Highlights from New York Fashion Week:
NAEEM KHAN’S STRENGTH
Naeem Khan’s signature dazzle was there, but this time there was a strength amid all those sequins and beads.
The idea, Khan said in a backstage interview, was to honour women around the world.
“I grew up in a family where the women are the matriarchs of the family,” he said. “I make glamorous clothes. I make red carpet. How do I change that?”
The answer: In pants and jackets mixed in with statement gowns that sparkled while others did a fringy shimmy.
By jacket, Khan sometimes meant bright embroidered and sequinned boleros. By matriarch, he seemed to mean grandma shawls worn with evening wear. Or maybe it was the hoods, on a silver and black sequin gown. For a global feel, there was a look inspired by a traditional Japanese kimono with obi belt.
Khan said he supports America’s #MeToo movement, along with oppressed women everywhere. Fashion has a role to play, he said.
“We need women to feel secure and, you know, the thing is with designers, how much sex do you put into these clothes? I’ve been very, very conscious of how am I revealing? How am I making you feel glamorous without it being vulgar?”
Country music’s Jennifer Nettles was on the front row, speaking of the #MeToo reckoning.
“I mean let’s be honest, some of the things that we are seeing are very confronting, and they are truths that we have known as women for a long time — of what it is to be a woman in this world and the dangers that are there,” she said. “I think we are learning a lot about the language of pain, my dear. I think we are learning a lot of that, and it is loud and it is big and it is hot and it is confronting.”
A LAYER CAKE DRESS AT ROSIE ASSOULIN
Entering Rosie Assoulin’s presentation, one felt as if in a small, elegant museum. Many of the garments looked like colourful works of art.
One printed silk dress was emblazoned with square panels looking like painting frames” inside the frames were squares of vivid “marbled” fabric. And there were boots to match, with the same colour scheme and marbling effect. Other dresses looked like Jackson Pollock paintings, with a riot of droplets of colour.
Some of Assoulin’s most popular designs used thin, pressed pleats — in metallic fabric, in silk or in cotton.
And there were the crystals, too — over 120,000 of them, according to Swarovski, which collaborated with Assoulin — on dresses, skirts, pants and other garments. One gown — a white, midriff-baring number with crystallised bands of horizontal colour — was intended to evoke a layer cake. Even more, it was meant to recall that famous “cake left out in the rain” in the ubiquitous song “MacArthur Park.”
Speaking of cake: There was that, too — the real kind! — served up to the guests. There was also a crepe chef, serving up pretty crepes with dabs of colour to resemble, well, a Rosie Assoulin dress.
INSPIRED BY ART AT BADGLEY MISCHKA
Even old, established fashion brands need a little inspiration and innovation to stay edgy: Badgley Mischka featured classic patterns and shapes in rich textures, combined with creative appliques and accessories, and a beacon of light running throughout.
A few models looked ready for a 19th-century ballroom, with crinoline skirts and meticulous embroidery.
Designer James Mischka said the collection was inspired by a painting by the Italian artist Caravaggio, and his use of light and darkness in his work.
“We took his chiaroscuro affect and applied it to fabrics. There are a lot of dark-based fabrics that have treatments, so they have a lot of light coming through the centre of them, which is really kind of a magical effect,” Mischka said before the show Tuesday.
Thick brocade ball gown skirts felt fresh with deep plunging halter tops in velvet and satin. Flowing leopard dresses and silver sequinned and beaded gowns dazzled the runway. Nearly every model sported an up-do that accentuated extra-long dangly earrings, made of feathers, beading and tulle.
Badgley Mischka has partnered with application software company SAP to create an innovative app for fashion week aficionados. You download the app on your iPhone or iPad and interact in real time with the collection on the runway and then after the show.
The show models were the first test. “The models are millennials and they were all like, ‘this is the future! This is amazing!’ and they all have it on their phones now,” Mischka said with a smile.
AN URBAN WOOD AT COACH
At Coach, New York City met the American Southwest in a foggy wood.
The brand’s collection was a hodgepodge of hoods, whipstitching and leather tassels, shown in a dark forest of leafless trees with flickering TV monitors strewn about. Many of the models hawked the same charm necklace.
But there were also some killer leather bags because, Coach. First, though, one needed to get past the patchwork print overshirt, bandanna jacket and a world of rivets.