The Most Radical Sight at New York Fashion Week? A Live Fashion Show
Inside Rebecca Minkoff’s show—one of a few designers at New York Fashion Week to hold a live show. Plus: Cinq à Sept, LRS, Bibhu Mohapatra, Social-Work, and Who Decides War.
Rebecca Minkoff had the distinction of being one of the few designers to stage a physical show at New York Fashion Week this season. What in past seasons has been a line so knee deep an attendee would wonder if they were giving out free clothes, was now limited to a select group of editors, buyers, stylists, and influencers who lined up in their head-to-toe designer ensembles for temperature checks and official NYFW wristbands.
Social distancing was marked by circles for guests to stand on to ensure attendees remained six feet apart, after which Fashion Week staff would escort them into a freight elevator like they were on the way to a guided tour of a museum.
Once at the rooftop terrace of Spring Studios, the main New York Fashion Week venue in non-coronavirus times, guests were met with a series of living-room style vignettes and one setup like a rock club venue, where models draped themselves around furniture showcasing Minkoff’s latest collection.
Eclecticism was the mother of invention for Minkoff. If you were the woman who wanted a brown leather jacket with zipper details, a frilly grey sweater, or a head-to-toe leopard print outfit, there was a look to lean into. Oh, and let’s not forget the face masks which came in a variety of coordinating styles from floral to zebra prints. The Minkoff woman is ready for any and all occasions, whether it’s the mall, work, or a global pandemic. Kristopher Fraser
If only all quarantines could be like the one depicted in Eric Rohmer’s 1967 French film La Collectionneuse, where four young people spend their summer in a rented St. Tropez house and spend their days drinking wine, sunbathing, and debating sexual politics.
Social-Work designer Chenghui Zhang took inspiration from the story, infusing ’70s bohemian nods with ’90s slacker vibes for her distinctively retro lineup. The women she chose to model her clothes—all friends who spoke a bit about their background and dreams for the future—looked genuinely comfortable and confident in their outfits. Pieces like a long, open-backed chocolate silk dress paired over flared plaid pants oozed an easy personality.
The clothes might be a little funky, but they still have mass appeal. (Whenever we're allowed to go back out safely, I'd like to do so in a pleated leather skirt and matching corset top.) If buyers are any good at their jobs, they’ll scoop these up quickly so we can live our best French New Wave lives next summer. Alaina Demopoulos
The kids may not be alright. LRS’ spare interpretation of streetwear feels like a necessarily dour reflection of our times. There are splashes of very dramatic color in the LRS collection, but mainly this is a black, white, and gray affair, with tortured silhouettes and a gritty aesthetic that feels absolutely born of the pandemic era.
LRS takes very skilled scissors to convention, so sweaters acquire paneling, and chains form breastplates. Strange lengths and shapes tease the eye. This is clothing as statement, sometimes very literally. One beautiful red-striped dress features the words “No Justice, No peace” on its train. Tim Teeman
Evoking a spirit of grandeur that now seems to be lost in the past, Bibhu Mohapatra presented an array of opulent gowns in posh settings. The show was dedicated to “Amrita Sher-Gil, and all the fearless artists who dare to dream.” Sher-Gil was an Indian-Hungarian, Jewish-Sikh avant garde painter, active in the first half of the twentieth century.
Modeled by a cast that was all women of color, including Ariana DeBose of Hamilton fame as “The muse” and actress Surina Jidal playing Amrita, the mini-film reimagined a re-enactment of Amrita painting her subjects. Dresses were made of voluminous satins and cascading tulle. A voiceover narrated a pensive reflection of determination, while models sashayed through a grand lawn, lounged on velvet sofas, and posed for paintings. Sarah Shears
Cinq à Sept
If the label Cinq à Sept were a quarantine archetype, they would be the friend who goes upstate for hikes every weekend. According to show notes, the collection was inspired by “an appreciation for having the freedom to explore and take advantage of nature’s rich offerings of color and texture.” (Must be nice!)
Run by Jane Siskin, the line has always been easily wearable—Michelle Obama used to wear the clothes as FLOTUS, which are carried in department stores like Neiman Marcus and Bergdorf Goodman. But what does “wearable” mean during a pandemic that’s relegated all of us (except for said Upstate Friend) indoors? For Siskin, it’s comfort-with-a-twist: satin cargo pants, beige shirt dresses, coordinated sets with elastic waistband. It’s not particularly inspiring, but it’s reliable, which will surely appease its target demographic. AD
Who Decides War
Ev Bravado, the creative director of Who Decides War and sometimes collaborator of Virgil Abloh, branched out into womenswear this season. He tapped Téla D’Amore to create versions of his signature distressed denim looks for female bodies. The collection’s title, “A still, small voice,” was taken from a Bible verse; stained glass and Christian imagery appeared on embroidered jeans and jackets.
Other familiar iconography was present, too, like a burning American flag sweater with the brand’s logo on it. It was reminiscent of an old Ralph Lauren or Gap patriotic cardigan remade for 2020. It’s no surprise why Who Decides War has earned fans like Billie Eilish, Beyoncé, and Kehlani. The oversized tailoring is modern, with just a hint of '90s vintage. Even though the brand is branching out into womenswear for the first season, many of the clothes appear genderless or unisex. AD