Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Finding Purpose at NYFW // Spring 2019

“Californian spirit and an audacious sense of Parisian elegance,” read the show notes at Longchamp, high up in at Three World Trade Centre. The French brand famous for its handbags is attempting to claim a stake in the high fashion relevancy conversation by appointing Kendall Jenner as a brand ambassador and making more pointed efforts with its ready-to-wear, which were mediocre at best—too much fringe, too many Navajo prints, not enough consideration or clarity.
Escada Photo Credit: washingtonpost.com
German house Escada staged a comeback on Sunday afternoon at the Park Avenue Armory, piloted by newly-appointed global design director, Niall Sloan. It felt like ‘technicolour Desperate Housewives’ but that issue was mainly with the setting. It lacked a certain richness, the quality of looking expensive. 

Sloan, a Northern Irishman with a penchant for inclusivity and eye-popping colour, studied Fashion Design with Marketing at Central Saint Martins before pursuing a master’s in womenswear at the Royal College of Art. Sloan will serve Escada well. He’s got a marketing executive’s eye, ten years of experience at Burberry and four years at Hunter. His pedigree points to an understanding of placing the bottom line first. He has learned how to sell.

Sloan was thinking about Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman, covering grounds such as abstract sportswear, prim and proper, and 90s-inspired oversized suiting. Sloan should refine his work, less garish hues, and gimmicky accessories—those sneaker boots were dire. He should focus more on tailoring. The looks that did resemble Julia Roberts in an oversized blazer or the final look, sported by supermodel Lara Stone, a double-breasted blazer with bunched-up sleeves, deserved a greater presence.

At Boss, which is currently without a creative director, the in-house team, led by Chief Brand Offiier, Ingo Witts, still put on a show to generate a social media buzz around the brand. They channeled the Boss signatures: sportswear and tailoring. They were thinking about a Californian sensibility, that unmistakable ease that is suitable kismet for a fashion collection. But, maybe, they should’ve considered taking a season out, finding a new designer, and rethink what they want Boss to stand for in 2018. 

A fashion show should have a purpose and in it purposeful clothes. Brands like Longchamp, Escada, and Boss, are best kept on the shelves where they look best: pristine and aspirational. On the runway, they tend to lean into gimmicks and forget their identity. 
Telfar Photo Credit: Fashionista
Telfar Clemens showed no signs of an identity crisis at his show-cum-concert at the East 34th Street Heliport where guests were treated to some of the best clothes of the week and a downpour of biblical proportions. 

That didn’t detract from his line-up. Clemens is renowned for his interpretive stance on mundanity, taking classic tropes and elevating them, breathing life into consumerist classics—t-shirts and jeans. This season he refracted them through the 1970s with flared bottoms, double denim, buttoned-down shirts, and nipped waists. This wasn’t a trend handbook, rather a visceral response to Americana and a celebration of blackness.

Things were also personal at Sies Marjan where, for his third year in business, Sander Lak offered some introspective ideas about his prismatic creations. To editors, he flagged it as “emotionally intense.” 

There’s something Lynchian about Sies Marjan. There’s a slight feeling of unease, an air of mystery, something begging to be uncovered. What lies beneath those sheaths of olive, midnight blue, and ruby. It’s dreamy, there’s something inherently film-like about it. Backstage, he referred to the models as a ‘cast.’ “I keep saying ‘cast,’ it’s almost like a movie.” 

This season, Lak added stripes and more textures, and his approach to drapery was more playful. The results were mixed but his desire to break new ground is important. He might be the youthful lifeblood New York Fashion Week needs right now but that doesn’t mean complacency should set in. Next time, let’s hope he calibrates the additions and creates a second act we’ll desperately follow. 
Rodarte Photo Credit: voguerunway
Rodarte, later that day, could’ve been plucked straight from Hollywood. It took place at the New York Marble Cemetery in the pouring rain to a soundtrack of Chet Baker. Models braved the elements, bedecked in swaths of candy-coloured tulle and decorated in delicate couture-worthy embellishments. 

Laura and Kate Mulleavy brought Rodarte back to New York after a failed stint in Paris during couture week in the summer of 2017. In New York, you could tell they were at home. They weren’t competing with Chanel, Dior, Margiela, the only thing they were competing with was their own creativity… and the rain. (Valiant PR girls wiped rainwater off the wooden chairs where guests, who huddled together under umbrellas, sat.)

One couldn’t help but think of George Saunders’ Lincoln in the Bardo as each model emerged. The clothes capitalised on anachronisms, belonging to multiple periods at ones. The 1980s and the 1880s were melded into the opening look, a big-shouldered leather dress with tiered ruffles. Another, in a shade of scarlet, was attired in a ruffled, red romper. Her face was shrouded in a red veil. It was like a sepulchral temptress floating around the graveyard. Who was each individual woman? What was her story? It meant something.

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