While normally I focus on helping my readers look stylish from nine to five, the stuff of fashion dreams is normally worn between five and nine. Evening is the bread-and-butter of fashion. Art Directors and stylists love to shoot dream editorials. Fashion readers gobble up aspirational inspiration from the same. Take a peek at any proper fashion editor’s notes on the run of show and you’ll see serious “business of fashion” comments regarding silhouettes, colors, and patterns next to the daytime looks. The evening looks get staccato notes on the feelings they evoke live “whimsical,” “ladylike,” and quite simply “divine!”
As the social season – even here in Los Angeles – kicks off with the opening of the Met Opera – and, yes, the LA Opera – evening is on everyone’s mind. Long, short, or even hi-lo – what is this season’s Grand Staircase hemline? What shall I wear to the ball? Fear not, dear reader, as I will serve as your fashion fairy godfather! I’d like to point out a few of my favorites from the recent Spring Summer 2015 shows in New York. We will be sure to see some of these looks at the Junior Board galas of all the big charities in the spring social whirl and maybe a few will grace the red carpets during awards season.
First, let’s look at classic New York, the designers who live the Upper East Side lifestyle themselves and dress other who do – or at least aspire to it. Carolina Herrera is a favorite designer of many women because she brings her own stylish, yet practical, sensibility to her designs. The addition of her daughter to her design team has brought a fresh injection of modernity to the collections. This sleeveless evening gown features a classically stylish, high bateau neckline and a tromp l’oeil effect to the skirt. The immediate visual is a simple straight figure flattering column in white, but the glamour of the full skirt and the oversize hibiscus graphic are undeniable. I can’t wait to see this dress on the (formerly Vilar) Grand Tier!
Oscar De La Renta himself embodies the quintessential UES New York lifestyle, yet still remains relevant to the Sex and the City crowd. His collection included many classic ball gown silhouettes, but one stood out to me as being completely fresh and modern. This double hi-lo, waistless babydoll evening gown in tulip and daffodil was like a breath of fresh air. It felt as young as springtime and twice as fresh!
Living in LA now, I have to acknowledge the local offerings. Monique Lhullier is my hometown girl – in more than one way. Based in Los Angeles and Filipino (see, just like me) she is one of the few Left Coast designers who designs for a global clientele who have four seasons for which to dress. Each season, she offers a proper collection of daytime looks, although her evening looks tend to be one-off and geared toward garnering editorial and red carpet attention. One dress that caught my editorial eye – and is unlikely to appear on a red carpet – is her layered chiffon evening gown with layered pastel paisley and floral appliques. This dress was made for a young socialite to wear to a spring gala!
I can’t talk about red carpet without at least mentioning Marchesa. I must admit that I have never been a fan. The collections have always felt like a series of disjointed red carpet moments strung together with a soundtrack and cribbed from other, more respected designers. This has improved since the launch of Marchesa Notte, but the main ready to wear collection still lacks consistency in silhouettes and fabrics. All that said, Marchesa is still a favorite of celebrities (to borrow) and upper middle class aspirants to the celebrity lifestyle (to buy). In the recent collection, I found myself drawn to one dress – not because this bright pop of color stood out quite awkwardly, but because the modest silhouette is the antithesis of the too low cut/too high cut/barely there, paparazzi attention-grabbing silhouette that starlets demand for the red carpet. A Grace Kelly moment in a parade of Paris Hiltons, if you will.
Finally, I could not close a piece on evening without paying homage to the undisputed master of American Fashion, Ralph Rucci. Even the French acknowledge this! His Spring Summer 2015 collection featured a number of slim, athletic black dresses with cerebral design details, but I was drawn to a shapely ball skirt in a print inspired by one of the designer’s paintings that seemed to move to the very rhythm of its own pattern. “Divinely chic” read my show notes. As we have seen many times before in his collections, this was a moment – a turning point in American fashion. Mark my words – evening separates will happen – eventually. I called this three years ago in September 2011 with Rucci’s obi-inspired ball skirt. American fashion was not ready for it yet then, but perhaps Spring 2015 will be when this brilliant idea finally has its time.
For now, dear readers, I bid you “arrivederci” as we prepare for the Milan shows. Stay tuned for more news of Spring Summer 2015!
– Joseph Ungoco
Image Layout: Second City Style