An Insider Intro to New York Fashion Week
ABOVE: Kaia Gerber during New York Fashion Week
The chaotic frenzy of paparazzi crowds the street and swarms the entrance, eagerly waiting for street-style stars. A bumper-to-bumper row of black SUVs monopolize the block. Honks and camera clicks are audible even once inside the venue. Finally, the lights go down, and space is illuminated by an abundance of brightly-lit iPhones. An ear-piercing beat plays, compelling showgoers to extract themselves from the firm leash that attaches them to their screens. Models begin to strut down the runway, evoking a self-confident, empowering sensation throughout the crowd. This is Fashion Week.
Fashion Week, which, ironically, lasts for an entire month, is a time when designers can showcase their talent and creativity to the most important and influential people in the fashion industry. Designers aim to have their silhouettes in the top fashion publications, on the racks of the most prestigious luxury department stores and worn by the most high-profile celebrities. The fashion crowd travels to a different, equally chic city every week of the month, jetting from New York to Milan.
For Daniella Vitale, Chief Executive Officer of Barneys New York, Fashion Week is “a month to see an amazing display of talent, art, and design from new and old designers all over the world.” Vitale also believes Fashion Week’s purpose “is really to give newer designers the opportunity and spotlight to show their fresh talent with all eyeballs in one place.”
New York Fashion Week, the commencement to Fashion Month, is known to house the most-talented new designers while still hosting mainstays like Tom Ford, Ralph Lauren, and Calvin Klein. In recent years, New York has had trouble generating and sustaining excitement surrounding its shows, but this season it had an action-packed week with Ralph Lauren’s 50th-anniversary extravaganza, Proenza Schouler’s return to NYFW, and Calvin Klein’s Jaws-themed show. New designers such as Pyer Moss, Telfar, and Matthew Adams Dolan added to the excitement.
This season, a huge spotlight was put on up-and-coming designer Kerby Jean-Raymond of Pyer Moss. Founded in 2013, the brand, as Kerby, a Brooklyn native, describes it, is an “art project” with an aim towards activism and political discussion. He recently started his sportswear-inspired label with a buzzy collaboration with sportswear giant Reebok. Through this, Kirby’s label became more well-known and eventually earned him a CFDA Vogue/Fashion Fund nomination.
Pyer Moss’ latest show was held in Weeksville, Brooklyn, which was one of the first free black communities in the nineteenth century. Editors, retailers, and even rappers made the journey out to Brooklyn for Kerby’s debut collection as a Fashion Fund nominee. The show began with a heart-warming performance by a local choir who sang throughout its duration. The co-ed collection was strung together by a powerful political statement tackling racial equality and police brutality, with slogans such as “stop calling 911 on the culture” printed on T-shirts. The designer also highlighted diversity and inclusivity by using an extremely diverse group of models. Flowy, diaphanous dresses graced the runway, accentuating the models’ figures, and intricately beaded pieces were spotted throughout the collection.
Tom Ford started off the week with an enormous show at the Park Avenue Armory. He decorated his runway with an elegant pink carpet that covered the entirety of the room. As usual, attendees were dressed to impress, with some wearing leopard-print mini dresses and others in floor-length gowns designed by Ford himself. Everything from the music to the garments to the lighting emulated dark glamour, Ford’s signature. Models walked along the long and narrow runway wearing elaborate fabrics including fringe, crocodile, and lace. An eclectic assembly of onlookers, including Cardi B, Crazy Rich Asians’ Henry Golding, and Tom Hanks all sat beside each other in the front row.
At heart, Fashion Week serves the purpose of stimulating and inspiring its attendees and onlookers. The season, so far, has done just that with a new wave of diversity and inclusivity being featured on runways, and the breaking of fashion boundaries. This, ultimately, is crucial for the future and sustainability of contemporary fashion.