Narciso, Michael, Derek: Is It Better to be Boring than Revolutionary?

When fashion tries so hard to reinvent itself, there’s something so satisfying about a brand that knows its place, leans into what it is good at and makes no promises of “disruption” or spectacle or performance or any of that. It sheds the layers of comparison and insecurity and sometimes ego that can often veil what would be great collections. Instead, it focuses on gain not lack — taking stellar moments from previous seasons and reinventing them instead of attempting to reinvent the wheel. As an onlooker, it lets you sigh heavy and relax because in 2017, we are averse to change. Change is not taking us in the “right direction.” Clothes that stay the same provide a curious comfort.

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But there’s a difference between remaining the same and growing stale; Narciso Rodriguez pointedly understands this given the collection he showed last night. He’s known for his almost harshly precise lines, and that remains a strong suit, but he also included various new looks: a cocoon coat, cape blouse and a pair of trousers styled under a white, sleeveless tunic. If it sounds boring, that’s because everything else shouts so loud that we have almost forgotten the subversive power of a single, quiet garment that respects itself.

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I could have guessed that Michael Kors would show lots of trousers, rich sweaters and expensive-looking coats and I’d have been right. Kors arguably understands that consumer knowledge is power better than any other designer; make your clothes for who you know will buy them, right? But keep it interesting! Pick up on the overarching themes of a season and run! This morning at Spring Studios, that theme included sleeves that extended past the models’ hands, cape holes on coats that felt a bit like Vetements, baggy blazers and sweaters worn as scarves. There were even those V-style pumps that create a triangle on the front of a woman’s foot, which we’ve been seeing everywhere since Celine first made them. But it’s not copy. With Michael Kors, it’s never really copy — it’s just smart. His brand equity is so strong that a few trendy tweaks every season do nothing if not convince his audience they need a refresh and that he can provide it.

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Derek Lam replicated the intimate environment he set up last September at The Greenwich Hotel on 37th Street this afternoon. The small (but particularly thoughtful) collection included embellished silk blouses; a studded, jersey mid-length dress; and a selection of interesting boots: stark white, chunky and flat, slouchy, and several that were literal ankle boots, covering nothing but the foot. Derek stood against a wall watching his models explain what is perhaps the most important message of this fashion week: We don’t have time for the superfluous. Maybe that’s the thing of it.

Runway photos via Vogue Runway; feature photo via Getty Images.


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  • I think the need for spectacle comes from the pressure on designers to show. By forcing themselves to show before they are ready. Before they have developed their own ‘look’. You get a lot of designers that need a gimmick to become known. Unfortunately, what they miss is that it won’t make them respected in the long run. The only way any designer can do that is by having their own point of view (think Craig Green) and just keeping pushing their new concepts. Unfortunately nowadays attention is granted to any designer that shows during a fashion week. Therefore, sometimes the promotion is unjust because they are regurgitating a trend instead of solving their own ideas.

    • I would just like to clarify that I don’t think good designers can’t host a spectacle, Thom Browne does it almost every season and he’s a genius. I mean to say gimmicks are becoming common place and unfortunately can steal attention from designers that can’t afford a spectacle, who might be amazing and overlooked………

  • Alison

    How did making well-constructed, wearable (for the most part) clothes become boring? The monochrome slides are giving me lots of great ideas (also love the two-colored slide, #15).

    I would wear all of those coats (donations welcome, designers!) in a heartbeat, and way before I would pay for something whose only value is the name (e.g., rhymes with Breezy or Readiments).

  • ReadER451

    Michael’s coats, along with the Row, Tibi and Altuzarra, were beautiful. The shows/clothes for these brands may seem simple or boring compared to the Tommy Hilfiger show or the Yeezy show, but the clothes, in my opinion, are just down right better.