University of Fashion Blog

Category "Fashion Shows"

WILL FASHION SHOWS EVER LOOK THE SAME AGAIN?

- - Fashion Shows

Erdem’s resort collection draws on the juxtaposition of Regency dress and the 1960s. (Photo Credit: Erdem)

COVID-19 has changed the world, no doubt about it. This deadly pandemic took many innocent lives and toppled global economies in just months. It is unfathomable how every industry has been affected and how each is racing to adapt to a new way of doing business. The fashion industry is no exception. As our industry grapples with millions of dollars in losses, stockpiles of unsold merchandise, and store closures and bankruptcies that resulted in thousands of people being furloughed, the industry is also grappling with the future of the fashion show.

You may remember our blogpost back on November 18, 2019, we covered the topic of whether fashion shows are still relevant. Well, who knew back then that a deadly pandemic would help make the decision for us.

As we wait for scientists and doctors to advise us on when it will become safe enough to gather in large groups, the idea of presenting and attending live fashion shows seems far off. Though LVMH just announced that their brands will produce a live show this fall, most designers are getting creative with new ways to showcase their collections. Here is a rundown of what the new fashion calendar will look like.

RESORT/CRUISE 2021

On March 27th, the CFDA announced the cancellation of the official New York Fashion Week Resort 2021 schedule of presentations, which had been planned for the week of June 6. According to a statement by the CFDA, “The decision was based on the current global situation, the ongoing uncertainty regarding its impact on retailers and their open-to-buys, and designers’ challenges in producing collections at this moment,” the statement read. “We strongly recommend and urge designers not to show their resort spring 2021 collections. The news followed similar announcements by the Camera Nazionale della Moda Italiana in Milan and the Fédération de la Haute Couture et de la Mode in Paris to postpone or cancel their respective spring 2021 men’s collections, as well as the fall 2020 haute couture shows.”

The resort 2021 season would have been in full swing by now with many of the bigger brands holding mega-shows in exotic locations, while the majority would hold intimate shows or appointments in New York City. As a result of Covid, many designers chose to skip the season altogether citing worldwide factory lockdowns, huge sales losses on spring merchandise and the inability to receive the fabrics and trimmings needed to create a collection. However, a few designers did opt to present their collections, through videos and lookbook images. Here are a few ways designers became creative with presenting their latest collections.

CHANEL

A look from Chanel’s Resort 2021 Collection. (Photo Credit: Chanel).

Click link to Chanel’s video presentation:

The Chanel cruise 2021 collection was originally intended to be shown onto Isle of Capri, the mythically beautiful Italian island a ferry ride from Naples, a place that Chanel’s creative director Virginie Viard still has yet to visit. But while on lockdown, Viard traveled there ‘in her mind’ and created a collection labeled Balade en Méditerranée (A Mediterranean Jaunt). Viard, along with photographer Karim Sadli, created the illusion of a Caprese sunset in Chanel’s Paris photo studio.

As for the clothes, Viard created a destination wardrobe of effortless pieces, which were sophisticated yet oh so cool. The designer focused on swimsuits that were worn – every which way – as under-pieces to cardigan jackets to tops paired with wide-legged trousers. Viard also updated the classic Chanel suit, opting for vibrant little jackets and miniskirts – all in cotton tweed. The collection was injected with a youthful appeal with a maxi cardigan paired with micro shorts, a collarless jacket paired with denim pants with tweed insets, and a bandeau top paired with a handkerchief skirt. Overall the collection was the ultimate vacation wardrobe.

BALMAIN

A look from Balmain’s Resort 2021 Collection. (Photo Credit: Balmain)

The Eighties made a major comeback at Balmain, as creative director Olivier Rousteing created a fun and cheeky collection for both his woman’s resort collection and his menswear spring 2021 line up. The designer invited a handful of his “Balmain army” friends to style themselves in his latest looks. Clearly Rousteing has spent his quarantine time watching 80s films and television shows; the collections were filled with Miami Vice inspired jackets, polka dot dresses inspired by Pretty Woman, graphic t-shirt mash-ups with a nod to The Fresh Prince of Bel Air, while heavily encrusted bustiers and exaggerated shoulder pads were straight out of Dynasty’s wardrobe. With all the turmoil in the world today, Rousteing’s collections were a throwback to happier times.

TANYA TAYLOR

A look from Tanya Taylor’s Resort 2021 Collection. (Photo Credit: Tanya Taylor)

Being on lockdown brought out many innovative ideas and designer Tanya Taylor came up with a very creative way to showcase her resort line-up. Taylor sent her latest collection to a handful of artists, stylists, and friends, with instructions that each one was to style themselves in one of here looks and then photograph themselves. The results were a lookbook come to life. In an interview with Vogue, Taylor stated, “I’ve never loved styling our customer. I prefer seeing what they do with our clothes and how they add their own personal twist. That’s where the lookbook came to life. It felt like these women were telling us how they want to feel in their clothes.

As for the clothes, they were infused with Taylor’s signature feminine charm. There was a vibrant fuchsia jumpsuit, ruffled trim wrap skirts, playful print dresses, flirty dot motifs and for evening, a pleated lame one-shoulder dress..

GANNI

A look from Ganni’s Resort 2021 Collection. (Photo Credit: Ganni)

The husband and wife team behind Danish brand Ganni, Ditte and Nicolaj Reffstrup, literally designed their resort collection in their home kitchen, so it felt only natural for the duo to shoot their lookbook in the kitchen. The collection focused on the foundation pieces that have made Ganni such a coveted brand among the “It-Girl” set. There were pilgrim collars, bubble sleeve mini dresses, striped tops and party dresses to dance the night away once a coronavirus vaccine is found.

RAG & BONE

A look from Rag & Bone’s men’s resort collection. (Photo Credit: Rag & Bone)

A look from Rag & Bone’s woman’s resort collection. (Photo Credit: Rag & Bone)

Marcus Wainwright of Rag & Bone, focused on pieces that make their customers feel good. The collection was filled with classics with a modern twist. These are pieces that you can live in and wear all winter long.

DAVID KOMA

A look from David Koma’s Resort 2021 Collection. (Photo Credit: David Koma)

David Koma is known for his glamourous collections and for resort he did not shy away from his campy aesthetic. The collection was filled with sexy crystal embellished dresses, body-con neon dresses, patent leather biker shorts and plenty of corsets. Koma’s girls are ready to step out into the world of cocktails and celebration.

LONDON MEN’S SHOWS

Natasha Zinko x Duo Spring 2021 Menswear Collection in London. (Photo Credit: Natasha Zinko x Duo)

Right around  now, Europe would have held their menswear fashion shows in London, Milan, and Paris. In lieu of traditional shows, Industry leaders came up with creative solutions. The British Fashion Council hosted a three-day coed digital week, which took place from June 12-14. This event brought together British brands that shared creative content that varied from podcasts to photo diaries. “By creating a cultural fashion week platform, we are adapting digital innovation to best fit our needs today and something to build on as a global showcase for the future,” Caroline Rush, the chief executive of the British Fashion Council, said in a press release.

E. Tautz’s spring 2021 menswear collection in London. (Photo Credit: E. Tautz)

However, many British coed brands like Burberry are holding off on showcasing their spring collections until September. It will be a runway show, outdoors with no audience, following social distancing guidelines. The only people in attendance will be the models and members of the Burberry team.

PARIS’ NEW SCHEDULE

Hermès will be livestreaming a digital experience tied to its spring 2021 collection, slated to go live on July 5th at 8 a.m. ET.

The Fédération de la Haute Couture et de la Mode (FHCM) will host the first-ever virtual couture fashion week. The three day event will take place from July 6-8th and accredited couture maisons will present videos and complementary content that will go live on a preset show schedule, replicating the format of a physical couture fashion week. Although Giorgio Armani will skip out of showing his couture collection this season, the Italian designer will host a seasonless Privé show at the Palazzo Orsini in January. Joining Armani, Chitose Abe of Sacai will debut her couture collection for Jean Paul Gaultier as his first guest designer in the New Year. Meanwhile, Balenciaga has not yet officially confirmed a new date, but the French house has likely postponed Demna Gvasalia’s couture debut until 2021.

The FHCM has also announced that the men’s spring 2021 collections would evolve into a video-only format this season and will be held from July 9-13th. The digital week schedule will run like a live fashion week with organized time slots, allowing for back-to-back streams on one central platform. “Digital is clearly part of the shape of fashion to come and we will take it as an opportunity for innovation to complement tradition,” Ralph Toledano, the president of the FHCM, told Vogue. “This being said, [in the] last weeks behind our screens, we all felt that a dimension was missing: the sensorial one. This has tremendously reinforced our position that nothing will ever replace the unity of time and place. Shows are a major component of the fashion industry, and this will remain…. Physical events will always have our preference, but as long as there is uncertainty, there should be flexibility.”

A portrait of Anthony Vaccarello, the creative director of Saint Laurent. )Photo Credit: W Magazine)

Anthony Vaccarello, the creative director for Saint Laurent, announced the brand’s departure from this year’s preset schedules and beyond. “Conscious of the current circumstance and its waves of radical change, Saint Laurent has decided to take control of its pace and reshape its schedule,” Vaccarello, wrote in an Instagram post published in April. “Now more than ever, the brand will lead its own rhythm.”

Meanwhile, German-based streetwear blog, media brand and production agency Highsnobiety hosted a digital fashion event known as “Not in Paris,” which brought together luxury, streetwear, art, music, architecture and even fine wine, under one digital roof. The online exhibition project —which debuted on June 24 and will run through July 2nd — is a direct response to the Highsnobiety audience’s continued zest for fashion storytelling.

“Not In Paris” presented by Highsnobiety. (Photo Credit: Highsnobiety)

So many of the events we write about have been canceled, so we’ve had to think of ourselves as cultural producers in our own right,” said Thom Bettridge, the publication’s editor in chief, in an interview with WWD. “We basically thought, let’s set our own calendar and become this project-based media brand. If there isn’t anything going on in the world, let’s just make it happen.’”

According to an article published in WWD, Highsnobiety is bringing together everyone from Berlin-based company GmbH, which is shooting a film in Berlin exclusively for the online event, to up-and-coming stars like Wales Bonner and Marine Serre, as well as luxury megabrands including Bottega Veneta, Dior, Fendi and Hermès. The latter let the Highsnobiety team loose into its archives to narrate the history of its famous silk scarf.

MILAN’S NEW SCHEDULE

Italy’s Camera della Moda team also announced a cyber-focused men’s and women’s fashion show format which will take place from July 14–17th. The four day event will be known as Milano Fashion Week Digital and consist of panel discussions on social media to virtual showroom appointments, giving designers a chance to showcase their latest collections in a new and innovative way. “Everybody can decide their own message. The advantage is that in a digital world, you are completely free. You find your way of expression. We said to everybody, you have from one minute to 15 minutes, and you decide what you want to show,’” Carlo Capasa, the president of the Camera della Moda, told Vogue.

Ermenegildo Zegna will stage an innovative-slash-intimate hybrid event that will feature the brand’s spring 2021 collection and will also celebrate the label’s 110th anniversary.

A portrait of Alessandro Michele, the creative director for Gucci. (Photo Credit: Vogue)

Gucci is confirmed to premiere its men’s and women’s resort 2021 collection in the form of a digital fashion show on the final day of Milano Digital fashion Week.  This will be Gucci’s last pre-collection; on May 25th, Creative Director Alessandro Michele announced that the house will only hold two coed shows a year (one in the spring and one in the fall) instead of the five seasonal runway spectacles a year.  “I’m passionate about fashion shows, but maybe we can be open to seeing them in a different way,” Michele said.

SEPTEMBER SHOWS

September’s Spring 2021 NY Fashion Week also has plenty of shakeups. Kerby Jean-Raymond of Pyer Moss is staging a full-fledged drive-in fashion experience tour to showcase his new film American, Also. Jean-Raymond is slowing down the speed of how much he produces and is focusing on improving the quality of what he produces. This may be a popular mindset for many designers moving forward – quality over quantity.

A portrait of Kerby Jean-Raymond of Pyer Moss. (Photo Credit: Hyperbeast)

Jean-Raymond is not the only New York–based designer planning something big in September. While many designers had to cancel their resort seasons due to factory closures and shelter-in-place orders, some labels, such as Proenza Schouler and Collina Strada, have refocused their efforts on New York Fashion Week, a strategy that is gaining momentum in Milan and Paris too.

A portrait of Virgil Abloh, the creative director for Off-White. (Photo Credit: High Museum of Art)

While the majority of designers are set on staging something in September, there are a few who are altering the fashion calendar to fit their needs. Virgil Abloh is holding out until 2021 to present his own women’s and men’s spring collections for his label Off-White. Abloh’s decision to wait until January means Off-White is officially experimenting with the see-now-buy-now calendar.

A portrait of Alexander Wang. (Photo Credit: W Magazine)

For the past few years Alexander Wang has been presenting two seasonless collections a year, one in June and one in December, that were in sync with the fashion calendar’s pre-collections.  However, Wang opted out of showing last December and instead planned a bigger event for 2020 to celebrate his labels 15 year anniversary.

Michael Kors on the runway. (Photo Credit: Vogue)

Michael Kors announced he would be stepping back from New York Fashion Week for the Spring 2021 season due to unsold inventory and Fall 2020 production delays due to Covid-19. Instead, the designer will present his Michael Kors Collection line sometime between mid-October and mid-November. “I have for a long time thought that the fashion calendar needs to change. It’s exciting for me to see the open dialogue within the fashion community about the calendar — from Giorgio Armani to Dries Van Noten to Gucci to YSL to major retailers around the globe — about ways in which we can slow down the process and improve the way we work,” he said in a statement. “We’ve all had time to reflect and analyze things, and I think many agree that it’s time for a new approach for a new era.”

PARIS WILL GO LIVE IN SEPTEMBER

The Fédération de la Haute Couture et de la Mode announced on June 24th that the spring 2021 ready-to-wear shows will resume in Paris from September 28 through October 6. Although few details were shared, the FHCM announced that they “will comply [with] the recommendations of public authorities.” Designers will have to limit their guest lists and venue choices, perhaps shows will occur in outdoor spaces, only time will tell how the future of runway shows will takes shape.

So the question remains, will the glamour of fashion shows ever return to its glorious heyday?

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?

 

 

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?

 

 

STAYING SILENT IS OUT – FASHION ACTIVISM IS IN

Prabal Gurung created political statement T-shirts that were worn by social media influencers and street style stars during NY Fashion Week 2017.  From Left to right: Shea Marie, Caroline Vreeland , Bryanboy, Tina Craig, Irene Kim,  Aimee Song  and Chriselle Lim . (Photo Courtesy of Forbes.com)

The Men’s Spring 2020 shows have just wrapped up, and while the runways were filled with plenty of notable trends, such as soft suiting at Givenchy, gender bending at Comme des Garçons, nautical looks at Prada, and romantic prints at Louis Vuitton  – the one trend that has been gaining momentum is the “designer as activist.” Fashion activism is nothing new. In the 1930s the Keffiyeh became a symbol of political uprising and rebellion. In the 1960s, designers gave us peace symbol T-shirts in protest of the Vietnam war,  and mini-skirts, which became the symbol for women’s rights and sexual liberation. In 2017, Cosmopolitan listed 22 designers who used their runway shows to promote a particular cause or in protest of global injustice. From pussy hats to white bandanas with the hashtag #TiedTogether (a symbol of inclusivity and acceptance), according to designer Talbot Runhof, “If you have a platform to say something and you don’t, then shame on you.” In the age of social media and the internet, where opinions and messages are delivered in lightning speed, designers, actors and other influencers feel duty-bound and a certain responsibility to bring attention to the relationship between fashion, politics and social change.

Here are a few noteworthy designers who have shown more than just clothes on their runways, past & present.

OFF-WHITE

Virgil Abloh has developed a cult following with his collections for Off-White and the brand is worn by street style stars around the globe. For his men’s Spring 2020 show, Abloh focused on the negative effects of plastic and saving the environment. According to Abloh, “Plastic: once hailed as a miracle material, now condemned as a major pollutant — and possibly about to be considered a work of art.” The show’s invite was a clear plastic invitation with the words “plastic” printed on it.  Abloh believes plastic can be recycled and used to create something beautiful, such as art. Plastic even made its way in the collection with plastic rain gear and a hazmat suit.

As for the clothes, Abloh looks to street art for inspiration and tapped Futura, a contemporary of Keith Haring and Jean-Michel Basquiat, for the prints in this collection, case in point, a hand-painted white coat, top and pant look.To address his environmental concerns, Abloh featured an aquatic theme throughout the collection with shades of blue tie dye prints and amoeba-shaped appliqué motifs on knits.

The show ended with the models stomping through a beautiful field of white carnations that was created for the show. Abloh’s message was load and clear, we must protect our environment.

Virgil Abloh at his men’s Fall 2020 Off-White Collection. (Photo courtesy of theguardian.com)

Stella McCartney

Stella McCartney has been one of the biggest advocates of the environment, a pioneer of sustainable fashion and an animal rights activist, since the creation of her namesake label in 2001.  McCartney Men’s 2020 collection was presented in a lush garden in Milan’s city center. According to Vogue.com, McCartney stated, “Let’s just forget fashion for a moment and savor all the natural beauty around us and talk about flowers!”

McCartney focused on playful tailoring, hand-printed silk shirts, ties and shorts with horse motifs, lightweight dusters and loose-fitting jumpsuits with satellite Earth prints and of course a collection that was fur free. McCartney kept the collection light and humorous, but her fight to save the earth is a serious one.

Stella McCartney’s Fall 2020 Men’s Collection. (Photo courtesy of Vogue.com)

Pyer Moss

Herby Jean-Raymond launched his menswear label Pyer Moss in 2013 and followed up with a women’s collection shortly thereafter. In the few seasons Jean-Raymond has been presenting, the designer has quickly become known for his social activist stands. Most notably, he is inspired by the heritage of African-Americans, as well as social issues that this community faces today.

Pyer Moss Spring 2019. (Photo courtesy of Vogue.com)

Dior

In July 2016 Dior announced that Maria Grazia Chiuri would be the first female creative director at Dior. Chiuri has been making political statements ever since.  T-shirts screen printed with “We Should All Be Feminists” and “Dio(R)evolution” were sold with proceeds going to Rihanna’s Clara Lionel Foundation, which fights against injustice, inequality & poverty and promotes access to education.

Christian Dior Spring 2017 Collection. (Photo courtesy of Vogue.com)

Women’s Rights

Fall 2017 was a big season for designers to speak out about social injustice. Attendees at Missoni’s Fall show each received pink pussy hats (madefamous by the Women’s March on Washington in January 2017). Guests proudly wore the hats, as did the models during the finale.

According to Angela Missoni, creative director for the label, their message for Fall 2017 was all about “femininity in our times, prepared to confront the conflicts and dilemmas of our contemporary society: the conditions, needs, and rights of all women and minorities.”

Missoni’s Fall 2017 Show. (Photo courtesy of DailyNation.com)

Rio Uribe, the designer behind Gypsy Sport, gave a passionate speech before his show which focused on homelessness and refugee tent cities. “I wanted to talk to you guys a little bit about my show,” he said from a mic backstage. “The Fall/Winter ’17 collection was inspired honestly by people who live on the street and just don’t have much fashion in their life or any of the luxuries that we take for granted. … I don’t want anyone who is gay, or Muslim, or disabled, or mentally ill, or a veteran, or a drug addict, or a runaway to have to live on the street just because someone’s not willing to give them a chance.”

Gypsy Sport Fall 2017 Show. (Photo courtesy of cosmopolitan.com)

Prabal Gurung created “The Future is Female” T-shirt for his Fall 2017 show. According to Gurung, “So to me feminism is not just a trending topic. It’s the only way I’ve known, even before I knew what [feminism] was.”

Bella Hadid sporting Prabal Gurung’s feminist T-shirt at his Spring 2017 show. (Photo courtesy of Forbes.com)

“All-inclusive” hit an all-time high in Fall 2017 as Christian Siriano enlisted models of all sizes to walk his runway show, from plus-size & petite to curvy, as well as plenty of racially diverse women. The 2008 Project Runway winner consistently speaks out against fashion magazines’ unrealistic body standards that are set by the modeling industry. He believes designers have the power to change this by adjusting their hiring process and sizing.

A plus sized model walks Christian Siriano’s show during his 2017 fashion show. (Photo courtesy of cosmopolitan.com)

During Tommy Hilfiger’s 2017 extravaganza in Venice Beach, models strutted down the runway wearing white bandanas as part of Business of Fashion’s #TiedTogether initiative. According to Business of Fashion founder and CEO Imran Amed, this campaign encouraged people to wear the colorless handkerchief “to make a clear statement in support of human unity and inclusiveness amidst growing uncertainty and a dangerous narrative peddling division.”

#TiedTogether Bandanas Hit Runway for First Time at Tommy Hilfiger. (Photo courtesy of Hollywoodreporter.com)

Also in 2017,  The Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA) partnered with Planned Parenthood to launch the “Fashion Stands With Planned Parenthood” campaign to raise awareness about women’s health care during New York Fashion Week.

Vogue editor-in-chief Anna Wintour sporting a Planned Parenthood badge. (Photo courtesy of 14urban.com)

At the New York Spring 2018 shows, a “Get out and Vote” message dominated in advance of the U.S. mid term elections.

Prabal Gurung walks the runway in a Vote T-shirt show during New York Fashion Week Spring 2018. (Photo courtesy of Glamour.com)

Going Fur Free

While Stella McCartney has been creating fur-free and leather-free clothes for years, many designers have now jumped on the bandwagon.

As of September 2018, Burberry announced that it would also be going fur-free, a big move ever since Riccardo Tisci became the creative director for the label. The brand will no longer be using rabbit, fox, mink, and Asiatic raccoon fur, though they will still feature angora, shearling, and leather.

Burberry goes fur free as of Sept. 2018. (Photo courtesy of teenvogue.com)

Shockingly, in March 2018, Donatella Versace announced that she would no longer be using fur in her collections. “Fur? I am out of that. I don’t want to kill animals to make fashion. It doesn’t feel right,” she told 1843 magazine.

Versace goes fur free. (Photo courtesy of teenvogue.com)

In June 2017, protesters interrupted a live interview with Michael Kors at New York City’s Metropolitan Museum of Art, with signs that read “Michael Kors has blood on his hands.” This prompted Michael Kors to announce that his company would be going fur free as of December 2018.

Michael Kors goes fur free. (Photo courtesy of teenvogue.com)

In October 2017, Gucci announced it would be going fur-free as well. Alessandro Michele is opting for sustainable alternatives to create his “grandma-chic” vibe. Prada also added their name to the fur-free list as of 2020.

Gucci goes fur free. (Photo courtesy of teenvogue.com)

Following in the footsteps of San Francisco and Los Angeles, New York is now considering a ban on fur as well, however, there is a lot of push back. One of the oldest industries in New York City dating back to when Henry Hudson explored the region in 1609 and found French traders bartering for furs with Native Americans. New York became a thriving trading post of beaver and other skins that traveled through New York Harbor and to Europe. In fact, the official New York crest includes beavers, whose valuable pelts helped fuel the early fur trade. Stay tuned!

Designers with a History of Rocking the Boat

English fashion designer Katherine Hamnett is best known for her political T-shirts and ethical business philosophy. In 1983 she stated, “If you want to get the message out there, you should print it in giant letters on a T-shirt.” Celebrities such as George Michael (who was part of Wham at the time) wore one of her “Choose Life” tees in a music video for “Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go.” Roger Taylor of Queen, wore her “WORLDWIDE NUCLEAR BAN NOW” T-shirt during Queen’s historic appearance at the first edition of the Rock in Rio festival in Rio de Janeiro.

Political T-shirts by Katharine Hamnett. (Photo courtesy of lovewildlivefree.com)

Vivienne Westwood is another British fashion designer and businesswoman, who was largely responsible for bringing modern punk and new wave fashion into the mainstream. Westwood has retail shops worldwide and sells a variety of merchandise; some of it linked to her many political causes, such as the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, climate change and civil rights groups.

Vivienne Westwood Red Label SS14 fashion show. (Photo courtesy of Alan Davidson/The Picture Library LTD.)

In 2000, John Galliano created one of the most controversial fashion shows ever. For his Christian Dior Haute Couture collection, Galliano was inspired by the Paris homeless. As a master of shock value, his message rang loud and clear in a city of beauty and glamour. The show created such controversy that homeless activists picketed outside the Dior headquarters and riot police had to be called in to deal with the protesters. As a result, Dior’s flagship was closed for two hours and Galliano had to issue an apology statement,  “I never wanted to make a spectacle of misery.”

Christian Dior by John Galliano, spring/summer 2000 haute couture show. (Photo courtesy of newyorktimes.com)

Alexander McQueen’s inspiring showmanship is greatly missed, ever since his suicide on February 11, 2010. For the late designer’s Fall 2009 collection, McQueen took an environmental stance on the runway as his models dressed in fiercely tailored coats, boxy jackets and airy gazar dresses walked around a heap of trash. McQueen even referenced trash in some of his looks such as aluminum can accessories.  It was all so hauntingly beautiful.

Alexander McQueen’s  Fall 2009 ready-to-wear women’s collection during Paris Fashion Week. (Photo courtesy of REUTERS/Pascal Rossignol)

Karl Lagerfeld is another designer who is greatly missed for his theatrics. The late designer passed away on February 19, 2019 in Paris. For his Spring 2015 collection, Lagerfeld took a feminist stance and created a playful protest for woman’s equality. According to Vogue.com, “ Cara Delevingne and Caroline de Maigret had megaphones in hand as a parade of models including Kendall Jenner, Georgia May Jagger, Edie Campbell, Joan Smalls, and even Gisele Bündchen, brandished signs that read “History is Her Story,” “Feminism Not Masochism,” “We Can Match the Machos” and “Ladies First.” Even male model Baptiste Giabiconi waved a “He For She” banner, which just might be our favorite nod to Emma Watson’s global UN campaign yet. Perhaps the “Free Freedom” sign was a winking nod to Free the Nipple, the cause du jour for models like Delevingne, who opened the show and Kendall Jenner, who Instagrammed about it post show. “I’m Every Woman” blared from the speakers, and everyone danced in their seats.”

Chanel spring 2015 collection. (Photo courtesy of elle.com)

While some fashion critics predicted a worldwide boycott of Nike products after their controversial “Just Do It” campaign featuring Colin Kaepernick, they were proven wrong when the company reported a 10 percent jump in income. It turns out that millennials expect companies to take a position on social and political issues.

TELL US, HOW IMPORTANT IS IT TO YOU THAT BRANDS TAKE A STAND ON SOCIAL, POLITICAL AND ENVIRONMENTAL ISSUES ?

RESORT 2020 TAKES OVER SOCIAL MEDIA

Valentino’s Resort 2020 Collection (Photo Courtesy of Valentino)

It’s the time of year when glamorous resort shows are flooding social media channels. And, while some designer’s whisk their clients and the press off to exotic locations around the world to witness their show, but what does this season actually mean for retailers and us as consumers? In the age of transparency, social justice and a world in flux, how are these issues reflected in the resort collections at some of the world’s major famous houses?

By definition, “resort,” (also known as cruisewear), was a season originally targeted to affluent customers who spent their post-Holiday/New Year’s weeks in mostly warm weather climates. However, due to a better economy and easy access to flights, more consumers have the income and the ability to  travel. As a result, cruisewear has become a major category for the fashion industry. It has also become a season for designers to try out new ideas ahead of their Spring collection.

Resort has also become a favorite for retailers, after all, it’s the longest selling season, hitting the floor around November and selling, at full price, until May when spring collections hit the stores. Today, brands at all price points create resort collections to satisfy their customers who crave a new purchase.

Burberry’s Resort 2020 Collection (Photo Courtesy of Burberry)

With concerns about global corruption, transparency, climate change, inequality and the need to escape or get way from the world’s craziness, it’s easy to see why consumers, with a simple click of a button, are enticed to make resort season purchases.

Resort season went from APRIL 29 – MAY 30, 2019. Here are a few designers that have created social media spectacles with their elaborate shows.

Christian Dior

Christian Dior’s Resort 2020 Show (Photo Courtesy of Vogue.com)

Maria Grazia Chiuri, the designer behind the luxury powerhouse Christian Dior, presented an elegantly chic collection in Marrakesh for her resort 2020 collection. The collection was an homage to 1960s Yves Saint Laurent and featured rich textiles and intricate prints on everything from boyish outerwear to feminine frocks.

Prada

Prada’s Resort 2020 Show (Photo Courtesy of Vogue.com)

All glitz and glam aside, Miuccia Prada showed her low-key, understated resort collection in her company’s West 52nd Street Piano Factory headquarters, but nonetheless, the event was filled with a star-studded front row. Prada went back to the paired down 90s aesthetic that made the designer a household name, but this time with a pretty, feminine twist. Prada worked primarily with cotton this season with sweet calico-prints, charming hand embroideries and smart striped shirtings in intricate shapes.

Chanel

Chanel’s Resort 2020 Show (Photo Courtesy of Vogue.com)

In her debut collection at the helm of Chanel, Virginie Viard kept true to Karl Lagerfeld’s grand showmanship. Viard recreated a pre-war train’s dining carriage  a la a Belle Epoque café  resembling Le Train Bleu at the Gare de Lyon.  The show came complete with potted palms and paintings suggesting the many glamorous destinations that the train might take you (all of them settings for past Chanel collections).

As for the clothes, Viard brought a new effortless ease to the Chanel silhouette with mini-skirted classic Chanel suit, tiered chiffon dresses and wide legged cropped pants paired with frothy blouses. It was exciting to see Viard stay within the DNA and house codes of Chanel and yet give the label a youthful twist.

Louis Vuitton

Louis Vuitton’s Resort 2020 Show (Photo Courtesy of Vogue.com)

Anyone who has followed Nicolas Ghesquière’s career knows that no one designs wearable, futuristic-inspired looks better than him. For his Louis Vuitton resort collection, the creative director held his show at the historic TWA Flight Center, designed in 1962 by Eero Saarinen. The space is reminiscent of a landed UFO in the middle of New York’s JFK airport.  Although the space has been closed for almost twenty years, it has now reopened as a luxury hotel and Ghesquière’s show was its unofficial opening party. Quite the ‘get’!

Seemed only fitting that Ghesquière was inspired by 1960s airline stewardess’ with short dresses and a nod to TWA’s iconic flight bags. New York City was also a point of reference for Ghesquière with his Wall Street-inspired pinstriped suits, while crystal embellished bustier tops and geometric metallic embroideries referenced Art Deco inspired skyscrapers, most notably the Chrysler Building. Overall, the Vuitton resort collection was dramatic and fun, one that will be worn by plenty of Hollywood starlets on the red carpet and beyond. Thanks Nicolas for your nod to the Big Apple!

Giorgio Armani

Giorgio Armani’s Resort 2020 Show (Photo Courtesy of Vogue.com)

Giorgio Armani’s Resort 2020 Show (Photo Courtesy of Vogue.com)

For years, designers have staged over-the-top shows and traveled to exotic locations around the globe to present their pre-collections. But Giorgio Armani has always shunned that notion. And so it came as a complete surprise to press and buyers alike, that this season the designer decided to show his resort 2020 collection in Tokyo, as part of his grand store reopening. In a press conference before the show, Giorgio Armani stated, “I do not agree with this. Resort collections are mainly commercial; they have to be salable and appeal to buyers.” Armani speaks his mind and does things his own way.

Armani showed his collection at Tokyo’s National Museum, which is home to the most precious and rare Asian art collections. The glamorous affair was filled with Japanese and international celebrities, including Uma Thurman.

As for the clothes, they were Armani at his finest, with so many variations of the pantsuit – for both men and women – that there was literally an option for every customer. Now that’s business savvy!

Gucci

Gucci’s Resort 2020 Show (Photo Courtesy of Vogue.com)

Gucci’s Resort 2020 Show (Photo Courtesy of Vogue.com)

Gucci’s creative director, Alessandro Michele, has truly revitalized the label since taking over the house in 2015 and his momentum is only growing stronger. The designer staged his resort collection in Rome at the Capitolini Museum as a “hymn to freedom” that allowed him to express his belief in the idea of self-determination and gender equality.

According to an interview with Alessandro Michele, published in WWD, the resort collection” is empowering freedom of expression and, in particular, freedom of choice, supporting sexual and reproductive health and rights.” Illustrating this message, Michele posted feminist slogans like ‘My body, my choice.’ as well as ‘Chime for Change’ on  T-shirts. In addition, he embroidered an image of the female reproductive system on a gown that was embellished with flowers. Some looks also displayed ‘May 22, 1978,’ the date that the Italian law for the social protection of motherhood and legal abortion took effect. In terms of style, the designer’s wink to the Seventies was apparent, since it was a crucial time in history for the women’s lib movement.

While Michel’s collection featured both men’s and woman’s looks, many looks were gender neutral. There were plenty of his signature magpie layered looks that have really struck a chord with millennial influencers and celebrities, as well as kitsch Mickey Mouse printed looks.

Feel free to chime in on whether you think more designers should be using their brand status to promote social justice, just as  Alessandro Michele and other designers have done in past seasons. And if so, who are your favorites?