The catwalk’s his street; clothes his picket signs. Instead of activists chanting slogans, a choir sang “this land is my land” and the audience stood in for the thicket of media and gawkers who materialize at every protest.
There were no rioters running down the streets, just Michael Kors running down his runway.
American designers tepidly dipped their pinky toe into punk. They’ve been less than faithful to #Metoo and shown even less understanding of how matters of racial inclusion can impact their consumer base and ultimately their bottom line.
Message t-shirts are still hot. They’re centrality is obvious from retail and what people choose to wear. But they were little more than a fad for lots of fashion folk.
It’s distressing to see how quickly fashion’s vanguard has left behind important social issues to embrace what? One earring dangling from an ear?
Kors saw it differently. How does a designer comment or take a stand on important social issues and do it within their brand DNA?
Kors aspired to be a bellwether for his times. If designers don’t reflect their moment, they quickly become calcified? Designers do serve several purposes. As the great editor Carrie Donovan noted, “We have to get dressed.” They’re useful for creating shirts and dresses we want to wear and for evoking positive emotions in us. Easing her lithesome frame out of her seat Nicole Kidman said of the collection, “I loved it. It was beautiful. I can’t wait to wear it all.”
Another guest, author and TV producer Susan Fales-Hill, said she loved it but for different reasons. Maybe this is because she is American and Kidman, Australian (though Australia has its own issues). Or perhaps it’s because she is the daughter of a Black mother (Josephine Premice) and a White father (Mayflower descendant).
Kors championed America the melting pot. A romp through Americana with subtle star prints, Katherine Hepburn influences, officers’ coats, penny loafers, and gingham. I can’t say that there was a recognizable model or motif of Native American descent, yet the cast didn’t look like they just stepped out of a scene from Curtis Sittenfeld’s book “Prep”.
“It was such a statement because it was about what our country should be right now,” said Fales-Hill. “Inclusion. He covered every color, every era.”
That this accomplishment – marrying social statement with brand supremacy so seamlessly– should erupt from Kors, is indicative of how alive innovation and brand equity can be even in a mature brand.
Several lines should not be taking up time and space during fashion week. With labels that are still raising their profile, it’s hard to tell which ones are worth the time unless you get some indicators. One pointer is successful stylists. Aliette, in its second outing, is created by Jason Rembert who has dressed celebs like Rita Ora and Zayn Malik.
With more than a passing familiarity with how to make an impact, Rembert designed a handful of silver sequin show-stoppers. He proved he can also chill with a diaphanous green and white blousy top and hot pants. Sleek and black jumpsuit got wrapped in an operatic acid green bow and train. Inexplicably, the opener which generally sets the tone for the whole show, was the weakest look. And there were stronger models in the line–up. But things quickly got on track with a burst of sunshine in yellow taffeta which dramatically telegraphed Rembert’s message of beauty, glamour and empowered women.
Being embraced by a respected fashion patron, is another tool fashion insiders use to figure out who gets their time during show week. Former dancer Hogan McLaughlin, attracted the attention of Daphne Guinness, the heiress and fashion connoisseur.
Conjuring a moody creature with his serious architectural shapes and inventive fabric manipulations, he cut a clear path through a lot of the superfluous scattered along runways.
Knife-pleated dresses, fabric contrasts and sleek minimal shapes made a clear case for the benefits of restraint.