N.Y. Fashion Week: Looks that matter

Associated Press

From the runway designs to the celebrity-filled front rows, the New York Fashion Week is running strong through Thursday.

The event is held twice a year in February and September and features international fashion collections. It is one of the major fashion weeks in the world, joining Paris, London and Milan in the latest and greatest fashions for the upcoming year and beyond.

This year, Detroiter Tracy Reese is one of the featured designers and honored her Detroit roots with film.

Describing her hometown as a phoenix, Reese said she wanted to look back at her childhood, but also capture the excitement of today’s Detroit in the short film she presented with a collection of clothing that harkened back to a 1930s speakeasy.

Directed by Ali Nasser, with original music by Regina Carter, the film “A Detroit Love Song” follows a stunning young woman as she shows off the new clothes from Reese in far-flung spots, from the front steps of a modest wood house to the legendary Red’s Jazz Shoe Shine Parlor, where our ingénue takes a high seat for a special shine on her black lace-up ankle boots.

Our muse roams in leg garters attached to her high socks and presses her hand against the glass of a taxi as she cruises Detroit. Reese honors her late mother, who was a dancer, with a scene in a dance studio, where she spent lots of time growing up.

After the film, Reese took her guests from the screening room of The Roxy Hotel downtown into a barroom nearby decked out like a speakeasy, piano player and all, as off-screen models stood still in some of the designs shown in the film.

“It’s a city that is so rich in culture,” Reese said of Detroit. “It has such amazing people who have stuck with that town through thick and thin. We’re sort of at an interesting juncture where the city is changing a lot and there is a lot of new interest and a lot of new blood. People are moving to Detroit because they know they can be a part of creating something amazing.”

Her clothes, too, pay tribute to her hometown. Like Detroit, a cultural melting pot with many layers adding depth, she used intricate beading, embroidery and crochet lace to bring her dresses and other looks alive. To mimic Detroit’s strong manufacturing roots (Reese’s late father worked for one of the car companies) she added masculine suiting in herringbone and plaid.

This being a cold-weather collection, she threw in some coats of fur and zebra stripes. To honor Detroit’s rebirth, Reese worked in earthy colors of peat, moss and pond blue.

As for the shoe shine shop, Robert from Red’s appears in the film shining up those boots for Reese’s muse, a young model who lives in Detroit who caught the designer’s eye.

“I just felt like that was so Detroit,” she said of the shine. “Every grand building in Detroit has an old-school shoe shine shop in the basement. He does it the old way. He dabs on salve, he whips the towel, he gets out the double brushes. It’s something we hardly ever allow ourselves to enjoy. I think more women should be going to get shoe shines.”

Earlier this week, guests at Thom Browne’s runway show entered a Chelsea gallery from the snow-dusted streets of New York. Inside they found, well, the snow-dusted streets of New York. But it was the New York of the 1920s, and the location was Washington Square Park, meticulously recreated down to the houses surrounding it, which were sketched on the gallery’s walls.

A succession of intriguingly dressed women came to stroll under the streetlamps in this park. They wore elegant combinations of coats, jackets and skirts, all bearing the very detailed tailoring that Browne is famous for. But increasingly, it was obvious that these outfits had been deconstructed and then reconstructed as something else.

A jacket could be seen in its new incarnation as part of a skirt. The fur-trimmed arms of a coat became part of a dress. Sleeves could be seen hanging artfully from a waistline.

Tommy Hilfiger and sails

If you’re going to fill the cavernous, spectacular Park Avenue Armory wall to wall with guests, you’d better give ’em some pretty big scenery to look at.

And Tommy Hilfiger always does just that, whether it’s building a winter wonderland, a beach, or a football stadium. At Monday’s nautical-themed runway show, his models strutted the decks of a steam liner, no less — with actual steam coming out of the stacks.

The clothes displayed on the, er, T.H. Atlantic combined formal nautical wear — navy jackets with gold buttons and brocade — with more feminine elements, like delicate print dresses, or sheer navy skirts through which one could see sequined short shorts.

There were plenty of sailor coats and dresses, Breton striped tops, wide-legged pants with gold stripes down the side, even nautical overalls. Footwear included chunky-heeled loafers paired with ankle socks. A number of models wore tiaras in their hair.

Cowboys and poodles

The designs are always eye-popping at a Jeremy Scott show, but on Monday, it was hard to decide whether to look at the models’ clothes or at their extremely interesting feet.

On those feet were cowboy boots — in plastic — with high heels, in colors like bright pink and blue and yellow. Some were embellished with animal prints, sparkles or other shiny doodads.

The overall theme of the show, said Scott backstage, was taking some “honky-tonk archetypes” and twisting them in his own way (the show was titled “Cowboys and Poodles.”) “There’s a punky kind of Debbie Harry take on this kind of cowboy and western vibe that I’ve done, and dripped it into candy colors,” he said.

The designer had fun — as he usually does — playing with fabrics and textures.

“The boots are plastic, there’s some angora sweaters in candy colors, there’s sequins, there’s faux fur, there’s wools and fuzzy little bits and bobs,” Scott said. “There’s a little bit of everything.”

Jeans were spruced up with brightly colored vinyl patches on the pockets. Tight leather pants were embellished with a fringe coming down the side, evoking a cowboy jacket.

Prints were, as usual, bold and entertaining. One had a Betty Grable-style pinup girl. Another had a hairbrush and what looked like a shampoo bottle. And there was an electric-guitar print; supermodel Karlie Kloss seemed to be having a great time modeling a bright blue version of it in a tight knit dress, accompanied by plastic boots, of course, and a poufy hairdo.