Feb 16, 2012
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Vivienne Tam goes to Shangri-La at NY fashion week

Feb 16, 2012

Feb 16 - Vivienne Tam set off in search of Shangri-La and reached her destination with one of the strongest collections to hit the runway at New York fashion week.

Models walk the runway during the Vivienne Tam Fall 2012 fashion show (Photo: AFP/Getty Images, Frazer Harrison)

Taking her cue from James Hilton's 1930s novel "Lost Horizon," Tam fused Himalayan patterns and fabrics with Western tailoring to tell her own tale of adventure among the stirring snow-capped peaks.

"This season she went to the mountains, to Shangri-La, to paradise," the Guangzhou-born, Hong Kong-bred and New York-based designer told AFP backstage, defining the woman she had in mind in developing her fall-winter looks, unveiled Wednesday.

"This collection is a bridging of cultures between West and East."

Drawing from a palette rich in earthy hues, Tam covered all the wardrobe bases, starting with an ombre wool coat with a chevron-striped shirt matched with skinny pants and a Mongolian collar.

Mannish wide-leg trousers, almost unseen at other New York shows, appeared often, secured with leather waistbands or circular link belts, as well as a variety of men's blazers plus a leather bomber jacket.

Designer Jeremy Scott walks the runway (Photo: AFP/Getty Images, Slaven Vlasic)

"Very soft, very comfortable," said Chinese model Tian Yi of the spacious men's camel hair coat with dark fur collar that she wore in her first-ever runway appearance for Tam. "I like her clothes. I want to do Vivienne again."

Should the high lama of Shangri-La be hosting a formal affair, Tam's adventuress would be set to go with a thanka sequined black wool dress or a crimson silk one-shoulder evening gown slit high up the right leg.

In other shows, Indonesian designer Farah Angsana caught the fancy of her Lincoln Center guests with a show-closing dragon scale-embellished sheer blue tulle gown -- inspired, she said, by a painting in a Shanghai art gallery.

"I travel so much, and I get inspiration wherever I travel," she told AFP, and she proved it with an uncompromisingly glamorous collection that opened with a black bodice with crystals and then branched out to include wool crepe cocktail dresses and chiffon gowns in scarlet, violet and emerald green.

Downtown in Manhattan's achingly hip Meatpacking District, Bart Simpson made his runway debut at Jeremy Scott's colorful fall-winter show -- just in time for this weekend's 500th episode of "The Simpsons."

The Bartman was seen first on a slouchy men's sweater, then on a women's crop top with mini-skirt, in an energetic celebration of pop culture set to pulsating Japanese cover versions of Madonna and Michael Jackson hits.

Scott -- whom Karl Lagerfeld once called the only designer worthy of being his successor at Chanel -- took his bow from the applauding crowd in a cheeky Bart sweater and kilt.

His other club-ready looks included skin-tight candy-striped dresses, knits emblazoned with emoticons, metallic pink overalls and a whimsical chiffon gown with a unicorn cut-out tacked onto the front.

Big blond bob wigs and deep-purple lipstick built upon the cartoon theme. So too did the outsized Hindu wedding jewelry that Scott put on several of his models, male and female.

The 500th episode of "The Simpsons" -- in which television's best-loved dysfunctional family gets run out of Springfield and meets WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange -- airs Sunday in the United States on the Fox network.

The New York collections wrap up Thursday with blockbuster shows by Ralph Lauren and Calvin Klein, after which the fashion crowd will hop across the Atlantic for the Milan and Paris ready-to-wear fixtures.

by Robert MacPherson

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