NEW YORK -- The Tommy Hilfiger women's collection took a beachy keen spin down the catwalk here today, in what turned out to be an unabashed love letter to Southern California.
The inspiration: "It's Melrose to Malibu," the designer said in the show notes, "the West Coast represents a golden era of surf, sport and optimism."
The look: The collection tapped into a range of SoCal styles, most notably surf-flavored scuba, with the zippered waistbands of shorts and skirts folded to resemble the inverted-V shape of a peeled down wetsuit, as well as leather neoprene-bonded leather scuba dresses, knit tops and sweaters and neoprene skirts. (We've seen so much neoprene on the runways this week, we can only imagine that Bill Meistrell -- the neoprene wetsuit pioneer and Body Glove founder who passed away in July -- is looking down on it all from above and smiling.)
Scuba details even made their way into denim trousers with pops of colorblocking swirling down the leg and edged in a contrast overlock stitch that evokes the seams of a wetsuit -- both details that carry through the collection. (Note to the Tommy Hilfiger marketing team: If and when those jeans hit retail, you should probably avoid using the phrase "surf/turf hybrid" -- we know what you mean but it sounds like it belongs on a menu not clothing rack.)
The collection also managed to squeeze in riffs on skate culture, sports (a couple dresses inspired by athletic jerseys), barracuda jackets and even vintage bowling shirts -- the most memorable of which were printed in floral patterns that could have been plucked right off vintage Hawaiian shirts -- keying into the aloha spirit we've noticed running through both men's and women's collections this week.
The scene: The cavernous interior of Pier 94 was transformed into a boardwalk-framed beachscape thanks to tons of trucked in sand and a row of surfboards stuck in the dunes at the top of the runway. Guests of note included Anthony Kiedis (the show soundtrack kicked off to the tune of the Red Hot Chili Peppers' "Californication"), Vogue's Anna Wintour, Tommy Mottola and Swedish model/actor/TV personality Victoria Silvstedt.
The verdict: A Cali-fortified grab bag that manages to mine a lot of motifs but doesn't end up diving too deep. And isn't any collection that makes functional neoprene seem dead scuba-sexy worth at least worth testing the waters?