New York Fashion Week in retreat
New York Fashion Week boasts the lengthiest official calendar of any major season anywhere, yet when editors and buyers take their seats on Monday morning the overall feeling will almost certainly be of attending a season in retreat.
All told, there are 136 joint or multi-brand shows listed on the official preliminary calendar from the Council of Fashion Designers of America, US fashion’s governing body. However, as recently as 2015, there were some 180.
Moreover, late last year, the CFDA cancelled its stand-alone menswear season in January and attached it to the women’s season in February. So, in effect, there will be three days of principally menswear catwalks from Monday, Feb 5 to Wednesday, Feb. 7. Followed by seven full days of women’s runway events ending on Wednesday Feb. 14. One would truly need to be a Stakhanovite editor on the Thursday, seeing as there are 20 shows in one day in this notoriously traffic-snarled city.
New York has never really bounced back from the defection of four established stars – Proenza Schouler, Rodarte, Thom Browne and Altuzarra – to Paris last year. Last week, the season was also hit by yet another blow. The announcement by one of its more media-friendly designers, Alexander Wang, that he will quit the current calendar and start staging his shows in June and December. In a development that left everyone scratching their heads; and comes on the back of rumours that Wang’s business has gone off the boil, since his critical shellacking last September, after a bizarre and self-indulgent show in Brooklyn.
The CFDA is considering such a radical change in season; though there would appear to be little real enthusiasm for such a move. The latest haemorrhage – Marchesa designer Georgina Chapman cancelled her show in the wake of scandal engulfing her estranged husband, disgraced producer Harvey Weinstein.
One of the country’s fashion growing brands, and the industry leader in See Now Buy Now, Tommy Hilfiger, will skip the NYC season for a third time. He is taking his epic runway Gigi Hadid collaboration show to Milan in February; after trips to Los Angeles and New York. Delpozo, the brilliant Spanish avant gardist brand of Josep Font, who had such success with his shows on the Hudson River is also absent – off to London. And, quite frankly, few real new hot design stars have emerged recently in New York – with the exception of Monse and Sies Marjan.
The city does still boast some mega brands – Calvin Klein, Michael Kors, Coach, Marc Jacobs and Ralph Lauren. Though, again, Lauren - after being the standard-bearer of American fashion for two generations - is widely perceived to have little connection to Millennials, especially in China, the key fashion marketing target of our era. While Jacobs has a new CEO, Eric Marechalle, rapidly scrambling to put some momentum back in a label whose annual sales have tumbled in half in the past three years.
Manhattan did lure back Tom Ford; and Germany’s biggest label Boss menswear. Both brands will stage separate men’s and women’s shows. And, the classy Italian label Bottega Veneta is showing in Manhattan, timed for the opening of a new flagship at 740 Madison.
There is also a move to more intimate presentations – part of New York’s lineage. Narciso Rodriguez, who just unveiled a stylish 20th anniversary capsule with Barneys, will stage an intimate salon-style event. Adam Lippes will welcome the fashion glitterati into his new home, a Pierrepont townhouse in Brooklyn overlooking New York harbour; while Rosetta Getty will serve up her sculptural style in her loft building studio in Tribeca.
A welcome indication – at least for some creators - that subtly and not celebrity counts more.
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