New York Fashion Week: Fashion statements for the Instagram generation by Victoria Beckham

 

New York Fashion Week is often perceived as a triumph of salesmanship over showmanship. Artistic endeavours are all well and good, but it won’t pay those extortionately high Manhattan rents.

That’s not to say there aren’t flashy theatrics and inventive clothes here: for the former, see Alexander Wang’s autumn/winter 2014 show, held in Brooklyn on Saturday evening. A rotating platform and blasting hot-air vents transformed black thermo-chromatic clothes into brilliant colour for a memorable finale. Memorable, because it was instantly immortalised on Instagram.

Wang’s clothes do very well online, not just sales-wise, but in terms of creating an impact and a buzz. This outing was saturated with sickly colour, chartreuse, electric blue and aubergine as well as lots of black. They glowed phosphorescent in the light of several thousand iPhone cameras simultaneously snapping.

But they’re relatively easy to wear. This is a quality Wang brings to his offerings for the Parisian label Balenciaga, too. It’s one of the reasons the luxury conglomerate Kering employed the young talent: creating covetable, unchallenging product that chings at the tills.

Victoria Beckham is also a designer of the Instagram age, but in a different way. With David, Brooklyn, Romeo, Cruz and Harper in the front row, the cameras tend to be diverted from the catwalk.

 

The clothes are quiet, reserved, luxurious. This time, coats and dresses were loosely looped with a thick gold chain, models strode out on flat crocodile winklepickers, and pleated dresses were folded around the body. There were distinct echoes of Phoebe Philo’s last outing for Céline: but fashion is full of Philo-philes.

Beckham’s fashion is ideally suited for New York. It’s polished, it’s expensive, it will break the bank but never break new ground. Beckham may not have been schooled in how to design clothing (she readily admits that), but she knows what well-heeled, well-off women will want to buy. She’s clever.

Joseph Altuzarra is clever too. But his clothes are more difficult. Altuzarra is a sexy, souped-up label, curvy seams carving out new erogenous zones around his models. This collection showed Altuzarra in a softer mood, opening with bathrobe-soft double face coats cocooning models in cobalt blue, khaki and fuchsia, with sensuality rather than sexuality evoked in apron-front dresses of heavily-textured embroidered cloth.

They looked a bit like Ikea rag rugs strapped against the models’ bodies. Difficult to pull off. But, unlike many others at New York Fashion Week, Altuzarra is worth the effort.

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