Sunday, 14 February 2010

New York Fashion Week Update: Everything Old is Old Again

I have to say that being in Italy has made me really appreciate New York fashion so much more. Italian fashion seems, at least to me, almost vulgar--it's very playful, which is a nice change from sober New York, but at the same time it's more about flash--fur, shiny leather, intricate knits that verge on ugly and deformed--then about looking elegant or classy. I still can't decide whether or not that's a good thing.

This Fashion Week proudly shows what makes New York so special: lots of designers are presenting a strong, studiously casual woman. She can wear a blazer to a bar or to a boardroom meeting and always look chic without the fuss of Paris or the noise of Milan. Many designers are continuing familiar silhouettes--big shoulders, harem pants, pleated pants (why???), sequined minis. We're also going to see some trends that are already big in Italy: chunky knits layered over turtlenecks and wide-legged pants. It's also becoming pretty apparent that the staid optimism and subdued femininity of this spring will be gone by September. (Sigh.) Instead, lots of designers are showing a woman who is tough but vulnerable. Perhaps subconsciously following their 16th century peers, who were similarly living in a time of great upheaval, many designers have used slashing to express social upheaval. Altuzarra, for example, presented neo-Goth clothes. Much of the collection looked like it was Frankensteined together or were otherwise slashed. Even the ankles were exposed.


Alexander Wang took the power suit and tore it to shreds. His woman had powerful shoulders but bared some of the most vulnerable parts of her body.
Alexander Wang

There's more than one way to show vulnerability. Prabal Gurung's collection had some admirable color-blocking. The forms were large and powerful, but ultimately ellusive. For example, this coat was white in the front and black in back--the wearer presents two faces to the world.

Prabal Gurung

Another emerging trend from New York Fashion Week is the use, or appearance of the use, of found objects. Unlike the past few seasons, when designers lazily copied stuff from the 80s  were inspired by vintage, designers really are being inspired by old, grungy things. Both Altuzarra and Alexander Wang incorporated velvet into their shows, and most designers this season have used textured wool, leather, fox fur, and, on a few occasions, faded-looking prints. This fall will simply be a hodgepodge of materials, as if New York designers raided a Salvation Army and repurposed whatever they could find. Maybe these designers have had the recession on the brain, but if that's true, then they haven't exactly been optimistic.

       Gary Graham                                     Karen Walker 

One of the only collections so far to have any joie de vivre was Peter Som's. Som, an industry favorite, has been struggling since his extremely bitter and unfortunate departure from Bill Blass. This has been his first runway show since his departure from Bill Blass. The theme, apparently, was Woodstock, and not a single surface was left without a print or a texture. Som continued the somber color palette that other designers have been putting out but added some rich jewel tones and some surprise neons into the mix.

Peter Som
Of course, this is only the beginning of Fashion Week. It'll be interesting to see what themes other designers develop. 

All images via Click to enlarge.

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