Sep 12, 2012
Travel stirs the imagination at NY fashion week
Sep 12, 2012
Burch made the most of the natural lighting on the mezzanine level of Avery Fisher Hall at Lincoln Center -- home of the New York Philharmonic -- for a spring-summer collection with a bohemian vibe.
"The idea was sort of this American prep remix combined with a kind of stylish magpie traveler ... a girl who has classics in her silhouette, then travels and picks things up along the way," Burch told AFP backstage.
Muted colors opened the show, which appropriately featured Manu Chao's 1991 world music hit "King of Bongo" as the soundtrack.
But those soon gave way to brighter colors and plaids, with indigo blue tie-dyed fabrics -- made by women artisans from the Kindla region of Guinea with help from Burch's own charitable foundation -- coming off as most impressive.
Burch, whose boho chic featured prominently in the television series "Gossip Girl" set in navel-gazing Manhattan, proudly sources her fabrics from places as diverse as China, Italy, Japan, Morocco and Turkey, as well as West Africa.
"It's multicultural," she said, explaining the direction in which her design vision is going, "and how to look at the world in a smaller way and be inspired by everyone around us."
Burch's show pulled a particularly strong Asian contingent of fans, including South Korean actress Kim Sa-Rang -- star of the award-winning Korea drama series "Secret Garden" -- in the front row.
In an hour-long presentation on the other side of Lincoln Center, trend-setting label J.Crew embraced a rainbow of candy colors for a fresh range of youthful looks for men and women, many shown with models in geeky glasses.
Tom Mora, its chief women's wear designer, said he was inspired by Time-Life photography books from the 1960s and 1970s -- back in the pre-Hipstamatic days of Kodachrome film -- that he discovered one day at his parents' house.
"I was going through them and I was really taken aback by the vivid colors," Mora told AFP.
"I imagined this very chic woman, traveling to all these places that you saw in these books, a lot of beach places, a lot of places with water... There's a very happy, very optimistic feel to it."
"There's a lot of T-shirty silhouette, a lot of slim pants," Mora added. "Skirts are fuller, and we also have some really wide-leg pants, which I really like in these really stiff fabrics... We love to mix things up at J.Crew."
His Dutch-born, Brooklyn-dwelling menswear counterpart Frank Muytjens said that while he looks at the women's line color palette during his design process, his vision has been shaped more by artists Ellsworth Kelly and Victor Vasarely.
The former is renowned for what Muytjens called "beautiful bold color blocking," while the latter was a leader of the 20th century op-art movement with its wild, swirling shapes.
"You'll see a lot of bright acidy colors" offset with more traditional masculine shades like brown and gray, he said.
Both designers are also creatively swayed by J.Crew's growing retail presence overseas, most recently in Hong Kong with a boutique in the city's fashionable Lane Crawford department store.
"We're thinking more globally as we design these collections," Mora said.
by Robert MacPherson
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