This Week's Wow: Things Are "Getting Serious" in the Crossover Between Men's Wear and Women's Wear

Photo: David X Prutting/BFAnyc/Sipa USA

In this weekly feature, InStyle’s Fashion News Director Eric Wilson shares his favorite fashion moment of the week, and explains how it could shape styles to come. Look for it on What’s Right Now every Friday.

The Moment: Tomoko Ogura, the senior fashion director of Barneys New York, raised a glass to the two young New York designers of the label Public School over dinner at the Lion on Wednesday night, recounting how she began to court them for the women’s department of the store. Over the last few years, the designers, Dao-Yi Chow and Maxwell Osborne, have won every major industry prize for their sleek-street men’s wear collection and have been embraced with a big smooch by the Council of Fashion Designers of America. So when Ogura approached the Barneys men’s wear buyer to ask if they might be interested in creating a women’s collection, the response was not wholly unexpected: Save them for me!

Of course, some things are too good not to share. So as a sort of pre-Fashion Week kickoff, New York saw two big dinners in honor of men’s wear designers who are making the crossover to women’s wear. On Tuesday, the night before the Public School dinner hosted by Barneys, there was a dinner in a private event space in the Meatpacking District for the Belgian designer Tim Coppens, hosted by M.A.C and John Demsey. For Coppens, it was a healthy menu that started with stacked root vegetables, and a guest appearance by the singer Common. For Public School, heartier fare included crispy artichokes and fries that were curiously hollow inside, and a guest appearance by Maxwell.

Why It’s a Wow: As we noted last month, the men’s wear industry is in the midst of a fashion renaissance, so it makes sense that some would cross over. Both Coppens and Public School have been slowly introducing women’s looks on their runways, but now, as Coppens says, “Things are getting more serious.”

As a sort of preview of their fall collections, for the shows beginning next week, they each invited a few models to their dinners to give us a glimpse. At Coppens, the looks were casual cool. Alanna Zimmer, with her hair slicked back as if just off the runway, wore a sweatshirt that appeared to be made of a techno mesh (pictured, below right), and Jacquelyn Jablonski arrived in a sporty black and gray ensemble with leather and zipper accents (pictured, below left). At Public School, they were red-carpet ready. Grace Mahary wore a low-cut black jumpsuit (pictured, top), and Martha Hunt was in a navy dress with a glimpse of bare midriff. Let’s see what comes next.

Matteo Prandoni/BFAnyc/Sipa USA (2)

Learn More: Check out the color and prints from the women’s wear introduced in Public School’s multi-award-winning spring collection, and get excited for more men’s designers testing the waters of women’s wear. It’s not just these two who are expanding their gender demographics, as the recent men’s shows in Europe more than demonstrated.

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