Sunday, September 9, 2018

New York Fashion Week is Big on Community Spirit This Season // Spring 2019

Brandon Maxwell wrung whoops, cheers, and tears from his audience at his New York Fashion Week show. 

At Classic Car Club Manhattan, a private club with a fleet of impressive automobiles, guests were seated on Yeti ice chests or in the back of a pick-up truck. The invite was a pair of cowboy boots. This was about Maxwell’s home state, Texas. 

“The collection is dedicated to Texas and my family for making me who I am,” Maxwell said. “I designed this collection with my team in Marfa, Texas—a place I chose for its seemingly limitless space. In seeking space, I found expansion.”

“During the residency, I met with artists, gallerists and the like to understand how the town has influenced their own creative practice,” he said. “After the first few conversations, I quickly understood a common polarity that resonated with me: time, reflection and peace are imperative to any creative practice as is the importance of garnering community through authentic and true support.”
Brandon Maxwell Photo Credit:
The opening looks, for their jewel tones, recalled Alber Elbaz’s Lanvin in the ‘00s, a period of romantic classicism in fashion, before the zenith of Instagram, Twitter, and Snapchat. It fed into a collection complete with shades of crimson and cerise, seafoam and marigold, taupe and emerald. It was joyously elegant, suitable for gala dinners and charity events.

Maxwell is a descendant of Carolina Herrera, Michael Kors, and Ralph Lauren—he’s fine-tuned his output to skewer ladylike properness with a strong emphasis on elegance function and a helping of sexiness wherever necessary. What he brings to American fashion is something timeless but modern, a knowledge of when to buy into the familiar tropes and when to eschew from them. Clearly, taking time to refine this process served him well because the editing in this collection was his best yet, no messy diversions or muddled executions, it was cogent and consistent.  

In the end, the audience erupted in rapturous applause. Maxwell ushered his design team onto the runway and took a bow with his grandmother. Editors took to Instagram and Twitter to share the heartfelt moment, adding that they were moved to tears. Maxwell is on to something, bringing back emotion to fashion at a time when it desperately needs it.

Christopher John Rogers’ Thursday evening static presentation was an evocative display which garnered rave reviews from a wide variety of media outlets. Rogers, who holds a position as an associate designer at Diane von Furstenberg, delivered whimsical glamour with 1950s couture and vintage Cosmopolitan covers in mind. A feast for the eyes, his palette was a positive panoply of every hue under the sun. He did it with a small budget and you wanted to congratulate him on the jubilant colours, the positive casting, the soulful voluminous shapes.
Pyer Moss Photo Credit:
Pyer Moss, where a 40-person gospel choir performed, was befallen by a downpour. Still, the fashion pack flocked to Weeksville, a neighbourhood in Brooklyn because they believe in the designer, Kerby Jean-Raymond’s message. There’s a reason Jean-Raymond took the show to the Weeksville Heritage Centre, a veritable trek from Manhattan where the previous shows took place. The neighbourhood was established by African American freedmen in the mid-1800s. This was a reflection on contemporary blackness.

It began with The Negro Motorist Green Book, an annual guidebook for African-American road trippers. Jean-Raymond commissioned ten paintings by Derrick Adams that were also inspired by the book. This was a tale of black culture at a time when racial tensions heighten in America. (A yellow waistcoat read, ‘See Us Now?,’ a reference to the fight for black visibility. ’Stop calling 911 on the culture,’ a nod to America’s intolerance towards black culture.) Despite the ongoing unease, Jean-Raymond posed a graceful response to the times, with serene silhouettes, optimistic colours, and an inspiring diversity. 

It conjured up that community spirit, the sense of belonging to something bigger than just a fashion show. It’s rare for a fashion show to generate feelings such as unity and togetherness. 

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