New York Fashion Week: To thine own self be true
Feb 13, 2020
We know everyone has been bellyaching about it being a lightweight season in New York bereft of so many heavy hitter designers. But if you take the time to actually study what was on the runway it turns out there were a lot of great clothes on display in Manhattan.
Moreover, if the fashion in New York this season tell us anything it’s to expect a somber and serious mood this winter. A grave atmosphere heightened by the almost complete absence of anyone from China at any event in New York. Just in terms of attendance at shows it suddenly felt like the clock had been turned back 15 years.
That said, expect the autumn to be enlivened by an array of soft and sensual clothes made with sustainability in mind. In uncertain times, from Coronavirus to conniptions in Washington, designers concentrated on doing what they do best, respecting their DNA.
Around town, Proenza Schouler went for a stricter silhouette mixed with nonchalant draping – half the jackets and dresses slipped off one shoulder - and the result was the most important show in America.
Other brands respecting their territory included the two purveyors of patrician polish – Oscar de la Renta and Carolina Herrera, who both witnessed classy performances from the successors to the founders – the Monse duo Fernando Garcia and Laura Kim, and Wes Gordon respectively.
At Monse, one also had to admire the Vivienne Westwood revival, albeit with a major deconstructed twist. A photo of Westwood was even on their mood-board backstage; while out at the Oscars, Westwood had a stellar red carpet moment – dressing Kate Hudson, Natalie Dormer and Winnie Harlow.
The opening weekend was, of course, dominated by events elsewhere – specifically Los Angeles. The Academy Awards falling on the same weekend as the NYC runway season, as it does two out of seven years, meant that Manhattan was largely bereft of proper grade movie stars. Plus, Tom Ford, the chairman of the CFDA, which organizes the NYC season, skipped out of Manhattan to show in LA. As did Julie de Libran, the former Sonia Rykiel designer who now has her own Indie label. She seemed to grab a lot more column inches and social media attention with her Matchesfashion collaboration in Hancock Park than many shows back on the East Coast.
The NYC season did throw up some bold new talents. Most notably LaQuan Smith, whose hybrid rockin’ hip hop glitz made for a great show in Spring Studios. Whether anthracite puffer jackets cut like super heroine armor or matelassé shiny black princess coats, worthy of an intergalactic warrior woman.
Few brands were truer to themselves than Zimmermann, who went for optimistic fashion, layering bright colors and their signature lettering and playful prints. Their blend of velvet trim; hand sequined organza; crystal buttons and pastel resin eye frames and charm bracelets made this the happiest show in town.
Zimmermann is now the most happening foreign brand in America, with a thriving boutique on Madison, located almost catty corner to that thoroughfare’s most famous shopping destination, the Rhinelander mansion of Ralph Lauren. Ralph didn’t even stage a presentation, never mind a show.
The next corner up Madison seemed to capture the moment. The newspaper vending machine sold not the New York Times, but instead the China Daily. Its latest issue carrying the most improbable of headlines. It read: “Fewer new infections seen; more cured.”
A reminder surely of the danger of not telling your citizens or society the real truth; of not levelling with people. Unlike this NYC season, where designers gave an honest account of who they exactly were.
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