Up Front

Chromat's NYFW Bodies Should Be The Rule, Not Exception

At NYFW, Chromat celebrated the meaning of diversity, Jill Stuart mixed cookies and clothes, Tory Burch went floral, even if the smell was earthy, and Milly focused on feminism.

Photo Illustration by Sarah Rogers/The Daily Beast


The diversity of body shapes and models on the runway at a Chromat show shouldn't be so radical. But it is. Every Chromat fashion show–by far one of the most exuberant and original at New York Fashion Week–serves to underline prevailing fashion's many iniquities. The "Wavy" show of AW18, was, like other Chromat shows, both a celebration of itself, and an implicit shaming of the majority-circus around it.

Why, you find yourself thinking, does this world trick the mind into thinking all women should be so thin; why are so many of the models so white? If there is a plus-size model (the most ridiculous phrase that fashion has enforced upon us), why is she on her own? Why are there not more non-binary models?

At Chromat, all colors and sizes and identities are welcome. They proudly share the runway to model Becca McCharen-Tran's brightly colored swimwear, with bags of Cheetos or flotation devices the accessories. Think bright orange, bright yellow, reds, blues and blacks. Flesh was firm, flesh also jiggled. But flesh there was, and pride in difference. (And also a closing performance by Slayrizz, which bought the audience whooping to its feet.)

In her note to the audience, McCharen-Tran said the show was an attempt "to find joy and escape within the spiral." She imagined wearing the collection eating those Flaming Hot Cheetos "on a boat in the Hudson."

The aim of Chromat is to bring marginalized voices into the conversation, whether that, said McCharen-Tran, is salary equity with white male-coworkers, "or to have your boundaries respected in your private life."

"Telling people what you want is powerful," McCharen-Tran concluded, and the truth of that is emblemized in this collection, which is both celebratory and challenging. The joy in the room at the end was its own affirmation of not only the clothes, but the theory. Enjoy those Cheetos. TIM TEEMAN


The National Arts Club was founded in 1898 as a private club for our most artistically gifted. Their clubhouse, a brownstone just south of New York City's Gramercy Park, hosted the Jill Stuart show this evening.

It is deliciously textured building, every surface lusher than real life, more beautiful, softer, richer. The carpets are as thick as a bed of ivy, the armchairs upholstered in velvet and silk, the walls paneled in dark wood and oil paintings of knowing nymphs.

The people that populate this world are prettier and wittier than the rest of us, shrugging out of our parkas on a bitter cold Friday night.

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During the Jill Stuart show, these beautiful people are models arranged in vignettes around the room, playing poker and backgammon, playing piano and crooning some Leonard Cohen.

They look as if they sprouted out of the room, a beautiful velvet dress growing like a gorgeous toadstool out of a velvet fainting couch.

According to Stuart, this seamless blending of clothes and environment is entirely intentional. The Chelsea girls of London were the original inspiration for the show but she visited the National Arts Club before finishing and the interiors inspired a more eclectic turn.

The clothes are rich—a dress in loops of autumnal colors and shimmering, witchy pantsuits are standouts. The waists of the trousers are high and cinched but the legs are wide and flowing, like the fever dream baby of a Victoriana Disco.

The choreographed vignettes are a new approach for Stuart—she said that after 25 years of runway shows, she had to do something more fun and creative. She visualized this new world so completely that she brought the print of a pant to a baker and requested matching cookies.

It is a perfect world until the rush of spectators pushes in. We clamor around the models, kneeling at their riding boots and angling iPhones at their faces. Waiters pass out the coordinating cookies and flutes of champagne.

“Excuse me, excuse me,” we press into each other. Everyone winces at the inevitable sound of breaking glass. BREA TREMBLAY


"Oh my gaaad, like what is that smell?" the young woman to my left said.

"It's like…" her friend pondered.

This author, from the countryside originally–but really you should know the answer if you've ever been near a flower-bed at some point–was about to laugh out loud. Because sometimes Fashion speaks beyond what any parodist could dream up.

The the smell, oh poor, offended noses, was earth.

Like, totally, like… soil.

Maybe if I had turned to reveal this astonishing fact, and been met by even more incomprehension, the only way to explain the smell would have been to say it's the stuff that made their expensive bunches of flowers possible.

Perhaps Burch intended it, maybe the mass bedding of pink carnations inside the fabulously tiled building on the far reaches of East 60th Street was meant to be the victorious smell. (It certainly served as a greenhouse-in-the-making.) But, for me anyway, the pong was ambrosial, still more when one of the models walked amid the flowers wearing just the kind of green padded jacket that a sensible gardener would wear to do some weeding.

The collection, numbering 42 looks in total, was heavily floral: dainty patterns on crepe de chine and silk georgette dresses. Nothing was too dainty, however, to have a comforting shearling coat slung over it. There were playful interventions of denim and slinky wool dresses. Textures and prints were bought into happy clashes. One of the most stunning dresses was a simple long black dress with multi-colored stripes zig-zagged across it.

More than any other designer Burch knows her clients, and her models eloquently speak of those wealthy, ageing prep-schoolers, who can swim in both country and city. Romanticism, Burch said, was her theme for this collection, channeling Lee Radziwill and Pina Bausch's Nelken.

And, if you knew what the smell is, there was also rich soil: a little bit of thrilling dirt under otherwise perfectly manicured nails. TIM TEEMAN


True to designer Michelle Smith’s personal style that mixes femininity with a tomboy-twist, the  Milly Fall/Winter 2018 collection presented an array of striking colors, statement coats, and sequined-evening looks for the modern, empowered woman.

A rainbow-colored backdrop of fringe set the stage for Milly’s show, titled “Chromatic,”  as models walked in a criss-crossed fashion throughout the space. Roughly half of the models were women of color, which echoed Smith’s statement to Glamour on making this season’s show “about equality and inclusiveness.”

The collection continued to expand on the idea of women opting for strong colors and a balance of fitted and oversized silhouettes, featuring fall coats in mustards and hot pinks, a red tailored suit, and a knockout sequin-adorned evening wear. The soundtrack included songs by Princess Nokia and Mary J. Blige, accenting the Fall 2018 collection’s themes of women in control of their bodies and their appearance.

Smith told The Daily Beast that she wants the brand, which was established in 2000, to reflect the “world around us,” noting that she is considering a unisex line along with an expansion of e-commerce as the line approaches its twentieth anniversary. “I’m less inspired by a past silhouette, and more by emotion,” said Smith, clad in a Fran Drescher pink strapless dress.

Smith thinks of the quintessential Milly girl as young women like Stranger Things star Millie Bobby Brown and activist/actress Rowan Blanchard. “I want everyone to feel welcome in my house,” she said. ELISHA BROWN