There must be something loopy going on in my tea. Or kool aid seeing as I'm in America. Two days ago, I was talking about a pervasive bleakness in New York that whilst not unwelcome in terms of the shows, wasn't conducive for happy clap trap posting. Today, I'm on a high. It's down to an unlikely trio – Marc Jacobs, Thom Browne and err… Moncler Grenoble?!? If you're keeping up with all the NYFW shenanigans, it will be plain to see why the first two have got me foaming at the mouth and you'll see it all here when I edit down the hundreds of pics I took (I just realised my giveaway sign of whether I like a show is if the person next to me is annoyed because my lens is getting in their way the whole time. I'm trying to perfect the lean back and shoot manouvre.) The Moncler Grenoble show, however was an experience that can't really be conveyed by the bare lookbook images that are on Style.com. Moncler have taken their annual Grenoble collection, their hardcore ski/outdoor collection, to New York twice now, each time trying to do something more than just a standard show. Last year's flash mob at Grand Central Station was a conversation piece for months, given that there was maximum public participation. Cue a ton of blurry phone vids on YouTube by passers-by.
(It was so cold, my face was mostly obscured all day as I skulked around in this J.W. Anderson coat, photographed here by Tommy Ton for Style.com. I know this sounds very product pluggy but I swear everyone has been ogling the Samsung Galaxy Note I'm using. I'm ready to go and be a Carphone Warehouse sales person as a side gig.)
This time, we were at another iconic New York spot, the Wollman Rink in the middle of Central Park. It's not a spot I've ever frequented but I'm glad I did when it looked its most magical and weirdly, when it was the coldest. It was FRIGID on Sunday night. Think of a coarse bristly brush scraping against your face repeatedly and that's sort of how the winds felt that night. Still, watching a skate rink with a hot cup of chocolate (or mulled wine) in your hand, surrounded by the twinkling lights of Manhattan is exactly the sort of picturesque winter wonderland that combats the cold. Rhapsody in Blue blaring out from the speakers completed the setting for Moncler's ode and love letter to New York. Hearing that famed clarinet opening is enough to send tingles up your back.
Even with the icing truck in the middle, it's still a postcard moment. I think at this point there was a I Heart NY bubble floating above my head. Yes, I'm allowed to use the word bubble every now and again without sounding like an idiot.
The show was soundtracked by a 45-person choir, fronted by the band Naturally 7. Alright, so they've toured with Michael Buble. I'm not going to hold that against them because when I dropped by the Moncler offices earlier, they broke out into acapella song, using their voices as instruments and it was actually well and truly awe inspiring. Beginning with New York, New York and then going into a version of I Feel Good, I was ready to ship my belongings over from London and declare my allegiance to the city.
Skaters in couples emerged to do a few spins and lifts, the sort that got the crowd going "Oooohh…..". I was trying to hone in on the clothing but after a few attempts, I gave up. Moncler clearly weren't bothered about the audience seeing the clothes all that clearly and rather, we just gave in and soaked up the atmosphere and the super zoom zoom skills of the skaters who hurtled around the rink in monochromatic formations.
I did catch this guy's sweater and think about how much I need more chunky hand knits, which this collection is full of, in reference to Moncler's ski heritage when wool was the more dominant material of choice.
The red gang were the ferocious lot and came out in a haphazard flurry of tweed, leopard, Fair Isle and of course the famed Moncler puffer action.
The white and grey group were fully synchronised and skating in a circular formation to M.I.A.'s Bad Girls (a frequently used song in the A/W12-3 soundtracks by my reckoning…) and were the neat and precise counterpart to the blue and red freestyle skaters. Without even looking at the press notes, Stanley Kubrick's Space Odyssey 2001 was definitely a clear reference. Hardy Amies' costumes for the film filtered back into this Moncler Grenoble collection with that retro view of the future that is cornered into the decade of the sixties. Transparent PVC, sheeny shiny naplak and other vinyl fabrics are the plastic counterpart to more earthy fabrics like wool and leather inserts and Scottish tweeds.
A Mexican wave on ice – an Icelandic wave perhaps?
After an exuberant finale chorus of Oh Happy Day, the skaters all collapsed on the ice, proof that Moncler's Grenoble range covers the most extreme of conditions, including lying on your back on solid ice. Not that I'd be game to try it out. Just doing a snow angel in my thickest thermals and down jackets gave me a cold the next day. Oh how I envy you people with strong immune systems.
Finally, back up they went to skate around as though the Wollman Rink was in normal usage. Those with skating abilities in the audience most likely wanted to join in on the fun but instead, we huddled around for more rounds of mulled wine and hot chocolate and then left with a cheshire cat grin. I think I was even half tempted to ride one of those horse carriages that you get in Central Park because I was on such a NY high.
On a geeky FASH-ONE note, this completely site specific spectacular could not have happened without the show direction of the famed Etienne Russo (Dries Van Noten, Miu Miu, Chanel – he's pretty much done em' all) of production company Villa Eugenie. I'm ratcheting up the Russo-produced shows to save up as memories to look back upon, when I'm old and creaky.