NEW YORK FASHION WEEK SS18
New York Fashion Week started with a big interrogation mark. What does the future hold for NYFW now that four of its brightest talents have moved to Paris? Indeed, Proenza Schouler, Rodarte, Altuzarra and Thom Browne have all opted out of the American showcase. The reasons behind such a creative exodus are hard to pin down: overcrowded show schedule? new political landscape? marketing ploy? One can speculate all day long but the most interesting question was to know how New York Fashion Week was going to cope with these departures.
Short answer is the show must go on. And, if anything, SS18 was proof of one of America's greatest strengths: resilience.
Firstly, New York can count on its emerging talent to pick up the torch for the ones who left. Often dubbed as “commercial”, NYFW also brings a healthy dose of edginess to the fashion scene. Young labels like Vaquera or collective showcase Vfiles not only bring forward experimental avant-garde ideas about clothing, they also challenge casting conventions when it comes to shows. Something European fashion houses might want to look into.
Another fan of out-of-the-box casting, Shayne Olivier brought back the kink at Helmut Lang with a bondage-heavy collection. The designer's powerful vision of today's underground scene at his own label Hood by Air (unfortunately suspended at the moment) has made for some truly groundbreaking work in the last few years. As such, it was a pleasure to have him back in the fold, especially with a brand that has had such a tremendous impact on fashion. This made for a very happy marriage between the iconic brand of yesteryears and the designer of today.
This dichotomy of old and new is perhaps best embodied by Laura Kim and Fernando Garcia, the design duo simultaneously helming Oscar de la Renta and their own label Monse. In many ways, they bridge the often-talked-about gap between uptown and downtown. This can be a challenging task: to honour a very reveered designer while creating a new narrative that makes it relevant for today's youth. If Kim and Garcia still struggle with the latter (logo tees and sheer dresses felt out of place), they nailed the former with evening dresses the Master would have been proud of.
Some of New York's more established designers also brought their A-game for SS18. Tom Ford went back to the runway after a year-long hiatus and re-established himself as the unconditional king of glamour. Many slinky red carpet (or very fancy daywear) options could be found in this collection that brought to mind his heyday at Gucci in the 90s.
Ford's contemporary, Marc Jacobs was also in fine form, as he closed NYFW with a collection that revisited some of his previous work through an exaggerated lense (think oversized flowers, eccentric turbans, retro prints). In many ways, Jacobs perfectly encapsulates two very New York ideas: the joy of dressing up and the cultivation of personal style.
But perhaps the people who best celebrate America are the foreign designers showing in New York.
Brit Stuart Vevers has now built a very recognizable and appealing identity for American leather goods house Coach. With his young and playful take on Americana, Vevers has managed to strike the perfect balance between vintage and modern. He did it once again for SS18, using Keith Harring prints to great effect. The strength of Coach's designs is that they are rooted in a deep love for American culture without falling into cliché territory.
Finally, Raf Simons delivered one of the best shows of the week at Calvin Klein. For his second outing at the helm of the all-American brand, the Belgian designer built on the vocabulary of his first show. He explored the notions of American beauty and American horrors. Cowboy-inspired outfits were revisited in satin, while cheerleaders were literally wearing their pompoms in a series of stunning deconstructed dresses. Elsewhere, paint-splattered opera coats evoked Hitchcock heroines. Not to forget the wonderful use of lesser known Andy Warhol prints.
SS18 was a good reminder that the diversity at the heart of the city is what makes New York such an exciting destination for fashion. The variety of voices and influences creates a wonderful melting pot of ideas, from uptown chic to underground fashion-forward. In this day and age, it is nice to see that differences can bring about greatness.
Words by Martin Noives.