NYFW Spring 2018: “In the Pink”

Tom Ford is one of many designers who endorsed pink this season
Photos: Vogue.com & The Impression – click images for full size views

One of the most glaring aspects of NYFW which ended yesterday is how the balance of power has shifted from a few established instantly recognized household names, to those only well known to a nucleus of fashion insiders. Many of the promisingly talented young names on the calendar this season were so under the radar, I was barely familiar with them.

Yes, we had Raf Simons for Calvin Klein, Marc Jacobs, and Tom Ford (this season). But let’s face it; even if designers like Thom Browne, Proenza Schouler, Rodarte had not decamped to Paris, we would still not be on par with Milan or Paris with must see directional shows, some with legendary labels (Miuccia Prada, Comme des Garcons, Balenciaga, Gucci, Valentino, Celine, YSL, Chanel, Dior) that literally set the tone for the season.

The two most anticipated, talked about, buzziest shows this season were Ralph Lauren’s fall 2017 presentation at his Bedford Garage (personal, unique and fabulous on every level), and Shayne Oliver’s re-vision of Helmut Lang (which had mixed results and mixed reviews).

Among the recurring themes that have played out: streetwear, athletic wear, survival gear (clothes that would get you through anything; including a hurricane), long duster coats, shirt dressing, deconstructed menswear, slouchy pants, western shirts, fringe, transparency, the return of the 50’s mid- calf full skirt, white, black and white, pastels, psychedelia, the elevation of nylon and industrial fabrics, relaxed menswear, laid back evening glamour, denim, re worked jean jackets, high cut maillots, off the shoulder, stripes of all kinds including rainbow stripes, art inspired splatter paint prints, mixed menswear patterns, dots, florals. And color!

Is it really surprising that as a backlash or anecdote to the anxiety ridden, turbulent times we live in (particularly for Americans here in the U.S.) designers showing in New York for spring 2018 have been intent on infusing their collections with a note of upbeat optimism, regardless of how obvious and clichéd that seems? There is no other color, or group of colors, more iconic, upbeat, feel good, or mood elevating than pink. And nothing is as universally flattering for that matter.

Ralph Rucci
Photograph by Marilyn Kirschner

This was exemplified by Ralph Rucci, who wore a tuxedo jacket crafted of cotton-linen in the most wonderfully flattering shade of salmon pink to the FIT Couture Council Artistry in Fashion award luncheon honoring Thom Browne last Wednesday. Made in Italy by Cifonelli, it’s available at Barneys New York.

I have been thinking about pink ever since summer began (let’s give a shout out to rose wine!) But it’s been hard not to notice how ubiquitous the hue (which Diana Vreeland referred to as “the navy blue of India”) has become. Actually, I should say hues, because there are at least “50 shades of pink” (sorry), from the palest of the pale, to the most vivid fuchsia and magenta, and I’ve been seeing them all this past week.

Tom Ford

Last Wednesday evening, Tom Ford officially opened NYFW with a powerful show that made a case for a revival of the sexy glam of the 90’s. It was also a wholehearted endorsement of pink, from the most subtle, barely there, whisper soft flesh tone shades to the most in your face and shocking (as seen in the opening shot).

Michael Kors

Pink opened yesterday morning’s Michael Kors show (which had an unmistakable beach vibe). It took the form of a pink tie-dye, multi-ply cashmere sweatshirt lined in cotton and matching stole.

Marc Jacobs

Among the other shows and presentations the hue subsequently turned up, in one form or another, whether full on fashion or as an accessory: Rag & Bone, Delpozo, Prabal Gurung, Sies Marjan, Brandon Maxwell, Zac Posen, Sachin & Babi, Jason Wu, Victoria Beckham, Adeam, Maryam Nassir Zadeh, Matthew Adams Dolan, Oscar de la Renta, Derek Lam 10 Crosby, Tracy Reese, The Row, Milly, Opening Ceremony, Libertine, Pamella Roland, Marchesa. Marc Jacobs officially brought NYFW to an end in a madcap blaze of riotous pattern and color, and yes, he was another designer to use pink.

In Rihanna’s Fenty x Puma universe, the sand is even pink.

Helmut Lang

There was a smattering of innocent, baby pink mixed in with black and white at Shayne Oliver’s kinky, fetishist revision for Helmut Lang. He also toughened up the soft color using red harnesses and bags, and the rather unexpected clashing color combination of pink and red has been a huge trend; the surprise hit of the season.

Among the notable examples:

Zero + Maria Cornejo

Magenta and red opened Zero + Maria Cornejo’s 20th anniversary show.

Opening Ceremony

At Opening Ceremony, red track pants were shown beneath a pale pink double breasted blazer and matching abbreviated skirt.

Oscar de la Renta

At Oscar de la Renta, a red beaded bustier was shown underneath an eased up jacket in vivid pink and matching culottes.

Brandon Maxwell

Brandon Maxwell offset an otherwise formal floor length red skirt with a more casual pale pink ribbed cashmere sweater and went one step further by accessorizing with statement making red and pink earrings.

Sies Marjan

Sies Marjan, a superb colorist who has always loved pink (everyone is catching up to him lol) threw a dyed red Mongolian lamb coat over a whisper soft pink slip dress.

Oscar de la Renta

Pink has hardly been used gratuitously; the pink ensembles were often the standout pieces in the collection with styles running the full gamut from day (streetwear, sportswear, athletic wear) to evening, and everything in between. But because pink is such an identifiably feminine color, you sort of expect to see girlie cocktail frocks and frothy formal evening gowns in the color.

Tracy Reese

So, throwing it off and using it in less predictable ways (making it tougher, edgier, gutsier, sportier, more streetwise, more masculine, more relaxed), makes it far more interesting.

Matthew Adams Dolan

There have been pink buttons downs, pink sweaters, perfectly tailored pink blazers, natty pink pantsuits, pink bombers, oversized pink parkas. There have also been slouchy wide legged pants and cargo pants in pink.

Rag & Bone

In some instances, the color was used as an accent, via the use of pink footwear, as seen at Rag & Bone and at Calvin Klein, where Raf Simons further accessorized with pale pink long gloves and pale pink bags.

There were no pink clothes at Alexander Wang (the color palette was primarily black, white, silver, tan). But one model, Stella Lucia, did have dyed pink hair. Pink was also noticeably absent from Ralph Lauren’s fall 2017 show held on Tuesday evening at his Bedford Garage (he doesn’t have one pink car lol). But there’s no question the legendary designer, who will turn 78 in October and will be celebrating his 50th anniversary in business this year, is ‘in the pink’.

Ralph Lauren

How many other designers (especially on this side of the Atlantic) could entice the likes of Anna Wintour, Stefano Tonchi, Vanessa Friedman, Linda Fargo, Ken Downing, Diane Keaton, Jessica Chastain, Katie Holmes, to make an hour or more trip each way, to see a fashion how, dinner or no dinner (lobster salad and burgers from his signature restaurant of course)? As I predicted months ago, the collection he showed, for men and women (which was not only inspired by his treasure trove of cars; they served as a backdrop), was a sleek study in black and white (including mixed menswear fabrics), with flashes of red, bright blue, and chrome yellow, accented with gleaming silver hardware. Like the cars, it was vintage Ralph all the way: classic and classy.

Meanwhile, Rafael Nadal was told that nobody has won a Grand Slam tennis tournament wearing pink, so for his match last Sunday at the U.S. Open, he merely accented his black Nike top and shorts with flashes of the color (via the iconic Nike Swoosh) and his pink customized pink sneakers. But when he won, he wasted no time changing into his shocking pink Nike warm up jacket.

When Sloane Stevens won her U.S. Open championship on Saturday (her first Grand Slam), she was a vision in pink from her pale pink wristband to her pinky peach tennis dress with vivid pink straps that matched her visor. There’s no doubt she is the future of tennis and for her, the future definitely looks ‘rosy’. And from the look of things on the NYFW runways for spring 2018, it’s a rosy outlook for all of us.

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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