Serena Williams Serves Aces to Win at NYFW
The tennis star’s mixture of chic and versatile deserves to win fans, while Jeremy Scott served delicious pop, and Barbara Tfank Spanish-inspired elegance.
Serena Williams ‘Signature Statement’ Fall collection for HSN, by Allison McNearney
We are well acquainted with Serena Williams’s prowess on the court (to the tune of 22 Grand Slam titles), but the tennis star is quickly proving herself to be also be a formidable runway force.
Only four days after suffering an upset in the semifinals of the U.S. Open, Williams has recovered to conquer New York Fashion Week.
On Monday, Williams presented her latest collection in collaboration with HSN (and hosted by Kia STYLE360) to an audience that included a variety of front-row powerhouses: fashion mavens Anna Wintour and Iris Apfel (an HSN darling herself), tennis stars Venus Williams (who has fashion aspirations of her own) and Caroline Wozniacki, singer Ciara, and TV personality La La Anthony. This strong showing of support was particularly fitting, given the show was an empowering ode to the strength and beauty of all women.
In what seemed like something of an offshoot of Beyoncé’s visual album for Lemonade, in which Williams made a cameo, the show interspersed catchy anthems like Sia’s “The Greatest” and Beyoncé’s “Pray You Catch Me” with a spoken-word poem voiceover that repeated the chorus “she is woman.”
The effect was a forceful feminist creed that was made only more powerful by the collection itself. The 35 looks were chic and versatile, focusing on classic lines and mix and match pieces. There were tight knit dresses in soft whites, blush pinks, and blacks. There were more than a few sumptuous overcoats, like a gorgeous white knee-length shearling coat with a skinny black belt and a black leather bomber jacket with white faux shearling sleeves.
There were lots of long flowing “maxi-vests” that were almost cape-like with movement as the models glided down the runway. The collection was elegant and stylish, but still accessible in keeping with the HSN client.
In addition to everyday classics, Williams also offered a few dramatic pops. A short black velvet dress with long sleeves was trimmed with black feathers, while the final two looks served up sexy see-through black lace numbers that bared more than a little skin.
Williams is also joining other industry stalwarts like Tom Ford and Thakoon in reimagining the format and timing of the fashion calendar. Her collection, which was live-streamed on HSN’s website (making for one of the most prompt fashion show start times in history), was immediately available for purchase online following the increasingly popular “see-now, buy-now” model.
Game, set, and match, we say.
Jeremy Scott by Tim Teeman
When Joe Zee, the editor in chief of Yahoo! Style, saw Kelly Osbourne at Jeremy Scott’s New York Fashion Week show, there was only one thing he wanted to do: nuzzle her dog, a beguiling mass of fur which she carried in her arms. Osbourne obliged, and obliged yet more people who also wanted an audience with the aforesaid pooch.
Scott, a fan of The Young and The Restless (and therefore already a man of exquisite taste by our estimation) is also a master of mixing pop and pop culture, and when the clothes started coming, they did so with as many flashes of mischief as of color.
The show, a gaudily exuberant homage to the 1980s, began with “New York” emblazoned across an oversized sweater. Then came bra-tops teamed with short skirts and trousers, a sweater dress in pink and purple, and poster-art faces (that could have furnished your eighties bedroom) drawn across T-shirts and dresses. “Hot Hot Hot” screamed one set of banner lettering.
Male models wore the same pastels as the women, and the same checkered trousers designed in NYC taxi yellow and black. That design also came as a bikini.
“I was just really thinking about New York City folklore, the early ’80s that I’ve read about in books and magazines,” Scott told the Associated Press. “These fun party scenes and these extravagant characters going around on the Lower East Side, and Times Square being seedy and having X-rated theaters.”
The campy jewel colors got darker in what seemed like a knicker-bra combo, and then, at the end, a parade of colorful, riotous shimmering and glitter overtook the catwalk like an exhilarating fireworks display—in jumpsuits, in long dresses that were also adorned by strange hoops, like rings around planets or UFOs, and—best of all—giant capes that made for the best kind of outrageous windbreaker or sun reflector. Here, the practicality of clothes was subverted entirely. And yet amazingly, the items looked wearable. Even if such detailing meant you did get stuck in Whole Foods’ doorway, it would be the best kind of fashion moment. There would be no embarassment, only applause and Instagram likes.
The joy of Jeremy Scott is inscribed in his designs—a love of pop, art, camp, and fashion—and the busting of all conventions and its limits. He sees a boundary and brazenly jumps headlong over it, and the audience—including, presumably, the adored ball of fur that was Kelly Osbourne’s front row dog—loved it.
Barbara Tfank by Lizzie Crocker
For a designer who counts First Lady Michelle Obama among her most loyal clients, Barbara Tfank is disarmingly humble, laid back, and relaxed— a blast of fresh air on Day Six of New York Fashion Week.
Tfank traveled to Seville, Spain, for her spring 2017 collection, an array of elegant evening dresses in ornate jacquard, organza, tulle, and lace.
She found inspiration in the Moorish Alcázar of Seville, the oldest royal palace in Europe that still welcomes visitors today. Likewise in the paintings of Francisco de Zurbaran, known as “The Spanish Caravaggio.”
Certainly the collection was an homage to the ancient city, with its magnificently textured fabrics and intricate patterns (think jacquard dresses in pale blues and pinks, overlaid with glittery lace). But it also had an Old Hollywood vibe, with classic feminine silhouettes that could’ve been lifted from Audrey Hepburn’s closet.
“It’s so nice that the models like my clothes,” Tfank said, showing me her designs, including one dress worn by Michelle Obama only a few weeks ago.
Tfank was one of the mentors at the First Lady’s Fashion Education Workshop at the White House in 2014.
“I taught kids that there are a million jobs in fashion—that you can be a journalist, a pattern-maker, a textile salesperson,” she explained, “because they all watch Project Runway and think the only job in the industry is to be a celebrity designer.”
Just as she is, I noted, listing the names of other Hollywood starlets she’s dressed: Sharon Stone, Uma Thurman, and Kate Winslet, to name a few.
“Well, I suppose,” she replied with a modest smile, before quickly shifting gears to a bolero-esque jacket.
“This is my little Spanish jacket, and the fabric is from Italy—an abstract dot, all piped and grosgrain. I think it’s kind of the perfect size sleeve, isn’t it? Not too big, not too small.”
I nodded: Just right.