We have gotten so used to the ever-faster cycles of creative director change at brands in the four big fashion capitals – New York, London, Milan and Paris – so used to “She is in!” and “He is out!” and “They are changing cities!” that a return to the status quo seems like a return to a sort of stasis. And the fall women’s (and some men’s) shows, which began February 7 and roll from country to country until early March, will be a relatively calm season, one marked more by what isn’t there than what is.
But just because nothing extreme is happening this season does not mean nothing is happening at all: Don’t mistake subtlety for insignificance. Indeed, this may be good practice in slow thinking for us all.
Here are the three big trends to watch, when you aren’t distracted by watching the news.
The much-ballyhooed announcement last season by Tom Ford, chairman of the Council of Fashion Designers of America, that he was tightening the show schedule seems to have had a knock-on effect on brands. A number have dropped off the calendar entirely because they are switching seasons, swapping cities or simply sitting this one out.
Kerby Jean-Raymond of Pyer Moss started the trend last year when he ditched a February show in favor of consolidating budgets and ideas and doing a big production in September.
He is doing it again this season, as is Tomo Koizumi, the designer who made waves with his over-the-top ruffled confections; as is Batsheva Hay, the designer whose covered-up performance art/shows have involved psychoanalysts meditating on the meaning of her clothes; as is Ralph Lauren, who after building Ralph’s Club last fall and inviting Janelle Monáe to play, has apparently decided you either go big or hang out at home – and he’s hanging out at home.
Telfar Clemens took his show/traveling band of creative brothers to the Pitti Uomo trade fair in Florence in January; Jeremy Scott just announced that he is moving to Paris in July; Tommy Hilfiger is taking his traveling #TommyNow circus to London; and Tom Ford is having his show in the middle of New York Fashion Week in… Los Angeles. Because, you know, Oscars.
If ever there was a clearer message to his constituency that, these days, it’s every brand for itself, I don’t know what it is.
The brands that are not showing are the brands that are redefining American fashion most conspicuously. So what exactly does this say? Maybe that it really is time to let the old ways die.
The Embrace of an
It may be a quiet season, comparably, but there are still a few debuts to look forward to, one of which has potentially wider implications. In Paris, Felipe Oliveira Baptista is stepping out for the first time as creative director of Kenzo, and at Céline, Hedi Slimane is having his first dual-gender show. (At Gucci, meanwhile, Alessandro Michele is separating the sexes again.)
In Milan, Christelle Kocher of Koché will be the guest designer of Pucci. She will be doing her interpretation of the house for one time only. According to Pucci, instead of committing to a single creative director, it is going to ask different names to put their stamp on the house each season, kind of what Moncler does with its Genius line.
And since we’re on the subject of Genius: Its Next Big Collaborator will be Jonathan Anderson – aka the designer of Loewe. It’s going to be fun to see what he does with technical outerwear. Rimowa is joining too, for luggage.
(Eyes will also be on Moncler since rumor has it that the company has been in discussions with Kering, which may be interested in acquiring the Italian brand; similar rumors surround Prada.)
This multi-creative approach wouldn’t work for every brand, but for a house that is more known for product – a puffer! a print! – than aesthetic innovation, it’s potentially a win-win for us all.
And Speaking of Eco…
Sustainability. Upcycling. It was the biggest news out of last season – there was even competition to see who could claim to be the first carbon-neutral show – and it will probably be only more omnipresent this time around. To wit, the opening day of fashion month will coincide with a panel discussion in New York called “Responsibility in Fashion: How Can We Do Better Together?”
In Milan, the Camera della Moda, which organizes Italian Fashion Week, is avoiding all plastics, printing all documents on recycled paper, and working with the city to promote… bike riding! (Among other things, although when it comes to the bike initiative, it hasn’t yet addressed the stiletto issue.)
After years of side-talk around the issue for fear of being accused of green-washing, fashion now wants to put it on every table and every runway. Expect more use of dead stock and remnants, more activism (either wearable or behind the scenes) and more fabrics made from… fruit! Or other organic materials like pineapple and bamboo. Soon we will be able to eat our closets.
Along with diversity – of race, but also body, age and physical disability – it is the most important shift going on in the industry.
Other questions to consider: Will the coronavirus impact everyone flying from city to city? Will the fact that Brexit has finally happened affect London Fashion Week? Will there be yet more strikes in France?
We’re on the edge of our seats.