The stunning and strong-smelling staging of Raf Simons’ Youth in Motion show, closing out the men’s component of New York Fashion Week, looked like a scene from a bacchanal, with half-full wine bottles littering the stage surrounded by glasses of wine, also half-full. There were flowers and grapes. Some people tentatively tucked in to the food. Lemons had been cut in two, their peel hanging in winsome curls. Piled on top of each other, they looked like large fright wigs: striking, but still better used in a gin and tonic.
There was even Renaissance-y music, which soon gave way to something loud and pounding. Yes, the much-lauded Belgian designer—who is also chief creative officer of Calvin Klein—told us in some notes, this was a staged attempt a Flemish still-life, and to evoke the couture houses of yore.
“Youth In Motion implies movement—across space and time, and between inner and external realities—and draws freely from the lexicons of art, cinema, literature, music, the counter culture and the ‘attitude’ of couture,” according to Simons, one-time creative director of Dior. He was also inspired by Christiane F., Uli Edel’s 1981 film about the reality of drug addiction; one of the tank tops worn like a napkin came with the simple moniker “Drugs” (and Simons’ insistence this was no celebration of narcotics).
As is Simons’ wont, the clothes were clever and beautiful exercises in deconstruction and casting anew. Jackets came with odd panels, or explosions of sweater at the breastbone. The models wore boots that looked half-Bovver boot, half-Wellington. Get ready to hit the street in shiny gloves going past your elbow. There were cutouts in sweaters and ripples of material. The faces of characters from the movie were imprinted on the fronts and backs of shirts. There was a beautiful red overcoat that made you sigh for how every decent red overcoat should look.
Playful as it may have looked, Simons was very serious. Part of the proceeds from sales of the Youth in Motion collection will, we learned, be donated to organizations that support those in recovery from addiction. And all that food on stage will be donated to New York City charity City Harvest.
The conventional runway is dying a slow Fashion Week death. The more enjoyable options are presentations and gatherings, such as what Greta Constantine staged for its Fall/Winter 2018 show on a blustery New York Wednesday night in a bright white penthouse on the Lower East Side.
Models sauntered around the two-story space, while guests, who included Coco Rocha—wearing the label, of course—gladly drank from an apparently limitless ocean of Champagne. If the label makes the designer sound like a posh, stately woman, think again: It is actually the invention of Kirk Pickersgill and Stephen Wong, the label derived from the combination of the name of the latter’s mother, Greta, with that of the former’s grandfather, Constantine.
The Toronto-based designers told The Daily Beast that the sequin A-line skirts, gold sequin boots, jacquard high-rise culottes, belted playsuits, and bolero jackets were meant to make people remember that New York was a city to go out and play in, to have fun in, to dance in. They wished those days would return—and until they do, these clothes, worn properly as the bright lights shine down, should at least get you in the mood.