There’s something about American fashion that clicks with me; It is something that London fashion cannot do. It is an intangible thing, a mood perhaps, that resonates with me more than British fashion does. That sucks for me, you know, being British, but it also means that I know I can connect with the brands and the overall style in New York. Now I know what you’re thinking, there are so many different styles in this city, how can you connect with it all? What I mean is that everything, or most things, shown at New York Fashion Week are wearable, commercial, saleable – whatever adjective you’d like to use. That is not to say that the creativity isn’t there, because it is, but it seems to be that American designers create things that are of use in daily life and that don’t need to be changed completely before being sold in stores. I like that. I’m all for a conceptual idea, as long as that can translate into something wearable. Keep in mind that the two biggest fashion schools in New York – FIT and Parsons – both teach technical design and also business skills alongside the whimsical, imaginative part of fashion design. Maybe that’s what gives New York designers an edge – that, plus being in one of the most vibrant cities in the world.
I have mixed emotions about Riccardo Tisci moving the Givenchy show to New York. Part of me screams “yaaaayy” because it means we get to see it sooner, but part of me is also sad because it is one less show to look forward to in Paris. I understand the move though. You see, one of Givenchy’s most iconic moments originated in New York – think croissant, diamonds, French twist, and black dress – so it makes sense to bring the brand back here.
The show, held on September 11th, was a celebration of and call for tolerance. Tisci brought music from different cultures and played them in one show to show we can all live in harmony, and with a location which provided unobstructed views of the Freedom Tower and the light shining from the spot of a horrific American tragedy, it seemed like a fitting message. The venue itself was something that boosted this show. The sunset was beautiful and the set-up allowed for thousands of guests, many of whom were fans who won tickets; when I saw that announcement online I was insanely jealous of anybody living in New York. The actual runway itself seemed rather perilous, especially for Joan Smalls in her insane gown with fur all around the skirt – beautiful but very impractical.
The actual clothes were stunning too. I love the undone, bedroom look and I feel that Tisci really tapped in on it with this collection. There was lots of lace and satin, and I felt that everything was just soft and feminine. I can imagine that lace trimmed cami tops and slip dresses, at the very least, will be popular in fast fashion stores as in each collection that Tisci puts out, at least one item becomes a trend. For example, the lace-up body suits of two seasons back are still everywhere (and worn by average people). I predict that a lace trimmed cami will be this season’s equivalent (or at least I hope so). I also hope that the draped shoulders on many of the tops is picked up on because it is such a pretty look that I’d love to recreate myself. The basic colour palette actually made this show more likeable for me as I do tend to stick to blacks and neutrals. If I were a buyer, I’d take a lot of pieces from this show and order lots of them; it is a wearable and likeable collection, that’s what sells. Perhaps one of the less commercial but all-in-all beautiful looks in the show was the feathered jacket and bejewelled top worn by Magdalena Frackowijk. The detailing is just beautiful with the ombre feathers and the jewels shine when the light hits them. I feel like a celebrity could have quite the red carpet moment in this – I’d like it to be Lady Gaga, wearing the long brown wig that she frequently wore circa 2010. I just love Riccardo Tisci and I always know that I can count on him for a great collection.
Finally, the show had the best dressed guests (wearing Givenchy, of course). My personal favourites were Carine Roitfeld and her daughter Julia – I’d take either of their outfits – and also Uma Thurman.
Also, this may be a slightly unpopular opinion but I love the menswear. It is sleek and unfussy. Tisci made a double-breasted suit look modern which is no mean feat considering that they usually conjure up images of the 80s. Oh, and it helps that the models are always so handsome.
I can say with confidence that Joesph Altuzarra is my favourite New York based designer. He has surpassed Alexander Wang, which for quite some time seemed impossible. Season after season, I see him building a strong brand which I think will just continue to grow. You can already see him establishing a DNA – skirt with high slits, the saddle bag, the sexy-but-not-vulgar aesthetic. Think of his Starfish skirt which you can now buy in a variety of colours; it is a style that is widely available on the high street now too. I’m not sure imitation is the best thing for a designer, especially with a fairly young brand, but it does show success because it means you’ve made something worth copying, something that a lot of people want.
This season, I can see his clothes on regular women. I can see myself in many of the pieces and I can see people I know in them too. Maybe that’s why the brand speaks to me. It isn’t just for celebrities going to events but real women who can wear them to their own events: work, parties, shopping, and restaurants – you name it. And the beauty of it is, single pieces can be bought and the outfit isn’t ruined. You can weave pieces in with items you already own and look just as good. That’s what makes a good collection, because realistically customers don’t buy full runway looks (unless they’re famous). People usually mix and match with things that are already in their wardrobes – even if magazines like to act like we do, people don’t change their entire wardrobe each season, we just add to it. The espadrille inspired heels were actually rather cool (Altuzarra had a Spanish influence this season) and the alligator coat was to die for. I hope both of these items get the editorial coverage they deserve.
I think I’ve mentioned before how much I love Zac Posen as a brand. I class him as America’s closest thing to a couturier as he designs the most beautiful ball gowns and they are so well constructed with boning and corsets. In fact, his design studio in New York is pretty much an atelier.
Something that Posen does well is ball gowns, yet this collection featured very few. However, it was still a knockout. In fact, it showed me that Zac Posen can do something other than eveningwear and it was more of a step back to his roots. It’s easy to forget that he began doing daywear. Since beginning his tenure designing at Brooks Brothers, Posen has been inspired to produce more daywear. Realistically, that’s where the sales are, and I think this collection will fare very well with the buyers.
There were quite a few day dresses that I thought were brilliant and there were actually a lot of looks that would’ve worked just as well in Paris. If Posen wasn’t such an American brand, Paris would be his stomping ground. A couple of pieces reminded me slightly of Raf Simons for Dior, or even vintage Christian Dior illustrations. I feel that even though this was a step away from the red-carpet gown heavy collections of late, there are still quite a few looks that I predict will be worn by stars.
My only criticism would be the slightly deconstructed slip dress with the satin and sheer panels – it seemed off-brand. I could see it more in a Haider Ackermann show than Zac Posen, but Ackermann would’ve used a less shiny satin. Overall, my favourite Zac Posen collection in years, purely because I see a lot that I’d want to wear myself.
CUSHNIE ET OCHS
I often cannot fathom how young this brand is, just because they have such a clear and consistent vision from season to season. As always, you can expect a killer colour palette which just pops and a good model selection – something that matters to me in a show. It often bugs me seeing the same bland models but Cushnie et Ochs usually have a good variety and also lots of models of colour which is important, not just for representation, because the colours just pop against their skin tone and that really brings the collection to life.
This collection was inspired by 90s hip-hop, a movement often ignorned in fashion in favour of grunge (what many people think the 90s was all about). I think someone in particular that needs to be acknowledged for their impact back then is Lil Kim. It is easy to ridicule her now, but you cannot deny that she was the coolest. She was a Versace queen, someone who wore high fashion designs in real life, and someone who was never afraid to take a risk. I often think that Miley Cyrus tries to do nowadays what Kim did back then. However, the moment has past and it has already been done.
My favourite look, in particular, was number 29 which is actually already shoppable (Moda Operandi is doing a trunk show). Cushnie et Ochs is a show that I always look forward to in New York, and a brand that I truly wish success for.
You can understand when looking at a collection like this why Thakoon is favoured my Anna Wintour. He makes damn nice clothes. When you think about it, NYFW really is a showcase for daywear – there’s only a few designers who really specialise in eveningwear – which actually makes sense as it is in line with the principles of American fashion. It has always been sportswear (not activewear, there’s a difference between the two) that has dominated the American market, with clothes that are made for everyday life. It takes a good designer to make daywear equally as exciting as eveningwear and I think that is something Thakoon has done this season.
This collection seems to be a true representation of what women would actually wear as opposed to some far-out notion or a design that only a Kardashian would go for. There were plunging necklines that remained classy, cool patterns, and a dress that reminded me slightly of the Emilia Wickstead one that Gigi Hadid wore to the VMAs. It was a similar style and looked phenomenal on the runway, but if I were a buyer I’d be requesting some changes before I put it in stores – which I suspect will happen anyway. However, a lot of the other looks were ready-to-wear straight off the catwalk with no changes needed.
There were two white jackets which really stood out to me. One of them was just an oversized, western style denim jacket which I think would look really cool with jeans and also dresses. The other was a floral textured jacket of a similar shape. The texture reminded me of the wallpaper in my aunt’s house. That sounds strange but I found it sweet. I really did love this collection.
And the rest…
Jason Wu brought back ruffles and flounce. I feel like this is a trend which has been emerging for a couple of seasons now but this may be what pushes it to the mainstream. I believe it is because Wu did it in subtle ways, as well as the more overt. For example, the green trench coat that opened the show combined fringing and ruffles but was still insanely beautiful and not at all weird looking (when I say fringing and ruffles together that sounds awful, I know). The fringing worked because it was more a fray than a fringe, and the coat looked so fresh because it was a shade of green that wasn’t khaki. There were some insanely intricate details (on the lace t-shirt style dress, for example) which made this collection so good, but you could easily miss them if you don’t look closely. There was one dress in this collection, the floral halterneck, which made me wish that Gossip Girl was still on the air. Blair Waldorf would’ve worn the hell out of it at a garden party in The Hamptons, I just know it.
Phelan’s debut collection was on another level for a debut, but then again, the designer is not fresh out of school but is actually an Alexander Wang knitwear alum – and you can tell this by her use of knitwear. The bubbled texture that was created on a jumper was very cool as was the brushstroke print on one of her dresses which had matching elbow length gloves, always a winner for me. I loved this fluid, body-hugging dress. It was my idea of sexy. However, I’d like to change the neckline to a curved plunging V: think Nicki Minaj’s VMA dress but not as low. I’d stop the plunge at the part where the shaping begins to mould around the chest.
Sally LaPointe, a favourite of mine for the past year or so, endorsed the duster coat. This is a move which some people may loathe (I know a lot of you are over them) but I’m still a fan as I feel they are so versatile, even though they don’t go with everything. Also, I loved the fur clutches. I love finding different ways to use fur.
The hair and make-up at Diane von Furstenberg was just like her own. I love that she has created a brand completely based around herself and what she would wear. The photo of Kendall Jenner that is circulating of her backstage is one of my favourites from fashion month thus far, as is the beauty shot of Aya Jones. I drew parallels between DvF and Jenny Packham’s show, mainly because the two of them featured black dresses and skirts with beautiful, intricate embroidery. In DvF’s case, it was gold butterflies which looked wonderful on Anna Cleveland, and for Jenny Packham it was silver flowers.
I find it quite odd that Vera Wang is primarily known for being a wedding dress designer because she makes such badass clothes. I actually thought her collection was cooler than Alexander Wang (the king of New York cool). I loved these looks – x, y, z.
Elie Tahari’s show reminded me of Olivia Palermo because there was so much there that I think she would wear. I feel like his woman is a glam New Yorker who wants looks that can translate into the office as well as after work fun – I don’t know if that was what he was going for, but if so, he hit the nail on the head. CG also reminded me of Olivia as it all looked so pulled together and that is how I’d describe her. I loved the short neck scarves which reminded me of Grace Kelly in an era gone by.
Rosetta Getty produced another strong lookbook, although the model’s poses were rather odd. I feel like she is the master of understated luxury – the kind of clothes that you buy because you want to wear high quality fabrics and stylish yet classic designs. Everything always looks so cosy.
I want Kerry Washington to wear this Naeem Khan gown, that’s all.
One of the dresses in Jonathan Simkhai’s collection reminded me of my morning commute and oddly that’s not a bad thing. The pattern of the mesh seemed to me like when the train is speeding across the rail bridge and you catch glimpses of the water but your view is obscured by the frame of the bridge – I may be way off on one here. There were a few really cool outfits here, namely these ones: 1, 2.
Prabal Gurung had one of the most beautiful colour palettes of the week, yet it is one that I would struggle to pull off myself. I adore the marigold, it is one of the most beautiful colours out there and looks absolutely magnificent on Lineisy Montero.
The biggest shock of the week for me was that I actually liked Jeremy Scott. I look forward to his collections for Moschino because they’re always a bit of fun and you need that relief by the time you get to Milan. However, I’ve never been a fan of his mainline. Oddly, I loved the hair and make-up. It reminded me slightly of the Barbie show for Moschino but instead of pink there were pale orange lips. It seemed like a parody or an exaggeration of the 60s. I actually thought there were a few pieces that would look really good if they weren’t worn as the full runway look. Take the opening outfit as an example: the top could be worn with both high waisted jeans and flats during the day or with a black pencil skirt and heels at night; the skirt could be worn with a black t-shirt and a pair of Nike’s. Finally, the squiggle pattern trench coat that Anna Cleveland wore was cool and I hope it gets an editorial moment next season.
The carnation coloured dresses at Oscar de la Renta were seriously stunning. I adore the colour and I also loved the crocheted (?) midi dress and the form fitting crinked dress that Aya Jones wore too.
It pains me to say this, but for two seasons in a row I haven’t loved Alexander Wang. He was always my favourite New York designer but I just don’t love this collection. This year is a big year for the brand as it is its 10 year anniversary. It feels insane to me that Alexander Wang is such a young brand (and that the designer is only 31) when you think of the influence that it has had on fashion. Growing up, the brand was always a name I’d heard because it was so big but I don’t think I realised just how new it was. To think of the success that Wang himself has had (he’s practically built an empire and he certainly has a cult-like following) just blows my mind. I wish him decades more success. As for this collection, not a huge fan, but I did love a few of the looks which I’ll insert below. And hey, the after party looked insanely fun – he scores points for that alone!
3.1 Philip Lim is another brand celebrating its 10 year anniversary, and for this show I can already see a couple of looks which will definitely be copied by Zara – this, for example.
I don’t think I ever realised that ADEAM’s designer was Japanese and it explains some of the influences to me a bit more. I love the whole cross over thing with straps like obi belts and dresses folded like origami. My favourite look was this black dress with the interesting straps. I know we’ve seen a lot of dresses with similar necklines recently (even in high street stores) but I think this is an interesting twist having the straps folded. ADEAM is a brand I plan to keep an eye on.
Lady Gaga’s stylist Brandon Maxwell made his debut this season and I have to say that I adored his collection. I love Lady Gaga’s style for the most part – she takes risks – and I found that this collection was practically made for her, but it would work for other people too. I think people forget that Gaga doesn’t just wear meat dresses nowadays. There was some sharp tailoring, cool tops, and dresses that could fit in many women’s wardrobes. I hope this gets picked up by stores and I am looking forward to seeing what price point it is at. I hope that perhaps in a few seasons time people will be talking about Maxwell because he’s produced several consistent collections, not just because he’s Lady Gaga’s stylist. Here’s the full collection.
I’d wear practically everything in Protagonist’s collection, as usual then.
Tibi is designed for every woman. It must be. Every time I see the collections I can think of a bunch of people who different items could suit. I like that in a brand. For example, nowadays Saint Laurent is slightly limiting as to who their customer could be (for a lot of the runway pieces anyway) but Tibi could suit every age group. I love the oversized white suit. I love a slouchy take on a women’s suit – makes it a bit less power dressing, a bit more badass.