Fashion Group Foundation’s RTW Collections Spring/Summer 2018 Trend Overview & Panel

Margaret Hayes, President & CEO
Photos: Laurel Marcus

Is it just me or does the September Spring/Summer 2018 fashion season seem like ages ago? In a world that seems to spin ever faster it can be hard to focus on what happened this morning let alone nearly two months ago, yet Fashion Group Foundation presented its RTW collections trend presentation and panel right on schedule and to a packed house yesterday at Hearst Tower. As usual Marylou Luther did a fantastic job editing a month’s worth of runway shows from New York, London, Milan and Paris, into just 39 minutes of eye-popping eye-candy accompanying each clothing grouping with bon-mots, puns, astute observations and sly satire to keep things moving along.

Acknowledging that it’s a “moment of change” where “woman is re-imagined. She can be a feminine feminist. She can express her sexuality any way she wants,” whether that means wearing ruffles or a tracksuit or the two together to take her everywhere “from the street to the club.” Trends include significantly over sized sweaters, all manner of shorts and short suits, an emphasis on fabrics from “denim is denimite,” to plastics seen at Chanel (with a nod to “The Graduate,”), tulle, faux feathers. Patterns abound: florals are popping (with apologies to Miranda Priestly), as are stripes, plaids/checks, and logos.

Evening wear includes upscale nightgowns in chiffon, satin or organdy at Calvin Klein or how about the sequined pantsuit? Accessories are on the go for example the Margiela “plane-ready neck pillow and bag-cum-pillow” as well as handheld toiletry bags at Burberry and Marc Jacobs. Sneakers run the gamut, flip-flops are crocodile at Kors, platforms at Balenciaga are Crocs: high, yellow, jeweled and fabulous. Chokers styles go neck-in-neck; leather dog collars Hermes, metal “watch straps” at Wang. Pearl earrings dust shoulders while hair and makeup just want to have fun expressing a playful nature with all manner and shape of eyeliner be it in black, in living color or even in rhinestone as seen at Dries van Noten. At the end a clip is from the Rick Owens “laughing” show where he expressed a lightness that he doesn’t often exhibit.

Mickey Boardman, Ying Chu, Rickie De Sole, Nicole Fischelis, Marilyn Kirschner
Photo courtesy of FGI – click image for full size view

I was especially interested in the panel discussion afterwards which included Lookonline’s very own Editor-in-Chief (and lady in red) Marilyn Kirschner, a veteran of the fashion trenches. As many of you know, Marilyn was a Senior Editor at Harper’s Bazaar for over 20 years, and her experience both in print editorial as well as in cyberspace makes her eminently qualified to speak on many facets of fashion both then (more on that later) and now. Other panelists were Nicole Fischelis of Macy’s, Ying Chu of Glamour, Rickie De Sole of W Magazine, with Mickey Boardman of Paper moderating the discussion.

The group discussed which were their three (or more) favorite shows of fashion month which elicited various responses. Marilyn thought Valentino was “beautiful and fun” as it ranged from “the banal to the elegant;” Ralph Lauren’s show in his garage featured “timeless vintage cars with timeless vintage Ralph;” while Louis Vuitton’s show was “really modern combining 18th century frock coats with skirts over tracksuit bottoms.” In addition, she admired the minimalism of Jil Sander. Nicole named Anna Sui, Dries van Noten and Jacquemus, all designers that she knows personally while adding that Simon Porte Jacquemus is “hot,” which doesn’t hurt. Rickie’s list included Celine, McQueen (because it was romantic), and Fenty x Puma in New York. As a beauty editor Ying chose Dries van Noten (that crystal eyeliner!), Margiela (she liked his use of feathers), and Marc Jacobs. Mickey liked Celine, Calvin Klein, Thom Browne, Tom Ford, Chanel and Saint Laurent. Referring to the fact that several designers such as Rodarte and Thom Browne had defected to Paris he remarked that “New York was like the poor stepchild but it kicked some butt anyway.”

Mickey asked if it’s more spectacle or really about the clothes? “Were there any of those major experiences that we all crave” where everyone “gets the vibe?” Marilyn mentioned Thom Browne’s shows always being a theatrical experience, this year where he featured a unicorn was no different — “he showed that he really belongs in Paris,” she said. “When you see hundreds of shows a season you are always looking for these moments — it’s what McQueen used to do,” reminisced Nicole. Richie mentioned food specifically hamburgers at Ralph Lauren’s garage and White Castle at Telfar — “burgers at both ends of the spectrum,” she called it. She also was a fan of Tory Burch’s idyllic outdoor show on the grounds of the Cooper Hewitt museum on a beautiful day as well as Versace where ” reworked pieces from the archives felt just as relevant today” (not to mention the appearance of the ’90s supermodels all in gold at the end of the show). Ying recalled both Louis Vuitton’s “Baroque moment of glam leisure” and also Versace. Everyone mentioned Saint Laurent’s show beside the “twinkly lights of the Eiffel Tower” as magical as well. Mickey called out the dancers who appeared at Moncler.

Are there any new designers to have recently taken over a label who are killing it with strong debuts? Marilyn said the opposite was true in the catastrophic debut of Lanvin without Alber Elbaz. Rickie mentioned Natacha Ramsay-Levi at Chloe bringing a Balenciaga moment and Mickey mentioned Maria Grazia Chiuri (formerly at Valentino) now at Dior while Marilyn and others commended Claire Waight Keller for her tailoring at Givenchy.

Marilyn spoke briefly about how times have changed since she was an editor at Bazaar in the ’70s. “We had no computers, no digital cameras. We used Polaroids and if you lost the Polaroid that was it. We looked at slides through a light box with a loupe. It was like the stone ages. Today I can’t get over the immediacy. Another change is the beauty aesthetic — it’s very democratic now. Before everyone looked the same on the runways. There are so many more people who can relate to the diversity now.” Nicole recently saw “Unzipped” (the Isaac Mizrahi documentary) at FIT and found “the whimsy, humor and artistry totally relevant today.” Marilyn agreed that the show was very modern (it had parkas!) and the models were having fun dressing behind the scrim and walking the runway.

On the subject of diversity everyone agreed that it applied not only to ethnicity and race but size, age and gender as well. Rickie remarked on how many times they’ve called in men’s looks for women and women’s looks for men. Marilyn commented on her fondness for Winnie Harlow (a model with vitiligo) saying “I really love her — her look is so unique, she stands out.” When Rickie said that The Row often used older models, and spoke of Maye Musk on the runway, Mickey quipped “Maybe celebrity mothers are the new celebrity children.” He admitted to being “shocked” the first time he saw plus size models even though he considers himself plus size.

So what is the fashion verdict or the takeaway for the season? “Anything goes, everything goes, it all comes back,” said Marilyn. “Look at Gucci’s runway. Women are not dressing in head to toe runway looks, they are buying special pieces. There’s plenty of choices in how you want to look. It’s all about the mix — day and evening together the way McQueen had biker boots with evening dresses over trousers. Women need an emotional connection to the clothing and many designer notes express what they were thinking when they created the collection.” According to Nicole there is “freedom to show personality. There’s no seasonality anymore and dressy and casual are put together.” Rickie spoke of wanting to see something new however liking that Gucci and Calvin Klein are “staying true to their designer’s concept” showing “stability” with a “foundation that’s easing away from trends.” Ying mentioned using dressing as a form of self-expression.

Lastly, what about nostalgia? Have we hit the wall or “squeezed that lemon as far as it can be squeezed?” asked Mickey referring in particular to the idea that he should be tired of the “Gucci thing” yet he isn’t. Marilyn talked about the popularity of vintage — “everyone wants those unique eccentric pieces. There’s validity in something great — it’s always gonna be great.” She added that websites like The RealReal are thriving because people are searching for nostalgia. Nicole disagreed that Millennials are interested in art history and argued that they need to support new designers. Ying said that Gen Y loves nostalgia. “We are nostalgic creatures,” she added of her generation.

– Laurel Marcus

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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