Alexander Wang and Victoria Beckham Make a Strong Case for Suits, Others Make Political Statements
So I was reading a report in The Atlantic this week that said nearly a third of American workers are feeling less productive since the election. This may help explain why I spent most of Saturday fretting over whether or not to go to the Alexander Wang show in Hamilton Heights. I figured since it was not seated, I could probably get away with skipping and no one would be the wiser. Besides, Wang’s millennial savvy is not usually my thing. But finally, FOMO got the better of me and I put some pants on. Thank goodness.
What a smart move it turned out to be for Wang to go so far afield from the fashion crowd, who flocked uptown to find his show in a dilapidated theater that looked as if it were about to crumble under the vibration of the bass. But the vibe was right, and the whole thing had the appeal of a bleary-eyed rave, or at least it did after a couple of beers. I ran into Ansel Elgort, who said it was the best party of the week, even though it wasn’t really a party. The invitation said so. “No After-Party.”
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But it did feel like one, and the energy of Wang’s fast-moving collection felt right and even motivating. He managed to capture the suiting trend of the fall season in a way that will be more accessible and relatable to a young audience, showing big double-breasted blazers, in black or English checks, with large silver buttons, worn over tights. There were some lacy slip dresses and punk details, but the big, boxy, man-tailored suit jacket is shaping up to be the most potent look of the fall season, owing a great debt, of course, to Louis Vuitton’s Nicolas Ghesquière, who revived fashion’s interest in suiting for spring.
Victoria Beckham showed some of the best reasons yet to wear a suit again. Her jackets came with billowing loose trousers or gauzy skirts and were cleverly constructed with a belt detail that held one side open. Some were layered with big silk scarves or slouchy sweaters, lending a touch of femininity and ease to tailoring and colors that were borrowed from men’s wear. It looked quite comfortable, but dressy enough to hold a confident pose, without being stuffy.
Elsewhere in fashion, there’s a big push for Lurex and tinsel sparkle, which may not be for everyone, but it sure brightens up the shows on a rainy day. At Sies Marjan, designer Sander Lak continues to pick up momentum with unusual ice-cream color combinations (one color he named Barbie), with a little bit of intentional tackiness. Some of his looks might have been ripped from the Broadway costume departments of Hello, Dolly! or Sunset Boulevard. But many pieces were exceptional, like a camel coat with a fringed front or a dusty pink dress made of light layers, a T-shirt over a tunic. Lak has a kindred spirit in Jonathan Saunders, the new designer at Diane von Furstenberg, who has long been known for his color combinations. If a neon orange fur over a black dress doesn’t float your boat, how about a blue fur coat over a leopard-print dress?
Not surprisingly, several designers, rather than being unproductive, have used their runways to make political statements. At Public School, there were red ball caps that said Make America New York, which is a lofty goal indeed. Several designers are wearing white bandanas as part of a Business of Fashion initiative to promote inclusiveness and acceptance of all people. There are pink Planned Parenthood buttons on just about everything. But perhaps the most poignant statement yet came from Prabal Gurung on Sunday night. At the end of his show (which included some amazing crystal dresses and mind-boggling knits, by the way), each model walked the finale wearing statement T-shirts that promoted feminism, starting with Bella Hadid wearing one that said, “The Future Is Female,” and ending with Gurung wearing one that said, “This Is What a Feminist Looks Like.”