Wet snow blanketed New York on Tuesday, but runways from Badgley Mischka to Derek Lam were blanketed in warm colors, romantic silhouettes, and at Rodarte, lots and lots of light.
At Badgley Mischka, short cocktail dresses—a drop-waist fringe dress and glittering black number—mixed up the evening fare. But the fancier gowns were modern, too, as a liquid gold dress glided down the runway followed by a cream-colored dress adorned with roses. At Vera Wang, another queen of eveningwear, the theme was simply: "The Bride Wore Black." And she ventured into shorter, more playful territory, showing a parade of sparkling black mini-dresses encrusted with glittering paillettes and flourishes of black mesh.
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More Fashion Week Coverage from The Daily Beast • Days 1-3• Day 4• Day 5• Day 7• Day 8Despite the fantasy in Badgley Mischka's collection, there was, however, a dose reality in the front row. Kim Kardashian was the reality-TV-star-du-jour at the designer's show last season, but this year it was The City's Erin Lucas, 90210's Annalynne Mccord, and even Real Housewife Kelly Bensimon.
Downtown at Derek Lam, the frigid temperatures wore off and warm, Western tones set in: urban cowgirls strutted Lam's runway in a series of camels, grays and tans. The collection featured cowboy hats strapped around chins, suede fringe skirts, low-slung belts, and color-blocked leather jackets.
The highlight of the day, however, was at Rodarte where, despite the snow, a bare-legged Kirsten Dunst arrived all smiles and took a seat next to Jason Schwartzman. Across the room at the Chelsea art gallery, a mob of paparazzi surrounded Natalie Portman. When the lights finally went down, white pebbles were spread around the runway. Excited by the dark, photographers on the risers broke out into spontaneous song, belting "Happy Birthday, Rodarte."
The show opened with a bang: twangy, spaghetti-Western music; girls in Rodarte's signature spaghetti knits. Each look was, of course, multi-layered and infinitely complicated: delicate silks mixed with gauzy yarns, swags of chiffon stretched from shoulder to hip, sheepskin fluttered on shoulders, and strings of pearls dripped from gowns. Mingled in the stew of fabrics were delicate floral prints adorning dresses, pants, and bandaged around bodies. The silhouettes were romantic, the colors spanning creams, beiges, and deep reds.
And the music complemented the romantic, vintage feel of the collection: the Flamingoes' 1959 hit, "I Only Have Eyes For You" sprung onto the speakers just in time for long white gowns to blanket the runway. As the love song swelled, four white-faced models in white gowns assembled in a circle before the room went black. As applause roared, all the models returned to the stage to circle the room in black light to the tune of "Blue Moon," and white fabrics and beads emitted a haunting glow. But the real delight came on the heels of Rodarte's towering shoes: tiny lights flickered inside of them as the models walked.
The eerie romance of the collection came directly the ghost towns of the rural Southwest. "The collection was really inspired by border towns," said Kate Mulleavy, one half of Rodarte's sister-sister design team, "By this idea of a transient landscape, and the idea of sleepwalking."
"It's one of the only shows that brings any fantasy here," Tavi Gevinson, the 13-year-old fashion blogger, said of Rodarte after the show.
The show was, indeed, high art—and Jeffrey Deitch, the newly-appointed director of Los Angeles' Museum of Contemporary Art, was in the front row to take it all in.
"They are the freshest thing going in fashion in Los Angeles," Deitch said of the Mulleavy sisters. "They have unique ability to fuse the artistic and the commercial, and it's really exciting. I've been following what they do, and I hope to involve them in our programs." How? "Museum exhibitions, staging, fashion shows at the museum, there are a lot of ways."
Isabel Wilkinson is an assistant editor at The Daily Beast.