Sunday, February 11, 2018

In New York, the Imitation Game // Fall 2018 //

One of the most fashionable trends right now, it seems, is imitation. Copying, pastiching, bastardising—choose your words wisely. In the digital age, Instagram accounts like @DietPrada reprimands designers who sample others’ work, getting away with imitating others work is increasingly difficult. Nothing could be more shameful or damning than having ones plagiaristic tendencies displayed on the omnipotent social media.

As New York Fashion Week kicked off Tom Ford’s lime leopard print suits was compared to Bottega Veneta from 2001, Cinq-Ă€-Sept was flagged for its Tom Ford for Gucci and Alessandro Michele for Gucci resemblances. Clothes at R13 on Saturday morning were redolent of Demna Gvasalia’s recent Balenciaga outing, which subscribes to the school of thought that the last season’s Paris Fashion Week inspires next season’s New York.

Eckhaus Latta operates in the post-Margiela sphere, it is an artful response to the shifting landscape of gender identity and it has risen to become one of the most sought after show at New York Fashion Week. With decampments from Proenza Schouler, Rodarte and more to Paris, Eckhaus Latta’s time has come to prove themselves as a life-force on New York’s less-crowded schedule. For Fall 2018, yesterday afternoon in Brooklyn. They filled their industrial warehouse show space with colourful, deconstructed knitwear which proposed it creatively. 

Having opened a store in Los Angeles last summer, integral to the brand’s growth is producing clothing that can sell. They’ve always been good at that, with unfamiliar sharps that weirdly work. A double-breasted dove grey blazer was worn as a dress, diaphanous layers of organza were pleasantly ethereal; the softness of the opening of the collection fed into warmly-coloured procession. Their boiled wool coats with dramatic lapels or turquoise accents were brilliant. Their vision of femininity and masculinity isn’t defined by the same preconceived notions that dominate runways—it isn’t clear cut and their homage to the fringes of society, despite their size, will always be honest with its uncontrived peculiarities. By the end of it you released a fulfilled sigh, the clothes were good, they had feeling and they looked refreshingly new. 
Alexander Wang took over the former Conde Nast offices at 4 Times Square, where the guests were situated in an AWG (Alexander Wang Gang) office setting, in and amongst cubicles. Xander Zhou did the same thing at London Fashion Week Men’s last summer. (This marks Wang’s last outing in New York for some time as he opts to switch to the June/December model, which is a more “consumer-focused” venture according to the CFDA. Time will tell how successful that is.)

The idea of the setting undoubtedly derives from the Vetements-instigated post-ironic realism, filtering the clothes through a heightened normality lens. He sexualised corporate with nods to sci-fi mysticism and Anthony Vaccarello, who also purveys similar territory—abbreviated dresses with zipper accents. Thematically, he was striving to conceptualise the modern working woman negotiating the concrete jungle and corporate ladder but empowerment and strength was sullied by those disempowering heels which models struggled to walk in. 

In 2009, Wang presented a boho-rock for the Erin Wasson generation. Nowadays he’s far more interested in the Insta-set than he is the original It-girls. With that shift to a social media driven experience, levels of authenticity have diminished greatly. Chicness is no longer a priority, it’s an afterthought—now the focus is on shaping an impenetrable femininity consisting of party dresses and pointed shoulders. It’s not appealing anymore. Worse still, it’s boring and predictable. 
After Wang, guests made their way to Pyer Moss. Generally one of the more authentically political fashion brands on the official schedule, founder Kerby Jean-Raymond centred his collection on repositioning “the story of the American cowboy, which was rewritten and whitewashed. But the original cowboy was a black man.” These clothes are a New York goldmine for subversively subtle, politically-charged garments and one of the few person-of-colour perspectives going. 

There was strong deconstructed outerwear which paid homage to the tropes of Western styles in fashion. One may point out similarities between this and Raf Simons’ recent rendition of the American West at Calvin Klein. Both took a similar angle—reflecting the marginalised subcultures of the vast nation, but Jean-Raymond’s outing took a more vocal political stance, challenging the perception of the American West’s interactions with both race and identity, as opposed to just identity at Calvin. Undoubtedly there were streetwear riffs with the 90s-inspired pooling denim, but an inherent glamour was embedded in those silky Grecian gowns in marigold and merlot. It teetered along the lines between nostalgic and forward-thinking.

It’s sobering, really, the idea that being oneself isn’t as fashionable as it used to be.

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