Here are some collections that I deem to be excellent, and a couple that I found to be quite a letdown, from the first four days of New York Fashion Week.
Wednesday, September 9
VFiles has been influential in retailing exciting young designers. There have been numerous cases of it carrying brands that I personally would never have heard of otherwise. This year, the retailer featured five young new designers, each offering an entirely different design aesthetic: the Beijing born newly graduated Feng Chen Wang, the London-Based David Ferreira, Design duo Namilia, Japanese Central Saint Martins and Parson-educated Kozabura Akasaka, and New York-based trio Moses Gauntlett Cheng.
Wang’s collection was birthed from her experience learning of her father’s cancer diagnosis. She sought to find the beauty in the ugliness of the deterioration of the human being, and the designs in her section of show recall the strength found within human organs.
Of the five designers, it feels as if Akasaka might be the big seller out of all of them. He has a knack for menswear and womenswear, and though his silhouettes are avant-garde, they also have a real slickness to them. His Japanese heritage is a huge part of the collection, as if filtering his Yohji influences into his country’s obsession with high quality denim.
Moses Gauntlett Cheng is the hometown favorites. I actually met 1/3 of the trio at that Alexandra Marzella performance that I wrote about here, but had no idea that I was speaking to a talented new fashion designer. In any case, the trio fearlessly plays with gender in a manner that is not played out, and is neither masculine nor feminine.
Creatures of the Wind
The idea that the most stylish ladies out there wear a little bit of everything to accentuate their own uniqueness is firmly implanted in the design aesthetic of Creatures of the Wind’s design duo Christopher Peters and Shane Gabier. The brand’s SS 2016 collection felt like a lineup of different cool girls throwing together various COTW pieces to meet their respective moods. There were a few motifs that showed up throughout the collection in a variety of different styles; blue floral prints, studded black satin, army jackets, and more. Gabier and Peters don’t seem interested in creating a tribe, instead they offer beautifully made garments that any fashion conscious girl could make work for her. The brand’s identity feels inclusive and refreshing.
Adam Selman’s approach to high fashion feels simultaneously kitschy AND subversive, a description that may have been bestowed upon a young Jeremy Scott all those seasons ago. I don’t mean to compare the two designers, as it would be unfair to label Selman anything akin to derivative. He’s a monumental talent, and his work is everything that is great about a New York designer: unstuffy, loosely conceptual, and wearable.
His inspiration for this SS ‘16 collection was Taylor Camp, a ‘60s and ‘70s nudist colony established outside the beachfront property of Howard Taylor (brother of Elizabeth). In that, the clothes read like the garments that a nudist lady might wear in the situations that they were forced to put clothes on. Much of the collection is all black and all white, with some of the pieces featuring some well-placed sun-soaked prints. The collection was also influenced by American designer Todd Oldham, who’s own unpretentious approach from fashion to design makes him something of a Selman spiritual forebear.
One of the few shows that I was allowed access to was Giulieta, which is traditionally elegant, but in a good way. Designer Sofia Sizzi used a futuristic vision of tennis as her springboard. The collection begs the question, “What will hautey rich country club gals be dressed like when we’ve colonized Mars?” A soft and cerebral beauty permeated the collection.
Easily the biggest show of this year’s NYFW calendar: Kanye, Kim, Julia Roberts, Debbie Harry, Liv Tyler and more all came out to see Ricardo Tisci debut a new Givenchy collection for the first time ever in New York. The whole thing did feel very much like a gift to New York, an ode to its majesty on the day commemorating its tragedy, even if it was covert marketing for the new Givenchy store. The event was held outside the pier in Tribeca and art directed by Marina Abramovic. Tisci hardly needs to add more beauty to his shows, his clothes do the trick, but Abramovic’s inclusion of women climbing ladders, Serbian folk singers, cellists, grand pianos and even fucking llamas all made for the darkly surrealist glamour that has rightfully placed Tisci as one of the world’s leading fashion designers.
Between this show, and his recent SS 2016 menswear show in Paris, it feels like Tisci might be more on top of his game than he ever has been. Women draped in black and white satin with razor sharp tailoring lent gothic class to the eerie environment. Some have issues with men’s looks in women’s shows, but with Tisci it always feels right. The men’s look complimented the women’s, and the jet black suiting made me want to grow up, start pulling in $500K a year, and alter my wardrobe to rightfully take my place amongst the illuminati.
Saturday, September 12
Scott Studenberg and John Targon entered the “loose luxury” trade in 2012 with their brand Baja East, and their SS 2016 collection was their best to date. This show took cues from ‘90s rave, and strobe light-akin shades of red, blue, and green were featured on ultra soft tunics and dresses. Men walked in the show too, but Studenberg and Targon are aware that their business is coming from women. It’s hard to imagine most men, especially other boring straight ones, getting in to clothes like this. But it’s a nice sentiment.
While other designers might be crushed after getting shit-canned from a brand like Balenciaga, the brand Alexander Wang is so beloved amongst its tribe that it may have even helped the designer. After all, Alexander Wang has always been more a high street than a high fashion brand, with Lykke Li saying it best, “His clothes seem made for that girl that you see and can’t help but notice how cool her shoes are, or how cool her jacket is.”
Alexander Wang has always been for confident casual New York cool types. That vibe felt on-point from the first look of a tank top and wide striped trousers. Wang also applied cool details like black fringe to cool girl staples like army jackets. The men’s looks, the first ever in an Alexander Wang show, were great too, particularly a long plaid shirt jacket with neoprene front pockets. The show ended with a video collage of the many successes of Alexander these last 10 years; let’s hope for many more.
Adam Lehrer is a writer, journalist, and art and fashion critic based in New York City. On top of being Autre’s fashion and art correspondent, he is also a regular contributor to Forbes Magazine. His unique interests in punk, hip hop, skateboarding and subculture have given him a distinctive, discerning eye and voice in the world of culture, et al. Oh, and he also loves The Sopranos. Follow him on Instagram: @adam102287
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