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Posted at 6:54 PM ET, 03/ 8/2011

Classical music new fashion trend

By Katherine Boyle

(Photo by Sara Jaye Weiss)

The Plaza's Terrace Foyer looked like Fitzgerald's take on an East Egg boudoir. Maroon-lipped models grasping flutes of Veuve stood like sculptures in the gilded hall, balancing fur stoles and sparkly gowns that seemed plucked from "Boardwalk Empire."

The invitation to Stacey Bendet's Fall 2011 Alice + Olivia presentation drew an exclusive crowd, but a jaded one, too. Weary-eyed celebrities, the Derek Blasbergs and Tinsley Mortimers, wandered about smiling and striving to look fairly interested.

That is, until the jazz began. Then, collective interest peaked. The crowd ceased its chatter as a sandy-haired violinist rushed out among the models, striking her bow against an electric violin while a blonde DJ spun Henry Mancini's "Hub Cap & Tail Lights."

It wasn't their usual electropop or MGMT remix, but the violinist-DJ duo revved up an otherwise lethargic crowd. Violinist Caitlin Moe and DJ Mia Moretti both donned Alice + Olivia's collection de jour. They, along with a songwriter-pianist Erika Spring of Au Revoir Simone, would become the memorable faces at Bendet's presentation.

It's a fashion trend worth noting (or rather, notating.) High fashion's impervious crowd is embracing the electro-classical comeback. Brands that once blasted European house music now feature string symphonies instead, adding to the mature mood of many collections.

"There is definitely a movement toward classical-infused rock right now," said Bandet. "I think just in general there is this feeling of women wanting to feel luxurious and glamorous again. [It's the] vintage vibe."

The vibe was similar at Monique Lhuillier. Impassioned strings played as trains of tulle flooded the stage. The gowns were "Gorge-ous," said Linda Fargo, vice president of Bergdorf Goodman, but so, too, was the score. "You can learn a lot about the mood of a collection from the music, even if you didn't see anything. The drama adds to the elegance."

Paris concurred, with designers choosing subdued strings or electrified orchestrations over Zoolander-like beats.

Haider Ackerman's celebrated collection debuted against the backdrop of Baroque piano tunes, more fitting for a 17th century parlor than Paris Fashion Week. The simple melodies accented the slow, ethereal tiptoeing of waifs, gliding down the aisle "like poetry" said an onlooker.

Viktor & Rolf chose militaristic strings for its Paris show. The medieval-inspired sounds had the audience raving "What seventies? The 1270s?" as models in red face paint marched to music fit for a "Braveheart" battle sequence.
But whether soft or synthesized, it appears the sounds of Fashion Week are evolving with the styles. Maybe New York's move from Midtown to Lincoln Center was a fitting and inspired choice.

By Katherine Boyle  | March 8, 2011; 6:54 PM ET
Categories:  Fashion  
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