Here’s how fashion week works: first, the contemporary shows happen in New York (of course, with several exceptions like Marc Jacobs, for example), then new talent emerges from London, followed by the storied houses of Milan playing boss penultimately, and then we’re whisked away to Paris to observe and absorb the greatest! newest! freshest! ideas for the season ahead.
The cycle, which feels more like a hierarchy, is one of the precise reasons New York Fashion Week has been taking some heat. The questions circumscribing the event, which started this morning, fall along the dreary lines of: Should we be here? Is it worth it?
How important are the shows anyway?
For as long as the shows are essentially a continuation of what we saw six months ago in Paris, they probably won’t be so important. But such is the way of contemporary: you take the hard ideas, you manipulate them to appear and feel easier without using the dreaded c-word (commercial) and then you sell the garments — ideas generated by the thinkers — in droves. But you don’t need to see that sausage-making happen six months in advance. It’s redundant. You’re not supposed to feel like you want/need/can’t live without a look the moment you see it on a runway. It should feel slightly uncomfortable, possibly raise an eyebrow and provide a long enough cushion for you to take the materials you’ve gathered and reconcile what they’ll mean for you.
What’s cool about Hedi Slimane is that even if you do strike a visceral connection with the clothes upon initial glance (or maybe you definitively reject them — there seem to be two passionate schools of thought here), you can’t quite argue his contribution. You might not agree with the ideas he brings forward, but they are no doubt ideas, and contagious ones at that.
The first women’s look last night included a red lamé button down blouse with a sequined silver skirt and gold boots. A cropped black jacket offset the sparkle. It was kind of 70s — also 80s — and therefore, ultimately, new. The second one was a three-piece suit with a pair of culottes I’d have preferred not to see but the progression was good. Victorian boatneck collars, velvet capes, lamé, printed dresses and one really great feather sleeve that amounted to what Saint Laurent under its current stewardship is really about: the energy.
The question, of course, that all this presents is, what happens now? If one of the pillars of the bang that fashion month goes out with has shown half his cards before New York even started, should we be worried that the bar has been set too high? Is this the point of no return?
The week will tell.
Photographs via Saint Laurent; runway photographs via Vogue Runway.