It seems that the New York fashion calendar is about to break down entirely. Some major designers show in Paris; some are coming back home, and to the regular schedule (Proenza Schouler is the latest); and some, like Alexander Wang, decide to show ahead of all, in the Big Apple, and persuade us, the confused viewers, not to call it spring-summer 2019 – but rather, the enigmatic ‘season 1’. Yes, I know that might be too much. But surprisingly, all those switches did good to Wang. Not that I adore his latest collection, but it’s so much better than his last seasons. At least, it’s not trying to mean too much as it did the last time with the Matrix-CEO theme.
The inspiration started with Alexander’s mum and dad taking a trip together, and their immigration to America. Still, the collection wasn’t meant to be overly political, so migration wasn’t the ultimate key here. The designer focused on the notion of more dynamic, risk-involving travelling, or rather riding. Maybe the attitude close to Lana Del Rey’s Ride music video might be a clue. In overall, the collection felt like a creative melting pot shaped from Wang’s experiences, fascinations and aesthetics. We’ve had the Axl Rose bandanas; motocross gears; leather mini skirts and ‘piercing’ tops made of pins; football jerseys. Is that the today’s grunge according to Alex? Who knows. Definitely, Wang felt a lot of joy, while designing the collection, as all of that is truly, but truly him.
Undoubtedly, Raf Simons‘ vision at Calvin Klein, which is so well executed (and financed – it’s really pleasing to see how the brand supports him), is something to write and write and write. But in short, that was a collection that accumulates Simons‘ image of contemporary USA. Adoration of the mass media (tons of pop-corn on the venue’s floor suggest the urge for spotlight, eternal love for Hollywood and, maybe, cult of celebrity); anxiety and need for protection (fireman jackets, thigh-length rubber boots; knitted balaclavas – ready and steady for an anti-Trump demonstration); indestructible hope for a better future (purely American-esque prairie skirts and dresses, of course exaggerated in volume and cut). Simons‘ Calvin Klein is not just clothes and fresh, Sterling Ruby filled branding – it’s food for thought, most of all. But also, it’s worth noting that it’s the designer’s third runway collection for Klein, and it seems that Raf’s ideas for the brand continue to accelerate at high-speed – whether we’re speaking of the show venues or the garments (for instance take that incredible fur coat that got deconstructed into a safety jacket).
First thing you notice in Raf Simons‘ spring-summer 2018 collection for Calvin Klein is that he’s the man of consistency. The first looks – the new CK uniforms – were the cowboy shirts in heavy colour block, the same as we’ve seen in his debut collection last March. The shoes haven’t changed dramatically, too. The venue took place in Calvin Klein’s headquarters and it was again covered with Sterling Ruby’s installations, but the main motif was actually quite disturbing- knife and blood. Were horrors and criminals on Simons’ mind?
At Klein, he’s a fan for American symbolism, and thrillers are very well rooted in American cinema – wherever we speak of mid-20th century or 2017. To grasp the idea of crime-drenched drama in his new season evening wear, he pulled off 50s looking ball gowns (surprisingly constructed using vinyl). Some of the leather coats looked as if they were blood-stained, which gave the audience a thrill. Horror film vibes got even more serious when latex gloves emerged down the runway – the high fashion reminiscent of Jason’s mask from Friday 13th, some noted. But that wasn’t the end of the American obsession. For this season, the brand collaborated with Andy Warhol Foundation on prints, using some of the lesser known elements of the artist’s works on trousers, t-shirts and dresses. Simons shakes things up again, in a very sinister (even as for him) manner.
Patric DiCaprio, David Moses, Bryn Taubensee and Claire Sully are the New York-based designers behind Vaquera – an arty, DIY label from the downtown. Brands like Vaquera are the reason why New York Fashion Week is worth it – even though most brands do t-shirts with their logos, some of those hardly commercial labels become food for brain. In case of autumn-winter 2017, Vaquera was about dreams and aspirations of America. Chronic yearning for a Tiffany & Co piece among girls was reflected in a “dress” – which, in fact, was an over-sized version of a Tiffany blue pouch with Vaquera & Co written over it (of course in a matching font!). The flag of USA was recut and reshaped to perfectly fit a gown with a few metres long train. Although some of the show’s elements felt quite unclear, like the restaurant’s chef hat (“Why does everybody want to be a chef?” as the show note stated), Vaquera is a brand which subverts reality. Confusion is welcome.