“It pays to be a boss lady when designing boss-lady clothes,” wrote Nicole Phelps yesterday. The Director of Vogue Runway was describing designer Gabriela Hearst and her success in connecting with women because, at the risk of stating the obvious, she is a woman. With an executive realness that shines through her collections, the Uruguayan-born New York-based creative’s work is the perfect antidote to the era’s current obsession with fakeness. And it is this ability to capture the zeitgeist that has always been behind fashion’s most poignant collections.
In a show season that seemingly started on the back foot, with Proenza Schouler, Rodarte and Altuzarra among the established New York names decamping to Paris, and with Alexander Wang announcing that this would be his last February show, brands from across the design spectrum, Hearst included, succeeded in delighting and surprising audiences. And here we profile the collections ranked in the top ten, according to Vogue…
For his third runway show for Calvin Klein, Raf Simons cleverly combined conceptual fashion pieces, which alluded to themes of protection and survival, with a story of hope. Inspired by the 1995 film Safe, firemen’s jackets and hazmat boots were reimagined for the runway, providing a stark contrast against the quiet beauty of patch-worked chiffon gowns and pastel plaid dresses. But for many it was the venue that stole the show, the American Stock Exchange transformed into a “hallucinatory prairie-apocalypse set” decorated with Andy Warhol photographs and Sterling Ruby sculptures with a popcorn-covered floor.
Designers Mike Eckhaus and Zoe Latta have built their reputation, and a loyal fan base, on the back of their boxy, industrial silhouettes, but this season the duo showed their softer side. Show-goers were treated to a range of knit dresses, slinky jersey eveningwear and cozy patchwork sweaters, as well as more of their trademark jeans.
Inspired by photographs of 19th-century female coal miners and women factory workers from World Wars I and II, Gabriela Hearst’s autumn/winter collection saw utilitarian touches infuse her trademark luxe-sportswear. Bag-free dressing was made possible by pockets that circled the hem of a camel peacoat and tool belts with removable pouches. And it’s this efficient sense of chic that endears the designer to her customers, as well as her fondness for ultra-fine materials, embodied by the cobalt mohair cashmere coat that closed the show.
Returning to New York from Paris this season, Rio Uribe’s show for Gypsy Sport, a brand that celebrates inclusion, diversity and acceptance, was among the most highly anticipated. Trading his usually colorful palette for a black and white collection - “We’re in a polarizing moment where everything is black or white,” he said backstage - the designer combined his familiar DIY aesthetic with some deft tailoring, shown on an array of models who made a clear statement in support of personal expression and body positivity.
In an ode to 80s couture, Mark Jacobs closed New York Fashion Week with a statement-making show that had everyone talking. Inspired by the work of Montana, Mugler, Ungaro and Saint Laurent, the designer took the era’s trademark silhouettes, such as the bold shoulders and baggy pleated trousers, and supersized them, sending models down the Park Avenue Armoury runway in exaggerated shapes and dense shades that played to his risk-taker reputation.
Michael Kors Collection
“A love letter to individual style,” was how Michael Kors described his latest collection. And acknowledging that the days of designer diktats are finally over, the designer presented a feel-good collection with an inclusive mix-and-match theme, mirrored by the model casting and sampled soundtrack.
Mixing activism with fashion is something that has been a longstanding feature of Kerby Jean-Raymond’s work, and this season the Brooklyn-born designer used music to convey a message, assembling a gospel choir to sing uplifting anthems of black empowerment. And the collection itself was inspired by the black cowboys of the 19th century, which saw patchwork leather jackets, suiting finished with a zigzag pattern of contrast stitching and baggy chap-like pants imbued with a Western influence.
Winner of the CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund last November, Telfar Clemens traded the traditional runway for a musical performance this season, presenting his new collection on a group of singers and musicians who staged a mini rock concert. Known for its inclusive and genderless designs, the fund award has enabled the brand to include more quality fabrics and focus on fully realized looks. “It’s our tightest, most detailed collection yet,” the designer explained, the destiny of which will be determined by its customers, who will be able to vote through social media for the pieces they want to see put in to production.
“Modern elegance perfected,” is how Vogue’s Nicole Phelps described the Olsen twins’ latest collection. Showcased at the brand’s downtown studio, models weaved their way through a collection of Isamu Noguchi sculptures, the simple, organic shapes providing a fitting backdrop to the artfully-constructed clothes. Craftsmanship was clearly in evidence, not least in the form of a pleated dress that had taken hours of work to perfect, and which added a sharpness to the duo’s signature draping, a contrast that was also provided by sectional shoulder bags and pointed-toe stiletto boots. With a continuing commitment to the longevity of personal style versus the disposability of trends, The Row not only ensures the continued support of its loyal customer base, but speaks to fashion’s current and some may say long overdue focus on its global responsibilities.
Known for their DIY ‘mix-and-match’ aesthetic, Vaquera’s Patric DiCaprio, David Moses, Bryn Taubensee and Claire Sully didn’t disappoint this season. The CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund finalists explored the issues of doubt and faith for autumn/winter, which saw religious iconography combined with gambling references to produce an ambitious and witty collection. And in collaboration with American Apparel, white polo dresses featuring portraits of the foursome’s design heroes - Vivienne Westwood, Miguel Androver, André Walker and Martin Margiela – also peppered the runway.