The clothes have been good this season, but the format feels weird. Though the weather is so delightful, there is a definite staleness in the air. Do all these designers need to show? Is it still about the clothes? What happens next?
Saturday’s lineup consisted largely of contemporary brands, the kinds of labels that New York fashion thrives on, but that ask most saliently whether it pays to show six months in advance. So far, though, so strong. Jonathan Saunders presented his first collection for Diane von Furstenberg in a large white space that somehow felt intimate and definitely about the clothes. I was, frankly, blown away. For a house that has been so deeply tied to its namesake — and for one that has weathered quite tumultuous feedback over the previous few seasons — Saunders injected a much-needed and profoundly welcome new breath of air. There were models seated above large blocks in a room that was divided by garment racks full of beautiful fabrics and colors sewn together to make the kind of clothes you both want to wear and know that you can.
The standout pieces for me were the skirt and white pants garnished by striped grosgrain ribbons and a couple of sequined dresses that will drop alongside leather jackets and fur stoles as soon as February. “For this season, it really needed to be about the clothes; touching them, seeing them up close,” Saunders said. “Maybe a show next season, but it wasn’t right this time.” – Leandra Medine
This is a compliment, but for the last few season’s Tibi’s relaxed customer has been sitting at the breakfast table in her La Jolla studio, arranging dry Cheerios absentmindedly around a Céline ad while thinking about the morning’s waves, wondering whether she should try to get in another session after work. For Spring ’17, the same girl moved back to New York City, refreshed from her sabbatical and reinvigorated by the god-given excuse of Manhattan to dress up a little bit — even just to cross the street (slouchy surf shorts have been fun and all but man is it nice to reunite with your waist), ready to polish her brass knuckles so that they can punch through any and every career wall.
Designer Amy Smilovic ebbs and flows right with her customer; she may not predict the coming waves based off of some far-off vibration but she catches the trend, or the itch, or the feel, right at the apex of the wave and carries all of us — literally all of us, because everyone at that show was either in Tibi or looked Tibi-like — to the shore. How’d you like that for a metaphor? – Amelia Diamond
If Tibi is accommodating a woman who is best defined by the cues taken by Phoebe Philo’s Céline or new cult favorite Vetements, Jonathan Simkhai has her part sexy, part romantic counterpart (think Clare Waight-Keller’s Chloé) cornered. She’s wearing easy white dresses with ambitious embroidery, fabric-covered buttons and other embellishments. There are lacy silk pants, ditto that for negligee blouses and lightweight linen that looks plucked off the beaches of Ibiza and deliciously re-appropriated for wearing in New York. And this is all great, it’s not copy cattery.
I spent a lot of time shaking my head no at designers who seemed overly referential, but when push comes to shove, what is originality in this day and age? Why not celebrate the brilliant designers, who within the boundaries of their contemporary margins can metabolize the big ideas that churn overseas and then correctly commercialize them for the majority of customers?
So for Saturday, it was an order that we hone in not on brand-new ideas (they’re coming, don’t worry!), but instead on sincerely letting a trend live beyond its incipient runway shelf life. This way it has a chance to proliferate, and we get a chance to participate. – Leandra Medine
All photos via Vogue Runway.