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The Puzzle of Victoria Beckham, the Delight of J.Crew

I don’t really know what to make of Victoria Beckham.

On the one hand, I’m impressed that she has immunized herself from celebrity clothing label wrath. Her show is one of New York’s hottest tickets, she sure as shit commands the respect that any other reputable designer does and the actual garments do what they have to in order to maintain their status as The Fabric of Real Fashion.

Yet on the other hand, I wonder what Victoria Beckham brings to the table. The lines are so clean and silhouettes so pure that you almost feel like you have to be seated upright in the presence of her clothes. Make no mistake, that is power. But even in the wake of daring experimentation — full looks rendered completely in crushed velvet (some of which was impressively pleated), bras as shirts, boots for spring, floral prints! — what are we left with? It’s all sublime, but it’s also rather complacent. Do the clothes push us forward? Add anything to the conversation? Or are we left in a puddle of every passion-chaser’s biggest fear: indifference?

I’ve been conjecturing many hypotheses about the recent cultural obsession with Sex and the City but the one that seems most likely has everything to do with thoughtful style — the kind you must own and live and breathe, like you’re Carrie Bradshaw. Through the parade of severely bright, sometimes neon and often monochrome looks at Sies Marjan — another hot new ticket for New York, that’s all I could think. Low-slung pants, exposed bellies, uneven-hem slip dresses and droopy necklines held up by barely-there spaghetti straps were punctuated by exquisite fabrics. And the thing of it all (which reminded me somewhat of Narciso Rodriguez’s heyday but reprocessed, packaged and boosted to the umpteenth power) is that the clothes do the owning for you. No, they don’t wear the bodies that choose to engage, but they do carry the brunt of the work, doing the heavy emotional and intellectual lifting.

You’ve got to be very particular to wear the clothes of Sander Lak’s Sies Marjan (who is moving further from his former post at Dries Van Noten) and as far as I’m concerned, that’s the best thing New York Fashion Week can give us: particularity.

No question, though, the Delight of the Day came from J.Crew, who figured out exactly what’s been missing from fashion week. Because in spite of the season’s great clothes (it’s like shine theory, but for fashion), there’s a lack of soul, no question, that circumscribes the revolving end scenes. Jenna Lyons and co. tapped friends of the brand — some industry denizens, others just cool people — that brought with them that sometimes personal, always intimate touch of familiarity. Like you’re spending time with your best friend, which J.Crew is for so many of its loyalists. It was so satisfying to walk in and see people you recognize wearing clothes that you will no doubt wear next Spring. And the best part of the whole damn thing? It’s J.Crew! If you want it, you can have it.

All photographs via Vogue Runway and Getty Images; feature collage by Emily Zirimis.

NYFW-SS17

Leandra M. Cohen

Leandra M. Cohen is the founder of Man Repeller.

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