New York Fashion Week Fall 2012: Oliver Twist in Wonderland at Marc Jacobs; Swinging London Inspires Betsey Johnson; Go to the Office With 3.1 Phillip Lim


Well before Marc Jacobs‘s show even got started, it was hard not to be impressed. To design his set, he’d hired artist Rachel Feinstein, who created what appeared to be a crumbling castle in the woods and an elevated winding path leading out into the audience. It immediately called to mind something you might see on Broadway. Which turned out not to be that far off.

The one song that repeated over and over throughout the show was “Who Will Buy?” from Oliver!, the 1960 musical of the Charles Dickens classic Oliver Twist. The tune begins with a flower girl selling on the street and, indeed, some of his models carried long-stem roses and most of them appeared to be channeling the disheveled look of the most famous British flower girl we could think of: Eliza Doolittle. But though they may have been wearing fingerless gloves and funny rag knit stoles fastened with giant safety pins (a trend we’re eager to start right now), there was nothing simple or plain about this collection.

The models glided down the path in luxurious patchwork skirts (some worn over cropped satin pants), tinsel tweed skirts, and paisley wool brocade jackets. Rhinestones were on everything from the sunglasses to the big Pilgrim buckles on the shoes.

Truly testing the adventurous spirit of his audience, Jacobs topped off his creations with cartoonish fur hats (by whimsical milliner Stephen Jones) that recalled the Mad Hatter’s tea party à la Tim Burton. Sitting in the front row at the armory on Lexington Avenue, New York Times street-style photographer Bill Cunningham looked like a kid in a candy store, happily snapping away at Jacobs’s eccentric creations–a good sign to all that many will want to buy this wonderful collection.

Earlier in the evening, Betsey Johnson presented a British-inspired line of her own at Lincoln Center. But instead of Victorian London, it was Swinging London that dominated her runway. The show opened with old footage of girls screaming for the Beatles, and many of the looks in the show’s program had Fab Four-inspired names such as “The Walrus” and “Eleanor Rigby.” The clothes glowed with neon colors, most frequently neon pink, Betsey’s signature shade, which popped up on stockings, mini skirts, fuzzy scarves, and striped drainpipe pants. Highlights included a skinny herringbone suit, silky floral pants, and a strapless cocktail dress with a gold floral print paired with elegant long black gloves. Accompanied by her daughter Lulu, who closed the show in a hot-pink floor-length gown, and one of her little granddaughters, the downtown fashion legend skipped down the runway amid a group of pom-pom girls and ended her show, as always, by doing the splits. Ms. Johnson, we salute you!

By now, we know what some of you must be saying: “All of this sounds well and good, but I can’t look like the Mad Hatter or Twiggy at my job.” Though we at The Voice can’t relate to this problem, we have had those kinds of icky office jobs before and can certainly understand. So for you, there is 3.1 Phillip Lim. Lim’s show at Highline Stages on 14th Street had all of those beautifully constructed jackets and trousers that say you mean business but also care about style. Pieces that caught our eye and would win you points for being the chicest woman at the office included slim black houndstooth trousers, a black-and-nude jumpsuit with a wide PVC belt, and–an absolute must for winter–the knee-length herringbone reversible coat with deep pockets and a high collar. The most eccentric item we spotted was an oversized cardigan worn backward, which would certainly liven up anyone’s Casual Friday.