Stop the (Fashion) World- I want to get Off!

I could not agree MORE with The New York Times’ Eric Wilson, and his summation of the current plight of Fashion Week. His article, “Is Fashion Week Near the end of the Runway?” which ran in Thursday Styles, September 5th, hit the nail on the head. He observed that Fashion Week is losing its “relevance”; intimated that designer shows may one day be obsolete; and reiterated that the move to Lincoln center has been commonly viewed as a failure. It sure does feel more and more like a trade show or airport terminal, most of the REAL fashion moments are happening off site (way off site in some cases), and many designers are intent on finding more intimate, more personal venues. (For example, Rachel Comey showed her collection on the waterfront in Red Hook, Brooklyn last night). Of course, the problem with that is the inconvenience, and it makes it increasingly difficult for those scrambling to get from one show to the next, from one side of town to the other, without a town car.

He also spoke about the the overwhelming, unwieldy crowds, and the overloaded schedule. (I actually didn’t get to read it until Friday evening because of, well the overloaded schedule – LOL). While he didn’t necessarily say anything new, he did so succinctly and economically. Among those he quoted, were “of all people” Fern Mallis who admitted: “Fashion week needs to be rethought” (she is responsible for having “turned the shows into a wildly successful marketing and media event in the first place”), Diane Von Furstenberg, and Oscar de la Renta who admitted he’s scaling down his show this season and told WWD, “industry professionals shouldn’t have to go through 30,000 people and 10,000 who are trying to take pictures of all of those people who are totally unrelated to the clothes.” Well said!

Proving how out of control this situation has gotten, I’ll never forget Shail Upadaya, a Nepalese gentlemen and a paparazzi favorite owing to his penchant for head to toe bespoke get ups in eye popping graphics. When he first starting attending the shows at Bryant Park, he was honest about the fact that he did so for the sole purpose of being photographed. He became such a “celebrity” and hot property, that even without press credentials, he was given front row seats, leaving many others who were there for professional reasons, standing. Certainly, all this focus on the “off the runway” circus (the “fashion show that takes place outside the tents for the street style photographers”), has completely gotten out of hand, making the event seem at times, like nothing more than a convention for hanger-oners and wanna bees to posture, primp, preen, and strut their stuff (whatever that is and from what I’ve seen thus far, there isn’t much to strut), and a good excuse for Anna Dello Russo et al to show off their gazillion new fashion acquisitions.

A few years ago, a young, well respected street photographer commented that he found something inherently wrong with dressing for Fashion Week in a different way than you do for the other times of the year. Well, maybe so, but certainly, there’s nothing wrong with wanting to look your best and striving to ‘up’ your game during such a high profile time. And there’s a big difference between looking as though you’re running downstairs for a carton of milk, and changing clothes three times a day.  A writer (I can’t remember who) recently commented that nowadays, when you walk through the throngs of paparazzi on the way to the shows, and you don’t get your picture taken, you actually start to feel bad. Well maybe you should feel good. Look at it this way, perhaps you’re too understatedly chic and elegant, and not enough of a fashion caricature to grab their attention.

Speaking of which, what’s up with all this ignoring of the seasons? It may be September, but it’s still summer, and it’s been pretty warm. I don’t understand this rush into fall and winter. I’ve actually seen women wearing long gloves, and even furs (Jean Shafiroff wore Michael Kors’s white fox stole and white long gloves when she attended the Couture Council Awards luncheon in his honor last week). With all due, respect, it’s so contrived. Just because you can doesn’t mean you should. And I’m still not understanding the appeal of those horribly ugly and tacky high heeled platform shoes women insist on wearing (Barbara Regna, who is already about 5’10” in her stocking feet, was wearing a pair in aqua blue with spikey 5 inch heels, at the aforementioned luncheon, and it looked almost comical).

Rag & Bone white with black deep v neck tennis sweater black white layered skirt

The best dressed people I’ve seen thus far have looked comfortable, cool, effortlessly chic, and sporty (and not as though they are trying too hard).  Which by the way, pretty much sums up many of the collections thus far. If I had to write a cover line for the mood of the moment, I’d say, “At Ease”. Maybe the timing of Michael Kors’ Couture Council Award, was more fortuitous than he might think. The King of Sportswear, a proponent of understated chic, observed that receiving this award is proof of how far sportswear has come, and while sportswear has never gone out of favor, in the first few days of shows so far, sportswear has ruled. This was exemplified at Rag & Bone yesterday, a study in laid back cool, urban chic played out primarily in black and white with hits of blue, pale pink, and gray; the only shots of strong color were found on the models’ lips (an orangey red). Great looking leather cross body bags left one’s hands free; platform sandals gave height but still looked grounded, sporty, and comfortable; and there were plenty of appealing, updated basics (I especially loved the elongated deep v neck tennis inspired sweaters).

By the way, other headlines thus far, could be “White Out” because of all the white and shades of ivory being used, and “Shirting the Issue” because many designers are finding new ways to re invent the crisp shirt, whether in white or oxford blue.

– Marilyn Kirschner

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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