Tom Ford, Raf Simons, Tory Burch and Victoria Beckham get New York Fashion off to a good start with creative ideas for spring-summer 2018
TOM FORD opened New York Fashion Week in throwback ‘90s sequin glory, kicking off the spring/summer 2018 season and looking to silence criticism that the bi-annual style fest is losing its mojo.
More than 230,000 people flood America’s cultural capital to attend the September and February editions, where hundreds of shows, deals and parties contribute nearly $900 million a year to the city.
Ford, the 56-year-old, Texan-born, movie-making designer transformed Manhattan’s Park Avenue Armory into an intimate, pink runway that hosted A-list guests such as Kim Kardashian, actress Julianne Moore, and 1990s supermodels Cindy Crawford and Helena Christensen.
Ford sent down the runway models in blush sequin tops, cropped micro hemlines, sharply tailored jackets and body suits with plunging necklines and hip-high cut outs. Colours were neutrals and hot pink.
The show segued immediately into pumping after party to launch his new fragrance “F***ing Fabulous” with buff, shirtless waiters in sports shorts handing out drinks and burgers.
It was a bold start to a fashion week that officially kicked off last Thursday, under a cloud of stellar designers fleeing to Europe, debate about its relevancy and confusion even about what time of year it is.
American dream met American nightmare as Belgian Raf Simons, formerly of Christian Dior, soaked up the love for his second outing at Calvin Klein, the iconic label he’s revamping to adulation.
In a nod to past and present, Cindy Crawford’s 16-year-old daughter Kaia Gerber, treading in the footsteps of her supermodel mother, made her runway debut for the 2018 collection, watched from the front row by Brooke Shields, the label’s most famous teen model in the 1980s.
Also watching was Paris Jackson, only daughter of Michael, and Oscar-winning actor Mahershala Ali, best known for Hollywood movie “Moonlight” about an African-American gay man growing up in Miami.
“It’s about American horror and American beauty,” said Simons, whom the label hired last year and in June became the first person since Klein himself to be honoired by the Council of Fashion Designers of America as best women’s and menswear designer in one year.
“Fashion tries to hide the horror and embrace only beauty. But they are both a part of life. This collection is a celebration of that: a celebration of American life,” he added.
Considered one of the finest designers of his generation, the 49-year-old has the rare skill of preserving the unique DNA of Calvin Klein – its androgynous-style suiting in particular – and yet making it fresh.
The room at Calvin Klein’s headquarters in the Garment District was again decked out in artwork by Ruby Sterling this time entitled “Sophomore” conjuring up the idea of Americana through jack-o-lanterns, pick axes and cheerleading pom-poms dangling from the ceiling.
It was naughty and nice; sexy and demure; dramatic and innocent; feminine and androgynous while remaining minimalist and urban.
Full-skirted, 1950s-style silhouettes were reimagined in nylon, rubber from Ohio and hand-painted leather.
There were nods to the label’s history of transgressive sexuality, plenty of orange, yellow, black and red, and a selection of prints from that most famous of American 20th century artists: Andy Warhol.
There were red patent leather cowboy boots, and matching pants and shirts worn together that created an elongated, seamless silhouette.
A red and white coat almost appeared almost blood-stained, a prom dress was fashioned in the black bin liner look and demure tight pencil skirts were sexed up with long burgundy latex gloves.
For the evening there were cheerleader’s pom pom-style tassel dresses that flounced with abandon as the model slinked down the catwalk, and exaggerated pom-pom style drooping bags.
Simons, who also has his own label, was previously best known for breathing life into Dior after John Galliano was fired in 2012 following an outcry over anti-Semitic insults he made in a Paris bar.
A silhouette of Shields, who modelled for Calvin Klein in the 1980s and famously uttered: “You wanna know what comes between me and my Calvin’s? Nothing” is stamped on the back of the label’s new jeans.
Tory Burch took over the catwalks on Friday with an upbeat collection of bold color and geometric print hoping to off-set troubled political times with a little escapism.
The doyenne of preppy chic worked to create an English garden in the grounds of the Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum on Manhattan’s Upper East Side, a bucolic backdrop for a fresh and buoyant collection.
British-American actress Emily Blunt was guest of honour and the 2018 spring/summer clothes situated Burch’s signature uptown luxe in the insouciant atmosphere of a garden party or weekend away.
“We need that,” the designer and former Hillary Clinton donor said after the show, admitting herself to be as inwardly “not upbeat.”
“I have to compartmentalise because I care deeply about what’s happening in our country but I also need to find joy in the way we live our life,” Burch added.
“Certainly I feel our collection is about joy and happiness. Not disregarding the sadness of what’s happening around, but how do we all come together not be divisive.”
The inspiration came from late English interior designer David Hicks, who made carpets for Windsor Castle and decorated the Prince of Wales’ first apartment at Buckingham Palace, before working in New York.
“What I wanted to do is to reference him but not be referential. I wanted to put a modern take on it,” she said, adding that she was also coming round more and more to the idea of “less is more” and experimenting.
“I think women kind of want to experiment with colour. It’s hard in print but how do you do it in a way that gives people a chance to do that, not always wear black.”
On Sunday Victoria Beckham put her once-beloved black firmly in the shade, swapping it for the colours of Play-Doh and for sparkly slippers named after her daughter.
“It’s Play-Doh, it’s ice cream but it’s not too saccharine,” she said of the new colours. It’s not too sweet at all. It’s just the right amount.”
Guests were welcomed on the beautiful late summer morning with tall, chilled glasses of ginger-and-peppermint iced tea, before being ushered to their seats.
“It feels fresh and happy. I love the sparkly shoes; I’m obsessed with the Harper slipper,” the 43-year-old former Spice Girl said, wearing high-waisted jeans and a white T-shirt.
“I’m a bit of a magpie. I love a little bit of sparkle,” she added when a reporter asked whether dressing her daughter had changed how she designed.
Her statement shoes were sequinned silver-and-green sparkly heels paired with daywear, and silver sparkly flat sandals with more monochrome dresses better suited to evening.
Beckham prides herself on making clothes that are wearable; she said she had concentrated on lightness and layering for high-end customers who travel a lot.
There were tailored skinny pants, ruffles at the throat on filmy silk shirts, the most delicate of inlaid prints, long hemlines, low-slung skirts and dresses so filmy they were near see-through.
The pistachio, peach-rose and pale purple colours freshened up her more customary black and white, with splashes of red. There was also liberal use of very fine, delicate check.
“It reminds me of being at school, doing a maths exam,” she said of the check. “It feels like graph paper, that was the inspiration, a little bit of a menswear feel.”
“I used to wear so much black, and I really enjoy wearing colour – it makes me feel really happy,” she said.