Stage, Box, Studio: Tent Hopping at NYFW Fall 2011
Muted lip, slick hair and neutral tones top the charts

We know that choosing a fashion show lineup is no easy task when you’re a working woman on a time budget. It’s hard enough for those employed in fashion to pick and choose from the dizzying roster of fabulous fashion. Despite our desire to see them all…only so much time in a day, folks.

But this year, diversifying the line-up – mixing the big names with the small – was the best way to survey the trends and get a taste of what both the classics and newcomers of the fashion elite are being turned on to. It’s exactly what I did at this year’s Fall NYFW, and I learned from the shows I packed in that choosing a assorted schedule wisely is a surefire method to seeing creative design and having a blast. Which is sort of what it’s all about, right?

When you see larger fashion brands and newcomers following the same trends in makeup, hair, fabrics, etc., you know it’s something to watch…and something that will probably end up in your closet or vanity soon. So after carefully choosing a lineup, what trends did I see happening? For this fall season, there was a heavy focus on muted but colored lips (i.e. color that’s been dabbed on but very lightly and blended out), hair that’s simple and sleek like low-lying ponytails and middle parts, and neutral color tones on delicate fabric like lace and fur, with an accentuation on the cut of the cloth. Here’s my highlight of the three shows that best rounded out these trends.

First up: Nicole Miller – The Studio

She’s a familiar classic. Approaching her 20th anniversary as head of the fashion house, Nicole Miller‘s affinity for selecting new fabrics and for giving elegance a subtle sexiness have made her a household designer name. This time around, she jetted her designs into the future with a geometric, galactic look and a muted color palette of grays, blacks, reds and blues.

James Kaliardos applies eye shadow to a model backstage

James Kaliardos for MAC applied two grey eye shadows and then removed the shadow from the top of the lid to form a horizontal line. He kept cheeks shiny, but not metallic, and used a peach color on lips but very lightly. Kevin Ryan for RSession Tools kept hair simple, parting it in the middle, clipping it and then using lots of hairspray to hold side portions back. He also used dry shampoo to add texture. Overall the look was leaning toward glam rock, to complement Miller’s clothes.

Before the show, Miller talked backstage about her inspiration, a mix of David Bowie’s Ziggy Stardust and Sol LeWitt.

Nicole Miller talking backstage with Mark Indelicato, reporting from Teen Vogue

Her line’s strength was in the simple, clean-lined pieces like her pants, which she said she spent a lot of time on, veering away from long skirts, which Miller said were popular last year.

Nicole Miller backstage with Gabrielle Union

Next stop: Frank Tell – The Box

Providing a stark but welcome contrast to Miller’s line of futuristic forms, colors and styles, the young, fresh, Frank Tell brought us back to nature, with a Navaho-inspired line full of flowing fabrics in browns, blacks and army greens, fur and heavy, chunky knits. In this darker, more curious and interactive venue, models walked down a short runway, leading to a sandbox, which they sauntered around before lining up on one edge, filing in one after another.

So as not to compete with the complexity and drama of the clothes and the hair as they entered and toured this theatrical runway, Pep Gay left the makeup soft, with a touch of drama, using Evil Eye, a new color from MAC with the classic Carbon to create a blended out and upward line on the outside edge of the eye.

The inspiration for Tell’s collection was the Navaho, but also films like Mad Max, Planet of the Apes and Chris Marker’s La Jetée, so Gay and hair stylist Pasquale Ferrante from ION Studio, worked together to create that strong look while also keeping things soft. Ferrante used a salt spray for texture and a dry shampoo from Rene Furterer to matte the hair and decrease shine before styling an amalgamation of buns, braids and twists around model’s heads. The hair was tough and rugged looking, and very theatrical – not necessarily something which would be done at home. However, Ferrante suggested tying hair into a loose, messy bun to translate the look.

“Everything we do still has to have femininity and look acceptable – not weird,” he said.

Pasquale Ferrante adjusting a model’s bun backstage

After the show, Tell talked about his inspiration. He’d been watching a lot of post-apocalyptic science-fiction films and according to the show’s program, he was interested in the concept of “entropy as an agent of change.”

“What would happen to the constructed silhouettes I am so used to using, if they were to loosen, become softer, become elongated or distorted?” he said. “I wanted to explore using rarefied fabrics such as lace, chiffon and georgette, in a non-precious way – lace in particular, with it’s almost fractal geometry, took on signifying the very concept of entropy.”

His collection, as well as the short film which showed before it of a woman seemingly lost in an ice-engulfed snow forest, were the very essence of entropy – a randomness that can only occur in nature.

Last Stop: Elie Tahari – The Stage

There isn’t much better way to go out with a bang than to end a threesome of fashion shows with a powerhouse like Elie Tahari…especially when your fellow show-goers include Joan and Melissa Rivers. Queen of the Fashion Police herself knows where to go for a surefire win during fashion week – and her bet was right again, for Tahari’s was no doubt the best out of three. His romantic line of sheer and flowing fabrics against solid, wearable materials, grouped by color from black to white to beige to brown to burgundy, made for a show that you couldn’t take your eyes away from.

On trend, makeup was kept clean and simple – this time done by Bobbi Brown. Kimberly Soane explained how makeup artists were going for an innocent, wide-eyed look, and matte, flawless coverage. They used Bobbi Brown’s Foundation Stick Cream foundation and Pale Pink blush. For the lip, artists applied foundation all over then a lip color called Slopes just in the center and had models press their lips together to create a spot of color that seemed to grow organically from the skin.

“Tahari’s collection shows no matter your style or age, these clothes are wearable,” said Soane.

Hair was about perfection and sleekness. Models wore low ponytails created by Esther Langham for Morrocanoil. She started with a “cocktail of Morrocanoil” products, mixing the Styling Crème with the Morrocanoil treatment and combing it through wet hair with her fingers. After drying with a paddle brush, finishing with a round brush, and combing the hair gently backward with her fingers, Langham used hair accessories like leather wraps on the base of ponytails for some girls, feathered lace clips on the sides of the head for others, and still other models had pieces of hair wrapped around the base of their ponytail; all depending on the outfit they’d be wearing and the overall style of the look.

The result of beauty, hair and clothes combined was an unequaled grace, which floated down the runway, embodied by each individually beautiful model. After several shows, and three aforementioned solid ones, we felt ready to bring you a wrap up of highlights and end with the biggest bang of them all. And while we may not be the Fashion Police, if Joan Rivers is sitting next to us, we think we’re on the right track toward advising you on your next favorite fall trend.

Joan and Melissa Rivers enjoying Elie Tahari

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