There are 4 titan fashion weeks in the world – New York, London, Milan and Paris Fashion Week.
Known to bring in hordes of dictators of taste, influencers, multi-million dollar brand sponsorship’s, global publicity and iconic nightlife energy, fashion weeks are not to be underestimated, as they are profit-churning career-makers, and trend-setters. However, long has the culture of fashion week been reacted to in different ways, with many bi-annual attendees becoming jaded to its purpose and execution. I have experienced all of South Africa’s fashion weeks and London Fashion Week before, and found them ofttimes wanting, but I held back judgement on New York until I could experience it myself.
Despite the decade-long tumultuous dialogue going on in the fashion industry, around fashion weeks relevance, influence and viability as a sustained platform for fashion brands exposure & such, I went ahead and scheduled my trip in the hopes that mine would be an experience that maintains the idealistic perception of New York Fashion Week being a fantastic and fun experience.
Having collaborated with many Proudly South African brands, such as Afrigarde, Michelle Ludek, Beach Cult, Ruff Tung, Lorne Jewellery, and Simon & Mary, as well as acclaimed shoe brands Puma and Madison Heart of New York, I felt ready to hit the streets and make a home for myself in the camera reel of photographers decorating the pavements of New York.
To sum up New York Fashion Week in many words: ”It does it’s job for the established, with predictable grace; while lazing about – worn out and uninspired – letting its hard-won reputation gather dust while new blood stands idly by wondering whether riding its curtails is worth it.”
I had a good time – thank goodness for Saks Fifth Avenue throwing one hell of a classy rager at their newly renovated 3rd floor. New York Fashion Week’s only misstep is its refusal to evolve its culture beyond the runway. New York Fashion Week is a week in which buyers, editors and fashion commentators were to preview collections to assess their viability for public consumption, shaping the tastes of the world – whether they knew it or not – into sustainable profits and creating a vibrant world of varying style. Through the years, New York Fashion Week became a week of fashion revelry which fattened the coffers of many a restaurant, gallery, taxi driver, dry cleaner, freelancer and more. Attending fashion week meant shows, celebrities, sherry and giggles; where one was likely to network and continue the fashion spirit with cab rides to pop-ups, underground clubs catering to this specific season, and so much more.
What I arrived to, was cold, and unyielding professionalism – to honestly be commended considering this is the big leagues of fashion…but it never felt like an event to be revered in any instance. The glimpses of warmth and interesting fun, was seen in the comradely shared by backstage hair & makeup folks, with M.A.C pro’s being whispered about with quiet reverence.
Anyway, let’s go into the shows I witnessed: which reaffirmed life and which should rather be seen on hell-spawn?
Showcasing a day before fashion week is to commence, is a sure way to have the fashion worlds undivided attention; something the founders of PH5 ran with when they used a minimal art space on Canal Street, to present their 15 looks amid fake vegetation and white risers – a motif birthed from artist Mark Quinn’s work.
I enjoyed their collection of clothing shaped in inspiration of flowers, rather than the archetypal floral prints we see; coveting the knits cut and sewn in the shapes of flower bulbs, and the sleeve color tones which were the only direct correlation to floral patterns.
Greta Constantine‘s collection at Pier59 Studios, was a reminder of this seasons most defined trend: Mermaid sequins & 80s glam.
The show was a well-organized, and straightforward presentation of a collection deserving of a nod. One wasn’t crowded into tightly-packed galleries, so attendees were able to fully see the pieces up close, in the lengthy and interactive showcase.
It is really up to the wearer, whether such clothing will pass as tacky or chic. I’m likely to come off as ‘trying too hard’ if I were to don half the collection, but my best assets are likely to be shown off wonderfully in the golden ensembles in sharp silhouettes, that walk the runway.
Saks Fifth Avenue had a reveal of their newly revamped third floor, and an exclusive showcase of new pieces by renowned designers like Chanel, Emilio Pucci, Alaia, Dior, and more.
In a nutshell: It was the perfect experience to immerse attendees in, for fashion week. The showcased designs were magnificent in their decadence and sophistication, and the space it took place in was expansive and rich – in decor, fashion design, and uninhibited vibe.
Where Francesca Liberatore could have gone wrong with the silks shiny enough to be satin’s, this collection showcased the power of pattern makers and an understanding of sustainable style – a little decadent, but worth wearing proudly in the real world. The design trademark of Liberatore reminds me very much of an amalgamation of South African designers Marriane Fassler and Stefania Morland’s aesthetic.
Vivienne Tam has a premonition nestled in the very fibers of this collection…the lifelines of threads to be well-worn, are squiggled in black; while the floral ruffles are made to be on the next perfume editorial pushing bohemian-chic-sunshine-child vibes.
Vivienne Hu was the layman’s Victoria Beckham; a collection filled with beautiful symmetry and minimalism. The cleanness and crisp delivery made this a perfectly acceptable, albeit expected offering.
The LF/LIFE exclusive shoe launch, held at The Gramercy Park Hotel, was quite the experience, devoid of celebrities and other high profilers for such an esteemed venue. The location served to elevate the otherwise mundane designs, rendering them more luxe than layman. I’m rather enamored with the pair of ankle boots I left with.
There were 2 collections, made in collaboration with Addition Elle, that gave a rallying cry for the curvaceous woman of the world: Addition Elle x Ashley Graham and that of Addition Elle x Jordyn Wood.
I was elated to witness the uninhibited functional style of the collection; to see sexy designed singularly for our voluptuous forms.
Probably the best thing about the showcase was the audience comprised 92% of big woman. 👏👏👏
.We are ready to buy.
Hakan Akkaya‘s show was a lovely black and white assassins wardrobe. The hair of the models adding a rather wild edge to the military athleisure collection, straddling the lines of BDSM sexy.
Witnessing Lanyu‘s star-studded front row runway show was a gift. I have no criticisms. It was feminine, entranching, inspired in design, and commercially viable.
Thanks to the efforts of South Africa’s Vivid Luxury PR & Marketing firm, I got the opportunity to view G-Star‘s latest collection in all its modern, technicolor glory, as a finale to my Fashion Week experience. Pharrell Williams and G-Star have evolved the idea of jeans as one-dimensional resilient threads. Their latest collection is a walk through the wild side of fashionable pants. The G-Star store was transformed to include a mood/inspiration board that walked individuals through the untamable inspiration of each piece, and?
It was interesting. I would be willing to try out atleast 3 of their pairs of jeans.
Stay tuned for the exclusive interviews I got with the G-Star Head of Strategy, and actor/model Broderick Hunter, coming just now…now now…I swear!
My advice for future New York Fashion Week attendees:
- Know the fashion event dates months in advance and constantly re-check the sites for updated dates.
- Get business cards made for yourself with your name, number, email and website.
- You get a good idea of where things falter and where people succeed when you have numerous comparisons to make. So attend Fashion Weeks on your own turf first. I found I rather enjoy Fashion Week’s in South Africa because we are everlastingly still in possession of that wide-eyed wonder when it comes to fashion, and that is something worth savoring.
- If you’re a person prone to wearing strange things during fashion weeks, make sure you go to the fashion event’s location the day before it begins so you have a good idea of where you can stop to fix things inconspicuously, where the bathrooms are located, where the charging ports are, where your base will be to meet people should you or they get lost etc. Sometimes you just need a place to take off your stilettos – I make sure I case a spot out with cushions every time.
- Eat before your fashion day stars. Things get hectic during the day. You may not anticipate it, but you could be doing interviews and photo shoots thanks to your great street style.
- If your media accreditation for an event doesn’t come through, make sure you have contingency plans. As a back-up I got the list of PR companies handling the different fashion houses shows and requested tickets. Ensure the following are covered before you send the email to the PR Companies:
Have a publication commission you to cover the event. Get the Editor to write you a commissioning letter with the publications letterhead on it. Get the publications statistics in a separate letter and perhaps a breakdown of how you plan to write-up or photograph and publish.
Acquire a list from the organizers on the PR companies handling the fashion designers ticket distribution.
Have an idea of where you will be staying for the duration of the event.
Make your email to these PR agencies brief, and informative, and attach the various documentation with the email. Add the address you will be staying at for the duration of the fashion event so that they may post tickets to you.
- They may look at you weirdly but smile, and compliment someone if they’re wearing something nice – even if you have no ulterior motive. It’s just a cool thing to do.
- Say “Please” to the celebrities you take pictures of. I’ve seen paparazzi stampedes and they kind of scare the celebs guys. If you say please you might get some of the most perfect shots purely from the celebrity being shocked into freezing; Happened with me!
- When getting photos taken of you, or when you are taking photos of them, exchange cards and at the end of the day send an email so as to remind the person of the situation and not lose track of things. You’re working in the realm of media and things move super fast, as does memory loss.
- Even when you’re just ordering coffee, browsing a shop or networking in the queue awaiting a runway show – You are selling yourself! That sounds prostitute’y but what I mean is that everyone is a potential connection whenever and wherever you are. Don’t annoy someone by bombarding them with information, but should they be willing, converse with them in a way that shows you find them interesting and that you too are a person worth knowing. I scored half of my tickets and business connections at Fashion Week just by talking (which we all know I love).
- Please find pleasure in whatever you’re doing. Whether you are writing about an event, photographing it, working as a liaison, simply being an attendee or a PR guru – find your bliss and help make the event a success by transforming the ambiance into something palatable by sheer force of emotion. It’s not nice attending something where everyone seems depressed and just tired of this sh*t!
For the full album of street style pictures and runway show pictures, visit my Facebook page.
My looks for each day of New York Fashion Week
Stay tuned. Next story is my round-up of my trip to London from a tourist angle.