By Joe Fritts
This past week, New York hosted what has probably been their most diverse and interesting fashion week in recent memory. After the much publicized loss of both Rodarte and Proenza Schouler to Paris, many people were left wondering what New York could do to bounce back, and it seems they’ve found the answer: fresh American talent paired with a divisive political climate. Thankfully, after two seasons post-Trump inauguration these collections were relatively apolitical, but the designers clearly have an eye for spotting talent in all shapes, sizes, and colors.
Chromat was the leader of this brave new bunch. Even though they’ve been at it for a while, the Spring/Summer 2018 collection was easily their strongest showing, with a clear, future-leaning vision and a story told by both cis and trans women. When the plus size models entered the catwalk wearing Chromat’s signature boning pieces, it was clear that the old adage of “clothes just don’t look good on bigger bodies” is patently false. Every woman in that show carried herself with the strength and poise it takes to be a #CHROMATbabe. The presence of Carmen Carrera, while timely and inclusionary, was overshadowed by the grace and ferocity of women size 14+.
Even with Jeremy Scott’s 20th anniversary show, and Tom Ford bringing his womenswear back from the brink of extinction couldn’t compete with the work Raf Simons has done for Calvin Klein Collection. With Andy Warhol prints, colorblocked silks and lots of plasticized fringe, Simons has been able to find a way to convey his vision of Americana and bring the storied label back to relevance. Pop art is surely the only truly American art form, and Simons isn’t the only one who had taken notice.
Stuart Vevers over at Coach 1941 (the ready-to-wear division of the leather goods brand) introduced a collection featuring Keith Haring prints. He worked to integrate some of Haring’s most famous works onto sweatshirts, intarsia knits, and most impressively, a series of slip dresses that elevate the brand. Long gone are the days of “she who buys Coach flies coach.” Handbags were adorned with the new Coach signature pins and patches and Haring-print charms, which will surely be snapped up by gals and gays alike.
Closing out the week was Marc Jacobs, who delighted us with an oversized coral motorcycle jacket and intricately beaded tank tops paired with track pants. Being the city of dreams, the most talked about model who walked for Jacobs and Calvin Klein was working at a Chipotle in Austin just two weeks ago.
With all of the prints and rich fabrics, it should be said that minimalism still reigns supreme, though its grip is loosening. Simple, clean lines continue to show strength on the runway and in the stores, but puce, taupe, and black are yielding to bright, colorful collections, like the stunner debut from bucket bag queens Mansur Gavriel. Streetwear is another (thankfully) dying trend, with a scaled-back (and absolutely mystifying) show from Public School, though Shayne Oliver of Hood By Air fame has taken the helm at Helmut Lang and has reinvigorated that brand with his signature unisex fetish-inspired style.
In some circles, New York Fashion Week, for being hosted by the heart of the fashion publishing business, is on life support. Even with all of its problems and less-than-prestigious shows, NYFW is more on our radar than ever, finally setting a higher bar for the next three fashion weeks to come.