It’s taken awhile but we’re entering a new age in fashion focused on modernism, architecture and sadly climate change. I talked to one creative director who pondered the almost ubiquitous looks strutting down fall’s runway of vests, bare arms and shortish skirts. After many seasons the spikes and armor are falling off and leaving behind maroon, burgundy and sometimes crimson in their wake – a fashion scab. Gold and red, are becoming the combined colors of the moment.
Shiny things, from bow ties and breastplates, are not just for the Blonds anymore. Marlon Gobel, sponsored by Swarovski did just that. Having handprints on your outfit might be a great way of flirting (DVF & Rodarte), but at any moment I expect Vidal Sassoon to rise to prominence and give us the five-pointed cut. Will a new version of The Factory begin and who’ll be our next Andy Warhol? Luxury is yawning ever so gracefully; trying to make it’s way back into a recognizable statement to differentiate the classes. Appliqué prints made to look like your grandmother’s couch are out.
Architecture has arrived from Number:Lab to Peter Som, Helmut Lang and Donna Karan to name just a few. The designs are linier asymmetrical, colorful and splotchy – we might all start to look like Frank Gehry buildings.
I was in Allan & Suzi’s shop in SoHo, strangely obsessed with their fashion library and the many important dresses for sale or rent. One stuck out, a white bondage dress with red trim from Jean Paul Gaultier’s Fall 2009 collection (style.com link). I feel like I’ve seen the same concept in many collections recently. Are we going back to 2009? Before the world stood still, are we simply trying to wash the past few years away?
In New York, we’re not seeing a lot of original design, unless you go to the playful antics of Lindsay Degen and fashion’s underground. In fact, there’s been so much unoriginality the New York Times professed this “An American Crisis of Identity”.
China seemed to be on everyone’s mind. I talked to a paper manufacturer based in the Midwest at the Max Azria party who was perplexed by the new generation’s inability to find paid work. He struggles with all the same issues everyone else does, but he’s still in business because he provides a high-end product, while the rest of his competitive set has folded.
With Target, K-Mart and H&M surviving on the licensing “Kool-Aid “of emerging designers and talent that can afford a splashy runway, there’s an even lower price point emerging in the fast fashion wars. Joe Fresh and brands in that market tier are ensuring customers never have to pay more then $100 a garment and never more then $19 a t-shirt, so the innovation that happens in the top of the market no longer occurs in America. A split has happened, the surreal axe of credit-swap-derivatives has created a very definitive wedge between the classes.
Yet we’re marching forward – even as we see the pop-up parties and supper clubs evaporate, replaced by big restaurants and actual nightclubs. Yet my hopes that the past three years would lead to a march in “new” have not occurred. We’ve simply twisted and shaped ideas of the East.
This is not fashion. This is not America. Innovation used to start here. But as Gary Wassner pointed, while on our way to a show “every pendulum always swings back”. It’s just a question of time.