New York, New Look: A unique catwalk-side view of New York Fashion Week

From Kinderwhore kink and streetwear to the Wang thang, Susie Lau gives her catwalk-side view of New York Fashion Week spring / summer 2014

Before New York Fashion Week had even begun, there was already talk of fashion week ennui, fatigue.

Too many shows, too many hangers-on, and generally too much noise, so cried the old guard of fashion. You could hear the moans and groans as seasoned show-goers walked into the sponsor-heavy hell pit of the Lincoln Centre, the (official) eye of the New York Fashion Week storm, as though facing a life condemned to a Victorian workhouse.

While there’s certainly cause for complaint given the rammed New York schedule – eight long days, and more than 100 shows – the ever-growing beast that is NYFW is not about to shrink any time soon. You may as well learn to appreciate the things that make New York a perfectly peppy place to start the season. You go there for the noise, the gushings of “Oh my god, that tote’s amazing!”, for slickness in abundance, for sightings of celebs (Justin Bieber, Rihanna, and members of the cast of Girls got people excited), for the energetic vibes of what’s going on both inside and outside the shows, and, above all, for “great product” (said with a glossy American buyer’s voice). And there was a lot of that to see, to tweet and Instagram, to remark upon with an emoji. It was postmodern fashion week: #NYFW. And so it is that I lapped it up with three spare phone batteries to get me through each day, a perma-smile plastered in place New York-style.

First significant trend hash tag – the Nineties.  Bruce Weber photos, pics of Kate Moss in slip dresses and yesteryear Calvin Klein and Helmut Lang collections have been doing the mood board rounds. Rag & Bone adopted diaphanous slip dresses, slung over with messenger bags and oversized cricket jumpers as its tomboyish uniform of choice. Olivier Theyskens’ romantic Belgian sensibility has ebbed away in favour of Nineties’ minimalism, as his Theyskens Theory line went born slippy in sunset hues and sheer black layers. Just as the nineties thing was getting a shade dull, Thakoon waded into the more tawdry side of the era, as broken strings of pearls and diamante chains on delicate precious baby doll dresses worn with thigh-high skin-tight lace boots suggested more than a hint of Kinderwhore kink. 

The young-ish set of American designers did well to corner in on their specific niche. Phillip Lim, purveyor of vaguely off-beat contemporary clothing, looked to natural elements and wonders of the earth to amp up his particular brand of go-to wardrobe pieces. Band of Outsiders’ Scott Sternberg tried his hand at sportswear, pulling it off with charm. He does appease the crowd with Momofuku-brand cookies and a jazzy backdrop, though. This time it was a replica of the Hollywood sign that looms over his native Los Angeles: a new twist on West meets East.

Reaching out for an ultra-sophisticated customer was Jason Wu. For someone so young, Wu takes to elegance rather well. His fixation with feminine restraint loosened up to reveal soft shades of mint and peach, bias-cut loveliness and New York’s favourite buzzword of New York – ease.

“Ease” was the word of choice for Joseph Altuzarra, too, the most recent investment opportunity spotted by luxury goods conglomerate Kering Group (formerly PPR). Timely, then, that he should show a terrific collection, bookended with utilitarian shirting pieces with tie-up detailing and liquid metal dresses and skirts that oozed around the body. Lamé never looked so effortless. He’s another name chasing the female power players of this world.

The pressure on Alexander Wang has cooled off somewhat now that he’s navigated his way through his Freshman season at Balençiaga.  That also meant Wang could do his “Wang thang” for his namesake brand. The Wang-obsessed tribe can get down with a clever spin on logo-mania as the Alexander Wang logo was laser-cut in repeat typographic formation on leather pinafore dresses. Cue repeat calls of #Obsessed echoing across the social media sphere.

Heads above the rest, though, was undeniably Proenza Schouler. They’re reaching for great heights. Jack McCollough and Lazaro Hernandez looked at home comforts with an arching eye of precision. Simple crêpe and suede tailoring looked lush and complex in their hands, Seventies sunray pleats given a 21st-century metallic foil refresh and a shaggy silk jacket resembling a Moroccan Beldi rug looked anything but homespun. The point is that the duo never lose sight of making desirable clothing, even once they’ve achieved all that advanced fabrication know-how. That’s why they’ve earned their head-boys status in New York. 

#NYFW has few true curveballs, but you can always count on Rodarte to take you on a wild trip. This time it was through the Eighties, Sunset Strip sleaze and LA’s ghetto-fabulous Slauson Super Mall. I enjoyed seeing the front row’s eyebrows arch to their hairline over animal prints, Showgirls-esque tassels and padlocked chastity belts. The Mulleavy sisters are nothing if not contrary. Thom Browne was another trip and a half. Some fled before the show even started (50 minutes late) but those of us who stuck it out delved deep into Browne’s psychotic psyche. Nurses doling out white M&M’s as pills, smeared red lipstick, shrieking laughter soundtrack, and we haven’t even got to the clothes yet.  Browne is a masochistic perfectionist, fetishising detail and craft wherever possible. It’s not to everyone’s taste but Browne overindulges as he pleases because the show has little correlation with the white shirts and natty tailoring he actually sells. All the better for the folk at NYFW crying out for something other than “great product”.

The Brits in New York party was headed up by Victoria Beckham. She moved location to an airier spot. So, too, did her collection, which shifted away from taut zippered body-con dresses to looser territory. If you diverted your attention away from oh-so-cute Harper Beckham on David’s lap, then you might have got excited over geometric panelling, flippy frill-edged skirts and dropped-waist tennis tunics. Louise Goldin also looked to Centre Court for inspiration. Her latest collection smacks of assuredness in what she does best – highly technical knits, which pack a punch.   

What got me most excited, though, was the impending hope of a handful of newbies. London may take the new designer crown but there’s an undeniable energy in New York that continues to bubble away. Creatures of the Wind continues its ascent through prim-laced kook and turned out a sweet-as-pie collection. Suno also ramped up the polish on its signature prints. Tim Coppens is a new menswear name to watch. Adam Selman, costume designer to Rihanna, pulled off an evocative ode to 1970s Cosmopolitan covers. The sort of energy that connects with a crowd beyond rarified fashionistas is even better. Seeing kids pile in for conceptual streetwear brand Hood by Air and whooping at every ensemble of deconstructed basketball jerseys, bomber jackets and photo-print tracksuits was a real eye-opener. 

So was the extravaganza that was the Opening Ceremony show, which, at time of writing, was by far the most high-octane spectacle of the week. Who can trump hot cars driving into a cavernous show space and models exiting from each one in Fast and Furious Tokyo Drift ensembles, and goodie bags containing cronuts (that almost indigestibly rich hybrid of croissant and doughnut)? Humberto Leon and Carol Lim – incidentally, also creative directors at Kenzo in Paris – understand how to engage and delight. They, along with a number of their contemporaries, just get that beyond wayward creativity, fashion today is about the whole package. There’s your take-away from New York fashion week, in a handy hashtag.

Susie Lau writes and edits the fashion blog stylebubble.co.uk

PROMOTED VIDEO
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
Life and Style
ebooksA superb mix of recipes serving up the freshest of local produce in a delicious range of styles
Life and Style
tech
News
The 67P/CG comet as seen from the Philae lander
scienceThe most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
Arts and Entertainment
Ian McKellen as Gandalf in The Hobbit: The Battle Of The Five Armies
film
Arts and Entertainment
Sarah Koenig, creator of popular podcast Serial, which is to be broadcast by the BBC
tvReview: The secret to the programme's success is that it allows its audience to play detective
News
Ruby Wax has previously written about her mental health problems in her book Sane New World
people
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Fashion

    Recruitment Genius: Sales Executives - OTE £60,000

    £25000 - £60000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you passionate about Custom...

    Recruitment Genius: Care Workers Required - The London Borough of Bromley

    £15000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This homecare agency is based in Beckenh...

    Recruitment Genius: Sales Executives - OTE £50,000

    £25000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you passionate about Custom...

    Recruitment Genius: Sales Executives - OTE £50,000

    £25000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you passionate about Custom...

    Day In a Page

    Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

    Homeless Veterans appeal

    In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
    Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

    Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

    As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
    The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

    The Interview movie review

    You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
    Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

    How podcasts became mainstream

    People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
    Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

    Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

    Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
    Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

    A memorable year for science – if not for mice

    The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
    Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

    Christmas cocktails to make you merry

    Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
    5 best activity trackers

    Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

    Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
    Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

    Paul Scholes column

    It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
    Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

    Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

    Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
    Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

    Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

    2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
    Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

    Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

    Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
    Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

    Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

    The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
    Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

    Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

    The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
    Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

    The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

    Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas