In the game of fashion telephone, by which a rumour gets whispered to someone on the benches, which gets passed on, and so on, we have reached a new level of nuttiness: over the weekend, the New York Post speculated that Donna Karan’s tears as she took her bow at the end of her 30th anniversary show for her main line (left) — which they identified as her DKNY second line — somehow indicated she might be leaving, a rumour that was picked up by British Vogue’s website, and applied only to the second line – which then got picked up and spread by businessoffashion.com, a taken-seriously-by-the-industry website, which gives the whole thing a certain sheen of corporate credibility (it brought it to my attention, anyway). But let us pause for a minute to consider the likelihood of all this.
Not the Bridget Jones variety – rather, the wide-legged, generously slouchy, swish-as-you walk kind. Blame it on the overarching trend of the season: a return to comfort dressing – or a simple fashion reaction to the past few seasons of skin-tight rocker trousers. Either way, for autumn/winter the trousers on the catwalk are, finally, almost entirely on the upped-side. This is good news physically (they can hide a multitude of issues) and emotionally too; they have the comfort factor of a good pair of sweatpants. Whether in double-faced cashmere or malleable leather, they can go from office to sofa with just a change of top. Daniel Cleaver and Mark Darcy would approve.
Much joy and rapture and relief greeted new Mayor Bill de Blasio’s statement to the fashion world at the end of last week that “The fashion industry…is part of how we will build a more unified city and a city where everyone has opportunities,” and the statement by an aide that de Blasio’s wife, Chirlane McCray would “definitely be out and about” at New York Fashion Week. He got it! He knew how important fashion was, as an industry, to the health of the city! He was sending his wife to shows! Except, as far as I can tell, she never – well, showed.
Today may be the day the big names – Marc Jacobs, Ralph Lauren, Calvin Klein – come out to play in New York, but in Paris it’s all about the new ones. The shortlist for the LVMH Young Designer’s Prize, which was launched last November by Delphine Arnault, has just been unveiled, creating much buzzing amid the fashion crowd. It includes most of the hot names in New York and London, many of which have also been finalists for the Vogue Fashion fund competitions in both countries, or the Dorchester prize, or sponsored by Giorgio Armani. And I wonder: is the competition greater among the baby brands vying for the awards, or among the mega brands bestowing them? I tend to think the answer may actually be the latter. I saw her first! No, I did!
I know this is heresy of a sort, but sitting in the opening shows of New York Fashion Week, a thought keeps niggling away at the back of my mind: maybe being marketed by Mrs O (because, let’s face it, when she wears your dress it’s free global marketing on an unprecedented scale), is NOT helpful. Maybe, in fact, it creates expectations some designers are simply not ready to bear. Before you rant and rave, hear me out.
It was probably inevitable after the rise of the multi-thousand-square-foot shoe department (Macy’s: 63,000 square feet; Selfridge’s, 35,000 sq ft). After all, you need something to fill that space. You need stars. And the way star are made, in fashion at least, is during fashion shows. Enter the shoe show. Once a specialty of Milan alone, this season it has gone global. New York fashion week is full of them.
It’s time to call a spade a spade. Or a tulip skirt a skirt. Or something. As New York fashion week kicks off fashion month today (joy! rapture!) I think it’s about time we face up to certain realities of the form that, for whatever reason, we have seemed unwilling to acknowledge in the past. Starting with Fact #1: designers never want to show in a shared venue.
Calling Bill de Blasio: Just in time for fashion week, New York has been crowned “Top Global Fashion Capital” in Digital Language Monitor’s 10th annual survey of most-discussed fashion cities. For a fashion world nervous that post-Bloomberg the City Hall regime might not be quite as friendly to the industry (smacking, as it does, of elitism), this is good news. After all, New York edged out Paris by a mere .005%, while the 2012 and 2011 winner London fell to third place. And there are more surprises!
What’s the point of fashion week – or maybe more pertinently, are we missing it? I was wondering this last week at couture, as I complained about the lack of daywear and subtlety, and got told off by a young stylist, who said, simply, “Isn’t it all about the red carpet?” Maybe so, given that a Valentino dress just showed up on the Grammy red carpet on Katy Perry (left). Which got me to thinking: maybe the reason we complain so much about fashion weeks is because what we (critics, consumers, viewers) think they are for, and what brands and designers think they are for, are no longer the same thing. Reality doesn’t meet our expectations, because reality is trying to meet different expectations. Adjust the expectations, and you may change your reaction too. As the ready-to-wear shows loom (they start in NYC a week from Wednesday) I think maybe it’s time to try to pin this down.
Stage two in the re-invention of Miley Cyrus has begun, thanks to Marc Jacobs and his new ad campaign. After taking a wrecking ball to her Disney image via Terry Richardson and the twerking with Robin Thicke VMA incident, thus rendering her former self unrecognisable, she is now rebuilding. It’s one of fashion’s talents, after all; the Eliza Doolittle story writ lux. Will it work in this case? Betcha yes. Indeed, the entirely canny one-two-punch of Richardson/Jacobs to recreate Miley seems like strategy at the highest level. I don’t think this all happened by accident.