Fashion Group Foundation’s Trend Presentation In the Wake of “PEST’

Yes, Virginia, there is a Post Election Stress Trauma (PEST) and I’m witnessing it just blocks from where it all played out. On that fateful Wednesday, 11/9 which some are calling the second worst day in our national history (after its inverse: 9/11), I attended the Fashion Group Foundation RTW Collections Spring/Summer 2017 Trend Overview by Marylou Luther at Hearst Tower. When the day after the election was picked for this event I’m sure most thought the #CurrentMood would be celebratory.

ICYMI Fashion Group Foundation presents these dizzying arrays after each season in the form of a slickly produced narrated slide show which serves to update the industry on the most popular or influential designer looks presented during Fashion Month (New York, London, Milan and Paris).  At the 12 p.m. session, there is a panel of industry experts who weigh in on the upcoming season. I arrived at the auditorium unfashionably late (I was trying to wait it out to see Hillary Clinton’s overdue concession speech but had to abandon ship while Kaine was still speaking) to Marylou Luther’s request for “a moment of silence for our country.”

As I’m sure you’re aware, for fashion folk (and others in the arts), HRC’s election loss was tantamount to a death. Just to add a little reality check here people: Historically, the incumbent party almost never holds a third concurrent term (it’s called a change election) even though the meme of Madam President was assumed to be her inalienable right. Pollsters and pundits nearly unanimously confirmed that it was “hers to lose,” resulting in cataclysmic election shock — “Dewey Defeats Truman” on steroids clouded by an age of identity politics.

The silver lining? Fashion is more important than ever according to Sally Singer of Vogue who moderated the panel.  “When the world looks good you don’t have to, but when the world looks ugly…” I guess you have to bring it on the streets. The panel consisted of Nicole Fischelis (Macy’s), Betty Halbreich (Bergdorf Goodman), Brooke Jaffe (Bloomingdale’s), Jane Larkworthy (W Magazine), and Amanda Weiner (Harper’s Bazaar).

According to the presentation: ” Unlike last season, when fashion traffic sped from sport and street, this season the street is so dangerous, fashion is diverting to The ’70s, ’80s, ’90s. To Westworld, to Futureworld, to Cyberspace. To paper dolls and nymphs, to the AthLuxury of bombers and sweats and running pants for evening.”

Although the panelists agreed it had been a great, eclectic season particularly in London and Paris, questions like “Is there someone shopping?,” “Who is the girl that’s shopping?,” and “Whither brick and mortar?” were understandably at the forefront.

Forty-year veteran and legend of the personal shopping trenches Halbreich felt “ready to retire” either after the trend video or after the election, or maybe both. “I have to fit the bodies that are good and the ones that are not so good. The challenge is to fit those that aren’t so good,” (handbags and shoes are often where this customer will shop) while reminding us that she is dealing with what is already purchased by the store’s buyers. A few other sound bites: “I smell a lot of markdowns coming,” “After last night I really think we have to get back to basics,” and “I recently sold an Armani jacket — I haven’t sold one in years.” She is working on the “Oceans Eight” film spin-off with an all-star, all female cast (release date June ’18) and is trying to figure out what won’t look dated two years from now: “I’m not a trend lady.”

Jaffe claimed that she too felt overwhelmed from the video explaining that Bloomingdale’s features a more casual, contemporary view to clothing than perhaps Bergdorf’s does. She is liking the “casual, relaxed ease to the spring clothing” including the emphasis on denim and shirting.

Fischelis said Macy’s has been concentrating on “print, color, lifestyle — we’ve seen a lot of this mood evolving. It reflects the chaotic world we are living in right now.” She also referenced volume and minimalism and the lack of seasonality anymore mentioning that she was wearing open shoes in the rain.

Other topics discussed were statement making accessories, brands that “customers will step up to the plate for” — those that are thought of as worth splurge worthy. These include the “cult collectables” such as Gucci bags and accessories, the Celine frame bag, and the sold out and waitlisted oversized, street inspired Vetements line (“the woman who buys it is not a young kid”), and things that just “feel special” due to embellishments or great graphic prints.

Also touched on was the current makeup free look and whether that will be reversed (in an economic downturn women tend to buy lipstick); lingerie as outerwear; women dressing to be comfortable in silk pajama tops and drawstring pants or flat shoes and baggy pants, rather than tight sexy clothes that perhaps men would prefer; the “Zara-fication” of fashion and whether it’s evil or not; and the all important: how many handbags does a woman really need? Halbreich pointed out that BG just devoted an entire floor to bags straining our already overburdened wallets, closets and perhaps shoulders.  “There’s a snob appeal to shoes and handbags. Remember when you try them you don’t have to remove any clothes.”

– Laurel Marcus
(Editor’s note: Laurel’s views are her own, and do not necessarily reflect those of lookonline, the publisher or other contributors.)

Laurel Marcus

OG journo major who thought Strunk & White's "The Elements of Style" was a fashion guide. Desktop comedienne -- the world of fashion gives me no shortage of material.

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