This is the fourth season for New York Fashion Week at Lincoln Center, whose larger and more numerous venues afford more room for spectacle than Bryant Park. Even so, many brands show elsewhere around the city to build an even more immersive brand experience. Moncler took over Central Park’s Wollman Rink. It was Fashion Week on Ice with 180+ skaters buzzing around in colorful coats. The distance and the eye-numbing cold made it difficult to focus on the clothes—but that was hardly the point.
Marc Jacobs continued his tradition of shows at the Armory on 25th Street. The models traipsed out of a Tim Burton-esque paper palace, each wearing gargantuan accessories: fuzzy hats, shawls, and even oversize clothespins. Mr. Jacobs’s theatrical vision recalled nothing so much as Cecil Beaton, the art director that brought Eliza Doolittle to life on stage and screen.
Marc Jacobs has long since proven that he can conjure up some remarkable fashion, but he has entered the pantheon largely due to his ability to master all of the tools of image-building. The most celebrated designers have become art directors and storytellers who can disseminate a unique brand vision through every imaginable medium: not just ready-to-wear, accessories and fragrance but stagecraft, magazine ads, online videos and tweets.
That brings me to my favorite show of New York Fashion Week. Joseph Altuzarra’s presentation wasn’t flashy, but his Fall 2012 Collection was plenty playful. The stars were little discs of color—psychedelic ones in V-formation on sweaters, metallic ones dangling and jangling from belts and hems, printed ones in an electric orange pattern that recalled both Indian saris and Moroccan textiles. Joseph Altuzarra managed to harmonize seemingly incompatible design elements, deftly mixing military details with ladylike charm, demure skirts with audacious side slits, accessible shapes with majestic detailing. There were plenty of bells and whistles to be sure, but they were on the clothes—not the stage.