Remember the 1980s, when big hair and even bigger shoulders were the height of chic? The designers at Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week won’t let you forget. Yes, the shoulder pad is back. Add that to power suits, Robert Palmer-style second-skin dresses, dark lipstick and even, at Miss Sixty, acid-wash jeans. It’s probably safe to say that there were more shoulder pads at Goodwill drop-off bins than at fashion boutiques in recent years.
But big shoulders edged onto the runways of Marc Jacobs, Donna Karan, Alexander Wang, Diane von Furstenberg and others as New York Fashion Week ended its fourth day of fall previews Monday.
“Shoulder pads scare people but remember, runway is a fairy tale,’’ said Gloria Baume, fashion director at Teen Vogue. “Now we have to figure out how to make it real.”
Done right, though, sharp shoulders can give a new confidence to women left weary by the economy, said Stephanie Solomon, Bloomingdale’s fashion director. “Toughness is confidence. It’s a way of saying, ‘You can’t bring me down.’” Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week runs through Friday.
Marc Jacobs’ punk princess was the prom queen with a rebellious streak, the one who wears oversized cardigans with zipper details and a series of tight pencil skirts. She has a few outfits with sexy cutouts and a black, slashed dress that allows flashes of pink and green to peek through.
And, of course, she has the biggest shoulder pads of the week.
Jacobs is considered to be one of the most influential designers in New York, if not the most influential, so be ready for copycat satin party dresses in hot pink, purple, blue and green in every mall later this year.
Far fewer fashionistas saw the Jacobs show than normal — and the paparazzi missed the typical parade of stars — because the designer cut back the guest list significantly and started the show even before the appointed time on the invitation.
There’s more to seduction than skin and sin. Donna Karan’s smoldering fall looks left the audience wanting more after a glimpse of bareness from a back-closure keyhole opening or a slit on the back of a skirt.
There was very little that was overtly sexy — and that’s what was so tantalizing: The clothes draped the models just the right way and were made of slinky-yet-sophisticated fabrics. Karan captured strength that has become a trend here, but there was also a womanliness that not every designer has embraced this season.
The crowd included White House social secretary Desiree Rogers, who had one of the best seats in the house next to Vogue Editor in Chief Anna Wintour.
While everyone else might be obsessed with the 1980s, Carolina Herrera looked to the decorative elements of the 18th century for the fall collection she debuted Monday.
And the copper hardware that mimicked those old architectural details added the most modern touches to the dominant fitted shape with a tight, high waist.
The mixing of textured silk, reflective jacquard, lace, suede and a recurring floral motif created a luxurious patchwork quilt, and she also created an eye-catching draped wrap with long sleeves that was worn over gowns, many of which had a corset peeking out from underneath.
The usually effervescent party girl in Cynthia Rowley’s clothes went into mourning for the economy, showing up in black with I’m-too-overworked-to-care hair.