Tom Ford on Wednesday opened New York Fashion Week in throwback '90s sequin glory, kicking off the spring/summer 2018 season and looking to silence criticism that the bi-annual style fest is losing its mojo.
More than 230,000 people flood America's cultural capital to attend the September and February editions, where hundreds of shows, deals, and parties contribute nearly $900 million a year to the city.
Ford, the 56-year-old, Texan-born, movie-making designer transformed Manhattan's Park Avenue Armory into an intimate, pink runway that hosted A-list guests such as Kim Kardashian, actress Julianne Moore, and 1990s supermodels Cindy Crawford and Helena Christensen.
"I hope it brings in a younger customer," Ford confided to The Business of Fashion website. "It's a bit more modern." "I thought it was really important to have a proper show." Ford sent down the runway models in blush sequin tops, cropped micro hemlines, sharply tailored jackets and body suits with plunging necklines and hip-high cut outs. Colors were neutrals and hot pink.
The show segued immediately into pumping after party to launch his new fragrance "Fucking Fabulous" with buff, shirtless waiters in sports shorts handing out drinks and burgers. Ford told The Business of Fashion it was "a throwback in a way to the spirit" of his collections for Gucci in the 1990s -- the gig that made him famous. His eponymous eyewear, beauty and fashion empire is now reportedly on track to hit retail revenue of nearly 2 billion USD in 2017.
It was a bold start to a fashion week that officially begins Thursday, under a cloud of stellar designers fleeing to Europe, the debate about its relevancy and confusion even about what time of year it is. Raf Simons, the Belgian ex-Christian Dior designer giving Calvin Klein a face lift to rave reviews is the hottest anticipated show with a second collection for the iconic New York house on Thursday.
Otherwise here quick highlights in the offing:
Fall back, spring forward?
Officially it's spring/summer 2018, but Ralph Lauren and a clutch of other labels have switched to "see-now, buy-now" which basically means fall/winter and clothes instantly available for purchase. The drive for reform is the desperation to give the millennial market what they want: instant gratification in a social media world where planning wardrobes six months in advance is an anthema. But to what extent its working is up for debate. Tom Ford, who opted for instant fashion for fall 2017, says it's not and has switched back.
No matter how you dress it up, there's a dearth of household names this season. Proenza Schouler, Rodarte, Altuzarra and Thom Browne have fled to Paris, and instant fashion devotee Tommy Hilfiger to London. Some industry insiders herald a time of change, and a chance for younger labels such as Monse or Sies Marjan to shine. Others point to Europe's bolstered reputation for more avant-garde creativity.
Bigger is beautiful
New York leads the way when it comes to more plus-size models treading the runway, the most famous of whom is size 16 Ashley Graham. It comes after dozens of fashion labels in Paris, including Christian Dior and Saint Laurent, pledged on Wednesday to stop using size zero models following scandals about anorexia and mistreatment.
Headline-grabber Rihanna will showcase her Fenty collection with Puma on Sunday. Rap superstar Kanye West is keeping close wraps on his still mysterious sixth installment for urban sportswear brand Yeezy.
In the sticks
US fashion royalty Ralph Lauren is inviting a paired down guest list to the garage housing his collection of rare automobiles in Bedford, New York, followed by a formal black-and-white dress code dinner. It will be quite a trek -- 40 miles (64 kilometers) north of Manhattan -- as the brand prepares to celebrate its 50th anniversary next year.
US designers have long been up in arms over the Trump presidency. Some refuse to dress his wife and politics peppered the runway in February. The Council of Fashion Designers of America is teaming up with the American Civil Liberties Union to campaign against racism after a deadly demonstration attended by neo-Nazis in Virginia last month.
"We want to be on the front line, not the sidelines, to boldly fight to protect our precious rights and freedoms, which has taken on a renewed urgency," said CFDA president and CEO Steven Kolb. To that end a special blue lapel ribbon is being distributed. (AFP)
Photos: Angela Weiss / AFP