NEW YORK FASHION WEEK | F/W 2017
Politics, human rights, equality, and a search for humanity have become the ever-present theme this fashion season. It’s true that the fashion industry has always been jarring, daring, and willing and able to take a political stance when needed, from Coco Chanel to Yves Saint Laurent’s inclusion of women and the pant suit, to Rei Kawakubo’s display of “Destroy” in Paris. This season at New York Fashion Week heeded the call to action for the greater good, and was a season where designers and like-minded creatives joined as one to negate the destructive forces that plague not only the fashion industry, but the larger world around us.
Should style and design be deemed political? Some say yes, and some beg to differ, but ask yourself this: Do you fit the status quo? The following statements may seem vague: ‘You can’t sit with us; You don’t belong here; Leave it to a man to get the job done right; Just do what women do best.’ However, if you take a closer look, these statements were ingrained as societal norms for centuries. This season, New York Fashion Week promoted resurgence; a resurgence in style and design; a resurgence in the humanities; and a resurgence in worldly opinions of America and American fashion. The return of Raf Simons to quintessential American brand Calvin Klein spoke volumes as his designs marched to the echo of the late David Bowie’s This is not America. Simons focused on America’s yesterday, today, and tomorrow. He stressed the underlying mantra of “Making American Great Again”. We’ll play the part of Switzerland and abstain from judging this statement…
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Most importantly, there was a sense of resurgence in clothes, not just crafting a collection together and sending it through the “see now, buy now” craze, but instead conceptualizing and creating clothes with a purpose, with meaning, with a deeper connection to the industry and the people who purchase them. Victoria Beckham led this ideal by creating a collection she genuinely wants to wear, creating a personal connection between herself and the garments. Beckham spoke of femininity and the reality that women want to feel secure and empowered through dress and design. This ideal is entirely relevant at present. Designers such as Christian Siriano and Michael Kors put women of various creeds and races on equal footing. The inclusion of plus-size models, such as Ashley Graham, Alessandra Garcia Lorido, Sabina Karlsson, Precious Lee, Marquita Pring, and Georgia Pratt broke barriers for women, stressing beauty beyond skin color, hair texture, or the two numbers on the tag of a dress.
To round out New York Fashion Week, Marc Jacobs delivered a collection that left many scratching their heads and stroking their chins, both with intrigue and confusion. Utilizing a runway free of music (save for the infamous car horns and ongoing banter of the New York City streets as the orchestra) where phones were not allowed presented an auditorium free of social media. Yes, we said that correctly – no Instagram stories, no Snapchat, and no live feeds. This brought to the surface an underlying critique of ‘today’s’ generation. Viewers were forced to be present, to live in the moment, to enjoy through the comfort of their own eyes without smartphones dictating their happiness. Jacobs highlighted a critical question; are we as individuals more engrossed by creating a veneer of fake existence based on what we post on social media instead of real existence involving what we buy and who we support within the creative industries? This is anything but a far fetched notion.New York Fashion Week Fall/Winter ’17 collections left many thinking again. Open ended questions created a desire to know what fashion’s future will look like.