Saturday, September 10, 2016

Sacrifices for Commerciality at NYFW // Spring 2017 //

New York Fashion Week will be lambasted eternally because of its over-commerciality. The rhetoric around the city’s proceedings is likely to never change, the primary reason being that the designers will never give the press a reason. On the second and third day in New York there were a number of shows worth reviewing.

Thursday afternoon commenced with Creatures of the Wind at the Masonic Hall. The decadent venue features a gold accents and fancy red carpet. Freemasonry consists of fraternal organisations, meaning the exclusion of women from proceedings. In certain circles women are enrolled although the general consensus is ‘non!’ There’s always a interesting narrative to be spun when a womenswear fashion show is held at a Masonic Hall—such as Gareth Pugh’s Fall 2016 at London’s Freemason’s Hall—but the true source of subtext in this show was the live performance from crooner Julee Cruise. Famously, Cruise is the voice of the Twin Peaks theme song. Shane Gabiers and Christopher Peters drew on the classic 1990s television series in this collections, with potent references visible hither and thither. The striking colour palette firstly, was keen indication of David Lynch’s cult classic. Slightly-off variations of deep denim blues, terracotta, lemon and silver effectively captured the mood of the collection, titled Angels.

The collection was punctuated by lemony shift dresses and crochet embroidered gingham skirt-suits. There was a Midwestern glamour in the clothes that also evoked Old Hollywood imagery. Los Angeles or Chicago, I reckon a woman that can get her hands on Creatures of the Wind will be pleased with visually satisfying display.
Around twilight Thakoon Panichgul made a long-awaited return to the schedule after a year’s hiatus. Bogarting a rooftop in DUMBO as the venue, press and buyers enjoyed views of the Manhattan skyline illuminate from their seats as the first models took to the runway. This show was Panichgul’s first since launching his new business model—the seamless transition eased by new backers Bright Fame Fashion. The direct-to-the-consumer method of selling clothes has been done by only a few designers so it’ll be interesting to see how this shift fares. This show also marks the first see-now, buy-now, wear-now endeavour from Panichgul. This is also being presented in-season—it’s fall 2016, technically. 

With all those changes covered and assessed it’s only fair to dissect the clothes. They were quite good, if you ask me. His exercise in layering and texture derived from two (failsafe) inspirations: the French painter and sculptor Jean Dubuffet and photographer Peter Lindbergh’s iconic imagery from Vogue in the 1990s. Abstract art meets Linda, Naomi, Christy and Cindy in black and white. The clothes looked like the product of both: the prints and shapes were abstracted, the colour palette noticeably subdued—like faded family photographs. Despite it being 30 degrees celsius yesterday evening, press and buyers can avail of the 2007-redux polka dot blazer, the burgundy plaid shirtdress, the shearling bomber, and wool sweaters in the coming weeks. Many of the looks have already been made available for purchase with more drops arriving in the coming weeks. Perfect timing!
Friday, in my mind, is Jason Wu day. To brand his show as Friday’s lynchpin is fair, just like saying Alexander Wang’s stakes his claim on Saturday and Victoria Beckham owns Sunday. Wu has been in the game a long time now, starting out in 2007. We’ve watched his label grow from newbie status to First Lady of the United States favourite—what a jump. His Spring 2017 collection focused on the art of Ugo Rondinone. The Swiss-born artists specialises in mixed-media and is the creator of many fascinating artworks. A recurring motif in his oeuvre is the colour blue, something Wu touched upon for the first half of his collection. Julia Nobis opened the show in a navy tuxedo dress with a metallic, sky-blue, asymmetric panel. This subsequently morphed into more sporty day-dresses, the kind that you can visualise Emma Stone wearing to the Cannes Film Festival.

It’s all well and good to have designs that will easily translate to the red carpet but how do you emulate the same success with the customer, who likely isn’t an gym-frequenting actress. Blake Lively, Eva Longoria, Kerry Washington—there isn’t an actress out there that this collection wouldn’t suit. but that’s where the intrigue ended. The elaborate setting, an lived-in apartment mise-en-scène, a suitable backdrop to the clothing, was misused. The anonymous Spring Studios setting would’ve fared this collection better because the scale of this set did nothing but highlight the flatness of these clothes.  
Monse has been the dark horse at New York Fashion Week for the past two seasons. Design duo Fernando Garcia and Laura Kim have been threatening to upstage the others with their unique architecturally sculptured dresses. The label has only been around for a year; they presented firstly, here in New York, in September 2015 when Golden Globe-winning actress Ruth Wilson sat front row. Since then there business has blossomed, they boast incredible stockists and an even more impressive list of celebrity supporters—Sarah Jessica Parker,  Margot Robbie, Lupita Nyong’o are recent wears, ‘recent’ being the operative word. There success isn’t surprising seeing as they’re Oscar de la Renta graduates. Both designers worked at the brand under the late Mr. de la Renta. For twelve years Kim was the studio director and Garcia was a senior designer.

It was announced last weekend that the duo would be returning to the label after all, to complete Oscar’s vision in the absence of Peter Copping, who exited the label recently. Their anticipated debut as co-creative directors isn’t expected to land until February’s fashion week but the fashion press have been keen to unpick their Spring 2017 collection to find possible starting points for their time at ODLR. Personally, I find this to be quite facile, especially because Laura Kim stated that the brand’s aesthetics are completely different. Where Oscar de la Renta’s timeless appeal to the Upper East Sider, Monse delivers to a slightly younger demographic—the designs are considerably sexier, more freeing.

The stripe is a reappearing pattern in Monse collections. They first explored using it seasons ago when they deconstructed shirts. Three seasons along and they continue to hit refresh on the wardrobe staple, presenting it to us in interesting ways. Pinstripe trousers opened the collection, the tail-end of a blazer sewn on. There was a strong button-up blazer dress, also in pinstripe, with the bottom half of a crisp white shirt adding depth to the look. The latest arrival in the Monse lexicography was the sequin. Towards the end of the collection, stylish party wear emerged. There were blue, green and red sequins galore. The closing look was a red, white and blue American flag-esqe cape with black trousers. Delightful! Garcia and Kim are truly masters at fashioning effortlessly chic clothes.

The four designers above create smart clothes for smart women. In the case of Creatures of the Wind and Thakoon they were quietly powerful, they didn’t exactly command your attention. Jason Wu, surprisingly, continued to dumb down his brand of cocktail wear. Monse’s complexities didn’t outweigh commercial appeal. Out of all four designers, they were the ones that struck the balance with ease and dexterity.
1) // 2) // 3) Vogue Runway // 4) NowFashion

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