Feb 6, 2020
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New York Fashion Week : Honey we’ve sort of shrunk the season

Feb 6, 2020

One year ago, Tom Ford took over as Chairman of the Council of Fashion Designers of America, as the industry heralded the dawn of a new era for American fashion.

A look from Omar Salam′s Sukeina

Ford promised a far more internationalist approach; greater support for young designers and a more concise season. However, 12 months later, as editors, retailers and influencers descend on New York for the fall winter 2020/21 collections, the whole season is strikingly denuded of many of its major names; beginning with Tom Ford himself. Ford will be presenting his latest show in Los Angeles on Friday evening, the very first day of the women’s collections in New York.

Moreover, despite his best efforts, under its current combined format New York Fashion Week now sprawls over 10 days, from Monday, February 3 with menswear presentations to Wednesday, February 12, climaxing – as has become tradition – with a final show by Marc Jacobs.

Remarkably, the four historically largest fashion houses founded in New York by American designers - Ralph Lauren, Donna Karan, Calvin Klein and Tommy Hilfiger will also be absent.  At least, Hilfiger is still staging a show, but in London. The All-American talent will take his latest See-Now-Buy-Now concept on the road again with a show in Blighty, during the UK runway season.

Several other must-see names are also absent – from Jeremy Scott, who will now show during Paris couture, with speculation that he is miffed by Ford scheduling his show for the same evening as Scott’s; Kerby Jean-Raymond of Pyer Moss, who is skipping a season as he tries a novel manner of unveiling his collections; and Tomo Koizumi – the cult show of September.

The city is also bracing for a huge downturn in attendance by Chinese buyers, stylists and editors due to the Coronavirus. In Milan, the Camera della Moda is predicting there will be some 1,000 less Chinese visitors at that city’s fashion week, debuting on February 19. Chinese fashion houses Angel Chen, Ricostru and Hui have canceled their runway shows in Milan Fashion because of the virus.

Fenty Release 2-20

That said, New York does still have some major players – especially in its key resource – great American sportswear. Michael Kors, Tory Burch and Coach; along with sophisticated labels for Park Avenue mavens or wealthy loft dwellers - Carolina Herrera, Oscar de la Renta and Vera Wang. Plus insiders are tipping a diverse new group of non-NYC talent like Sukeina's Senegalese creator Omar Salam, Grenadian designer Fe Noel, or Queens born LaQuan Smith.

Another major flaw in the NYC season is that it is spilt in two. Most of the important shows are listed on the Official Schedule of the CFDA. However, IMG’s rival NYFW The Shows, much of which is staged inside Spring Studios in the downtown neighborhood of Tribeca, has a separate, and confusingly overlapping listing. And, remarkably, this NYFW list also begins with an event in LA: M Missoni's runway for the launch of Margherita Missoni’s new youth-orientated collection.

Underlining the suddenly magnetic attraction of LA, the French independent couturier Julie de Libran presented the collection she had unveiled in Paris last month with a trunk show in genteel Hancock Park, with Matches Fashion on Wednesday night.

So unusual is this season that it turns out the anchor event of the opening day, will not actually be a fashion show, but a celebration inside a department store. Expect huge attention when legendary buyer Linda Fargo and the singer and fashion star Rihanna celebrate the launch of Fenty in Bergdorf Goodman.

When revealing his decision to decamp to LA, Tom Ford said the following: “In my role as chairman of the CFDA, my main intent and priority is to globalize and bring attention to American fashion. There is truly no bigger or more prominent stage in the world at any given time than Los Angeles during the Academy Awards.”

All perfectly true, but the net result is a suddenly less prominent stage for fashion in New York.


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