There are a few that will always stand out
I spent most of Wednesday sleeping. Thursday was a surprise doctor appointment (not as bad as it sounds). Maybe it’s because I’m older, or perhaps because we put a lot more effort into our reviews this season, but by the time we reached the end of this autumn/winter fashion season I was ready for Kat to take me out back and just shoot me. These things take an inordinate amount of energy from me and more than once I’ve wondered if it is worth the effort. Of course, the answer is ultimately yes, they are worth all the effort, all the time, and all the loss of sleep.
Now is the time for everyone to start with their “Best of … ” lists. I’ve already seen a couple and, while I agreed on most points, felt they missed some collections that were either very fun or very important. The list we want to present today isn’t really a “Best” list. Best is an arbitrary definition and seems a bit bullying toward those who might not agree. Instead, ours is a list of favorites, the shows that made it worth the ungodly hours, the sore muscles, the aching back, the endless eye strain, and the gallons of coffee. When all the other shows blur together, these are the ones that stand out in my memory.
Please note that there is no uniform set of requirements for making this list. Some are more because of the designer’s attitude than the clothes. Others had fantastic casting. Still others had just one piece that really caught my eye. Of course, all of our reviews are ready for you to read on Pattern. If you’re interested in the full review, we’ll include a link to each one below. What we want to acknowledge here are those that made us smile, made us feel good about our use of time, and excuse making everyone else alter their schedules so we could catch the next show.
These are the autumn/winter shows that are worth watching again, in no particular order.
There are a couple of shows from this season where I really have no choice but to show video rather than still pictures. I love still photography and much of the time find that it presents the stronger message. Not in this case, though.
Gurung had already achieved a place on this list by casting “plus size” models Marquita Pring and Candice Huffine in his show. We didn’t see nearly enough of that this season and Gurung’s was probably the most notable show in which they appeared.
He also won the award for the most sheer we saw in a New York show this season. I’m guessing he didn’t want anyone to get too hot under those fantastic coats of his. We’re talking really sheer.
What cemented this show’s place in our hearts, though, was the finale walk. These are usually rather boring, actually. In fact, it’s not unusual for me to get up and grab another cup of coffee if I think it’s going to be long and drawn out. Prabal kept me in my seat, though, as the lights went down, the familiar introduction to John Lennon’s Imagine began playing, and models walked out in t-shirt with feminist messages of empowerment. I’ve never heard a fashion crowd go so completely quiet in all my life. The effect was amazing.
You can read our full review on Pattern, then watch the video here:
This could be one of those collections that go down in history: Raf Simons’ first show for Calvin Klein. There was a lot of speculation beforehand as to whether or not the designer best known for his time at Christian Dior. Could he produce something that Americans would notice and want to wear?
While the jury may still be out on whether Americans actually want to wear this new version of Calvin Klein, it definitely got attention when he sent down some “sweaters” with sheer bodies. It was an interesting look, to be sure:
Granted, Calvin Klein is known for being a very sexy line of clothing, especially when it comes to their men’s underwear ads. But is the US ready for this? Actually, what this look does is allow one to make a sweater with any t-shirt. The sheer bodice let’s the shirt’s message shine through while keeping one’s arms warm and toasty. At least, we think that’s the direction Raf was going. It will be interesting to see if anyone actually tries wearing the sweater as it appeared on the runway.
We suggest reading the full review over on Pattern for more details. There are several interesting pieces in this collection, but this one, available for men as well, could make this fall’s college football games a lot more interesting.
You won’t find any pictures from inside the Armory where Marc Jacob’s fashion show was held. In a season where spectacle often exceeded the value of the clothes show, Marc seemed to give the entire industry a giant middle finger by going with an anti-spectacle. No set. No photographers pit. Just one long aisle down the center of the floor with folding chairs on either side. No music. No distractions. Just the sound of models’ heels clicking on the hardwood floor. Stripped back and as bare bones as possible.
Only when models stepped outside the Armory were there cameras and music. Lots of cameras and lots of music. Models came out and sat in front of large speakers playing Issac Hayes’ cover of Walk on By while everyone snapped pictures of them, and the models snapped pictures of everyone else. It made for a most interesting end to NYFW. Our full review is here.
A lot of people don’t understand this Burberry collection. No matter how much explanation Christopher Bailey has given, I’ve been amazed by the number of people who just don’t get it. The challenge seems to be that the collection is based on the work of a specific sculpture artist, Henry Moore. Even with Moore’s work on display right there in front of them as the models walked, not everyone seemed terribly thrilled with the collection and more than a few have wondered aloud whether Bailey’s days are numbered.
No, Christopher Bailey isnt’ going anywhere, and this collection is better than the credit it’s been given. There is some critical work going on here and while it’s not necessarily down the normal trench-coat-laden path it is still a strong collection with a number of worthwhile pieces. Among them, Bailey’s new take on that famous trench. What really blew my mind, though, were the amazing oversized capes that he put on models for the end of the show. While these pieces are not part of the collection that will hit stores, they definitely made the collection stand out and demonstrate how incredibly creative Bailey is. There’s a lot more to say, and you can find it all on Pattern. And for the record, I like the new trench, too.
This show kind of takes the cake for coolness this season. Not only was the runway diverse in terms of age, gender, and size, it was 100% entertainment without using outlandish set design as a spectacle. Instead, Marras employed a German-based theater method known as Tanztheater. As a result, there were ongoing skits between couples and silent monologs from individual models that were constantly taking place as the incredibly colorful line of clothes made their way around the catwalk. It was fun and entertaining without taking away from the clothes.
Then, came the finale, which involved a choreographed march of sorts. Humorous, to be sure. But oh, they weren’t done! Marras comes out to take his bow and the entire Tanztheater cast chases him crazily around the runway. I put the link to the show in our review, but I’m including it again here because it’s just that much fun to watch! Absolutely nothing like it all season!
Politics was on the mind of a lot of people this season and with good reason. As trade policies with the US could become less friendly to imports, many labels are looking for ways to express their dissent. Many designers kept their protest subtle so that it wouldn’t cause too much of a stir. Not Angela Missoni. She caused a stir and stirred hard.
First, there were pink knit “pussy” hats on all the guests’ seats. Then, at the end of a fairly typical Missoni show, came these three looks:
Now, in case you don’t catch all the symbolism, let me help you out a bit. The pink triangle is for AIDS awareness. The Venus symbol is for feminism. And the two hearts over the breasts are to protest the social media censorship of women’s nipples. That’s a LOT to put into one fashion show.
Oh, but she wasn’t done. After models made their finale walk wearing those same pink knit hats, Ms. Missoni and her entire extended family come out onto the runway where she read the following statement:
“I feel the need to recognize that in a time of uncertainty there is a bond that can keep us strong and safe, that unites those that respect all human rights. Let’s show the world that the fashion world is united and fearless.”
Wham. This was without question the boldest activist statement we saw all season and it was BEAUTIFUL. You’ll want to read the full review for more detail.
Dries Van Noten
This season marked Dries Van Noten’s 100th runway show, which is pretty impressive. Rather than putting on some great spectacle, however, Dries chose simply to review his past 20 years of fashion by bringing back the models who wore the looks the first time around. Talk about age diversity! That meant there were models ranging from 45-years-old to 16-years-old all on the same runway. The entire atmosphere was fun, jovial, and sufficiently celebratory without going over the top.
Equally important is that Van Noten kept his catalog parade from feeling like a catalog parade. He overlayed his house silhouettes with geometric patterns that fit well with contemporary looks and kept everything fresh and lively. He even incorporated metallic fabrics there were literally everywhere this season. While Van Noten doesn’t always get an overwhelming amount of press during the season, he gave plenty of people reason to look at him this time around and they’ll likely stick around to see what happens next. Read more in our Pattern review.
This was Maria Grazia Chiuri’s blue season, which would, in of itself, have been enough reason to include this Dior collection on our list of favorites. Blue is such a wonderful color for fashion in the first place, and her sense of design and styling fits the color very well. There was no way that this wasn’t going to be a strong collection.
However, what really causes this collection to stand out for me is her use of denim as a metaphor for women’s strength. When she sent down a set of blue denim overalls with a wool blazer, she had me. The message she was sending was emphatic: women can be strong, stylish, and feminine all at the same time. Women can work at the hardest manual labor jobs you want to throw at them and still turn around and be the belle of the ball without batting an eye. This was a more subtle form of political statement, but be very certain Ms. Chiuri was making a statement and women heard it. You’ll find more in our review.
Andreas Kronthaler For Vivienne Westwood
That’s really all I should need to say. Instead of waiting and coming out at the end of the collection to take a bow as she always does, Dame Vivienne Westwood became a model in her husband’s collection and walked twice during this season’s show. The auditory response she received from the crowd was overwhelming. Dame Westwood is loved throughout both the fashion and environmental communities. Her clothes speak to those who don’t care to fit into current trends and those who love her clothes love her as well.
So, when Dame Westwood set foot onto the runway, the entire crowd erupted in cheers and totally forget anything else that came afterward. Nothing else mattered. Vivienne walked! Catch the full review on Pattern.
Leather has been a huge trend this season, but there are a lot of people who find the use of animal products cruel. The size of that audience is significant and leading that charge in the fashion world is Stella McCartney. Her animal-friendly collection has been the go-to line for animal activists for quite a while.
This year, however, she took it a step further with not-skin-skin, a new high-tech material that looks and feels identical to leather. Ms. McCartney is picky, mind you. She’s very much aware of her brand’s luxury status and knows that if she doesn’t maintain quality she loses that status. She waited until she had a material that she’s confident is as strong and as durable as real leather. While I can’t speak to the durability of the product, I can say that it certainly looks like leather with the exception of being a bit more flexible. The question now is whether the rest of the industry will follow suit. The answer lies in what consumers demand, so that one’s totally up to you. See the full review on Pattern.
And now we’re done, although I’m sure I’m leaving someone out. Overall, this hasn’t been as boring a season as some of those previous. Perhaps the sense of activism helped more of the clothing lines take a more serious tone, which is a good thing. We didn’t get the sense that anyone was “phoning it in” this season as we often have before. Not that every collection was great, mind you. We’re still wondering about both the Gucci and Prada collections. Those were both… interestingly creative. And if we didn’t review your favorite designer it may very well be because we watched and decided there wasn’t any point in dragging the whole label through the mud because we couldn’t find anything nice to say. We try to not be totally mean, but there are limits.
So, the Autumn/Winter 17 season is past and we’re already looking toward Spring/Summer 18. Just this morning, Chloé announced Clare Waight-Keller’s replacement as Natasha Ramsy-Levi. Already we have something to which we can look forward. Who knows what else might happen between now and then. Perhaps Roberto Cavalli will find someone worthy to take the reigns of that ship. Know that we’ll be watching, waiting, and planning a great experience for you this fall.