New York Fashion Week: Popcorn apocalypse
With many great designers leaving The Big Apple and some established names simply going through the motions, has the rot started to set in?
In the wake of a fall of almost 1,600 points, the worst single-day slump in Dow Jones history, fashion commentators at New York Fashion Week had apocalyptic thoughts on their mind. The sense of downward trajectory was brought into sharp focus by the fact that the opening and closing shows were held on the floor of the American Stock Exchange Building.
For Lauren Sherman at The Business of Fashion, "If it felt like 1987 that [first] night, with designer Tomas Maier's silk-pyjama-clad models sitting among modernist sculptures and feigning good conversation, that's because there are easy comparisons with then and now. In fact, Christian Lacroix, whose pouf defined the look of the go-go 1980s, staged his first show in New York a week after the Dow fell 22 per cent". The abandonment of New York by many of its most exciting designers in recent years – Thom Browne, Proenza Schouler, Joseph Altuzarra and Rodarte, and Victoria Beckham (due to return to Britain next season) – has left The Big Apple with a deficit in confidence, with few designers making the bullish creative statements the city desperately needs.
The most highly rated show of the week came (again) from Belgian import Raf Simons at Calvin Klein – also in the Stock Exchange – though his designs were more batten-down-the hatches survivalist than Wolf of Wall Street. The dramatic set was filled with 50,000 gallons of popcorn that crunched underfoot, papered with black and white Warhol reproductions and hung with blood red mops by Simons' artist muse Sterling Ruby. "Then a model in a bright orange hazmat suit and waders appeared. Let's rephrase: Welcome to the pop-calypse," mused Vanessa Friedman at The New York Times. Simons continued in the vein of twisted Americana, established from the beginning of his tenure at the brand, and gave it the nuclear apocalypse treatment – Laura Ingalls Wilder dresses were cut out to reveal breasts and paired with heat-proof silver gloves. Two-tone cowboy shirts were teamed with end-of-days knitted balaclavas. There were thigh-high rubber boots that look like they'd suit a wade through radioactive goop. It was a show of ideas, a reflection on escalating global politics, a salvaging of America's past in an imagined neo-apocalyptic future.
Jo Ellison at the Financial Times, posed the question "Is it time to wrestle with the fact that New York might be over? Certainly, it needs to evolve from its current incarnation. Or at least get a lot shorter…" Likewise, for Sherman at Business of Fashion, "Save for Marc Jacobs – with his bewitching models decorated in blow-up rosettes and hiding under the broadest-shoulder blazers, Calvin Klein was the only true fashion moment of the week, the real reason to spend money on a plane ticket and a hotel room to be here in the flesh...As it stands now, the little jolts – The Row's ode to minimalism among the Noguchis, or Telfar's musical extravaganza – were sparse."
Respectable, competent luxury of the kind turned out by Victoria Beckham, Gabriela Hearst, and Rosetta Getty and a couple of legacy projects that keep the books ticking over, such as Oscar de la Renta and Carolina Herrera, are arguably not reasons to travel.
A few youthful brands with wildly varying aesthetics but a shared joy in their craft, elevated the sunken moods of fashion week attendees. As Vogue reports, Eckhaus Latta, Monse, Brandon Maxwell were worth getting out of bed for.