by Karen Alberg Grossman

A modern transition for this classic American brand, last night’s spectacular Hickey Freeman presentation at 214 Lafayette Street featured beautiful luxury clothing that was both directional and commercial. “Of course we showed a few pieces that were exceedingly directional,” Hickey’s president and chief creative officer Arnold Silverstone told MR. “Full pleated pants, capes, a cashmere jogger suit, a show-stopper sable-trimmed vicuna coat (that we made for the show but several retailers actually asked to buy; it would probably cost about $20,000). But most of the collection is truly saleable and got rave reviews from our upscale retailers.”

The presentation was divided into three vignettes: 1)Highlands (lambswool and alpaca tweeds, bold plaids, houndstooths and meltons but done in softer lighterweight fabrics than traditional British textiles); 2)The Strand (power suits redefined with a contemporary edge; blues are indigo rather than navy and accented with forest green decos) and 3)Greenwich (luxury fabrics like baby camel hair, cashmere and vicuna in soft neutral shades done up in tailored joggers, knit trousers and other contemporary/athleisure styles.)

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The show’s unusual venue was a former New York City substation from the 1890s that has been renovated a few times in recent years, including under the ownership of Tobe Hooper, director of the horror film The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, some of whose artwork and memorabilia remain in the space. Its most striking feature is a full-floor swimming pool, the bottom of which can be seen through a large window at the far end of the entryway. During the presentation, students from Columbia University played water polo in the pool (while wearing black speedos embroidered with the Hickey-Freeman name), and many visitors stopped to peer into the ground-floor window at the unusual sight.

There’s more excitement to come for Hickey Freeman, namely, a new made-to-measure store soon to open on Vesey Street at the southern tip of Manhattan, a perfect location for elegant American-made power clothing, modernly redefined.