Remodeling retro at New York Fashion Week
Sentimental sartorialism on full display
Published: Wednesday, February 20, 2013
Updated: Wednesday, February 20, 2013 18:02
From Feb. 7 to Feb. 14, the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts was once again home to thousands of fashion connoisseurs and couturiers for New York’s annual Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week. This week-long industry event allows designers the opportunity to showcase their Fall 2013 collections to the public for the first time.
February begins the first of the two major fashion seasons throughout the year; fall/winter clothes debut in February while spring/summer clothes are shown in September to allow designers the opportunity to market their collection in the following months. These week-long industry events, beginning in New York, are also hosted by three other major fashion capitals: London, Milan and Paris.
While each of the runway shows is an impressive display of sartorial pageantry, “Fashion Week” at its core is about defining what is en vogue. So, what trends can you expect this fall?
Many of the collections displayed a profound sense of retromania, as many designers drew inspiration from previous decades. There was also no shortage of glitz and glamour as many collections featured opulent metallic detailing à la Gatsby. In fact, beading and golden embroidery permeated many different collections.
The cosmopolitan influence in the fall collections was also noteworthy. While the traditional English and French influences remained, many designers found unorthodox inspiration in Eastern Europe and the Middle East, from the extravagance of the Russian ballet costumes to the textile patterns of Istanbul and Marrakech.
While many collections that walked the runway showcased tasteful, innovative designs, the Tory Burch Fall collection fell short of expectations. The collection was uninspired and declared by New York Magazine to be “outfits for when you just want to blend into the furniture.” Burch drew inspiration from Art Nouveau silhouettes using a lot of floral patterns that would seem more at home on salon upholstery than on the runway. The collection felt scattered and surprisingly dowdy with a parade of frumpy, below-the-knee hemlines, awkward boxy jackets and odd color combinations. Furthermore, the amount of patterns and embellishments on the pieces was somewhat overwhelming. For a designer who has built a reputation on effortless elegance, Tory Burch left much to be desired with her fall collection.
While Tory Burch’s collection was positively passé, Anna Sui managed to produce a line that was evocative of the mod 1960s, yet tailored to a contemporary audience. Each model, sporting cat eyes and nude lips, wore fun and bold psychedelic patterns. New York Magazine hailed Sui’s collection as “a perfect recreation of swinging London style that it’s beginning to appear Sui has a time machine synced with 60’s Carnaby Street.” The collection, with a color palette ranging from hot pink to electric blue, featured a series of shift dresses and Peter-Pan collars—two iconic pieces of mod London style. The jewelry showcased in Sui’s collection was minimal, mostly consisting of heavy jeweled pendants on long chains and nothing else. While the clothes may be considered loud for everyday wear, one could certainly imagine them gracing the streets of Manhattan later this year.
Although menswear is more standardized, there were still several exceptional shows. Tommy Hilfiger debuted a collection described by the designer as “Savile Road meets Ivy League.” It was a nod to the brand’s traditional American style, although this time paired with mod London influences. A parade of impeccably tailored blazers dominated the runway with classic patterns such as argyle, herringbone and houndstooth. The Park Avenue Armory runway was converted to emulate an ambiance not unlike that of Harvard’s library. The aesthetic was quintessentially preppy with a navy, red and white palette that is indicative of the brand. There were a few unexpected twists in pattern and texture that reminded audiences that classic style does not necessarily mean cliché.
Most notably, the New York Fall 2013 runway shows signal a change in perspective within the fashion industry. American Express’s fashion ambassador Lottie Oakley remarked, “It’s not so passé to wear clothes from last season. It used to be that it did matter if what you were wearing was from a few years ago, but now, if it’s a statement piece, you can keep it going for a long time.” Evocative of decades past, these shows make it so you can delve into your mother’s or grandmother’s closets and still be relevant. This kind of longevity and practicality is not usually associated with the fashion industry, but this change is not an unwelcome one, especially in the wake of a struggling economy.