I’ve been thinking a lot about what provokes a designer to set out and launch his or her own brand. I started Man Repeller because I believed I had an opinion that was being underserved, and when I can remove the narcissistic implications from this sentiment — that is: when I’m not thinking that I am me and therefore my opinion is worth being heard, I feel pretty confident that I wouldn’t have started writing had I felt satisfied by what I saw and read on the Internet.
There are, of course, two disparate schools of thought that argue whether this is the appropriate way to launch a business (the ego might push you towards collapse, crippling self-doubt might inhibit your potential for explosion), but when you’re considering ready-to-wear, a similar model must be applied: what opinion is being underserved and what are you going to bring to it?
Jason Wu can often feel like the unofficial first show on the calendar. For one, most of the international press has arrived by the show’s slot at 1 p.m. on Friday and beyond the idea generators of Creatures of the Wind, it’s the first real luxury label to show in New York. So what’s its purpose? This sexy, but also peculiarly practical take on corporate sportswear. Wu filled a void I was too young to realize when he set out to enmesh a sort of accomplished vixen and equally impressive boardroom player. The clothes make you want to sit up a little straighter, position your shoulders out more broadly and drink tea instead of coffee. For fall, there are plenty of Cher Horowitz-style mini skirts, one set in plaid with a matching jacket, and pieced together backsides revealing thick strings that tie, a metaphor for the adjustable uptightness of the season.
Cushnie et Ochs, a collection that is equally motivated by a very literal take on the celebration of female sexuality, showed plenty of black (in patent leather, velvet and silk) for the season ahead. The silhouettes remained sultry. I could just imagine the women who shop at Saks in pursuit of something sexy to wear to the upcoming parties on their calendars flocking toward these garments. Seems simple enough, right? Here’s a void, so here are the clothes. But beyond just making them to sell them, what’s inferred culturally? Do the thick of us still believe we’ve got to dress to accentuate it to feel sexy, and therefore powerful?
Monse is a new collection by a design duo Laura Kim and Fernando Garcia and they’re on the tips of the “insider” tongues. They are theatrical and fantastically over the top and make me wonder if their sole purpose at fashion week is an Instagram photo, but it’s not. I can tell. In a sea of burnt-out designers just trying to get their feet moving, Kim and Garcia are having so much damn fun with fashion that it’s palpable. Relieving, even! You almost don’t care that the clothes — I’m thinking specifically of the garbage bag dress in slide 54 and the highly Instagrammed white dress with aluminum foil coat in 53 — come off a little wacky. Purpose served.