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Rachel Roy Fall 2012 Presentation — Designing Fashion’s Modern Landscape

The names designer Rachel Roy chose to describe the pieces showcased during her Fall 2012 Presentation, held on Feb.13th at Lincoln Center’s Alice Tully Hall, spoke volumes about her source of inspiration — shades of green were described as “eucalyptus,” “pine,” “landscape,” and “willow;” muddy brown shades were dubbed “soil” and “chestnut;” pink and orange  tones were named “foliage,” “winter rose,” and “garnet;” and a deep blue was described as “sapphire.” MENSA membership is hardly require to decipher that Roy found inspiration in the realm of botany. And yet her ecological ode was far from literal — rather than relying on floral prints, petal-shaped details, and rosette embellishments, Roy’s designs boasted a near-architectural precision and a thoroughly modern feeling. So how did Roy reconcile her use of such strong and linear silhouettes with her appreciation for the ever unpredictable, whimsical temperament of Mother Nature? By focusing on the art of modern landscaping which, by definition, seeks to arrange stones, sand, shrubs, trees, flower patches, grassy expanses, cork, tiles, wooden planks, and other natural ornamentation in an orderly and methodical fashion that harmonizes with whatever architectural structure looms nearby (be it a residence, business, or communal space).

Even the placement of the models within Alice Tully Hall seemed cleverly calculated so as to tell a larger story. For the most part, models stood side-by-side in neat rows, their heels planted on narrow platform stages, the periphery of which was lined with pebbles or spears of grass. There were three main platforms and each grouped together a set of looks in a single color family. As guests entered Alice Tulley Hall, then, they essentially walked down an “avenue” created by two “hedgerows” of models, one on either side. On their left, they could find a number of looks in creek-worthy sapphire blue, asphalt-like black, grayish beige, and deep hunter green. On their right, guests stumbled upon a dense patch of looks in varying shades of green and brown. As they sauntered to the back of the hall, the fresh green colors transformed, perhaps manifesting the changing of the leaves come autumn, with fuchsia, garnet, magenta, burnt orange, rust, and muddy brown tones dominating the milieu. The final looks, in fact, incorporated the punchy violet pink hue Roy dubbed “winter rose,” along with draped folds mimicking the natural curves of flower petals. At this point, then, guests were meant to understand that they were smelling the proverbial roses in Roy’s winter garden — and the fact that the presentation was held in a warm space surrounded by greenhouse-like glass panels only intensified the effect.

Had it not been for Roy’s gift for fashion landscaping, however, the botanical inspiration behind the collection might have been lost on its beholders. After all, when examined individually, no look screamed “nature” or “garden.” Take, for example, a charmingly Annie Hall-esque look consisting of black lambskin culottes worn over dark green tights (courtesy of Hue); a color blocked black-and-eucalyptus merino wool turtleneck; a wide brim felt hat; and leather gloves (as shown in the seventh photo from top). A similarly ladylike look involved black lambskin culottes (again worn over tights and paired with stacked loafer pumps), a sapphire blue merino turtleneck, and a chunky sweater vest in eucalyptus green layered atop it.

To give the collection an architectural backbone, Roy relied on techniques like colorblocking —whether on a pink-and-orange shearling coat with smooth matte surfaces paired with square tufts of fur (as pictured fourth from top); a washed silk blouse with isolated strips of cream, blue, and green running horizontally along the torso and sleeves (shown in next to last pic above); or a turtleneck with light green along the torso and a deep brown along the collar and long sleeves (as pictured second from top). An emphasis on lines — parallel or perpendicular — was also evident via the use of stripes, checks, layered trimmings, and careful stitching patterns. Silhouettes were mainly angular and confident:  culottes that flared out to create triangular shapes, cropped pencil leg trousers with center pleats; A-line skirts with minimal pleating; knit dresses with straight hemlines; and so on. And, of course, expert tailoring was key in this collection, with even the roomier knits straying far away from any potential slouching.

Some ensembles were imbued with a Paris-meets-New-York Bohemian charm (like an orange angora cardigan paired with a brown wool jersey skirt, pink leather gloves, and a brown felt hat; or, one of our faves, an ultra chic ensemble consisting of cropped hunter green pants, a color-blocked turtleneck in a grasshopper-meets-sage-green combination, and a sage green shearling vest) and others felt more reserved and preppy (as with a tweed bouclé knit dress worn over a turtleneck). But, undoubtedly, all the looks were wearable and practical without losing their overall charm.

The styling was also spot-on — from the felt hats and leather gloves to the stacked loafers and Mary-Janes, the hunter green tights from Hue, and the various leather and wood clutches (including a stellar wood-trimmed envelope clutch that will be unveiled as part of the upcoming Kotur for Rachel Roy collection).

Expect Rachel Roy’s Modern Landscape collection to turn Fall 2012’s fashion grounds into a fun, colorful, vibrant playground.

Check out more photos after the jump!

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