New York Fashion Week has come and gone, bringing with it some standout shows—and some disappointments—from both newcomers and seasoned designers.
The week kicked off on a resounding sour note after what can only be termed “Yeezygate”. The Adidas-sponsored sportswear label headed by Kanye West set out to show its fourth collection on picturesque Roosevelt Island, a presentation that turned into a nightmarish four plus hour ordeal. Models in parkas and sweaters fainted in the 90-degree heat; some wore shoes so small they had to be escorted down the runway. To top it off, the collection was the same parade of glorified Spanx the rapper has shown for the past four seasons. What was once a somewhat compelling anti-fashion style is now tired and unsurprising.
Despite a rough start, NYFW provided shows that were actually worth the buzz. The VFiles show made headlines when rapper and fashion ingénue, Young Thug, made styling adjustments to a model mid-catwalk. Clothes were deconstructed only to be reconstructed into fantastical new garments (see the floating jacket or what I like to call “the new overcoat”). Between fetishized religious imagery and sleepover-gone-wrong face doodles, the show wasn’t exactly ready-to-wear. It was opulent in its never-ending absurdity. Is anyone going to wear a plastic garment bag posing as a cape? We should hope not. However, the VFiles show brought back some of the spectacle and whimsy that was lacking overall this season.
On the other end of the spectrum, J. Crew offered up picture perfect ready-to-wear collection. Crisp white suits, structured denim dresses, ruffled skirts, and an incredible mix of prints looked expressly modern and forward thinking without being too avant-garde. Altuzarra had a similar idea, with boldly patterned ensembles which, when worn together, pack a high fashion punch, but could easily function separately as a statement piece in a more demure outfit. Flowers of every size adorned midi skirts and itty-bitty bralettes—a vintage-feel made current by slick styling.
While J. Crew and Altuzurra managed to be both fresh and true to brand, others leaned too hard in one direction. Jeremy Scott’s bright colored cartoon clothes looked vapid compared to past seasons, going as far as appropriating a toothpaste logo on a few pieces. While the collection had its bright points—the hot pink asymmetrical dress and corresponding two-piece set adorned with zippers referenced Italian futurism—Scott resorted to his bread and butter and the result was not nearly as exciting as it once was.
Then there was the mass of shows that left you scratching your head. Fan favorite Alexander Wang played with familiar concepts to the designer, highlighting the intersection of masculinity and femininity. For example, a harsh all-over flame print was used on a 90’s fit pair of trousers and then later reinterpreted in delicate lattice on a white button down. These moments of synchronicity were beautiful, but interrupted by bouts of pure nostalgia, wherein models in flip flops looked ready to hit Venice beach circa 1994. Marc Jacobs’ stunned crowds and sparked controversy by adorning his models in rainbow dreadlocks. His clothes were a hodgepodge of ideas that morphed into a seventies Burning Man psychedelic mess. While a selection of looks manifested as a cohesive combination of references, most buckled under the weight of ideas.
What Marc Jacobs’ tremendous, Lady Gaga filled Fall/Winter 2016 collection was to last January’s NYFW, Proenza Schouler is to this season’s shows. The design house, headed by Jack McCollough and Lazaro Fernandez, has long been known for its focus on construction and tailoring, but shocked audiences this season with its unabashed use of primary colors and prints. A long knit dress is color-blocked in a way that’s not quite Yves Saint Laurent’s Mondrian dress, but striking with a more digital, modern approach and agency, detailed with a sassy ostrich feather fringe. The main success of Proenza’s collection is the designer’s ability to balance graphic abstraction with radical silhouettes, knowing when to give a little on either end, and executing it all with couture precision. It’s the perfect summation of what every collection strives for: awe-inspiring, exciting, thought-out clothes.
Edited by Brianna Arrighi
Published by The Urban Watch Magazine