Reflecting on New York Fashion Week
BY CONSTANCE C.R. WHITE
We asked four of fashion’s powerbrokers for their key takeaways from New York Fashion week, and oh yes, their favorite place to getaway after all the shows in America and Europe are over.
KENNETH DOWNING, NEIMAN MARCUS
Sum up New York Fashion Week for you.
There was punk and protest all over New York City fashion. I was excited to see the enormity of diversity. Every race, every color, every creed, every religion and body type appeared throughout the entire week. It’s fantastic and a long time coming.
Designers were celebrating diversity and voiced their opinions on diversity and their unhappiness (via their collections).
What trends are you most excited about?
Velvet came back for the third season. There were many iterations of velvet.
I loved the underground punk rock collections. It was in men’s too. Think lots of deconstruction.
The mid-Seventies layered swagger look has been around for some time.
The biker jacket returns (after the bomber).
Messaging on T-shirts was big. You saw David Bowie and with all the talents we’ve lost – Katherine Hamnett used to dress George Michael – with all we’ve lost, it was a message of unity, power and hope.
The American beauty, rose embroidery, applique was the most important print of the season.
The portrait neckline, not only on every gown, but even on a jacket.
I loved the romance of those looks.
What were some of your favorite collections?
I can’t say enough about Raf Simons for Calvin Klein.
Marchesa took my breath away. It was so lovely to see just pretty, glamorous clothes. There’s no shame in pretty.
What surprised you most about the week?
It was interesting that many designers chose not to do a traditional fashion show. Zac Posen did not, Rag & Bone.
The abundance or orchids from floor to ceiling at Ralph Lauren with motorized butterflies. Then the show itself, Ralph is going forward boldly with glamorous, beautiful, clothes in a dream that happens that night and the customer can fulfil that dream the next morning by ordering the clothes.
Ralph Lauren is a big brand, if he can adjust what he’s been doing for decades, it can happen for any brand.
Where’s your favorite place to visit these days?
My favorite place to go is Detroit because I own a home there that I’m renovating. Detroit now is full of art and artists, emerging restaurants. It’s my favorite when I have a little time.
What’s your home like? Do you live there when you’re not at the shows?
No because it’s not really ready. I can’t stay there yet. It’s a 10,000 square-foot mansion in the Arden Park-Boston Edison section. I’m turning the third floor into artists-in-residence spaces.
What music are you listening to?
I’m having a huge nostalgic Seattle moment listening to Heart. “Crazy On You” especially. Heart practiced three blocks from where I grew up around Seattle. I get very sentimental about my Seattle roots from time to time. I’m re-living all my WHAM!
NICOLE FISCHELIS, VICE PRESIDENT AND FASHION DIRECTOR
What were some of the most important trends of the season?
A new sensuality with new volume, new layering, new symmetry, shine and color and emotion. The two opposites attract.
Charmeuse and lace.
The new volume.
Name your favorite collections?
Michael Kors Collection – I liked his luxurious sportswear. Marc Jacobs. I love his approach of modernity and intellectualism. Every collection he reinvents himself Thom Browne. Sies Marjan had beautiful draping. A new minimalism and sensuality. Anna Sui was free-spirited and glamourous. Kind of Biba with touches of Victoriana. Jeremy Scott. I love his fantasy and tone of rebellion. Coach. I liked the whole approach of storytelling.
Who or what surprised you?
The people who didn’t invite me!
Calvin Klein of course surprised me. I work on forecasts for the company and I go (into the season) with no pre-conceived idea. You always want to have that moment when you are transported and you forget everything.
There was an abundance of fur and fur trim. The new oversized parka, quilt and shearlings.
Reinvented menswear – the pantsuit or tailored jacket finished with delicate charmeuse or chiffons or lace.
The whole oversize look will be important. It continues with layering and asymmetry.
What did you see that you didn’t need to see?
The touches of Western in many collections. That’s more last season
Where’s your favorite place to vacation?
Shelter Island on summer weekends. Saint Tropez….during the off-season. And Venice during the biennial.
What music are you listening to these days?
From Pavarotti to Rolling Stones to Serge Gainsbourg and Benjamin Biolay ( Do you know him? He was dating Vanessa Paradis) and Lady Gaga.
BRUCE PASK, BERGDORF GOOMAN
How would you characterize the shows this season?
I definitely feel that we had a very energized show season here in NYC with strong performances from many, with the added excitement of Raf Simon’s debut men’s and women’s collections for Calvin Klein. He has clearly been taken with NYC and his Americana-influenced line was both strong and charming and really quite touching. His presence is a great addition to the local design landscape.
What are some of the biggest trends coming out of the week?
I am really excited about the exploration into proportion. It’s been a while (at least on the men’s side) since we’ve seen a dominant fuller pant silhouette, slouchy drop shouldered knits and coats with strong, exaggerated shoulders. Raf Simons’ coats with nipped in, taped waists were terrific as were the very flowing full pants in his namesake label.
We are also seeing a lot of play with texture in materials that feels very fresh: corduroy, velvet, alpaca and mohair. These fabrics are giving garments a lot of nice surface interest and richness
Who was particularly surprising? Who was weak?
I thought Raf Simons’ debut at Calvin Klein was great and thoughtful and felt incredibly new and forward. I loved the gender inclusiveness of the show, with male and female interpretations of garments, and his exploration of Americana was nostalgic and touching.
What one or two items or trends are you most excited about?
Proportion play and texture are really enlivening silhouettes and surfaces.
What’s your favorite song right now?
I am loving the xx’s new CD, especially their single “On Hold”. I play it all afternoon on the weekends.
IVAN BART, PRESIDENT OF IMG MODELS
Summarize New York’s Fall 2017 Fashion Week.
I really feel this was a very big season. Fashion got political. The inclusiveness of the week was felt – of size, of race. When you count the number it doesn’t seem like it’s much better but there’s a different attitude. You have a new generation like Prabal Gurung, he really celebrates all women.
There was a lot of change and then you have a political situation that’s conservative and restrictive. And then there’s art and culture and music that seems to be pushing back on that.
It was a powerful ending at Prabal Gurung’s show when the models all wore their T-shirts (printed with messages like) “The future is female” all walking out to (John Lennon’s song) “Imagine”. It was beautiful.
What surprised you the most about the week?
The fact that I wasn’t hopeful going into the week. We put our usual show package together a year ago, it fell flat. The models weren’t booked. This year my team said, “you know what Ivan, we are putting everybody in – all sizes, all ages, all races – would you write a letter?” So I did. I made an open letter to every designer. I never wrote a letter for the show package ever that I can remember.
We had a very good season. It reelected well the millennial generations. We broke a lot of new faces.
Precious Lee, Halima Aden, a Muslim model wearing a hijab (did Yeezy), Hannah Ferguson.
What was the content of the letter?
I said everybody deserves to wear luxury. Every consumer wants to experience luxury. (See the entire letter on his Instagram post).
What surprised you most about the week?
The Unity. Everyone wearing their white scarves together. I thought one of the most electrifying moments was going to Calvin Klein and seeing Raf Simons debut in America. It raised the standard. It was more thrilling to me than I imagined. Then hearing “This is Not America”. There was a mood in the air that was really thrilling.
Brandon Maxwell had all the fabulous Seventies dance music.
Where’s your favorite place to vacation when this is all over?
Anywhere in Italy on the Mediterranean. Where you can lay in the sun and eat pasta. These people are eating pasta, and hanging out so comfortably, give me a beautiful bottle of red wine. Jumping into the Mediterranean Sea. What could be better?