The 10 Things We Learned at New York Fashion Week
Never under-dress, get ready to eavesdrop—oh, and it seems fine to wear fur again: the takeaways from a weather-challenged NYFW.
Fur, fur, everywhere
J. Mendel’s show, one of the last of Fashion Week, set an emphatic seal on what had been a very fur-friendly seven days, with long and short fur jackets made from silver fox, mink, sable in a multitude of colors and patterns too. And they were all gorgeous to look at.
Where did this new flagrancy in using fur come from? The once verboten material also appeared at Marc Jacobs and the grand-scale, bizarre Kanye West fashion and music extravaganza at Madison Square Garden that was Yeezy Season 3. Carolina Herrera, Michael Kors, Prabal Gurung, and Vera Wang also used fur to lesser and greater effect.
It wasn’t just the designers: Attendees at NYFW were also were spotted swathed in luxuriant rabbit, fox, and mink—and there were no outraged demonstrations by PETA or thrown ketchup.
Not everyone played fur for real: Francisco Costa, designing for Calvin Klein Collection used fake fur in his politely kinky presentation, which also involved lots of leather. TT
In recent years, transgender models and ambiguously gendered clothing have taken center stage in mainstream high fashion, and this season saw new-ish designers like Gypsy Sport and Hood by Air become ever more progressive.
Once consigned to the fringes of fashion, gender fluidity dominated much of the conversation this week.
Gypsy Sport launched in 2012 as a unisex label, and designer Rio Uribe has been pushing gender boundaries ever since.
For the women’s collection, Uribe sent both male and female models down the runway in ruffle crop tops, lace separates, denim skirts and fleece patchwork coats, evoking ’70s street style and ’90s hip-hop.
It was often hard to tell the men apart from the women, which was clearly Uribe’s intention.
The show closed with a first for fashion week: a slightly masculine-looking, female model breastfeeding her baby on the catwalk. (The same model was visibly pregnant when she walked last season.)
Hood by Air’s “Pilgrimage” collection hinted at Europe’s refugee crisis with barcoded airline baggage tags attached to various garments. We also saw anoraks shaped like chadors and Saran Wrap bustiers—an oblique reference to luggage wrapped in plastic at the airport or, less subtly, the idea of people as cargo.
Having tackled race in his Spring 2016 collection, which featured blood-splattered shoes that read “I can’t breathe”—an overt reference to Eric Garner’s death—Pyer Moss returned to the issue this season.
One of its most memorable looks referenced Black Lives Matter activist MarShawn McCarrel, who recently committed suicide, as a model carried a sign that read “My demons won today I’m sorry.”
Designer Kirby Jean-Raymond collaborated with Erykah Badu for the collection, which also touched on America’s mental health crisis.
Zac Posen prioritized diversity in fashion with a collection inspired by Princess Elizabeth of Toro, the prominent Ugandan lawyer.
The designer cast mostly black models for his show, and the collection’s mood board featured photos of Black Panther Kathleen Cleaver and Donyale Luna, the first black model to appear on the cover of Vogue. LC
Lady Gaga’s Crazy 48-Hour Fashion Romp
At designer Brandon Maxwell’s second ever runway show on Tuesday night, Lady Gaga made it clear that she has no desire to join the design fray herself.
“If I ever do anything in fashion it’s always going to be as a muse or aesthetic creative. I like to be part of helping artists find themselves and feel good about who they are. I would never, for a second, claim to be a proficient fashion designer,” she said.
If her intense, 48-hour fashion romp that spanned two coasts, three major appearances, and countless wardrobe changes, was any indication, she wasn’t playing coy.
On Monday night, the Mother Monster, with the help of her fashion consort Maxwell, transformed herself for a David Bowie tribute performance during the Grammy Awards. She went for a Ziggy Stardust-era look complete with a flaming orange mane and two sparkling ensembles.
Her performance was stunning, but there was no time to bask in the applause.
Less than 24 hours later, Gaga was back on the East Coast taking pride of place in the front row—bright orange hair still intact—to cheer Maxwell on as his latest collection paraded around the dining room-cum-runway of Manhattan’s swanky Monkey Bar.
She led a standing ovation and chatted to a small group of reporters, including the Daily Beast’s Tim Teeman.
The next day, attendees at Marc Jacobs’s gothic dream of a new collection were astonished to find Lady Gaga herself sauntering down the runway as just another one of the models.
She had gone back to blond and was strutting her stuff in an oversized black coat with plush fur sleeves and giant, lace-up black boots. It was the perfect finale to Gaga’s two-day fashion frenzy. And…scene. AM
The first family of reality TV were sighted en masse at Kanye West’s “Yeezy season 3” presentation, one of the most-hyped events of Fashion Week, all dressed in white—and together at that presentation were Kris Jenner and her ex-husband, Caitlyn Jenner.
Their power was visible—Anna Wintour sat with Kim Kardashian to watch the show. West, with the show and his subsequent railing via Tweet, successfully made the early part of Fashion Week mostly about him.
Kris later told Fashion Police that she hadn’t thought much of Cailtyn’s shoes, though was jealous of her custom-designed outfit.
Kendall Jenner walked in multiple shows, including Marc Jacobs’s and Michael Kors’s, cementing her status as a leading model. Younger sister Kylie, meanwhile, sat front row—at the Alexander Wang show with boyfriend Tyga. TT
Under The Weather
How can our fashion idols strut their stuff and incite our deepest envy when they’re also trying to protect themselves against zero-degree weather or dodge a torrential downpour?
The fashion flock was faced with the indignity of rushing around the city like any old New Yorker, dealing first with temps that felt like they were in the negative tens and the choice of whether to make a dash for their queued up black cars or take a chance waiting out the snow, sleet, and the rain.
It wasn’t pretty, but everyone survived, some even defying the elements sans tights or with hair that was miraculously spared.
The weirdest sight of Fashion Week was coming in from the cold in scarves and jacket and spying celebs on the Front Row in strappy dresses and towering heels. Lesson: Famous people do not have to endure the weather as we do. AM
Made For History
Anna Wintour wearing a T-shirt at Marc Jacobs’s show (Anna Wintour wearing a T-shirt anywhere, really) seemed like fashion sacrilege.
But this wasn’t any old designer tee. It was a custom, sequined version of Marc Jacobs’s new “Made For History” Hillary Clinton graphic ringer tee, featuring the Democratic presidential candidate’s face in shades of red, white, and blue. (Tory Burch and Public School have also contributed to the “Made For History” project.)
Jacobs emerged at the end of his show in a gray, glittering take on his own design, which launched Thursday morning on Clinton’s campaign site. Earlier in the day, Kendall Jenner also displayed her support for the former Secretary of State on Instagram, sporting the $45 version.
Where would we be without fashion’s biggest power players telling us who to vote for? LC
The Shows They are a-Changin’
Much has been written about how Fashion Week had changed—with some designers electing not to show clothes on the runway, and sell clothes directly to consumers in the moment, rather than the latter having to wait six months to buy the clothes on the runway.
But for those that remain, old traditions die hard, and part of the theater of Fashion Week is not just what is on the runway, but how you watch it.
This week, you could have sat in the traditional rows, with the most lauded and gilded right at the front.
On these benches, you must not man-spread, you must prepare to be squished, and run the gamut of each other’s jabbing and raised elbows as you raise your phones to take pictures of the clothes.
That in itself is a bizarre thing: You are supposed to be watching the clothes, but many are watching the clothes through the lenses of their phones, ready to then send out into the world via social media.
Away from the traditional runway are “presentations”—where designers including Rachel Zoe and Alice + Olivia showed their clothes in rooms, where spectators wandered around looking at the models.
At Zoe this was a perilous exercise, and the models static and in a plain white room; at Alice + Olivia a whole New York cityscape was created. Thom Browne showed his collection in Washington Square Park, circa 1920—a haunting, playful theater piece that evoked The Great Depression. TT
Puffer Jackets: An Alternative to Fur
Fur was ever-present at Fashion Week, on the runway and in the front row, from the very beginning to the very end. But the divisive puffer jacket was a runway staple, too, cropping up more frequently as the week progressed.
Even Marc Jacobs found room for a Canada Goose puffer parka in his collection. Whether the fashion set will now embrace duvet outerwear remains to be seen. LC
Never for a moment think that just because you are not modeling on the runway means you are not, in fact, modeling. You are very much on display, and some of the most memorable outfits and shoes are on attendees, not models. TT
Overheard at Fashion Week
Every now and then, the clichés of the fashion world rear their pretentious, pushy heads at Fashion Week—and they are every bit as absurd and amusing as you’d think. From front row A-listers and editrixes to photographers and models, everyone has a job to do. Some simply manage with more poise than others.
The phenomenon of the fashion blogger peaked with Tavi Gevinson and Brian Boy. Now there are more of them, which can provoke derisive comments from the higher-ups, as in: “This place is crawling with bloggers.”
While the blogger lurks around the higher-ups, listening intently for such gems, the fashion photographer must often resort to whistling or shouting directions to get the shot that will sell.
Divorced from context, this would likely be misinterpreted—for instance, one photographer snapping photos of Orange Is the New Black’s Vicky Jeudy with The Blonds commanding, “Jump in there. That’s it. Nice and tight, nice and tight.”
And if you’re wondering what it takes to be cast as a model in Marc Jacobs’s show, consider this remark about the foot-high platform boots they all wore: “They aren’t as bad as they look. Really!” LC