Last night, the final night of Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week in New York, Swedish singer-songwriter Lykke Li lent her vocal skills as soundtrack to the DKNY 2012 Resort Collection runway show at Lincoln Center. Li is no stranger to the fashion world (think collaborating on Levi’s Curve ID Collection and modeling for Bodkin, to say nothing of her own impeccable style), and Thursday marked the indie-rock-electro-pop artist’s second high-profile performance during this season’s shows (the first being at the Boom Boom Room for Fendi on September 7th). Different from last Wednesday’s cameo, though, this time she didn’t deejay a hotel-top party with a midnight serenade; instead the 25-year-old set up shop at the catwalk’s far end, a platform customarily occupied by photographers. Here she and two accompanying male musicians performed acoustic tunes while models presented the looks of ladies who hope to vacation come March. Li, dressed head-to-toe in black (DKNY of course), opened with “Dance, Dance, Dance,” off 2008’s Youth Novels, and closed with “Get Some,” off Wounded Rhymes (2011). Sandwiched between were “I Follow Rivers” and “Love Out of Lust,” both hailing from the latter album.
Before the girls began strutting their stuff, Karan shared a few words. Perched on a stool beside stylist and fashion commentator Mary Alice Stephenson, Karan said of fashion and music, “You can’t separate the two. It sets the theme, it sets the energy, it gets your body moving. You wanna dance. You wanna feel.” The designer alluded to drum circles and the noise of city streets, conveying the importance of harmonious – and even cacophonous – sounds of our surroundings as significant shapers of our personal impressions. About the talented young star, Karan added, “She’s hot!” Hence the savvy decision to invite Li to put on a much coveted micro concert, bringing both audible beauty and an air of sophisticated grace to the event, her voice reverberating throughout the room. What’s more, the live performance elevated an otherwise ordinary show from humdrum booming music to a fully sensory experience. The question thus became, which to look at? The sashaying beauties or the beauty manning the mic?
The clothing line is nothing new, as blogs and news sources alike revealed reviews in late May. However, for many attendees, the affair itself was atypical. AMEX offered Cardmembers an opportunity to purchase a taste of the tents, and thus much of the audience comprised anyone but the editors, buyers and big names shows are known for. Rather than earning it by being in the biz, people paid a pretty penny for the front row. That said, it was a fun-loving, lighthearted affair, in line with Karan’s aesthetic for RST 12. Luxe looks paraded before wide eyes, with an emphasis on eveningwear. Karan explained it as “… about the night…about the masculine and feminine.”
Playing heavily were vintage-inspired printed silk scarves, ranging in color from canary yellow to royal blue, tied or sewn in nuanced ways, as well as elegant capes, tasteful blazers, tucked but billowing blouses and flirty plastic paillette-adorned miniskirts. Babydoll lace dresses, jewel-tone satin numbers (think emerald and ruby) and disco-meets-flapper frocks also made appearances. It would seem Karan indeed plucked ideas from Milly by Michelle Smith, including in her lineup sheer black garments bearing gold teardrop patterning reminiscent of the latter designer’s FW 2010 RTW. The show standout proved to be a boxy silk dress featuring geometric color blocking, consisting of mint green, salmon, red, cream and gold and silver sequined sections. It embodies the essence of what a vacation should feel like: relaxed and breathable yet vibrant and up for anything. Glamour and frivolity stitched into a single ensemble. Beach chic?
As for Li, her role proved the premiere reason to be there, however abridged the set list compared to her usual lineup. Regardless, Li is right at home alongside the fast-paced and fabulous fashion crowd (peep her music videos for proof). But she has her own motives when it comes to clothing; said Li in a statement, “Fashion, for me, is about shielding myself from the outside world, an extension of who I am and what I am trying to convey, but also what I am trying to protect. It’s almost like dressing up for war; whatever makes you feel strong, safe and free.” So much for who we should be looking at; at the very least we know who to listen to.