RIHANNA WINS EVERYTHING. Image Source.
Over the last couple of years, fashion has been taking itself pre-tty seriously. The industry has been struggling to adjust to the effects of social media and the internet, which have pushed the trend cycle into hyper-speed. With the exception of a couple of labels that can always be relied on to bring the joy (shoutout to Rodarte!), these upheavals have taken their toll on the general mood. In 2016, there was the Marc Jacobs dreadlocks cultural appropriation scandal, and Leandra Medine of Man Repeller wrote that “the people seem tired! And frustrated, too,” during Fashion Week. According to The New York Times, the last time fashion was fun was when Naomi Campbell wore backless chaps in 1992. (Ouch.)
So what’s different this year? For a start, the celebrities in the front row look like they are actually enjoying themselves. The photos of SNL writer Leslie Jones and some of the Orange Is The New Black cast living their best lives at Christian Siriano’s Spring 2018 show are everything.
— Christian Siriano (@CSiriano) September 10, 2017
Amazing. Leslie Jones and the designer became friends last year when he volunteered to dress her for the Ghostbusters premiere after she tweeted that no other designers had come forward. She is clearly the most supportive friend ever.
Similarly, many commentators are hailing Rihanna as the saviour of Fashion Week, as she rolls into shows wearing killer outfits on her body and the covetable Fenty Beauty products on her face. She also threw a Fenty x Puma fashion show on Sunday night which featured motorbikes doing backflips and parading the models around the room, as well as her motocross inspired athleisure collection. Although we have come to expect no less from RiRi, the fact that she so blatantly owned NYFW speaks to the growing diversity of tastemakers and trendsetters in the industry.
On Saturday night, Alexander Wang brought his collection outdoors and onto the streets of Manhattan in two guerrilla shows, and then drove a party bus blasting hip hop over to the scheduled show at a warehouse in Brooklyn. There were waiters passing around Shake Shack burgers for anyone who was getting a bit peckish, and locals peering over rooftops to get a glimpse of the glamour. A$AP Ferg, Ja Rule and Ashanti all performed, but the highlight was Cardi B:
Another highlight was the increasing visibility of ‘plus-size’ brands (read: brands that have actual sizes for average women?). Although Addition Elle and Cabiria have showed as part of NYFW before, this is the first year that Torrid, which designs for sizes 10-30, has made an appearance. The Torrid show was part of the brand’s annual model search, and models, including Hunter McGrady, wore floaty maxi dresses and florals paired with tough accessories. The Addition Elle show was impressive as well, with break-out models Ashley Graham and Jordyn Woods hitting the runway for the lingerie label and Gabi Gregg, Danielle Brooks and Gabourney Sidibe in the front row. There were also some very chic mature models walking for Tome and Rag and Bone.
But does all of this make any difference? The relatable celebrities, guerrilla outdoor shows, and plus size labels and diverse models are still a tiny part of the industry when compared the the clout of juggernaut establishment brands like Gucci and Prada. However, it is important to remember that there was a time in the 2000s when ‘fashion bloggers’ were considered a niche part of the industry, and ready-to-wear collections on the runway were almost unheard of. Of course, social media means that trends move fast, but it also means that trends can come from unexpected people and places. In 2017, the fashion industry has finally had to realise that consumers are not going to shell out for something unless they are absolutely obsessed with it. Personally, I’m obsessed with Area. And Leslie Jones.
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