Michael Kors Shouted, Derek Lam Whispered, but Both Said Something

New York Fashion Week fatigue tends to set in by day four. If you’re good at math (I’m not) and deductive reasoning (I’m decent), that makes today day six. Unofficially speaking, it’s been a full week since the clothes started walking. This should mean that I have nothing else to say, which I probably wouldn’t if it weren’t for the curious juxtaposition of Michael Kors’ morning fanfare and Derek Lam’s intimate afternoon presentation at the penthouse suite of the Greenwich Hotel.


The thing about Michael Kors clothes is that they never change. I don’t mean that in a bad way. The man has such an acute idea of not just who his woman is, but how she wants to be spoken to, so why would he veer from a process that works? His trousers will always be his, as will his bustiers and trenches. That’s true of the colors navy and brown, too. The only question an onlooker is left to posit is where this woman will be traveling next season. Of course, having Rufus Wainwright perform among the models dressed in wallpaper florals and waist belts and pointed collars took some attention off the clothes this morning. But still, it was a delight. To hear music that could genuinely get you excited for the upcoming season next to women dressed for the season after that; how simple and how smart. But still, quite a spectacle.

Derek Lam usually shows on Sundays at noon, but this season the designer opted for a presentation at 3 p.m. on the day before the end of fashion week. He sat among the 19 editors in presence and explained that the somewhat confidential setting was his response to the conversation the industry is currently having about the future of fashion week. This, I thought, is what fashion shows must have been like back in the day. Wait staff brought drinks out for the fashion denizens in attendance. Pleasantries were exchanged, and it felt familiar. As he sat and started to explain that the 23-look collection was inspired by Georgia O’Keeffe, I thought to myself: if he weren’t here to tell me what this collection meant to say, would I have known? Or would I have conjured my own opinion, fiercely unreflective of his?

Maybe this is the juxtaposition that will solve The Problem. With a show like Michael Kors’ or, say, tonight’s Ralph Lauren, you know what you’ll get so the spectacle works. But when you’re dealing in the currency of a designer’s oscillating intellect, which pulls diverse references for each collection, the small intimate setting is the only way how. The creator can submit their perspective and leave room for you to inject your own, making the process collaborative enough to convince you that fashion is the conversation we’ve always assumed it to be.

Feature and carousel photograph by Victor Hugo/Patrick McMullan via Getty Images; slideshow photographs via Vogue Runway.


Leandra M. Cohen

Leandra M. Cohen is the founder of Man Repeller.

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