This story may be missing a lede because instead of attending the opening night party of the 2017’s Fashion Week El Paseo, my husband insisted we stop en route at Catalan in Rancho Mirage for red wine, smoked octopus, and wedge salads. I was a little grumpy about missing the bedecked throngs milling about, cocktails in hand, in all their questionable fashion sense glory (who was that man in the electric orange Nehru jacket or the strangely skinny woman with pink hair?), but we managed to enter the tent just as Christopher Bates’ show began.
Within minutes, I was heartily glad of that pitstop at Catalan; our tapas would prove to be the only color that would appear for the next twenty minutes.
The models in the Bates’ menswear show looked ready for travel, perhaps influenced by trends more political than sartorial: the new Cold War of fashion anyone?
The models in the Bates’ menswear show looked ready for travel.
Black and white turtlenecks, cargo pants (although the closest these guys have come to the army is playing with G.I. Joes), and khaki is back (although one imagines this neutral color has been repurposed as the more sophisticated camel!
Just add one of the gorgeous leather tote bags that complimented many of the looks and you’ve got a guy who resembles the East German playwright/poet I once knew who was mysteriously never without his luggage, and who, after two or three pints, liked to describe his butt cheeks as two cold pillows. Indeed, the form fitting slacks in every neutral shade made the ladies go wild, but the real glitz was saved for the shoes.
One model, a Kurt Cobain look-alike, looked straight out of the grunge decade, only in jogger pants with a drawstring and disco ball Converse instead of baggy jeans and Birkenstocks. Lots of monochrome, shades of gray paired with lighter shades of pale gray, and zippered pockets on the front thigh to hold your ciggies. I felt as though I’d been at a poetry salon, perhaps at an Art Deco apartment in a rainy European city, in a high-ceilinged room thick with intellectual smoke.
The beautifully wearable fashions by Adam Lippes were up next, and for this observer, the artistic highlight of the evening. Made in New York City of French and Italian fabrics, the first dress to float down the runway was the favorite of everyone I spoke to after the show as the herd milled toward the esalators. With the length of a maxi dress and the shape of the ever-forgiving tent dress, the creamy fabric moved gracefully and soft, and would easily flatter every woman of any age.
The floral trend of the 90s appeared here as well. The full-length brocade coat was something out of a dream, and in keeping with the inspiration of the entire line: women who hand-paint pottery, as Lippes told the audience in a pre-recorded video before the show. His wearable, detail-oriented looks featured flowing tunics in palest pink, a bright pink hi-low hem dress that made this trend feel new again, and not just for girls (and women) who shop at Forever 21, and a siren red wide leg jumpsuit with a not-too-plunging neckline in an arresting color.
A midi-dress printed in a delicate blooming pink and blue floral pattern with a nipped waist left much to the imagination. This understated, classy sexiness was repeated in a neutral midi-length white sleeveless knit dress that would suit the activities of many generations of women: from meeting the parents of your boyfriend for the first time, to the dress you wear to your retirement shindig. Like Oscar de la Renta, where Lippes was once the creative director before starting his own label, these are clothes fit for a feminine woman who wants to look strong and sexy. A woman who wants to wear the dress, and not let the dress wear her.
Like Oscar de la Renta, where Adam Lippes was once the creative director before starting his own label, these are clothes fit for a feminine woman who wants to look strong and sexy.
Mikael D.’s dramatic show began with Gershwin, and under the shape of the Empire State Building, women began walking in shades of gold. One very short dress with long sleeves literally glimmered like a disco ball, and a 30s inspired flapper dress took those flaps to a whole new glittering level, with light reflecting bead details. A cap sleeve beaded gown looked rather tame, until the model turned around.
Mikael D brought some drama to the runway with his designs.
Before the bridal dresses came out, a wonderful blue dress made of light blue feathers and a glittering blue corset top fit the “Rhapsody in Blue” beaming from the speakers, and many of the dresses transformed in some way – a cape-like silhouette was lifted to reveal a mermaid dress, and a very short structured hemline became bridal in the back with sheer tulle and sheer tulle and visible buttons tracing the neck and spine.
There were some selections so revealing that it brought to mind the body socks Cher was famous for wearing in the 80s, but it was all forgiven when the two bridal dresses walked out. Shoulder pads, off the shoulder, sweetheart necklines, and an abundance of glitter: it was all that was fun and excessive about the 80s bride, and unlike some of the almost entirely sheer neutral dresses that very few women could wear unless, like one of the models, she had visible hipbones, these were gowns you could wear in front of your father as he walked you down the aisle.
Designer Mikael D receives hearty applause from the Fashion Week El Paseo opening-night audience.
VIDEO: View the entire opening night show of Fashion Week El Paseo.