NEW YORK — “If you build it, they will come.” That seemed to be one of the mantras of New York Fashion Week. Tommy Hilfiger built a carnival on a Manhattan pier, including actual rides, a Ferris Wheel, arcade games, a tattoo parlour , and cotton candy for everyone. And Ralph Lauren built a greenhouse-like glass structure on Madison Avenue, commandeering the block and stopping traffic in the most literal way.
Kanye West, meanwhile, schlepped hundreds of people out to Roosevelt Island, where it was so hot, guests — and models — wilted in the sun. And Marc Jacobs put on a typically wild and colorful show to close out the week, even stoking a bit of online controversy with his hairstyling choice.
As always, New York Fashion Week had its weird and its wonderful moments. Here’s a brief selection of both:
WE HOPE THEY GOT A BONUS
Your mom was right: Beautiful people aren’t always happy. Case in point: West’s Yeezy models, who had to stand for hours in searing New York sunshine and stifling humidity, clad in body-hugging garments that weren’t exactly breezy. A few simply melted to the ground. It was even worse for one model who appeared to risk serious ankle injury wobbling along in thigh-high boots with malfunctioning heels. Not only that — the poor thing had to wear a hooded puffer jacket in the intense heat.
A SECRET GARDEN
Tracy Reese, on the other hand, found a breezy corner of the city for her presentation: a cemetery in the East Village. Though there were underground crypts, there were no gravestones, just a pretty, grassy spot perfect for Reese’s pretty florals. Reese also staffed her runway show with more “real women” — i.e. non-professional models — than professionals. They were of all ages and shapes and walks of life — a happy nod to inclusivity in fashion. Reese also is manufacturing some of her dresses in larger sizes than before.
A painting, a piece of pottery, a book: Some designers cite very specific inspirations for their collections. At Proenza Schouler, the always-inventive Lazaro Hernandez and Jack McCollough cited Bernini sculptures and the work of contemporary New York painter John Currin, plus techniques from Paris, Bolivia and Japan. At Rodarte, sisters Laura and Kate Mulleavy cited “The Spirit of the Beehive,” a 1973 film by Spanish director Victor Erice, for the various apian (pertaining to bees) influences in their dresses.
A CHIC ANIMAL KINGDOM
Thom Browne keeps upping the ante with his delightfully nutty — and sophisticated — runway productions. He transformed a Chelsea gallery space into the shiny, tiled interior of a swimming pool, then populated it with a gaggle of models in old-fashioned bathing robes and shower caps. Aided by male models lavishly dressed as parrots, seagulls and cats, they undressed to reveal ingenious, highly detailed “suits” that were actually one-piece dresses using a trompe l’oeil (tricking the eye) effect. Then they disrobed again to reveal matching, retro bathing suits. Presiding over it all — of course — was a goddess with a shimmering dog’s head that doubled as a disco ball.
Fashion Week always feels like a carnival — but this really WAS a carnival. After the runway show along the boardwalk, guests at Tommy Hilfiger’s (and co-designer Gigi Hadid’s) riverside extravaganza were encouraged to stay and sample the rides, get temporary tattoos or nail art, eat lobster rolls, or have some liquid refreshment. There was also clothing on sale. The next day, the whole shebang was open to the public.
IT’S A KARDASHIAN WORLD
It seemed like every sort of Kardashian-Jenner played a role in Fashion Week. Minutes after leaving their sister and brother-in-law at the Yeezy show, Kylie and Kendall Jenner arrived at their own event celebrating their fledgling fashion label, KENDALL + KYLIE. Kendall walked on the runways for Wang, Lauren, Michael Kors and Marc Jacobs. Her mother, Kris Jenner, was a front-row fixture, too.
RECALLING SLIMIER TIMES
Many designers incorporate an element of nostalgia. Jeremy Scott’s nostalgia was for a slimier, greasier, dirtier era in New York City. Scott’s outfits blared: “Rated X,” and “HOT HOT HOT,” and “SLIME CITY.” Backstage, he reminisced about a time when Times Square actually had X-rated movie theatres . He also looked to the future: Some of his party dresses were in exaggerated geometric shapes — looking “like a UFO landed on it,” in Scott’s words.
A TO-DO OVER A HAIRDO
There was lots to catch the eye at the Marc Jacobs show, traditionally the finale of the week. But what caught more attention than all the bright colours , sparkles, lovely forest of light bulbs and ginormous platform shoes were the hairdos. The models, regardless of skin colour , were all wearing rainbow-hued dreadlocks. That led to a vigorous discussion online, with some accusing the designer of cultural appropriation. Others found the whole argument silly. Jacobs responded on Instagram: “I don’t see colour or race — I see people.”
Quipped actress Julianne Moore: “This is the cleanest sidewalk I have ever seen in New York!” For one night, the sidewalk outside Lauren’s flagship store was a runway, and the street belonged to him (to the grumblings, perhaps, of some neighbours ). After the show, a luxurious take on the American West, you could walk right into his store, sip some champagne, and head to the cash register to buy whatever you wanted from the collection (if you could afford it).
…. AND FAST FOOD
Lauren wasn’t the only designer dipping into “see now, buy now” fashion. At the end of Alexander Wang’s high-wattage show, he revealed a new collaboration with adidas Originals on a line of unisex apparel and footwear, some of which was available to the public the next day on pop-up trucks at three locations. Speaking of trucks, Wang hauled food trucks into his giant indoor afterparty on the Hudson, to dispense McDonald’s burgers, Slurpees from 7-Eleven, and all the candy, chips and junk food you’d ever want. Maybe your mom told you this, too: Not all fashionistas count calories.