Fashion Week: Mock Grottoes at Marc Jacobs, Coffins From Thom Browne

By Jim Shi February 17, 2012, 2:40 PM EST

Photo: Ed Kavishe/ for

In one of the most inventive seasons in recent years, Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week saw a wide array of designers flaunting their creative chops in the clothing they created and the environments in which the collections were shown. From the Skaist-Taylor debut inside the underground garage at Lincoln Center and Thom Browne’s coffin-like set up at the New York Public Library to massive productions by Marc Jacobs and Levi’s, the scenes offered to editors and buyers were anything but plain.

Importing California redwoods into a concrete parking structure is no easy task, but architects Patrick Kinmonth and Antonio Monfreda did just that—albeit in an abstract manner—for the Skaist-Taylor presentation on Sunday afternoon. Working with the unique site’s low ceilings and lack of natural light, the producers highlighted the designer duo’s California roots using projections of trees repeated via mirrored surfaces and 16 sealed light boxes scattered throughout. “[Designers] Pam [Skaist-Levy] and Gela [Nash Taylor], for their first time showing in New York, wanted to be near the tents but do something atypical,” said Kinmonth, whose setup, from build-out to teardown, took 24 hours. “They are, in a way, outsiders, because the way they think is so alternative, so we looked for the most alternative space at Lincoln Center.”

Levi’s also made its Fashion Week debut, and for the Wednesday afternoon outing at 82 Mercer, brand creative director Len Peltier sought to convey the idea of daily morning rituals. Set to music by Henri Scars Struck, the concept crafted by Eyesight Fashion & Luxury’s president and artistic director Thierry Dreyfus had models walking beside a wall of closets as other models got dressed. For the finale, banjo player Morgan O’Kane performed for the gathered crowd.

Equally as inventive was the set for the Marc Jacobs show at the 69th Regiment Armory on Monday night. To give the designer's “fake winter melancholy” fall aesthetic context, Stefan Beckman and artist Rachel Feinstein devised a series of decaying grottoes made of paper-thin wood and arches that surrounded several staircases from which the models descended. “It’s a set of ruins with a lot of layers based on the idea of one material repeated,” Beckman said. “So we came up with this idea based on classic architecture and deconstructed it.”

Complementing the structure was a curved, meandering 120-foot-long runway, raised four feet from the ground, which mimicked a path going through ruins. According to Beckman, who started building the stage on February 8, the challenge was “taking something and making it three dimensional and making it look like it was paper.”

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