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Monday, March 4, 2013

Fade to Light in Review

Posted by Marjorie Skinner on Mon, Mar 4, 2013 at 3:14 PM

Last week's Fade to Light fashion show went off without a hitch (we think) to a packed crowd at the Crystal Ballroom, where we were treated to new collections from lines like M. Wood, Emit, and Charlie Harper, augmented by short video presentations introducing each, providing a peek into the inspirations and moods behind the clothes.

Studio SKB was first out with a collection inspired by Edie Sedgwick, whose face, via footage from a Warhol test, loomed out over the proceedings. The models came out all at once, shoulders shrouded with scarves, to have their faces powdered for a moment below the screen. Unlit as they were, it was the first of several confusing moments for the audience, unsure as to whether the show had begun. But, soon enough the scarves were shrugged off and the lights came up on the runway, where models displayed a dark palette of designer Sharon Blair's dresses and separates that employed an almost Fair Isle-looking print, unexpected stripe paneling, and a reverse seam here and there. Highlights were a floaty paisley blouse, pretty lace overlays, and a sporty striped top.

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Other than a few pieces, the collection did not read as very Edie, with some pieces—like a series of mid-calf skirts featuring fluttery front slits—seeming about as opposite as you can get to an icon whose style was defined by loud earrings, graphic mod prints and minis, black tights, and leotards as a stand-in for pants. Not that references need be literal, but the visuals combined with a shadow dancer behind the screen were screaming a '60s vibe that didn't quite make it all the way out onto the runway. Still, the collection contained plenty of wearable, versatile pieces that demonstrate Blair's strength in designing for a wide range of women, occasions, and ages.

Ms. Wood's video was a dressing room mood piece, with a beautiful model slipping out of a floral robe and into one of the strongest looks of the collection, a leather peplum over a clinging ballet pink dress. While designer Alicia Wood didn't depart completely from her roots as a kimono designer, the collection took a step away from the reference, revealing Wood's knack for designing sexy pieces that are easy to wear and integrate into even the busiest woman's wardrobe: soft wrap sweaters and dresses, a casually sexy pantsuit, and the highlight—a smart cropped black jacket. All punched up by the cultish Ms. Wood bags, waist cinchers, and platforms in their most dramatic runway iterations.

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Clair Vintage Inspired concentrated on party dresses this year, with designer Alyson Clair's devotion to vintage silhouettes uniting an otherwise disparate array of prints and colors—typical of a line that favors presenting clients lots of options over a prescriptive overarching mood. The opening video was of carefree vintage origin, a lighthearted song and dance number that set a tone of levity. Favorites involved glitter, including a finale toss of the gold stuff.

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Next up was a collaborative collection of re-imagined vintage neckwear by Gregarious Cline and PINO, augmented with clothing from Hollywood Vintage. The opening video was a stylized self-portrait of Cline demonstrating the proper method of securing the dapper mod-rock cravats, shown complete with matching eye patches (!).

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Emit, a line that made a splash as one of 2012's downtown holiday pop-ups, used their video to emphasize their employment of high-tech fabrics, declaring that "our lives are demanding... our clothing should rise to the occasion. The pieces featured their signature laser-cutout details, which creates an interesting visual effect that gets cooler the smaller and more detailed it becomes. By contrast the silhouette designs are simple and forgiving, universal templates to show off the detail. Making an experimental piece accessible is smart and should be applauded, but I want to see the motif take on larger, more dramatic forms. At times, as in the tops in a blue and yellow colorway, the techiness of the design is a little too reminiscent of athletic wear, but I'd love to see it in layers on a full length gown, in headpieces, sheer coats, or flowing pants, even if only for the runway.

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Wandering Muse stayed true to their names with an introductory video that toured the audience through an international whirlwind of cityscapes. The travel theme was translated onto the runway in easy to pack jerseys, many of which could be transformed to maximize the possibility of each piece. A favorite pairing was a dropped crotch black pant with tall boots reminiscent of Russian folk dancers.

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Bryce Black's video featured the designer confessing a recurring nightmare involving "glitter and blood" with the specter of "Scary Mary"—actually Black in drag. An unsubtle reference to his appearance on Project Runway had the designer mock-stabbing a bag from Mood with his scissors. The collection was all high drama, with a piercing bright blue, tons of flowing lace in saturated hues, tight vinyl, shredding, an overbuilt architectural cape, and in a quieter moment, a lovely, light pale jacket, if you can spot it.

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Scary Mary appears!
  • Scary Mary appears!

Chicago Harper closed the show with an extended intro featuring the singer/songwriter Leo sitting at a piano. As she sang, her long skirt was slowly gathered across the stage into a screen on which ambient, macabre liquid movements were cast. The runway dark at this point, a model carrying a somber bunch of balloons made the route several times, leaving everyone puzzled and craning to make out what looked like an amazing jacket with leather piping in the dark. Was there a technical problem with the lights? The question murmured through the crowd. Eventually, though, they came up on a collection of four of designer Joshua Buck's menswear, which walks the line between experimental and accessible. I half suspect the long introduction (despite only four looks, this was among the longest of the presentations) was a ruse to mask the brevity of the collection, but no matter; as always, Buck raised the bar in terms of interest, including the aforementioned jacket.

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