IS NEW YORK FASHION WEEK THAT BAD ?

20 février 2018
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Words and collages by Edward Kanarecki
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CALVIN KLEIN AW18/19 
New York Fashion Week has been criticized by many people, for many things. For a number of reasons, though. It’s a biannual overflow of collections coming from one-time-only designers, that start strong one season, but fail to continue their vision in the near future. The quintessentially ‘New Yorker‘ designers separate themselves and take Paris by storm instead, off the schedule (think Proenza Schouler, Thom Browne, Rodarte). Not speaking of the feeling that hits you every second collection you see here: the Phoebe-Philo-wannabe factor, that seems to be a deeply-rooted house code of some labels (looking at you, Victoria Beckham, Partow and Derek Lam). There‘s no wonder why New York is treated as the weak start of the fashion marathon. Is it so this time around as well?
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TOM FORD AW18/19 
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New York Fashion Week, unlike London, Milan and Paris, has that somewhat unrealistic, even mythological picture of a ‘cosmopolitan female‘. Yes, it’s the vision of a succesful single woman that owns, let‘s say, a major PR company and maybe treats men like objects. Here, I’m speaking of Sex and The City’s Samantha Jones. And you know what? If Samantha lived in 2018, she would wear Tom Ford’s AW18 collection, head-to-toe. Total runway looks, for sure. Ford’s hedonistic, night-out collection was rich in 80s references (animal spots, zebra stripes, acid splashes, big shoulders) and it was the right amount of chic kitsch. Can’t get those kitten heels with rhinestone embellishments out of my head. In other words: the ‘take your girlfriends, snatch that mohito and we’re not coming back home tonight‘ mode‘s on with Tom. A similar, mature intention of dressing the boss women was present at Alexander Wang. However, the collection rather felt forced, than empowering, which is nothing new lately in case of the designer, who used to be New York’s hot blood. The all-black, leather looks and hype-ish tiny sunglasses rather affiliate with Matrix, than a… feminist statement?
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ECKHAUS LATTA AW18/19 
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While Ford and Wang are a tale of local establishment, New York fashion week has the niche of the more off-kilter designers as well. In this case, Eckhaus Latta hits  my mind instantly. Mike Eckhaus and Zoe Latta, who originally come from L.A., took their guests to a Brooklyn warehouse, where a pack of New Yorker friends walked down the runway. Eckhaus Latta is known for coining such difficult for the industry terms as plus-size, elderly and gender fluidity. This beautiful diversity stands firm as the label’s main credential. The garments, as usually, impressed with their innovative cuts and fabrics. But what I truly loved about Eckhaus‘ and Latta’s latest offering was the arty feeling – as if the clothes came straight out of an artist’s studio. And probably they did.
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VAQUERA AW18/19 
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Vaquera, the child-brand of Patric DiCaprio, David Moses, Bryn Taubensee and Claire Sully, is another reason why NYFW might matter. Those guys are the kings and queens of fashion irony, whether they’re taking tourist postcards with the Statue of Liberty as the season’s leading print, distort a nun’s outfit or comment on the current American politics with ambiguous symbolism. But what really touched the editors‘ hearts were the subtle, yet powerful, nods towards Vaquera’s fashion idols that popped throughout the show in form of illustrations on shirt dresses. Faces of Vivienne Westwood, Miguel Adrover, Martin Margiela and Andre Walker were all there. Well, if not for those giants, majority of contemporary ‘it‘ labels (seen on every corner in New York) wouldn’t exist, and Vaquera acknowledges that right.
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MARC JACOBS AW18/19 
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And now, it’s the time for the ultimate New York‘s trademarks. Undoubtedly, Raf Simons‘ vision at Calvin Klein, which is so well executed, is something to write and write and write. But in short, that was a collection that accumulates Simons‘ image of  contemporary USA: adoration of the mass media (tons of pop-corn on the venue’s floor suggest the urge for spotlight and eternal love for Hollywood); anxiety and need for protection (fireman jackets, thigh-lenght rubber boots; knitted balaclavas – ready and steady for an anti-Trump demonstration); idestructible hope for a better future (purely American-esque prairie skirts and dresses, of course exaggerated in volume and cut). Simons‘ Calvin Klein is not just clothes and fresh branding – it’s also food for thought. Marc Jacobs, whose company is reportedly in  a financial crisis, seems to show the middle finger towards commerciality with his bold AW18. The show’s references – Claude Montana, Thierry Mugler, Yves Saint Laurent – couldn’t have been more expressive and, honestly, unsellable to a wider public. Huge volumes, over-sized shoulder pads, colourful ruffles, rich materials – that was fashion, with capital F. Quite spectacular.
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THE ROW & SIES MARJAN AW18/19 
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Of course, there are others who keep New York fashion going – The Row and Sies Marjan for instance. The first was a master class in extreme, yet tactile minimalism, while the latter worked as a colour therapy. So, it seems that the Big Apple isn’t that bad after all, especially this season, where few designers really outstood themselves.
Edward Kanarecki

 

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