NEW YORK— A Vera Wang fashion show usually provides welcome relief at Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week. After several days of chaos, the show has a soothing effect, as Wang often features artistic, almost ethereal designs amid minimalist music. It sometimes feels like the equivalent of a visit to your favorite museum.
The designer's show Tuesday morning at Lincoln Center was all that — and more — despite chaotic buzz over the best front-row star power of fashion week.
Photographers shifted into overdrive when reality star Kim Kardashian entered the tents. (The reality star is a friend and client; she wore three Wang-designed gowns at her recent highly covered wedding.) For the fashion show, Kardashian wore a teal Vera Wang evening gown with a single shoulder strap and dangling earrings. With bright red lips and her hair pulled back into a knotted updo, it seemed a bit much for an 11 a.m. show. But, at least this time, Kardashian, who looks much tinier than on television, couldn't be accused of dressing down for an occasion.
"I feel like Cleopatra," she tweeted.
Once inside the runway area, Kardashian mingled with tennis great Serena Williams, who wore a brown Wang dress with a knotted hem. After exchanging pleasantries, they went in opposite directions; Williams and the Vogue staff on one side of the runway and Kardashian on the other side of the catwalk.
Only seconds before the show was about to begin, Beyoncé slipped into a seat on the front row next to her sister, Solange, and a few places down from Kardashian. Beyoncé was wearing an organza and tulle bubble skirt and leather peplum from the 2012 spring/summer collection featured in Wang's show. The skirt ended at the top of her thighs and the peplum top covered her baby bump — not the most flattering look. But if anyone can pull it off, Bey can.
Even with all the star power, a feeling of calm permeated the room as Wang sent out a daring collection of modern clothes in gauzy white and shades of mint, yellow and magenta. The collection featured prints of distorted 18th-century French wallpaper, fluffy bubbleskirts with pockets, perforated cropped vests, textured gauze leggings, and peplum jackets, coats and belts.
Skin-tight leggings hugged just about each model's body, often covered by slip dresses with an "up-and-down-hemline" (cut high in the front and low in the back) or tops that flowed as the model moved.
If it seemed a little like an updated version of Alice in Wonderland, it appears Wang meant it that way. In her program notes, she said the distorted colors and bright shades of "aggressive" hems provide "a 'trippy' counterpoint to the modernity of the pure whites in the collection."
While photographers concentrated on Kardashian and the Knowles sisters, they ignored the most interesting woman in the room. On the front row across from the disposable celebrities sat former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, who was delighted to be at her first-ever runway show. Albright was accompanied by her daughter and granddaughter.
Albright made it clear she does not consider fashion frivolous. She noted that she has appeared at numerous events and panels about the Sept. 11 terrorists attacks where Americans are invariably urged to be optimistic about the future — and she believes that's what fashion week represents.
"It's happy and it shows a spirit of renewal," Albright said. "There is a wonderful mood here."
And she praised Wang as a friend and as a role model.
"I do believe in empowering women in the United States and the world, whether it's politically or economic. Vera is a great example of a woman who has made a difference."