Photo: Meredith Galante/Business Insider
New York Fashion Week is an exciting time for so many, season after season. Designers, magazine editors, bloggers, buyers, retailers, executives, models, celebrities, A-listers (even B and C-listers), consultants, publicists, investors and sponsors alike focus in on this important week of non-stop shows, presentations, and of course, after-parties.When I go to shows, I like to take it all in. Before the models head down the runway, I pay close attention to who attends, as it is a true reflection of a brand’s popularity and its DNA. I love observing the politics of which retailers and magazines are present, where they sit in relation to their competitors, and whether their top dogs bothered to show up. I find it entertaining to witness a brand’s “groupies” as they vary so dramatically from one designer to the next. Although, seeing Nicki Minaj in the front row at Carolina Herrera seemed out of place, albeit highly entertaining. he funniest part to me about the seating politics of a fashion show is that one designer’s front row darling could be another designer’s fourth row. People take this very, very seriously.
Fashion is still a hierarchical world where people earn their stripes with time or by latching onto the right mentors or champions. Some people in the industry can rise to stardom or fall from one season to another. Talent can be recognised and saluted, but also violently critiqued in a very public way. The result is an industry chock full of drama and ego and at times, deep humiliation.
This Spring 2012 fashion week I attended a range of shows and presentations. My favourites were Carolina Herrera, Donna Karan, and Carlos Miele. Time and time again, Carolina Herrera successfully spins a new take on luxurious and feminine classics. Donna Karan was inspired this year by a tribal theme that she made city-appropriate. Carlos Miele knows how to incorporate bright colours and prints into his sexy designs (caftans were a highlight), which are as suitable for Brazil as they are for just about any over-the-top warm climate.
It was a treat to attend J. Crew’s first event at fashion week, a commercial presentation of women’s and men’s ready to wear and accessories. I found classic silhouettes with a hint of prep, pops of colour and great tailoring. J Crew had neon t’s, consistent with a clear trend emerging for spring. Neon colours were prevalent in a number of collections, from designers like Rebecca Minkoff, Nanette Lepore, Ports 1961, Philip Lim and Lela Rose. Think 1980’s, bright fluorescents — they are back and in full force!
As both a consumer and a merchant, another trend I love is asymmetrical necklines. The flattering one shoulder dresses and tops are back, or maybe they never really went away in the first place. Various versions of this silhouette walked down designer and contemporary runways throughout the week.
I did not expect to see asymmetrical hemlines, but they appear to be a spring trend. We’ll see how well they fare at retail, but I am sure you will be seeing plenty of editorial trend stories on them this spring. Dresses and skirts that are shorter in the front and longer in the back appeared in collections like Jason Wu and Nicholas K, whereas Helmut Lang showed jagged hemlines.
I had fun on Monday tweeting live from the shows for Twitter’s official fashion handle @NYFW rather than as my usual @GiltAlexandra. Throughout the week, personalities in the fashion industry have been guest tweeting under @NYFW, from Lucky Magazine editor John Januzzi to CFDA CEO Steven Kolb to Paper Magazine’s Mickey Boardman to Marie Claire Fashion Director Nina Garcia to Bergdorfs to supermodels Karlie Kloss and Hilary Rhoda. This is a Twitter-backed initiative to grow their fashion vertical as they have successfully done in other industries such as sports.
I was personally most inspired this fashion week by acting as a judge for the Supima Design Competition. Four of the top fashion design schools in the U.S. selected two students to compete in creating a small collection of ready to wear using Supima cotton. I was honored to judge their work and blown away by the creativity of these eight students. Each collection was unique and no two designers came up with anything similar, even though they were given the same raw materials. Jusil Carroll from FIT won the competition and I gave her collection the highest score. Stay tuned, I am sure this is just the first act for this bright young female designer.
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