There's something to be said when the psychic was right. Before fashion week started I met with a lot of people in the industry. Roxanne, the soothsayer at the Chelsea Mansion, was the most accurate; from the tribal Mercedes-Benz lounge created by Iman, to the shoes at Malandrino's and the final L.A.M.B. collection of reinvented African prints. Nature was another undercurrent; from Donna's austere landscape and Vera Wang's deep forest kill, Oscar de la Renta and Naeem Khan finally burst out and gave us flowers.
Who got it: the young and new designers got it, and made me remember their collections still, even at this writing. Bibhu Mohapatra, Chris Benz and Prabal Gurung elevated above the pack. Oscar's show on the final day once again seemed a breath of fresh air and I was inspired by the delicate work of Naeem Khan.
I changed my opinion a few times about Fashion's Night Out and chose to forgo doing a post about the evening, even though I ran around. When I was shuttling around by train, I overheard two ladies chatting, talking about a night of fashion for everyone. Later at a party, someone said the night made them feel like fashion was for them.
Many fashion insiders lamented that people weren't buying, yet the stores adjusted accordingly. Instead of cases of Veuve Clicquot there was the cheapest Fonseca at Diane von Furstenberg. When customers took their picture with the designer, they had to fork over their email for the privilege. The lines were outside of Pop Burger instead of teams of black clad waiters serving the buns. Not one venue had a sad tray of half eaten crudités; Lanvin being the exception to this rule. Fashion's Night Out was a success because individuals who don't think fashion's for them now feel like they can walk into a store they normally wouldn't.
For fashion to survive, it needs to be perceived as accessible. Sadly the students that showed for the Academy of Art University were overshadowed by the event. I'm routinely wowed by their work. The school mounts the production to not only show the students' skills but to try and get them jobs in the industry.
Talking to Geoff Day about the many reasons that Mercedes-Benz sponsors the week, I take away "everyone wants a piece of fashion."
Yes, he's right and I concur. The tents have gotten bigger to accommodate the plethora of brands that want to use the runway show mechanism to propel their company and show that they're part of fashion. Fashion has gotten bigger and louder - between retail television, online retailers and sponsorships. Fashion, as Norma Kamali would say, is undergoing a 'Democratization'. Yet as the tents themselves have gotten bigger, true fashion has gotten smaller. Organizations like the CFDA are trying to safeguard innovators with the Incubator program. W Hotels is aligning their brand with a few core designers and is sponsoring their shows, then sending them on the road with trunk shows at their hotels. The pop burgers in their lounge will be sadly missed. Then there's the Ecco Domani foundation and of course the biggest of them all, the CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund which gave us Proenza Schouler. Geoff is correct in saying that fashion is adaptable and requires change.
At the beginning of the week my camera took its last breath and started to slowly meet its demise, which caused a quick tear; I'm trying to mount a gallery show of my fashion photojournalism. Leica was kind enough to lend me a camera for a day and I caught this great picture at Duckie Brown; the siblings did some great prints and I loved their upscale 'funky chic' vibe.
(Duckie Brown, taken with a borrowed Leica)
I always look at fashion as reactionary. Linen blazers with great jeans have now replaced suits and sportswear in full force. Casual is in.
For a while, suits appeared in presentations and on the runway. Everyone who's needed a new suit for job interviews now has one. Besides, everyone I know that's thriving or holding on is a freelancer of some sort. We're moments away from seeing the revival of the tracksuit. Number Labs showed for the first time and their collection has already been purchased. Buckler went from the wearable avant-garde to the sporty chic. Simon Spurr bespoke suits first garnered my attention and created a love affair and sometimes stalkerish vibe with the brand. Now goes English chill: Michael Bastian - sporty - in both his core collection and for Gant.
Science fiction has always been about knowing that the future will be okay. So Thierry Mugler's comeback from the purgatory of licensing and Lady Gaga's stylist, with some designers choosing minimalist forms, is all about telling us that we're going to get through this moment, while dazzling us with crazy outfits and the spectacle of show. I do think Jeremy Scott's version is far more wearable then Lady Gaga's meat dress ever will be. Mohawks and other rebellious outfits will be coming back, with chains and other ruckus gear, but that's a statement of upheaval again. It's actually taken awhile for spikes to come back. The first eighties trend to appear on the runway were shoulder pads, but those were never adopted by the consumer.
Fashion has finally adapted to the online sphere, with the Times getting blog posts and articles up quicker then ever before. Galleries from major publications are going up quicker than an unruly blogger can hit publish on a post or find a comfy BoConcept seat or bump someone in the AOL media pit. But somewhere during the time I've been covering fashion, the Fiji bottles have gotten smaller.
Vogue launched its new website and it's quite stunning; it now looks like an online fashion glossy and has churned out a lot of enviable content. There are rumors swirling about style.com.
Fashion has changed, much of the reporting has been about the audience. When Sarah Jessica Parker is the biggest star in attendance and there's a plethora of reality stars and sub-culture mavens to speculate about with little excitement about the looks down the catwalk, there's nothing to do but to report on the buzz in the audience. There's now a clean line in the sand, between Milk Studios and The Tents. Milk is for the innovative designer outside the fold who wants to take a risk on their own vision and Lincoln Center is now for the established set with a clear and defined support structure.
I'm not sure how this will all pan out, but there will be more upheaval to come. So with that, London is in full force and shortly thereafter will be Paris, where the true trends will be set for the season.
Note on Swag: Effen vodka sent me a bottle, thanks guys! Finally something decent.