Fashion’s Political Stance was Loud and Clear at NYFW

With America’s current political situation, the Women’s March and ‘dressing like women’, designers during New York Fashion Week restore hope.

Tommy Hilfiger kicked off proceedings, relocating to LA for the first time and with models wearing a white bandana tied around the wrist – a representation of no matter what race, gender, religion or sexuality, we are all #tiedtogether. One of the models was Gigi Hadid, revealing pieces from the second Tommy x Gigi capsule collection with a spin on the brand’s East Coast roots. As well as the see-now-buy-now collaboration, Tommyland at Venice Beach was complete with amusement park rides and food.

The red, white and blue colours and all American way continued as Raf Simons made his much-anticipated Calvin Klein ready-to-wear debut on the bottom floor of the West 39th Street headquarters. He collaborated with artist Sterling Ruby who hung bras, buckets, fringing and sheets of denim from the ceiling. Simons delivered a love letter to America and it’s youth, it was from someone who had just moved to the country. There was dark denim, first worn by miners and labours in the early 20th century, with Brooke Shields’ (sitting front row) iconic ‘80s campaign image on the back; Western cowboy boots and shirts; band uniform in bold colours with sporty stripe trim down the side seam; James Dean leather; camel coats from those uptown; Calvin Klein’s subtle seduction with vinyl overlays sprouting feathers and his ‘90s tailoring in from the Wall Street type. While the looks were traditional, when near-identical outfits were worn by both men and woman on the catwalk they weren’t – Klein played with gender neutrality early on. As David Bowie sung, ‘This Is Not America’, the show notes read, ‘all these different people with different styles dress codes. It’s the future, the past, Art Deco, the city, the American West.’ It’s everyone.

From left to right: Calvin Klein | Alexander Wang | Victoria Beckham | Oscar de le Renta | Vogue

When Jason Wu presented, the designer – still only 34 – was celebrating the label’s 10-year anniversary. He’d made a name for himself worldwide when dressing Michelle Obama for the 2009 Inaugural Ball when he was just 26. Today, his uptown lady would start with tailoring for day leading to asymmetrical, and draped rich velvet dresses for evening, in fish net tights, with Valentine’s red, whimsical prints and netting in-between.

On black tights and on Alexander Wang’s sweater was the words ‘No After Party’, on Bella Hadid’s t-shirt it read ‘Night of Treason’, and the girls stomped the catwalk in leather, oversized jackets, extremely fitted trousers and mesh. They looked angry and fierce with un-kept hair and dark eyes, the audience was standing and rap music was loud. This was a protest, “street power,” the designer said.

Another, possessing strength through menswear and “empowering women”, so they can “feel secure and comfortable” was Victoria Beckham. Chiffon skirts and sheer blouses were topped off with pointy collars underneath tailored blazers, and alongside this was oversized trousers and knitted jumpers worn with round toed leather boots or pointed flats, as her British heritage came through with houndstooth and tartan.

It was Proenza Schouler’s last season in New York, the duo are moving the brand to Paris to present during the Haute Couture shows. One of the schedules favourites had Raf Simons sitting front row as we saw the logo – large and bold – placed on zip pulls hanging off bags and jackets, strong outerwear, some lacquered black and white shearling, others slouchy and oversized, folded clutch bags and hip cut outs on layered dresses in punchy colours worn with bracelets snaking up the arm.

Duo Laura Kim and Fernando Garcia performed a fashion week first when presenting their Oscar de la Renta and Monse collections immediately after one another. Once again this week tailoring was strong; in black – some with bright sashes wrapped around the waist and a floral bustier – then in green, blue, pink and orange. Ball gowns and velvet dresses completed de la Renta. Each ballgown had crinoline petticoats underneath to achieve its shape, and embroidered sequins created striking patterns. While de la Renta was grown up, Monse had an edge. Robert DeNiro’s voice opened the show, talking about an immigrants experience from the 2015 short film, Ellis. What followed were grommetted leathers, white shirts and herringbone dresses reimagined, furs and patriotic red, white and blue velvet evening gowns.

From left to right: Proenza Schouler, Prabal Gurung, Kanye West, Marc Jacobs | Vogue

‘Femininity With A Bite’ ‘Our Minds Our Bodies Our Power’ ‘I Have A Dream’ – all slogans on t-shirts worn by the models parading down the runway for Prabal Gurung’s finale. The designer’s one said, ‘This Is What A Femininist Looks Like’. But that wasn’t the only statement made, in amongst the chucky knits, metallic florals, fringing and crystals, he’d cast plus size models Candice Huffine and Marquita Pring. Michael Kors did too with Ashley Graham walking between Bella Hadid and Kendal Jenner – a slight move in the right direction no less. Kors reinterpreted strength and power through sensual fringing, v-necks, leather, leopard print and tulip skirts.

But tailoring represented what it has throughout New York (it was even taken to Thom Browne’s ice rink); not only did the oversized 90s shapes offer protection, it’s given women power when they need it the most. The city had already touched on this, but Kanye West’s Yeezy probably delivered the most diverse show in terms of casting and race, and his clothes were on point too; denim, round-toed boots, plaid shirts camo and a deep red.

Ralph Lauren gave us something fresh – in terms of 100,000 orchids installed at the venue. There was that gold shine that we’ve seen at a few shows so far – a beacon of hope perhaps? Lauren was inspired by, ‘a normandic spirit, a exotic sophistication contrasting pure shapes with rustic textures, burnished golds and shades of the desert.’
Marc Jacobs finished the week by taking a stand against fashion shows; there was no set at the Park Avenue Armory, no music, just the sounds of the city itself. With large hats, platforms, sportswear, stockings, mini party dresses and corduroy, Jacobs was inspired by a documentary called, ‘Hip-Hop Evolution,’ and the influence the musical genre had on the ‘youth culture street style’.