Vera Wang, Proenza Schouler, Catherine Malandrino: The Critics "Speak"

It's shocking, we know, but some people take Fashion Week really, really seriously. Designers shudder and quake in anticipation as the world's top "fashion journalists" pull out their best and most pretentious purple prose reviewing the Spring/Summer 2008 collections. In our next primer on what the major critics have to say about the shows at New York Fashion Week, we've got Wang (seen at left), Malandrino, Rowley, Taylor, Preen, Schouler (as in "Proenza") and Phat (as in "Baby"). First up, Wang, the favorite designer of the NY Times' feared and hated Cathy Horyn.

Vera Wang
"painterly colors", "patterns like cloud prints on satin", "inspired by togas", "deep insets of organza", "heavy for a spring collection", "use[d] indecisiveness to an advantage." — Cathy Horyn, NY Times

"...most intellectual of American designers", "finely wrought", "elegant, asymmetrical", "limpid...soft, washed crepe de chine", "vibrant colors", "romantic best". — Nicole Phelps, Style.com

"Another sojourn to the land of artsy chic", "scaling back obvious intricacy", "air of wistful mystery", "deft and beautiful balancing act", "nonchalant elegance", "each one a graceful knockout", "carefully placed bullion embroideries", "stellar". — WWD

"owns the artsy look", "didn't neatly fit into any emerging trends", "a silhouette that is loose but not unwieldy". — Samatha Critchell, Washington Post

Vera Wang, Proenza Schouler, Catherine Malandrino: The Critics "Speak"

Proenza Schouler
"rough, homespun looking fabrics", "military interpretation", "Balenciaga in the proportions","nags me". — Cathy Horyn, NY Times

"decidedly body conscious", "all about the waist and the legs", "a vaguely military air", "tribal feel", "less posh and more street", "explore[d] the idea of contrasts", "as luxe as it gets". — Nicole Phelps, Style.com

"chic military-majorette motif", "big-buttoned structure", "almost-frothy, very leggy", "sophisticated cheekiness", "folkloric tweeds", "retained a hint of the street", "the collection felt wanting". — WWD

"palette of natural neutrals", "menswear details", "shorter length silhouette", "well-edited", "slight military edge". — Samantha Critchell, Washington Post

"took to the fashion frontline in military mode", "crisp, rigorously tailored", "scissored to the body with strategic precision", "a female warrior-fantasy element", "global melange", "Ikat-like embroideries", "superb", "attention to detail was meticulous". — Hilary Alexander, Daily Telegraph

Vera Wang, Proenza Schouler, Catherine Malandrino: The Critics "Speak"

Catherine Malandrino
"craft touches", "beading in hefty grape clusters", "massive blouson sleeves, voluminous palazzo pants, and linebacker shoulder ruffles", "all got a bit much, actually". — Meenal Mistry, Style.com

"highly sophisticated and oh-so-French", "for grown-up ladies", "wonderful stacked heels", "a few overwrought pieces", "on a whole très chic". — WWD

"works that fine line between the intriguing and the wearable", "subtlety is in the fabric", "organza whipped like egg whites into soft shapes", "joyful combinations of pattern and color", "glow of geranium" "tracery of jasmine", "romantic feel of summer in a sophisticated way". — Suzy Menkes, International Herald Tribune

"garden's variety of looks", "evoke peacefulness", "mastery of handicraft", "showed her sense of humor", "crossed the line into too avant garde". — Samantha Critchell, Washington Post

Vera Wang, Proenza Schouler, Catherine Malandrino: The Critics "Speak"

Preen
"grow[n] in sophistication and surprise", "fresh interpretation", "sexy looseness", "crinkled drawstring jumpsuits", "[the models had no] upstaging the coolness of the look". — Cathy Horyn, NY Times

"Versace territory", "graphic body-con sillouettes", "slouchy", "sensual", "Saint Tropez palatte", "active-sport touches", "best is a mash-up of classics". — Laird Borrelli-Persson, Style.com

"sexy tough-chic", "worked on layers", "skin tight, body-conscious", "taut, see-through lace bodices", "tight as a bandage". — Hilary Alexander, Daily Telegraph

Vera Wang, Proenza Schouler, Catherine Malandrino: The Critics "Speak"

Cynthia Rowley
"conjuring a sporty but stylish tomboy', "mined this vein of sportif chic effectively", "clutter[ed]", "misplaced scarves and belts confused the message". — Joanna Rodger, Style.com

"living la vie sportive — '70s style", "a refreshing take", "slouchily cool", "in the vein of a latter-day Annie Hall", "done without those overly fringed dresses", "made one want to take a pair of scissors to them". — WWD

Vera Wang, Proenza Schouler, Catherine Malandrino: The Critics "Speak"

Rebecca Taylor
"up to her usual tricks","feminine, delicate stuff", "teetered into too-cutesy territory", "balanced things out with a tomboyish motif", "prim", "glitzy", "slouchy, structured or military inspired", "color choices were refreshing". — WWD

"sophisticated, muter color palate", "ageless looks", "a bit dressy", "abstract peony design...a common thread". — Samantha Critchell, Washington Post

Vera Wang, Proenza Schouler, Catherine Malandrino: The Critics "Speak"

Baby Phat
"minus the never-to-be-seen-in-stores fantasy wear", "commercial doesn't mean boring", "gobstopper-sized crystals", "leave little to the imagination", "flashy, at times even trashy" [Say what? - Ed]WWD

"sophisticated", "asymmetrical", "a lot of draping", "flashy, sexy, and urban", "hints of preppiness", "[crowd was] happiest seeing some skin". — Samantha Critchell, Washington Post