The Essential Takeaways from NYFW, According to Milk Editor Paul Bui
This season we saw the usual, stunning display from some of New York’s most-loved, veteran designers, as well as heaps of promising looks and ideas from a cohort of young, new talent. But what I noticed most was a shift in consciousness in how these ideas were presented. I delve into some of my favorite moments below.
Mirroring the signs of the times, many designers are no longer limiting their collections to gender. Seasons, yes—if we’re cold we’ll always wear layers, but who says we need to layer up as a boy or a girl? While some may roll their eyes at the proposition, it’s important to understand that it’s not so much a fleeting trend, but really a reflection of how consumers feel. Take for instance, MADE FW shows Gypsy Sport and 69, where body positivity and agender clothing brought about such a joyful energy and spirited sense of community that you couldn’t help but smile and tap your feet. Similarly, Eckhaus Latta sending Michael Bailey-Gates down the runway at PS1 in a skirt and shaggy jacket seemed more organic than shocking. And if you ask me, that can only be a good thing.
The collection that Gave Me Life:
Proenza Schouler’s reimagining of the pantsuit to a triangular effect was done so well, that I really can’t think of any girl who wouldn’t want to dress like that. It would look just as good on Cate Blanchett as it would on Sheryl Sandberg. Tight and constricted on top with oversized lacing, yet brilliantly slouchy below, the clothes were as artful as their surroundings at The Whitney.
Make A Statement:
This is not new information, but more than ever, shows are designed for Instagram. Brands are much more calculated in how they present their collections, conscious of what’s going to garner the most engagement. Whether it’s including a celebrity in your model line up—a la Lady Gaga at Marc Jacobs’ stunning show —or emblazoning your knits with instantly quotable quips—a la Alexander Wang—it’s evident that making a statement on social media has become a barometer for success. My favorite example of how this was employed was the Pyer Moss show. Styled by Erykah Badu (who really did style the show), the images made rounds on social media, but the message was loud, clear, and presented elegantly. A model carrying a sign paid tribute to a recently deceased Black Lives Matter activist, while police-style caps featured makeshift pins with names of various illegal drugs, addressing themes of depression. It was simultaneously witty yet powerful.
It’s in The Details:
Dion Lee’s tough but feminine collection heralded a new direction for the Australian designer. Known for his clever use of fabrication, this season Lee employed aperture pleating, baked sequins, and suspended Swarovski crystals. By description, it may sound like Liberace’s wet dream, but in reality it was all used for a minimal, utilitarian effect—successfully, mind you. Every girl I spoke to was obsessed with Lee’s pleated skirts, and who wouldn’t be? They had crystals running all the way through them.
A Change is in The Air:
Is the traditional format of runway shows finally on its last legs? Are we witnessing the power shifting from editors to consumers? It was a shift that has been felt the past couple of seasons but really began to solidify in Fall/Winter ‘16. Kanye showing at Madison Square Garden and giving 20,000 consumers the same amount of importance as a front row editor really says something. Not about the clothes specifically, but more about how people want to consume the clothes—instantly, IRL, and apparently in a stadium.
The old hat idea of waiting six months to purchase clothes might also be on its way out, especially when bloggers and editors are wearing looks days later. Consumers are tired of waiting. They’ve become restless. Proenza were smart in making a few looks available for purchase right after their runway show. In a similar vein, Burberry recently announced they were scaling down to two shows, combining men’s and women’s and making everything immediately available for purchase afterwards. This might be the direction we’re all heading towards. Editors have begun to realize that one-on-one appointments are just as effective (even though a designer’s vision isn’t fully realized). So where does that leave the runway show? Will they all be geared towards consumers from now on? In which case, are we all in for a big party? If so, consider this our RSVP.
Happy thoughts that kept me warm when it was 3 degrees outside:
Fashion, sleet, wind. The hours clocked up and the fashion never seemed to end, but to be honest, what really kept me warm were email notifications letting me know that new episodes of the The People Vs OJ Simpson, The X-Files, and How to Get Away with Murder were ready to view. Tonight will be full of that. And then get ready for our London Fashion Week coverage as we keep rolling!
GIF art by Kathryn Chadason.
Stay tuned to Milk for more fashion week coverage.