NYFW: MARK AND ESTEL F/W 2014

Some shows are just more challenging to review than others and the Mark and Estel Fall/Winter 2014 show is one of the most difficult I’ve encountered. The show came at the end of the first day and I have wrestled with exactly what the most appropriate response might be. Mark and Estel is a 12-year-old brand that should be coming into its maturity, but I’m not sure that maturity is ever a reasonable expectation of designers Mark Tango and Estel Day. The two are hard-core rockers who started their own band the same year they started their fashion line.

No, you’ve never heard of their band. Yes, there’s a reason.

The clothes are not without merit. In years past, celebrities such as the Olsen Twins and Lady Gaga have selected Mark and Estel as part of their wardrobe. Looking through their fall/winter collection, I can definitely see some pieces that will look good on the red carpet, and perhaps a few that will do well in retail. Let’s focus on those for a moment, shall we?

While, as a set, the Mark and Estel collection lacks any serious cohesion, the one thing that binds everything together is their favorite color: black. While the silhouettes are unpredictable and all over the place, and fabrics seem to be a mix of leather and whatever else they happened to find (including an uncharacteristic herringbone), they keep the color dominant in every piece they send down the runway, which is, I suppose, very rock and roll of them. Pieces are frequently augmented with gold necklaces, typically over-sized and bordering on gaudy, but again, it’s all part of that rock and roll look.

Strongest in this line are the coats, no two of which are remotely alike, apart from being black, but are nonetheless seemingly well tailored and quite wearable. Several of the gowns are also very attention getting and exactly what one would want for either an elegant evening at the opera, or perhaps a trip down a red carpet. Each one has its own spirit and character that can be matched to the personality of the wearer.

The question remains, though, whether this collection belongs on the runway. Women’s Wear Daily (WWD), which was the only major magazine I could find who would admit to having been in attendance, says no, that the set is more suited to a showroom appointment. I cannot disagree with that assessment. The collection is so disjointed, so far-reaching as to make a runway show confusing and illogical.

What was worse, though, was the finale. For most shows, the designer(s) comes to the top of the runway, takes a bow, and leaves. Not these two. Mark and Estel came out with microphones and a guitar and proceeded to thoroughly mistreat their audience with a noise more horrific than anything the city of New York could ever produce on its own. If there was any sympathy for the brand prior to this point, the duo’s performance killed it.

If you think I’m kidding, I’ve posted the full video on my web site. I strongly suggest not viewing it immediately after a meal or if one has any sense of refined taste in music.

I truly dislike having to be so negative about a line that genuinely contains some beautiful pieces. Unfortunately, Mark and Estel is a brand that has absolutely no place on the runway. Perhaps they’ll learn from this lesson. We can only hope.

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