- Where: Bohemian National Hall – 321 E 73rd St NYC
- When: February 5th, Wednesday
- Time: 9 AM to 5:30 PM (Panel Talks/ Networking)
- 5:30 PM to 7:30 PM (VIP Cocktail Reception)
Fashion Is to Love
Fashion Is to Love
Isaac Newton were alive today, he might have come up with a fourth law of motion just to deal with fashion trends, which seem to defy all existing rules by moving forwards and backwards at the same time. Fashion is supposed to take us into the future, but wait long enough and yesterday’s trends will come back eventually, some returning faster than others.
In 2017, for example, we’re seeing the return of Paco Rabanne’s signature metallic chain-metal dresses, which first walked the runways in the 1960s, and were “in” again in the early-aughts during Paris Hilton’s heyday. Now, they can be found in Paris nightclubs on twentysomethings like Bella Hadid. To boot, white go-go boots are back as well—a trend that similarly took off in the ’60s along with Space Age style, starting with André Courrèges and was later recycled during the Studio 54 era. Now, they’re back with the help of brands like Balenciaga. (And Hadid too, of course.)
As with the constellations, drawing lines between reoccurring trends can help make sense of where we come from, how we ended up here, and where we might be headed. And fittingly, all roads lead to outer space at the moment, from Chanel’s rocket launch on the runway to Christopher Kane’s cosmic prints.
IMAGES VIA VIKTOR & ROLF
WORDS BY BIANCA O’NEILL
Look a little deeper.
Viktor Horsting and Rolf Snoeren are the provocateurs of our generation – but today, almost everyone has missed the memo.
Most fashion lovers would have woken up to cheeky photos of Viktor & Rolf’s couture Spring 2019 collection this morning, delivered by media outlets who have lazily re-shared images of its slogan dresses with uninspired hashtags like #bigmood and #same.
However, these people have entirely missed the point – and in a way, played into the exact banal social media behaviour that the duo is examining.
In understanding what they are trying to achieve with dresses emblazoned with meme quotes like “Go F**k Yourself,” it helps to garner some context of their past works first.
Viktor & Rolf is famous for bringing social commentary to life with its couture garments (garments that are themselves a commentary on the excess of fashion), having released collections that frequently question our social interactions and relationship with the media cycle.
The designers’ Wearable Art collection of 2015/16 sent elaborate dresses down the catwalk that were mind-bendingly constructed inside gilt frames – frames reminiscent of those surrounding famous works of art. The collection allowed the intersection between fashion and art to come to life on the runway, and embraced the constant discussion about whether fashion is art or commerce.
Here, Viktor & Rolf said to the pundits – now it is both.
Its Cutting Edge Couture collection for Spring 2010 saw extravagant ballgowns sliced through with holes, a wink at the rich who were financially unbothered by the credit crunch, but saw it as unbecoming to wear their expensive collections during a time of financial crisis.
And now, this year, the iconic duo is taking a swipe at the vacuous world of Instagram and influencers. Think I’m overblowing it? Take Snoeren’s own description of the collection as creating a “strange contradiction.”
“It’s the kind of message you find on social media, with the same instant feeling,” said Snoeren. “All these statements that are so obvious or easy — there’s a lot of banality on Instagram and social media in general — [they] are counterbalanced with this over-the-top, shimmery, romantic feeling.”
It’s an apt metaphor for the lazy content farming of memes in order to drive engagement, with no real connection to the poster themselves. After all, sharing a quote as trite as “Sorry I’m Late I Didn’t Want To Come” is vacuous alpha-signalling at its basest level. You’re not important or interesting, it tells your viewers, but I am.
A dress overtaken by the statement “I Am My Own Muse” reflects on our self-obsessions. An attention-seeking gigantic gown declaring “I’m Not Shy I Just Don’t Like You” notes our generation’s increasing inability to accept those who are different to us, while also needing to declare it loudly and publicly.
Meanwhile, a completely overblown dress with “Less Is More” emblazoned across it acts as a nod to Instagrammers extolling the virtues of sustainability while shlocking their paid-for wares and encouraging questionable over-spending habits.
Sure, fashion can be playful and fun and decidedly un-serious at times – but in the pursuit of coverage and clicks, many of us gloss over the most important onus of fashion design (and couture in particular): to say something about our society, about our politics, about where we are in history. To help us reflect on what we have created.
And sadly, where we are in history at the moment, is placing Fiji Water Girl over important speeches about the progression of the #MeToo movement.
However, if you think that Viktor & Rolf is judging you for posting your favourite memes, you’d be mistaken. Like true artists, the pair is focused on documenting these moments and our innermost obsessions.
“Fascination without condemning; it’s just the world we live in,” said Horsting. Snoeren agreed: “It’s our way of dealing with it.”
Follow Bianca’s fashion coverage over at @bianca.oneill.
I have seen a lot of wild things making their runway debuts, but extra-terrestrials? That’s, like, next-level strange. Sure, we all witness some absurd styles during fashion week—during couture week, especially—but I honestly don’t think I can say I’ve seen anything quite like this Paris Fashion Week alien trend. Have aliens arrived on Earth, or is it just a coincidence that two different designers decided to incorporate alien-chic into their runway shows on the same day? I don’t know if we’re all just living in the Twilight Zone or what, but something is going on in Paris right now, and I’m not sure if I really want to know the truth.
Manish Arora, Fall/Winter 2019
Whether or not aliens have invaded Earth—and frankly, I’d prefer to stay in the dark on this one—they certainly have invaded the Paris Fashion Week runways. On Thursday, not one, but two shows featured alien-inspired looks. Both Manish Arora and Rick Owens have done some weird things with their collections before. Arora’s spring/summer 2019 collection was wild, but there were no aliens. Rick Owens always manages to somehow make his models look like stylish cavemen or modern art projects, but, once again, no aliens in sight. However, both of these designers used alien-chic looks in their runway shows for Fall/Winter 2019. I truly hope Manish Arora and Rick Owens just happened to both have similar visions for their collections, and we’re not really all about to scroll through photos of real aliens. TBH, I don’t know what to think anymore.
Rick Owens, Fall/Winter 2019
On July 20, 1969, NASA astronauts Neil Armstrong, Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin, and Michael Collins successfully completed the Apollo 11 mission which culminated in Armstrong taking that fateful space walk on the moon’s surface, telling those listening, “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.”
Armstrong’s legendary accomplishment is chronicled in Damian Chazelle’s latest film, First Man (opening today), which the Hollywood Reporter has called a, “sober, contemplative picture [with] emotional involvement, visceral tension, and yes, even suspense, in addition to stunning technical craft.”
Although the six American flags which have been left on the moon since Apollo 11 have been confirmed to have turned white due to alternating days of searing sunlight and 100° heat and days of numbing-cold -150°, there’s no mistaking the technicolor impact that the mission had on various facets of industries.
Since the days of the space race, designers like like André Courrèges, Paco Rabanne, and Pierre Cardin, have attempted to sartorially predict what the future held for society – whether forecasting the daily uniforms for the masses — or more esoteric fare for those on the fringes as drastic changes occur in society.
Dubbed “space age” in their terse assessment by fashion critics, these looks have permeated couture houses in as futuristic silhouettes, and have been more overt homages to NASA by contemporary designers.
Here’s a look at some of the space age fashion over the years
More was more at New York Fashion Week, which ends today, making the case that live runway shows are relevant in a digital world.
Designers, including some who recently had skipped showing in New York, stormed back. Some houses dazzled audiences with glitzy venues, performers—and even a robot—as if conceding that clothes alone aren’t enough to inspire excitement. Here are five highlights of the week.
The Runway Show Is Back
The fashion show, which seemed in peril just a few seasons ago, is definitely in vogue. The number of shows on the calendar of IMG— organizer of one Fashion Week—rose to 100 this season from 83 last season.
Jason Wu is among those who returned to the catwalk after taking two seasons off and hosting small presentations while his label reassessed business. Upscale contemporary fashion house rag & bone hosted runway shows following several seasons of presentations, short films and videos to preview collections. Just last year, founder and chief brand officer Marcus Wainwright told the WSJ the traditional runway show “doesn’t feel original” anymore. This time, Mr. Wainwright shook things up with a blend of technology and live performers. The rag & bone show had a circular runway, dancers, the Brooklyn Youth Chorus and drummers from the band Atoms of Peace. A robot captured video of the show and broadcast the footage on screens throughout the venue.
“Taking a break from presenting the collection in a traditional format has allowed us to explore different narratives that align with our brand aesthetic,” Mr. Wainwright said. “And to bring that all together under one roof, was in effect our answer to creating more of an experience, rather than a straight fashion show.”
Take Me Away
Forget your troubles and just get happy. That’s what Ralph Lauren was after when he transformed a Wall Street building into an Art Deco nightclub inspired by 1920s and 1930s New York City. The evening set a new bar for over-the-top glamour and excitement. As guests in black tie or black-and-white arrived at “Ralph’s Club,” a band played American Songbook favorites. Models sauntered among the tables and booths, showing off the clothes. After the show, Janelle Monae brought the house down by singing jazz tunes, dancing on tables and engaging the audience in call-and-response.
“Ralph’s Club was about getting dressed up and wearing something that you love that makes you feel good and then going to a place that lifts you up for that moment,” said Mr. Lauren, who has made his runway shows immersive experiences in recent years.
Tommy Hilfiger also embraced escapism, showing his latest collection co-designed with performer Zendaya at the Apollo Theater in Harlem. The outdoor set recreated a ’70s-era block party with models dancing to recorded music amid brownstone stoops and shiny convertibles. Tom Ford celebrated iconic New York by showing in an abandoned subway station. The designer cited a 1965 photo of Andy Warhol and muse Edie Sedgwick atop a New York City manhole as an inspiration.
Turn Up the Volume
Models parading down a catwalk aren’t enough to thrill camera-phone-wielding guests. They need Instagrammable entertainment—so having a dance or song performance has almost become a must. Designers hope such bells and whistles enhance the clothes, not distract from them. Deveaux New York, a New York-based luxury minimalist line that specializes in elevating wardrobe classics, hosted a celebratory show with a drumline, a small band and lead singers who have appeared on “The Voice.” Models, including amateurs as well as notables like Veronica Webb and DJ Honey Dijon, danced on the runway. The Blonds, a luxury house whose over-the-top getups are favored by entertainers, collaborated with “Moulin Rouge! The Musical” for its fashion show at the Al Hirschfeld Theatre. Cast members performed songs while celebrities including Billy Porter and Paris Hilton made appearances. Ulla Johson’s show included a small indie band. Meanwhile, Christian Siriano of “Project Runway” fame set up gallerist and painter Ashley Longshore on stage. As models including Siriano favorite Coco Rocha strode around her, Ms. Longshore worked on huge portraits of Frida Kahlo, Laverne Cox, Ms. Rocha and others.
A Social Event
Pyer Moss’s show was highly anticipated after designer Kerby Jean-Raymond took a season off from the runway treadmill. Mr. Raymond, who grew up in Brooklyn, wanted his young fans to be part of the spectacle at the Kings Theatre in the borough’s Flatbush neighborhood. The 32-year-old designer used social media to make that happen, first through open casting calls on Instagram and then by inviting 500 fans, also on Instagram. The other 2,500 guests were a mix of friends, celebrities and industry professionals. Thousands of people sought tickets; Mr. Jean-Raymond reposted a fan’s message joking that she was willing “to sell her soul” to get in.
Brooklyn Is the Place to Be
In recent years, just two or three high-profile brands took the edgy step of making the fashion flock trek from Manhattan to the hip borough of Brooklyn. This season, an increasing number of designers—even die-hard Manhattan fan Michael Kors—held shows there. Brandon Maxwell, who won the top womenswear designer award this year from the Council of Fashion Designers, turned a Brooklyn event space into a bar called Brandon’s. A neon pink sign spelled out the name of the bar, which offered cotton candy and sippy cups of cocktails such as a “New Fashioned.” Tory Burch showed at the Brooklyn Museum, where the CFDA has twice held its annual awards. Also showing in Brooklyn were Phillip Lim, Rihanna (for the second time) and Eckhaus Latta, a fashion-show-in-Brooklyn pioneer. Why? Because Brooklyn is cool. Mr. Maxwell lives there, as do a number of young designers, and, he told Women’s Wear Daily, he wanted to celebrate the place.
Corrections & Amplifications
The Council of Fashion Designers of America and events and talent manager IMG organized separate New York fashion week calendars. An earlier version of this article failed to mention that CFDA organizes its own calendar, incorrectly implying there is only one fashion week calendar. (Sept. 13, 2019) Models at the Tommy Hilfiger x Zendaya show danced to recorded music. An earlier version of this article incorrectly said they danced to live music. (Sept. 11, 2019)
Phil Oh has his work cut out for him this week: The weather in Paris is forecasting chilly temperatures and rain every day. Despite the headaches bad weather can cause, let’s think of it as a good excuse for everyone to break out their new cashmere sweaters, trench coats, utility boots, and maybe even a PVC bucket hat or two. (Easier than an umbrella!) Rain or shine, Oh will be on the ground shooting the best looks in between shows, from Telfar on day one to Chanel on the final day of the season. Scroll through his latest coverage here, and check back all week for his daily updates.