Tom Ford Delivers Anti-Trump Border Wall Message at New York Fashion Week
Tom Ford let the chorus of ‘Don’t Dream It’s Over’ make very clear his feelings about walls, and those who build them. Greta Constantine showed the power of cover-up.
Sure, Tom Ford could have a thing for the lilting beauty of “Don’t Dream It’s Over.” The song, originally written by Neil Finn of Crowded House in 1986, certainly played as a perfectly languorous accompaniment to Ford’s parade of beautiful, luxe clothes for women and men at his Fall Winter ’19 New York Fashion Week show at the Armory.
The day after Donald Trump’s State of the Union speech, in which the president insisted he would have his way and build a southern border wall, coupled with the predominance of Trump’s wall in political and cultural discourse, the repeated refrain of the chorus certainly sounded emphatically meaningful, whatever Ford’s intention.
There’s a battle ahead, many battles are lost/But you’ll never see the end of the road/While you’re traveling with me/Hey now, hey now/Don’t dream it’s over/Hey now, hey now/When the world comes in/They come, they come/To build a wall between us/We know they won’t win.
And that chorus, emphasizing ongoing struggle and defiant, mutually supportive resistance, played over and over again as the second choice of music at Ford’s show, until the lights went down at the end.
Not for the suave Ford, the tactic of peppering clothes with slogans. He let the lyrics of the song and the diversity of the models walking the runway do the talking—in front of celebrities including Karlie Kloss, Courtney Love, Danai Gurira (in a fabulous charcoal suit), Poppy Delevingne, Victor Cruz, Odell Beckham Jr., Cam Newton, Anna Wintour (in splendid green), and Patrick Schwarzenegger.
Ford’s collection, in contrast to the radicalism of the implicit message of the music, was very glamorous and very conservative in blacks, grays, and understated neutrals. The most grandiloquent menswear was a padded winter coat we will see every rich bro wearing from the King’s Road to Whistler in the coming year. Women’s coats were snug, fitted; here, genders dressed akin.
Velvet and leather suits came in red (as modeled by Gigi Hadid) and plum. A long blue coat was paired with purple top and brown leather trousers. There was pirate-y androgyny to a long black jacket with gray tight pants and jaunty hat. There were purple trousers, slouchy lavender shorts, and angled felt hats. Joan Smalls modeled a beautifully sleek black suit, with white hat.
The show ended with a parade of dresses, elegant and slim, and nothing to scare any horses. And then the final dress: a long and flowing river of glitter and sparkle. It twinkled back at all of us watching all the colors of the rainbow, as the chorus again made clear that those who build walls between us won’t win.
Point made, Mr. Ford, intended or not.
Downtown, just before Ford’s show, and always with wit, invention, and fun, Greta Constantine is a consistent joy and really, for this writer, the true start of Fashion Week.
The label, a coming-together of names belonging to much-loved relations of designers Kirk Pickersgill and Stephen Wong, can cause confusion. Backstage, Pickersgill told The Daily Beast that he loved to eavesdrop on guests who ask each other, “Have you seen Greta? Is she here?” It’s even stranger to hear people claiming to have seen her, as she doesn’t exist.
The designers, based in Toronto, were inspired this season by, as ever, partying. The wine (and cheese and grapes) flowed freely before guests even got to checking out the models in an adjoining room of a warehouse-type space.
Once there, the models sauntered and chatted and laughed with one another—and, just as with every Greta Constantine show, there wasn’t a crush. Everybody could take pictures. There was chatting and laughter. The show had none of the static posing and seating stratifications of other more conventional shows.
The men told The Daily Beast that, while their wonderful clothes were still informed by a max-volume, shiny 1980s aesthetic, this season’s collection featured no flesh. They had been inspired by clothes that covered the body. Sure, as you can see in the pictures, there is glitter, padding, and outrageousness, but this time, no flesh—but rather, they said, a delight in working with materials like wool and silks and diamanté, while sculpting the materials into such incredibly varied shapes. The results showcase the men’s inventive artistry.
Pickersgill and Wong said the woman they were designing for was always out, having a great time, and enjoying the life of whatever room she found herself in—where she would also, inevitably, be the focus.