Friday, December 12, 2008

Donna Karan Pre-Fall 2009

So, along with frigid temperatures (where I live anyway), having to hear the same mind-numbing Christmas music in any store you step into and stressing about what gifts to get for the people on your list, this is the time of year when designers unveil their Pre-Fall collections. In a nutshell, Pre-Fall is what arrives in stores earliest for the Fall/Winter shopping season. It's the precursor to the more expensive and experimental runway collection and in recent years, along with the Cruise/Resort collections shown in early summer, has become increasingly more important to buyers. As such it's earned it's own little mini season where most major designers do showroom presentations for press and buyers, and some, like Karl Lagerfeld at Chanel and Zac Posen mount full scale shows.

But that's not really what matters. What matters is that the Pre-Fall collections serve as an appetizer to the hordes of ravenous runway watching fans to tide them over until the main course begins in February. The couture collections shown in January don't really count since couture is in a realm all it's own, on a whole other plateau of excitement. Pre-fall can sometimes offer a glimpse of where a designer will go with their runway collections, usually in it's distilled form, and if the Donna Karan pre-fall collection is any indication, I can't wait until Feb.

Working almost exclusively in a palette of black and various shades of red, Karan hardened up the soft tailoring and fluid draping she's so well known for to create a look that was a bit more aggressive and sharp than what one can normally expect from the Queen of 7th Ave. The silhouette was almost always very fitted, and many of the looks utilized a belt to anchor the shape at the waist. When she did infuse some drape into the design, it was kept close to the body and fairly minimal, as in a black knee-length dress with one drape across the front that flows naturally into the body of the dress.

Paired with sheer black hosiery, geometric jewelry and sharp looking pumps or booties, the look had a cool, severe sexiness to it, a nod to the 80's power woman that Karan championed in her early career, but without any overt references to the 80's. There was one detail that stood out among the fairly classic, clean pieces shown and that was oversized folds of fabric that fell in zig-zags down the front of some of the dresses. One in particular, a short, black sleeveless version with a jewel neck and an asymmetrical slit in front, was the best piece in the collection, and one of the sexiest LBD's I've seen since Balenciaga's now ubiquitous trio shown last winter as far as I'm concerned. It was signature Donna, but with a youthful edginess to it that I wouldn't normally associate with her work.

This being a DK collection, there had to be some of her signature Greco-Roman column gowns on display, but for some unknown reason, she veered from her restricted color palette showing one in sapphire blue, one in raspberry and one in a strange graphic print. It was honestly quite jarring after seeing the black, charcoal and reds against the stark white background of the photographs, and I think that, as a collection at least, it would have been much better had those two dresses either been edited out or shown in black or red. As they are, they're completely out of left field, it's not even like the colors compliment the rest of the looks. They just don't go.

Overall though it was a promising look at what's to come when Fashion Week rolls around. Here's hoping Karan sticks to her guns.

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