New York Fashion Week kicked off last Tuesday, Sept. 5 and ran through this past Saturday with a whirlwind of colors, models, and energy. Since many of the more popular designers opted to show their Spring 2018 collections in Paris, the stage was set for a new generation of emerging designers to stand under the spotlight.
Take Eckhaus Latta, the duo Mike Eckhaus and Zoe Latta who met at RISD in 2012 known for unconventional casting and challenging norms. The brand showed its collection at an industrial studio in Bushwick. Eckhaus played with silhouettes that turned fashion conventions on their heads: a men’s button down that was cut at the navel and tailored tight to the waist, slits and windows for skin to peek through, and even a model who was eight months pregnant.
Vaquera, a notoriously anti-fashion label founded in reaction to the industry’s lack of diversity, used its show to mix humor and politics. At the Ukranian National Home in New York, it showed quirky pieces ranging from an open-knit sweater stitched with a skeleton and the words “F*** Death!” to a dress constructed entirely out of vanity credit cards.
Though designer vacancies allowed NYFW to usher in younger designers, the week was not without the iconic brands that have defined the industry for the past few decades. Tom Ford returned from a long NYFW hiatus to open the week with a show at the Park Avenue Armory, transforming it into a slick lounge complete with mood lighting and waiters after the show. The collection was filled with 90s-inspired pieces with crystal embellishments, power-shoulder suits, and body-hugging evening gowns. One of the hottest pieces from the show was a leg-baring, lightweight, shimmering, turtleneck dress with gold flames emerging from the hem. Colors like cobalt and yellow dominated this season’s show, and the main accessory was undoubtedly sequins. Celebrities from the likes of Kim Kardashian and Cindy Crawford to Chaka Khan stepped out for the spectacle, all dressed for the mood in latex, sparkles, and a personalized fan, respectively.
The Armory also played host to Rihanna’s Fenty x Puma show, which opened last Sunday night with a daredevil stuntman performance. The show seemed inspired by the X Games, filled with BMX bikers jumping and doing tricks over a pink sand runway, where models sported get-ups with motocross and surfing aesthetics. Bright colors and unique silhouettes (think biker shorts, scuba onesies, and French-cut swimsuits) were common themes. The footwear was up to Rihanna’s usual superb standards: chunky boots, mules set on thick Perspex heels, and stiletto sandals tied with surf-style ankle straps. Joan Smalls and Adriana Lima were among the cast of models to walk the show, and musicians ranging from Cardi B to Big Sean were present to appreciate the pop-queen-turned-fashion-mogul’s show.
On Saturday night, Alexander Wang turned his Bushwick show into a party, complete with a jumpy castle and an artist lineup that included Vince Staples, A$AP Ferg, and Ja Rule. Picture this: a dead-end street in Brooklyn, mobbed with people all wearing the signature Wang black, in front of a giant #WangFest tour bus. Models exited the bus and strutted onto the runway wearing party girl dresses, camisoles, and ripped jeans, along with some Adidas pieces from Wang’s collaboration. Some of his models, which included it-girls Kendall Jenner and Bella Hadid, wore black feathered party hats with slogans like “Wangover” and “Party Animal” to complement the party vibe.
In a recap by Vogue editor-in-chief Anna Wintour, the fashion icon noted the tremendous amounts of joy in the shows, not to mention an abundance of pastels in the Spring collections. Wintour admired the various show locations, which ranged from Ralph Lauren’s sleek garage runway in Bedford to Michael Kors’ boardwalk catwalk at Spring Street Studios. Wintour recounted, “[Designers are] inviting us into their world and making the fashion show so much more of an experience than it has been.”
One exciting development that came with this year’s slew of shows was the diversity of the models, which took steps towards representing a more complete spectrum of beauty than the fashion world has ever explored. While supermodels like Kendall Jenner and Gigi Hadid were regulars in most shows, new faces portrayed different ages, sizes, and genders all over the catwalk like never before. Ashley Graham walked Michael Kors, Winnie Harlow represented Marc Jacobs’ brand, and Jordyn Woods modeled at Chromat.
But perhaps the most progressive face of New York Fashion Week 2017 was that of model Teddy Quinlivan, who came out as transgender in the midst of the week’s shows, between walking for Coach, Oscar de la Renta, and Tory Burch. On Wednesday, she shared her identity in an exclusive interview with CNN and simultaneously released a video on her Instagram page. In the video, which includes a voice-over from Quinlivan’s mother offering advice about her identity, the model opens up about feeling displaced during childhood. At a time when issues surrounding gender have become dramatically politicized, Quinlivan has stepped into the role of advocate, telling CNN, “If being transgender is something that gets attached to my name throughout my career, then it’s for a worthy cause. But I look forward to the day when it doesn’t matter.”
For all the beautiful clothes and looks shown over the past week, the fashion world transcended visual beauty throughout the week through inclusivity and faith in individuality. Now onto London!
Caroline Colbert can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.