September 10, 2013 11:36 am

New York Fashion Week: Keeping grounded

For any designer wanting to play a winning hand in the high stakes game that is today’s fashion business, flights of creative fancy must always be grounded by the practical realities of the ordinary woman and what she will actually wear. “Grounded” being the operative word.

Phillip Lim’s 3.1 spring collection, for example, was rooted (pun intended) to the most basic and elemental components of Mother Earth. “It’s a survey of raw landscapes, terrains, geode-formation,” he said before the show, which played out upon a sea of salt grains that transformed New York City’s vast post office sorting space into an ethereal urban desert.

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The conceit worked best when Mr Lim used a predominantly mineral palette to breathe life and fluidity into stiff, starched separates; think molten lava-esque pattern undulations on boxy kimono-sleeved tops with jagged jacquard edgings, or a slick suede leather midi skirt with an oily foil finish.

As it happens, the mechanics of natural evolution was also at the heart of AllSaints, the London-based brand in the process of bouncing back from bankruptcy, in the form of a mixed bunch of grungy floral lace shirtdresses, poppy red tapered pants and digi-print wardrobe staples mean to evoke “flora mortis”; the dark beauty of flowers in flux as they wilt and slowly die.

Over at Theyskens’ Theory, meanwhile, chic updates of tried and tested classics achieved a certain amount of lift-off: a long white collarless shirt dress that vaulted into elegant contemporary evening wear by way of its thickly embroidered sequin sheen; oversized tailored blazers; and fine jersey corsetry and layering.

More experimental offerings fell straight to earth, however, from uninspired silky slips in dusky sunrise palettes to clingy cropped neon long johns under slim fit city boy shorts. As options for the loyal Theory customer, it was hard to believe they would truly take wing.

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