The New York fall/winter 2009:
Even though we, in the fashion world, are often times criticized for living in our own little dream world (and deservedly so), the reality of course, is that none of us live in a vacuum. Nowadays, its impossible to ignore what is happening in the world around us; even as we make our merry way through the fall winter 2009 collections. Rest assured, as I am writing this, the headlines staring up at me from the front page of newspapers are not gleefully chronicling the fashion shows and announcing the return of leggings, the strong shoulder, and the power babe, but delivering the sober news: The Recession deepens, with no end in sight, and Markets Plunge Around World: Dow Falls 4.2% .
Im hardly surprised that I was correct in my prediction that the prevailing tone and mood of the collections would be reflective of the new reality surrounding the global economic downturn, and there would be a palpable downplaying of luxury or at the very least, a more realistic, practical, believable approach to luxury. Aha! But how that translated onto runways varied markedly (no surprise there) and as I reviewed New York, while watching the collections unfold in Milan and Paris (I was not in Milan and Paris but followed the shows online), what became obvious was that there were almost as many ways designers addressed this new reality, as there were fashion designers.
The economy being what it is, the consumer has to be more careful about how she spends her money; her purchases have to appeal to her on an emotional level, or make sense (cents and sensibility). Designers are faced with the challenge of creating clothing that is not only desirable but relevant and modern (though that term is obviously subjective). Did they deliver? Well, yes and no. Some got it right while others were less successful.
As always, recurring themes which start in New York, then move over to London and Milan, really crystallize (and cement) after Paris, where the shows come to an end in mid March. We all know that there is a mere handful of elite designers who literally solidify the trends and put an exclamation point on the season, and other than Marc Jacobs, who shows both here and in Paris (Louis Vuitton), they are not based on New York (surprise, surprise!). The list might fluctuate but more often than not it will include Raf Simons for Jil Sander, Miuccia Prada, Alber Elbaz for Lanvin, Nicolas Guesquiere for Balenciaga, Alexander McQueen, Dries Van Noten, Rei Kawakubo for Comme des Garcons, Stefano Pilati for YSL, John Galliano, and Rick Owens. And from what I observed, it seems as though all the above rose to the occasion with their own, strong, clear, and unique visions of what constitutes modern for these times (though the term 'modern' is certainly subjective).