There was a lot of talk leading up to this season’s New York Fashion Week, which unofficially began last Wednesday, about the actual mortality of this 70 year old institution. It's a conversation looming over each major fashion capital at this time of year - is fashion week at the end of it’s rope, irrelevant, up the creek without a paddle, over? Is fashion week *hard swallow* dead?
Not like “dead” dead, but with the rise of see-now-buy-now, mixed gendered collections, stand-alone destination shows, and independent and/or guerrilla presentations, the city’s power as a concentrated showcase and global centre of influence had a lot to prove this season. Naturally, the city handled the pressure to measure up the only way it knows how - by partying it up and going bolder, brighter, and more creative.
With over 130 shows on the itinerary, this New York Fashion Week was by far the most visible one to date. Why? Because designers and brands fully embraced the transparency offered by Twitter, Instagram Live, Snapchat, and live streams. Rihanna streamed her technicolor X-Games inspired Fenty x Puma collection live on both her Instagram account and Fenty Beauty's, garnering nearly 100k views combined.
Two (model's) names were on everyone’s lips during fashion week, completely taking it for their own: Kaia Gerber and Teyana Taylor. Not many people can say that they turned 16, got their driver’s licence, and walked their debut show for Calvin Klein all in a week - but Kaia Gerber isn’t like most. Daughter of supermodel Cindy Crawford, it can be easy to pass Kaia off as just another scion rising on the back of nepotism. Yet, after seeing her go from CK to opening Alexander Wang, to Fenty x Puma by Rihanna (where, I have to say, it took me like five minutes to actually recognize her) to Coach 1941, to closing Marc Jacobs, it’s clear that she has the versatility and the persistence that make her poised for a successful career. It was also poignant to see Karlie Kloss supporting Kaia exactly 10 years since her debut at Calvin Klein, coming full circle.
Then there’s Teyana Taylor, hip hop’s undisputed muse and fashion’s newest sensation. She has the Vogue seal of approval. She shut it down at makeup legend Pat McGrath’s iconic Mothership Ball (arguably the best NYFW party in decades), then went on to walk for Philipp Plein, The Blonds, and GCDS. It was much more so performance at Plein and The Blonds, where she showed an athletic elegance that has become her signature. At GCDS, her runway walk shined with a confidence and attitude not seen since Naomi in the early 90’s. Something tells me NYFW was just the beginning for these two.
Brands also took advantage of New York City’s vast landscape, taking their shows to the street, water, park, and beyond. It-girl approved brand Miaou threw a yacht party for their Spring/Summer presentation on the Grand Banks featuring Instagram favorites Paloma Elsesser, Devon Carlson, Kira Ship, and photographer/Hadid best pal Alana O’Herlihy in canary yellow plaids, gingham, and pinstripes as well as their now famous ‘Tommy’ pants.
Brands like Baja East and Public School used the streets as their runway, while Maryam Nassir Zadeh took her show - filled with ruffled and puff-sleeve dresses, rhinestones, gingham, block-heeled sandals, and her signature “odd elegance” - to East River Park track on the Lower East Side. She shuttled her girl squad (featuring fashionable friends Susan Cianciolo, Camilla Deterne, and Kozue Akimoto) to the location in a party bus, Instagramming its inner happenings, and then dropping a surprise performance by muse Solange during the catwalk portion.
Likewise, Alexander Wang tried his hand at a guerrilla-style show with #WANGFEST by packing his legion of top models party-hopping on a cool girl’s odyssey around the burroughs. First were public stops to Lafayette and Center Streets in Manhattan, then another stop at Asher Place. Finally the bus made its way to a dead end street in Bushwick, Brooklyn, lit only by the tungsten lights in the beds of pickup trucks. Already a late night show, the hour-long delay kind of killed much of the spontaneous buzz, but eventually the models began pouring out of the bus in various denims, sleeves in excess, twisted and knotted party dresses, and mash-ups of all sorts (think silk cami/sweatshirt and deconstructed button down/sports bra hybrids) strutting through the middle of the street and going right into the #WANGFEST afterparty.
For Ralph Lauren’s Spring/Summer show, he decided to stick close to home, literally. Flying the models to his Bedford Mills, NY, home, he held the show in his basement garage, where the models walked in suits and ball gowns beside his rare luxury car collection.
This season also marked pivotal anniversaries for several designers and creatives, as well as one notable debut. Helmut Lang’s new editor in residence, Isabella Burley, handpicked Hood By Air’s ultra-cool designer Shayne Oliver as the label’s new designer in residence, and oh what a debut it was. Oliver completely reinvented the vibe of Lang, full of his signature nod-and-a-wink sexual kink. Harnesses, assless trousers hanging like garters from the waistbands, asymmetrical bras, bra bags, oversized bras layered over long sleeve tops (a lot a bra action). Overall, a very minimal, 50 Shades of Grey feel, with the sharp tailoring that is so quintessentially Helmut Lang.
To mark 20 years in the industry, Jeremy Scott - an unmistakable pioneer of celebrity casting and pop culture zeitgeist-iness - created a collection that was full-on, well, Jeremy Scott. Colors clashing with patterns paired with graphics and patches, sheer and sequins and fishnet with a heavy street influence were all sent down the runway on all of the famous faces like Gigi, Jourdan Dunn, Slick Woods, Sofia Richie, Joan Smalls, and his longtime muse Devon Aoki.
Also celebrating 20 years in the business, dynamic photography team Mert Alas and Marcus Piggott threw a party to launch their first ever photography book, MERT ALAS & MARCUS PIGGOTT on the Public House rooftop where Kim Kardashian-West, Cindy Crawford, the Hadids, and Nicki Minaj came out to support the duo.
Speaking of dynamic duos, Scottish design legend Vivienne Westwood honored her 10 year business and 25 personal relationship with fellow legend photographer Juergen Teller by hosting an exhibition at her 14 East 55th St. location featuring his work with the iconic woman and brand.
The trends this season were incredibly vibrant, a surprising contrast with the notably dark times in which we live. Bold colors of every neon and technicolor shade filled collections like Marc Jacobs, Brandon Maxwell, Prabal Gurung, Area, and Mansur Gauriel. Key colors for the season: hazard orange, hot pink, safety yellow, and bright, bright red. Obviously, florals and denim were a hit in the spring shows; Tanya Taylor, ZImmermann, Brock Collection, Ulla Johnson, Jason Wu, Self Portrait, Cinq Á Sept, and Adam Selman brought out the blooms while Sandy Liang, Tibi, Adam Lippes, and (again) Adam Selman fully embraced denim.
Young label Monse, led by Oscar de la Renta’s Fernando Garcia and Laura Kim, transformed their Hudson Yard’s location into an old school gymnasium to complement their sporty, collegiate-inspired collection featuring backwards oxford shirts, extra large gingham, loads of fringe, deconstructed varsity jackets, and sequins jerseys. Others to go for American sportswear were R13, Kith, Baja East, GCDS, Public School, Coach, Fenty x Puma by Rihanna, and Calvin Klein.
Raf Simons also went with a lot of satin at Calvin Klein, be it with Western pearl-snap shirts, trousers, silk-screen printed dresses, or midi skirts. Sies Marjan, Public School, and Adam Selman also featured major silk numbers in their collections.
Though the absence of Proenza Schouler, Rodarte, Rag & Bone, and co. was definitely felt, New York Fashion Week overall lived up to the high expectations facing it. The creativity brought by the designers, both rookie and veteran, and the exposure allowed by social media might have been NYFW’s saving grace. Onward it goes, to live another day.