Sunday, September 8, 2019

The dawn of a new New York Fashion Week

New York fashion is ailing but it’s worth the journey for fashion week.

For Telfar Clemens, it’s worth coming to New York. In lieu of his typical show, which will now be presented in Paris later this month, he presented a fashion film previewing what he has to say for spring/summer 2020. For Kerby Jean Raymond’s Pyer Moss, it’s worth coming to New York. He’s showing tonight. There are a host of other brands that make New York special and they’ll roll out shows throughout the week.

The biggest question will be, can Tom Ford, newly appointed chairman of the Council of Fashion Designers of America give New York Fashion Week the kick up the backside it needed? The answer will unfold over the next couple of seasons but, for now, it’s evident he’s got the ball rolling. To begin with he’s shortened proceedings to 5 days and partnered with brands to provide flights, hotels, and cars for international editors.

Off the runway, Barneys New York filed for bankruptcy in August calling the longevity of department stores into question. What becomes of New York’s retail landscape when one of the prime brokers is no longer? How does this impact the wider dialogue?

What’s happened so far? A lot but not a lot. The shows are full of spectacle.

There were painters at Christian Siriano, performers at Rag & Bone and Deveaux, and Janelle Monae serenaded the crowd at Ralph Lauren. Last season’s breakout star Tomo Koizumi returned for another flamboyant tulle explosion with the aid of a dramatic performance piece by Ariel Nicholson, where she was dressed and undressed in each of his eight bundles of fun. Susan Alexandra threw a Bat Mitzvah to debut her ready-to-wear line. Her larger-than-life models in exuberant display schmoozed with guests making it somewhat difficult to discern between the two. Note the religious slant on her work: that felt fresh. But to get to the crux of the freshness, you had to sift through the noise.

Spectacle. It was the trend of day one and two. But the clothes!

Kate Spade threw a garden party, designing clothes for an ‘urban jungle.’ Longchamp, too, looked to the outdoors with a backdrop of some Henry Moore sculptures and flexing a feminine, subtly equestrian muscle.

That evening Brandon Maxwell and Ralph Lauren showed in succession in different parts of the city. Maxwell’s crowd whooped, cheered, and hollered as models, dressed in blue jeans and jumpers, blazers and silk shirts, dazzling cocktail dresses and evening gowns made their runway exits. Meanwhile, at Ralph Lauren, in a purpose-built Art Deco cafe, he served old-world glamour heavily influenced by masculine tailoring with an accoutrement of 90s-inspired sex appeal, alongside a three-course meal and a Janelle Monae performance. It didn’t reinvent the wheel, neither did Maxwell, but the attention-to-detail and the stylised polish never disappoint. The customer continually inspired by all-American preppiness will be thrilled. Neither needed a spectacle to sell the dream. That’s the biggest takeaway.

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