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This shouldn’t come as a surprise. Multiple designers showing at New York Fashion Week this weekend shared the same inspiration: female empowerment.
At Jill Stuart, the movement was the focus of her presentation, taking place Friday night at the National Arts Club on Gramercy Park. After 25 years of debuting collections through runway shows at the New York Public Library, she chose to relocate to the NAC after deeming its “beautiful collection of art by female artists” the perfect backdrop for her fall 2018 looks.
The models in her lineup, made up of artists, musicians and actresses, each played a unique role: They stood in corners and lounged in sofas, sketching, reading or writing on a notepad. One played a piano, while singing lyrics like, “I’m alright, don’t need your help.”
“Empowerment is so important,” Stuart said backstage, minutes before showtime. “We have to embrace it and really get the word out out there.”
Chromat’s Becca McCharen has certainly done her part: On Friday afternoon, true to form, she sent a diverse array of models down her runway, this time to a soundtrack of Slayrizz belting out her empowerment anthem, “Salvage.”
Then on Saturday night, Alexander Wang kept to the theme, turning out his own take on the power woman. He premiered a collection infused with references from the ‘80s (including claw hair clips), because that was the decade “when we first saw female empowerment in the office,” lead hairstylist Guido Palau divulged to Fashionista before the show.
And of course, prior to the weekend, there were those bedazzled “Pussy Power” bags and shoes Tom Ford debuted earlier in the week.
Elsewhere, Sachin and Babi designers Sachin and Babi Ahluwalia decided to skip the runway this season in favor of showing their collection through appointments throughout the week, and simultaneously launching their fall digital campaign featuring model Maye Musk. The brand’s customer doesn’t relate to runway models, said Sachin.
“Ms. Musk is more than just a beautiful face to represent the brand,” he said. “She is an empowering woman with a vivacious personality and a spirit that is infectious. She’s a reflection of today’s culture and current environment.”
Celine Semaan, the CEO and designer at the sustainable fashion and accessories brand Slow Factory, realizes that running her own fashion brand is, in and of itself, an unsustainable exercise.
“Not eating, not dressing, doing nothing — those are all the most sustainable options,” said Semaan. “Our job is to give people better options.”
During New York Fashion Week, Semaan hosted an event about sustainability, technology and human rights in the fashion industry because, as she put it, she wants to do her part to mobilize the industry to taking steps, no matter how small, toward becoming more sustainable. She also planned to watch out for meaningful messages around change during the runway shows, now that being considered an activist brand is considered cool.
“Brands are running campaigns around where their clothes are made, and customers are asking for more accountability from brands,” she said.
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Later this afternoon, Gypsy Sport’s Rio Uribe will present his fall collection at Pier 59, a location reportedly secured for the young designer by the CFDA. As he’s a fan of guerilla-style fashion shows — he presented his spring collection in Paris’s Place de la République and hosted a show in NYC’s Washington Square Park in 2014 — expectations for a next-level runway are high.
Prabal Gurung was recently called the most woke man in fashion for regularly speaking out about social injustice and championing diversity models on the runway. (Last season, his cast included Ashley Graham, Andreja Pejic and Aya Jones.) If he doesn’t use tonight’s show to make a statement, it will be a big surprise.
Image: Tibi fall 2018