We are finished with one of the weirdest Fashion Weeks we have experienced.
Above are pictures from Rad Hourani's Fall show, our last, which we dashed to after Chado Ralph Rucci on Friday. It was our last chance to catch a glimpse of our favorite Sessile Lopez, who officially ascended to the top ranks of models this season. Hourani's collection was sleek and modern looking, and he always has an impressive model lineup. We had never managed to make it to his show before, partly because he holds it far away on Mulberry Street, but since we had no where to be afterward, we figured it was worth a shop.
As for the rest of the week, overall, there was an underlying tension to the proceedings, but everyone tried to put the best face on things that they possibly could. Nobody was bragging about how fabulous their business was, and a lot of press and buyers were naturally concerned about their professional futures. Many runway show regulars like Lynn Yaeger, formerly of the Village Voice, were operating in new capacities, and some other prominent characters were missing altogether.
The designers, however, faced with retailers' tightened budgets, generally stepped back and reassessed what their customers loved them for. This was not the season to lead them down a new and adventurous path, so many labels found themselves returning to their roots. This proved to be a good thing most of the time, as designers worked to make their lines as appealing as possible. Some designers, like Tracy Reese, cut their invite lists and moved their popular shows to smaller, less expensive venues, which worked better for some than others. Some opted for more casual presentations, which could either be highly efficient like at Generra or Spurr, or simply a crowded mess where you couldn't see the clothes, but you could have your fill of free drinks.
For Prabal Gurung (at right), the former Bill Blass assistant, a presentation was a smart way to debut his collection which was well received by the press especially the New York Times' Carthy Horyn, whom we saw getting a guided tour from the designer.
Last season, we spent a lot of time observing the disappointing representation of minorities in the ranks of runway models, which turned out to be something a lot of people were concerned about. We expected to cover it again, but it became clear after a few days that the situation had improved noticeably. Things may not be perfect yet, and many shows may not actually have had that many more Black or Asian models, but there were many more in the mix besides the usual three, Sessilee, Chanel Iman and Jouran Dunn. Designers were clearly making an effort to be more inclusive. In this economy, they need to reach out to every possible customer of every color. Black models Kinée Diouf, Georgie Badiel, Aminata Niaria, Joan Smalls and Gracie Carvahlo were much more visible, and Tao Okamoto emerged as a breakout star with her neo-Vidal Sassoon bob. In fact it seemed like only a few of the interesting new faces were white. We stopped calculating racial ratios pretty early on because it seemed obvious that things were moving in a better drection, and we were happy to reallocate our time.
The scene in the tents was noticeably austere. There were fewer gift bags, and they were even more often restricted to the front row. Many designers eschewed them altogether. While the tents at Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week are usually full of sponsors throwing their products around, this was a dry season for swag. Even the big press bag had fewer items, and sponsors who have regularly had representatives distributing cookies, yogurt, cosmetics samples or even beer withheld their products this season. We definitely missed the comely individuals who used to hand out cold bottles of Peroni beer in the afternoons, and we may actually have to start buying our own shampoo again.
Ironically this lack of promotional activity made the tents feel a bit more civilized and less like a trade show, but we would totally exchange that for more free stuff.
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