A New York State of Mind

Ralph Lauren Spring/Summer 2016
“Deconstructed suit was key look of the season”
Photo: Style.com

On Monday, The Council of Fashion Designers of America (www.cfda.com) unveiled a brand new logo and a brand new campaign for New York Fashion Week. The logo’s blue and orange colors, are an homage to New York City’s flag, and the splits in the orange letters “refer to both garment stitches and the city’s street lines, while a grid of the five boroughs will be used as an overlay for some of the campaign images”.

“The campaign unifies New York Fashion Week as a whole, including runway venues and independent shows that are not part of a major venue, which account for almost two-thirds of the two main women’s seasons,” CFDA CEO Steven Kolb said on the organization’s website. “We want to bring across the message that New York Fashion Week is connected to the entire fashion community and industry.”

Michael Kors Spring/Summer 2016
Photo: Style.com

New York Fashion Week: Men, for spring 2016, began on Monday with Men’s NYFW Presentations at the Industria Superstudios (775 Washington Street), and it will end with the John Varvatos show at Skylight Clarkson Square at 550 Washington Street on Thursday evening. For me, it fittingly began with Thom Browne’s Tuesday morning presentation, held at Skyline Modern on West 27th street (Thom’s shows are always a treat and the element of creativity and surprise are almost un-paralleled). When I initially saw that the name of the collection was “The Officeman”, I knew the designer’s beloved three piece suits, and the color gray, (which are both about as traditionally corporate as one could get) would be front and center, and I wondered if it would be the same collection as the one he showed just a few weeks ago. It was not. There were no couture like embellishments as there were in Paris, and it was made especially for New York.

Thom Browne Spring 2016 Presentation
Photo: Marilyn Kirschner

Small groups of show attendees (who were met by waiters serving croissants, coffee, and orange juice) were brought into a small square space that was staged to look like an office cubicle (an office cubicle of Thom’s fertile imagination that is). The walls, ceiling, and floor were completely covered in reflective mirror and everything you looked at was immediately doubled, tripled, and quadrupled (the effect was unsettlingly claustrophobic which I am sure, knowing Thom, was quite intentional and it was his way of making a statement about corporate life). In the middle of the room there was a desk, typewriter, letter opener, stapler, and coat rack, all in spotless gleaming silver. You know how they say in order to survive the corporate rat race, especially here in New York, one needs nerves of steel? Perhaps this was Thom’s way of exaggerating that fact.

Thom Browne Spring 2016 Presentation
Photo: Marilyn Kirschner

Standing along the 4 walls, were 28 men wearing almost identical versions of a traditional gray three piece suit with cuffed trousers. The proportions may have varied slightly (some pants were fuller and more cropped than others), and some were solid while others had the most subtle of patterns (pinstripes). But what rang loud and clear was that this was a veritable study in gray (every shade from the palest to the darkest). But I will spare you the obvious overused cliché about the hue. (You know the drill). Actually, what immediately came to my mind was about the furthest thing from sex and bondage. It was the title of the iconic movie, “The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit” though in this case, it was “The 28 Men in the Gray Flannel Suits”.

Public School Spring/Summer 2016
Photo: Marilyn Kirschner

When it was over, I took a cab down the west side to Skylight Clarkson Square (it proved to be an easy trip since it was down the far west side). While not all the installations, presentations, and formal runway shows that would comprise New York Fashion Week: Men, were held here, a good majority were, and this served as the central location (it was divided into three ‘platforms’). Steven Kolb and the CFDA deserve a lot of credit for transforming this huge space (70,000 square feet to be exact) into something as welcoming, inviting, efficient, and comfortable as can be. Most of us are probably only familiar with it as Ralph Lauren’s show venue of choice, but it certainly has a lot going for it. Needless to say, it would have been even better if some of the other shows were held in the same part of town (Ghurka for example, held their presentation at the Explorer’s Club on the Upper East Side: East 70th street). Spring Studios on Varick Street, where Michael Kors held his presentation, is one popular venue which is fairly close by, and surely, there are others. Of course, let’s not forget that come September, most of the women’s shows will be divided between Skylight Clarkson and Skylight Moynihan Station, located in the historic James A. Farley Post Office on West 33rd Street.

Shinola Detroit presentation

With a wide open reception area, checking in was painless; access in and out was quick and easy; there was plenty of comfortable seating (regardless of whether you wanted to relax, read or work on your computer, or have a snack). Speaking of which, there was a café serving good, fresh, healthy and tasty food (courtesy Dig Inn: www.diginn.com). Shinola Detroit (www.shinola.com), a company that prides itself on making their handsome, modern and timeless watches, bicycles, hand crafted leather goods, and journals all here in the USA, was a sponsor, and in honor of Men’s Fashion Week, they unveiled their inaugural collection designed by the award winning duo, Richard Lambertson and John Truex.

Ken Downing and Richard Lambertson

And (this is no small thing by the way), there was a private, spotless ladies and men’s rooms (no port o sans here). In addition, the temperature was kept very cool inside (which was a welcome respite from the heat and humidity of these past several days). This made it easy for the guys (and gals) to keep their razor sharp, well-tailored jackets on. While I’m on that topic: fashion wise, life has been imitating art these past days, and there’s been everything from the traditional to the nontraditional (the most sporty, athletic and utilitarian, to the more dandified), on display both on and off the runways. That being said, I have to say it’s been the more casual side that unsurprisingly (given the season, the weather, and the culture) has the edge. The notion of dressing down in high style (being relaxed AND pulled together at the same time), was exemplified by Greg Lauren, who took the stiffness out of the traditional suit by using materials such as handmade vintage rumpled linen, and Michael Kors, whose collection, dubbed “Island Life”, begs the question: Who says you can’t be on vacation on the island of Manhattan?

Photo: Marilyn Kirschner

By the way, just a few blocks away, on Washington and West Houston Streets, Bloomingdales set up shop with a very welcome tailgate, complete with wooden picnic tables and benches with white umbrellas. Each day, between the hours of 8:30 and 10:30, they offered free hot or iced coffee (Gregory’s). From 11 to 4, you could get a free bite to eat (on Tuesday, they had Red Hook’s lobster rolls and I can tell you they were fabulous! From 5 – 8, they morphed into a lounge with snacks.

Marilyn Kirschner

I am a long time fashion editor with 40+ years of experience. As senior market of Harper's Bazaar for 21 years I met and worked with every major fashion designer in the world and covered all of the collections in Paris, London, Milan and New York. I was responsible for overall content, finding and pulling in the best clothes out there, and for formulating ideas and stories.

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