NEW YORK, United States — “Men think of victory, women think of love,” the female voice throatily intoned. “Me, I love victory.” That snippet of soundtrack from the DKNY show on Wednesday was the essence of Donna Karan herself — and there, printed on a coat to reinforce the impression, was an image of Rosemary McGrotha, Karan's commercial alter ego from the 1980’s — but now that her legacy has been entrusted to nom-du-jour Public School’s Dao-Yi Chow and Maxwell Osborne, the words couldn’t help but assume a different resonance. Love is a battlefield, after all, though the battle of the sexes that Chow and Osborne offered up was juicier in theory than in practice.
Karan’s aesthetic was always hot-wired into New York itself. Her new standard-bearers share the same parochial sentiment. For their show venue, they chose a new mall under the World Trade Centre, a symbol of renewal for the city. Its proximity to the Financial District also provided the inspiration for the clothes themselves: charcoal pinstripes, grey flannel, white cotton shirt and boxer shorts, sheer silk ankle socks and solid black shoes. Wall Street staples, deconstructed and reassembled in ways that sometimes beguiled, sometimes bemused. There was the Hollywood-sanctioned, sexy subtext of the morning-after woman wearing a man’s shirt and boxers, but there was also a whole lot of lugubrious and slightly lumpen tailoring.
It kind of made you wonder what Chow and Osborne would do with these codes of sartorial convention if it was a men’s line they were working on. That is, after all, where their real strengths lie.