Who doesn’t like a party? Everyone likes a party, especially at New York Fashion Week and Carmen Marc Valvo went big with a 25th anniversary collection that is large, varied, surprising, beautiful, and on occasion, stunning. Let’s start with the surprising and just get that out of the way.

It really isn’t that unusual for someone whose design experience is as varied as Valvo’s to incorporate men’s wear in with women’s. Neither is it too terribly surprising to see an occasional swimwear piece. However, when Marc sent a male model down the runway in nothing but a very  small swimsuit, with a red/orange floral print across the top, some gasped, some giggled, and more than a few blushed. Sure, we’re used to seeing that on the beach, but Manhattan is not exactly the beachiest place we’ve ever been. Not that anyone was actually complaining, mind you.

Actually, the men’s wear portion of this show was possibly the most innovative. Valvo too many of the same elements used in women’s wear, sheer tops, print pants, matching ensembles, and applied them to his men’s wear. The looks were … uhm … interesting. Whether men will actually buy these looks, or be gifted them by their wives/girlfriends who’ve also purchased matching outfits, remains to be seen. Carmen was careful to not present any of the pieces as matching couples outfits; that would have been a bit too much. However, the potential for creating such is certainly there.

When it comes to women’s wear, of course, the looks were nothing short of stunning. Gorgeous floral prints in blue and red on dresses and pants and even swimwear, though it might be worth noting that the women’s swimwear was considerably more restrained and conservative than was the men’s. The looks were very feminine all the way around, with surprising detail on the back of several pieces.

What really rocks for the women, though, are all the pleats. Limited space doesn’t give me the opportunity to show you all the wonderful sheer pleated skirts that adorned the collection of gowns and dresses throughout this collection. Billowing and breezy, these pieces are just waiting for you to take them out dancing, where one might whirl and twirl with delight. These are dresses to be seen, dresses meant for a celebration. Bodice silhouettes vary considerable; this is a large collection and I do think Marc tossed in a touch of just about every silhouette he’s ever used. The skirts, though, are where the action is and inevitably the part of the dress that gets the most attention. Stunning? Yes, both the wearer and the dress.

Along the way, there are several other interesting and notable pieces. White suits for both men and women caused me to shudder a bit. When I see a white suit I cannot help but imagine them covered in coffee stains, which is exactly what would happen if I ever wore one. A man’s tuxedo with  a silver vest was an especially well done piece. Again, if space were not an issue, we could go on and on.

I am disappointed that Carmen is being snubbed by a number of larger fashion magazines. Why, I cannot tell you. My guess is that with a schedule as packed as this one is that resources simply could not get from one place to the other in time. What’s sad is that those readers are being deprived of a truly wonderful diverse and exciting collection. Now that you know about it, perhaps you should tell someone else. Consider it a friendly gesture of good fashion.


Photo credit: Frazer Harrison

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