights of the first three days of New York Fashion Week…stay tuned for more spring/summer 2008 fashion show reports early next week.
Josh Goot
The future was once again perfect at Josh Goot's spring/summer show. Tucked away in a gleaming white Chelsea gallery box, the austere, minimalist environment was a perfect space for Goot's futuristic goddesses to glide about. With a nod to mod, his body-hugging silhouettes were brought to life with muted swipes of gold and silver, '60s'esque swirls of color, raw grafitti prints, and bold geometrics—think Judy Jetson with a feminine edge.
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Rachel Comey
It was academia-meets-downtown ingenue at Rachel Comey's spring/summer show, which was staged in the gymnasium of a NoLIta Catholic youth center. Set to Santos & Johnny-style live music courtesy of the band Barbacoa, Comey's bespectacled models cruised the gym floor wearing lots of cute tailored shorts, prim floral frocks, and skinny racerback knits, which gave the school-girlish collection a touch more sex appeal. The highlight: The shoes. Comey outdid herself this season with perfect-heeled brogues and clogs.
An odd collision of favela life, Brazilian beach style, and breezy prep-school chic, Trovata's display was notable both for its gentle women's looks and its surprising presentation. Perry Farrell (dressed in a crisp blue Trovata vest with white jeans) and his Satellite Party supplied the music while a team of capoeira dancers demonstrated the durability of the line's loose sweaters and light trousers. Almost obscured by the spectacle was a fine collection of delicate white dresses—a fluted a-line was a true standout—with quietly impressive details best viewed in sunnier, quieter surroundings.
Band of Outsiders
The Manhattan—the boat where Band of Outsiders held the presentation for their spring collection—whisked away partygoers and industry insiders from the warehouse-like behemoth of the Chelsea Pier to a yacht party in 1930s New England, where Salty Dogs reign supreme and Hemingway is the man of the hour. This marked not only designer Scott Sternberg debut of his newest men’s collection, which is under consideration for a CFDA Fashion Fund award, but also the debut of his women's line, Boy, and his collection of "inside out" boat shoes for Sperry Top-Sider. As in his men's collection, Sternberg kept to a muted palette of mostly black, navy, and beige (save for a pop of coral or canary yellow), and stuck with menswear staples for both sexes such as striped oxfords, cropped tuxedo jackets, and shrunken vests. The 16 dapper looks were paired with Prep School-mandated accessories like bowties and straw fedoras that gave the whole collection a collegiate air.
Designers Sarah Spratt and Christian Stroble turned up the volume on elegance with a short and sweet presentation that took a mixture of polished and punk to new levels. We loved the assortment of glazed linen pieces—in black, they resembled a highly wearable and fresh form of latex—and the sudden pop of red amid warm pinks and neutrals. Pleated skirts, gauzy cardis, and keyhole shift dresses filled out the collection and proved that short is still insanely sweet for spring/summer.
Alexandre Herchcovitch
Forget the trashbags. Under the tent, the thinking woman's fave presented his vivid, if not innovative, vision of a formalware party upended, torqued and then shoved through a blender. While sending girls down the runway in bow ties is nothing new, Alexandre Herchcovitch outfitted many of his women with amputated tux lapels worn as neckpieces and men's formal cuffs accented by silver chains. This was mere dressing for the first half of the show which predominately featured low-hipped trousers, bisected tailcoats and simple tops all in familiar tux colors with only some embellishment. The tail-end of the line offered a flash of color with feathered cocktail dresses turned upside down and backward and a bold red and black combo where the contrasting colors met on a bias cut. The tailoring was, as always, immaculate, the ideas novel and the elegance welcome. Still, there was more stunt than substance here—something rarely said of the daring Herchcovitch.
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Stepping away from the dark, almost brooding collection that propelled them to new fame last season, Britain's Rag & Bone presented a softer, kinder line for summer. Of course, the team still managed to work in a sense of nervous energy (was it the Radiohead blasting over the runway or just the race-inspired piped tailoring?) This was a sportsman's collection for sure with aviator's trousers, high-ankled pants, desert colors, and a Swarovski-crystal-encrusted tube dress worthy of the best Bond girls. The women's looks were knife-sharp but, as always, it was the men's suits that stood out—particularly a pique waistcoat presented over a gauzy linen shirt. There was a new hint of prep in this collection, but, as ever Rag & Bone manages to look both dandy and dangerous.
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Gen Art
Gen Art, that yearly review of up-and-coming hits and misses, introduced six new fashion imprints to buyers, press and the public today. Debuts from Dagmar, Young Meager, Grace Sun, Whistle & Flute and Delphyne Guiraud were all met with eyes eager to see the promising upstarts. Standouts Mooka Kinney impressed a few with their whimsical doo-wop jumpers and A-line dresses, Bensoni snapped up new fans with flowing ruffled gowns and painted linen jackets and, perhaps most notably, men's label A-Z took on the daunting task of fashioning raincoats for a debut collection.
Screwball glamour ruled at Vena Cava's spring collection. Witty Kate Hepburn in all her lithe, pie-throwing glory would go wild for the long, chiffon gowns nipped at the waist. Quirkier Annie Hall would don the high-waisted white shorts and the sheer, collared shirts—just right for the greens, perhaps? It was as if the stars of the 1930s and 1970s had jumped right off the silver-screen and danced a waltz to the Slit's cover of "I Heard it Through the Grapevine." Oversized, black-and-white images of old movie stars from Kenneth Anger's Hollywood Babylon mingled with models in graphic beer-can printed jumpers and flowing skirts with a giant typewriter print. Designers Sophie Buhai and Lisa Mayock's signature loveliness prevailed, mixed with a jigger of kooky flirtation and a dash of boyish good looks.
Yigal Azrouel
High above the Hudson River in a vast, glass-encased photo studio, the crowd gathered for Yigal Azrouel's anticipated spring/summer goods. Inspired by decadent '70s summer Americana, the deft Azrouel injected a bit of rebellion and extreme sensuality into the traditional summer dresses and trousers. Goddess gowns felt sportier with racerback styles and loose, floor skimming shapes, gauzy T-shirts and knits took on a more glamorous vibe paired with chunky jeweled neckpieces and oversized bonnets. Jute-style pieces stood out in either relaxed cuts with raw edges or super sophisticated in an Alaia-style bandage skirt. For men, weekend-wear went a little bit dandy in the way of sports jackets paired with washed linen scarves and fantastic oversized cardis accompanied by big overnight bags. Wherever Azrouel's summering next year—we wanna go to.
Erin Fetherston
Visions of fairies emerged at Bryant Park when Erin Fetherston debuted her spring/summer "Flights of Fancy" collection. Returning with her signature frothy, feminine mystique and a bit of whimsy, Fetherston's collection included delicate details of pintuck pleats, high waistlines, and lots of decadent ruffled hems. Washed out oyster grays, soft whites, modest prints, and delicate metallics kept her palette subdued and light as air. Like characters in an ethereal dream, models covered in white eye-shadow and lashes lent to an air of fantasy where Aphrodite-inspired one-shoulder frocks were topped with coral tiaras and headdresses that were nothing short of magical.
Thom Browne
Soaking up Thom Browne's spring/summer surf-style extravaganza banished any former notions that menswear could ever be boring. The sand-strewn show was kicked off by a quartet of towel-wrapped, swim-capped and goggled lifeguards who watched over the production from lifeguard stands—as their whistles sounded, the real performance began with an eye-opening and sometimes screwball array of pieces. We loved the short-sleeved jackets topping long-sleeved ones (practical, no, cool, yes), the deep-V varsity sweaters, plaid on plaid, short-short suits, and a brilliant tuxedo jacket trimmed in terry-cloth. A suit crafted entirely from gray rosettes raised eyebrows, but ultimately restored our faith that Thom Browne's presentations—and perspective—will never ever be predictable.
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Like a beacon among the flurry of shows this week, Jeremy Laing turned out a stellar display of modern magic, a collection of architectural dresses, devastatingly swank trousers, and shorts all inspired by the arctic terrain. The 27-year-old Canadian has an incredible gift with construction and atypical fabrics—rear panels on dresses created fresh proportions and appealing angles, while inspired seaming mimicked the horizon line at sunrise. His finale look—the Borealis dress in green silk studded with Swarovski crystals—made the crowd swoon, literally, and reaffirmed why this exceptional fellow is certainly a talent worth celebrating.
Inspired by one of her favorite flicks, the Marx Brothers' Day at the Races, New Zealander Karen Walker delivered another fun and fabulous collection of teenage-queen-style pieces all fit for a quirky-cool grown-up. Walker has a knack for fashioning a great dress, short or long, and this time 'round, she didn't disappoint with flowing floral gownettes (ie: fetching ruffled lawn dresses), and irresistible short and sexy things like the chambray sash mini dress. Other must-haves included the truly awesome khaki trench, sun hats, and signature high-waisted shorts that make us want to hit the elliptical pronto.
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Victor Glemaud
One always looks forward to the latest slight-of-hand men's designs by Victor Glemaud. Though this spring/summer collection was far less left-of-center than past presentations, he didn't disappoint with his latest rough magic act. Always tweaking traditional images, Glemaud's current line of sherbet-colored Bermuda shorts, tight-waisted, loose-legged cotton trousers, and slouchy jackets was beach boy minus the beach bum. Most impressive was his continued use of faux collars, trick double sleeves, and pleats for the illusion of a layer look. A rainbow of pastel slip-ons by K. Jacques punctuated each sunny springtime look.
Reporting by: Gabriel Bell, Naomi Nevitt, Christina Gregory, Lisa Dionisio, and Natalia Rachlin
The top independent shows—so far—for New York Fashion Week.

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