Reports from the runways

Tracy Reese, Zang Toi and GenArt Fresh Faces

September 10, 2012|By John-John Williams IV, The Baltimore Sun


Tracy Reese

(Sunday at Lincoln Center) 

Tracy Reese received a last-minute major endorsement by the way of Michelle Obama, when the first lady wore an iridescent brocade dress by the designer during her speech at the Democratic National Convention.

As a result, the Tracy Reese show at Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week became one of the most sought after tickets of the season.

Thankfully, the designer did not disappoint.

Reese focused on bold colors: orange, purple, yellow, green and aqua; animal and African prints, and plenty of metallics, to craft together a very wearable collection.

Reese layered with everything from lightweight sheer blouses in beige, pink, and other neons to lace black blouses, which she paired with a black jacket and lime green pants.

My favorite came in the form of Reese's metallic offerings. Her color-blocked pants in black or red with metallic horizontal stripes were to die for. She also applied metallics successfully to dresses,   

Tracy Reese also threw a lot of patterns into the collection. They came in separates--stunning blouses, flirty skirts. She also had a number of long sleeveless dresses, jumpers, and sleeveless tunics that will become go-tos this spring.

Overall, I think Reese did more than enough to justify why she's been a go-to for the First Lady. Those unfamiliar with her brand would definitely be impressed by her latest offerings.

Zang Toi

(Sunday at Lincoln Center)

If there was one designer who captured the feel of Chanel of old, it had to be Zang Toi. It's actually ironic that images of Chanel came about--Toi said that the collection was inspired by the romantic French Riviera.

The famed designer put on quite a production for Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week standards. His models--both men and women--would interact with one another in the former of sheepishly looking back at one another on the runway. It added another level of romanticism. 

It's rare for designers to have both a mens- and womenswear collection and to excel at both, but that's precisely what Toi did.

His suits and tuxedos for men were flawless. His dresses, gowns, and separates for women were equally as stunning.

Toi's show was arguably one of the best of the season. While Christian Siriano had a stronger collection top to bottom, Toi threw in more show-stopping pieces. He received three separate rounds of applause while his show was in full swing, which is something that I have not seen at this level.

His gowns were simply first class. Accents such as crystal caplets and rose bouquets made of rich fabrics and were in abundance and added to the opulence of the garments. 

Run, do not walk to the nearest high-end store where he's sold, and buy some of his pieces. They are truly special.

GenArt Fresh Faces

(Sunday at Pier 57 near the Chelsea Piers)

The GenArt Fresh Faces show is known for showcasing the world's best young designers.

Take Zac Posen and Rebecca Taylor for example. Both showed there early in their careers.

There's nothing better than getting a new look at fashion from a younger perspective. Many younger, less experienced designers are able to essentially make the collection they want as opposed to ones that their financial backers approve. As a result you get to see their raw talent, and their true vision.

Sunday's show showcased six collections from designers throughout the world. For example, Katungulu Mwendwa is from Kenya, Chloe comme Parris is from Canada, and Comeforbreakfast is from Italy.

Anne Sofie Madsen, a native of Denmark, has an impressive pedigree--training under John Galliano for Dior in Paris and working for Alexander McQueen as Junior Designer. She debuted her couture-inspired collection during London Fashion Week in 2010, and launched her eponymous label during Copenhagen Fashion Week in August 2011. Her collection at Fresh Faces had a futuristic feel. There was plenty of geometric shapes, unusual silhouettes, as well as the use of metallics and fringe. Her collection was very edgy.

You probably remember Grentchen Jones from her infamous stint on "Project Runway." But unlike what we saw of her personality on television, her collection was completely endearing. I loved her Kimono jackets--especially the black shear one that would be absolutely fantastic for layering. Her "Western Wind Pant" was a treat. I loved the sequined detailing of the garment. I could see that selling extremely well right now. Her use of neons was refreshing, and it made an impact. I also loved her floral headbands. It gave the collection a nice whimsical feel.

Katungulu Mwendwa was discovered as part of the GenArt Global Search. Her nomadic-themed collection included plenty of lightweight pieces with flow and movement. I was most impressed with her use of neck pieces, such as the Pokot woven snood, and the silk chiffon wide turtle neck collar.

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