Another New York Fashion Week has come and gone, and with it, another crop of winners and losers.
As the fashion industry prepares to head across the pond for the start of London Fashion Week on Friday, we reflected on some of the biggest successes and failures from the spring 2018 presentations, from the pink sand dunes of Rihanna’s Fenty x Puma show to the ongoing battle between Alexander Wang and Philipp Plein.
We’ll start with the winners.
The love affair between music and fashion
Music and fashion have long been intertwined, but this year, there was an influx of notable musical performances accompanying runway shows: Scout Willis performed during Alice + Olivia’s presentation, Solange surprised guests of Maryam Nassir Zadeh’s show, and The Weeknd performed at Harper’s Bazaar annual NYFW Icons party, to name a few. Performers are also increasingly showing up in front row seats, alongside celebrities and industry moguls (not to mention those who have opted against becoming designers themselves à la Kanye West and Rihanna), pointing to the continued romance between fashion and music.
As designers flee New York in favor of showing in other cities (or just ditch shows altogether in favor of showing looks on social media), there have been more opportunities for students to fill the vacancies. The fashion industry is notoriously difficult to break into, but young designers were given the spotlight at several shows this fall, including the Supima Design Competition, the CFDA and LIFEWTR designer presentation, and a show held by the Rhode Island Institute of Design. For Supima, students and recent graduates had to apply for spots in the shows, and winners were given $10,000 to help fund their collections.
Move over, Yeezy. If there was one celebrity designer that was the talk of the town this season, it was Rihanna. The singer debuted her Fenty beauty line on Monday to much fanfare, a collection of products intended for a diverse array of skin tones and types. A few days later, her Fenty x Puma show was just as buzzy, ending with her greeting the crowd on the back of a motorcycle, driving past the runway display of glittery pink sand mountains.
The plus-size movement
While some — like plus-size model Candice Huffine, speaking at on a panel hosted by Elle.com — said they were disappointed in the lack of representation of plus-size models during the week, others said this season made significant progress. Designers like Christian Siriano and Becca McCharen-Tran of Chromat continue to cast a number of plus-size models, while Ashley Graham hit the runway at several shows, including Michael Kors on Thursday.
Leslie Jones cheering at Christian Siriano
A year after Christian Siriano came to the aid of “Saturday Night Live” star Leslie Jones — after she shared that not a single designer would dress her for the “Ghostbusters” premiere — the actress was seated front row at the designer’s show. Not one to hold back, Jones began yelling with delight upon seeing model Coco Rocha, a moment that Washington Post fashion critic Robin Givhan called “a delight” and “fabulous and exhilarating.”
…And now for the losers.
See-now-buy-now goes by the wayside
Designers are fighting back against the pressures of see-now-buy-now, despite consumer demand for making runway looks immediately available in the age of Instagram. Many have dropped efforts to expedite their collections, and returned to their original production and sale schedules. Some, like Stacey Bendet, creative director and CEO of Alice + Olivia, reserve see-now-buy-now for product drops and special events. “When I want to do see-now-buy-now, I do more of an event or party that’s a little bit more celebrity-focused, rather than brand-focused,” she said at her presentation. “For the show, I want to inspire everyone for the next season. So I think fashion week exists and it has a purpose, and that purpose remains.”
Stuffy Carolina Herrera looks
Known for her elaborate gowns and traditional looks, Carolina Herrera has been a mainstay for formal wear and dressing celebrities for events, but many said she missed the mark this season. The designer attempted to appeal to younger sets through bold, splashy colors, but some said the silhouettes looked stuffy and overly refined. “Poufed sleeves, plunging sweetheart necks, giant ball skirts and overly coordinated belts with colorful square buckles clung to a sense of occasion that doesn’t exist anymore,” wrote WWD reporter Jessica Iredale.
The ‘chose your own venue’ method
Though the CFDA shortened NYFW by one day to minimize the chaos and allow for more travel time for editors and industry headed to London, the event was a tangled web of venues and locations. While several shows were held at Skylight Clarkson Square, others were scattered all over the city, with some designers, like Eckhaus Latta, even showing in Brooklyn. To combat frenzied travel between venues, IMG and Spring Studios announced they were partnering to become the official home of NYFW come 2018. Spring will serve as the centralized locale for shows, pop-ups and events, much like the Bryant Park tents of Mercedes Benz Fashion Week in years past.
Wang vs. Plein
In the battle for the most raucous afterparty, neither Alexander Wang nor Philipp Plein won, as industry insiders and fans grew tired of the antics. The dueling events, held on the same night, acted as the culmination of a months-long dispute between the two designers, after Wang called Plein out for copying the aesthetic of his 2014 H&M show. While both events were open to the public, many waited hours to get into the parties to no avail, and eventually took to social media to complain about the failed PR stunts.