Octo Style/NY-JPN

This is a post about the highlights of New York's Winter 2013 fashion week, but I'm going to backtrack a bit to Pre-Fall 2013 to set the scene. Lately at The Row, Mary-Kate and Ashley have been veering occasionally from neu-conservatism elegance into regular old octogenarian elegance. Some of these looks remind me of the final page of all those Vogue "style at any age" features. And there is nothing wrong with advanced style, but rather than the theme of radical restraint of previous The Row collections, on twenty-somethings these clothes seem stale and conservative.

So with Pre-Fall 2013 as a precursor, it was with extra interest and slight apprehension that I took in F/W 2013. In some ways the octo-style theme was continued, with subtly textured creamy gold adorning practical pants and opera-ready shawls. Literally both my grandmas had pants like that.

But in many more ways my fears that The Row had crossed the line for good, from radically conservative to conservative-conservative, were assuaged. They've taken their usual Japanese motifs to new and glorious heights, their all-navy looks wrapped by pseudo-obis, coats nipped and flaring to perfectly shape the body, or tied at the sides, and everything always in a glorious symphony of textures. Of course every designer and his dog has been feeling Japanese lately, but when it comes to the cut and unusual shapes and silhouettes, Mary-Kate and Ashley are more meticulous, more focused, and simply better.

MK and Ashley explained the collection as a mix of Victorian and Japanese dress codes, and while the Victorian element can certainly be found in the modesty of these looks, the combination was even clearer in their set design. The location was an Upper East Side townhouse, and it was decorated in a hushed-elegance sort of way with carefully mismatched antiques and Japanese floral arrangements.

And if grand themes were to be found at New York Fashion Week, an understated and very serious interpretation of elements of Japanese dress was one of them. Proenza Schouler also riffed on the obi, and the folding and wrapping of Japanese dress. The looks which utilized these elements were some of the best, and emphasized the controlled movement of the clothes, a theme that ran through the whole collection. Even the gentle curves of jacket and skirt edges were completely controlled, and moved in a kind of erratic way rather than fluidly.

Many reviews noted that this comparatively sober show was very "grown up" for Proenza Schouler, but I thought the surprised tone was unfounded. Sure Proenza Schouler is synonymous with the young, thin It Girls, but they have always shown collections with undercurrents of the prim and proper, from Spring '09 to Spring '12. Maybe I just hate this particular cliche, but if anyone else claims that Jack and Lazaro have "grown up" I'm gonna get real mad.

The Row images from vogue.com
Interior image from Habitually Chic
Proenza Schouler images from vogue.com and models.com

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