Harriet Mays Powell is fashion director at New York Magazine and a former editor at Tatler. Her work has also appeared in Glamour and Elle magazines.
Question: Give us a rundown of NY Fashion Week 2009.
Harriet Mays Powell: It was a good week for New York fashion. I must say, I am pleased that the American designers did as well as they did. It’s a do or die situation I fear for a lot of the littler houses. The starts are, no huge surprises. Marc Jacobs I think was the outstanding star as he continues to be. He just takes fashion and turns it on its head and does something provocative, unusual; that’s usually the antithesis of what he had done the season before. And again, this season, he didn’t disappoint. Last season it was about 80’s and Mud Club, and shoulders and neon. This is all about ruffles and pearls and a kind of romance and theatricality that got everybody very excited.
Calvin Klein, Francis Gil Costa did a great collection again keeping with the—different than Marc. You know, Marc throws everything on its head every time. Francisco was true to the sort of DNA of Calvin Klein, it’s a much more minimalist approach, but within that, he as well, did a slightly softer silhouette, textured fabrics, moving away from the body. Much more ease and confidence that I think he has done in the past. So, he did a very strong collection. Donna Karan, one of her best collections in years. Again, true to her own DNA. Great looking suits, appropriate for working women. Done with texture, subtle colors. The girls looked beautiful.
Some unexpected stars: Jason Wu continues to develop as one of the First Lady’s favorite designers. He did a very sophisticated collection and continues to grow and expand. And I think, gosh, Michelle Obama, I could see her in so many of the looks from that show, albeit longer in length, appropriate for her. And then Peter Som did a really nice collection. He’s one of the sort of younger generation. A lot of them had trouble this season, and Peter did a very smart, short presentation; girls on the podium, about 25 looks, and it was just great, really great, great merchandise. So, I was thrilled to see that. And I think New York—I think a lot of the designers—Oscar was true, not riveting, but was consistent with what his message usually is in a woman. I was a little bit disappointed in Michael Kors. He’s a designer of my generation, we’ve been around together for a long time, and I thought his collection was a little bit out of focus. He didn’t really know what he wanted to say or do, and I think he had too many trends and wasn’t a tight enough point of view and an edit from a designer as well established and as good as he can be.
Question: What’s a must have item for the fall?
Harriet Mays Powell: I think the must-have item, well right now, you’ve got to go and get a pair of thigh high boots. You’re boots for Fall have got to be over the knee at some point. So, you want to wear them with jeans, with leggings, but you need a big, tall, sexy, kind of 70’s inspired boot. Biker jacket. I think a leather biker jacket would be the piece of clothing that everyone needs for Fall. For Spring, it’s a little too soon to say. We’ve only had New York. London is just finishing now. We haven’t had any of the big guns in Milan or in Paris. But I would suggest that something more romantic, something feminine, something with some, literally, some texture to it, possibly ruffles would be something that you needed to have for Spring/Summer going forward. But again, a little early to tell.
Recorded On: September 22, 2009