February 6, 2006
Retro multicolored signs proclaiming the arrival of Olympus Fashion Week, in New York's Bryant Park, filled the street front of 42nd and 6th. For both the budding and blossoming fashionista, the white tents signaled the arrival of fashion euphoria. From February 3 through the 10 buyers, sellers, celebrities, journalists and the fashion elite scoured the runway looking for the fashion gems for this upcoming fall season. However, this season some one of the best kept secrets in fashion were poised outside the well known walls of the tents.
Where the marble staircases cascaded into Astor Hall of the New York Public Library, Jill Stuart redesigned the traditional ways of wearing black in the debut of her Fall 2006 collection. Forget the days of wispy haired librarians with oversized glasses and scuffed penny loafers; this was a library of couture and fashion.
Stuart showcased an edgier fall line that consisted of many gothic themed pieces mixed with a little rock. Steering away from her usual ornate frocks and sugary frills, models sporting lean floor sweeping trenches, black billowy dresses and dark berry lips cat walked the runway. The long flow of midnight dresses sometimes coupled with a dark trench almost seemed ironic in the soft light of the candelabras of the library.
Stuart's feminine appeal was not entirely absent from the collection. She speckled the runway with the occasional soft glow of creamy winter white trenches and dresses of a lighter texture and color.
Some designs were even available in a mini sex kitten appeal, while longer versions stood neatly in line with Stuart's vision to clean up the collection with a more modern approach.
As if a pixie came and speckled the runway with shimmer and sparkle Stuart popped our attention at just the right moment with the occasional cameo of glittery tops, usually paired with skinny jeans or mini shorts.
Wanting to keep close the attention of her normal clientele, Stuart introduced certain pieces that were sure to please her loyal fans. My favorite, and perhaps most in sync with Stuart's niche as a designer, and almost slightly a mirror of Dior, was this mini dress and matching scarf.
Stuart showcased 46 looks with a solid mix of dresses, both long and short, as well as pants. Perhaps one of the most enjoyable features of the collection however, was the array of great coats. I foresee these coats flying off the runway and into the closets of those who possess an eye for fashion. However, these gorgeous coats belong anywhere but in a closet. In addition to the great tailoring, Stuart did us all a favor by erasing some of the extra baggage of a coat by introducing high-waisted belts to preserve the chique of being a woman while still being practical.
Stuart who began her career at an early age crafting jewelry and handbags let this collection stand alone in terms of accessories. Only one outfit was paired with an oversized black bag and jewelry was not present on any of the straight haired models, with the exception of the occasional belt. Stuart who launched her women's line in 1993 has shown that her focus has shifted from her days of selling silver chokers and hobo bags to Bloomingdales and has truly evolved into an impressive designer of women's wear.
For that, all of us dazzling darlings who live and breathe for fashion will be living and breathing for Stuart's superb and modern line this fall.
Photos courtesy of: nymag.com.