Recently, someone asked me what I thought to be the purpose of fashion shows, or at least what I hope to achieve from seeing them. I go to shows looking for a comment on our culture, a sign of the times, a hint of oncoming evolution. It can occasionally feel like pulling teeth to extract meaning; you try so hard to learn more about yourself and the world you live in using clothes as an unworthy oracle but other times, all those notes are hit so effortlessly and the review practically writes itself.
We’ve been reading a lot about the “grim future” of fashion, but on the second day of fashion week in New York, under the obnoxious puddles of snow turning to ice and among the angry denizens of midtown who were stopped on their way to work because of the Calvin Klein fashion show obstructing their routes, there was an oasis of hope.
Some ask, is New York losing its identity in the grand scheme of fashion? What value do our designers bring to the table? I feel we are scrutinizing too much, because when you’re smacked over the head with physical renderings of creative genius like those of Raf Simons, it’s obvious that we need not question so intently and frequently. All will be well as it has been before. One designer’s success provokes morale for the entire community.
Sometimes I don’t believe there is still original stuff to be made, but there it is. Slim-fit trousers adorned by track lines in counter colors. Suiting wrapped in plastic — one teddy coat featured the same effect with a rhinestone tie-belt wrapped around the waist. Feather dresses trapped in the same material. Cowboy boots, mismatched embellished sandals, turtlenecks styled under thick wool shirting and jean jackets. One model wore an asymmetric skirt made from an American flag. The message I gleaned was heartwarming — as if Simons was submitting himself to a country not his own, declaring himself a member in spite of the arguably repulsive state of our political climate.
We get confused because of the varying degrees of success among fashion’s designers. On one end of the spectrum we have the explicitly vulgar if not damningly intelligent work of Demna Gvasalia. On the other side sits maximalist hoopla espousing the benefits of dressing for the hell and unflinching fun of it with Gucci’s Alessandro Michele. And now in America, we have a creator of great restraint. It would be too easy to venture into the territory of vulgarity or into that of spectacle, so he stands in the middle, letting tension pass through him with his heart planted firmly on the sleeves of whoever will see it.
Photos via Getty Images.