In our hoity-toity world of fashion, store-sponsored fashion shows usually cause eye rolls and groans. They’re typically long and drawn out, with amateur styling that utilizes only a small selection of goods that are — you guessed it — carried at said store. And because the goal is to sell clothes rather than show off a designer’s creative vision, it’s merchandise we’ve likely already seen on shelves and in the pages of magazines. Despite these snobby, preconceived notions, we were excited Sunday night to attend the first runway show of Fashion Week El Paseo 2011 — a showcase of spring styles from Saks Fifth Avenue.
Good thing, because the show blew us away.
In 58 looks, the luxury retailer highlighted the season’s key trends for men and women, with goods from their location in The Gardens on El Paseo. Impeccably styled pieces by the likes of Missoni, Oscar de la Renta, Diane Von Furstenberg, and Alexander McQueen literally garnered gasps from the crowd, our incredibly jaded selves included.
Bold watercolor florals from Dior and Escada preceded a gray, short-sleeve jacket from Piazza Sempione that mimicked what you may have worn to Tae Kwon Do class as a kid — touching on spring’s major influx of Asian influence. Rich colors from all stripes of the rainbow flooded the runway. But orange, a biggie for the season, really made itself known on a Bohemian papaya-colored maxi dress by Michael Kors and a geometrically cut coral vest from Akris, which came with matching pants and cornered another spring trend — monochromatic minimalism.
Spring’s Cape Cod, yacht-appropriate aesthetic also ended up in the desert last night with a navy-and-white-striped cardigan by Pauw shown with an asymmetrical blue and white poplin skirt that made us crave lobster rolls. Speaking of white, which is more plentiful than usual this spring, it too was represented by way of a one-shoulder body con dress from Project Runway star Christian Siriano and a sweet Oscar de la Renta tiered-lace cocktail ensemble. By the way, tablecloth lace is — yep — another spring trend.
But the real crowd cheers started the second a model in a perfectly cut Jean Paul Gaultier suit took her turn at the end of the catwalk, revealing a back-of-jacket web of intricate, laser cut pieces that exposed her skin.
They continued as Zuhair Murad’s long, metallic gunmetal lace gown made its way down the catwalk, when you could almost see well-dressed wives whispering to their husbands, telling them exactly what they should expect to find on next month’s Saks bill.
The show ended, quite appropriately, with an Old Hollywood invoking red gown by the late Alexander McQueen. And Saks did exactly what a store-sponsored fashion show should do — they got a room full of eager consumers excited about their clothes.
And we left the big white fashion tent, giddy at the long, flowing YSL leopard caftan we wanted to buy at once, before thinking about the Missoni aqua-colored calf-length skirt that we wanted to buy, too. And we vowed never to pre-judge a store-sponsored fashion show ever again.