NOTEW YORK – As New York Fashion Week braces for a post-pandemic future with five days of live, in-person, invitation-only fashion shows mixed with digital live broadcasts and lookbooks, everything – and nothing – changed.
To an observer from another planet who has no knowledge of COVID and its aftermath, America’s fashion showcase looks like it always has been, with a crowded show schedule – 91 in all.
The list includes such branded American designers as Brandon maxwell, Tory Burch, Tom Ford, Michael Kors, Jason wu, Carolina Herrera, Naeem Khan and Véronique Barbe. With newcomers Markarian, the little-known fashion label that rose to fame when designer Alexandra O’Neill dressed the first lady Jill biden for the inauguration, and Sergio hudson, who designed the pantsuit much talked about as the former first lady Michelle obama worn on the day of the inauguration.
The New York spirit is reflected in the choice of flashy venues for fashion shows all over town. Markarian takes over the famous Rainbow Room atop Rockefeller for his first New York Fashion Week show as the designer LaQuan Smith trapped the Empire State Building to organize the very first parade in the famous monument. Tory Burch closes a street near her new SoHo store for a sumptuous outdoor parade.
To add a little extra spice, European brands Moschino and Peter Dundas launch their latest collections in New York instead of Milan or Paris, joining American designers Joseph Altuzarra and Thom browne, who are returning to New York after showing collections in Paris in previous seasons before COVID shut down shows early last year.
The buzz Met Gala will close the week, to coincide with the opening of the first part of an exhibition on American fashion at the Costume Institute of the Metropolitan Museum. The gala is young co-chairs include Timothée Chalamet, Billie Eilish, Amanda Gorman and tennis star Naomi Osaka.
Popular designer Christian Siriano jumped into action with a full-scale runway show on Tuesday – a day before the official start of New York Fashion Week. Before a small audience of 300 – including an eclectic front row that included Katie Holmes, Busy Phillips, Kristen Chenoweth, Alicia Silverstone, Lil ‘Kim and Aquariums, the winner of season 10 of Ru Paul’s Drag Race – Siriano sent a body positive collection of wildly colorful creations into the flowery environment of Gotham Room.
“Old photographs of my grandmother vacationing in Positano wearing her apricot orange dress inspired an Italian coastal collection full of color and joy,” says Siriano in his program notes.
Extravagant holiday looks range from a lime green satin dress with a matching hat to fitted printed suits, orange dresses with strategically placed slits and flowy tulle skirts with fitted bra tops. Siriano also showcased evening wear in his sculpted shapes and voluminous styles.
Models of various shapes and sizes walked the runway – Siriano has long championed non-traditional models and for this collection, the curvaceous model Precious Lee opened and closed the runway – while the Welsh singer Marina diamandis performed a number of life-affirming songs, claiming “You Don’t Have to Be Like Everyone”, which matched the mood of the evening.
Behind all the flashy glamor and status quo, however, the specter of COVID looms over fashion week. Guests must show proof of vaccination to enter a show and wear a mask throughout the procedure. A number of top designers, including Oscar de la Renta, Badgley Mischka and Tadashi Shoji, continue to launch their collections in a virtual format.
Even before COVID, a growing number of designers felt New York Fashion Week was outdated and were looking for other ways to showcase their collections. While this fashion week seems to have been injected with a burst of energy as many designers are showing live for the first time in 18 months, questions remain about the future of the fashion format.
COVID has exacerbated the decline of brick-and-mortar stores and highlighted weaknesses in a system where designs are not available to the consumer until months after they are presented in New York City. And many wonder how the pandemic has permanently influenced the way we dress and whether the designers have failed to accommodate the changes.
These questions will continue to hang over the fashion world. But for now, New York Fashion Week and its counterparts in London, Milan and Paris are holding up, especially as a showcase for emerging designers.
Dallas fashion designer Hanh Merriman takes advantage of New York Fashion Week to launch her new ready-to-wear collection. The former author of the popular blog Life in Travel has integrated her travel experiences around the world to design a collection of dresses, tops, pants and outerwear, cut from luxury fabrics with a nod to her. Vietnamese culture.
“HANH collection signals a new chapter, ”Merriman said in a statement. “These creations reflect my many years as a lover, observer and interpreter of fashion. I’ve always been fascinated by women’s relationship with fashion – what we want to wear and why.
“And how that answer changes over time.” This collection is an answer for women right now and moving forward.