American fashion: what’s it all about? Defining a core essence, or a thread that ties all New York collections together has always been a task for the industry. After all, Americans are heterogenous, we came from everywhere and brought unique elements with us. But of course, there are American values - perhaps optimism being the biggest. And we have a thing with nostalgia - especially in uncertain times, we like to look back. And look back we did for SS19, the best collections at NYFW showed bold references to days gone by. Here are the top five collections from New York Fashion Week Spring/Summer 2019:
1. MARC JACOBS
It was all there: the knitwear, the ginormous ruffles from last season and Spring ‘13, The kitschy metallic fabrics (shiny is his favorite color, after all), the polka dots, and that very curious way he turns his references into caricatures. Ghosts of Marc Jacobs’ past. Those in the know will see hints of Montana, Saint Laurent & Lagerfeld’s early collections at Chanel - the glory days. But that doesn’t stop him. Marc has never made the designer’s who inspire him a secret, and maybe that’s the secret to his talent. Because in the end, when the last model made her exit, it all somehow looked very Marc Jacobs.
There was plenty to like here. The pastels and beautiful color combinations felt a lot more fresh and approachable than his Fall/Winter palette. And, for the first time in recent memory, there were standout accessories. A passage of three mauvey pink dresses at the end of the show were particularly odd and beautiful. This show wasn’t without its faults, however. Where once Marc would add layers of depth and complexity to his collections with a clever soundtrack and set, they both felt tacked on to this one. A passé afterthought. But all of this was a good step forward for both the brand and the man behind it all. Maybe this collection isn’t the most relevant or modern, but it’s fun. And full of joy, and most importantly, conviction. It’s just what New York needed.
2. CALVIN KLEIN
Gone were the band uniforms and diner shirts from collections past. There wasn’t an Andy Warhol print in sight. That’s probably for the best. Instead of a radioactive wasteland, Raf took us to the West Coast. But this wasn’t sunny California - a dark storm is brewing.
Ever present this season was Raf’s love of films, horror films in particular (A green and red striped sweater conjured images of Freddy Krueger). This time it was Steven Spielberg’s 1975 Cult Classic, ‘Jaws’ & 1967’s ‘The Graduate’. These two films took very literal interpretations in the form of mortarboard caps and gowns, tank tops printed with the Jaws movie poster and the ‘CK’ logo and plisse skirts with bite marks missing from them. Perhaps even more frightening than a shark attack, other online viewers have interpreted those ripped skirts, specifically the one worn with a cap and gown as an unsettling image of a college co-ed who had been sexually assaulted. There’s no denying Raf’s vision of America is dark as of late, and maybe he was shinning light on this subject, but for some it proved to be too dark. Tread carefully, Raf.
3. THE ROW
Oversized silhouettes, gorgeous textiles, and an austere color palette are what we have come to expect from the Olsen Twins’ The Row. And those where all apparent in the presentation they show in New York for Spring/Summer 2019.
This season, The Olsen Twins took their minimal sensibility to new proportions. Everything from the cuff of a chiffon blouse to a huge swath of black silk wrapped around a model to make a billowing top paired with a darted skirt were blown up, and blown up big. Coats and suiting were kept long and lean. A long white coat cut in bouclé tweed was a standout. The opening white gown had Tilda Swinton’s name all over it.
If the silhouettes looked fresh and modern, possibly, the color palette seemed a bit dour. Maybe a print? Perhaps a bit of color next time, Ladies.
Come next spring when these clothes hit the shops, girls are going to have to ask themselves two questions when deciding on a piece: “Do I want to look sexy or do I want to look interesting?”. Those whose answer is the former may want to look elsewhere for a new spring look. Or maybe not. These garments are meant to stand out. They’re meant to be thought about, cherished, loved, and worn again and again. The women who wear The Row are confident and wear their clothes with a sense of conviction. She has a visceral reaction to the garments on her body. She doesn’t dress to please men or women. She doesn’t care if you understand or like it. She dresses for herself. Confidence and conviction, indeed. And ironically enough for The Row, that’s truly sexy.
4. SIES MARJAN
Sander Lak has made quite the splash in New York Fashion Week with only six collections for his brand, Sies Marjan. And rightfully so. There was a certain kind of freshness and purity infused in this collection.
Backstage, Lak said this collection was about for once feeling at home. That feeling of home was like a first love to him. Now, how did that translate into the clothes? It didn’t, really. But that didn’t really matter much. Even if his words didn’t quite match up to what was presented on the catwalk, surely those feelings - that state of mind - seeped it’s way into it all. How could it not?
Lak’s draped dresses and tops really stuck out and will surely look just as desirable now as they will next spring. The striped pieces, too.
5. TOM FORD
No one is certain what tomorrow may bring. In today’s current fashion landscape, we’re all on edge, holding our breath, to see who will drop out next. Who will break under the pressure of it all. Designers that are apart of the old guard of fashion struggle to understand the new Millennial shopper. What do they want? What are they buying? What does luxury mean to them? Curiously enough, it seems as if Millennial fashion consumers have an irreverence for the rules of old, yet nostalgic vintage fashion is having a really big moment right now. In uncertain times, perhaps there is a comfort in the old, the familiar. This reviewer in particular longs for the days when designers where given more than just a few seasons to show their talent.
And that brings us to Tom Ford. His Spring/Summer ‘19 collection brought us back to the early aughts recalling images of his days at Gucci. His lacquered on crocodile embossed skirts with lace hems peeking through were incredibly sexy and desirable. This was a punctuation of Tom’s love of sexy after hours looks and the beautiful men and women who wear them. It’s what he does best and what we love to see from him. More of that. For Tom Ford, nostalgia proves to be the hardest drug of all - one he probably won’t give up anytime soon.