Here are two examples of what life is like at New York Fashion Week in 2015 that would have seemed unimaginable in 2005, when a young Parsons dropout named Alexander Wang decided to start a fashion business with his name on the door.
One: On an enormous pier complex on the Hudson River, where Wang has been showing his collections on and off for the last decade, with increasingly elaborate productions before increasingly elaborate audiences, a young woman sitting in the second row with her cell phone raised to take pictures on Saturday night was taking them not of the collection, but of herself. Lady Gaga walked by, as did The Weeknd, trailed by dozens of paparazzi. But said young woman only had eyes for herself, taking picture after picture of herself. It’s weird.
Two: Have you ever wondered what it would be like to listen to the latest Miguel album while Miguel is sitting right behind you? It’s weird.
As the spring collections get underway, I am reminded that fashion week has changed so profoundly and so quickly during the Wang era – we celebrated his first decade in business Saturday night – that virtually everything we thought back then about clothing, designers, runway shows, models, supermodels, music, communication, media, social media, consumerism, aging, celebrity, narcissism, success, happiness, access, and, well, fashion in general, was wrong. And we have to accept that to understand that the new world is not so scary, or weird, as it might seem.
Alexander Wang certainly understood the changing nature of fashion before anyone else, and it is for this reason that his clothes look so interesting when they are amplified by music with a heavy bass and a video projection that pretty much blew the minds of anyone in proximity to his anniversary collection. For women: oversized T-shirts, crop tops, white hoodies, skintight sweaters, pajama tops, denim-leather hybrid jackets, basketball-hoop weave shirts, army surplus skirts, preppy-sporty sweaters, lingerie dresses. For men: more oversized T-shirts, and buffalo plaid tops and logo polos in big proportions. The pictures do not do the clothes justice, as they require deafening music, and the energy that Wang infuses into his shows, but you can still see that they are made with great care, educated and informed by his recent and soon-to-end experience at Balenciaga.
His show was the second major moment of what promises to be a stellar New York season, one with many more outbursts of great fashion, and ripples of quiet fashion, from its new establishment players. Joseph Altuzarra’s collection was big on buttons, but subtle in presentation, which was a smart move from one of the most compelling faces representing the city’s future. Drawing on his Basque roots, Altuzarra created almost rustic looking jackets, in raw linens and cottons, decorated with tiny shell buttons, and he favored a pale, spicy palette. Many of his looks were exaggerated takes on shirtdresses, with the buttons now spiraling around the body, many of them undone rather suggestively, but there were so many strong and simple combinations, like a light white dress or a jumpsuit with fisherman’s toggle details along the front.
As for the Miguel moment, that happened at the collection of Baja East designers Scott Studenberg and John Targon, who have created a freeform version of luxury fashion that is simply infectious in its raw energy. Wild hippie knits and fleece ponchos worn by models with shaggy wigs (inspired, incongruously, by the 1990s German rave scene) were just the sort of thing to send the audience on a trip. Miguel seemed to enjoy it very much.