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Off the cuff with Marilyn Kirschner

Dressing for the fashion shows

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Pat Field photo in vintage fur

Cosstume designer Pat Field showed up in a vintage fur.

Marilyn Kirschner

If you think the only real fashion is shown on models parading down the runways, think again.

The recent New York collections for Fall/Winter 2003 proved once again that often the best show -- the parade of fashion seen on the audience -- is the one off the runways.

Getting dressed

For any die-hard fashionista, Fashion Week presents an opportunity to get dressed up for all the world to see (well, all the fashion world, that is).

And let me assure you, this is nothing short of a daunting task.

Here's what a Fashion Week wardrobe consists of:

  • Eight different outfits (the shows run for about eight days, from Friday to Friday).
  • Looks that are somewhat comfortable and practical (you are often running around from 9 am until 10 pm, in addition to getting in and out of cabs, subways, etc.)
  • Ensembles that simultaneously look great and make a statement.

Whew, talk about pressure!

Everyone is being scrutinized, whether they are front row fixtures, or relegated to sitting in the back. This is an opportunity to endorse a designer, endorse a trend, show off your own personal style, your imagination, and your creativity.

In short it’s one’s moment to shine!

Under the tent

The Fall/Winter 2003 New York Collections which recently ended, were centralized (as they have been for awhile now) at Bryant Park- 40th and 6th, just blocks away from Times Square.

It is here that many, though not all, of the shows are held under a big white tent especially erected for the occasion. And how fitting, because this exaggerates the circus-like, carnival atmosphere which has come to define the overall mood and feeling of Fashion Week (both here and abroad).

In addition to thousands of show attendees, comprised of the international press, buyers, retailers, celebrities, socialites, and assorted fabulous fashionistas, there are hordes of photographers and paparazzi who mill about, camera in tow, just waiting to snap a picture of that worthy subject.

So, what were the fashion statements on parade?

Fur stories

The big story of the week was the weather: it was excruciatingly cold (the first day even began with a little snow storm).

This made it a perfect excuse to get those furs out of storage and the fur was (literally) flying.

There was every pelt imaginable -- chinchilla, mink, fox, rabbit, lynx, coyote, Mongolian lamb -- all seen in a variety of colors, on both men and women alike.

In addition to traditional coats and jackets, there were edgy fur vests, fur anoraks, fur pullovers, fur sweaters, fur stoles, and fur bombers. And then of course, there were all the fur accessories: fur bags, fur hats and fur earmuffs.

One of fashion’s most colorful characters, "Sex And The City" costume designer Pat Field, showed up in a colorful patchwork vintage fur.

Only Anna

Unquestionably, the leader of the fur pack was the Queen Bee of New York fashion and an international celebrity in her own right: Anna Wintour, the editor in chief of American Vogue.

Anna is always impeccably turned out, and in the winter months can usually be counted on to wear fur.

As a result, she has been targeted by PETA, so she now accessorizes her furs with surly bodyguards who accompany her to her seat and later escort her out of the building.

Among her week’s outfits were:

  • A very sporty (in a chicly elegant sort of way) hooded, knee-length, sleeveless coyote coat (a limited edition Louis Vuitton design) put together with an olive-y brown wool, ribbed turtleneck and knee-length skirt.
  • An elegant and luxurious Fendi Natural Russian Sable hip-length jacket paired with a taupe satin bias cut skirt.
  • A fitted, camel mink coat from Prada.
  • Her shoe of choice each day was a variation (in taupe, brown or olive) on a fabulous suede knee-high boot).

Cool Carine

Anna's French counterpart, and one of the most influential fashion figures today is Carine Roitfeld, the editor in chief of French Vogue.

Her show wardrobe included long-haired, knee-length coats (with a decidedly mannish cut) all worn with her signature simple v-neck cashmere sweaters, knee-length skirts and killer boots or heels.

In one instance, she had the paparazzi going crazy when she appeared in a pale, fluffy fur coat paired with thick black opaque tights and optic white, pointy-toed stilettos (most likely by Michel Perry-her shoe designer of choice)

On another occasion, she used fur as a liner under a man-tailored wool coat.

Ski chic

Furs were not the only items chosen for warmth.

Many show attendees opted for versions of the ever- popular shearling coat or jacket, as well as that perennial winter classic: the quilted down coat. These, in a rainbow of colors were seen fitted and sleek, or big, roomy and oversized (as in Norma Kamali’s signature sleeping bag coat). Knitted ski hats and mile long scarves completed the look and gave the show venues the look of a ski resort.

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