A message from the runway

Models presents creations from the Calvin Klein Autumn/Winter 2017 collection during New York Fashion Week in the Manhattan borough of New York, U.S., February 10, 2017.  REUTERS/Andrew Kelly



Crunchy snow and ice greeted designers, models and fans at New York Fashion Week. What visitors got was a high-profile debut and a political message at Calvin Klein, some psychedelic designs (and more politics) from Jeremy Scott, a focus on femininity from Jason Wu, and not one but two collections by Kate Spade.
The message could not have been clearer or more pointed: Raf Simons’ debut collection for Calvin Klein opened and closed with the David Bowie song “This is Not America.”
“When you have a voice, you should use it,” Simons said backstage just last week at his own label’s menswear show. And now, for his much-awaited bow Friday morning with new employer Calvin Klein — for which he has moved to New York — the Belgian designer was using his.
The soundtrack wasn’t the only means Simons used to put across his message. A day earlier, Calvin Klein had sent guests patterned bandanas, with a note saying: “Unity, inclusion, hope and acceptance: Join us at Calvin Klein in wearing the white bandanna. #tiedtogether.”
The clothes, too — designed along with the label’s Pieter Mulier — were meant to display an inclusive message, sort of a melting pot of styles. “It reflects the environment,” Simons wrote in the show notes. “It is the coming together of different characters and different individuals — just like America itself.”
There were nods to the American West for both women and men, with denim jackets over loose jeans, or colorful cowboy-style shirts. There was sporty America, in striped tube-sock sleeves — similar to the arm-warmers shown by his men’s label. There were crisp business-like suits in black and white, and coats in colorful quilt patterns.
For some flash, there were a number of garments — dresses, coats, skirts — encased in a layer of plastic, looking like cellophane wrapping on a gift. In one dress, the plastic shielded a burst of feathers in white, yellow and black. A golden yellow furry coat also had this laminated effect. Another common embellishment was a silver metallic flower, appearing on black leather jackets or sheer mesh tops that left little to the imagination.
Among the celebrity attendees were Gwyneth Paltrow, Julianne Moore, Sarah Jessica Parker, Naomie Harris, Kate Bosworth, Greta Gerwig, Brooke Shields, director Sofia Coppola, and supermodel Lauren Hutton.
Hutton praised both the show’s contents and its messaging.
“He’s a new miracle,” she said backstage of Simon’s arrival at the label, a post the former Dior designer has taken over from Francisco Costa. Asked whether politics should have an expression in fashion, she said: “I think that’s what all art is for. Fashion, if it’s good, always has something to say about society.”
Designer Diane von Furstenberg also was among the front-row guests. She wore a large button that said: “Fashion starts with Planned Parenthood.”
“It’s not about politics,” she explained. “It’s about women’s rights, about the body, and about human rights.”

There were Jesus portraits on velvet. Sequined Cleopatra-style headdresses. A white feathered tiara several feet high. A babydoll nightie saying “Love Stinks.” A tearful Marilyn Monroe face. Sparkling gold go-go boots. A guy in a kilt AND ripped jeans. Another guy draped in a stole that looked like a toy fox.
Yes, it was Jeremy Scott, awakening the tired, cold Fashion Week masses Friday evening with his psychedelic designs. Backstage before the show in a packed West Village venue, Scott said he had been thinking about iconography — and politics.
“I was thinking about how Elvis and Marilyn and Michael Jackson and Jesus are all kind of worshipped on the same altar,” Scott said. “And that’s kind of how we’ve gotten ourselves into a situation of having an entertainer for president. … And then of course, at the same time (I was) trying to make fun clothes that I love and that I think my friends and fans will love.”
He said was going for an effect of “’60s boudoirs mixed with streetwear elements like hoodies and T-shirts and sweatshirts … collaged in a way like they’ve been sawed in half and smashed into one.”
Scott also felt inspired, he said, to take a political stand with his designs. “How can there not be a political statement today? … You know I think everyone needs to kind of speak out. Everyone needs to do their due diligence as a citizen to make their voice heard because that’s the only thing that will protect us.”
To underscore that point, he wore a shirt saying, “Our voices are the only thing that will protect us” — with what he said were phone numbers of members of Congress on the back. He urged others to make their political views known to their representatives, and not to feel “too cool for school” to do that.
“Yes, I can still make fun clothes and have a good time, and there’s no wrong in that,” he said. “But you still need to have a moment to really do your due diligence as a citizen now more than ever.” Celebrity attendees included Debbie Harry and Kylie Jenner.
It was back in 2009 that Jason Wu vaulted to prominence as the chosen designer of Michelle Obama’s first inaugural gown. For good measure, he repeated the feat four years later.
This year, he’s celebrating the 10th anniversary of his label, and he marked the occasion Friday with a display of wearable, elegant designs at the St. Regis Hotel that showed his talent for turning out pretty yet unfussy clothes.
The collection was focused on “the luxurious femininity at the core of the house,” Wu said in the show notes. It featured soft suits and flowing dresses in fabrics like velvet, tulle, and chiffon. A shoulder-baring dress and a billowing top were both fashioned of a black gauzy material dotted with pale green velvet. Colors ranged from “lipstick reds” to “amber golds” to “juniper greens.” Accents included grommets and pearls. Printed chiffons were embellished with what the label said were “thousands of crystals, blurring the line between fantasy and reality.”
Among the celebrities present were film actress Diane Kruger and model-actress Amber Valletta. But the star of the front row — at least judging from the oohs and aahs coming from photographers — was Adriana Lima, the Brazilian Victoria’s Secret model, in a hot pink satin dress and black leather jacket. She was photographed with the jacket on, but her later removal of said jacket was enough to get the shutters clicking again furiously.

Kate Spade just wants to have fun. The playful womenswear brand presented two collections Friday, complete with pom-pom accents, colorful fringe and a cake-shaped purse.
“I love the vibe. I love that it’s so flirty and feminine and very chic, but also has like a sense of humor to it,” said actress Victoria Justice during the event at New York’s famed Rainbow Room.
Leighton Meester, Jamie Chung and Camilla Belle also braved the cold for the morning presentation held on two floors with a dual purpose: A spring line of see-now, buy-now clothes and the fall 2017 collection inspired by 1920s Paris. The small, buy-now spring line included fun accessories like wicker purses in the shape of camels and monkeys, and a large straw hat with colorful, dangling tassels.
There were jean dresses with floral appliques and denim overalls paired with a cozy, fringed turtleneck sweater.
Another floor featuring Spade’s fall looks showcased feminine dresses and skirts with a moody edge, in black lace, leather and faux fur.

Raf Simons and Pieter Mulier acknowledge attendees after presenting the Calvin Klein Autumn/Winter 2017 collection during New York Fashion Week in the Manhattan borough of New York, U.S. February 10, 2017.  REUTERS/Andrew Kelly

A model presents creations from the Calvin Klein Autumn/Winter 2017 collection during New York Fashion Week in the Manhattan borough of New York, U.S., February 10, 2017.  REUTERS/Andrew Kelly

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