Sunday, February 21, 2010

Bravo Reality Star Debuts CARNIVALE for 2010 NYC Fashion Week

Annabelle /Autumn Winter 2010 CARNIVALE
designed by Anna McCraney 

(NEW YORK) Anna McCraney, winner of Bravo's The Fashion Show, presented her FW 2010 collection, CARNIVALE, Saturday night at Collective Hardware on the Bowery.
Yes, the pics are a little...artsy. Sorry. My camera died right before the show started, so I borrowed my friend's iPhone, which has no flash, and the models were walking pretty fast, so, using available light, with movement, usually ends up...artsy. But I think you can get the show's vibe with these images; just pretend Deborah Turbeville shot them.

Interesting that Turbeville's name comes to mind----because McCraney's collection was totally Deborah Turbeville: skeletal models (seriously skeletal), crimped, red hair, '30s make-up, and the occasional walking stick. It was kind of like watching The Bob Newhart Show, if Fassbinder, or Hans-Jurgen Syberberg had suddenly stepped in to replace Newhart's director (Peter Bonerz, according to IMDB).

According to press notes, McCraney's collection was inspired by "traveling carnivals" of the early 1900s, but that theme didn't seem too evident in the garments themselves; the slinky dresses and low-cut jumpsuits seemed fairly straightforward '70s cocktail wear, although the models' hair and maquilage did reflect a certain Weimar-era aesthetic, if that has anything to do with traveling carnivals. I guess it does?

The staging was pretty traditional, unlike Susan Cionciolo's show on Thursday (see below), where the media became the message and the message became the media.

Carnivale was presented at a small gallery-type space on the Bowery, with a bar in front (not free, by the way), and rows of chairs in the back of the space, divided by a floor-level catwalk.

Not being a professional fashion journalist, I thought the staging was tight, if, alas, the clothes were a bit underwhelming: the great music selection (from Viennese waltzes to Le Tigre) set a ragged, '80s downtown vibe, and the models were interesting. In fact, one onlooker, a friend of the designer, told SAVAGENYC that  this show was the first time McCraney had used professional models.
The investment seems to have paid off.
Clothes? What can I say? Lots of loose, slinky short dresses. Many off-the-shoulder, in evening-wear fabrics, with a general palette limited to black, sapphire, crimson, gray and gold-ish beige. Maybe some paisley prints here and there. Accessories were pretty minimal: one giant, cable-knit scarf stood out, and it seemed like there were a lot of '20s-era pearls, worn long and low.

Unfortunately, not too many of the individual pieces struck much of a chord.
There was one long-sleeved black turtleneck dress which had a gray applique affixed to its front which looked vaguely Medieval, but when we piped up about this outfit our neighbor told us Martine Sitbon had done it 2 years ago.

The best part of fashion week is the audience, where the real fashion show is going on, and it occurred to this blogger that the guys were making as much an effort as the ladies, with fascinating results. One fashion critic called the general vibe given off by the dudes as "gray grunge", which seemed a pretty apt description of all the distressed herringbone, cashmere, and windowpane plaid setting off work boots, vintage French eyewear from the '70s, and more razor stubble than you could find at St. Mark's Royal Barber Shop on a Saturday morning.
Ladies looked good, also: flat-ironed blonde hair everywhere, as ubiquitous as iPhones, lots of 'important' shoes and a surprising number of...mink stoles?
The ladies who weren't trying too hard looked the best, offering awkward sweaters, denim skirts, leggings and dune boots which could only have come from Bedford Avenue's infamous Salvation Army store.

Looking at McCraney's blog from Bravo's The Fashion Show, it's hard to fathom how this designer could have come up with such a dud of a show.
On Bravo's website, McCraney proved herself to be a master at coming up with surprising juxtapositions of fabrication, pattern and silhouette, but that anarchic aesthetic didn't come through in this too-safe show.

If McCraney's show left viewers hungering for more edgy fashion, the unofficial "after-party" at St. Jerome's bar on Rivington brought out enough East London-style punks to staff a whole slate of Bravo fashion competitions.

After McCraney's show, SAVAGENYC was approached by "Niko", a party promoter at St. Jerome's pub on Rivington Street. Niko was with someone who looked exactly like Ian Anderson from Joy Division. Cool! We were intrigued by the pair's aggresively Warhol-meets-Pete Doherty aesthetic, so we took them up on their offer and showed up at 10:30 on the dot, where free drinks were proffered and the Joy Division side of the team manned the wheels, playing US metal, US pop and the occasional Bruce Springsteen (is that redundant?).