Obama designer Tracy Reese rocks NY fashion week
Tracy Reese capitalised on her high-profile sartorial relationship with First Lady Michelle Obama with a sparkling New York fashion week show Sunday that paid homage to every woman's inner nerd.
Rubbishing the old adage about girls who wear glasses, Reese accessorised her ethereal and colourful spring-summer 2013 with the kind of old-school, oversized spectacles typically sported by bad-boy photographer Terry Richardson.
As for the clothes, there was lots of layering, with light-coloured biker jackets with minimal detailing donned over loose-fitting shirts worn in turn over fluid miniskirts or trousers.
It was a collection from the 48-year-old African-American designer sure to please not only the US first lady, who appeared in a Tracy Reese dress to speak at the Democratic National Convention on Tuesday, but also her daughters.
"I was really inspired by juxtapositions," Reese told AFP backstage, explaining her latest creations.
"The fabric is where we started, and there were so many wonderful fabrics offered for spring from all of our favourite (textile) mills, so I was playing with organic fabrics as well as technical fabrics," she added.
"And I wanted to mash up prints, embroideries and beaded designs to create a look that was fresh and unique. But most importantly, the clothes had to be comfortable, versatile and have a lot of ease so that they're super-easy for our customers to wear and enjoy."
Asked what it was like to dress the first lady, a champion of many US designers, in a year when presidential husband Barack Obama is fighting hard for a second White House term, Reese said it was "a huge honour".
"She looks amazing in our things – and in everybody else's things, for that matter... and it was an amazing speech... It was, all in all, just one of the best experiences of my life."
Sunday was chock-a-block with shows by some of the biggest names in American fashion design, including Diane von Furstenberg, Tommy Hilfiger, DKNY and Thakoon Panichgul.
Thakoon described the shapes in his latest collection as "very 60s inspired."
"I loved the simplicity of a good heavy cotton dress from the 60s," the Thai-American designer said in a backstage interview. "Something that is so simple but yet so architectural and beautiful – that's what I love."
Like so many designers this season, Thakoon made generous use of leather -- not a material one normally associates with summertime – mixing it with embroideries and cottons.
"For me, leather is an armour – it protects, but at the same time, it has a lot of softness," explained French-born New York designer Catherine Malandrino, who also opted for leather for many of her feminine spring-summer outfits.
"The world is in crisis," she said at her well-attended presentation in a spacious Chelsea loft, "and when the world is in crisis, we need to make sure there is something in your clothes that you feel empowered with."
Earlier Sunday, Victoria Beckham sent out a sumptuous collection that proved again that her career in fashion design is no flash in the Spice Girl pan.
"We focused on texture this year more than on color," she said after her show at the New York Public Library, noting her use of chiffon and graphic lace that she paired at times with Manolo Blahnik flat sandals.
"The collection is versatile, modern, and there is an ease about it," she said, as her soccer star husband David Beckham held their year-old daughter Harper in his arms. "There isn't a thing out there that I wouldn't wear myself."