Forget What’s Trendy, Think Thematically
Yes, sure, there were socks and boots and dresses aplenty but what does it all mean?
It is a universal truth worth reiterating that a fashion trend, like a fresh flower, is ephemeral. A seed is planted, cultivated, nurtured and then eventually, neglected. By the time it begins to blossom and is liable to metastasize, its creator is already harvesting a new birth elsewhere.
The only immortal property trends and flowers share is one of fairy dust. It’s how they make you feel, which is closely tethered to the amaranthine themes that support them from behind and push us, the spectators, who are consistently hungry for performance, to continue to want to indulge and participate in such fleeting experiences.
So, we can sit here and wax poetic on the infinite trends that let down their curtains last week in New York. We can continue on that trajectory through Milan and Paris. We can divide the trends into sub-trends and those sub-trends into micro-details that you can replicate at home, but what’s the use? By the time we’re all sitting on the same train clad in uniform muppet plaids, a handful of us will be jumping off, barebacked and eager to start farming at the intersections of unfamiliar and au courant. So let’s talk about the indelible affections, the bones over skin, the themes that make the trends go round.
1. Contemporary Designers Plus Edge
The fall/winter season of New York was not one of superfluity. Contemporary designers, like Rebecca Minkoff, Tory Burch and Tibi, previously known for their youthful and flowery takes on consumable fashion, became edgier. Case in point: the navy blue skirt/turtleneck looks plus thigh high socks of Tory Burch, the pinstriped pants and corresponding suit jackets of Rebecca Minkoff and though Tibi has been driving down this particular highway long enough to call herself a pro, there was a je ne sais English girl-vibe about the collection that came replete with thick wool overcoats, flat top hats and raw denim.
Is this the indirect result of Alexander Wang’s incipient ethos?
2. Collections Chock Full of Different Girls
At Rodarte, Marc by Marc Jacobs and Cushnie et Ochs, models did not encompass the spirit of one woman. Rodarte created clothes for the ethereal, the funky and the Star Wars obsessed while Marc by Marc Jacobs honed in on an athletic, motorcycle riding broad on the one hand and a tea-drinking femme, with her full skirts and large ankle-length skirts on the other. Cushnie et Ochs enmeshed its two women, delivering the sexy maverick dresses that have become endemic to its name with the dichotomous and vaguely cowboy-inspired hats that rested atop their heads.
3. They Know What They’re Good At
Some designers delegate power to their wearers but in a way that doesn’t compromise their own influence. Wes Gordon, Narciso Rodriguez, Jason Wu, J. Crew and Derek Lam made sure their aesthetics remained emphatically their own. The collections were effectively continuing sentences that they’ve been writing over time and they appeared confidently rectified where grammatical blunders may have previously stood.
4. The Shifting Paradigm
The designers of legion three run counter to those of legion four, which include Prabal Gurung, Band of Outsiders, Theory (namely because it has dropped its Theyskens’) and quite notably, Coach — all of which have cornered their respective markets and excelled at that. We know, for example, that Prabal could do a beautiful evening gown. But did we really understand that he maintained skillfulness in knitwear as well? There is an admirable sense of hubris that comes with these designers, who are willing to abandon what they know to try what they don’t.
5. Gender Ambiguity
Public School, Michael Kors, Lacoste, Opening Ceremony and Richard Chai used both men and women in their collections and as Vogue’s Katherine Bernard put it in a story on post-gender dressing (specifically in relation to Hood by Air), “there was no way to differentiate between the sexes.” Women in menswear, men in womenswear, women in menswear that looks like womenswear and vice versa. Does the future of dressing neglect a person’s gender?
We’ll see who plants what.