AW19 Fashion Weeks: New York and London
The New Year kicked off with Men’s Fashion and Haute Couture, but we haven’t had to wait too long for the main fashion weeks – New York, London, Milan and Paris. Starting with New York, quickly followed by London, the fashion industry will have already decamped to their next venue, Milan. This is before heading to Paris, where fashion will likely continue to be overshadowed by the sad news of Chanel’s prolific designer, Karl Lagerfeld.
In the past New York has been considered as the most commercial of the four, and as something of a ‘bore fest’ to both international editors and to individuals alike. By contrast, London is probably best known for its outpouring of fresh, emerging talent gracing its catwalks. London has continued to champion newness this season, alongside home-grown talent, many of whom are now staples of the London fashion calendar. However, New York had plenty of its own exciting new talent to showcase.
One such individual really caught the attention of just about everyone. Discovered on Instagram by stylist Katy Grand, Tokyo based costume designer Tomo Koizumi, debuted his collection at Marc Jacobs New York store, with email invites popping into inboxes just a few hours beforehand. With a stunning colour explosion of ruffles and tulle, the designs looked like something out of a fairy tale. It’s no surprise then that Koizumi has focused much of his career in costume design.
Whilst Koizumi created the opening buzz for the shows, Marc Jacobs closing did not disappoint. Featuring bold, fantastical eveningwear more akin to couture than ready-to-wear, Christy Turlington, for the first time in more than 20 years, closed the show.
Besides the adventure of getting lost in the escapism of fashion, New York highlighted some important messages. 11 Honoré, an e-commerce website dedicated to sizes 10 to 20-plus, employed well-known faces, including Laverne Cox who closed the show, to confidently display an array of shapes and sizes.
Likewise, Chromat continued to show the diversity of humans in all their glorious forms. Whilst Pierre Davis of label No Sesso, meaning ‘no sex’ in Italian, made history as the first transgender woman to debut her fashion collection at New York Fashion Week. To highlight the point further, her models featured an array of diverse individuals.
Designers didn’t ignore the elephant in the fashion room either – sustainability. As one of the world’s biggest polluters, it would have been both surprising and foolish if the fashion industry had chosen to ignore this growing environmental crisis. Rather than playing the usual hip music, Collina Strada’s soundtrack featured a spoken-word performance by environmental activist Xiuhtezcatl Martinez, as the backdrop to a collection made of 75% deadstock fabrics. Chromat, alongside championing diversity, also included used deadstock for their bold swimwear. Whilst Beaufille, a Toronto based label, introduced a plaid fabric made of recycled bottles.
Continuing this positive note, Lela Rose hosted a dog show and fashion show all in one, casting both canines and models on the runway. The dogs, including English sheep dogs, poodles and golden retrievers, came close to overshadowing the fashion, but a nice mix of cocktail dresses and suits just about managed to prevent that.
The party continued at Michael Kors who took inspiration from his Studio 54 days by obtaining the rights to the nightclub’s log and using it throughout his collection. The highlight, however, and something that definitely overshadowed the clothes, was Barry Manilow taking to the stage to perform his hot ‘Copacabana’!
The opening of London Fashion Week featured models standing side by side with survivors of the Grenfell Tower fire, demanding justice for victims of the tragedy. Here fashion was used to make a stand, with t-shirts, inspired by the film Three Billboards Outside Ebbing Missouri, that read “72 dead and still no arrests? How come?” A very powerful, bold statement to begin a fashion week full of activism both on and off the catwalk.
The Grenfell Survivors
For the first time, London could impressively call itself the first of the major fashion weeks to go fur-free. Vivienne Westwood, no stranger to activism, masterfully used her show to protest on issues such as Brexit and climate change, and included actress and campaigner Rose McGowan wearing clothes emblazoned with political slogans. Outside the shows, climate change protesters tried to disrupt the events of Sunday’s shows by forming human blockades. Just as New York didn’t, London couldn’t ignore fashion’s impact on the environment.
Burberry courted controversy by including a ‘noose’ in their collection, which has since been removed after a complaint by one of the models that took part in the show. Model Liz Kennedy posted a photo of the noose, attached to a hoodie, with the caption, “Suicide is not fashion. It is not glamorous or edgy,” continuing to point out that Burberry designer Ricardo Tisci had dedicated the show to girls and young women. Burberry have apologised.
Although she may not be returning to pop stardom, it was great to see Spice Girl Victoria Beckham in London again following on from her return last season. More than 10 years since her debut, Beckham’s style becomes less fitted and more stylish. Models wore chic coats with loose-fitting dresses and chunky knitwear.
From pop royalty to actual royalty. After the Queen’s front row debut last season, the Duchess of Cornwall attended in her place, to present Bethany Williams with the second Queen Elizabeth II award for British Design.
As with much of New York, the London catwalk boasted frills, ruffles and colour galore. Mary Katrantzou debuted a bright yellow, feathered dress worn by Natalia Vodianova. And Molly Goddard continued her London Fashion Week reign, she won the 2018 British Fashion Council / Vogue Fashion Fund Award, with the most Villanelle-esque, of Killing Eve fame, outfit to be had on the catwalk.
Whilst at Simone Rocha, perhaps best known for her romantic dresses, an array of established models showcased stunning looks that included voluminous sleeves and lace trimmed with gold fringed netting.
Both the pretty and the dreamy were there in force at New York and London Fashion Week. But mixed in with these was a hard dose of reality. The stark reality that fashion must face head on the threatening issues that it is playing a major part in.
Imagery courtesy of vogue.com
About Our Author: Katie Calvert's background is in fashion and textiles with a first class honours degree in Fashion Communication and Promotion and experience in trend, PR and events. She decided to take the plunge back into education in 2015 to complete a Master of Arts in Multimedia Journalism. Using these newfound skills and her love of fashion and culture, Katie has been freelance writing for over a year.