Fashion journalism is subjective. There are no wrongs or rights. When I read show reviews, I am often amazed by what others say, and I continually wonder if these individuals are looking at the same things I am. That being said, many, if not most of us, were on the same wavelength during NYFW, which ended on Wednesday.
There is a consensus that Peter Do’s debut for Helmut Lang was disappointing on many levels. We hope Peter ups his game when he shows his eponymous line in Paris on September 26. I’m betting he will.
I was happy that Proenza Schouler, one of my favorites this season, was universally lauded. It was perfectly proportioned, beautifully fabricated, and well balanced with a perfect mix of uptown downtown, androgynous and feminine, day and evening, all done with an unforced ease that perfectly captures the moment.
The fact that it conjures up Helmut Lang (in the best way possible) was not lost on most of us, as was the underlying Prada undercurrent at Joseph Altuzarra and strains of Saint Laurent at KHAITE. The overly exaggerated shoulders were unnecessary and led to a result that looked overly contrived.
Of course, Phoebe Philo is the one designer who is always omnipresent in one way or another (subliminally or otherwise). There is no question that fashion excitement and the “big moments” of fashion month happen after New York. In the end, only a handful of labels (if that) really matter and set the tone for the season. Prada is number 1, but thankfully, we can add Phoebe Philo to that list this season, as she is set to unveil her eponymous luxury brand later this month.
Unquestionably, Phoebe’s launch will be one of the most anticipated moments of the season. Always one step ahead of everyone else, Phoebe challenges notions of beauty and femininity with her ultra-modern designs, and she always has her finger on the pulse of what women want. Women designing for women is a hot topic given the upcoming exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute, “Women Dressing Women.”
By the way, Tory Burch, who showed her cool, elegant, pared-down collection at the Museum of Natural History, looked modern this season. Fresh off her Couture Council Artistry in Fashion Award, Gabriela Hearst is consistently luxuriously minimal and refined in an easy, modern, and cool way.
Easy, modern, and cool always describe Norma Kamali. The 2016 CFDA Lifetime Achievement recipient was ready with her spring collection, (“Old Hollywood, but cowboys as the same time” is how Norma describes it), but the fabrics never arrived. So, the resourceful designer turned on a dime, dipped into her archives and used what she had. It’s a little bit of this, a little bit of that, and 100% Norma.
Yeohlee and Maria Cornejo are two women designers who consistently define the term “signs of intelligent life.” Yeohlee was given the Board of Directors’ Tribute Award at the 2021 CFDA Award ceremony. Maria’s well-thought-out designs have garnered her the 2023 Geoffrey Beene Lifetime Achievement Award, which she will receive at the CFDA Award ceremony on November 6th at the Museum of Natural History.
Looking at fashion from a different lens, Carly Mark, who designs Puppets and Puppets, is known to poke fun at fashion conventions with her clever, often satirical designs. The relative newcomer has a cult following and is one of the nominees for the Shop with Google American Emerging Designer of the Year. The others are Bach Mai, Connor McKnight, Rachel Scott for Diotima, Tanner Richie, and Fletcher Kasell for Tanner Fletcher.
There were some wonderful pieces highlighting workmanship and couture like flourishes, presented at Ashlyn. Designer Ashlynn Park, the subject of an article a few seasons ago, called her spring collection “Puzzle” as a way to celebrate her talented, unique, strong willed team,which she considers to be pieces of a puzzle. “Being a woman isn’t always pretty”
“Being a woman isn’t always pretty”Elena Velez
While the unnecessary mudslinging at Elena Velez’s show gives new meaning to “getting down and dirty,” I applaud Elena’s desire to explore the duality of womanhood and I actually prefer much of what the 29 year old designer presented in her collection to many of the dull, horrible, and ill-fitting designs that now pass for fashion, not to mention the tacky, old fashioned evening wear (think “mother- of-the-bride) shown on some runways. At least Velez, who is a member of the ‘New Guard’ looks “now” and relevant.
Long-established American designers representing the Old Guard, like Ralph Lauren and Michael Kors, are seemingly few and far between, but they will always have their fans. When Ralph hits his stride, nobody does it better. I don’t know what I was expecting from Lauren this season in his return to NYFW after a 4-year hiatus, but it sure wasn’t South Beach. At times, it didn’t even really look like Ralph.
On the other hand, there is almost no American designer as consistent as Michael Kors. Michael always looks like Michael with his easy, chic, often 70’s inspired designs with more than a touch of Lee Radziwill. Regardless, we can all agree that the “big guns” like Ralph and Michael are no longer setting the tone for the season. There’s no question that the compelling moments and surprising delights are now coming from labels that are not exactly household names outside the fashion universe.
Eckhaus Latta, the brand founded by Mike Ekhaus and Zoe Latta in 2010 is known for their gender bending designs and use of unexpected materials which explore texture and tactility. They consistently deliver the sort of items which their customers eat up. Their jeans and outerwear are especially noteworthy.
Interestingly enough, given the acceptance of genderless fashion, some of the real highlights were provided by menswear houses. What could be more modern than sportswear, evening wear, tailoring, and underwear, all worn together? This sums up Willy Chavarria’s dazzling spring collection, shown in the extravagant lobby of the iconic Woolworth Building in lower Manhattan on the final day of NYFW.
The California native says he wanted to avoid “quiet luxury” and celebrate “the ferocity of people in New York while just going about their day.” Willy captured the spirit of New York and how fiercely beautiful it was.
New York-based designer Terry Singh helped kick off New York Fashion Week with a vibrant, gender-neutral Spring 2024 RTW collection as a part of New York Men’s Day. This was the designer’s second appearance at NYMD, following a successful SS23 presentation last year. This year’s collection featured Singh’s signature “dhoti suits” in various patterns and textures, from black and white tuxedo-style looks to multicolored floral jacket and skirt sets.
This season, Terry Singh combined the art of craft with unexpected couture fabrics. It was wonderful and quirky. I’ll take “quirk” over horrible or banal any day.
Palomo Spain, the unapologetically queer fashion label which launched in the spring of 2015, combines the dramatic spirit of the southern Spanish character of Alejandro Gómez Palomo, its designer and creative director, together with a sophisticated and urban street style of London, where Alejandro spent his formative years studying at the London College of Fashion.
This season, Palomo used the Plaza Hotel to unveil his lineup of romantic, elaborate, and, yes, over-the-top clothes. The flower-decorated room, with its gilded walls and gold-trimmed mirrors, provided a perfect accent to the chiffon, feathers, lace, bows, and ruffles, sometimes inventively mixed with leather or denim. Roses were handed to each attendee. Regardless of whether or not this is your cup of tea, he was certainly making a statement.
Let’s face it; if you will show up at the Plaza, make it worthwhile. I cannot say this about the gorgeous and chic Sarah Staudinger, who drew an A-list crowd to the Plaza’s Grand Ballroom last Sunday night to see a collection of uninspired, minimal designs that look like a mid-priced bridge line.
In her review of the Staud show on Vogue.com, Irene Kim rhetorically questioned whether or not a “show of this caliber was necessary for such a minimalist collection?” The answer is a resounding, HECK NO!!! I don’t care if your hubby Ari Emanuel, CEO of Endeavor, is the most powerful Hollywood agent on the planet.
Meanwhile, the real “show” (if you want to call it that) was off the runway. There is nothing that can possibly shock anymore, and taste is completely thrown out the window by showgoers and their manner of dress or undress these days. Many, who showed up in nothing more than sequined underwear, looked like guests at the 2023 MTV VMA awards that took place on Tuesday night.
Forgetting taste, very few even factors in the time of the day, the time of the year, or the weather, for that matter. Many arrived in heavy woolen winter coats, and there was a smattering of furs on the hottest and wettest days of the year. They looked downright uncomfortable if not ridiculous.
Only a handful dressed for the heat or the rain. In the best-case scenario, isn’t the point of fashion to beautify and enhance and make life easy by protecting you from the elements?
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