As the fashion industry previews its fall 2011 collections, the razzle-dazzle of the frocks, the realities of the bottom line, and the cultural titillation of celebrities are equally on display. In New York, the spotlight centered on a generation of young designers who are reinventing the rules of the business. In London, an industry that has struggled for more than a decade to increase its professionalism (without losing its devil-may-care creativity) has come into its own just in time for a royal wedding. And Milan is about commerce as much as the frocks: while Miuccia Prada dominates the aesthetics, the buzz around Gucci is focused on corner-office shuffling. Next up is Paris, the season’s grand finale. The international fashion capital promises everything from the debut women’s collection by Lady Gaga’s stylist Nicola Formichetti to the swan song of Yves Saint Laurent CEO Valerie Hermann. Some highlights so far:
In New York, Derek Lam partnered with eBay to create a collection of 16 summer dresses. Shoppers can vote for their favorites, and the top five will be produced. Crowd sourcing a dress may be just the thing to make consumers believe the fashion industry actually cares what women think.
At Issa London, who could focus on the clothes when there’s that famous client—Kate Middleton—and her equally famous engagement-announcement dress? Designer Daniella Helayel had reason to be all smiles.
Business turmoil always seems to overshadow the frocks in Milan. But at Gucci, designer Frida Giannini marked the brand’s 90th-anniversary show with a collection filled with color, feathers, and ’70s silhouettes.
One of New York’s emerging designers, Prabal Gurung, may have created the single most sensual garment of the season. His cherry-red, full-skirted dress gives the impression that the wearer is in a constant state of dishabille.
The London runways were dominated by prints, but no one did them more beautifully and more romantically than Erdem Moralioglu. His collection would help even the most print-averse woman overcome her fears.