University of Fashion Blog

Posts by: Antonia Sardone

Antonia Sardone

Antonia Sardone is a new contributor to the University of Fashion. She is also a freelance fashion consultant, stylist and writer. Antonia Sardone graduated from the Fashion Institute of Technology with a degree in Advertising Communications, Marketing and Fashion Journalism. She is an industry veteran having worked for WWD for over fifteen years and has strong relationships with designers worldwide. Today, Antonia Sardone continues to write reviews for WWD as well as work with many contemporary designers on a variety of projects from helping to re-launch their websites to writing their brand books. She enjoys raising her children to be creative individuals, as well as styling, writing and traveling.

Pandemic, Pollution – A Fashion Industry Wake-Up Call ?

- - Sustainability

Naomi Campbell wears Hazmat suit to the airport. (Photo credit: CNN)

2020 is turning out to be one of the most difficult years in world history. Globally, we are fighting a war against COVID-19, a virus that spreads so quickly and easily that the numbers of those effected and who die rises daily at alarming rates. Worldwide, people are on lockdown or partial lockdown, and a new word has been  added to our vocabulary, social-distancing.

COVID-19 is not only affecting our health, physically and mentally, but is greatly affecting the world economy, as companies and factories are shut down with only essential businesses remaining open. As we adapt to the new ‘work-from-home’ model, schools are asking teachers and students to move online. However, without accessible content, many teachers are finding it difficult if not impossible.

At University of Fashion, we are very proud to say that we are meeting the needs of schools by offering all schools free 30-day access to our lesson content. We are also offering flexible subscription rates & terms (contact us at cs@UniversityofFashion.com to learn more). The list of schools taking advantage of our offer is rapidly growing (last count more than 55). Schools such as Parsons, San Francisco State University, Buffalo State College, Virginia Tech, Western Michigan University, University of North Carolina at Greensboro to name a few,. Even high schools have taken advantage of our resource. And, for individual subscribers we are  offering a $20 discount on a yearly subscription (was $189/now$169, using promo code NEWS21Y (offer expires 12/31/20).

As doctors and scientists around the globe race to find a vaccine for the virus, environmentalists have found a silver lining among the fear and anxiety. They have noted that while COVID-19 is a global health crisis, the forcing of businesses to shut down and people to quarantine has had a positive effect on the planet. The biggest difference is the change in air quality, as industry, aviation, and other forms of transportation came to an almost worldwide halt, thus resulting in a reduction in air pollution. These air quality reductions have mostly been tracked in countries such as China and Italy. India, who recently went on lockdown, will hopefully soon follow.

Air pollution levels, as observed by satellite, are showing drastic improvements in many areas that have been undergoing restrictive quarantines due to COVID-19” Peter DeCarlo, an Associate Professor of Environmental Health Engineering at Johns Hopkins University, told Newsweek.

However, in the U.S., the Environmental Protection Agency on Thursday March 26th, announced a sweeping relaxation of environmental rules in response to the coronavirus pandemic, allowing U.S. power plants, factories and other facilities to ‘determine for themselves’ if they are able to meet legal requirements on reporting air and water pollution. The agency will not issue fines for violations of certain air, water and hazardous-waste-reporting requirements during the corona outbreak and for an undetermined period of time. In a New York Times article on March 25th, former E.PA. administrator Gina McCarthy was quoted as saying that this new rule is “an open license to pollute.” Let’s all keep our eyes on this situation.

The water in the Venice canals is clear enough to see fish swimming below as the coronavirus halts tourism in Italy. (Photo credit: ABC News)

With all that Italy has had to deal with as a result of the pandemic, Venice reported that the water in city’s famous canals appear to be unusually clear, due to the fact that the canals are empty because of the coronavirus lockdown. The quarantine is also having an effect on wildlife across the globe. As people are confined to their homes, animals are roaming the streets looking for food.  According to a recent article in Newsweek, “In Japan, for example, sika deer living in the popular tourist destination Nara Park were spotted wandering into urban areas to look for food after restrictions on visitors from China and South Korea came into place. Normally, tourists buy special snacks to feed the deer, and many of the animals have become accustomed to eating these treats.”

As the pandemic manages to wreak havoc, perhaps now’s the time for the fashion industry to take a long hard look at changing our business model and commit to becoming more responsible earth citizens?

In an interview with Newsweek, Steven Davis, an Associate Professor in the Department of Earth System Science at the University of California, Irvine stated that as a result of the virus, “We will have a new baseline of what’s possible to do online: telecommute, educate, shop, etcetera. And to the extent our government, institutions, and social networks succeed by coming together, we may feel more empowered to take on daunting issues like climate change and a transition to sustainable energy sources.”

Once a vaccine is discovered and the world can get back to some sense of normalcy, it is important that the fashion industry come together to find sustainable solutions. As an industry, we are constantly producing goods. We use tons of natural resources and produce garments all over the world just to keep up with ever changing trends. A recipe for planet disaster!

Let’s ask ourselves how can we still create, design and produce, while making a smaller carbon footprint and a more positive impact while doing so.

Here are a few ways that fashion designers can work together to achieve sustainability and decrease that every enlarging footprint.

SUPPLY CHAIN TRANSPARENCY & BLOCKCHAIN 

A sustainable textile is Organic Cotton. (Photo credit: What About Yves)

First, as a designer, examine your supply chain. It is important to know from where you are buying your textiles and whether these textile mills follow environmental guidelines, as well as protect the communities that surround them. This information can be easily found through organizations like the Sustainable Apparel Coalition /The Higg Index and various textile exchange organizations, like Queen of Raw and The Textile Exchange.

Designers should also try to buy from sustainable textile mills and educate themselves on the global impact that certain textiles have on the environment. Today, organizations are working to certify fibers and textiles with more transparency, so that designers can educate their consumers to make educated choices.

Queen of Raw uses blockchain, a distributed database existing on multiple computers at the same time. It is constantly growing as new sets of recordings, or ‘blocks’, are added to it. Each block contains a timestamp and a link to the previous block, so they actually form a chain. By design, a blockchain is resistant to modification of the data, thus guaranteeing a transaction’s authenticity/transparency.

BRING MANUFACTURING HOME

Made in the USA. (Photo credit: US Chamber of Commerce)

Another way designers can make a positive impact on the environment is to manufacture their collections in their own country. In the 198os, 70% of our clothing was made in the United States, today it is only 2%. Bringing manufacturing home will not only help boost the economy, but it will also minimize the environmental stress that comes with shipping, which in turn, will produce less air and ocean pollution.

TEXTILE WASTE

Textiles go to waste. (Photo credit: Apparel News)

As consumers crave the latest trends and our landfills are piling up with last season’s clothes, designers need to make better products with responsible materials so that when they are discarded they leave less pollution. In turn, designers must train consumers to understand quality over quantity.

On February 25, 2020, a new sustainability initiative was announced entitled, Accelerating Circularity, an organization that works with major apparel companies such as Gap Inc., Target Corp. and VF Corp, helping to find ways to eliminate textile industry waste and recycle it into new fibers and materials.

Accelerating Circularity’s mission is to research and identify opportunities in apparel supply chains in order to make them circular, which means taking returned goods and items defined as waste materials and turning them into new textiles. According to Karla Magruder, the group’s leader, “If we’re going to have circularity, textile waste will be the new raw material. We’re going to have to find out how to get from point A to point B. Less than 1 percent of textile waste gets recycled into new textiles. It’s nothing.”

In a 2017 Apparel News article, the Environmental Protection Agency estimated that 16.9 million tons of textile waste is dumped annually. “There needs to be new maps for the supply chain that don’t exist today. We need to create the knowledge of where the textile waste is, how we should collect it and where we need to feed it to the appropriate recyclers.

FRENCH GOVERNMENT BANS COMPANIES FROM DESTROYING UNSOLD PRODUCTS

 

Twitter post from The Fashion Law (TFL).  (Photo credit: TFL)

Earlier this year, France began working on passing one of the strongest laws when it comes to the handling of unsold garments and accessories. The legislation will ban companies from destroying certain unsold products making good on the French government’s vow to “put in place in the [fashion and textile industries] the major principles of the fight against food waste in order to ensure that unsold materials are not thrown away or destroyed.”

According to TFL’s website, French companies are slated to be subject to more than 100 new sustainability-centric provisions, such as those that require the systematic phasing out of automatic paper receipts and single use plastic in fast food restaurants, followed by the outright ban on all single-use plastics by 2040.

The fashion industry has been especially called out according to French legislators  as “apparel retailers, in particular, as they renew their products more frequently [than other industries] and often have surplus unsold stock.” As a result of its longstanding practice of destroying unsold merchandise to avoid discounting it and/or paying to burn it, the industry itself is one of the biggest culprits in terms of the more than €650 million (nearly $710 million) worth of new consumer products that are destroyed, or disposed of in landfills on an annual basis, according to Prime Minister Édouard Philippe’s office.

For years prestigious brands such as Louis Vuitton, Burberry, Cartier, Piaget, Baume & Mercier, and even H&M, have destroyed their unsold goods as part of a large-scale scheme to maintain its brand image.

CLIMATE CRISIS WILL RESHAPE FINANCE

Laurence D. Fink, the chief of BlackRock. (Photo credit: The New York Times)

Laurence D. Fink, the founder and chief executive of BlackRock, the world’s largest asset manager with nearly $7 trillion in investments, announced early this month that his firm would make investment decisions with environmental sustainability as its core goal; stating his firm would avoid investments in companies that “present a high sustainability-related risk.”

According to The New York Times, BlackRock will fundamentally shift its investing policy — and could reshape how corporate America does business. It will undoubtedly put pressure on other large money managers to follow suit.

Fink’s annual letter to the chief executives of the world’s largest companies is closely watched and in the 2020 edition he said that BlackRock would begin to exit certain investments that “present a high sustainability-related risk,” such as those in coal producers. His intent is to encourage every company, not just energy firms, to rethink their carbon footprint. “Awareness is rapidly changing, and I believe we are on the edge of a fundamental reshaping of finance,” Mr. Fink wrote in the letter obtained by The New York Times. “The evidence on climate risk is compelling investors to reassess core assumptions about modern finance.

Fink anticipates a major shift, much sooner than many might imagine, in the way money will be allocated. This dynamic will accelerate as the next generation takes the helm of government and business,” he wrote. “As trillions of dollars shift to millennials over the next few decades, as they become C.E.O.s and C.I.O.s, as they become the policymakers and heads of state, they will further reshape the world’s approach to sustainability.”

This is meaningful news for those companies that are on the forefront of sustainability when it comes to looking for funding.

BEYOND RECYCLING

Puma Shoes. (Photo courtesy of Puma)

Global athletic brand Puma and First Mile have co-created a sportswear and shoe collection made from recycled yarn that is manufactured from plastic bottles collected by the First Mile network.

First Mile is a people-focused network that strengthens micro-economies in Taiwan, Honduras, and Haiti by collecting plastic bottles. This helps to create sustainable jobs and reduce pollution. The bottles are then sorted, cleaned, shredded, and turned into yarn, which is later used to create products with purpose that truly empower from ‘the first mile’ forward.

Plastic recycling in Bangladesh. (Photo by Flickr)

Even though one of the key benefits of this partnership is social impact, the Puma and First Mile program has diverted over 40 tons of plastic waste from landfills and oceans, just for the products made for 2020. This roughly translates into 1,980,286 plastic bottles being reused,” said Stefan Seidel, head of corporate sustainability for Puma. “The pieces from this co-branded training collection range from shoes, tees, shorts, pants and jackets — all the apparel is made of at least 83% to even 100% from the more sustainable yarn sourced from First Mile.”

The collaboration with First Mile is part of Puma’s commitment to reduce its environmental impact and lives up to its code of being “Forever Better.”

CARBON NEUTRAL AND CARBON NEGATIVE

In September 2019, Gucci announced it was going carbon neutral (net-zero), meaning it would no longer be adding carbon into the atmosphere.

Other companies are going ‘carbon negative’, meaning they will remove more carbon from the atmosphere than they emit. In January 2020, Microsoft announced their carbon negative pledge, promising that by 2030, they will remove all of the carbon from the environment that it has emitted since the company was founded in 1975. That goes well beyond a pledge by its cloud-computing rival Amazon, which intends to go carbon neutral by 2040.

According to an article in Fashionista on how brands don’t know enough about their carbon footprint, Elizabeth L. Cline wrote:

” Stand.Earth, an environmental advocacy group, ranked 45 major clothing brands, and found that only two brands — Levi’s and American Eagle Outfitters — are doing enough to curb emissions to keep us under 1.5 degrees of warming, which is the limit recommended by the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.”

“The Institute of Public and Environmental Affairs (IPE) published its Green Supply Chain CITI (Corporate Information Transparency Index) ranking, which scores over 400 global brands that manufacture in China, including 80 major clothing companies, based on their efforts to curb pollution and their emissions. What these rankings reveal is that few brands are doing anything to measure their carbon footprint, much less cut it back to an Earth-sparing size.”

Hopefully the tide will turn in 2020 and beyond, as more brands make a concerted effort.

NEW CERTIFICATION HELPS BRANDS

Many fashion brands are claiming to be carbon-neutral but are actually not, a term referred to as “greenwashing.” As of April 2020, a San Francisco-based company called  Climate Neutral is unveiling a Climate Neutral Certified label that will identify companies that have reached a net-zero carbon footprint by reducing and offsetting emissions released through their entire creation process, from design to production to shipping.

Designers can and should play a bigger role in the products that they design. With a trove of agencies, organizations and other resources, there is really no excuse not to be eco-compliant.

OTHER HELPFUL RESOURCES

Here are a few additional organizations that are pushing the envelope in sustainability:

Cradle to Cradle Products Innovation Institute (C2C)– An organization that educates and empowers manufacturers of consumer products to improve what their products are made of and how they are made.

Evrnu – A new fiber that comes from the recycling of cotton garments. They take garment waste to its supply chain in a way that is good for business, for the environment, and for consumers.

Let us know what you are doing to reduce your carbon footprint and what other agencies you might know to help designers “design green”?

 

Celebrating Women’s History Month – Art, Science & Fashion

- - Fashion History

 

Who’s She? a new guessing game created by Polish designer Zuzia Kozerska (Photo credit: Playeress)

In honor of Woman’s History Month and International Women’s Day (IWD) on March 8, University of Fashion would like to celebrate by focusing on female accomplishments in the areas of art, science and fashion. We are aware that there are MANY more influential women that could and should be listed here, but in the interest of space, we have only listed some and vow to cover this topic again in future blogposts. Let’s face it girls…we have lots to brag about!

Not since the suffrage movement, the 19th amendment (granting women the right to vote in 1920), the Women’s Liberation Movement of the 60s, and the Women’s Rights Movement of 2016, have women become as mobilized as they are now. In fact, if you haven’t already signed up to become a founding member of Supermajority (it’s free) then, what are you waiting for? Spoiler alert, women represent a majority in the U.S. and we CAN be the most powerful force in America if we work together.

Did you know that women now have their own board game! Who’s She? is a new guessing game created by Polish designer Zuzia Kozerska for Playeress, celebrating the achievements of famous women around the world. The laser-cut wooden board flips up to reveal the faces of 28 painters, athletes, scientists, and astronauts in a similar style to that of the classic game, Guess Who? from the late 1970s. However, instead of posing superficial questions like, “does your character have glasses?” this game asks players to inquire about achievements and contributions like, “did she win a Nobel Prize?”

Also, did you know that as of Mother’s Day weekend in 1996, a group of women dedicated themselves to moving Adelaide Johnson’s Portrait Monument to Lucretia Mott, Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony out of the U.S. Capitol’s basement, known as the Crypt, to its rightful place in the Capitol Rotunda and thus created the National Women’s History Museum? Watch for the announcement of it’s permanent home at the Smithsonian Institution with a location on the National Mall. 

The #MeToo and #TimesUp movements and Women in the World are only the beginning of female empowerment. Celebrating women’s achievements and increasing their visibility, while calling out inequality, is key to today’s women’s movement. As women continue to strive for equality in the boardroom, in pay, sports, politics, the sciences, the arts, and in every aspect of life, we are definitely in the age of the “XX Chromosome.”

INTERNATIONAL WOMEN’S DAY 

International Women’s Day (IWD) has been celebrated for well over a century. The first IWD gathering in 1911 was supported by over a million people. Today, IWD belongs to all groups collectively everywhere. IWD is not country, group or organization specific and is celebrated on March 8th each year.

WOMEN’S HISTORY MONTH 

Women’s History Month began in 1978 as a local celebration in Santa Rosa, California. The Education Task Force of the Sonoma County Commission on the Status of Women planned and executed a “Women’s History Week.” The organizers selected the week of March 8 to coincide with International Women’s Day and the movement spread across the the U.S. as other communities initiated their own Women’s History Week celebrations the following year.

On February 28, 1980, President Jimmy Carter issued the first Presidential Proclamation declaring the week of March 8th as National Women’s History Week. He wrote:

“From the first settlers who came to our shores, from the first American Indian families who befriended them, men and women have worked together to build this nation. Too often, the women were unsung and sometimes their contributions went unnoticed. But the achievements, leadership, courage, strength and love of the women who built America was as vital as that of men whose names we know so well.” 

In 1987 Congress passed Public Law 100-9, designating March as Women’s History Month. Between 1988 and 1994, Congress passed additional resolutions requesting and authorizing the President to proclaim March of each year as Women’s History Month. Since 1995, each president has issued an annual proclamation designating the month of March as “Women’s History Month.”

WOMEN in the ARTS

According to My Modern Met, the 10 most famous female painters (dating from the Italian Renaissance), include Sofonisba Anguissola, Artemisia Gentileschi, Judith Leyster, Élisabeth Vigée Le Brun, Rosa Bonheur,Berthe Morisot, Mary Cassatt, Georgia O’Keeffe, Tamara de Lempicka and Frida Kahlo. 

Organizations like Advancing Women Artists work to ensure that the female talent of the past doesn’t get left out of the history books.

Frida Kahlo (Photo credit: Frida Kahlo Instagram)

 

WOMEN in the SCIENCES

As for women in the sciences, notables include: Marie Curie, Tiera Guinn, Elizabeth Blackwell, Jane Goodall, Mae C. Jemison, Jennifer Doudna, Rachel Carson, Marie Goeppert Mayer, Sara Seager, Katherine Freese, Jane Cooke Wright, Vera Rubin, Sau Lan Wu, Rosalind Franklin, Barbara McClintock, Rita Levi-Montalcini and Gertrude Elion. Another role model is the first tech visionary, Ada Lovelace, who is celebrated on the second Tuesday in October. Known for her achievements in STEM subjects: science, technology, engineering and mathematics, she is one of the early innovators of the computer.

Ada Lovelace –  first tech visionary  (Photo credit: the Mirror)

 

WOMEN in FASHION

Beginning with France’s earliest known designer, Rose Bertin (creator of Marie Antoinette Queen of France coronation dress) and the steady succession of female designers to follow, fashion has always been an industry where female talent could flourish. Let’s look at some great women who broke the glass ceiling:

EDITH L. ROSENBAUM

Edith L. Rosenbaum – Journalist and Titanic Survivor. (Photo credit: Encyclopedia Titanic)

Edith L. Rosenbaum was a Woman’s Wear Daily journalist from the early 1900’s. She was not only a stylist and buyer but a survivor of the Titanic. A few days after being rescued, she filed a story about people from the fashion industry who were also on board the ship. She wrote of Isidor & Ida Straus (of Macys and Abraham & Straus Department Stores), both of whom courageously died, and Ida’s loyalty to her husband by choosing not to be rescued if her husband could not join her. Rosenbaum also wrote about designer Lady Duff Gordon, whose career was marred by the tragic mistake she made discouraging crew members from turning back their half-full lifeboats to rescue more people, fearing the boat would become overcrowded. Rosenblum was a pioneer who opened the door for future female journalists to cover ground-breaking stories around the world, thus inspiring the careers of Diana Vreeland, Anna Wintour and Robin Givhan.

                      

Queen Elizabeth and Anna Wintour at Richard Quinn’s runway show at London Fashion Week in 2018. (Photo credit: Getty Images)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 Diana Vreeland Memos The Vogue Years. (Photo credit: New York Post)

 

MADELEINE LOUIS CHÉRUIT

Madeleine Louise Chéruit. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Madeleine Louise Chéruit may not be a household name like Coco Chanel, but she is definitely an inspiration for female fashion designers in the ‘know.’ Chéruit was one of the first women to control a major French fashion house at the turn of the century. In the late 1800s Chéruit worked as a dressmaker at Raudnitz & Cie House of Couture. Her work was so exceptional, that in 1905 she took over the salon and its more than 100 employees, renaming it Chéruit.

Chéruit was known to champion other talented couturiers and helped launch the career of French designer Paul Poiret. During WWI, she was one of the few couture houses that remained open. Sadly the house closed its doors in 1935, but Chéruit’s influence is still felt when Elsa Schiaparelli famously took over Chéruit’s 98-room studio and salon, tying the two designers together in the fashion history.

COCO CHANEL

A 1960 photo of Coco Chanel. (Photo credit: Britannica)

Coco Chanel, without a doubt, is one of the most important designers in fashion. She single-handedly created the template for modernity that still exists today. Coco is credited in the post-World War I era, with liberating women from the constraints of the “corseted silhouette” and for popularizing sporty, “casual chic” as the feminine standard of style. Coco’s tweed suits, little black dress, and piles of fake pearl jewelry are still a hallmark of her extraordinary career. In 1918, Chanel purchased and opened a shop at 31 rue Cambon in one of the most fashionable districts of Paris. Chanel herself designed her famed interlocked “CC”  monogram, which has been in use since the 1920s and still today is the signature clasp on iconic Chanel handbags.  Coco Chanel is the only fashion designer listed in Time magazine’s 100 Most Influential People of the 20th Century.

ELSA SCHIAPARELLI

Elsa Schiaparelli fitting one of her designs on a model. (Photo credit: The Wall Street Journal)

Italian socialite Elsa Schiaparelli always had a flare for fashion. After working at various fashion jobs, “Schiap” as she was known, launched her namesake collection in 1927. Her business grew quickly with high profile customers flocking to her salon, including Katherine Hepburn, Greta Garbo, Gloria Guinness and the Duchess of Windsor.

Schiaparelli’s whimsical, “tongue-in cheek” approach to fashion was reflected in her theme-based collections beginning in 1935 with Stop, Look and Listen, the Music Collection (1937), the Circus Collection, the Pagan Collection, the Zodiac Collection (1938), the Commedia dell’Arte Collection (1939) and her Cash and Carry Collection (1940). She was greatly influenced by surrealism artists and was a pioneer of experimental, avant-garde fashion, which would later inspire contemporary designers, Franco Moschino and Jeremy Scott.

MADELEINE VIONNET

Madeleine Vionnet (Photo courtesy of Getty Images)

French designer Madeleine Vionnet is a designer’s designer and her influence is still with us today, as designers continue taking inspiration from her mastery. Vionnet’s biggest contributions to fashion are her famous “bias cut,” “twists,” cowl necklines, zig-zag cut waist seams, chiffon handkerchief dresses and Asian-inspired body wrapping methods. Like Coco Chanel, Vionnet is credited with the move from stiff, corseted, formalized looks, in favor of sleeker, softer silhouettes. Isadora Duncan, one of the most admired modern dancers of her time, became Vionnet’s muse, hence the focus on clothes that flattered the natural curves of a woman’s body.

MADAME GRÈS

Madame Grès, couture at work. (Photo credit: Vogue.it)

While Madame Grès was one of the most influential fashion couturiers of her time, she was also one of the most elusive. Grès was a true master technician. Known for her draping masterpieces that included intricate tucks, folds, and pleats, she was always tight-lipped about her approach. She fervently concealed from the public’s eye her prized techniques, therefore earning her the nickname, “The Sphinx of Fashion.”

JEANNE LANVIN

                    Lanvin logo depicting Jeanne Lanvin and daughter Marguerite (Photo credit: Lanvin)

Jeanne Lanvin was trained as a milliner and dressmaker. Her fashion career began when she began creating clothes for her daughter, Marguerite. She soon found herself in the childrenswear business. In 1909 Lanvin expanded her collection to include womenswear and would then go on to become of the most successful couture houses in the world. In 1927,  Lanvin launched her famous fragrance Arpège.

Lanvin’s clothes have always had a youthful and whimsical quality. Her signature dress, known as the “robe de style” is a silhouette that flatters all female figure types and is still popular today. In 1926, Lanvin expanded into menswear, making her the first haute couture house to design for all members of the family.

Although we have witnessed a series of artistic directors at Lanvin throughout the years, one thing has remained consistent –  the logo. Created by Jeanne Lanvin, the logo depicts a playful mother and her child, the beginning of the Lanvin story. Today, Lanvin is the oldest surviving fashion house in continuous existence.

CLAIRE McCARDELL

Claire McCardell sketching. (Photo credit: CR Fashion Book)

Claire McCardell is considered one of the pioneers of the “American look,” i.e., uncomplicated, comfortable clothing for the casual American lifestyle (the actual beginning of ‘lifestyle dressing’). Her design philosophy was in sharp contrast to her European counterparts of the 1940s whose clothes were fitted, fussy, decorated and tailored. During World War II, McCardell took advantage of fabric shortages by working cotton and twill into both her day and evening looks. American publicist Eleanor Lambert and Lord  & Taylor’s then president, Dorothy Shaver, were early pioneers of American fashion. They quickly placed McCardell’s designs front and center in marketing campaigns and thus helped launch McCardell’s career. Her 1942 popover dress (that could be worn as a beach cover-up or cocktail dress) was in high demand, and just like that, the chic American Look was born. McCardell is also know for her “five easy pieces” concept, which would become the foundation for today’s ‘mix and match’ sportswear separates category and later serve as inspiration for Donna Karan.

BONNIE CASHIN

Bonnie Cashin in 1961 wearing one of her designs. (Photo credit: The New York Times)

Bonnie Cashin, along with Claire McCardell, was another champion of American fashion. Cashin designed casual looks for the modern, independent woman by creating pieces with a minimal use of seams and darts; she also introduced layered looks that suited her jet-set lifestyle.

Cashin started her career by designing clothing for chorus girls in Los Angeles and eventually made it to the silver screen by creating wardrobes for films like A Tree Grows in Brooklyn and Anna and The King of Siam. Cashin. She is also credited with creating flight attendant uniforms for American Airlines.

In 1962, Cashin was hired by Miles and Lillian Cahn for the launch of their accessories business, Coach. Her designs for Coach included the shopping bag tote, the bucket bag, the shoulder bag and the clutch-style purse with removable shoulder strap. In 1964, Cashin introduced a brass turn lock/toggle closure that was featured both on her bags and her clothing designs. This piece of hardware quickly became her signature and Coach still uses it today.

MARY QUANT

Mary Quant – style icon who changed the face of fashion in the Sixties. (Photo credit: Getty Images)

Mary Quant is widely credited as one of the most instrumental designers of the 1960s London Mod and Youth Fashion movements. Her invention of miniskirts and hot pants helped catapult the growing trend in women’s fashion liberation.

Ernestine Carter, an authoritative and influential fashion journalist of the 1950s and 1960s, wrote: “It is given to a fortunate few to be born at the right time, in the right place, with the right talents. In recent fashion there are three: Chanel, Dior, and Mary Quant.

VIVIENNE WESTWOOD

Vivienne Westwood at her fall 2019 show surrounded by models. (Photo credit: L’Official USA)

In the early 70s, British fashion designer Vivienne Westwood became the go-to designer for punk and new wave clothing through her affiliation with English impresario Malcolm McLaren and his King’s Road boutique, “SEX.” Although punk music actually began in the United States with bands like the Stooges and the Ramones, Westwood and McLaren made it famous globally. Rebellious teens craved Westwood’s clothes that featured tears, holes, safety pin embellishments, clan plaids and plenty of faux leather. To this day, Westwood is still creating fashion with a rebellious twist.

DIANE VON FURSTENBERG

 

Diane von Furstenberg in her Manhattan flagship store. (Photo credit: Vogue)

Diane von Fürstenberg, formerly Princess Diane of Fürstenberg, is a Belgian fashion designer and former wife of Prince Egon von Fürstenberg. The royal couple were separated in 1973 and divorced in 1983, however Diane continued to use his family name.

Most known for her wrap dress, which catapulted her to fame in the 70s, the designer took a brief hiatus from fashion but relaunched her namesake label in 1992. Today, her collection is available in over 70 countries and 45 free-standing shops worldwide. Von Furstenberg was president of the Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA) from 2006 to Jan. 1, 2020. In 2014 she was listed as the 68th most powerful woman in the world by Forbes, and in 2015 was included in the Time 100, as a fashion icon, by Time magazine.

REI KAWAKUBO

Rei Kawakubo at her 2017 Met Exhibit. (Photo credit: MTV)

Rei Kawakubo is a self-taught Japanese fashion designer based in Tokyo and Paris. She is the founder of her clothing company Comme des Garçons and the trend-setting retail concept Dover Street Market. Kawakubo founded Comme des Garçons in 1969 as an avant-garde brand, specializing in clothes best described as anti-fashion, austere and deconstructed. In the 1980s Kawakubo revolutionized Paris fashion by introducing a style of dress that merged Western and Japanese influences. Her clothes have always been both directional and powerful, challenging the concept of feminine beauty. Kawakubo is considered one of Japan’s most innovative fashion designers and remains one of the most unconventional designers of our time.

DONNA KARAN

Donna Karan in her studio. (Photo credit: The New York Times)

Donna Karan launched her signature collection in May of 1985. Her genius concept began with a jersey bodysuit and several mix-and-match pieces that she would refer to as her “easy pieces” (reminiscent of Bonnie Cashin). Karan has always been a champion of woman’s empowerment. In fact, her 1992 advertising campaign was based on an aspirational female president of the United States. Karen’s signature look is centered around the career driven woman with a love of fashion, the arts and philosophy.

In 1989, Karan introduced her secondary line, DKNY, which she described to WWD as, “the embodiment of all that is New York – fast, loud, bright, funny, egotistical, demanding and generous.”  Donna received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Council of Fashion Designers of America in 2014 and stepped down from her company in 2015. Today, her focus is on her Urban Zen line, which centers on wellness and artisanal goods. Karan refers to Urban Zen as a “philosophy of caring.”

MIUCCIA PRADA

A portrait of Miuccia Prada. (Photo credit: Vanity Fair)

Miuccia Prada is the youngest granddaughter of Italian heritage brand founder Mario Prada. In 1978 she took over the family-owned luxury goods company. In 1988, Miuccia introduced her first ready-to-wear line and has been captivating the fashion scene ever since.

At the helm now for the past 30 years, Miuccia continues to retain an aurora f mystery about her. Season after season one never knows what to expect from this creative genius. Her motifs have run the gamut from futuristic to granny chic and everything in between. She launched her secondary line Miu Miu (her nickname) in 1992. Although it started off as a less expensive womenswear collection inspired by her personal wardrobe, today it is just as expensive as the Prada label but with a younger aesthetic.

Miuccia Prada was honored by the CFDA with the International Award in 2004. In March 2013 she was named one of the fifty best dressed over-50s by Forbes. The magazine also listed her as the 75th most powerful woman in the world in 2014, when her estimated net worth was reported as $11.1 billion. This past February, during Milan Fashion Week, Prada announced that Belgian designer Raf Simons would become Prada’s co-creative director along with Miuccia. It will be interesting to see how these two creative intellectuals work together.

FEMALES SUPPORTING WOMAN’S HISTORY MONTH

Ashley Judd, Gloria Steinem, and Diane von Furstenberg were speakers at Tory Burch Summit. (Photo credit: Hollywood Reporter)

Many female fashion entrepreneurs are supporting Woman’s History Month in their own way. Tory Burch hosted a day of panels with the likes of activist Gloria Steinem, actress Ashley Judd and Time’s Up chief executive officer Tina Tchen. Burch will also donate 100 percent of net proceeds from her limited-edition Embrace Ambition bracelet and tote to support female empowerment and entrepreneurship.

The Tory Burch Embrace Ambition tote. (Photo credit: Tory Burch)

According to WWD, other brands are paying homage to influential women throughout history. Contemporary fashion label La Ligne launched pieces that included the monograms of such women as Michelle Obama, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Frida Kahlo and more.

La Ligne’s limited-edition sweatshirt. (Photo credit: La Ligne)

The Great. x Cotton Inc. are paying homage to Rosie the Riveter with a re-imagined denim jumpsuit that gives a nod to the iconic figure.

Carli Lloyd stars in The Great’s campaign. (Photo credit: The Great)

Jewelry designer Kendra Scott celebrated International Women’s Day by launching the Everlyne Friendship Bracelet as part of the brand’s Shop for Good give-back collection. The bracelets come in six colorways and include stones such as rose quartz, turquoise and mother of pearl. Throughout March, 20% of proceeds from the bracelet will be benefiting various women’s organizations.

A bracelet from Kendra Scott’s collection. (Photo credit: Kendra Scott)

Net-a-porter is celebrating International Women’s Day with its third partnership with Women for Women International, a nonprofit humanitarian organization that provides practical and moral support to women survivors of war. The retailer asked 20 female designers to create exclusive T-shirts for the e-commerce site, with 100 percent of the proceeds going back to the charity. Stella McCartney, Gabriela Hearst, Alexa Chung, Isabel Marant, Carine Roitfeld, Jimmy Choo, Rotate, Rosie Assoulin, Charlotte Tilbury, Cecilie Bahnsen and Roxanne Assoulin are a few that participated.

Stella McCartney and Roxanne Assoulin’s T- shirts. (Photo credit: Net-a-porter)

Each design is the brand’s interpretation of female empowerment, including Stella McCartney using an illustration from her fall 2019 campaign where women come together in support and love for the earth and Jimmy Choo designing a T-shirt that reads “Choos women,” among others.

MZ Wallace teamed up with fashion label Lingua Franca to create a limited-edition tote that supports She Should Run, the nonprofit that provides resources to women aspiring to run for political office. The black-and-blue patterned tote is inscribed with the phrase, “I’ve got this.”

MZ Wallace and Lingua Franca collaboration. (Photo credit: MZ Wallace)

Author and activist Cleo Wade worked with Kate Spade for International Women’s Day. The brand created a capsule collection of totes, pouches and sweaters that feature motivational quotes written by Wade. The collection is part of the brand’s Purposeprogram, which is a partnership between Kate Spade and a production facility in Masoro, Rwanda that produces the leather goods. The facility is a certified B-corp manufacturer that employs more than 230 women from local communities and provides them with fair wages, health benefits and access to life skills education.

Cleo Wade working with a facility in Rwanda for her Kate Spade collaboration. (Photo credit: WWD)

Diane von Furstenberg planned a number of initiatives celebrating International Women’s Day. She hosted her third annual “InCharge Conversations” event at her Meatpacking store in Manhattan on March 6, a daylong series of panels that featured speakers including activist Gloria Steinem, actress Jameela Jamil, author Naomi Klein, author and lawyer Judy Smith, singer Jennifer Nettles, Facebook App head Fidji Simo, FEED projects CEO Lauren Bush Lauren and Girl Scouts of the USA chief executive officer Sylvia Acevedo, along with von Furstenberg herself.

DVF’s Girl Scouts-inspired scarf. (Photo credit: DVF)

The brand is also releasing a number of limited-edition pieces tied to the holiday, including an “In Charge”-inspired dress, with a portion of proceeds benefiting Vital Voices, a nonprofit that provides leadership training and mentorship to women. DVF also created a limited-edition scarf and wristlet inspired by the Girl Scouts of the USA, with a portion of proceeds going back to the organization.

Cynthia Rowley is donating 15 percent of sales from a selection of items — including its “I Love You” bucket hat and sweater and a cloud-print sweatshirt — to CARE.

For detailed bios of these and other female designers, get the Historical Dictionary of the Fashion Industry

Also, check out these fun links in celebration of Woman’s History Month

https://mymodernmet.com/badass-women-history/

https://mymodernmet.com/cristi-smith-jones-black-history-month-photo-project/

https://mymodernmet.com/disney-princess-dream-careers-matt-burt/

https://mymodernmet.com/barbie-international-womens-day/

 

If you have a fav designer that inspires you, let us know?

Fashion Week, Face Masks, the Timeline & How the Fashion Industry Coped with COVID-19!

- - Fashion Shows

The New Fashion Accessory: The Face Mask

Some medical experts debunk the use of face masks to contain COVID-19 (unless they’re N95s). Others say that masks are effective at capturing droplets, which is the main transmission route of coronavirus. According to The Guardian, “some studies have estimated a roughly five-fold protection versus no barrier. If you are likely to be in close contact with someone infected, a mask cuts the chance of the disease being passed on. If you’re just walking around town and not in close contact with others, wearing a mask is unlikely to make any difference.”

And so, fashion brands wasted no time creating and embellishing their own versions, and adding them to their collections. Can’t you just hear the cash registers ringing?

A model wearing a Pitta Mask walks the runway for The Blonds during New York Fashion Week: The Shows at Gallery I at Spring Studios on February 09, 2020 in New York City. (Photo by Roy Rochlin/Getty Images for NYFW: The Shows)

Model wearing a studded face mask at The Blondes NYFW 2020 show (Photo credit: Roy Rochlin/Getty Images for NYFW: The Shows)

 

London Fashion Week face mask video by The Telegraph

Guests wear protective masks as a model walks the runway at Dries Van Noten in Paris. (Photo credit:  ANNE-CHRISTINE POUJOULAT/AFP via Getty Images)

What started out last season as “anti-pollution” masks at French designer Merine Serra’s spring show, has quickly morphed into “virus protection” accessories for fall 2020.

Models wearing facemasks at Marine Serre's Paris Fashion Week show

                                                                                                                                           Marine Serre Paris Fashion Week Show (Photo credit: Getty Images)

The Timeline

The timing couldn’t have been worse, but I guess you can say, New York Fashion Week dodged a bullet. A few days before NYFW (Feb 6-13) the CFDA issued a coronavirus statement on their website with info given to them by the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH). The message:

” the risk to New Yorkers is low, there are ZERO cases in NYC and only 6 cases as of 1/30/20 had been confirmed in the U.S. but none in NY State.”

London Fashion Week (Feb 14-18) wasn’t so lucky. A majority of Chinese press and buyers were unable to travel, a forewarning of the serious financial impact that the virus will have on business, since China is responsible for a third of all global luxury sales and where many of the textiles used in collections are made. Thousands of people, including about 2,500 ticket-buying members of the public were scheduled to attend more than 60 presentations. To assuage fears, each night London’s fashion show venue was given a  “deep clean” and antibacterial hand sanitizers were distributed to those who did attend. Some attendees even brought their own face masks! Adding to the problem, several Chinese designers were unable to travel due to a travel bans, and therefore had to cancel their New York, London, Milan and Paris shows.

Giorgio Armani poses in front of models at his Fall 2020 show. (Photo credit: Instagram@GiorgioArmani)

By Tuesday Feb 18th, the scheduled start of Milan Fashion Week, the fashion industry was jittery. The coronavirus outbreak first hit the city that weekend as Milan Fashion Week neared its end. As a precaution, on Feb. 22nd Giorgio Armani announced that he would no longer host a runway show to an audience, instead, he would live stream his show behind closed doors in an empty theater. Armani posted the announcement on Twitter, adding that it was a preventative measure in support of national efforts to safeguard public health. The company also closed its offices and plants in Northern Italy for the next week. During the end of Milan Fashion Week (Feb 24th), a number of shows and events were cancelled and then on Feb 26th, the first case of coronavirus, linked to Milan Fashion Week, was confirmed in Greece.

At the start of Paris Fashion Week on Monday Feb 24th, anxiety was at a fever pitch, although no shows were cancelled (gotta love the French – the show must go on!). Models both on and off the runway were donning designer face masks validating the newest fashion accessory…the Designer face mask  I mean, who but the French would pass up a “new fashion accessory opportunity”?

Japanese fashion model Kozue Akimoto, seen wearing a face mask and red coat outside Marine Serre during Paris Fashion Week. (Photo credit: Christian Vierig/Getty Images)

More Coronavirus Fashion Week News

LONDON

Burberry’s creative director, Ricardo Tisci, presented his Burberry fall 2020 show in London with great success but announced that because of COVID-19, they would postpone their fall 2020 Shanghai show slated for April 23rd  and a new date has yet to be revealed. 

During an interview with Vogue, Tisci talked about how he’d lived in India and learned meditation after studying in multicultural London at Central Saint Martins before he started his own label in Italy. For fall 2020, Tisci featured sophisticated tailoring with an innovative twist, such as looped collars on trenches and double-layered coats. There were plenty of references to India, with pleated madras checks on everything from layered dresses to men’s suits. For evening, a category that Tisci introduced for the label, he showed a silver chainmail dress with crystal fringe detail that was a real showstopper. Perfect for Tisci’s fashion-forward clients.

Riccardo Tisci and his models at the Burberry Fall 2020 show. (Photo credit: Instagram @burberry)

 

MILAN

Prada has also postponed their upcoming resort 2021 show, which was to be held in Japan on May 21.  The company released the following statement: “The decision was made as a precautionary measure as well as an act of responsibility and respect for all the people working on and planning to attend our resort 2021 show.” Prada will reveal a new location and date in the near future.

Fortunately for Prada, the coronavirus did not affect their Milan show.  Miuccia Prada, always the feminist, when asked about her collection,  “We can be strong and feminine at the same time…women carry the weight now. You can be delicate and frivolous and still hold power and be in command.” So it was no surprise that on the runway, she mixed “clichés of femininity,” as she described them to Vogue, accompanied pieces traditionally considered masculine. The designer combined boxy belted jackets with fringe skirts and crisp bib-front shirts were glammed up with strips of crystal fringe. There were also plenty of flirty embroidered car-wash skirts, delicate sheer layers dresses with lotus-flower prints, and terrific outerwear, most notably the belted leather puffer jackets.

Prada’s Fall 2020 women collection. (Photo courtesy of REUTERS/Alessandro Garofalo)

In other exciting Prada news, it was just announced that Belgian-born Raf Simons will be working alongside Miuccia Prada as co-creative director for the brand. The collaboration between Simons and Miuccia – who has been at helm of Prada since 1978 – is said to come from “a deep reciprocal respect” between the two designers. “It opens a new dialogue, between designers widely acknowledged as two of the most important and influential of today,” said the brand in a statement.

The fashion world eagerly looks forward to the possibilities of what these two creative geniuses will construct.

Prada announces co-creative directors Miuccia Prada and Raf Simons. (Photo credit: Vogue)

 

PARIS

Chanel’s artistic director Virginie Viard will show her fall 2020 Chanel collection on Tuesday, March 3rd, but the house revealed that they are postponing the re-staging of its Métiers d’Art show in Beijing, which was slated to take place in May. The collection was originally shown in Paris on Dec. 4th.

Chanel released a statement: “Considering the current situation and following the guidance of Chinese authorities, Chanel has decided to postpone its project of a replica of the Paris – 31 Rue Cambon 2019/20 Métiers d’Art collection in May in Beijing to a later date and more appropriate moment.”

Dedicated to CHANEL’s Fashion Métiers d’art, this collection highlights the creative dialogue between Virginie Viard and the Maisons d’art, enhancing the creations of the House. (Photo credit: Chanel)

 

At Christian Dior, Maria Grazia Chiuri’s show notes stated, “All our thoughts are with our teams, clients, friends and partners in Asia, Italy and around the world.” Known for her feminist movements, Chiuri did not disappoint with her fall 2020 Christian Dior collection. This season the creative director worked with the neo-conceptual artist collective Claire Fontaine in designing the runway where neon lights flashed messages such as, “When women strike the world stops.” “Patriarchy = climate emergency.” “Consent. Consent. Consent.”

Thankfully, Chiuri’s collections for Dior always live up to the dramatic spectacle she creates.  She opened the show with the houses’ famous Bar jacket, but this time in a chic pantsuit version. The show had a relaxed and youthful elegance with homage to Marc Bohen’s tenure at the house in the ‘70s.  Chiuri showed logo puffers, denim jackets and jeans, jumpsuits and plaid looks that ranged from belted coats to miniskirts. For evening there were silk fringe looks that were cohesive with the youthful collection. Hint, hint…fringe is back!

Looks from Dior’s fall 2020 collection. (Photo credit: Getty Images)

Dries Van Noten took virus precautions very seriously as he had ushers hand out face masks at the entrance to his show at the Opéra Bastille on Feb 26th. There were also large pump bottles of hand sanitizers stationed just beyond the metal detectors, which, by the way, now greet guests at every show. While the outside world all around us may be a frightening place, due to the epidemic of the coronavirus, political turmoil, and a rise in hate crimes, Dries Van Noten’s runway was a happy place, filled with glamorous looks inspired by the ‘70s and ‘80s. In an interview with Vogue, Van Noten stated, “It’s about going out, enjoying life—having fun, that’s very important! I thought of this party girl. Something mysterious. Something dark. But I questioned how far it could go, while staying contemporary.”

So, how did Van Noten translate his idea on the runway? Think casual glamour. Case in point, a plaid coat thrown over a chunky cardigan and feathered skirt. The designer also showed plenty of jungle prints in acid green and fuchsia, as well as a nod to grunge with plaids and shirts tied at the waist. There was definitely a Christian Lacroix influence, since the two collaborated with each other last season (they started the whole creative director collab trend). Van Noten showed a velvet blazer in emerald green, Art Deco-inspired iris print dresses, a purple paillette jacket and a heavily beaded sarong, paired with a semi sheer blouse.

 

Dries Van Noten’s Fall 2020 Show. (Photo credit: Reuters)

At Maison Margiela, John Galliano had several models walk the runway in face wraps. However, this wasn’t post-apocalyptic in any way, rather a delight of rejuvenation.  During his post show podcast, Galliano exclaimed “Restorative! The idea of giving something a new life…Kick-starting a new consciousness.”

Galliano opened the show with a series of outerwear elements, or “memory of” coats attached to a sheer base worn over sheer layered dresses that were whimsical and delightful – all in rich hues. Later he showed full coats in generous proportions. At times they were spliced together, as if they were once two separate garments cut in half and sewn together. These deconstructed looks, or what he calls a “work-in-progress” technique is what makes Galliano the perfect designer for the Maison Margiela label.

Maison Margiela Fall 2020 Show. (Photo credit: The New York Times)

At UoF, we’ve been asking about the relevance of fashion shows from the standpoint of cost/benefit, as well as their carbon footprint. Is it time for us to embrace 3D technology and create virtual fashion shows? Care to share your thoughts?

 

 

IT’S SHOWTIME – NYFW FALL 2020

- - Fashion Shows

Michael Kors Collection Fall 2020 Show (Photo courtesy of Vogue.com)

In November 2019, The University of Fashion posed the question; “Are Fashion Shows Still Relevant?” that blog post covered the history of fashion shows and why designers still prefer a show. While many argued that fashion shows were an outrageous expense, designers mostly felt that it was worth it if they attracted Instagram Stars and Fashion Bloggers. Today, fashion shows are more about exposure and how many “likes” the’ll get on social media than selling clothes.

This season there were many changes to New York Fashion Week’s calendar. Tom Ford skipped NY and decided to show in LA, Tommy Hilfiger is showing in London, Telfar is showing in Florence and Ralph Lauren is skipping the runway altogether.  So, with so much change, it’s not surprising that famed fashion blogger Bryanboy asked if somebody could look into “why NYFW [has] pretty much died?”

While this may seem like an exaggerated question, it’s a valid one, as designers continue to search for unique places and ways to create buzz. They’ve tried live-streaming shows, opening up their shows to the public, showing their menswear and womenswear collections together, and they even tried to entice sales by showing buy-now-wear-now collections (which ultimately failed). But as we all know, today, consumers shop differently, especially due to the internet. And, unlike their predecessors, Gen Zers are more concerned about their carbon footprint and issues surrounding  over-consumption than they are about the runway.

So, why should designer’s invest thousands of dollars on a runway show? Well according to Jeffry Aronsson, the former CEO of Oscar de la Renta, Marc Jacobs and Donna Karan, who currently consults luxury brands on growth strategies, told Fashionista, that at its core, “the business case for investing in a seasonal fashion show, or any other fashion event, is that it should get the brand the attention of the market and press.” Aronsson states that the measures of success come in the form of online impressions (including social commentary and likes), editorial coverage (both digital and print) and, though difficult to quantify, word of mouth, which helps raise brand awareness, desire and, hopefully, sales.

Erin Hawker, communications expert and founder of Agentry PR, notes that a brand can get 50 to 100 press hits in one single day globally after a runway show (and even double that if there are big-name celebrities involved), as well as millions of earned impressions on social media. “If you assign an editorial value to shows with or without celebrities, it’s usually in the tens of millions of dollars’ worth of impressions,” Hawker says. “This far surpasses the cost of a show.”

So, designers have been listening carefully to the experts. And for those who chose to a have runway show, those brands pulled out all the stops to make it a memorable; a spectacle that their consumers would enjoy, as they watch the videos and images that blow-up their social media feeds. Oh, and in the end…hopefully generate sales.

Here are some images of the more memorable NYFW shows of the Fall 2020 season:

TOM FORD

Tom Ford’s Fall 2020 Los Angeles Show (Photo courtesy of Vogue.com)

In June 2019, Tom Ford took the helm at the Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA). Many fashion insiders were upset (Ford is based in Los Angeles), with one calling it a “slap in the face” to New York Fashion Week. In a statement to the Business of Fashion site, Mr. Ford said: “Someone asked me the other day how I could justify showing in L.A. as I am now the Chairman of the CFDA, and I reminded them that CFDA stood for the Council of Fashion Designers of America and not the Council of Fashion Designers of New York.”

Mr. Ford opted to show in Los Angeles because of the Academy Awards, which took place on Sunday night (Feb. 9, 2020) at the start of NYFW. In a statement to Women’s Wear Daily, Mr. Ford said “the excitement in L.A. on that particular weekend” was a big factor in his decision.

As for the show, it was a star-studded extravaganza and one of the biggest pre-Oscar events. Everyone was there from Jennifer Lopez and Renée Zellweger to Miley Cyrus and Lil Nas X to James Corden and Jon Hamm. There were so many power players, that some celebs were even pushed back to the second row.

As for the clothes, they were infused with Mr. Ford’s signature glam, mixed in with streetwear elements. Case in point; a chic oversized leopard print coat, worn over a sweatsuit. The collection also featured plenty of menswear inspired high-waisted, baggy trousers paired with logo sweatshirts and topped off with terrific outerwear. For evening, Mr. Ford turned up the glitz with bold colored turtleneck sweaters paired with sequin maxi skirts, delicate lace dresses and a show-stopping crystalized halter gown.

This extravaganza was anything but the traditional runway show.

RODARTE

Rodarte Fall 2020 Show (Photo courtesy of Vogue.com)

Laura and Kate Mulleavy have always been inspired by theatrics and Hollywood for their beloved label Rodarte. For Fall 2020, the sisters looked to vampires for inspiration, more notably, Bram Stoker’s 1897 novel Dracula, which in turn inspired—Francis Ford Coppola’s indelible 1992 adaptation of the book, starring Winona Ryder. The sisters found the perfect setting as the backdrop to the gothic tail; a dimly lit St. Bartholomew’s church in Midtown Manhattan.

While the Mulleavy sisters created a cinematic goth setting, the clothes were anything but. The collection featured a nod to the forties with playful polka-dot dresses, dramatic pouf sleeve blouses and bold floral gowns. Then, things became dramatically dark and sinister with cobweb embellishments on a few gowns, as well as black fringe capes that resembled clumps of witches’ hair. Laura and Kate Mulleavy returned to their gothic roots in a fashionably haunting way.

TORY BURCH

Tory Burch’s Fall 2020 Show (Photo courtesy of Vogue.com)

Forever the art aficionado, Tory Burch chose the iconic Sotheby’s as her latest show venue as models strutted among the auction merch. It was the ideal location for her Fall 2020 collection as it was a happy jolt of vivid floral prints in everything from tailored suits to cozy sweaters and everything in between. Burch was inspired by the Francesca DiMattio’s ceramic sculptures (which were situated on the runway) and had the artist design many of the floral prints found in the show. Bravo Tory Burch for creating such a joyful collection in these unsettling times.

BRANDON MAXWELL

Brandon Maxwell’s Fall 2020 Show (Photo courtesy of Vogue.com)

One can always expect to have fun at Brandon Maxwell’s show. In the past he even served Shake Shack to editors before his show.  For Fall 2020, the celebrity stylist-turned-designer did not disappoint. He showed his youthful eveningwear at the American Museum of Natural History with their iconic dioramas  of ‘taxidermied’ moose and grizzlies. It was like a genuine slice of Americana. Maxwell also offered plenty of daywear this season with beautifully tailored outerwear, chic knits and low-cut trousers. For night, there were a few sheer numbers that felt out of place, but overall, this was a strong show, one that proves Maxwell is more than just a red-carpet designer.

COACH

Debbie Harry Performs at the Coach Fall 2020 Show (photo courtesy of Getty Images)

Coach’s Creative Director, Stuart Vevers, likes to draw inspiration from artists and has often incorporated their work into his collections. In the past, he’s featured works by Keith Haring (Spring 2018), Kaffe Fassett (Fall 2019) and Richard Bernstein (Spring 2020). For Fall 2020, he referenced Jean-Michel Basquiat — not just by weaving his drawings into his ready-to-wear and accessories  but also by bringing some of his family members to the show. The late artist’s niece, Jessica Kelly, actually walked the runway! She, and the rest of the models, made their way across a warehouse-turned-runway — meant to replicate the feel of a city loft — all while the legendary Debbie Harry performed on stage.

CHRISTOPHER JOHN ROGERS

Christopher John Rogers Fall 2020 Show (Photo courtesy of Dia Dipasupil for Getty Images)

Recent CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund Award winner, Christopher John Rogers, brought back old-school glamour but with a modern twist for his Fall 2020 collection. His gowns were bold and vivid, perfect for young scarlets wanting to stand-out on the red carpet.

Rogers infused saturated hues into his collection and is fast becoming known for his shapely silhouettes. Think balloon sleeves, voluminous skirts and innovating draping – all in oversized, exaggerated shapes.

MARC JACOBS

Marc Jacobs’ Fall 2020 Show (Photo courtesy of Vogue.com)

Everyone looks forward to the end of NYFW because of the Marc Jacobs show. For Fall 2020, the designer didn’t disappoint.  The show began with a surge of energy. Dancer/choreographer Karole Armitage, found the spotlight in the darkness of the Park Avenue Armory and reminded us that, why in the 80s, she earned the nickname the “punk ballerina.” Although her performance was brief, it was electrifying. Following Armitage, a crew of dancers followed, creating an entertaining and engaging backdrop; the dancers were clad in Marc Jacobs dance pieces, such as bras, slip dresses, skirts, basic T-shirts and black pants.

As for the clothes, it was a nod to the Sixties – Jackie Kennedy, Rosemary Woodhouse, the mods – all with a touch of nineties minimal. It was pure Marc in the early days of his career. He showed three-button A-line coats, pastel minidresses with matching jackets, tailored suits and simple sweaters worn over straight leg trousers; Miley Cyrus made an appearance on the runway wearing a black bra and trouser. For evening, Jacobs created a number of sequin sheath dresses in a variety of colors and a pink opera coat worn over a gown with a tiny bow at the bust that had Jackie Kennedy written all over it.

It wouldn’t be NYFW without a bit of controversy, right (in addition to Tom Ford showing in LA, Tommy Hilfiger in London and Jeremy Scott in Paris)? Well, thanks to a New York Times article, we learned that NYFW shows leave the biggest carbon footprint when it comes to travel, buyers, and brands.

So tell us: Time to rethink the runway show?

 

 

How Indie Brands are Revising & Revolutionizing Retail

- - Fashion Business

A busy street in NYC’s Soho neighborhood. (Photo courtesy of USA Today)

2020 is here and there’s much to look forward to (and not just the election). Although our beloved Barney’s has shuttered its business and major chains such as The Gap and Victoria Secrets are closing stores across the U.S., and a stroll down Madison Ave., uncovers a retail graveyard of a few dozen empty store fronts, good  things are happening for NYC retail. For years now, we’ve been hearing that traditional retail is dead, but wait…hold the presses….indie brands are starting to open boutiques in Soho! Is this a sign that brick-and-mortar will survive after all? Is it that millennials prefer downtown over uptown for their retail experience?

While many digital native brands, such as Glossier, Warby Parker, and Bonobos, started online. Today, these brands are expanding and opening retail ‘concept’ shops for their clients. “According to real estate experts, digitally native brands are predicted to open 850 brick-and-mortar stores in the next 5 years, with New York being the most popular destination,” according to Tinuiti, a NYC-based marketing firm. Through research and marketing, Tinuiti stated that “most of the digital brands opening stores sell apparel, which makes sense; it’s a category where shoppers definitely benefit from interacting with the product in person. We’re sure to see plenty more storefronts from these ecommerce brands — apparel and other categories alike.”

The outside of Glossier’s store in New York. (Photo courtesy of Glossier)

Another trend that is sure to continue is the rise of omnichannel. Retailers need to offer a consistent buying experience across channels, both online and off. The lines between digital and physical shopping experiences are a blur. Retailers need to be agile and responsive to customer needs with branded touchpoints at all parts of the purchasing journey. According to Ray Hartjen, Marketing Director at RetailNext, “Consumers simply don’t think in terms of channels. This isn’t 1998. No one is sitting around and thinking, ‘Hey, I think I’ll do some online shopping.’ For many years and certainly in 2020, it’s all just ‘shopping.’ Shopping journeys now go through a variety of branded touchpoints, digital for sure, but physical touchpoints too, and they are nowhere near linear shopping journeys. Brands need to be nimble, agile and responsive to shopper needs, and they need to deliver seamless, friction-free paths for their shoppers to navigate.”

Through marketing research, Tinuiti states that retail is in fact in the midst of a Retail Renaissance. A recent study by the International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC) showed that opening a physical store increases online traffic by 36% for established retailers and 45% for emerging brands. According to the marketing firm,” In-Store Purchase Funnel is about to be integrated seamlessly into Unified Commerce. The stores will become Experience Retail. In addition to Interactive Technologies such as Smart Fitting Rooms, watch for more in-store immersive innovations in 3D Printing, Eye-Tracking, and Augmented Reality.”

In today’s retail environment, direct-to-consumer brands are reinvigorating the retail scene in NYC. A growing number of e-commerce brands are opening storefronts to grow their businesses further. “Physical retail embodies a social and tangible experience that America’s Amazon-driven format of online retail has yet to duplicate,” Web Smith, the co-founder of Mizzen+Main, said. And so, “digital-first retailers are … investing in extending their direct-to-consumer relationships by owning permanent storefronts in worthwhile locations.” It’s a theme that’s expected to continue to ring out in retail this year. A study in 2018 by real estate research firm Green Street Advisors found so-called digitally native brands altogether have more than 600 stores blanketing the U.S., and counting.

Rents across NYC have also dramatically dropped and are nowhere near levels seen in the peak of 2014. Even Madison Avenue — known for its prestige and high end boutiques such as Chanel, Prada, and Celine— is not immune to the trend of falling rents.

According to CNBC, “in the second quarter of 2019, average asking rents across New York City declined an average of 4.5% from a year ago to $776 per square foot, according to an analysis by commercial real estate services firm CBRE. It marked the seventh consecutive quarter of declines. Rents along Upper Madison Avenue (57th to 77th Streets) in particular dropped 11.7% from a year ago to $1,042 per square foot.”
Thanks to the falling prices of rents and more flexible lease terms, its open the possibility for smaller brands to open shop. At some point, landlords had to budge. A lot of these new retailers weren’t going to pay sky high rents. “If someone was renegotiating a lease today, it’s a very different market than it was 10 or 15 years ago,” said Nicole LaRusso, director of research and analysis at CBRE.

After 2014, as rents started to fall and store closures picked up, “landlords didn’t want to hear it,” LaRusso said. “But most of that lesson has been learned now.” There’s much more negotiating being done today, she said. “I think we are getting to that equilibrium.”

Indie Brand Retail Invasion 
“Meatpacking today is what I would call New York’s ‘it’ neighborhood,” said Jared Epstein, developer at Aurora Capital Associates. Epstein worked on RH’s roughly $250 million deal for a 15-year lease in the area. An RH hotel is also set to open in the Meatpacking District next fall.

“New York has a certain resiliency that is proven time and time again,” Francis Greenburger, founder and CEO of real estate developer Time Equities. “I would never doubt New York resiliency.”

And as a resilient city, here are a few indie brands that have opened retail shops in NYC and across the United States.

Glossier NYC Boutique. (Photo courtesy of The New York Times)

Beauty brand Glossier is a direct-to-consumer label founded by Emily Weiss in 2014. In 2018, her small business surpassed $100 million in revenues. Weiss opened her flagship boutique in Soho, in November of 2018. The store is such a hit that you can find shoppers lining the sidewalk streets to get in, whether it’s to shop or pose in front of the companies signature millennial pink-covered walls. Glossier also has a store in Los Angeles and is experimenting with pop-up locations.

Rothy’s San Francisco store. (photo courtesy of Rothy’s)

Rothy’s, a woman’s shoe label, opened its first brick-and-mortar store in San Francisco in 2018. The label was launched in 2015 in San Francisco by Roth Martin and Stephen Hawthornthwaite, the direct-to-consumer brand created and sold shoes that ranged from ballet flats to loafers for women and kids that are made out of recycled plastic bottles. The brand decided to open its first store so customers can see the shoes in person and try them on before making a purchase. In 2018, Rothy’s gained a $35 million investment from Goldman Sachs and has raised over $42 million to date. Rothy’s booked a little more than $140 million in revenue for 2018.

The outside of Koio’s store in Venice, California. (Photo courtesy of Koio)

Koio, a high-end sneaker brand, was launched in 2014 by Chris Wichert and Johannes Quodt. In 2018, the brand has already raised $5.1 million and opened a handful of stores throughout the United States, including, New York, Chicago and Los Angeles and are planning to open more in the near future. The brand creates sneakers for both men and women, but the men’s category outperforms women’s. Wichert and Quodt are already creating new silhouettes to keep up with the growing ‘designer’ sneaker category which has exploded in popularity.

Outdoor Voices Boston Store. (Photo courtesy of Outdoor Voices)

Outdoor Voices is a woman’s athleisure brand that was founded by Tyler Haney, the 31-year-old is also the CEO of the brand. Outdoor Voices was started in Austin in 2014 and has raised over 56.5 million to date. The brand has a number of stores throughout the United States, including Los Angeles, Chicago, Nashville, and Boston. Tyler told CNBC in 2017 that in the future she planned on opening at least 50 stores, one in every state. Giving investors a vote of confidence, Mickey Drexler, the former CEO of J.Crew and Gap, serves on its board. Haney said he’s played a key role in helping Outdoor Voices grow offline.

Ganni store in Soho. (Photo courtesy of Ganni)

Ganni, the Copenhagen-based brand, opened its first U.S. store in Soho this past October, followed by one in Los Angeles and Miami.”We always dreamt of opening stores in the U.S.,” explains founder Nicolaj Reffstrup. “We’ve been extremely fortunate to be stocked in some of the U.S.’s finest boutiques and retailers; seeing our U.S. audience connect with our Scandi 2.0 sense of style has been incredible and we’ve resonated well with the market. This next step of having our own physical stores means we can welcome our community into our universe and experience Ganni in real life. It just made sense. There’s been so much talk of the death of retail, but I don’t think retail is dead, it’s just entering a new phase. It’s about figuring out how you give your community a unique real-life experience, a high level of service, interesting interactions with real people and an easy, effortless shopping experience where your community feels welcome.”

Self-Portrait Boutique. Courtesy of Flaunt Magazine

Self-Portrait is a contemporary label launched in 2013 by Han Chong. The London based label is known for its feminine dresses with a youthful twist. In August 2019, the label opened its first brick-and-mortar concept retail space in the U.S. in  Soho; but Self-Portrait is testing out the New York City store-front experience before fully committing, with the concept store set to close in June 2020. “This is a great opportunity to welcome anyone, not only to shop, but also to explore the Self-Portrait experience,” says Chong. “What I’ve seen happening is that stores are now becoming brand ambassadors both online and offline. We want to blend these experiences to create that connection with our clients. We’ve built this amazing community digitally with them since we started the brand and now we get to invite them into our home to get know us more intimately.”

Are you considering opening a pop-up or a retail shop for your brand? Share your thoughts!

ARE FASHION SHOWS STILL RELEVANT?

Louis Vuitton’s spring 2020 show. (Photo courtesy of Vogue.com)

As our industry grapples with the impact of fast fashion on our planet and explores circular fashion concepts, such as ‘fundamental redesign’ (the shift from a ‘take-make-waste’ model towards a ‘reuse-based’ model), while other more responsible brands move to put the health of our planet over profits, we must ask ourselves… are fashion shows still relevant?

Add to these concerns the reality that designers are expected to execute four collections a year (spring/summer, fall/winter, resort, and pre-fall) as well as produce an expensive fashion show twice a year. As the industry once again ponders whether the expense and the number of shows are necessary, especially in a digital, on-demand, eco-conscious environment, the fact remains that consumers are not spending as much money on clothing as they are on technology and vacations. So, is this pace and expense sustainable?  Let’s take a look. But first, let’s explore the origins of the fashion show.

History of the Fashion Show

According to Historical Dictionary of the Fashion Industry, written by our founder, Francesca Sterlacci and Joanne Arbuckle, the former Dean of the Fashion Institute Technology:

“The first fashion shows can be traced to Paris, beginning in the mid-1800s, with designers Charles Frederick Worth, Jeanne Paquin and Jean Patou. Worth was the first to design and display his own creations for women to choose from, via a “fashion show” on live models, four times a year.”House-of-Redfern---Galerie-de-vente---Paris-fashion-1910

 

Fashion models and society ladies at a designer salon circa 1910 (Photo credit: Glamourdaze.com)

The Paris salon show schedule would inevitably become the foundation for ‘fashion weeks’ in Milan, London, and New York. These cities became known as the “Big Four,” the largest and most important centers for fashion. In its early days, shows were solely for core customers, buyers and editors. The general public didn’t see the latest designer wares until they were available in stores some four to six months later. Even fashion magazines understood that the latest creations could not be unveiled in their editorial pages until they could actually be purchased by the consumer. A concept that has changed over time but may need to be revisited.

In 1943, New York fashion designers held ‘press weeks’ in fall and spring whereby editors and buyers would swarm to ritzy hotels to view the latest designer runway presentations.  For decades, this is how the system worked. Runway shows offered buyers and editors a chance to see designers’ collection, six months before they became available to the public. This helped buyers plan their “open-to-buy” and advertising budgets, and for editors to plan the trends that they would promote and feature in their editorial pages. Fun fact: American fashion publicist Eleanor Lambert was the first to create fashion shows as charitable events with her March of Dimes shows (1948-1960), that not only raised money but helped promote American fashion design.

Christian Dior Show in 1948 (Photo Courtesy of AP Photo)

 

The Fashion Calendar

With so many fashion shows to coordinate among the “Big Four,”  a schedule was needed to keep shows from overlapping. Enter Ruth Finley and her fashion calendar, known in the industry as the “Pink Bible.”  In existence since the 1950s, the Fashion Calendar still is the” fashion planner for all fashion runway shows and other related fashion events.  In 2014, the Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA) acquired the Fashion Calendar. Today it has six hundred and fifty subscribers and available in digital format only. No serious designer would dare schedule their show without first consulting with Fashion Calendar.

Fashion Weeks: NYFW – LFW – MFW  & PFW

New York Fashion Week (NYFW), as we know it today, began in 1993. Fern Mallis, then executive director of the CFDA, took hold of fashion’s schedule and tried to centralize the shows so that buyers and editors were not shuffling all over the city.  “Organized shows put American designers on the map and changed the fashion landscape forever,” Mallis told Racked in 2015. “Before that, there were 50 shows in 50 locations. Everyone did their own thing without understanding what a nightmare it was to get from one show to the other.”

      “To dispel the myth that U.S. fashion designers were influenced by their European counterparts, in 1998, American designers decided to move their fashion show schedule ahead of Paris, London and Milan and instead of being the last show, they became the first. This has remained the schedule into the twenty-first century.” ~ Historical Dictionary of the Fashion Industry

Bryant Park, located in mid-town Manhattan, was home to NYFW for 16 years. It was the first time designers were offered the option to present their fashion show without the responsibility of having to produce a fashion show from scratch –  the space, lighting, sound, and security were all handled by a production firm (IMG). That’s not to say it was cheap. According to Forbes.com,  “In 2007, a show at Bryant Park cost at least $50,000 for designers, according to one estimate.” Bryant Park  heightened awareness of NYFW and the fashion game began to change. It also provided an opportunity for designers to invite celebrities to sit front row, next to editors and later led to the rise of fashion bloggers and influencers.

By 2010, and with nearly 300 scheduled shows, the fashion crowd outgrew Bryant Park. NYFW was then moved to Lincoln Center for several seasons, however, as we all know, fashion is fickle. Today NYFW shows are primarily held in spaces along the West Side Highway and at Manhattan’s Hudson Yards, where the spaces are larger and New York City traffic is less of an issue.

Bloggers & Influencers- From left: bloggers Bryanboy, Rumi Neely, Leandra Medine, Natalie Joos, Elin Kling &

Hanneli Mustaparta attend the Phillip Lim Spring 2014 fashion show in New York City. (Wendell Teodoro/WireImage, via Getty)

The Birth of the European Fashion Show Extravaganza

While U.S. designers mostly stayed faithful to the traditional runway show with models parading down a long narrow catwalk or in a passerelle or semi-circular format, their European counterparts favored the extravaganza. For example, Nino Cerutti’s used publicity stunts to self-promote, such as when he painted Lancia convertibles blue, then paraded them down the streets of Rome and onto the runway, where a starlet then broke a bottle of champagne on the hood. Designers Claude Montana and Thierry Mugler staged fashion show “extravaganzas” during the 1970s and 1980s that became media hypes, with fashion models often upstaging the clothes. In the late 1990s and early 2000s, designers John Galliano and Alexander McQueen continued to create some of the most spectacular shows, often with celebrity guests in attendance and sometimes even taking to the catwalk. Viktor & Rolf, Chanel, Rick Owens, Fendi and Ricardo Tisci at Givenchy transformed the fashion show experience for the new millennium by: creating avant-garde conceptual performances, adding plus size models and introducing technology, such as the Fendi show in 2015 that used drones to film and live stream the show.

Broken Fashion Show System

According to the Historical Dictionary of the Fashion Industry, “By 2015, designers, buyers, fashion journalists and fashion organizations, such as the Council of Fashion Designers of America and the British Fashion Council, began to examine the “broken” fashion system as it related to the overcrowded fashion show schedule, the excessive number of shows and the relevance of showing fashion that cannot be immediately purchased; since the traditional fashion show system features merchandise six months in advance of the selling season and live-streamed fashion shows are available to consumers where immediacy is key for consumers in a digital age. Burberry was the first to make the decision to change the model by; showing only two collections a year, combining their menswear and womenswear in the same show, featuring clothes in season and not six months ahead of the season, and making the merchandise for sale immediately afterwards. In 2016, recording artist Kanye West and Adidas made fashion history when, timed to the launch of West’s new album The Life of Pablo, they held the first ever consumer ticket-holder fashion show at Madison Square Garden with tickets for their Yeezy-Adidas show priced at $275 each.”

Today, shows are not only photographed for social media, but they are also live-streamed so anyone sitting at home in front of their computer can tune in. Fashion shows have now evolved into marketing spectacles directed towards a mass audience. Hundreds of thousands attend fashion week, but thanks to today’s digital world, millions of people live-stream fashion shows online. So the purpose of fashion week seems clear; capture the attention of as many people as possible; visibility leads to sales, right? Only to a degree.  Unfortunately, the equation is not so straightforward and for years the question of “is fashion week dying” has been an ongoing conversation among fashion insiders.

“In a world that has become increasingly immediate, the current way of showing a collection four months before it is available to consumers is an antiquated idea and one that no longer makes sense,” designer Tom Ford told WWD in 2016. “We have been living with a fashion calendar and system that is from another era.”

While some may believe the fashion week runway format is archaic, this system still exists, but has arguably lost step in a world where everything is instantly visible across various social media platforms. Today, designers and brands can bypass store partners and sell straight to their customers through their own websites. It has become routine for consumers to stream new products that fast fashion popularized and these forces have transformed the fashion industry.

Enter Instagram

One of the biggest game-changers for the industry has been Instagram. The popular social media platform creates a constant connection between brands and customers and has helped reshape the way brands communicate to potential customers. Designers even create Instagammable ‘moments’ during their runway shows.

Chanel transformed the Grand Palais into a beach scene during Paris Fashion Week in October 2018 (Photo courtesy of Reuters)

And yet, fashion shows and their organizers aren’t disappearing time soon, in actuality, the reverse is happening, as more cities around the world are staging their own fashion weeks including Shanghai, Seoul, and even Canada. Many prestigious designer houses have even opted to show full runway extravaganzas for their resort and pre-fall collections as well. Many brands, both large and small, are joining the fashion week cycle because of the prestige and exposure that comes with it.

But one must ask, is the exposure worth the price tag that goes along with producing a fashion show?

Of course, the answer varies by brand. In 2019, Christian Siriano provided a breakdown of his show cost for Vogue Business that reached up to $300,000. It included models, set design, lighting, sound, and all the elements needed to create a runway show. According to an interview in Vogue, Siriano stated, “I think when our investors go through the numbers, it’s really hard for them to see actual returns, obviously, there are ways to tell if a collection is more successful than another, but that doesn’t necessarily have to do with the show. It has more to do with the timing, or the fabrications we’re using or what’s happening with the seasons.”

Christian Siriano’s spring 2020 show. (Photo courtesy of Vogue.com)

While a six-figure tab will give you a basic fashion show format, there are those designers who go to the extreme during NYFW. In 2011, The New York Times reported that Marc Jacobs (following in the European show extravaganza tradition) spent $1 million to produce his show. While these grand spectacles are a tool to sell clothes, the buyers attending these shows do not buy their collections during the show, but rather sales take place during private showroom appointments. So is it all worth it?

Rachel Feinstein’s set for Marc Jacobs’ Fall 2012 show. (Photo courtesy of Vogue.com)

The reach and cost-effectiveness of having such a show is difficult to determine. Most brands look to Instagram as a tool to determine how many potential customers have viewed their runway videos and images.

To hype their show and encourage sales, some brands have tried to offer customers specific looks immediately after the show, both in their stores and on their website, in an attempt to translate the excitement of the runway moment. Others have opted to live stream their runway show so customers can view the show and then immediately shop the collection. A few designers – such as Gucci and Balenciaga- have taken to regularly dropping new items between shows.

So with a six-figure price tag, many young designers are conflicted and ask the question, “is a fashion show worth the cost?” Well for many, the answer is yes. A fashion show is a great marketing tool. It is a way to get customers to notice your exciting and creative work. For many luxury brands, a show is a marketing tool to sell cosmetics, perfume and accessories. These brands may actually lose money producing clothes, as Exane BNP Paribas and the fashion consultancy firm VR Fashion Luxury Expertise have noted. But runway shows and their creative clothing are valuable to the branding. “Today shows have nothing to do with clothes anymore,” Guram Gvasalia, the CEO of Vetements, told WWD after the brand reorganized the scheduling of its runway shows in 2017. “Most of the looks are not even produced and therefore never get to the shop floor. Shows are there merely to sell a dream and that, at the end of the day, will sell a perfume or a wallet in a duty-free store.”

For smaller labels, branding is also an important opportunity that can benefit their brand. Christian Siriano told Vogue Runway that his shows, which have been praised for his diversity in models, have attracted other business, such as a shoe partnership with Payless. Presenting during a major fashion week also adds credibility and legitimacy to a young label. It can help put their brand on radar of industry leaders. Stylists for example keep an eye on fashion week and pull clothes for photoshoots and celebrity events. A young designer can easily land in an editorial layout or on the red carpet on a major celebrity. Or, catch the eye of a savy store buyer who just might be willing to give them a break.

The fashion industry represents over $2.5 trillion dollars (according to a recent McKinsey report in 2018) and, on average, a 10 to 15 minute fashion show can cost anywhere from $200,000 to over $1 million. With these hefty price tags brands must think, “what is the return on investment?” Is the answer social influence? Is it celebrities and street-style stars wearing the collection? Well, according to data analytics provider Launchmetrics, the answer is more complex.

Launchmetrics’ new “Data on the Runway” report suggests the key is MIV or media impact value – an algorithm which measures the impact of media placements to derive a number for performance outcomes.

Take Ralph Lauren’s 50th year anniversary for example (spring 2019), Launchmetrics’ data analysts found that Ralph Lauren’s widely publicized anniversary show ranked first amongst the brands, with the highest MIV generated over the Fashion Weeks at $38 million.

The star-studded event included Hillary Clinton, Oprah Winfrey, Robert De Niro, Donna Karan, Calvin Klein, and Anna Wintour. Lauren also hosted an extravagant collection presentation and finished with a paparazzi-heavy post-show dinner party.

Left to right: Hillary Clinton, Ralph Lauren, and Anna Wintour. (Photo courtesy of Instagram@Ralph Lauren)

According to Launchmetrics, it is clear that influencers garnered enormous buzz for the brand (taking 46.2% of the pie), followed by Ralph Lauren’s owned media channels (at 29.7%).

Following Ralph Lauren, Launchmetrics estimated Coach ($27 million), Dior ($22.6 million) and Gucci ($19.4 million), followed closely behind and once again, Chiara Ferragni topped the charts as the top influencer voice.

Chiara Ferragani (known as The Blond Salad) led with $18.3 million in MIV; to put that into perspective, she nearly reached the same MIV as Versace ($18.7 million) did for their SS19 show — proving the continual power of influencer investments.

Influencer Chiara Ferragni (right) attends many shows over Fashion Month and is expected to boast $18.3 million in Media Impact Value – Zimbio.com

According to Forbes magazine, “social media actually proved imperative for fashion brands altogether; posts shared by celebrities and influencers represent an impressive 89% of buzz compared to online media’s 11%. Spring/Summer 19’s top-performing celebrity was Nicki Minaj, who generated a total of $11.3 million MIV over the season.”

Alison Bringé, CMO at Launchmetrics, said: “Today, fashion weeks are no longer industry events but are a platform to reach the digital savvy consumer, so brands need to think outside the box in order to transform their 15-minute event into something that lives on, beyond what happens on the runway. The case studies within the report shed light on how brands can generate buzz through activities such as using influencers to create 360° campaigns, changing their location to talk to new consumers and markets, or even by focusing on their own media to increase the share of wallet.”

While the ROI for having a runway show differs for every brand, one point is clear; a fashion show is the best way for a designer to communicate their creative vision. “For me, the show is the only moment when I can tell my story,” designer Dries Van Noten once told The Independent. “It’s the way I communicate my ideas to the world.”

Dries Van Noten’s men’s spring 2019 collection, inspired by the work of interiors designer Verner Panton (Photo courtesy of AP Photos)

“If I couldn’t do my shows, I wouldn’t want to be in fashion,” designer Thom Browne told author Booth Moore in her book, American Runway. “I look at my shows as my responsibility in the world of design to move design forward. I think they are such an amazing way of giving a more interesting context to fashion.”

Thom Brown’s spring 2020 show. (Photo courtesy of Vogue.com)

So in the end, we ask these questions: 1) Are fashion shows still relevant? 2) How do emerging designers afford the fashion show price tag? 3) Will the next generation of designers find an affordable alternative to the fashion show? 4) Will millennial & Gen Z designers find a way to disrupt the status quo and make the fashion show as obsolete as the floppy disk? 5) Will we soon be watching virtual 3D fashion shows with life-like avatars walking the runway?

Share your thoughts, we’d love to hear from you!

 

 

Here Comes the Bride…..Fall 2020 Bridal Shows

Monique Lhuillier’s fall 2020 bridal collection. (Photo courtesy of designer)

The whimsical Fall 2020Bridal season has come to an end. And while the runways were filled with gorgeous white gowns, here at University of Fashion, we decided to dig deeper and explore the history of the bridal dress and why ‘white’ would become the ‘go-to’ color for brides.

HISTORY OF THE WHITE WEDDING DRESS

Shocker! Brides did not always wear white. Throughout the 19th century white textiles were impossible to clean by hand, so only the very wealthy could afford such high-maintenance fabrics. Therefore, most women wore their best dress on their special day.

A wedding photo from the late 1800s. (Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons, Keys Studio; source BBC)

In many Asian countries, red is the color of choice for brides, as the vibrant hue is a symbol of  luck, sexuality and happiness.

The red Dior wedding dress Priyanka Chopra wore for her Indian wedding reception in Dec. 2018 (Photo courtesy of People.com)

Queen Victoria was a trend-setter when she broke from the status quo with her 1840 wedding dress, by wearing a lace, ivory-colored silk satin gown. Fashion magazines embraced the look, calling ‘white the most fitting hue’ for a bride. The trend caught on and brides to this day have embraced the white gown.

A painting of Queen Victoria in her wedding gown and veil, given to her husband Prince Albert in 1847 as an anniversary gift. (Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons; source Time)

Today, a wedding dress is usually only worn once and is often the most treasured and expensive garment a women will ever purchase. But for centuries women, including Queen Elizabeth, wore their wedding dress on multiple occasions — making alterations to fit with the times or a changing figure.

Queen Victoria re-purposed lace from her wedding gown in the dress she wore to her Diamond Jubilee. (Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons; source BBC)

In the Roaring Twenties, as hemlines became shorter, brides opted for wedding dresses that rose above the knee.

Gloria Swanson in a 1920s wedding dress. (Courtesy of 1920s- Fashion-and- Music.com)

During World War II, many brides could not afford to purchase a new wedding dress; so they borrowed gowns or wore their service uniform on their special day.

In 1944, it was common for women to get married in their service uniforms. (Photo courtesy of AP; source BBC)

Hollywood has always influenced fashion and when Audrey Hepburn wore a demure mid-calf length dress to her wedding in 1954, the dress length became the most popular style for several years.

Audrey Hepburn and actor Mel Ferrer walk the aisle following their wedding ceremony in 1954. (Photo courtesy of AP; Source BBC)

The sixties ushered in a new bridal style – mini dresses paired with knee-high boots. The style reflected the times and was worn by fashion icon Audrey Hepburn during her second marriage in 1969.

Audrey Hepburn and her new husband, Dr. Andrea Dotti, leave City Hall in Morges, Switzerland, following their wedding ceremony in 1969. (Photo courtesy of AP; Source BBC)

The bohemian bride became the trend of the Seventies, as brides wore loose, empire-waisted, velvet dresses with extravagant sleeves.

Princess Anne and her husband Captain Mark Phillips wave from the balcony of Buckingham Palace following their wedding ceremony in 1973. (Photo courtesy of AP; source BBC)

In 1981, Princess Diana married Prince Charles, and suddenly the princess gown became the most popular silhouette of the decade. Brides everywhere wore full skirts, poufy sleeves and a tiara on their head.

Prince Charles kisses the hand of his new bride, Princess Diana, on the balcony of Buckingham Palace in 1981. (Photo courtesy of AP)

After all the frou of the ’80s, the ’90s ushered in a clean, modern, minimalistic approach to bridal fashion. Brides opted for fitted sheath dresses that were chic and sophisticated.

Carolyn Bessette marries JFK Jr. in 1996, in a custom Narciso Rodriguez dress. (Courtesy of bostonherald.com)

Throughout the 20th century the majority of brides wore white on their wedding day. But, by the start of the 21st century, bridal designers started shaking up the bridal market by offering brides a range of pretty pastel gowns, tough only 4 to 5% of dresses sold at David’s Bridal  in 2014 were colored.

Gwen Stefani wore an ombre Galliano gown when she married Gavin Rossdale in 2002. (Courtesy of Observer)

BRIDAL FALL 2020

While every decade has had a signature bridal style, today’s bridal designers are offering up a wide variety of options for every type of bride. Here are a few of our favorite looks from the Fall 2020 bridal show season.

Pretty in pink in Monique Lhuillier. (Photo courtesy of designer)

Inbal Dror takes the transparency trend to new heights. (Photo courtesy of Vogue.com)

Wes Gordon exemplifies modern day chic as creative director for Carolina Herrera. (Photo courtesy of designer)

Anne Barge celebrates her 20 year anniversary. (Photo courtesy of Vogue.com)

Theia’s creative director Don O’Neill took inclusion one step further by including a disabled model in his fall 2020 show. (Photo courtesy of designer)

We’d love to hear from YOU, what is your favorite bridal decade and why?

PARIS JOINS THE MOVEMENT- YOUNG DESIGNERS TAKE CENTER STAGE

- - Fashion Shows

Naomi Campbell closes Saint Laurent’s Spring 2020 show (photo courtesy of Vogue.com)

What a great season Spring 2020 has turned out to be. Yes, the old guard and heritage houses like Ralph, Burberry, Versace and Saint Laurent have the funds to create runway spectacles chock-a-block with celebs, BUT for the first time ever, we are witnessing the Big Four- NY, London, Milan and Paris, celebrate new, creative, young design talent. Maybe it’s a sign of the times. With calls for diversity on the runway in terms of ethnicity, gender parity and  body positivity, as well as messages about climate change and sustainability, we can’t help but think that finally…established designers are making room for upstarts. No one could be happier than us here at University of Fashion, whose mission has always been, since 2008, to provide equal opportunity access to affordable fashion education for all.

Let’s take a look at  some of the emerging designers who are fast becoming fashion’s favorites.

Telfar

Telfar’s Spring 2020 show (photo courtesy Vogue.com)

Telfer Clemens is a young NY designer known for creating show experiences that are as energetic and cool as his non-gender fashion label Telfar, which he established in 2005. For his Spring 2020 collection, Clemens’ plan was to “disrupt Paris Fashion Week” (according to his show notes), and Clemens did so with fanfare.

The designer presented a short film entitled, “The World Isn’t Everything,” which he collaborated on with friends such as Moonlight’s Ashton Sanders, Kelsey Lu, Petra Collins, and Slave Play playwright Jeremy O. Harris, who was in the audience in a look from Telfar: a yellow shirt, athletic shorts, and fishnets. The video played at the theater La Cigale, and as the characters appeared on screen, models walked the runway in the exact looks; creating an interesting double affect.

According to Clemens, the collection was inspired by “the customs/security lines at any airport at any given time, anywhere in the world.” So obviously the collection focused on comfort and style. Clemens’s travelers were ultra-cool as they wore cargo pants, utility jackets, asymmetrical tops, and his new take on the tracksuit – with interesting cut-outs. Clemens interlocking T and C bags have become a huge hit, so for Spring, he expanded on his accessories by offering a small assortment of jewelry with his signature logo.

After the finale walk, the models began dancing and Clemens, the filmmakers, and eventually the show attendees, all joined in on the fun.  It was a joyful way to start Paris fashion week.

Rokh

Rokh’s Spring 2020 show (photo courtesy from Vogue.com)

We are living in a global world and Rok Hwang, the designer behind the label Rokh, embodies this concept perfectly. He is a Korean-born designer, based in London, showing in Paris. His collection was inspired by a road trip he took across America with his family when he was only 10 years old. According to Vogue.com interview, Hwang said, “I remember arriving at 8 o’clock in the morning in New York and seeing all these girls walking really fast in sharp suits and checked trenches. That was the memory embedded in me; I wanted to write a visual story of that trip.”

The collection had a fresh take on a Nineties theme, as Hwang redefined a chic, modern sportswear with a dark edge. The designer sliced, diced, and wrapped trench coats, added leather patchwork and plaids, and his slit-hemmed pants gave off an updated twist to the grunge look. With such a polished collection, it’s no surprise that Hwang was a runner-up for the LVMH Prize in 2018, and was one of the founding members of Phoebe Philo’s team, picked for her studio at Céline, straight after graduating from Central Saint Martins in 2010.

Koché

Koché’s spring 2020 show (photo courtesy from Vogue.com)

Christelle Kocher may have only been designing her fashion label Koché for a few years now, but the talented designer is already a fashion darling among the influential crowd. This year’s winner of the ANDAM Prize (Paris’ prestigious fashion award) Kocher one-upped herself by becoming the first designer ever to be offered the Centre Pompidou’s Bibliothèque as a show venue. She even snagged a collaboration with Nike.

Kocher has mastered the ‘high-low aesthetic’ as she mixes streetwear with couture details. Case in point, a sharply tailored trench with intricate embroidery. She is also passionate about sustainability and since the start of her label, has incorporated upcycled materials throughout her collection. For Spring, the recycled fabrics were found on patchwork polo dresses and tracksuits.

Her show had a heavy focus on evening looks with intricate lace dresses, pajama-inspired looks with feather trims and the finale was a spangly cocktail number, the base of which were soccer jerseys cut into embellished florets linked together by strands of tiny beads. This may have been Kocher’s strongest collection yet.

Atlein

Atlein’s Spring 2020 show (photo courtesy from Vogue.com)

Antonin Tron is another young designer who is incorporating sustainability into his collection labeled Atlein. For Spring, he presented a chic and elevated collection. Most impressive was that Tron was able to create 60% of his collection using deadstock fabrics that he sourced from mills and factories across Italy. So bravo to Tron who is elevating the concept of sustainability! The designer is also a member of the Extinction Rebellion, fighting for real action on climate change.

The majority of Tron’s collection is made in his native France, by technicians that have fine-tuned the art of craftsmanship. Tron is quickly becoming known as a master in draping, cutting and manipulating jersey (which has become his signature fabric). On his runway, there were plenty of amazing dresses, most notable were the bias-cut floral prints that where youthful, yet oh so sophisticated. It’s exciting to watch this new crop of designers bring together fashion and sustainability in a modern way, and Tron was able to execute this blend perfectly.

The Old Guard

We would not want to end our coverage of PFW without a shout-out to Anthony Vaccarello at Saint Laurent who recruited supermodel Naomi Campbell to close out his show, held under the Eiffel Tower. Remember when fashion show finales ended with a wedding dress? Well, it seems that a supermodel or celeb (JLo for Versace) is fast becoming the trend.

At the Christian Dior show, creative director Maria Grazia Chiuri held tribute to nature, with 164 trees lining the runway and that will later be planted throughout Paris. You have to admit, fashion knows how to create buzz, right?

Christian Dior’s Spring 2020 show is #PlantingForTheFuture (photo courtesy Vogue.com)

Meanwhile, at Maison Margiela, John Galliano enlisted male model Leon Dame who shot to fashion stardom with his stomping walk down the runaway.

At Maison Margiela, male model Leon Dame shot to fashion stardom with his stomping walk down the runaway. He even put a smile on Anna Wintour’s face. (Photo courtesy of DailyMail.com)

Of special note and one of the strongest and most exciting shows in Paris was the enchanting collaboration between Dries Van Noten and Christian Lacroix. According to Cathy Horyn, the two masters working together, “was unprecedented. As far as I can tell, no couturier and ready-to-wear designer have ever worked together before on a runway collection. There have been “capsule” collaborations between designers and mass or leisure brands — Karl Lagerfeld and H&M, for example, or Rick Owens and Birkenstock. But from the outset, Van Noten says he didn’t want his project with Lacroix to be seen in that context — as just another marketing opportunity.”

“I started to work on this collection in February,” Van Noten said, explaining what led him to contact Lacroix. “Normally, I try to avoid escapism and nostalgia, but the world is not a very nice at the moment. So many things go wrong, and I thought maybe it would be interesting to do something about escapism.”

Van Noten is known for his exquisite fabrics and Lacroix is a master at over the top romance, so together, they created a magical moment that sent buyers, editors and other designers into a delightful frenzy.

Dries Van Noten x Christian Lacroix’s Spring 2020 show (photo courtesy from Vogue.com)

Care to share with us which aspiring designer from Fashion Week S/S 2020 you think is on track to ‘make it’?

The Trend Continues – Young Designers Take Center Stage in London & Milan

- - Fashion Shows

Burberry’s Spring 2020 Collection (Photo courtesy of Burberry)

The excitement of S/S2020 fashion month got off to a great start with New York being praised not only for its joyful and uplifting collections, but also for nurturing new talent. The trend continued in London and Milan. London, whose fashion industry has a long history of embracing young designers, once again didn’t disappoint and the underlying message (thanks to pioneer Stella McCartney), was loud and clear: climate change and sustainable design. Sure there were veteran brands like Simone Rocha, Erdem, Victoria Beckham and Riccardo Tisci’s Burberry show, which were star-studded extravaganzas, but youth-activated British creativity was front and center, with a cadre of emerging designers who will surely become street style favorites.

MATTY BOVAN

Matty Bovan’s spring 2020 show. (photo courtesy of Vogue.com)

Matty Bovan presented his first fashion show in September 2016 and has quickly become a fashion darling. Known for his apocalyptic scenarios that reflect the troubling political climate around the world, for spring, he brought us deeper into his catastrophic settings with a collection titled Hope and Fear.

The first model, as well as several others, walked out wearing rectangular lenses fixed on their heads; the device was used to magnify their faces until they looked computer-generated and inhuman, mission accomplished!

As for the clothes themselves, they were charming with a home-made craft appeal. Bovan’s collection was an eclectic mix of motocross trousers, Liberty florals, flight suits and hospital scrubs – all in vibrant hues.

After all, in these agonizing times, what good is fashion if it’s not a fanciful escape from reality?

MARTA JAKUBOWSKI

Marta Jakubowski’s Spring 2020 Collection (Photo courtesy of Vogue.com)

In the age of Brexit and #MeToo, British designers are using the runway to get their message across, and for Marta Jakubowski her message was loud and clear. In her show notes, the feminist designer was inspired by a strong woman striding out with “determination in her step.”

The collection was an ode to the style icon Marlene Dietrich, the glamorous actress who looked stunning in gowns and equally elegant in menswear-inspired suits. For her spring 2020 collection, Jakubowski created power-shouldered suits and multi-draped tailored outerwear that were smart and chic. The young designer also offered lessons in layering with skirt over pant looks, as well as blazers piled over and under trench coats.

For evening, Jakubowski created a few simple, yet fashion-forward draped gowns in various shades of purple, as well as a sophisticated white tuxedo coatdress – perfect evening looks for “It-Girls” everywhere.

PALMER HARDING

Palmer Hardings’ Spring 2020 Collection (Photo courtesy of Vogue.com)

The reoccurring political turmoil theme among the emerging designer set in London was endemic. The label Palmer Harding was no exception, as the label’s designers, Levi Palmer and Matthew Harding stated, “There is a lot of balance between optimism and pessimism, working to find a balance between not being naive about all the troubling uncertainties of now and not allowing them to jam you up.”

Luckily for the duo, the clothes themselves were not as bleak as their inspiration – dilapidated Soviet-era Russian bus stops. This inspiration translated into architecturally inspired looks with innovative folds and pleating details, most notably on crisp white shirts.

The designers also played with optimistic prints and colors that were influenced by William Eggleston’s photography, best known for his play of vivid hues against mundane subjects.

There was a nod to a red, white and blue color story with a cool twist on the notion of classic Americana, as well as a khaki denim jacket with beaten bottle-top buttons that could be thrown over just about anything.

Milan Fashion Week

Prada’s Spring 2020 Collection (Photo courtesy of Vogue.com)

Next stop on the fashion month whirlwind was Milan; where of course, leave it to Miuccia Prada, to kick off the week with an understated elegance that was Prada at its best. But while The National Chamber of Italian Fashion heavily champions Italy’s established designers, this season there were a few emerging designers that are breaking down the barriers.

I’M ISOLA MARRAS

I’m Isola Marras’ Spring 2020 Collection (Photo courtesy of Vogue.com)

Fashion runs through his blood! Efisio Marras, the son of the whimsical designer Antonio Marras, presented his label, I’m Isola Marras, and it was absolutely delightful. The young designer was inspired by Diana Ross and Warhol’s muse Edie Sedgwick. According to Marras, “They were both groundbreaking personalities in their own right. They both broke social and racial barriers: Edie was an upper-class girl meddling with the Factory’s downtown artsy milieu; Diana became a superstar despite the social hostility towards her black heritage.”

The light-hearted and spirited collection was filled with Warhol-inspired, oversized floral prints in bright hues that made their way on everything from maxi dresses to minis. Marras also showed his sport side, creating sweatshirts and hoodies with brocade details for a feminine touch. These charming looks are perfect for young women who want to show off their flirty side.

ZANINI

Marco Zanini’s Spring 2020 Collection (Photo courtesy of Vogue.com)

It’s easy for young designers to get caught up in growing their businesses too quickly, but not Marco Zanini. He plans to expand his business slowly, focusing on real clothes that are beautifully made for his namesake label Zanini. The young designer stated, “I need to focus on quality, to show something I believe in.”

Zanini starts with the fabric, as all the textiles he used were specifically developed for him, and ends with all the little details that make his collection stand out. Key looks ranged from a black cotton shirtdress with white buttons,  white topstitching and ribbons at the hem; trapeze dresses with plissé accents at the shoulders; effortless smock dresses; and perfectly slouchy blazers and outerwear that every modern girl will want in their wardrobe rotation.

These were real clothes for real life but with a cool girl attitude.

LA DOUBLEJ

La DoubleJ’s Spring 2020 Collection (Photo courtesy of Vogue.com)

JJ Martin launched her label La DoubleJ for the fall 2018 season, but the writer-turned-designer has already established a strong brand identity. Martin is known for her playful and flirty retro prints and vibrant use of colors on everything from dresses and swimsuits to separates and homeware. Her prints are sourced from vintage fabrics and wallpapers, but her collection is all produced in Italy with the highest level of craftsmanship.

For spring 2020, Martin did not disappoint. She built on the silhouettes that worked best for her last season and expanded them further this season. There were charming tent-like shapes in dresses and tops, while her swimwear collection has grown into one-shouldered and long sleeve styles. The young designer also began incorporating new fabrics into her collection, such as Sangallo lace (which was over-printed of course), feathers and paillettes.

The designer also worked on a shoe collaboration this season with Fabrizio Vito, bringing her playful prints and feathers to sandals and clogs. The vignette, which was held in a garden at the Four Seasons Hotel in Milan, also featured La DoubleJ pillows, which were exquisite additions to her beloved prints.

BREAKING THE INTERNET

Jennifer Lopez wearing the iconic Palm leaf Versace dress to the Grammy Awards on Feb, 23, 2000

Who can ever forget the 2000 Grammy Awards when Jennifer Lopez showed up in a plunging , green leaf print Versace dress. Donatella Versace could have never imagined the publicity that moment would get, literally causing so many searches on Google that the company had to create Google Images. No, this is not a joke.

The dress went viral before viral was a thing. Fast forward to almost 20 years later and the genius Versace created a sexier version of the iconic dress, and who else would she have strut down the runway in this sizzling number, no other than Jennifer Lopez.  The star literally brought down the house as she closed the show and caused a frenzy that literally broke the Internet.

Jennifer Lopez brings down the house at the Versace spring 2020 show in a sexier version of the leaf print dress she wore to the Grammy’s 20 years earlier.

Stay tuned…Next stop Paris!

FOR ALL OF YOU ASPIRING AND EMERGING DESIGNERS, THESE ARE REALLY EXCITING TIMES. WHILE THE WORLD MAY BE SEEM TO BE IN CHAOS, THIS IS THE TIME TO TAKE ADVANTAGE OF SOME UNIQUE OPPORTUNITIES. WHETHER YOUR DESIGN PASSION IS FOCUSED ON WOMEN’S RIGHTS, GENDER EQUALITY, CLIMATE CHANGE, SLOW FASHION, SUSTAINABLE DESIGN OR ALL THE ABOVE, THE FASHION COMMUNITY IS READY FOR YOU AND YOUR MESSAGE. 

At The University of Fashion we love promoting young designers, so tell us, who are your fav up-and-coming designers?

 

 

Young Designers Are Finally Taking Over New York Fashion Week

- - Fashion Shows

TOMMYXZENDAYA Fall 2019 block party at the Apollo Theater in Harlem (photo courtesy of Vogue.com)

The excitement and thrill of New York fashion week has come to an end, and while all the names we know and love have put on fabulous shows and parties, such as Prabal Gurung’s chic 10th Anniversary showing, Tommy Hilfiger and Zendaya’s block-party show at the Apollo Theater in Harlem (see image above), and Tom Ford’s subway tunnel show, we are finally getting to see some new ‘fashion blood’ getting attention.

Unlike any other city in the world, New York has always been a melting pot of diverse cultures and ideas, so fittingly, the city that kicks off fashion month has embraced a handful of CFDA-approved emerging designers that are about to take off.

TELFAR 

Telfar Clemens, right, at Telfar’s Spring 2020 NYFW party (Photo courtesy of WWD)

Telfar Clemens, known for his non-gender collections,  launched his namesake brandin 2005, however, he finally received recognition in 2017 when he became the winner of the coveted CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund Award.  For Spring 2020 he will be showing in Paris on Sept. 24th, but Clemens did not forget about the city that launched his career and hosted two parties, one with the beloved retailer Opening Ceremony, and the second, a party that doubled as a screening of his film.

According to WWD, “Guests got their first glimpse of the designer’s new collection in a six-minute clip of a film scripted by “Slave Play” writer Jeremy O. Harris and artist Juliana Huxtable that will be shown in Paris as part of the show.”

“Are you a citizen of united communities?” was one of the questions posed in the dialogue as characters walked through airport security, or stood on buoys in open water with the Manhattan skyline behind them.

As for the clothes in the film, there were plenty of utility-inspired looks, thigh-hole track pants and Budweiser silk printed shirts alongside Telfar’s new jewelry range that plays on his initials “TC,” and popular logo-embossed tote bags.

PYER MOSS

Pyer Moss’ Spring 2020 runway look (Photo courtesy of Vogue.com)

Another CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund winner is Kerby Jean-Raymond, the designer behind the label Pyer Moss. The young designer has become a storyteller. Season after season he creates a collection based on the history and popular culture within the African American community. For spring 2020 he did not disappoint and his show was one of the most buzzed about shows of the week.

The show took place at the King Theater in Brooklyn, titled: Sister, the third and final chapter in the Pyer Moss trilogy, inspired by Sister Rosetta Tharpe. A singer-songwriter who rose to popularity in the 1930s and ’40s, Tharpe is considered to be the godmother of rock and roll, though her legacy has been diminished. “I think relatively few people know that the sound of rock and roll was invented by a queer black woman in a church,” said Jean-Raymond backstage during a Vogue interview, moments after the show. “I wanted to explore what that aesthetic might have looked like if her story would have been told.”

The show opened with a powerful sermon delivered by writer Casey Gerald, who is known for his incisive social commentary, it was both uplifting and unapologetically political, referencing the anniversary of slavery in America.  Then a choir of about 70 voices broke into song and the show began. The musical references were loud and clear with a guitar motif that was threaded through curvy lapels of satin overcoats, and the most literal reference was a novelty guitar-shaped handbag, as well as the keyboard print trim on a puff-sleeve blouse.  Jean-Raymond also gave a shout-out to the hip-hop era, which is not surprising considering his new role as artistic director at Reebok.

 

TOMO KOIZUMI

Tomo Koizumi’s Spring 2020 creation (Photo courtesy of designer)

Last winter, Tomo Koizumi’s frothy confections caught the attention of stylist extraordinaire Katie Grand. She quickly contacted the avant-garde designer and had him flown to NY to debut his creations during the Fall 2020 shows.  For his sophomore collection, Marc Jacobs has once again graciously lent his atelier for Tomo Koizumi to use, as well as his Madison Avenue boutique for Koizumi to present his latest innovative pieces. It’s so refreshing to see designers who have made it, help and embrace the newcomers.

Tomo Koizumi’s clothes are far from the ready-to-wear looks that NY fashion week showcases; his pieces are costume pieces that provoke and inspire the audience. Koizumi casted 18-year-old trans model Ariel Nicholson for his one-woman show. The presentation showcased Nicholson dressing and undressing in seven garments as she twirled around center stage. Each frothy look was made of hundreds of meters of ruffled Japanese polyester organza that utilize only one zipper. The construction is spectacular, as ruffles and bows cascade over each other like cupcake frosting.

In an interview with Vogue the designer said, he chose the bow motif because he wanted the collection to represent his gift back to the people who made him. “I just want to bring joy,” he said simply. Mission accomplished.

KHAITE

Khaite’s Spring 2020 runway look (Photo courtesy of Vogue.com)

There are very few young designers who can balance retail success with being an editorial favorite, but Catherine Holstein, the designer behind the coveted Khaite (pronounced Kate) label has managed to do both. The core of her business, or as Holstein refers to them as “cherished items,” are in her jeans, shirtings and knits. And yes, Holstein in responsible for the internet frenzy of Katie Holmes’ $520 cashmere bra and cardigan; both items which immediately sold out on Khaite’s website.

For her spring show, Holstein showed a few of Khaite’s cult favorite lux basics, but, rather than playing it safe, Holstein opted for experimental pieces that were charming and at times, flashy.

Holstein’s collection was inspired by her childhood summers at her grandmother’s house in Woodstock, Vermont; so fittingly there were plenty of plaids and florals that were reminiscent of the home’s late 60’s furnishings, but with a modern and cool twist.  Key looks included a suede fringe jacket, peplum tops over denim, a deconstructed suit, and a corset top over a satin sarong.

Let’s give the fashion industry and the CFDA a round of applause for finally stepping up to the plate to support emerging designers. Not only have the shows included a full range of diverse models on the runway (ethnic, size, and gender diversity) but they are demonstrating an ‘all inclusive’ range of designers into their ‘club.’ A nice message especially in such divisive times. Let’s see how responsive brands across the pond respond in kind.

So tell us, who’s your favorite up-and-coming designer and why?