Why This NYFW Is Different

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The lesson of today’s Fashion Week report is the importance of a change in perspective. Based on all the usual bickering and complaining I’ve been hearing over the past few days, as editors have been subjected to numerous runway shows held outdoors in the rain, I’d say let’s take a moment and consider things in a new light. Perhaps the rain is a good thing. At least the crowds of influencer-wannabes and looky-loos have died down.

After several seasons in Paris, the sisters Kate and Laura Mulleavy showed their Rodarte collection back in New York on Sunday in an East Village cemetery where the guests were handed clear plastic umbrellas and left to wait under the interminably leaking skies. Once the show began, the models stomped around in the grass, their vivid tulle dresses holding up remarkably well despite being soaked. As uncomfortable as it was to sit there watching, wondering how the season will hold up with pneumonia, it was also impossible not to fall under the Rodarte spell. Every dress cast its own charm: romantic, nostalgic, sensual, or kind of wistful and sad — the latter emotion cued, to this observer at least, by a crystal-trimmed white dress with the bodice of an ice-skater’s costume, slashed with a deep, asymmetric neckline. Rain was the perfect accompaniment to the sounds of Chet Baker on soundtrack, singing, “I Get Along Without You Very Well.” I’m not sure I would have liked the clothes half as much had the sun been shining.

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It’s also interesting that Prabal Gurung and the designers of Monse, Fernando Garcia and Laura Kim, are looking at their respective collections from a different angle this season, specifically by showing many of their looks on men. Neither Gurung nor the team of Garcia and Kim seemed entirely ready to commit to creating what you might traditionally call a men’s wear line, as most of the clothes veered toward genderless separates — or at least toward designs catering to particularly daring men who like their jackets sleeveless and lemon colored (Gurung) or their rugby shirts twisted to so that the placket ends up roughly where the armpit should be (Monse). It’s a different look, shall we say.

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Perhaps the best new perspective on a signature look came on Monday morning from Wes Gordon, who had his first big runway show for Carolina Herrera. Gordon’s collection started sporty and light, with retro-looking flower appliques on skirts and homespun crochet tops.

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Lots of graphic dots and vivid floral prints on scarf-like silks (virtually vulgar colors are an early trend of New York) seemed to hit the get-happy, be-strong message Gordon was selling in his pre-show interviews just right. Gordon said he was looking at some of his favorite photographs of Herrera from the late 1970s, when she was starting her company, a moment he selected because it reflected “a woman’s life when she feels her most empowered.” It would certainly take a woman of great strength to pull off some of these outfits outside the confines of Fashion Week or an Instagram feed, but, as we all know, following Carolina Herrera’s example is never a bad place to start an adventure.

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