NYFW revs up with a sunny start, literally and figuratively
New York Fashion Week aims to please. The shows officially kicked off Friday with a schedule that offered a spectrum of events, perhaps another way in which diversity, a major point of view for the week, plays out. From showcases, to digital shows, to live streams, to presentations, and a good old fashion runway. Even designers not debuting a new collection are getting involved via talks, panels and a retrospective of creative projects, such as the case of Rodarte, whose costume work was on display at Spring Studios.
To add to an upbeat start, New York weather was dry, sunny and unseasonably warm.
Highlights of the opening included a men’s showcase featuring Perry Ellis America, A. Potts, Stan, Teddy Vonranson, and William Frederick. Shayne Oliver returned to the runway to much aplomb. Standouts of the Friday/Saturday start include Proenza Schouler, Jason Wu, and Victor Glemaud.
"It's important these days in such a chaotic moment to find beauty in that," said Lazaro Hernandez of Proenza Schouler, backstage immediately following the brand's Fall 2022 runway show.
"We explored form, shape especially at the hip, the hourglass thing. It was a collage of things, but we looked for something that felt different, felt new, and wasn't achieving a specific reference," he continued.
Whatever chaos out there didn't seem to reach the runway. Those observing the collection witnessed serene beauty that delivered on the shape and form goal, by emphasizing the waist through modern corsetry created from knits.
To demonstrate, modern knitting machine techniques knit sideways, versus up and down, to form the sculptural seamless knits. "It creates volume similar in construction to a ruffle," Hernandez added.
The duo fused two bias-cut circular panels creating a tulip skirt with a pants effect to the knit corsetry. The blouson-effect skirt pants showed up throughout; on shirt-dresses with snap sleeves or a skirt paired with a lavender sequined top, a rare color choice for the brand.
The waist emphasis was reinforced on the tailoring with knit draped shawls and zipped corsets added on top. Stretch double-knits created tension with a taut asymmetrical buttoning effect. Hernandez explained they were seeking sensuality. "We want fashion; we are tired of sweats and sneakers.”
But, don't dismay those who do; louche roll-top pants made the home sweatpants hack super chic, especially paired with a smoking tux jacket. Likewise, the tightly wrapped velour hoodie dressing paired under a jacket or as a part of a head-to-toe caped gown look gave off serious 30s Hollywood glam.
"We wanted to show dressing up again that feels contemporary with flat shoes and knitwear and ease," said Jack McCollough of Proenza Schouler, adding: "We created clothes that also appeal to women of varying shapes and forms." That also materialized in a runway full of a wide array of female character types.
Hernandez reiterated the sensual aspect of the clothes. "There is this body obsession these days, showing your body on social media. That got us thinking. How do we do our version of that? It not showing much but alluding to the hip, body and shape," noted Hernandez.
The most revealed was the shoulder in a series of strapless silhouettes, particularly striking in black with a white ruffle. This also extended to boots with molded toes that the duo said were inspired by friends who wear old Repetto slippers marked with the toe impressions from the wearer.
A nod to the chaos and the body was evidenced in the animal printed dresses that came complete with fabric printing 'glitches' which, in some cases, purposely etched out around the bust for a bra effect.
The show venue was a dream in the making for the duo, who said they had wanted to use The Brant Foundation Art Study Center's East Village location for years. In keeping with the arty feel, Eartheater, the experimental multi-instrumentalist, producer, composer, and vocalist, wrote a custom piece for the show, played by five violinists marking the brand's first foray into live music at a show. They recruited friend and author Ottessa Moshfegh to craft a collection narrative in the show notes, offering a glimpse of these calmly beautiful creatures and how they coolly navigate daily life.
With the current obsession with all things nineties, Helmut Lang should be having a moment. Images of the brand under its founder have been showing up on designer mood boards for several seasons of late. Today's Helmut Lang is in mood and energy, a far cry from that heyday, but rather the perfect answer to office-ready clothes for the modern man and woman who like their classics with a tweak.
This season, the behind-the-scenes design duo for men's and women's wanted to explore tailoring while keeping in mind the comfort everyone has gotten used to since the pandemic, a theme carried forth from the Spring 2022 collection.
The answer for their men's and women's pants was a branded elastic band modeled after the waistband fusible detail. A women's tailored jacket was reimagined as a camisole or arrived with cut-outs at the waist and long enough to wear as a dress for the more daring.
Classic staples such as bomber jackets and trench coats were explored in new ways; a trench coat cut in half, becoming a cropped jacket or a wrap skirt. Similar treatments were applied to a bomber jacket which materializes as a miniskirt, trim details at the collar and wrist of a men's tailored wool overcoat, or oversized and reproportioned as a jacket.
These separates would appeal to the Sacai fan who can't stomach those prices. Shearling jackets, especially dominant in burnt orange or a patched vest, also played heavy into the assortment. In keeping with the brand's art theme, the collection was displayed in a Soho gallery with a mise-en-scene created by set designer Mila Taylor Young, all in keeping with Lang's cool legacy.
Jason Wu feels like getting dressed up. “We want to look good and feel good,” said Jason Wu post-show backstage at his Fall 2022 collection. “I want to be out and feel chic and fancy, “ he continued, pointing out that he and his husband of 16 years were planning Valentine’s Day dinner out for the first time in over 12 years. “Don’t get me wrong, I still like to be in my sweatshirt and watch 'Emily in Paris', but it’s time to get chic.”
So do his customers. “We cannot keep a dress in stock,” he continued. “During the first year of the pandemic, no one was buying clothes like this, and then last March, something snapped. The fancier, the dressier, the more gorgeous dresses sold. Boom, done!”
He said it was the best year for his business which launched in 2007 and gained international attention when First Lady Michelle Obama wore a dress he designed for the first (and second) inauguration.
Fall 2022 will deliver more hit dresses, heavy on ‘all eyes on me’ statement cocktail dress styles that explored volume in various ways. According to show notes, inspiration came from ‘hand-drawn fashion illustrations from the 1950’s’ and was a ‘collection that was an homage to American couture craftsmanship.’ Certainly, haute couture names from all decades were paid homage. Differing from Jason Wu, a contemporary-focused daywear line, his Jason Wu Collection is the upscale line. “It’s my version of couture."
Using moiré ottoman taffeta and bold warp prints, the designer showed oversized bows, grand tiers, puffed egg shapes, peplum waistbands on an array of dresses that came with sexy short hemlines or a three-quarter length tiered ruffled skirt. Strapless necklines, bandeaus, and crop tops cuts added modernity, as did the waterproofing treatment on these fabrics and puffer fabric used as a skirt.
The black-and-white palette was interspersed using hot pink, saffron yellow, royal purple, and Kelly green for an extra fresh take. Wu’s penchant for lingerie-inspired pieces was evidenced in flocked velvet tulle, which sprayed across several dress styles and was captivating in pale pink. A sober black-and-white tweed with shredded fringe details offered a more subtle option for dress-up. The show was dedicated to his late cat Jinxy; obviously, a sad moment for the designer, though joy was the emotion he channeled.
In April 2021, Victor Glemaud made costumes for the ‘La Folia Variations’ ballet at American Ballet Theater. This creative exercise planted a seed for the designer whose eponymous women’s line, like his former menswear collection, is centered around knits. “How do we take that idea and meld it into the knitwear?” the designer asked himself. “That was the inspiration of it all,” he adds, referring to the collection that pushed the idea of knitwear further for the label that debuted in 2016.
“We used cut-and-sew wovens but seamlessly melded them with knitwear.”
He achieved the effect by using a ponte jersey for the first time. “Donna Karan used this back in the day,’ he pointed out. “We took this new yarn and removed any surface texture, pattern, and special knits so everything blended. You couldn’t always tell if it was a sewn dress or not.”
This allowed the designer to explore Hollywood dresses, aka with a fishtail or train hemline, while in the past, knit dresses were confined to the constraints of the knits, not easy to incorporate volume. “Now we can broaden what we do and showcase the brand,” he continued. “I’ve always done knitwear because I love it, and I push myself to make it not always feel like a sweater.”
The exact nature of the dresses may have had an illusionary nature to them, but what was crystal clear was the shape and form, both sensual and graphic, the dresses possessed. Each was done in a solid color—café au lait, chocolate, brown, black, White, and two shades of orange—with details such as revealing one-shoulder and asymmetrical necklines, keyhole details, and ruching.
The casting was extraordinary and made for the collection’s powerful statement. Glemaud took inspiration from the 1966 Senegalese movie 'Black Girl' directed by Ousmane Sembène. “I contacted our casting director in December and with the directive dark skin models. It wasn’t as easy as it looked,” he notes.
Exploring the nature of knits versus woven wasn’t the only new territory Glemaud ventured in. This season, he teamed up with Pologeorgis furs and styled a few mink bathrobe coats over some dresses.
“Fur has a legacy in black culture and history,” he explains, adding, “I didn’t want to shy away from that, and the film inspires this collection. Let's show that history. It wasn’t about using faux fur.”
He argued fur is a natural substance, sustainable, and can be handed down to other generations, and is better than wearing faux fur, which is synthetic and plastic.
“There is a shamefulness these days around fur and if you will be this or that because of it. I don’t want to worry about that. I’m a black man living in America; my life is in danger 24/7,” he continued, putting this controversial choice of materials into context.
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