When we visited her studio last month, instead of the usual pre-fashion week freakouts in nose-to-the-grind pressure factories buzzing with harried workers, designer Suzanne Pelaez and her friends were hanging out. Working, sure, but working together -- and the same familial atmosphere descended upon the fall 2011 presentation of Suzanne Rae at the Stanley Kaplan Penthouse at Julliard, across from the main Lincoln Center fashion week venue.
The designer was among the first to greet us with a big hug, before the show started with a short film by Alexandra Roxo. Local glam rock band Mother Feather took the stage as the extensive collection was revealed.
At the heart of the line is layered ease, with menswear-inspired trousers reminiscent of Depression-era workers and high-waisted, pin-thin pants paired cropped tops and a sharply-chic pleated herringbone pair on the bottom.
Standouts included more than one statement gown: While bucking formality in the traditional sense, these were certainly focal-point pieces, especially the creamy wool dress with woolly fringe lining a dramatically deep V-back and a ball skirt in densely layered herringbone-and-silk. Hemlines were short in the front and long in the back for added drama, but a sense of punk sport as well. The hooded herringbone cape, which starred in the short film, made a splash on the runway and looks to be a popular buy come fall.
In chatting with Pelaez, she laughed, identifying her penchant for collaborations as a problem--but we couldn't be more thrilled. Artist Mary Ellen Hitt provided New York City-centric prints pinned to jackets, while bags were Khirma, Yestadt Millinery provided hats, and Dieppa Restrepo, the shoes.