The invitation had a red keyhole glowing on the outside and scarlet pages within. The set had more red, painted on the inside of a cage. But the mood of Diane Von Furstenberg was more Fifty Shades of Grey, and not just because the show was playing off the soundtrack.
“Seduction” was the key DVF word for this Autumn 2015 show, laced with sensuality, from a dress where the bodice was drawn in a crescent moon across the bust, to a lace column split open down the side.
From the opening white dress, shaped and draped, every outfit seemed to have a waist outlined with a curve and accentuated with a belt. “Unzipped” was the word the designer found to express the spirit of night-time dressing.
“Isn’t that what women want?” DVF asked with false innocence about her “sexy but strong” woman. “By day she commands her world, by night she inspires fantasy,” was the mantra.
Perhaps this woman, who was once supposed to be a tiger in the boardroom and a pussycat in the bedroom, still exists. But I find this view of modern womanhood quite old-fashioned, tethered to just that period in the late 1970s when Diane invented her famous wrap dress. She has moved on, sartorially and in her life, since that period, so I was puzzled as to why she would bring it back to the catwalk.
Some of the added effects to the shapely outfits were intriguing: swallows winging across a belted coat or a flock as a dress pattern; and tiny flowers, dense and intense, on dresses that seemed more suited to a summer garden party than New York’s icy winter climate.
You have to respect DVF for believing so deeply in what she does. If her customers want to play that familiar man-woman card, there were pinstripes on sheer chiffon blouses, and slender button-through dresses. A white furry bomber jacket might be set off with a knitted panel of grey and white stripes. And the familiar Yves Saint Laurent-style satin-lapel tuxedo came out in a bold blue.
But it was the 50 shades of scarlet that left their mark on this show: the red coat with a girly gathering below the pockets, a polka-dotted onesie dangling from a red lace bra top, more red lace with a plunging neckline, red satin shoes and matching clutch bag – and, finally, Diane herself in a panoply of red patterns on her short silken dress.
Valentine’s Day might have been over, but seduction was in the air. Yet, still, I think it is time to lay the scarlet fashion woman to rest.