Welcome to New York and the latest edition of the circus known as New York Fashion Week. It’s cold and cloudy with an uncomfortable wind in the Big Apple and while there are smiles and happy faces on the surface, there is still a palpable tension in the air. The fashion industry knows that the current system is broken, but there are no sure and firm answers as to how to fix everything. As a result, many are questioning what we’re doing here and if there might not be a better solution than everyone crowding into a small theater at Moynihan Station.

One thing already not working is the fact that live shows are not being streamed on the NYFW website this season. One has to have the app, which accommodates those in New York running late from one show to the next, but ill serves anyone else around the world who doesn’t especially like trying to squint at a small screen to catch the details on a fashion ensemble. And there are still a surprising number of shows not streaming at all, which is even more worrisome. The digital divide is, again, one of those broken pieces.

What’s not broken is Lubov Azria. She has firm hold of the reigns for her aging husband, Max, and is guiding the label forward, though her moves are still cautious. If there was any remaining doubt who’s in charge, that was erased with the fact that Max didn’t even arrive at the facility until 30 minutes before show time. Lubov already had operations well in hand, giving Max a chance to schmooze, which he still does quite well.

For those fall/winter collection, Lubov accelerates the pace of layering knits, with plenty of cowl necks and oversized sleeves, asymmetric hems and leggings with holes in them. A few of the coats appear to be sleeveless, but they’re not. Instead, the sleeves are likely to be a different material and weave from the bodice, and often a contrasting color, giving the illusion of layered garments instead of a single piece.

Missing from all these pieces are closures of any kind. No buttons, no zippers, no hooks that were immediately evident. The most frequently used gathering device is a cinched belt, but even that is used rather sparingly. Instead, Lubov relies on the layer beneath to compensate for the openness of the layer above. The look works well and accentuates the multiple asymmetric hems, but could get a bit breezy should the weather turn unexpectedly nasty.

There are a number of jumper dresses scattered through the collection, often presented with striped fuzzy knit tops beneath. While there is a plain feeling to several pieces, the ones done in leather hint at a more sexy, playful emotion that could be a lot of fun.

The most curious aspect of this collection is Lubov’s choice of open-toed sandals with no foot covering. I could see past the holey stockings, given the average hem length is below the knee, but open-toed sandals for winter would only seem to work around the house, and that’s assuming one lives in the South. While I’m sure the look is comfortable, we don’t get much sense of practicality. This underlines one of the disconnects between designers and customers. Customers are less likely to purchase a runway look when there’s an obvious seasonal flaw in the mix.

BCBG MAXAZRIA is a retail-oriented brand so we’re not surprised that there’s no big surprise to this collection. What Lubov shoes she can turn around and sell and that’s a tactic that has served the label well. With other labels switching to current-season shows, though, one has to think that Max and Lubov might do well to move that direction, too. Were they selling what was shown on the runway this morning, they would most certainly have had hundreds of orders by show’s end.

This was a good, solid start to NYFW. We have our feet under us, so hopefully the week progresses well with plenty of pleasant surprises along the way.


photo credit: Geo Staiano

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