New York City commemorated the 15th anniversary of the World Trade Center attacks on September 11th yesterday and while a line-up of runway shows could have seemed out of step with such a sober occasion, designers used it as an opportunity to celebrate the city and the people who make it great. Here, some highlights.
Jonathan Saunders' big, quiet debut
It can be difficult to stand out from the noise of fashion month. But in a week of extravagant show happenings, Jonathan Saunders' debut presentation for Diane von Furstenberg did just that. Shown in a very zen, airy downtown Manhattan studio, it felt like the eye of a storm. All quiet.
The environment allowed for the clothes, which sat firmly on the cool side of pretty, to do the talking.
Jonathan says he wanted to create 'desirable clothes that are effortless but imaginative.' That meant silk dresses in a collage of colours and prints, some with cascading ruffles (frills, which were a big idea for Fall, will be just as huge for spring) and statement trousers in a range of silhouettes (the staff favourite: the flared legs with wide cuffs and striped ribbon trim.)
The clothes were all very DVF in that they epitomised the colourful, wearable sense of femininity the house is famous for. But Saunders has injected a very subtle, off-kilter sense of coolness that pushes the brand forward.
J.Crew's family affair
'We're all real!' the All the Pretty Birds blogger Tamu McPherson said as it dawned on those of us attending the show that the 64 models in the J.Crew presentation don't actually walk catwalks for a living.
The brand skipped the usual girls of the moment this season and cast employees, teachers, students, bloggers, consultants and other friends of the brand to model the SS17 collection, 'because we feel personal style is so important,' creative Jenna Lyons explained. Not that the chosen 'real people,' which in addition to McPherson, included Everyday People founder Saada and consultant and street style favourite Ramya Giangola, were any less stunning.
In terms of the clothes, they were as bright, upbeat and wearable as ever, with standouts including a series of wrap skirts with flamenco ruffles in cotton, seersucker and spotted tulle. But overall, the collection seemed to signal a return to ideas are core to its DNA (the all-American chino, for instance.) No doubt an effort to help resuscitate lagging sales.
'We wanted to explore the idea of heritage, iconic pieces and the deep connection we have with our customers. We thought about what makes J.Crew, and how this could be expressed through texture and treatment,' Lyons said.
Altuzarra's fruit bowl
When life gives you lemons, you get dressed up. The fruit and popular emoji is turning out to be the symbol of the year, from Beyoncé's Lemonade to the runway, where Joseph Altuzarra showed a lineup of sultry, fruit-embellished prettiness.
Inspired by the David Lynch film Wild At Heart, he wanted his collection of clingy, swingy, beaded dresses to feel 'happy, vibrant and erotically charged.' A sartorial corrective to rough times, a reason to dress the way you want to feel. And while a frock covered in cherries and ruffles might sound like the saccharine stuff of a toddler's wardrobe rather than an adult, in Altuzarra's hands it looked like exactly the sort of thing one would want to dress up in.
Speaking of ruffles, flowing, flamenco-style frills are trending this week. Altuzarra showed them with bralettes, another popular idea to idea to your watch list for ss17.
Prabal's dresses of dreams
Have I mentioned ruffles are everywhere? They surfaced at Prabal Gurung, where the press notes revealed him to be a feminist after our very own hearts. Dedicating the show to his mother and the idea that the higher you go up the career ladder, the fewer women there are, he drove the feminist message home by referencing Gloria Steinem and featuring Maya Angelou's performance of Phenomenal Woman on the soundtrack.
Most interestingly, the clothes did not play to type. There were no power suits. No tailoring. No heritage fabrics or bold shoulders. Instead he showed a soft take on femininity that included gauzy knits and cascading silk skirts and bias-cut dresses for day.
And for evening: dramatic, unapologetically glamourous gowns — some jingling with tear drop crystals, others with floor-sweeping, pleated sleeves. This was that unquestionable femininity I've talked about here. And it's a feeling that's spreading for SS17.