Absent a year, the Thai-American designer roars back at New York Fashion Week
THAI-AMERICAN designer Thakoon Panichgul stormed back into New York Fashion Week after a season off to embrace “see-now, buy-now”, offering a autumn-winter collection available to purchase instantly.
He’s in the rich soup of designers on the catwalk in the Big Apple for the shows ending today, others including Tommy Hilfiger, Victoria Beckham, Tory Burch and Phillip Lim.
Eschewing the official spring-summer 2017 season, Thakoon’s self-titled label instead offered high-end customers clothes for this autumn and winter and, with cooler temperatures around the corner, he’s confident it will pay off.
Guests including Wendi Deng Murdoch were invited to decamp from Manhattan to Brooklyn, where they were treated to a stunning setting at Dumbo offering gorgeous views of the Brooklyn Bridge.
“If I wanted to I could dream and show feathers all the time, but that’s not what the customer wants,” said the Thailand-born, US-raised designer, who’s beloved by New York’s smart women.
“What the customer wants is comfortable cool clothes they can wear, layer and add on to.”
His look for the season mixed feminine lace with chunky knits, all while embracing the prints for which he’s famous.
Taking the lead from Tom Ford last Wednesday and Tommy Hilfiger on Friday, he ditched the traditional calendar in which clothes typically go on sale months after the catwalk show. “Because I took last season off, it gave me a lot of energy to be able to focus this season,” he explained.
“What was refreshing was to really rethink the idea, rethink how we do business and we design in the context of digital. Digital is such an important part of what’s happening.”
Tommy Hilfiger sought to revolutionise fashion last Friday by throwing the most extravagant catwalk show of his life, launching his click-and-buy collection with a fairground party topped up with burgers and fries.
The American designer, who’s turned an eye for style into a multibillion-dollar global enterprise, has lavished millions on upending his production schedule and teaming up with the supermodel of the moment, Gigi Hadid, to create an autumn-winter collection in her image.
It’s a huge gamble that the 65-year-old Hilfiger hopes will pay off in sales. He envisions that high sales will cement the revolution and other designers will follow in his footsteps. “People want things now,” he said.
Most of what’s available now online won’t hit the stores for months. The digital revolution means catwalk shows are now broadcast live and the social media zap pictures of clothes around the world in seconds.
Hilfiger’s outfits personified Hadid’s casual, sporty Californian style – flattering for the figures of coltish 20-somethings. There were hoodies, tracksuits, basketball-jersey-style dresses, silk boxing shorts, high-waist bellbottom trousers and cropped leather jackets with a giant anchor and “Hadid” scrawled on the back.
“Designers usually use models to model – they never use models to design. I tapped into Gigi’s style and we’ve been working together,” he said.
Time will tell if his customers love Hadid as much as he does. He’ll certainly be hoping that a lot of her 22.5 million Instagram followers will get their credit cards out.
Introducing velvet for next spring and summer, the former Spice Girl had her football-legend husband David and their eldest son Brooklyn in the front row of her show on Sunday.
Hers was a daring and experimental collection that showcased her evolving maturity as a designer. “I really think I’ve come into my own this season,” she said.
“It’s a lot about fabric development.”
Bra tops were layered under knitwear and she made liberal use of velvet in what she called a “fresh, interesting take” on warmer-weather dressing.
“Velvet is normally something that’s quite heavy, quite wintery, but this is really light and buttery and feels beautiful on the skin and great to wear in the summer.”
Tory Burch presented a colourful, wearable collection for her global, affordable luxury brand – a witty interpretation of East Coast hostess chic and the free-spirit beach towns of the West.
She summed it up as “quintessential American style”.
Burch, who created a fitness tracker with Fitbit, is keen to see more marriages of fashion and technology and has just appointed a “chief technology officer”. She also signalled that the brand is likely to shift more towards see-now, buy-now. “It’s a pretty Herculean shift, so I want to take it slowly. Our collections are pretty season-less anyway.”
Phillip Lim delved into nostalgia in reaction to what was “happening today”, he said, by researching Victorian bathing suits and seeking inspiration in the Nashville music scene of the 1950-60s.
“To me it’s how do you maintain a certain type of dignity,” he said, “but also remind people that the basic essentials are love and human emotions and being grateful and having dignity and respect.”