Eric Wilson's Front-Row Diary

Public School's Dao-Yi Chow and Maxwell Osborne Make Their Debut for DKNY at #NYFW

Public School's Dao-Yi Chow and Maxwell Osborne Make Their Debut for DKNY at #NYFW
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Eric Wilson is InStyle's fashion news director. For more real-time fashion week insights, follow him on Twitter and Instagram.

Pinstripes. They are the symbol of corporate America, of men’s suits, of Wall Street bankers, and, to a lesser degree, of DKNY. And it was with pinstripes that Dao-Yi Chow and Maxwell Osborne, the designing duo behind the critically acclaimed label Public School, started, and finished, their first collection as the new creative directors of DKNY. The handover of Donna Karan’s younger, cooler, New York City-centric DKNY label was the most anticipated moment of fashion week, staged in the West Gallery of the Westfield World Trade Center, essentially in a subway station.

It was the perfect setting for a collection that speaks to everything about life in New York City, surrounded by real people on their way to work.

But the question that always comes to mind at a moment of transition like this is simple: Will customers want to buy it?

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Chow and Osborne, winners of multiple industry prizes, have an enormous amount of credibility in the regard of name recognition, which helps create desire. And their collection included some pieces that certainly have commercial appeal: pleated skirts and jackets, a traditionally tailored suit jacket, shirtdresses printed with black-and-white city scenes, and unconventionally mixed-up suiting that had been sliced and diced into pinstripe collages. The dress I liked most was a gray pinstripe tank dress with a hem of white shirting (pictured, above), the most feminine take on the traditional man’s suit in the collection (with the caveat that this isn’t really a new idea, as a bygone cool designer like Miguel Adrover would undoubtedly point out).

Chow and Osborne were the ideal candidates for the job. Karan, who was on hand for the show, described them to me recently as “adorable,” noting that DKNY had even approached them about a possible collaboration not long before they became the creative directors. But it will take some time, about six months at least, until these looks are in store, to know the answer the question. Will customers want to buy it?

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It’s the same question I had in mind at Proenza Schouler tonight. The designers Lazaro Hernandez and Jack McCollough are making fiercely creative work with an impressive connection to art history, but their clothes are undoubtedly becoming more and more challenging as they mature, dresses with portholes, with patchwork fabric applications like a spotted cow, a metallic beaded skirt, a dress with a lattice work of shaved feathers. But this season, with a slight Spanish tinge, there were also more broadly appealing pieces, namely the white cotton dresses with a random eyelet pattern, that, in retail parlance, have legs (pictured below, left).

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I know the answer to the same question at Michael Kors, who now addresses his runway collection as Michael Kors Collection. The answer is yes. No designer designs with the shopping customer in mind more beautifully than Kors, this season with romantic peasant dresses and blouses, and smart khaki pieces covered with floral applications (pictured above, middle). I’d buy that.

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You might expect to find pinstripes at Jason Wu’s Boss collection, but he’s mastered a new look for the house that pays homage not to men’s wear, but precision. There’s a strong influence of Bauhaus in every collection, especially this season in the bright colors peppered within the slick pale gray, white, and black palette (pictured above, right). It was his sharpest Boss show yet.

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