Andrew Whitty reviews New York Fashion Week and its trends for Spring 2013.
Poor old New York, once one of the big players in the international menswear calendar, the city now lags behind its counterparts of London, Milan and Paris. The latter three now have allocated fashion weeks where the cream of menswear design talent can showcase to the world what they are capable of. True that London’s only launched last season but this still puts us one step ahead. The European men’s fashion weeks follow on from one another every January and June, allowing buyers to pinpoint exactly what they wish to stock come the following season. With The Council of Fashion Designers of America still reluctant to give the empire state its own designated men’s fashion week, designers are forced to show their collections a shocking three months after their competitors. Still, New York Fashion Week Spring 2013 brought out some interesting trends to look forward to. Established brands such as Tommy Hilfiger and Michael Kors staged shows alongside some diverse up-and-coming labels. These less commercial upstarts are where the talent and vision are to be found; below we look at what America thinks the world’s gentry will be wearing in twelve months’ time.
First up, we have the money making power houses. Tommy Hilfiger – who gets brownie points for staging a separate menswear show – presented a collection of forty looks. Never one to break boundaries, Hilfiger did what he does best and has done for decades, preppy Americana. We can imagine the inspiration meeting now; ‘Let’s does stripes? Yes, stripes are cool! Okay, time for a coffee break.’ They came vertical, they came horizontal, on t-shirts, on knitwear, on blazers, giving the collection an overall nautical theme. We here at So So Gay love a good summer staple but this seemed a bit like overload. A relaxed approach to tailoring also became apparent as the show progressed. Suit jackets and trousers were not as fitted as, say, those at Ralph Lauren, where every suit looks as if it were custom made for the owner. Hilfiger’s suits are perfect for a summer wedding or garden party, especially when matched with shorts; this is a trend that has been bubbling under for many seasons but is yet to break the mainstream. One thing that did surprise us about the collection was the footwear. Gone are the loafers that men have become so familiar with as a summer staple. Models walked in an array of designs, from brogues without socks to light espadrilles, a welcome change. Overall, a pleasing collection – our favourite being a red double-breasted short suit- but Hilfiger has presented us with nothing fresh and certainly nothing you can’t pick up at a much cheaper price in Primark or H&M.
At Michael Kors, a mixed show of men’s and women’s wear with a distinct sixties vibe followed a trend seen at Marc Jacobs earlier in the week. Simple trousers with rugby striped t-shirts opened the show, hardly a jump out of your seat with joy experience, but still pleasing to the eye, especially the use of bright colour and sharp tailoring. The first male model we spotted was Simon Nessman, followed swiftly by Clement Chabernaud, both of whom feature in our ‘Models of the moment’ article. The Kors brand is one that is definitely on the rise globally and gaining a mixed following. A recent store opening on London’s Regent Street, tied in with our washout summer, could explain why there was a focus on outerwear throughout the show. Mid-thigh length, colour-blocked rain macs and lightweight wool jackets were layered over turtle neck knitwear, unusual for a designer who normally focuses on the American Summer ideal. These British wardrobe staples, along with standard shorts and t-shirt ensembles ensure that whoever enters one of the company’s stores can become a ‘Michael Kors’ man, a clever move during an economic downturn.
It wasn’t just big brands showing menswear during New York Fashion Week. A number of cult labels and emerging designers presented some directional pieces that wouldn’t look out of place on the catwalks of London. One label we picked up on was Patrick Ervell. His use of lightweight fabrics gave the collection a sporty feel, albeit a high-end one. Jackets came with exposed zips, popper buttons and hoods. Trousers cut off at the ankle teamed with sandals, great for holidays.
Another relatively unknown brand showing was Michael Bastian. Working on his own label, as well as heading up the GANT design team has given Bastian a wide breadth of research to play with. Plenty of skin on show here and a more grown up collection compared with that of Ervell. Opening with loose fit trousers, a blazer with rolled up sleeves and lightweight deep V-neck knitwear, the Bastian man is something of a bohemian rebel. He is formal when he needs to be, but in his own way. Out came standard short shorts and preppy cardigans, but with the models wearing head bands and tribal necklaces, this Ivy League boy has been on his travels before returning to the family home for summer. The collection was super sexy and feels slightly more Milan than New York. Every piece is wearable and can be easily worked into a variety of looks. Incorporating hoodies and track pants into certain outfits has kept Bastian on trend with his counterparts, ensuring the garments will feature heavily in the press next summer.
The women’s wear presented during New York Fashion Week was the main attraction of the show schedules. Another critically acclaimed show came from Victoria Beckham. The designer introduced separates for the first time this season. This gave her creations a ladylike feel. Laser cutting on blouses mixed with tailored skirts were girly but edgy at the same time. Opinionated journalist Liz Jones – a woman who, in the past, has made it clear she is not a Posh fan – admitted that Victoria has become quite good at what she does. With husband David looking as achingly handsome as always and adorable baby Harper in the audience, as well as every important editor in the world, Beckham truly has blown away the fashion world with her knowledge of what makes women feel good. Her label has been picked up by Harrods, Selfridges and other major department stores across the globe. We at So So Gay can’t wait for Victoria’s first foray into menswear. We’re sure to be first in the queue.
Other standout women’s shows came from Calvin Klein and Proenza Schouler, the latter focusing heavily on collage, prints and laser cuts. With the final shows over in New York, the fashion set packed up their Goyard luggage and headed to London town where the likes of Burberry, McQ and a host of other design talent are to show as part of the capital’s own fashion week. Read our review when it is live here next week.
Featured image: Michael Kors Spring 2013 by Yannis Vlamos at GoRunway.com