Every New York Week Fashion Week show should be like Jenny Packham’s for Spring/Summer 2018. There was no runway, no show starting half an hour late, no crush, no insanely loud music, no seating anxiety, no phones and big heads obscuring your view of the clothes—in fact it had none of the madness that generally thrums around a fashion show.
Indeed, at Packham’s presentation the experience was quite the opposite: one had a meaningful and thoughtful engagement with clothes. It was, in its quiet way, the best show of the week.
Packham, a favorite of red carpet-conquering celebrities, chose to present her collection at her showroom in the Meatpacking District. The beautiful beaded and sequined dresses were on racks, and then, in a changing room behind a curtain, models would periodically disappear and then emerge wearing one of the creations.
It is not unusual to have a presentation, rather than a conventional runway show, but Packham and her team had crafted an even more intimate experience than that. It paid enlightening dividends.
Here, you talked to Packham, you talked to the models, you looked at all the clothes. It was like your own personal fashion show, and even more pleasurable because Packham is such an intelligent and eloquent designer.
She spoke to the Daily Beast of this new collection, inspired by the theme, “Asian Garden,” and beginning with a dress, decorated with images of swans, pagodas, and trees, that was inspired by a kimono she had found in New York.
Around it were the bejeweled, and bead and sequin-encrusted gowns she is most famous for, and for whom her famous customers—Kate Middleton, Adele, and Kate Winslet among them—keep returning to her for.
Designing for the red carpet—and expect some Packham beauties on the Emmys red carpet this weekend—can be nerve-wracking, as can be designing wedding dresses. Both are events at which the wearer is on maximum public display, after all.
Packham explained that when it came to awards ceremonies, although a designer is working with a celebrity and stylists, if a dress is slammed by critics, it naturally hurts, not to mention the concern over the effects of a negative review can have.
On the other hand, Packham told the Daily Beast, “You have to be able to take on criticism,” if you look at a dress afterwards, and feel that it is merited.
In the new collection, a pair of bell bottom trousers and tunic came covered in stars and sequins, another short dress was a riot of dark red, white and navy sequins. The stars and sequins returned in a longer gown, most dramatic with navy as a base color. The sequins even recurred on a royal blue short-sleeved, tapered jumpsuit
A Funfetti-like explosion of pink, yellow, blue, and lime sequins furnished another long gown. There were some surprises too, like a white and gold bomber jacket and two beautiful dresses in mint and pink, with a brushstroke design inspired by the artist Lee Ufan. Another dramatic black and white dress is inspired by the artist Katsushika Hokusai’s ‘The Great Wave.’
As models paraded the designs—including a dramatic black dress with beaded design and chiffon underlay—and a navy blue gown, sequined and slashed to the thigh—you knew, of course, you would be seeing these dresses again pretty soon on a celebrity, flashbulbs popping, on a red carpet.
It made all the difference seeing the dresses, inspecting them and talking about their craft so intimately. Other Fashion Week-showing designers, take note.