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Passport Show Packs a Punch

By Joseph Rosenfeld

WHAT DOES the largest department store retailer in the United States do to get people enthused about fashion? Throw a fashion show, of course. How does a 150-year-old company of Macy's size and stature show its leadership in the fight against HIV/AIDS? They transform a mere runway into a memorable spectacle that transcends fashion.

Tommy Hilfiger kicked off the Macy's Passport show in post-hip-hop preppy style. Models lunged down the runway, as the Lovemakers played live onstage. We saw lots of patriotic plaid pop in red, white, and blue. Ladies looked great in gray and guys looked boffo in bow ties. The show sped from Americana to Africana's sexy safari style and then threw it into fifth gear with black and white fashions.

"Dark Shadows" was the theme of the next section where body-contoured Euro punk biker chicks came out in black clothes you'd swear cast-off Project Runway contestant Stella had a hand in designing. Once the black-clad babes were offstage, the dudes danced down the runway to the tune of "Puttin on the Ritz" wearing Macy's store brand Alfani Red. But the show got even hotter when the guys got downright steamy shaking it to the theme from Shaft. Seeing the guys dance in their dark modern suits put a new spin on working in a suit.

Then the Jabbawockeez took the stage by storm. Their artistic dance was followed by a well choreographed, colorful and talented troupe of young people right out of Fame. They were spot-on and intense. The youth movement moved forward in the show, by looking back to Brighton, England, in 1963, the birthplace and time of the Ben Sherman business. Lots of middle-class-looking cardigans and double-breasted pea coats took to the runway. Inspired by a bygone era but made for today's youthful adult, the collection proves that all women and men can wear classics and be modern.

Calvin Klein celebrated 40 years on the catwalk in the show's central vignette. While shrouded in darkness, white scrims were lowered toward the runway. When the lights went up, a steady stream of models filed out one-by-one. It was classic Calvin elegance, minimal to the max. Of course there was a brief encore, as no Calvin Klein show would tell the whole story without a revealing look at the brand's iconic underwear for ladies and men.

There must have been 501 cheering employees of Levi's on hand when "SoHo on the Street," the show's next section, began. I loved how the creative team subtly reinvented the coal mine of yesterday into today's subway and sewer systems, from which Levi's clad models emerged as creatures of the city street. Some models wore special pairs of Levi's donning a motif designed by deceased artist Keith Haring.

"Club Caliente" was the show's next Passport imprint. The black and purple attire for this section was by I.N.C. International Concepts, another of Macy's trend labels. This collection typically has more of a penchant for color than was visible during the show. But the color was provided straight out of TV's So You Think You Can Dance by none other than Alex Da Silva and his dance partner. They salsa-danced to their heart's content and stopped everyone else's in the process.

Even the straight guys had to sit up and take notice of underwear brand's 2(x)ist "Touch Down" show segment. After Calvin Klein, 2(x)ist underwear, mostly a gay brand, was hailed by the entire Passport crowd. You could probably trace the rise of the metrosexual and the übersexual as being in step with the sales of this iconic brand. I doubt if anyone was looking at the underwear anyway because you could bounce change off the ripped abs of the models. Wow.

The show went from wow to wrap with the kaleidoscopic collection of Ed Hardy. Designed by Christian Audigier, the skull, heart and tiger tattoo art-motifs inspired the clothes. The women appeared as sex objects with lots of exposed tattoo-free skin. What better sex object could there be than Marilyn Monroe, who made an appearance in the middle of the show. The men's collection was the total opposite with lots of layering. One outfit had a huge printed tiger zippered hoodie under an embroidered black blazer worn with a shirt and tie and crinkled pants featuring thick stitching and a white studded belt. Can you say overkill?

The show's high production value wasn't only intended for an exclusive audience. Macy's will screen the show throughout the country on Thursday, Oct. 23, locally, at San Francisco's City Centre's Century 9 Theatres. Proceeds will benefit the Academy of Friends, a local organization that supports 61 HIV/AIDS service organizations throughout the bay area.

Joseph Rosenfeld is Silicon Valley's image and style go-to guy. He consults 1:1 and speaks to groups. Visit for information.

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