Dispatches from New York: The men of NYFW

Jason Wu for Hugo Boss, the Proenza Schouler boys & Michael Kors

MOST POPULAR

By: Rebecca Lowthorpe Follow @Rebecca_ELLE

ADVERTISEMENT - CONTINUE READING BELOW

Jason Wu's collection for Hugo Boss

It took Jason Wu approximately 15 minutes to transform opinion on the Hugo Boss line – maybe less. In fact, most may have raised an eyebrow from the moment Edie Campbell stepped out in a restrained black skirt suit with a glossy black fur at her throat. With one show, its talented new designer, together with the world’s coolest models (even Stella Tennant made an exit in a black tux), catapulted the Hugo Boss brand into a player in New York’s top fashion league. The clothes were rigorously spare, made from traditional menswear fabrics, and cut with Bauhaus-style forensic precision. The silhouettes, like the architectural set – all mirrors and lush greenery – had been inspired by the modernist buildings at Boss’s German headquarters in Metzingen. It was so refined and neat, even when it came to those pale, delicate dresses that had been embroidered with criss-crosses of glistening beads. While Wu’s first collection for Boss may have recalled vintage Jil Sander and Calvin Klein, when both those designers were at their creative peak, it also got to the heart of what Hugo Boss should be for 2014.
MOST POPULAR

Hugo Boss, Proenza Schouler, Michael Kors

At Proenza Schouler, it felt like the designers Jack McCollough and Lazaro Hernandez wanted to stride out somewhere new, but did they get there? The show notes were printed with the following words: ‘Energy, Abstraction, Humour, Action, Colour, Instinct, Spontaneous, Fast.’ And this played out as urgent sculpted tailoring, potent colours, sharp shapes, and unusual fabrications, such as a wool photo jacquard that mimicked industrial carpet lining. Backstage, they said they had been inspired at the Venice Biennale by the ceramic sculptor, Ron Nagle.

All that made sense with the strict coats, hourglass waists, exaggerated peplums, skinny trousers, synthetic colour (cobalt, rust, jade mixed withblack and white) and chunky-pointy flats. It was all pointing in the right direction – archly modern, cool fashion – but somehow they got so caught up in their fabrications, they looked, for the most part, stiff; it felt as if they’d left their customer behind. Still, it was a high-energy, editorial-worthy, impactful show – with a powerful point of view – and you don’t see many of those in New York.

Michael Kors knows a thing or two about impact – not that he does this with synthetics or industrial carpet lookalikes. First he puts Blake Lively, Freida Pinto and Rose Byrne on the front row. Then he enlists women, not girls, to model: Carolyn Murphy, Karen Elson, Frankie Rayder and so on. And then he sticks to his formula of, well, gorgeous all-American clothes that this season riffed on 'Big Sur meets big city'. That’s California (fringed bags, flowing skirts, peasant blouses, think hippy-bohemia) and New York – or any global metropolis, frankly, with a Michael Kors flagship – where a great coat, big fur, cashmere jogging pants, cocktail frock etc can be worn. If it sounds banal, it’s not. It’s fantasy grown-up woman dressing. And don’t we all fantasise about belonging in a glossy Michael Kors advert from time to time?

See Jason Wu's first collection for Hugo Boss

See all our coverage of Autumn/Winter 2014

Street Style from NYFW 2014

Celebs front row at NYFW

Read Rebecca Lowthorpe's review of Victoria Beckham

More from ELLE UK: