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Erin Wasson: Entr’acte Not Second Act

Godfrey Deeny
February 12th, 2010 @ 00:29 AM - New York

F. Scott Fitzgerald used to say there is no second act in American public life, but he never attended New York fashion week, which is all about characters reinventing themselves, like Erin Wasson, a former model who staged an arty hippie Texan show on Thursday, Feb. 11.

Wasson, a legendarily willowy fashion catwalker, certainly knows how to create a mise en scene. Her show in ABC Carpets, an impressively large interior design emporium in a charming, shabbily monumental wrought building in lower Manhattan had a wonderful build up, even if the actual clothes themselves, while competent and patently wearable, were never half as cool as Wasson is herself.

“Don’t ask me that; can you not ask me something new,” Wasson, holding a magnum of Dom Perignon in her hand, responded to a blogger who asked her what was her inspiration for the collection, backstage after the show.

The collection was a hit and miss affair, ribbed leggings, chunky Scottish hiker socks, cut out Constructivist boots, slouchy groupie metal belts, Mexican studded pants, French berets, a couple of great graphic print dusters, some very cool tie-dye tops and really great Mongolian fur vests all worked.

But there were far too many caftan dresses in faded cream jersey, banal jersey tops and the odd bum styling note – to wit, absurd knitted caps.

We use the term show carefully here; for in Europe and the United States the average runway show lasts about 12 minutes. Erin’s 22 looks lasted just five minutes, which just, barely, about worked. The event was held together by a clever carpeted setting, a hipster downtown crowd and a first-rate life band called Yaysayer. Their musical influences were as heterogeneous as this fall 2010 collection. Yeasayer played a extended brilliant track, faintly '60s San Francisco meets grungy Manchester Pop.

“You have no idea how hard she works,” said Erin’s mother Christine, speaking of the daughter she used to take as a 15-year-old to shoots in their hometown of Dallas, Texas, for ads for Neiman Marcus, executives from which sat front row.

Cultural commentator Maureen Dowd of the New York Times has argued that the romantic dream of modern women is to marry a rock star poet with a Lear jet, which seemed to be the view of this collection. Why then did the models look so miserable on the runway, when they were dressed to achieve that very goal?

This summed up this collection. For Wasson we remember as the models other models aspired to be; a willowy, independent free spirit. If she ever gets her own DNA on the catwalk it will be great; this collection, while cool and stylish, did not do that. Still, if she really goes for it, there is still plenty of time for this ex model’s second act. This show, however, felt more like an entr’acte.

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